A few days ago I may have mentioned something about emigrating: it’s something a lot of people say when they’re fed up with a situation; many never mean it, others simply don’t follow through – that’s really not the case here: I mean it – I’m up, off, and outta here.
You see, I was fortunate enough to grow up in Europe, West Germany to be exact, it’s the place I’ve always thought of as home, the formative years when you form bonds, attachments and habits were all spent in Nordrhein-Westfalen, and having recently been back to my ‘home town’ of Gütersloh, I realised just how much I’d missed it – not just missed though, but how much I thought of it as a home town compared to Stamford, Peterborough, London or anywhere else.
It’s not just local attachment though, it’s a question of quality. The quality of life is significantly higher, the opportunities which are presented in that area for travel, new experiences, work and building a life are enormous. I’m sick of being couped up in the UK: I want to travel in Europe – I want the freedom to just jump onto the autobahn and go shopping in Dutch markets, go walking in the Harz mountains, go tobogganing in the Alps, drink in the culture of Venice, Salzburg, Wien, Berlin, Köln or just go to a different country without having to think of it as an excursion with passport clasped in hand. Let’s face it the only way to do those things in the UK is to start taking extended weekends or holidays, my job precludes being able to take that amount of time out – and I’ve just had enough of it – I want my life back, and moving to a place that makes it easier to escape makes a lot of sense.
Of course those of you who read the political posts will know where I stand on Europe – I really do roll my eyes at the attachment to the Pound, the constant interference in our daily lives of a thoroughly inept and at times disreputable civil service and government. The ludicrous and frankly luddite situation of having to enter Europe – a continent we’re all officially citizens of with a passport and customs control – and the sheer hassle of getting anywhere that’s remotely interesting without having to pay extortionate train fees for the Chunnel or having to slog down to Dover for my preferred choice, a leisurely P&O ferry and a decent car all take their toll on me. I want to be in the heart of Europe – not just personally, but professionally.
So the planning starts now… If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about moving in the UK it’s that planning is key, the more organised you are the better: and moving into a foreign country even with prior experience needs military precision; we know many things about what we want. We love Köln, right in the heart of NRW it’d make a great base: it’s got great shopping, a compact city centre with good public transport, a good gay scene and a busy ex-pat community. It’s close enough to the border to make the UK a not entirely tiresome drive and it’s got good links to all of NRW and the rest of Germany, a quick hop across the border to Holland or Belgium, and only a matter of minutes on the autobahn before you start to hit some really beautiful scenery.
So that’s the beginnings of a plan to emigrate. I’m looking at this as a long term plan, rent first see what happens and then look at settling down. I want to make the move this year coming: 2011 – disengaging from the rat race of ludicrous rents and house prices, rip-off britain, x-factor and all the other stuff that sets my teeth on edge, escaping to cheaper living in the heart of europe only a car drive away from mountains, glaciers, rolling hills, vineyards and more. Bring it on.