Two weeks ago we said farewell to my brother in law who has finally made the move to be with his long-term girlfriend in Denmark. They have been long distance for almost the entirety of their relationship so it’s great to finally see them living together. Now that he has somewhat settled into his new home, I had a chance to reflect on what his life changing move has had on us.
Keep your eye on the prize
Not that his girlfriend is a prize to be coveted, but once they had gotten through the initial ‘honeymoon period’ of their relationship, they both started to think about their future together and where it would be. Both the UK and Denmark were considered but ultimately, my BIL’s job was more transferable and his girlfriend had just started her university degree (which might I add is fully funded by the state… not envious at all…) so Denmark seemed like the logical place for them to begin their lives together. Once this was established, they set a date for him to move and steadfastly worked towards their goal.
The importance of regular saving and an emergency fund
As you can imagine, it can be a bit expensive moving to another country. I know firsthand after moving to London from Auckland, New Zealand but my brother-in-law had never saved substantial amounts of money before but soon realised that he would need to in order to make his dream a reality.
He moved back home in order to save money paying rent, gave up expensive habits such as smoking and cut down on going out with mates to the pub. Once he started saving a bit more, this motivated him to increase his monthly savings so he had a good cushion once he arrived in Denmark.
Time spent in planning and preparation is rarely wasted
To be fair, his girlfriend takes most of the credit for this next point. My BIL is laidback almost to a fault so she found affordable accommodation near her university for them to live, researched the documents you need to live and work in Denmark (think the equivalent of a National Insurance Number in the UK) and started finding potential jobs he could apply to. My BIL started learning Danish and has enrolled in a Danish school. He updated his CV and had an interview booked the same day he arrived, which he got. As a stroke of luck, one of his new coworkers is from the same town in the UK!
Read the T’s & C’s before you sign!
Unfortunately there was one pot hole in the road in the lead up to the move. After deciding he would sell his car before moving to add some more money to his savings, he was a bit shocked to discover that he had purchased with PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) finance. With this kind of finance, rather than paying off the entire value of the car, you instead pay how much the finance company predicts the car will lose in value over the term of the deal (usually 24 or 36 months) minus the deposit you’ve put down. This means that the monthly payments are usually lower. At the end of the deal, you can either give the car back or trade it in for a new one (less penalties for going over stated mileage or damage) or pay a balloon payment to own the car outright.
My brother-in-law had been hoping to add to his savings pot but instead found himself having to pay to give the car back. Thankfully he had an emergency fund to cover himself but it does highlight the importance of carefully reading contracts so you know exactly what you are signing for.
Support networks are crucial
As I mentioned before, his girlfriend has worked very hard to ensure his adjustment to Danish life has been as smooth as possible. Both her family in Denmark and his friends family in the UK have tried to do everything they can to support the couple as they enter this next chapter of their relationship. They have offered practical advice, reassurance when fear creeps in and moral support over Skype. Although many people have moved long distances alone, knowing that there are people out there willing you to succeed can certainly help you when having a down day.
Have you or one of your family members moved a long distance away? Did you find yourself reflecting on the experience? What did you learn?