The last update to this article was: July 2016. It's pretty out of date! I'll update it soon x
First of all, I’d like to preface this by saying that any and all decisions I have made have absolutely nothing to do with the absolute shit-show that is “Brexit”. (Now that’s out of the way…).
Last month I decided I needed a change. I’d grown too comfortable, too lazy and had become disillusioned with living in Manchester, where I’ve spent the last 4 or so years of my life. I’d chosen to move somewhere now, and continue to travel around until I found a new place to call home.
Once I was sure of my decision, (and had ran it by anyone who would listen to make sure I hadn’t gone all the way insane) I set about about the most mentally and physically exhausting month of my life.
The Process of Leaving a Country
Step 1 — Getting my Affairs in Order
I’d moved house before, sure, but I’d never moved country and wasn’t particularly ready for all of the things I’d need to do within a one month timeframe. Everything was a pain, from handing in the notice for my apartment, to cancelling every single bill and hunting down rogue direct debits and pointless subscriptions (I’m looking at you LootCrate).
This turned out to be particularly time consuming, cancellation departments have BY FAR the longest hold times — almost as if they hope you surrender to the fucking awful hold music and give up on your planned cancelling of their product or service.
The biggest pain was attempting to cancel a gym membership I’m chained into a contract for; no one at the gym could seem to summon the mental power to fathom that me not being in a different country would mean I would lose my ability to attend their gym. That fiasco ended with me cancelling the direct debit and moving on with my life.
The final big hurdle, after a cumulative lifetime on hold to seemingly every company in the observable universe, was to sort through all of my clothes, belongings and useless shit I had accumulated in the preceding 4 years.
A couple of days and a series of bin bags later, this too was resolved.
Step 2 — Sell, Sell, Sell
Once I’d segregated everything that wasn’t making the cut — using the aforementioned series of bin bags — I then had to decide which of these items were to be sold.
At this point I need to thank my friends and family for either buying items or selling them on my behalf. Due to the lack of time I’d given myself, without their help I would’ve had to throw a lot more stuff away.
I sold a lot. Clothes, Apple monitors, TVs, game consoles and more. It’s truly amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate and the value tied up in them. So far around half of my stuff has been sold and has raised around £2,500, which has been incredibly helpful in the move.
Everything that remained I’d be taking with me, in a single suitcase (which ended up being 5kg overweight and costing me £50 — thanks EasyJet lads) and a backpack. I will, in the coming weeks, write one of those super fashionable posts about what exactly was in those bags. You know you love it.
Step 3 — Saying my Goodbyes
Saying goodbye to friends, loved ones and my cat was by far the hardest part — People I’d become used to seeing whenever I pleased, and a cat who’d been in my life for over a year and who I honestly preferred to most human beings.
I made sure I made plenty of time to be able to hang out with everyone and spend time with them before I left. However, this was just the first part of the challenge, I will go into more detail later in the article about the challenges distance adds to relationships.
The Journey and the New Place
My journey started at three in the morning on Tuesday the 12th of July in the centre of Manchester.
An absolutely stupid time for anything to happen.
After giving the keys to my friend, generally faffing around and ending up in a 2.6x surge Uber (making a £15 journey a princely £40) I made it to the airport, surrounded by a hoard of early morning “as if I need to get on a flight feeling like this” zombies.
I arrived in Berlin at 10AM, tired and frustrated, because not only did I have no GPS on my phone to navigate to my destination, but I knew I had to wait 5 hours to check in to my (apparently illegal, given the recent law changes in Germany) AirBNB. But once that was resolved and I’d had some sleep everything was great. I’ve been here over a week now and will write an article soon on what I’ve been up to (I say this but I’m pretty notorious for not following through on article promises, but we’ll see).
Anyway, on to the the good, the bad, the how and the why of things.
Despite having a, in my opinion, questionable music scene, Berlin has one of the strongest and rapidly growing tech scenes in Europe. There are plenty of conferences, events, co-working spaces and people to meet. Which means networking and settling in, for someone with social anxiety (we’ll discuss this more in the next section), will hopefully be much easier.
Other than that, it’s a very easy city to navigate due to the excellent transport links. What’s more, it’s got cheap beer and a myriad of places to eat. Win win.
The Good and Why I Did what I Did
I suffer from anxiety and depression, a large part of which is social anxiety. The core of this move is a, self diagnosed, cure to the problem. Knowing no one, having to meet new people and make new friends will, in my opinion, help with this problem and make me a more well rounded person. Alongside this it allows me space to miss my old friends and be happier to see them when they visit or I go back to see them, meaning I will value my time more with them.
This move, I hope, will also let me become bored again more often, which sounds bad, but for me boredom provides me with the most motivation to work. Without my previous distractions (games consoles and the like) I hope to be able to rediscover my passion for design, side projects and garner new passions, such as writing and new productive hobbies.
The Bad Stuff
As I mentioned earlier, saying goodbye to people was one of the hardest things. Alongside this will be losing people, some people won’t stick with me or be around should I visit, because in their eyes I’ve left them behind. It’s a sad fact of life.
One of the other hardest things I’ve encountered, just in this first week, is maintaining and growing romantic relationships at distance is very challenging. I’ve been dating a girl on and off for a while and whilst we’ve had our hard times, the proximity to each other always helped cure our many ailments. However, with the distance things have become increasingly difficult. But as with all things, we’ll see how it goes.
That brings me to loneliness. Sure, I’m meeting new people and trying to accrue new friends but there are times when your limited group of new pals are busy and therefore you are completely alone. I need to learn to become more comfortable with my own company and I hope that this move will help with that. But for now, loneliness is a huge negative of the move for me.
Finally, financially the move hasn’t quite gone as planned. Because of the aforementioned shit-show that is “Brexit”, the pound is (for lack of a better term) fucked. So, converting to Euros for the move meant having less money than planned. Granted, this will fade as I sort out local bank accounts and such, but it was definitely a headache I could’ve done without.
How I Will Work
In the past I’ve even written articles on how to be more productive working remotely. But with a move and a loss of your home office, it can be hard to settle into work properly again and I plan to write another article on it and how I’ve adapted soon.
As of right now I’ve been working with a Macbook Pro on a Roost stand, along with a keyboard and mouse from home. I plan to check out some of the local co-working spaces with the same setup soon. It’s a difficult transition away from being able to have proofing monitors and a comfortable home base, but I think it will help push me to learn new techniques and methods.
To Wrap Up & What I’ve learned
The main focus of everything I’ve done, despite all the caveats, positives and negatives has been to find a place where I can be happier person, I know it will be hard, I’ll lose people and things, but I can’t let things that are small in the grand scheme stop me from a pursuit to be a better, happier and more well rounded human being.
The key thing I’ve learned is that moving countries definitely needs more planning than I put in, and can’t really be as spur of the moment as I made it. Doing it in that manner leads to a lot of difficulty and if I didn’t have people around me who helped as much as they did, I’d likely have failed.
On the other hand, it’s shown me that it’s possible to lead a more minimal life than I had been. I didn’t need most of the shit I’d accrued to be happy, and had gradually filled my life with distractions — which led me to become disillusioned with my my life and work. Cutting things out of my life has made me a happier person.
So far anyway.
Thanks for reading, I’ll hopefully have articles on my packing list, a redux of the remote working article and potentially a weekly journal on my travels soon.
Speak soon ✌🏼