This week I have some fairly big news: after 3 years in East Africa, I’m leaving next month.
In a fairly direct way, it’s because of Brexit.
Moving to Denmark
I met my girlfriend in Kenya about two years ago. She’s Danish and has worked for a couple of companies in Nairobi since arriving.
We now live together in Kenya and got chatting about where we might want to be for our future together.
It became clear fairly early on that I (no she) had strong desires to retire in Kenya (i.e. set up roots like buying a house) and so at some point, we’d think about returning to Europe.
For a variety of reasons, we decided Denmark > UK right now.
The initial plan
Camilla’s contract was due to finish next year and so we were using that as an end date in the region.
She’d be doing her work, and I’d continue my current state of laying the foundations for my next project/ business, as well as enjoying life in Kenya.
We’d spend 6-12 months more or less as we are now and then start to think about winding down and moving to Copenhagen.
A chance discussion
When Camilla was back home for a week she got chatting to a friend who works for the Danish government.
Camilla said how she and I plan to move to Denmark next year to which he responded: “Hmmm, maybe you should just check out the whole Brexit thing”.
The current date for Britain leaving the EU (with or without a deal) is 31st October 2019. We then Googled the situation and discovered a few things:
- The key for me to freely live in Denmark is my residency rather than (just) citizenship
- Denmark has passed an act of parliament saying that for UK citizens who are residents of the country by 31st October 2019, they’ll pretend like Brexit didn’t happen (i.e. I’d be given the same rights as EU citizens currently do)
- If I try and become a resident after 31st October 2019 then I’ll be considered a non-EU citizen which will make getting residency much much harder, and risks Camilla and I being separated for 6-12 months
After doing this research, and sleeping on it for a while, it then became clear that we would need to leave within a matter of weeks.
Max out on Kenya; unclear of what’s next
The best way to describe our current state is that we’re mourning the loss of Kenya.
We knew at some point we would need to go, but the moment has been brought upon us much sooner than we’d expected and it took us some time to process this change.
As we have limited time left in the country we both want to focus on doing things in Kenya, rather than spending the finite evenings looking at job postings, etc. in Denmark. Luckily we’ve been able to sure up somewhere to stay once we arrive.
Practically this means arranging farewell dinners with friends and doing some trips to parts of the country we’d also planned to do at some point.
Once we’re in Copenhagen, the rest of what happens will, I’m sure, figure itself out.
Brexit hits home
Up until a few weeks ago, I’d very much had my head buried in the sand on all things Brexit.
Everyone seemed so uncertain, things seemed to be changing each day and so I gave up on trying to stay abreast of the latest position.
It’s interesting, this is one of the first times I’ve personally felt a big effect of a global policy in my day-to-day life. This probably says more to my position as a white, educated male with a British passport, but it nevertheless has opened up my perspective to the libertarian arguments people make about wanting governments to get out of the way of how people live.
I’m not quite advocating Bitcoin for all and completely open borders, but I know “get” the arguments a bit more.
Happy but sad
Anyway, the main sense of things right now is a mix of emotions.
It’s obviously exciting to be moving and starting the next chapter in an interesting new country, though there’ll also be things I miss from life in East Africa.
I’ll keep you posted on how things progress in the coming weeks/ months.
In other news…
Over dinner with friends this week I was introduced to a fun little game – looking up what song was number one on the day you were born.
Mine: “The One and Only” by Chesney Hawkes
It’s quite a good conversation starter, I’d be interested to hear if you have a song you’re particularly proud/ embarrassed about..!
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