{ in·deed·a·bly }

adverb: to competently express interest, surprise, disbelief, or contempt

Migration experience

2020 has been a challenging year. Freedoms curtailed. Plans compromised. Routines disrupted.

People living in real fear, often for the first time. Facing levels of uncertainty beyond their experience.

A silent assassin floating on the very air we breathe. Weaponising human contact and personal interaction. Thinning the herd as it picks off the disadvantaged, the old, the sick, and the vulnerable.

It sounds like the setting for a young adult dystopian novel. Crushing futility. Despair. Hopelessness. The only thing missing is the unlikely Katniss Everdeen style underdog, possessing Greta Thunberg levels of rage and stubbornness worthy of Zeno the Stoic, to triumph over adversity and save the day.

And yet, against that bleak backdrop, there are positive signs nearly everywhere I look.

People taking stock of their lives.

Re-evaluating their circumstances, goals, and priorities.

Taking decisive action to better themselves and improve their lot in life.

Emigrating abroad. Going back to school. Leaving the big city. Re-skilling. Starting a business.

Whether driven by choice or circumstance, the promise of new beginnings inspiring dreams of a better future.

It is these people who are the underdogs in the story of 2020. Taking control of their own destiny.

Charting a different course. Deciding not to join the cacophony of rent-seekers demanding the government bail them out. Handouts. Mortgage holidays. State-aid. Subsidies. Tax breaks.

Migration has been a topical subject in my world recently. Several acquaintances, former colleagues, and even a few friends have packed up their lives in search of opportunities further afield.

More are actively considering the idea.

Fearing being caught in a post-Brexit confluence of longer-term demographic and structural trends.

The realisation that remote working isn’t a temporary workaround. It is here to stay.

The 2020s evolution of the white-collar work environment. Just as the 2010s brought the gig economy and hot-desking. Offshoring in the 2000s. Outsourcing in the 1990s. Computers back in the 1980s.

Reversing the 250 year-long trend of people needing to move to the expensive big city for work.

Like many countries in the developed world, the United Kingdom has an organic birth rate incapable of sustaining its existing population. Even before the current pandemic induced financial uncertainties, the rate of live births per woman was near record lows.

Meanwhile, a generation of nationalistic politicians have campaigned on the promise of greatly reduced immigration. A seemingly popular platform, supported by legions of predominantly white “left behind” voters residing outside of London.

Once upon a time, the United Kingdom made a compelling case to host the regional operations of multinationals seeking a gateway to Europe. Access to the common market. English language skills. Political stability. Strong rule of law. Well-educated population.

After Brexit, the United Kingdom reverts to a small isolated local market with expensive employees, that has spent the last few years displaying on the world stage discord, dishonesty, and dysfunction.

A market serviceable by small local sales offices. No longer justifying a regional headquarters presence.

Those demographic and structural forces combine to raise an uncomfortable question: where is the ongoing demand required to continue driving London property prices upwards going to come from?

Will Great Britain remain a destination of choice for the next generation of “greater fools”? Or will it echo Argentina’s experience, crumbling from global top 10 economy to shambles in under a century?

Bright prospects and booming economies attract business and create jobs. The inverse is also true.

Which leaves London based knowledge workers facing a dilemma.

Are their long term career prospects and salaries more certain at home or abroad?

What opportunities will be on offer for their children, when they enter the workforce?

Questions that can only be answered with certainty in hindsight. Until then there is only assumption, educated guesses, and risk management.

The decision to migrate is a big one. Expensive. Life-changing. Stressful. With a host of unexpected challenges and unintended consequences.

Today’s post looks at the migration experience, based upon my own misadventures. This post is in response to some reader requests to elaborate on some aspects of a recent comment I left over at SavingNinja. The usual disclaimers apply. Sample size of one. Your mileage may vary.

Vicious circle

Moving to a new location is challenging at the best of times. Moving to a new country even more so.

Imagine a world where everything works differently to what you are used to.

Customs. Laws. Social conventions.Taxes.

Normal to everyone who was raised with them. Foreign, and often slightly bizarre, to the outsider.

Throw in a potential language barrier, and you start to picture how daunting a challenge migration is.

Yet as the old legal principle goes “ignorance of the law excuses no one”.

Nobody cares that you are new in town. That nothing makes sense.

The aloof seeming natives aren’t being rude, when viewed from their perspective nothing is amiss and everything is functioning the way it is supposed to. They didn’t ask you to come. If asked, many of them would actively not want you to be there at all: “Driving up property prices! Taking our jobs! Not paying taxes!

When migrating you have left a place of unconscious certainty, where you intuitively understood how and why things work the way they do. Conditioned to acceptance. Educated in where to look and who to ask should things be unclear. Surrounded by a support network of people with more experience than you.

As a migrant, you are alone in unfamiliar surroundings. Stumbling in the dark. Often lacking the basic vocabulary and language skills required to start finding answers to the torrent of questions and unknowns you will undoubtedly experience.

At the beginning of the journey, a vicious circle often forms.

You can’t rent accommodation without a job.

You can’t get a job without a bank account.

You can’t open a bank account without a tax identifier.

You can’t obtain a tax identifier without a permanent address.

The time it takes to obtain a tax identifier varies by jurisdiction, but it is seldom a quick process. For example, in the United Kingdom it can take up to eight weeks. An eternity when you are living on the rapidly diminishing savings you brought from your home country. A period of purgatory during which you may find yourself unable to (legally) earn an income and ineligible for social security.

The shock to your confidence that this delay inflicts should not be underestimated. You are out of your comfort zone. Technically homeless. Probably unemployed. Haemorrhaging money with little means of staunching the flow. Gnawing doubts and suffocating uncertainties abound!

Did you make the right decision?

How long can your savings be made to last?

Why is migrating like coping with a newborn infant, where nobody talks about how difficult it really is?

Will there be a happily ever after? Or is your inner saboteur correct in claiming that happy endings only occur in brothels and fairy tales?

The first six months of a migration are attritional. Brutal. Character building. An emotional rollercoaster that tests even the strongest of relationships.

The good news is that many, but not all, migrants do eventually navigate their way out of that vicious circle. More than a few hit eject and bail out. Decide it is all too hard. Return from whence they came.

Indentured servitude

Some migrants obtain sponsored employment before they arrive in their new country.

This can make the migration journey a much smoother one, providing the job works out. Visa conditions vary, but it can be very difficult to change employers when the ask includes taking over a sponsorship. That puts all but the most niche skilled of sponsored employees in a very weak negotiating position, entirely at the mercy of their employer.

A large investment bank in Hong Kong once offered me a sponsored “dream job”, complete with a generous relocation package. A week after I was due to commence work, cost-cutting measures eliminated the position and made redundant the entire team I would have joined!

I had ultimately turned down the role because the visa conditions meant my lady wife would not have been allowed to work in Hong Kong. A lucky escape in hindsight, but an opportunity that in reflective moments still occasionally has me wondering “what if?”.

When migrating as a couple, the non-sponsored spouse may experience many of the challenges described above, or visa conditions may preclude them from undertaking paid work entirely.

Professional identity threatened.

Relationship balance of power altered.

Self-worth undermined.

Combine these with some culture shock and a liberal dose of homesickness, and it is not surprising that the number one reason that migrations fail is an unhappy spouse who wants to return home.

Culture shock

Experiencing a new culture when on holidays is an exciting adventure.

New sights. Sounds. Smells. Tastes. Observations and insights.

A brief introduction, before returning home to regale friends and family with tales of all the weird and wonderful experiences you enjoyed or endured.

Migration takes that adventure to a whole new level. Total immersion. No escape.

The culture shock of that immersion can be overwhelming at times.

The food is different. Much of what you used to eat at home is now unavailable. The rest is difficult to obtain, expensive, or tastes different. In its place is a whole new world of products that the locals happily enjoy. Requiring you to experiment and relearn to adapt and survive.

Those favourite coffees, cafes, restaurants, and treats of old quickly become overfond memories. Rose-coloured reminiscence elevating them to a pedestal they can rarely live up to in real life.

Care package comforts from concerned family back home during those trying early months.

Things long taken for granted at home become noticeable in their absence. A friend who migrated to Australia a couple of years ago was dismayed by some of the differences. How could anybody survive without Amazon shopping? Cope with embarrassingly slow internet? Have to pay eye-watering prices for fresh fruit and vegetables?

Weren’t all these things basic human rights?

Perhaps you have a resume full of locally respected firms and attended a leading domestic university. Impressive at home, but if the names were not international top tier brands, such as McKinsey or Oxford, then they carry little weight in your new locale.

Your accustomed sense of conferred status and entitlement suddenly humbled with an ego-bruising thud!

Knowledge gap

One of the biggest challenges facing new migrants is the cultural knowledge gap.

In your home country, you were familiar with the local celebrities. Folklore. Politicians. Sportspeople.

You understood the tribal identities and beliefs.

You knew who were lionised as heroes or painted as villains.

The shared anecdotes. Collective experiences. Cultural references.

In your new home, you will have limited and patchy knowledge of all those things. Over time that knowledge gap reduces, but it never fully goes away.

For example, in the United Kingdom cultural shorthand regularly includes references to Thatcher’s Britain. Blitz spirit. Eton old boys’ club. The 1966 World Cup. The “hand of God”.

Imagine hearing those terms without understanding the historical significance or cultural context.

Trying to figure out why some former political leaders such as John Major and Gordon Brown are respected elder statesmen, yet others like Tony Blair and David Cameron are persona non grata.

Now expand that sense of bewilderment to popular culture touchstones such as Blue Peter. Carol Vorderman. George Best. Grange Hill. Mr Tumble. Only Fools and Horses. Top of the Pops.

Instantly relatable for natives who grew up with them, yet unfamiliar and inexplicable to newcomers.

Metamorphosis

Many new migrants struggle with an unexpected coldness or disinterest from loved ones back home.

There are a few aspects to this.

First, you packed up and left. Abandoned them. Turned your back on the lives that they, and until very recently you, happily lived and shared. That stings a bit!

You may have taken away their nieces, nephews, or grandchildren.

Your parents may feel that they can no longer count on you as a viable caregiver or someone who will keep an eye on them as the frailties of age start to catch up with them.

Absent from spontaneous social events. Missing minor milestones. After work drinks. Helping move house. Relationship breakups. Sporting triumphs. Weekend barbecues.

You may only be a phone call away, but it isn’t the same.

When you do fly in to attend the major events, your very presence becomes an event, stealing some of the limelight. Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Funerals.

Be prepared to miss a number of those milestone events. Visa renewals can take up to six months at a time to process, during which you may not have access to your passport.

The applicant faces a tough no-win decision. Request your passport back early, lose their place in the queue, and jeopardise your ability to remain in the new country. Or pass up the chance to see your little sister get married, or meet those newborn nieces and nephews in person.

Finding a sympathetic ear may prove difficult. The trials of migrating perceived to be self-inflicted wounds, easily remedied by moving back home. Pretty soon you may find yourself starting to censor what you talk about. Choosing mostly safe topics of conversation.

Second, you are growing and evolving. Opening your mind and spreading your wings. New experiences coming thick and fast. Some good. Others less so.

Meanwhile, your colleagues, family, and friends back home lead largely unchanged lives.

Doing the same things. In the same places. With the same people.

Unable to relate to all the different things you are experiencing in your new home. Some may feign interest, because you find it interesting. Others will get defensive, perceiving judgement in comparisons and threat in differences observed.

You realise you need to find a new peer group to share your adventures with. That you are leaving your old life behind.

Third, when you do return home for a visit it can be a bittersweet experience.

Things will seem smaller and less satisfying than they had in your rose-coloured memories. You no longer fit quite the way you used to. Social circles evolved to your absence. Moving on without you.

The thought occurs that you are now an outsider both at home and in your new locale.

The ex-pat trap

A common crutch for the new migrant is to seek out other members of the diaspora.

Fellow ex-pats with familiar accents who are slightly further along the journey. Sharing hard-won wisdom and insights that may help avoid some of the early traps and common pitfalls.

Ex-pat groups can be a double-edged sword. Transient. Often populated with people seeking to recreate a pale imitation of their old lives in a new place. An endeavour doomed to failure.

At first, they can provide a welcoming respite from the loneliness and uncertainty. A shared cultural past and common identity providing an instant bond.

After a while, an inherent dichotomy becomes apparent. By embracing a familiar bubble of outsiders,  ex-pats resist integrating with the new. Slowing the pace at which they start to feel at home in their newly adopted culture.

A valuable community, but one that long term migrants tend to outgrow.

One thing ex-pats are great for is advice on niche topics of interest to a vanishingly small pool of people just like you. Visa requirements and processing times. Double taxation treaties. Pension transfers. The implications of changing tax residency, such as triggering capital gains tax events or losing access to tax-advantaged accounts.

Migration experience

Migration is an adventure. A huge leap into the unknown, without a safety net.

In some ways it resembles raising very young children. Challenging during, while you often wonder what you have done to your life and when it will get easier? Then rewarding after the fact, in hindsight.

The potential for personal growth, career advancement, and (sometimes) wealth generation is great.

It provides a unique opportunity to reinvent yourself. A fresh start free of baggage, history, and pre-conceived ideas about what you are capable of. A chance to shed the monkey off your back, away from family expectations, cliquey social circles, and suffocating closed minds.

Migration is also a risky proposition. Fraught with stress and uncertainty.

Yet for many of us, the worst that may happen is we slink home with broken dreams, injured pride, a lighter wallet, and are briefly forced to eat some humble pie.

A small price to pay for a grand adventure, particularly if the reward is the chance of a better future for ourselves or our kids.


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23 Comments

  1. SavingNinja 27 October 2020

    Very well put, Indeedably.

    Migrating is something that I’ve wanted for most of my life, although the rose-tinted glasses can sometimes be worn when looking abroad. Nevertheless, living a life with no rose-tint may help to more easily live within the present moment, which is worth it either way!

    How long did it take you to become a full Brit?

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 27 October 2020 — Post author

      Thanks SavingNinja, I hope the migrant life in Sweden is treating you kindly.

      How long did it take you to become a full Brit?

      16 years. Mine wasn’t a linear journey however, I moved around quite a bit before I had kids, so the clock restarted several times along the way.

      Out of curiosity I once went back and totalled up how much I had spent on fees applying for visas, renewals, and residency. It ended up being a greater amount than my first house deposit!

  2. Fulltimefinance 27 October 2020

    About a decade ago before kids I came very close to migrating to Singapore for a time for work. It’s always interesting to consider how different life would have been.

    I’ve spent as long as a month at a time shifting abroad for work projects over the years. Over time I’ve learned that I have a time capacity for dealing with the difference in culture, after that I need to seek out those with my background. That time is far shorter in a culture that doesn’t share my language.

    I someday plan to spend 5-6 months abroad at a time. When that time comes the part that will help me is knowing it’s not permanent. I don’t think I have it in me to make a permanent migration.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 27 October 2020 — Post author

      Sounds like you have some grand adventures planned, FullTimeFinance.

      I think you are correct, having a fixed end date would take some of the pressure off. I suspect it may also make it harder to assimilate, going to the trouble of establishing new friendships and routines, and living like the locals do.

      • FullTimeFinance 27 October 2020

        It’s definitely possible that short term visits could lead to a resistance to assimilate. In that respect I suspect I have a bit of an advantage having done projects on the ground in many parts of the world. Ie I already have a good deal of friendships in multiple locales and have experience in a more work day to day from an apartment rather then a sightseeing environment. Then again I could just be kidding myself.

  3. Teachin_machine (@teachin_machine) 27 October 2020

    This is a great post. I really identify with all of the above from my 4 years in Rome teaching.
    Even though I had a job on arrival, the whole process of getting my permesso di soggiorno reduced me to tears! My suitcase remained semi-packed under the bed for the first 6 months. I couldn’t get porridge oats anywhere! Queuing was replaced by sharp elbows.
    I was there for the last year of the Lira. Earning over one million in any currency is a thrill, but not when you cannot get change for denominations over 20,000 notes in the shop.
    In reflection, it was worth it for the cultural experiences, wider perspective on life and new found appreciation of my home country – even HMRC!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 27 October 2020 — Post author

      Thanks Teachin_machine.

      That having a half packed suitcase is a big warning sign!

      Visiting other countries is certainly a great way to learn to appreciate the good bits of our own. Hopefully we can also borrow the things that other cultures do better than our home country, learning from others to improve ourselves.

  4. weenie 28 October 2020

    Sounds like you had a tough time!

    Your ‘metamorphosis’ bit was interesting – my entire immediate family emigrated (to HK) and for a long period of time, I was the only one left living in old Blighty. So I was the absent one from social events and missed milestones which were all happening over there and I was only kept in the loop with social media, photos and my annual trips to see them, to make sure that my nieces and nephews knew who I was.

    As regards to the ex-pat trap, my siblings’ friends are exclusively ex-pats, though not all originating from the UK as the kids go to international school.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 28 October 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences weenie. That’s tough, having your family “move out” on you. The same thing happened to my younger brother while he was at university, I don’t think he ever forgave my parents for abandoning him!

      I’ve migrated five times, which makes me a slow learner and a sucker for punishment.

      A couple of them were enjoyable, an exciting combination of new experiences, people, and surroundings. I could have happily stayed on, but new opportunities abroad proved too tempting. A couple of them were miserable failures, the old saying “unhappy wife, unhappy life” is a cliché because it is so very true!

      The final one has been a mixture. Positive in the end because it succeeded, but I am conscious that this view is heavily influenced by survivorship bias. Had I known then what I know now, I’m not sure I would have made the same decisions.

      The experiences described above were largely consistent each time, while the upsides differed markedly with each separate migratory adventure.

      International schools, particularly those offering the International Baccalaureate, are a great option for kids with parents who are geographical mobile or uncommitted to a particular location. Some state schools in the United Kingdom now offer the IB, providing the benefits of the standardised curriculum without the eye-watering school fees.

  5. Northern Lad 29 October 2020

    Although tangential to your article, interesting point about Argentina. I do wonder, though, if there’s any real merit in making the comparison the the UK. Whilst clearly true that poor government leads to poor outcomes (China being quite a good example imo of differing outcomes in the same country depending on how seriously government administration is taken) 100 years is an awfully long time. Indeed, China itself has been an absolute clusterf*** well within the last century, and is now competing to be the pre-eminent global power. Extrapolating anyting over that time-scale is like throwing darts blindfolded. Being nimble and globally mobile mitigates the risk of that particular cloudy crystal ball, but a country’s fortunes can change well within a single working lifetime, either to the benefit or the detriment of the immigrant who choses to move there.

    Only time will tell what happens with the UK, but I’m staying here (but keeping a second passport…).

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 29 October 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Northern Lad.

      Citing the Argentina example was a device to illustrate just how much things can change over the relatively short space of a single lifetime. At the turn of the 20th century Argentina, Australia, Canada, and South Africa would all have been considered emerging economies with strong prospects for the foreseeable future. At the time, each of those economies was powered by what could be cut down, dug up, or killed off. In the subsequent century demand for those products remained and in some cases materially increased.

      Yet the outcomes experienced by those economies varied markedly. Argentina and South Africa made some poor choices and scored some own goals, events that had deep and long lasting adverse consequences.

      I agree the further out we try and look, the less accurate our guesses may be. Yet if we’re assessing the job prospects for ourselves or our children, we’re unlikely to be looking much more than 20-30 years out.

      What will the world look like in 25 years time? Nobody knows for sure.

      Recency bias may lead some to jump on the China ascends bandwagon. Foresee greater and more frequently occurring natural disasters, and an emerging problem of climate change induced migration/refugees.

      Technologists may see the decline of the United States dominance heralded in the rise of internet use/devices outside of the original English speaking user base, and the next wave of giant technology firms originating outside of the traditional start-up hubs.

      Historians might perceive Brexit and the seeming inevitability of Scottish Independence as being the final death throes of a faded empire which not so long ago ruled much of the world.

      I’m not attempting to predict the outcome here. Though I am concerned about what happens to London property prices if post-Brexit immigration levels are materially below where they are today!

      • Northern Lad 29 October 2020

        Agree almost 100%. The only explicit prediction I’ll make with confidence is that the future will be different from the present. Only problem is that there’s an implicit future prediction on relative fortunes of at least two countries in (not) migrating – we have to make some sort of guess, however uncertain, even if the ‘so what’ is to stay put.

        My guess on London property is that it is so detatched from the British economy that it will continue to rise. Or that it’ll crash. Or roughly plateau.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 29 October 2020 — Post author

          My guess on London property is that it is so detatched from the British economy that it will continue to rise. Or that it’ll crash. Or roughly plateau.

          Lol! With that take you’re infinitely qualified to be a professional property pundit in the mainstream media.

  6. FI-FireFighter 31 October 2020

    Another very interesting read.
    I did have a minor coffee spilling moment though-

    Trying to figure out why some former political leaders such as John Major and Gordon Brown are respected elder statesmen, yet others like Tony Blair and David Cameron are persona non grata.

    John Major the Tory PM, espousing family values in Govt & readily criticising the opposition for their lack of them repeatedly, whilst having an affair with a fellow cabinet member.
    Gordon Brown as chancellor who sold a significant chunk of UKplc gold reserves at a ‘dip’ in the value ( being kind) and who shouted ( very publicly) again and again how he had ended the boom and bust cycle of the UK economy.
    Neither are referred to as respected elder statesmen by anyone I know.
    But that reinforces to point you are making about knowing all the subtle reference points.
    Now, how do you get coffee stains out 😄

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 31 October 2020 — Post author

      Lol, thanks for clearing that up FI-Firefighter.

      As I said, it can be hard to figure out who the heroes and villains are supposed to be. Achievements and hypocrisy are to be expected of all, it is a question of scale and perception. Blair governed for a decade, and all outsiders remember of him is the war in Iraq. Cameron is forever linked to Brexit.

      To illustrate, where I grew up the accepted narrative of Margaret Thatcher was that she fixed the British economy and fixed an election with a suspiciously timed war. Few knew the details and less cared about them. I doubt many Brits who lived through those years would summarise things in quite the same way, more likely to remember things like the poll tax, strikes, and union busting.

      Coffee stains, that is simple! A bit of magical thinking. Some task appropriate outsourcing. Then, when that all fails horribly, you fire the disposable staff, throw out the offending item, go buy a new one, and add “change management” as a key skill on your resume.

  7. zipzapzoom 1 November 2020

    Fantastic summary – migration to a new country is like a roller coaster ride; we’ve experienced/experiencing many of the aspects that you articulated. There have been many ups and down in our journey, but it has been a great adventure so far, and I’d recommend it to anyone who can do it, even if it is temporary.

  8. Money For The Modern Girl 1 November 2020

    Migrating is a process. When I came over to the UK in 2004 I felt on top of the world: I had a job, a place to stay, savings and friends over here. Yet it took me 4 full months to be able to open a bank account – you can imagine what that did to my self-esteem.
    My first place here was a one bed ex council flat in a not-so-great area of London (as a young woman yearning for adventure I loved it even more for it!). It cost me £300 a month. I had it just for me, no flat mates. And I had to slide a £1 coin in the electricity box every few weeks – so cheap!
    But I had no bills in my name.
    Coming from a country with a different system to identify people, I didn’t pay much attention to what this meant. But getting my hands on the money I was earning was a challenge.
    It took me 6 months to sort out all the initial stuff. But what made the biggest difference on the long term was hanging out with locals – Brits and international folks – rather than only people from my home country. 14 years later I became a Brit myself.
    I admire people who move to different countries multiple times, it’s everything you describe in your post – exciting and difficult at the same time.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 November 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Sonia.

      Your coin driven electricity box made me smile, my first flat in London had an electricity key that I used to have to take to a service station to “top up“. It was the opposite of cheap though, several times the standard rate for electricity billed the normal way.

  9. John Smith 3 November 2020

    In 2009 my first UK salary was 5x than in my native country (so low I was paid for the same job in my native country). My UK employer offer was very good: work permit, relocation lump-sum. I got a bank acount and a temporary NINO (national insurance number) in two days. Renting a room in UK (cost wise living like a student) at age 40+, for near 3 years, but my family remains abroad. So I partialy fell in expat trap; visiting my wife every 6 weeks abroad.
    Money was good, huge savings 75%, moral no so good. Discovered FIRE, aimed for ERE (extreme retirement early in 5 years), stupid me!.

    When my wife joined me UK, she got a big shock. She waited 6 weeks to get an interview for NINO, I helped her with a joint bank account, then she got a 2 months job on zero hours contract on minimum wage. WTF? She is (near) same age as me, same university degree. Plus my child did not get the student maintenance (the law was changed) but she demanded to live alone in campus (foolish teenagers). Family reunion bitter-sweet. Oh, what have I done?
    Suddenly I was the only breadwinner. ERE => FIRE => hope => just good life?

    Imigration is a big challenge for a mariage. But it can build the character.
    So yes, I agree with you indeedably: “Professional identity threatened. Relationship balance of power altered. Self-worth undermined”.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 3 November 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences John Smith, and those of your family.

      Sounds like your wife had a tough run. Had she been working in a field related to her degree back home, before moving to the UK? The rules for recognising “equivalence” of qualifications seem to be ever changing, and seemingly made up on the spot!

  10. John Smith 3 November 2020

    Equivalence of qualifications was not the problem. She did not find (3 months in advance before UK arrival) a proper job NEAR where I rented. Her 3h/day commute and the need for a second car in UK was not worth the extra money/year after tax. We decided that her TIME is better allocated to family than fiat money. My savings and my salary (as sole earner) were enough for a modest life and allow payment for 4 years university for my child.

    And 4+ years ago I migrated again (involuntary, job redundancy), from UK into Austria. The lesson learned: for a smooth transition, and money mitigation risk (renting, job redundancy, tax advantages), a member of the family should migrate in advance, to build the bridgehead.

    I am preparing for the next migration (after covid is defeated) for retirement. Because Austria is expensive, 6000 eur/m2 house price, or 25% tax on interest, or 27.5% for dividents. Wow, UK is basically a tax haven versus Europe.

What say you?

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