Welcome to the first installment of The Expat Diaries. I’m very grateful for all of the positive feedback Chelsea and I received last week regarding the series, and I cannot wait to read about everyone’s experiences abroad! This link-up is for past, present and future expats, and anyone who’s interested in traveling the world. You can write about travel tips, your favorite vacation spot, the country you’re currently residing in, or your experiences with moving abroad. Please add your posts below and visit other bloggers. And if you would like, you can grab our button or link back to us, too!
Today I’ll be discussing the initial move to the UK and how we prepared.
My husband and I decided to move abroad while we were both working and living in Washington, DC. A few months before our August 2011 wedding, B was offered a 6 month field assignment in Aberdeen, Scotland and we figured, why not? This was a once in a life experience. Luckily, both of our families agreed. While we planned the final details of our big day, we also started the visa process. We worked with Pro-Link GLOBAL and they handled the majority of the paperwork for us. This made the moving process less stressful!
In August, we got hitched, went on a honeymoon in the Dominican Republic and returned to DC to put all of our belongings in a storage unit. I think this was the worst part. We made many trips to our storage unit and struggled to fit everything into the unit. On top of that, I had no idea what to pack and ended up with around four suitcases. B had four suitcases, too! We both agree that if we could do it all over again, we would have brought one suitcase each. Even though our assignment went from being 6 months to a year long, we still didn’t touch half of the clothes and shoes we brought. Sandals and heels in Scotland? Mmm, probably not. I lived in jeans and boots!
Our visas ended up being a week and a half late so we had to cancel our international flight and re-book at a later date. Since everything was in a storage unit, we slept on the floor and watched True Blood episodes on our iPad. It was an amazing experience. ;)
When it was time to move, we flew KLM (my all-time favorite airline) from Washington Dulles to Amsterdam to Aberdeen and arrived in early September. We moved all of our heavy bags into a hotel in the city centre and started scouring leasing office windows for an apartment. In the UK, all of the leasing offices have information sheets in the windows. We figured this was a good thing because it made apartment-hunting fairly simple, but quickly found out that university students were pouring into the city and every available apartment was in high demand. We felt like we were on a game show because every time we went to a viewing, thirty other people would be there also. As soon as the viewing was finished, people would literally run to the leasing offices to fill out contracts. We would even offer more money than the others, but still ended up not getting any of these flats (I guess we were out of shape because we didn’t run fast enough). After two weeks of staying in a tiny hotel room, we finally signed a lease for a flat next to a pub — The Globe Inn to be exact (love that place). Convenient, no?
When you’re preparing to move abroad, my number one tip is to be flexible. Visas are sometimes delayed, flights get cancelled — things will happen that are completely out of your control. Stressing about the little details is never fun, I would know. Another tip? Finding a place to stay can be difficult. While we were still in the States we tried contacting leasing agents in Aberdeen, but unlike leasing agents in the US, they were very unresponsive. That’s why we waited until we were actually in Aberdeen to find a flat. Where was House Hunters International when I needed them?
Thank you for joining us today! The next link-up will start on Thursday, May 2nd.
Filed Under: Aberdeen, Expat, Scotland