Could You Live Anywhere Else in the World?

Author: Lisa Soeno

I love the UK. I love the music, the history, the culture, the castles. I love the pubs, the roast dinners, the Cadbury’s chocolate. I love the sarcasm, the self-deprecating humour, the obsession with the weather.

But when the clocks go back, and the nights start drawing in, and when there’s ice to be scraped off the car in the morning, my mind starts to wander to the other hemisphere, where spring is in full swing.

To a place with wide, blue, open skies as far as the eye can see.
To a sea-made rock pool deep enough to swim and bob about in, and a man-made swimming pool cut into the rock.
To storms far out at sea, travelling across the horizon, providing the ultimate late night show.

Bronte, Australia was Rich’s and my first home together. As you can probably tell it still holds my heart.

We arrived into Sydney with great hopes which were immediately dashed when we checked into our hostel in the CBD. The weather was dire, the hostel was damp, and Sydney seemed dirty and soulless. It was a far cry from the colour and vitality of Melbourne, our last stop. We needed to get out of the city and into the suburbs.

I can still remember the Gumtree listing for the rented studio apartment in Bronte, a beautiful little beachside neighbourhood two bays south of Bondi. I insisted to Rich that I’d found The One before we’d even viewed it, and couldn’t hide my excitement when it turned out to be even better in real life. A granny flat nestled into the cellar of a house on prestigious Gardyne Street, it was barely bigger than a postage stamp, but after months of slumming it in shared hostel rooms, it seemed cavernous. And most importantly it was OURS.

What followed were the four loveliest months of my life. We scraped together some basic housewares (carrying an ironing board and mop and bucket across the handlebars of my bikes was interesting). I got an office job in a performing arts academy for kids; Rich somehow managed to land a job advising Australians twice his age on Melbourne home loans and how to invest in stocks and shares, despite never having worked in stocks and shares. We fully embraced the lifestyle that Australia is famous for: open ocean swims before work and the obligatory barbie on the beach/on our courtyard nearly every single night.

There were blips of course, and when I say blips I mean cockroaches. (The walls of our studio flat were made up of fist-sized rocks, lots of nooks and crannies, the perfect home for cockroaches). I still remember the foreboding I felt when night fell (the scuttly little critters are nocturnal), in the early days before we had spent half of our wages on Raid spray.

The cockroaches went, visitors came and went, and summer came and went.

And with autumn came a shock to the system. No one had warned me that Sydney sees more rainfall than London! We did what all backpackers do: packed our bags, car booted our bikes and belongings and followed the sun up the east coast.

So when asked the question now, my answer is always yes – Bronte in a flash. And then real life kicks in and I realise that we’ve started to set down roots here now, and with kids (and a significant other who’s extremely close to his Birmingham born-and-bred family) it’s all a bit trickier. There are schools to think of, and a community that I’m becoming increasingly intertwined with, and friends and family that I wouldn’t want to leave behind again.

But in another life, I’ll see you in Bronte.

Where was your first home with your other half?

Do you live where you grew up, or have you settled elsewhere?

Could you live anywhere else in the world?


Image from The Wandering Path

Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
Follow Lisa on instagram @lisa.soeno
This post may include affiliate links.
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44 thoughts on “Could You Live Anywhere Else in the World?

  1. Lisa what a beautifully written post. I was literally in your little apartment when you described it.

    My now husband and I traveled after uni for 3 months and had a ball. But when we were in Bali when the nightclub bomb incident happened and it made me want to run home to be with my mum and dad. Despite that scary incident it was a wonderful experience that I didn’t appreciate at the time but now look back on and realised how amazing it was.

    This resonates with me as I was absolutely certain I would move away but I find myself living in a house in the next street to my family home. I dream of moving but life is too complicated now. My brother and sister are in Singapore and the Isle of Man. My Dad has been on his own since we lost my mum 3 1/2 years ago. I can not leave him so if we do go he has to come too. My children’s relationship with my Dad is incredibly important to them and him. They keep him smiling everyday. I still dream of Canada one day! Maybe…..

    1. Thanks Stacy, what a lovely thing to say.

      How terrifying to be in Bali at the time of the nightclub bomb. You’re right about not appreciating travelling at the time…I love life now but some days I’d give ANYTHING to be a carefree beach bum for a couple of hours.

      That grandparent/grandchild relationship is such a special one. I wonder whether you could convince your Dad to move with you to Canada?! x

  2. Hi Lisa, my husband and I have spent the last six years in the other hemisphere. We’re about to make a move to our third country in Africa, which will be for atleast three more years. Then who knows! However with baby number two on the way I’ve got 3-4 months in the UK coming up and I really can’t wait! Family, friends, proper Cadburys, pubs, playgrounds…!

    There are so many things I love about living here, but I think having friends and family who are willing and able to visit us makes it doable. Otherwise I think I would find that being so far away would outweigh the benefits!

    1. Danielle it sounds like you are living life to the full! You’re in such a great position having loved ones able to come to visit you. I suppose our situation is similar in that my mum and dad both live in NZ but they come and visit every summer. I just wish I could relocate everyone to Bronte.

      And YES to PROPER Cadburys. I don’t know what they put into the Australian Cadburys but it just wasn’t the same 🙂

  3. I dream of it, but I don’t think I could. I’ve never lived elsewhere and have only left the country once. We considered moving a while ago and I found a house around twenty minutes from where we are now. My husband gasped and said that he hadn’t intended for us to practically move abroad. Searches have since been limited to within one mile 😄 Most of our close family live within ten minutes walking distance of our current home and I’ve never known any different. My children are very close to their grandparents and I wouldn’t want to upset that. But it really boils down to being a wimp who is scared of change.

    1. Part of me is envious Jade! I was brought up by my dad and we moved around a lot when I was little. I used to curse my dad for it as I just wanted to stay in one place. (However I must have inherited the travel bug from him). And I would love it if he and my mum were in the same country as me and my kids now. x

  4. We lived in New Zealand for three years (my husband is from Auckland originally), and had what many would see as the perfect life- a house that we built overlooking our own lake, in the middle of vineyards and mountains. It was wonderful, but very difficult for two very career driven people in a small country! When my husband suggested moving back to the full grey of Lancashire I didn’t hesitate- I simply missed my family too much. We now have a little boy and are lucky to be able to give him the best of both worlds- all of the opportunities of living in a much bigger place, still in the countryside, but able to go back to NZ for holidays to see family (and what I’ll always class as paradise!)

    1. Wow Sarah, just wow. Love this story. Whereabouts was the house you built? (My mum lives in Auckland and my dad’s in Bay of Islands) x

      1. Aww thanks! We were in Marlborough, so rather than Sunday lunch at the pub we ended up chilling at cellar doors drinking Sauvignon Blanc! Going back for the first time with our son at the end of the month and having a big family gathering in the Coromandel- the flight will be horrendous with a 7 month old but worth it!

  5. Lisa this is lovely! And really enjoying other people’s views and experiences. The world is full of magical places.

    I got the reserve position on a job in Rome a few years ago. The thought of the gelato, the light and the buildings and being able to nip on a train to my favourite cities in Umbria and Tuscany still gives me a little pang. Never mind. I always harboured hopes of moving to the village I used to dig in each summer- I’ve lived there for just under a year totting the time up. Bloody Brexit looks set to mess it up though.

    I couldn’t have stayed in my London commuter home town. You marry a Cornishman and you move west! I love our Devon home now- always remind muself that we live on other people’s holiday! It may be grey and wet some days but there’s always some beauty hiding somewhere.

    1. Thanks Lucy x

      Whenever you mention Italy on these pages it always makes me want to go there. I’ve only been once, when I was little, and we were just travelling through (it was when we relocated back to the UK from Saudi Arabia – for some crazy reason my dad decided it was a good idea for us to drive the whole way!).

      ‘There’s always some beauty hiding somewhere’ – LOVE. This certainly comes across from your insta. xx

  6. My husband and I met whilst backpacking in New Zealand. I was out there for a year, him almost two.
    We both returned to the UK and our families. I was in Leeds he was in the Lake District. After we got together we ended up settling in Cambridgeshire (he’s an agricultural engineer) and have been here for nearly 10yrs.
    I love living where we do but I would like to move again at some stage. I’ve always dreamed of going back to NZ but I think because of family it’s probably a continent too far. I think eventually we will move back north, with our parents getting older it worries me that we’re not around that much.
    If non of that mattered I’d already be back in NZ. Xx

    1. Ahhh AlexH, I do like a ‘we met whilst backpacking’ love story. Whereabouts in NZ were you when you met? I too have a lot of love for NZ. xx

      1. Thanks Lisa! I’ve met so many people with similar stories, I always think it’s amazing.
        We lived in Queenstown. NZ is such a magical place, I wish I could put it in a bottle. Xx

  7. Oh Lisa, snap! My now husband and I moved to Sydney (somewhere we’d never even been) in 2009… we missed the dire economic downfall in the UK and exchanged it for a wonderful-in-every-way-life in Sydney (tho we weren’t Bronte or Beach, we lived in Surrey Hills then Elizabeth Bay before finishing up in Woolloomooloo) – cue lots of weekend escapes around Australia, NZ, Fiji, Tonga, etc etc. The ease of getting friends together for a beach day, BBQ, cocktail explore was easy – we all had so much time for our friends! It was bliss! We made the decision to move to New York and tho completely different to Ozzie life, that place made my soul light up on fire every single moment. Just being there inspired my career, inspired my life plan… we had always wanted to live in New York to get to know it like a New Yorker (tho true New Yorkers would laugh and mock me for saying that!) not a tourist. Nearly
    6 years after leaving for Sydney I was married with a baby on the way and my heartstrings were pulling me (well both of us) back to the UK. That was 2 and a bit years ago… we moved back to set up our new family life in Surrey (somewhwre neither of us knew, but ticked a load of boxes as we didn’t want to be in IN London) and have just sold up and are re-locating to Midlands! We didn’t need a lot of time to consider moving to another completely new place (which was this time only in the UK and actually logistically closer to our families… but further away from our friends and my beloved London) call us silly and fiscally stupid (we are not trying before we buy in a completely new area… we’ve gone all the way with a nice new mortgage!!)… but something we always talk about is how we both want more adventures – we are lucky that we didn’t have to consider school changes (our daughter is only 2) and maybe things will change when school life is our reality (we certainly had school catchment high on our priority list when we bought the new place) – but we are hoping that a move to Colorado or Chicago (based on husbands job) is on the cards in the next 5 years… and it fills us with absolute joy. I find myself drawn to people who travelled around when they were young, I lived in the same house all my life until I moved to london after Uni and as long as it feels right at a given time – sign my for that visa, book my flights and pack my bags – we are on the plane and off!!!!!

    1. Love everything about this comment and your passion for travel Nicola!

      We were in Sydney in 2009! Snap again 🙂

      And New York… I’m actually green with envy. I went for my 30th birthday and could have stayed for months. x

  8. Lisa, this is so beautifully written, I was ready to pack up and move to Oz on your description alone!!
    I completed a 6 month solo trip around the world after I completed my degree and loved every minute, particularly Cambodia, Vietnam and New Zealand. I thought this would be the start of my travels and I’d go off and live in Australia, New Zealand or New York maybe. Lo and behold I met my now husband the week after I returned in the local night club. You could almost throw a stone from my home house to his! He just doesn’t have the same wonderlust as I have and the few times I’ve casually mentioned living abroad he has absolutely no desire! Since we’ve been together, over seven years now, I’ve spent a year in Cardiff doing a post grad and a year working and living in London, so I guess this has satisfied my desire to experience different places a little. Since having our first baby I’ve been ever so glad to have my parents and his close to hand, and all of our siblings. They provide childcare which is wonderful and our daughter has such a special bond with all of them. I certainly would be up for a year long stint living somewhere on secondment from work maybe and I will always dream of having a spot to call our own somewhere in Italy, one can but dream.

    1. Thank you HMcG, I was pretty much ready to pack up and move back after writing the post! x

      We did the SE Asia trail too and Cambodia in particular will always have a special place in my heart.

      Smiling at you meeting your husband in your local nightclub. Aren’t life’s twists and turns a funny thing. x

  9. We bought our first house rather than join our friends backpacking. Though we’ve visited lots of countries and cities a part of me still yearns to see the rest of the world.
    James works for a company based in New Zealand who actively encourage their employees to have short ‘OEs’ or Overseas Experiences where they continue to work but in the other offices around the world. It’s something we’ve discussed many times. Maybe in 2018 I’ll be Rock My Styling from the other side of the world! x

    1. Yup most of my friends did the same as you Lauren and went for the house rather than the gap year. I guess there are massive pros and cons to both…Travelling was amazing but it did mean I had to miss one of my best mate’s wedding because we were in Oz.

      What an ace company for James to work for! You should so make the most of it! x

      1. I’ve worked with lots of teenagers over the years and when they ask me about gap years I always say do it! Travel as much as you can, you will never regret it. Once you have a mortgage you just won’t do it.
        Wish my job let me travel like that Lauren! Xx

  10. My parents moved from my hometown when I went off to uni – I don’t have any siblings and they always wanted to move away from the area. I’d met my now-husband at that point so once I left uni, I moved into his flat in London. Neither sets of parents are close by (mine are four hours away and his are two hours!) but we don’t have any inclination to move away from where we’ve made our lives. That’s not to say we’re not close to our parents, but we’ve never felt the need to be close geographically speaking. That might change in the future but for now, we’re looking to set down permanent roots and on our way to buying our first house here.

    Most of my friends live near their parents/in the area they grew up in – I’m definitely one of the odd ones out! But my mum did exactly the same albeit on a larger scale – she moved from Sweden to the UK over thirty years ago. She’s never had any desire to move back despite all her family being there. It’s a tad morbid but I’m even under strict instructions that she wants to be buried here when the time comes and don’t I dare think she wants to be re-patriated!

    1. Ha ha Jo G! Your comment has made me think how much we are subconsciously influenced by our parents (my mum moved to the UK from Japan, probably at a similar time that your mum moved here). x

  11. We live ten minutes drive from my parents one way and five minutes drive from my boyfriend’s parents the other. As much as I sometimes feel “boring” to be in this position compared to my friends (my best friends from school have moved to Glasgow, London and Sydney), with our son I wouldn’t change it for the world. I grew up with grandparents being a long drive away and so only seen for a weekend every few months; this week my son has seen every grandparent, and uncle and auntie, at least once. I don’t think I could give that up now. Also – we can afford a nice house here and to be frank, I love my city. I love having that long relationship with it and seeing it change and improve.

    We have friends who have moved to Australia and New Zealand, and the number of times their family and friends have been able to visit is heartbreaking. One friend’s son barely knows his uncle any more because both sides don’t have the money to make the trip to the other.

    1. How lovely that your son is surrounded by close family. I think it’s so important. We live near Rich’s family but none of mine are geographically very close and I often wish they were nearer x

  12. Oooh this is so interesting!!! I’m on the flip side…originally from New Zealand after 6 years in the UK we are moving back to NZ at Christmas! I’m both excited and scared. We had a year in London and then five years in Cardiff. I have really enjoyed our time here but a new job opportunity that I would have been silly to refuse sees us going home. Our parents are over the moon that they’ll get to see their grandson more (almost two) and it will be great to be closer to family and help after having done the last two years on our own with only a bit of babysitting from a few very good friends. I’m excited to be going home to sunshine, real mountains, proper coffee, the beach within walking distance, my family and an exciting new job for a company I’ve always desired to work for where I get to shape the environment of my country. I’m afraid to be going home to cold houses (double glazing and central heating in houses is very rare), a hugely buoyant property market (housing affordability is terrible), and everything in general being expensive. In the UK I’m not going to miss the dark dark weather, rude customer service, terrible coffee (the milk is wrong I’ve decided, you cant help it) and rubbish summer. I will miss autumn colours, travelling between cities on trains, the variety of shopping, the beautiful old buildings, all our wonderful friends we have made.

    So I don’t know. Its a huge decision to go back and I’m under no illusion that its going to be easy. It took at least a year to adjust to living over here, so I’m expecting it to take at least a year to settle back into life ‘at home.’ We came over here as backpackers with no intention to stay this long, opportunities came up and we just went with the flow. If you told me ten years ago that I would have a son born in Wales I’d never have believed you! If you are thinking of moving be realistic. Do some research – can you get jobs, what will you be paid, is it a good salary to live on? (You probably won’t be able to afford living in Bondi now Lisa! 😉 ) Will you be able to afford trips home? Can your family afford to visit you? (We’ve been home twice in the last six years but have had family visit pretty much every year!). What is the weather really like? (British people are massively naive on this one when it comes to NZ and Aus!!!!) Visiting a place and thinking it would be an amazing place to live is quite different than living there! I’m also of the belief that you never know until you try, and going to live in another country is a great way of finding out more about yourself and learning to become self reliant. I would say if you get an opportunity, or its juts your dream – go and do it!

    1. Good luck with the move Emma! It sounds like such a fantastic opportunity and I definitely believe these things come along at the right time for us. I’m sure it’ll be tough to settle back in initially (I’m mentally giving myself six months to feel out of sorts in Ethiopia!) but all those great things you’ve listed about being ‘home’ will certainly help. Good luck!

      1. Oh thanks Danielle! I definitely believe that things come along at the ‘right time’ but you might not necessarily recognize it as such at the time. In a way this wasn’t at the ‘right time’ for us, we were hoping to stay a few more years here, had many more places we want to visit and see, things to achieve work wise etc. But then if we waited until the time was ‘right’ I don’t think the opportunity would be there anymore! I asked myself if I didn’t take this opportunity did I think I would regret it – the answer was yes so I knew then we had to go. Your move sounds super exciting too, and with a new baby in tow. Best of luck!!

        1. How exciting Emma. My sister is a Kiwi (long story) and I reckon she’d agree with you on so much of this! Good luck with your move. xx

  13. I read this and it made me wish I was the adventuring sort. Someone who could pack up and head to the other side of the world but alas I am a complete homebody. I love being near family and being somewhere familiar and although I wish I could get the travel bug I never have. Luckily Edd didn’t either. He has had lots of opportunities to move abroad with work and I think he would but it’s not been something I felt comfortable with doing. Especially now we have the girls. Although I must admit that there are times when I wonder if there is a little corner of this earth that I could whisk them off to and keep them safe. xxx

    1. Oh Lottie you lovely mummy you! I’m pretty sure they’re safe in the little corner you’ve chosen. I know what you mean though. xx

  14. I did a year living in and around Australia – Bronte was a fave spot Lisa on the Coogee to bondi walk and we always stopped there for ice cream.
    In the end it was my sister who immigrated to Australia after meeting her Ozzie husband in London. She’s since had two children and has admitted if she’d know what it would be like she wouldn’t have immigrated despite her husbands large family. She hated the kids being so far away from my folks.
    Due to my sis being in Oz I guess it does make you feel you should be the one to stay in the UK further cemented sadly when we lost my dad to cancer last year.
    However husband and I have lived in a lot of different UK spots separately and together , Edinburgh, Newcastle, Ipswich, Manchester, Herefordshire & now super loving life in Speyside in north east Scotland. Try our best to embrace the seasons and certainly being further north now means when it snows, it’s proper crunchy fun snow and not the wet icy commuter hell type we had in Manchester.
    And of course I can chose to pop over to Australia and visit my sis on the Gold Coast during those colder winter months!

    1. You’ve reminded me that I meant to write about the amazing cafes on Bronte beachfront in this post 🙂

      Sounds like you’ve got the best of both worlds which I guess is the dream.

      So sorry to hear about your dad. xx

  15. My husband and I both have office jobs, which can be done best in Germany. I would pack my bags immediately and move to the UK, however, we both would have problems finding a job there. After we graduated from Cardiff University, we tried to get a job in the UK, but it seems, it is not that easy, for “foreigners” and after many applications, we moved back to Germany. This was 10 years ago and since then, I’m dreaming of moving back to the UK. Unfortunately, Brexit makes it even more difficult for us now, as it was before.
    We have no kids, we live in a rental flat and our families live far away from us. So we are very flexible and I hope, we will move to another country some time soon. Although the UK is my first choice, I can also imagine being happy in the US (East Coast) or Ireland. Lets see, what the future brings.

  16. Love this post Lis. Can’t believe it was 9 years ago!! New York is my special place after spending a few months of my stay in the US there years ago. I truely felt like Carrie Bradshaw. Can’t wait til the kids are older so we can experience it as a family.

    1. Aim I think Rich and I need to go back to Bronte next year to mark ten years!

      I’m with you on NYC. Shall we take both families? 😉 xx

  17. I travelled a lot in my twenties, went backpacking round the world by myself for 6 months, spent a summer in Canada and then worked on a cruise ship for 4 years and loved every second of it. At the same time (ish) my parents lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for 5 years then in Doha, Qatar for 11 years. I came home 7 years ago and now live just over an hour from where I grew up in the Scottish Highlands. I met my husband who has lived here his whole life and we have a 2 year old and another due in February. My parents retired at the same time our wee boy was born and moved back to the UK to my home town and it was so lovely having them so close when he was born. So nice in fact they’ve actually just moved out of their dream forever home which they built when they moved home to live just down the street from us! I always thought I’d like to live abroad at some point but seeing the bond that my son has with all 4 of his grandparents (my husband’s parents live here too) would make it very difficult, I just love having all of us so close. We do still love to travel though, but just shorter trips these days!

    1. Bless your parents moving from their dream forever home to be nearer to you! Isn’t it funny how having kids changes everything.

      One of my schoolmates worked on a cruise ship in Orlando for a few years and she says it was one of the best thing she’s ever done.

  18. Our first home was in San Diego -a little one-bedroom shoebox that we loved. We lived there for 9 months after getting married, and then made the jump to the UK. We’re both American, so for us this is the other side of the world. It’s hard sometimes, but we prefer the work life balance here. My husband is thriving, and working in his career. I’ve struggled to find work in my field, so at the moment I’m just in an office job at a community college. We’ve been here for 2.5 years, and are starting to sink down roots, but I’m not sure if I can happily handle the distance forever.

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