It’s been a long time since I last updated this blog, mostly because I’ve been working my ass off at The Happy Coeliac and my own personal ramblings seemed a little pointless. More than 6 months after we decided to make a move to the Netherlands, we are now here in Haarlem, and I think that my life might have got sufficiently interesting to start writing about it again.
A surprising amount of people have asked me this, as if it is a random and unexpected decision. It was actually rather carefully considered. Our conversations went something like this:
Me: We need to get out of London/the UK.
Me: What about USA?
Alex: Cars, pollution, ignorance, religion, healthcare costs, violence.
Alex: Maybe. Quite far away though. Might be tricky to move there permanently, not sure if there is work out there.
Me: Germany? France? Denmark? Italy? Australia? New Zealand?
Alex: Too many rules, too socialist, too cold, too difficult to get anything done, too far away, too slow internets.
[Some time later]
Me: What about the Netherlands?
Alex: I really enjoyed my time there before.
Me: I like the cycling and the laid-back culture.
Alex: They have a good work-life balance.
Me: It’s pretty, with good air quality.
Alex: It’s not too far away from our families.
Me: The quality of housing is better.
Alex: They have superfast broadband.
Me: I can start a line of gluten-free hash brownies and become a squillionnaire!
Alex: Are there any downsides?
Me: We don’t speak Dutch?
That was actually the only downside we could think of, aside from moving away from our families. Everything else just seemed like a positive. Now that I’ve had a good 3 days experience of the life here, I am pleased to report that my expectations seem largely grounded in reality. Our landlord is friendly and helpful. People smile at you. Bikes and pedestrians rule the roads. The air is wonderfully clean, and my chronic sinus inflammation has gone down (after flaring up in 2009, when I moved to London).
That’s not to say things won’t be difficult as we learn the language, make friends and start a new life here. I’ve been feeling an unexpected culture shock, as I am tongue tied whenever a shop assistant asks me a question. I feel I have to apologise for not speaking the language. I am not used to the fact that cars will slow down for pedestrians, so I have developed a kind of twitchy walk.
But overall I feel that this has been a positive step for Alex and I. London never really suited either of us, so I hope we’ve found a place that we will one day, without hesitation, call home.