Tag Archives: emigration

Reflections on my emigration to Europe so far…..

I am sure that most people would find an emigration stressful. Off course there are different types of emigration and it makes a huge difference if your move is a consequence of free choice or to escape danger. Our move back to Europe is a result of our own decision based on assessing Australian versus European living standards.

emigration, Stradbroke Island

One of the beautiful Australian beaches. I will miss them but their memory is chiseled in my mind.

To be honest there is not much wrong with Australia. Although a couple of nasties are sticking up their head! All over it is a very pleasant country with a stunning scenery. We just have decided that we like a different scene for the near future.

We have had our fair share of Down Under, more than 25 years to be specific. It also helps that both our kids also like the idea of moving to Europe. The youngest is planning to study in The Netherlands and our plan is to attend a couple of open days in November at some Dutch universities.

Funnily as we made the plan to migrate together, so far it has been only me who has made the move. I booked my ticket to leave immediately after we would leave our house as it seemed a logical consequence?? For my husband and youngest offspring there seemed to be some reasons to hang on to Oz a bit longer. As a result they both leave on different dates after they have finished their ‘things’ 😉

Emigration and stress

I just read an article written by a psychologist about moving stress and it seems I am doing naturally what she recommends. As I have some hidden psychology knowledge in me dating from a long time ago some common sense may be guiding me here and there.

It was weird yet good for me to arrive by myself. This way I have only my own feelings to deal with and I can ease into a strange but also vaguely familiar territory. I arrived in London where I lived for 5 years and where my husband is from. There is family there and I had a place to stay. The same goes for The Netherlands where I do the round of friends and family.

emigration, Bunne, Dutch country side

Bunne. Flat as a pancake but oozing with charm. Very pretty surroundings for walking and cycling.

I suppose from that point of view it is very different from other migrants. So far there has been no stress to find a place to live and fortunately I have people to talk to. Furthermore I speak all the languages of the countries I visited so far and they are familiar to me.

Despite this both England and The Netherlands do not feel as my home. I am not a citizen in either country although I am Dutch, I am married to a Brit or own a house in France. I have no immediate rights in these countries and really at this stage I am just a tourist.

Resident status

Officially though I am still a resident of Australia. From their point of view I have just left for a holiday. There could be an issue to get back into the country as I left without having a re-entry permit. I tried to apply online before I left but the immigration website was being a pain so I gave up. The girl at the border mentioned it but we both knew I am able to apply for an Aussie visa when I am abroad.

emigration, moving, stress

Limoux – view of the bridge and the church tower in the centre of town

France is the place where I intend to become a resident but so far I have not really an idea how to go about that. This is also important for my husband because Brexit will throw a spanner in the works for him. However as my husband he has European access and we only have to make it official. This again is strange territory but I am sure there is an answer.

The joy of emigration

It all is exciting and to be honest slightly daunting but that makes it also a challenge. I love challenges…! Every official thing I manage to accomplish feels like a small victory and gives me confidence. I am not a novice at migrating either. Australia was the 4th country I lived in for longer stints and there were several more where I spent shorter periods. Norway and Greece are amongst those.

There is a difference off course to live a short period somewhere and to remain a citizen of your home country. It is not the same as leaving officially and to become a citizen elsewhere. I suppose we fall into the last category with this emigration.

While I am writing all these things and am busy contemplating the above issues, I realise it helps writing about it. Everything becomes quite clear and easier to oversee. I suppose writing is about delving into your inner feelings and thoughts and expressing them somehow in words. It makes you step back and assess not only the situation but also your way of thinking. It definitely helps me putting things in perspective.

My emigration rules

Therefore my rule at the moment is to have no expectations, to live every day as it comes and enjoy consequently the proces! I have just spent a lovely week with my sister and I am in the middle of catching up with three long time friends. I am enjoying these moments and will make the most of it 😀

emigration, Groningen, outdoors, coffee and cake

Enjoying the summer and outdoor living in Groningen.

Most of all I like to thank the people who have opened up their houses for me and made me feel comfortable. I hope I can return the favour in our house in Limoux, France

Feel free to comment, express opinions and share experiences about emigration. I am sure those considering a move may benefit from it.

See you next time!

emigration, happy, at ease



How to control ‘moving’ stress and enjoy the ride!

I feel as if I am in control of a stressful ride. On the one hand I am in the middle of a hectic process to emigrate to Europe and on the other it feels like I am coasting.

The good thing is that we seem to be on schedule with our moving plans. We are finalising paperwork with care and thought. Our social life is well planned ahead to make sure we ‘do it all’.

Slowly we are selling our belongings and the house gets emptier and emptier. By the end of April I expect to be without clutter. The liberating sense of ‘clutter freedom‘ is creeping upon us.

In control of the clutter

It is a nice feeling to know where things are – the necessary things that you really need. Even better it is great to open a cupboard and be able to find something immediately.

A week ago I had a garage sale. A friend and I combined efforts and we held a large sale at her house. It was very successful for her and average for me. She was selling beautiful items from the Middle East where she lived for years. I on the other hand was selling lower end stuff.

Still I got rid of quite a bit and the best thing was that she had lined up a charity to take everything that had not sold off our hands. That meant that I did not have to take things back home.

Unfortunately this charity did not take books and well you guess it right. I was left with a large amount of books and I had to take them all back home. In the end I wondered whether having a garage sale somewhere else had been worth all this effort.

control, clutter, books for sale,

Books, books and more books. People just don’t seem to like books anymore……

I suppose all small actions make a difference and we may have some other ways of shifting these books. Books are not very popular it seems. At least not amongst the type of people that frequents garage sales.

How to control garage sale fans

They are a hilarious lot. Bargaining a $2 item down to $1. When they started counting out their saved 5 and 10 cent pieces, I stopped them there and then. Only gold coins! For the non-Australians, gold coins are $1 and $2 coins.

Nevertheless, a garage sale with my friend T. is always fun as we both love chatting to people and make friends easily. T. is a very good sales person and flocks literally anything. She sold all kind of things from her garage that were actually not for sale. Like sports items belonging to her kids and a bag with bottles of wine.

The person who was after these wines for a very cheap price almost ripped my arm off when I expressed interest for one of the bottles. He yelled: ‘I was there first’ and felt that he therefore had the right to all bottles. I had to withdraw myself to not say something rude or slap him in the face.

Am I moving permanently?

I have slightly confused feelings about moving. It is not, that I don’t want to go but I am slowly starting to realise the ‘finite‘ off it. I notice cars with the word ‘Australian’ that are driving past. I see everywhere ‘made in Australia’. Funny as before we thought everything here is made in China.

control, made in Australia,

Proudly made in Australia. Some things still are….

Many people are asking me if I leave for good. How do I know that? Things change and people change plans all the times. Years ago we were going to move to Perth and ended up living in Brisbane after first two years in London. Talk about being in control….

Plans change and that is fine. I already mentioned before that I am the only one who is actually leaving on the planned date. The others are leaving months later. Does it matter? No, not really. It would if they would not follow me….

Fortunately I am rather flexible and know how to adapt to changes without much of a problem. I just get on with it. I am not someone who indulges in ‘wallowing’ and to be honest I have an issue when others do that.

Sitting it out in style

At the moment it is only the beginning of March, I am working more than ever in my garden business and our house is slowly getting empty. We are totally on track, in control and nothing seems to be hasty.

control, friends, relationships

Making the most of friends. This group covers the primary school and high school years of our youngest off-spring!

My plan is to enjoy Australia as much as I can. Explore the city, go to the beach, see friends, hang out in cafes and be aware of it, so I have good closure. On other occasions I did occasionally rush when leaving somewhere and it just does not feel ‘finished’.

This time I want to do it right. When I leave I want to have the feeling not to have left a stone unturned and I feel I am on the right track.

Please feel free to follow closely what I am up to. Put your name and email in the box below and I’ll keep you posted!

change, emigration, Australia, France

Too much clutter – how to go about it?

Let’s talk decluttering!

One of the sins most households are guilty off is too much ‘clutter‘. With our impending move abroad we need to declutter our house and our lives over the next 6 months. Therefore I like to have a closer look at that rather common and addictive habit.

Clutter is one of these things that just seems to slip in to our lives whether we like it or not. Someone described it as follows:

Clutter is stuff you keep in your house but that does not add value to your life

When people move into a new home, they start with organised cupboards. Before they know their cupboards are overflowing with stuff they have collected or keep because it might come in handy.

Do you know that feeling? Assessing an item you have not used for a while, but still keep because it might come in handy one day!

no clutter, decluttering, easy done

Get real! It usually does not come in handy ever. Although there are these occasions that you want to use an item within weeks after you got rid of it. Sod’s law or what!

We have moved a couple of time during the last decade and had the opportunity to shed some stuff. Still we have more than we need stored away in cupboards, cellar and garage.

We are not even hoarders compared to some. Still we have kept things that are not essential to keep. Many of them are memories, things the kids made, like to keep and so on. I actually found out that our kids are not willing to have their own ‘keepsakes’ in their rooms. But they do like us to keep it for them.

It is hard to get rid of things our kids made however we can set some boundaries to how much we keep.

Great tips to get rid off your clutter

  1. The 1 year rule – if you have not used it for a year, you won’t use it again!
  2. Allow yourself to keep a piece of art your child made. But just one and have it framed.
  3. Make three piles – one for rubbish, one for charity and one for keeping or selling
  4. If you can’t part with it, pack it in a box and put it in a cupboard. If after 1 year you can hardly remember what is in the box, it can go.
  5. Imagine what a good feeling it will be to pass something on to people who have less money and have a use for it.

There are probably many more ideas but these are some of the rules I live by.

Real life examples why ‘decluttering’ is effective

In 1998 we moved for a couple of years to UK. We put most of our household in storage but took some because we felt that we did not want to part with it. Unfortunately for us the shipment went astray and did not arrive until 6 months after we had moved to London.

We were living in a furnished house that had everything we needed. So when our lot arrived it was nothing more than extra clutter. We could hardly remember what had been shipped and we certainly did not need it. It was a horror to imagine we had to ship it back to Australia when we returned.

In 2014 we bought a house in France. We bought some of the existing furniture from the seller and I kitted it out during a visit later in the same year. It is now a fully furnished holiday rental with everything you would want or need.

casa rita, lounge, holiday house

The spacious lounge of our house Casa Rita in Limoux, France

The ironic thing is that the cupboards are empty apart of course the kitchen cupboards. We have a small ‘owners cupboard’ on the top floor. I have left some clothes there that I don’t need in Australia and it has some extra linen, china, glasses, some tools and extra cleaning articles.

That’s it. And guess what, when I spend some time in the house, I have everything I need. So what does that mean? To me it means that in general we all hoard stuff that we don’t need and very likely won’t use that often.

Why we choose for  ‘getting rid of clutter’

For all the above logic we have decided to take the absolute minimum when we emigrate to Europe. For a number of reasons – the most important being that we don’t expect to need it. Another argument is the cost of shipping to Europe. We have heard about astronomical amounts that friends have paid when they returned.

We also fear that the style and size of furniture we have in Australia may not suit houses in Europe. Australian houses are spacious and have often more than one living room and a separate dining room.

So in order to play it safe we are not going to take any furniture apart from one wrought iron outdoor setting that I had made to go with a mosaic top I designed and created. That piece is unique and cannot be replaced.

mosaic table, design, wrought iron table

One of my mosaic projects – a wrought iron table setting with a a modern mosaic design

Then we have some paintings from local artists that we don’t want to part with, a couple of original Shiraz rugs, a beautiful sculpture from Zimbabwe and a didgeridoo!

They may be some favourite books, a dish that we love but allover it is going to be minimal. I love the idea of that – to shed weight, clutter and go back to basics.

So we have started to sell our possessions and plan to have no clutter left by April. Just the things we use on a daily base. It is a great feeling and …….it brings money in the bank!

If you like to read more about our plans to emigrate to Europe, make sure you add your name to my mailing list so I can make sure you get my latest blog article.

See you next time!

easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling






New Years reflections from Down Under

It is New Years in Brisbane, it is 35 degrees Celsius and the humidity is killing me. I used to love this weather and it was never too hot for me. Nowadays I struggle with it.

Maybe it is menopause and hot flushes that is causing me to feel like a drowned cat all the times. What ever it is, I am more and more disliking summers in Australia. And that is an understatement.

The other day I was walking along the Brisbane river and had some kind of epiphany. Many people who live in Australia find it hard to believe that someone is thinking of leaving Australia. After all why would you want to leave a country where many things appear perfect.

Reasons why Australia is wonderful….

  • The sky is blue most of the time and the weather allows outdoor activities all year round.
  • There is lots of green even in the bigger cities – we live only 5 km from the city center of Brisbane but have a golf course, a forest and the river within walking distance.
  • Food variety is abundant. Whether it is Vietnamese, Russian, Italian or Mexican, you can find it here.
  • Empty spaces – where can you find an empty beach or find yourself by yourself in a National Park.
  • Friendly people. Where does the bus driver get sad if you don’t greet him and thank him when leaving the bus?
empty beach, Australian beach, blue skies, new years eve

Empty beaches all for your self even when it is high season

I can go on for a while. There are many special things in this country and it is incredible beautiful. But you know what… I have had enough of it!

After 25 years having all of this, I am saturated with blue skies and friendly bus drivers and long for things that Australia does not have. The grass is always greener, they say…

A New Years Reflections

So here I am on New Years, typing this blog post in this tremendous heat. There is a breeze but it is warm. I sit here in my bathing suit and just hosed myself down with the garden hose. That makes it feel a bit more comfortable. The water from the hose was also warm. By the way, if you like to finish your shower with a splash of cold – not possible here!

Many people have pools here and it is not a luxury. When we moved to Brisbane, a friend told us that two things are essential here – a pool and air conditioning. My god, was she right!

I am sure I will miss many aspects of Australia. The subtropical storms in Queensland are spectacular and the sky seems bigger and seems to have more and different stars than the Northern hemisphere.

Australian things you can do without

What I won’t miss though are the insects – cock roaches, flies, spiders and the mozzies. I never forget my most horrible encounter with a cockroach. Australian cockroaches are a different species than the German roach. The Australian version is big, incredibly fast and at times they fly.

To cut a long story short, we were having dinner, funny enough our first New Years,  in a restaurant in Sydney with some friends in 1991. It was summer, windows were open and a cock roach flew in and landed in the back of my shirt. I jumped up and when I landed, I crushed the cock roach, that in the meantime had fallen out, with my bare foot. Not a good memory…

Python, snake, predartor

A 2 meter plus Python travelling through our garden and just about to attack the cat of the neighbours

Many people fear snakes and sharks. In 25 years living in Australia I have only come across 3 snakes and we have spent a fair bit camping in the bush. There are heaps of snakes around but they are more afraid of us than we off them.

Australia does have 7 of the 10 most poisonous snakes in the world. It is bad luck if you get bitten by one the same as being in a plane crash.

The same goes for sharks. There are sharks everywhere, there are even bull sharks in the Brisbane river. The most beautiful beaches will have sharks – Bondi beach, Byron Bay and many more. Still shark attacks are relatively rare.

jelly fish, dangerous, Australian

A part of a jelly fish on the beach. There are many dangerous types, some even lethal

Don’t forget the jelly fish. There are several lethal ones in Australia. You can’t even swim in the ocean between November and April in the tropical areas. In Darwin you are unwise to swim in the sea unless you think you can out-run salt water crocodiles.

To summarise. Despite the many dangers, I love many things of Australia and will always have fond memories. And let’s be honest, the country is not disappearing from the earth. I can get my ‘dose’ of Down Under if I need to. I have permanent residency and can return to live in Australia if I need to for whatever reason. Keith is an Australian and so are our two daughters.

Things I miss……

However I am so looking forward to long and light days, dry heat, Dutch cheeses, cold Christmas, seasons, sitting outside without the eternal mozzie spray or mosquito coils. I am also looking forward to speak other languages – different ones than English.

I am looking forward to fly for an hour and and find myself in a different country, to be surrounded by another culture and language. And I am looking forward to get to know family better and friends from the past that I left behind.

I have already created a bit of a home in Europe. We bought a house in Limoux and I have spent a couple of times over a month there. I have met people there and made some friends with whom I am still in touch. So easy nowadays with mobile phones and computers.

So yes, considering my reflections on this New Years, I am keen on a new adventure. I am ready to leave this country. I will take many memories, even leave a daughter behind but that is life. Kids nowadays can end up anywhere. I got one French friend here who has three kids in three different countries.

So being one of the first countries in the world to reach New Years eve, I like to wish you all a wonderful start of a new year. 2017, may it be a better year for many I know, than 2016.

change, emigration, France, Australia, New Years