One of my Twitter followers asked me this question a few days ago just before the UBC started – so I thought I would answer it in a blog post.
In my previous job at a University I worked as a Programme Coordinator, working with post-graduate students studying psychotherapy and mental health. I was the person everyone used to come to with their admin and IT problems. The department I worked in had always been on the verge of closing, in fact I think the first shock came after only 6 weeks of me being there, the risk of redundancy looming (again – another story). Eventually after 4 and a half years the department was deemed not financially viable and lucky for me (and the other programme coordinators) we had put in for voluntary redundancy some months before. When it was offered to us we were told if we didn’t accept then compulsory redundancy would eventually come to pass.
I left the university on 31 July 2011 with 1 years salary as their parting gift!
What did I do?
I had had 4 months to consider what I wanted to do when I left my job, and I quickly decided I didn’t want to be an employee any longer, I wanted to run my own business. With a year’s salary behind me I knew that I could try it out and see what happens. It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do, and even on 1 August I was still not 100% clear what my business was going to be. I signed up to PeoplePerHour and looked for admin jobs I could do while working on my business ideas.
I had also taken on selling my late Grandfather’s book (Sojourn in Silesia) and had decided I wanted to re-publish it and publish it as an eBook. While doing this I learnt how to format eBooks and how to self-publish books.
I had to take a holiday…
With the redundancy money in the bank I decided I deserved a break, so decided to take a 2 week holiday to my mum’s in France. Mum has lived in France for 7 years, so it wasn’t my first visit, I used to go over maybe once or twice a year if I could. The first week I did a lot of work, I had managed to secure a job from PPH formatting CV’s for a recruitment company with offices around the world. They were sending them over at all hours of the day, and I was averaging about 8 – 10 CV’s per day. It wasn’t much of a holiday…
On the first Saturday of my stay (I think I had arrived the previous weekend) we were all invited to my mum’s neighbour for a BBQ. That’s when I first met my boyfriend, the brother of the neighbour. The evenings of the second week of my holiday were spent with him and his friend who took me out to various places, a picnic down by the river one evening, fireworks another evening, a meal in a medieval town another. At the end of the week both of us were returning home (me to the UK and him to his home in northern France). To cut a long story short, he had already decided to move to the area to start work on the family farm, renovating it to live in, more about that later.
When I returned home I was very sad, I had had the best holiday in France I had had in the 7 years I had been visiting. In May of that year, I had been to France again for a week and the thought had crossed my mind then that I would quite like to live there, but hadn’t really given it anymore thought… until now!
Now I had a boyfriend in France (we kept in touch by phone everyday) and I no longer worked for anyone, I was free to choose where I lived, even a different country. It all happened very quickly, my mum got extremely excited and went apartment hunting the week I returned from my holiday. I had a flying visit to Budapest to take care of at the end of September and then I was free to move. Mum found me an apartment quickly and paid a deposit. I moved to France on 23 October 2011, just 6 weeks after returning from my holiday. About a month later my boyfriend joined me, and we have now been here for just over a year.
So… why France?
Hopefully from my story above it’s quite obvious, mum is here, boyfriend is here… but there are some other things I love about France! The weather is a slight improvement on the UK, warmer in the summer, but possibly a bit colder in the winter. It’s quiet – in my apartment I can’t hear screaming kids, noisy traffic, fighting neighbours (all of these things happened in my street in England). I love the old houses and the countryside – I never thought I would say this, it must be my age, but the surroundings are much nicer.
I still can’t speak the language, but I am working on it and it’s something I hope to master in 2013! Having a French boyfriend you would have thought it makes it easier, but we communicate in English, it’s become a habit.
The renovations at the farm are coming along really well, and the plan is to move there in the spring… there are a couple of stipulations before I agree to move away from my apartment though!
1. There must be a working toilet (this has been the hardest thing to achieve so far… again, long story!)
2. Internet – I can’t work without it!
I’ll try to keep you posted on the move.
I hope you like the photo’s I have used in this post, if you have any burning questions about France then leave me a comment… I could write a book about all of this, and maybe one day I will!