This decision is the hardest part – to move or not to move? There are many reasons why you shouldn’t: being far away from your friends and family; moving to a country with a ‘difficult’ climate – be it too hot, cold or extreme in some other way; lack of facilities – questionable healthcare, decent schooling etc. The fact is, no matter how well you research it, in most cases moving abroad is a leap into the unknown. You can lessen this to an extent by talking to people who have already made the move (particularly through people you already know or from your company – if applicable), visiting the country beforehand or of course reading up about it on the internet. But apart from a little research to check that Brunei was safe, I did none of these and had very little idea of what to expect before I turned up – I even had to check where in the world Brunei was when my husband mentioned it as a potential destination.
We had the discussion about moving abroad a long time ago, and were both agreed that it was something that we wanted to do. My only request was that we remain in the UK for long enough that I could establish my career as a teacher so that I had something to return to were we to move back. So after five years in Aberdeen we decided that the time had come and Andy started applying for jobs he liked the look of. There were a few countries which we didn’t want to move to for safety reasons, but otherwise where we moved depended more on the available job opportunities than anything else. Of course, had we got children we may have considered the move based on other factors too, although for the record Brunei has a very good primary school located on camp.
I must admit that I had a few reservations before we left; we were leaving behind everything that was familiar, as well as my job, and taking a big chance. But I was also very excited – we were moving to Borneo! It felt like the most adventurous thing I had ever done. And although there was a lot to organise the move went pretty smoothly: our belongings were packed into a shipping container; we put our house up for sale; and before we knew it we had said our goodbyes and were boarding the plane with two suitcases each and a hoard of expectations.
That was only the beginning of our adventures. Since we arrived two and a half years ago we have learnt a lot and had a few ups and downs. Settling in was a little difficult to begin with (although a lot easier than when we relocated to Aberdeen) and we have experienced homesickness from time to time. But I can safely say that, for us, moving abroad was the best decision we could have made – it has opened up the world and I haven’t regretted our decision at all. It helps that I prefer to live somewhere quiet rather than in a city – I have seen some city dwellers who have hated the fact that there is very little entertainment or nightlife here – and I do miss going to the theatre, seeing live music, shopping… But I think that if you appreciate that life will be different, and try to choose somewhere where you think you will enjoy living, then you give yourself the best chance to make what could be a life-changing move. It’s certainly a decision I would not go back on, and like most things if you don’t try it then you will never know what you are missing!