“Let’s move to France.” I declared as I sat on the balcony of our holiday apartment in Gran Canaria.
My wife smirked as I toasted the statement with a bottle of Desperado’s. I’ve seen that smirk a lot. It’s the kind of smirk she gives when she think I’m full of rubbish or full of alcohol. In this case both. In fairness, I make a lot of sweeping declarations, and barely follow up on any of them, so she had reason to doubt me.
“I’m going to stop biting my nails.”
“I’m going to go for a jog tomorrow morning.”
“I’m definately not going to eat that last bit of cheese.”
But this was different. This one, I meant and was determined to follow up on. This would mean I would be able to give my wife her dream of moving back to her native France with her family. We talked through the implications of following through the move, what we would need to do, and how much work it would be, and how much money we would spend. And after the conversation, nothing had changed. I still wanted to do it.
My wife is from France, and moved to the UK in 2010 for work. We married in 2014 and then had a baby girl in 2016, all while living in Sheffield in the UK. At several points during those seven years, my wife had voiced her desire to live in France with me at some point. Up until now it had always been a pipe dream. My wife stressed she was happy, but I felt there was always a part of her wanting to back in La France.
The key to unlocking a move such as this was my job. As is usually the case with expats. Up until this year, 2017, I’ve always been in a fixed role that requires me to either be in the office, or working from home. 2017 saw me take on a client portfolio of European product partners, which meant a lot of travel across the continent. We’d been talking about how my role had changed so much when it suddenly dawned on me that it might make sense for me to be based on the continent given the amount of travel I was doing, and the product partners and colleagues I would be talking to. It would also mean I would be working on “European” time, instead of losing an hour at the beginning of the working day and an hour at the end where I would start later than European colleagues and they would finish earlier than me.
When I returned from my annual leave, I floated the idea with my manager, who was more than happy to support the move. The exact words used were “I don’t care where you work, as long as you give 110%”. Rather than correct him and say it’s not possible to give more than 100%, I thought I’d quit while I was ahead, leave it there and take the victory.
I told my wife about the conversation, but there was still an air of disbelief. Like this move wouldn’t happen. That only strengthened my resolve to make it happen.
“We will get to France by the end of the year,” I promised.
And I was right,