the expat diaries | the initial move

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.

Marischal College in Aberdeen, Scotland
Row of townhouses and cars in Aberdeen, Scotland
Marischal College in Aberdeen


Filed Under: Aberdeen, Expat, Scotland26 Comments
  • Fritter

    Thank you for the linkup! Looking forward to meeting new expat bloggers. I hope it’s ok- I added a post I thought fitting for my first in the linkup- 10 things I love & hate about being an expat. I wrote it a couple of weeks ago- but feel it’s a good one to get a feel for us and our crazy family over here in the NL.

  • Treasure Tromp

    thanks for the link up! And for the tips. I honestly have no idea how to plan and prepare for the big move!

  • Benlovesting

    Such lovely photos! X

  • Cocalores

    How interesting! It always sounds a lot easier in theory than it actually is, right?

  • hemborgwife

    I am excited to read you loved KLM because I am flying them for the first time this summer when I visit home!

  • Lisette

    Wow…people running to the leasing office? Crazy! haha. Also, is Scotland really lax about how people park? I see one car parked in the opposite direction up there! Sounds like my husband’s kind of place to live in.

  • Kim @ Two Martini Lunch

    We are currently searching for our apartment in Bangkok and we are experiencing similar challenges. You would think in a city of this size with so many tall buildings housing apartments that it would be easy to find one. Nope. We will find one eventually until then our family is split into two 1 room apartments. Such is life of an expat. Expect the unexpected. Just going with the flow. -Kim

  • Casey Martin

    loved this post and loved the photos!

  • My-cliffnotes

    Ah I thought you were on hiatus it wasn’t updating your blog! The only expat experience I have are deployments do those count?


  • Lauren

    Oh no! Sounds like so much fun for y’all except for all the delays and craziness! What an awesome opportunity! :)

    Lauren @

  • Sam M

    I’m loving reading all of these expat stories! And how cool to live in Scotland, my favorite country. I’ll have to link up some week!

  • tiarenie

    Ok, I have no idea if I did this link up thing right but I wrote a post! See it here:


  • Helene

    what an awesome idea! this is so fun! that is insane about people running into the leasing office! jeez!

  • Shannon

    Great link up and such a fun adventure to undertake as newlyweds! I was an expat in high school and am reliving my travel experiences all month on my blog for the April A-Z Blog Challenge. I found you through We Took the Road Less Traveled and am excited to read more.

  • Amanda Wissmann

    Oh this is SO much fun!!!! THANK YOU for doing this! I just posted mine and cannot wait to get started reading others!

    Great tip…FLEXIBLE- YES! traveling is crazy enough, let alone traveling overseas! I’ll post about my travel experience next week but I totally brought too many suitcases too! Geez!

  • Caroline Mary

    Great Linkup! I love reading about and connecting with other expats. I’m excited to read more about your adventures in Aberdeen :)

  • Adrienne Clark

    Wow! What an awesome story and way to start your married life! Love the sleeping in the floor watching true blood! Sounds like something I would do! I so much of a homebody that I would have major separation anxiety and not take the chance, but I admire and envy y’all for picking up and moving! That’s awesome! Not to mention when the plans don’t go accordingly I get my panties in a wad! Type A personality much?! Clearly I just need to stay put!! :-)

  • Kelly {Sparkles and Shoes}

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Danyale N.

    I’m following GFC from Friend Connect Blog Hop. please return the favor and follow me back at Evoluchun’s Miscellaneous

  • Lindsey Norlander

    Such a great linkup!!! And what a beautiful story about you and your man! So excited about meeting new expats/ trading tips and definitely just stole that button :).

  • Mimi Finerty

    Suck a great link-up idea. I will be joining in with the next one hopefully! Im a London girl that moved to Cyprus two years ago. I totally agree with the be flexible thing – until you land you dont really know whats gong to happen, even if your the best planner and have researched everything, something will always come up!

  • Jade

    Good gosh, your experience hunting for a flat sounds very much like my own! My husband and I arrived in London in June but spent some time with family for the first few weeks so when it was time to look for a flat, it was incredibly difficult with all the uni students to compete with, especially since we were looking close to Greenwich University itself. Thankfully, the bigger deposit up-front and the fact that we were both working and not uni students did swing things in our favor eventually but it was hard going at first!

  • Tracy Speight

    I would love to be involved in the next Expat diaries. I live in Australia now but am US born and raised. I have started blogging about some of my travels. Have added you to my bloglovin. Looking forwar to the next expat diaries installment.

    Handmade at Warratahstree

  • Megan

    Just FINALLY getting caught up on my blogs from being out of town for nearly 3 weeks. SO sad I missed this link-up! What a great idea! I started blogging when we moved abroad as expats, and reading fellow travel/expat blogs is so much fun for me now. I love the little community that you’re helping build! Now I’m totally looking forward to the next one.

  • Amanda Wissmann

    When is the next Expat Diaries?! Ready for MORE!

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