Preparing a swift Zackxit
On June 24, my world turned upside down. After campaigning for a Remain vote in the referendum, countless discussions about what a disaster it would be for Britain to find itself outside the European Union and the opportunities we would be throwing away for our children, Britain went ahead without us and narrowly voted to Leave.
That morning we woke up to a new reality. We were angry, sad, bewildered. How could the rest of Britain not see what we could see from our safe metropolitan bubble? By mid morning, the children had informed us that there was No Choice other than to move to Brussels at the earliest possible opportunity. A month later, our house was on the market, the cat had been vaccinated against rabies and we were ensconced in a borrowed Brussels apartment, looking for somewhere to live and work.
We don’t usually do what our children tell us to. Nor are either of us known for swift, impulsive decision-making. But this one has been brewing a long, long time. I have family roots in Brussels. My partner travels regularly to Brussels for work. We first discussed relocating, either permanently or for a couple of years, when our children were still small. We would like to give them the opportunity to grow up in a multilingual environment and to live outside their home country. But we kept putting off the big move because we were worried about disrupting their education and their friendships. And, if I’m honest, because I was a bit scared too.
The Brexit vote was simply the catalyst for our own exit from the UK. I am acutely aware that we have the luxury of choices not open to everyone. We both speak French, have jobs (or not) that allow us to live in another country and, for the moment at least, the freedom to live and run a business from another EU member state. Rents in Brussels are much lower than London or Brighton and our family income, though variable, is pretty good, so we can afford a decent standard of living for our family here, even if I don’t go back into full-time employment.
We have seen a couple of lovely houses to rent, though not yet the One. We are starting to figure out the recycling, the public transport system and how much of a headache it will be to get both the children into school for the beginning of the academic year. It’s all moving a little too quickly. But I know that without the impetus of everything going up in flames, I would still be in Brighton wishing I had the courage to try something new.
So, for now at least, I’m glad to be Zackxiting.