I’ve always believed in the idea that things happen for a reason. There have been moments in my life that I could have never in my wildest dreams predicted. The outcome would have seemed so improbable, almost impossible. We’ve already had one major life change this year with me deciding to take a career break and rebalance our family. It was a major change and what I thought would probably be the biggest change for us in 2016.
Then……Brian texted me about a month ago and asked if I wanted to move to London. I couldn’t tell how serious he was because the conversation has come up in the past. Although neither of us has been to London (or anywhere in the UK), I said yes immediately. It’s always been a big life goal of ours to work abroad. To step out of our comfort zone, lean into the uncomfortable and experience life from a different perspective.
Twenty-four hours after I said yes, I began to panic. I’m not a flowers and fluffy kittens type of person. My head can only be up in the clouds for so long before it comes crashing down. After the initial euphoria of traipsing around Europe, my mind immediately went to TAXES! I started panicking about things like double-taxation, what currency we would get paid in, and what was I going to do there? I researched expat spouses and what came up was the term “trailing spouse”. Not exactly a title I had ever aspired to be. So now I would be a trailing spouse/stay-at-home mom in a foreign country where I would be navigating all the systems including TAXES by myself? All of a sudden it didn’t seem so awesome. The only way to dig myself out of this was to tell Brian (who I basically overwhelmed with my TAX freak out – but this is also probably why he married me) and started doing research so that I could actually understand the financial implications of this move and come around to my (potential) new role.
I reached out to a good friend who is also a long-time expat. He lives in Tanzania and has a lot of knowledge in finance and living abroad. He connected me with one of his financial analysts who recently moved from Uganda to London. We hopped on a Skype call and she walked me through expat taxes. It was exactly what I needed. I came away with a high-level understanding of how complicated international taxes are and that we would need to hire a Big 4 accounting firm to handle our taxes. She also sent me a tax calculator which was incredibly helpful for me to run different financial scenarios. At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m freaking out about taxes. In order for me to understand if we could financially make this work, I needed to know the tax implications so I could work backward from our net income to see if we could really afford to live in London.
We have also started a London Tracker in Excel. A tracker is a catchall Excel document which we can add and make notes. Each tab has a different function based on all the different elements that we need to consider including neighborhoods, schools, taxes, questions we have, what we need to accomplish in Seattle, etc. A few times a week, Brian and I will sit down and work through this. It has been a helpful exercise in minimizing the feeling of being overwhelmed (because it is). It also helps us make sure we are asking the right questions/finding appropriate answers and most importantly, that we are aligned as a family on what our needs are.
We are excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Stay tuned as we continue this wild ride!