Moving 14000 km.

I want to share a bit about our big move coming up at the end of this year.

I am from Australia and my husband is from Sweden. Since we met we have lived in both countries together, back and forth. We have also lived in China and all up it has been 8 international moves! I actually made a timeline on a long piece of paper so I could explain to the younger kids where we had been and when. At this stage we have two of our kids living here with us in Australia and two living in Sweden.

It has, however, been a very long time since we lived in Sweden. We visit regularly but it not the same.
Last time we were there was in 2019 (pre-Covid). In 2019 we went on separate trips. It was quite a different thing for me to be there without my husband. I stayed with my mother in law and spent time with our two daughters who live there, as well as the rest of his family and our friends. What stuck me was the hole in my husband’s family – his absence. He is the only son and the only brother. I saw that it was high time for him to go home.

During that year we all talked about the idea of moving back. We waited while our daughter finished year 12 and then the idea became an actual plan.

Here in West Australia we live in a very cute house in the hills. We have awesome friends and jobs we love. But when it is time to go back to your other country you just know it.

What pushed us over the line was a call to the Swedish Immigration Department to check if my Uppehållstillstånd (Permanent Residency in Sweden) was still valid. My husband and our four daughters are dual citizens of both countries, but I only have P.R. in Sweden. The Immigration department said my P.R. was going to be revoked if I didn’t live in Sweden again soon. That phone call was the moment the idea became a plan. A plan with some urgency actually.

Now we are 12 weeks away from moving and we don’t know if we are going for a year or a decade. We will figure it out along the way. It feels freeing to just go and let the plan unfold along the way.

Our current to-do list is a bit daunting but we have discipline to do something each day. If I am doing an in-country move I start preparing 3 months before but with an international move I start much earlier.

If you have moved a lot you will know that belongings are assets until you move. Then they become liabilities! The very labour of a move is getting our stuff from A to B. Sorting the stuff, packing the stuff, moving the stuff and unpacking it. Without all this stuff moving would be so easy. I’ve seen Chinese people moving house with just a few big bags in tow, but for us westerners it’s literally traumatic.

We are sick of wasting money moving stuff around the planet so this time we are selling ALL our furniture! We have also been discarding and donating smaller stuff by the carloads.

Some people are shocked when I tell them we are selling all our furniture. The things is, we don’t have family heirlooms or antiques. On purpose. It’s mostly IKEA and very replaceable.
There was one time in China that I had old and precious furniture. I had found these treasures (over time) in a dusty old second hand furniture market. They were covered in junk and dust but a scrub down revealed rich red and brown lacquers. Painted scenes and flowers and carvings in the wood. I loved these cabinets and the big sideboard. That was then painful when we moved and it was too complicated to ship them with us. I don’t want to feel separation anxiety over furniture again. It’s bad enough saying goodbye to people.

A photo from Stockholm from last time I was there.

The SMALL STUFF.. We are storing some and taking some. The very favourite items are coming with us. Some housewares, books and decorations. The almost favourite items are being stored here in plastic tubs.

The collection we are taking is like my core home set. When you move around you have to take some things wherever you go. So there is some constancy, especially for our children. It may be a couple of table cloths, a bowl, and Christmas decorations. Favourite books and bedlinen. I have some favourite things that have been with us for decades and been with us in all three countries!

Back in the old times when families moved countries by ship, they took a wooden crate or two. In that crate would be the very best treasures. My collection is like that. That is the small collection of stuff that is going with us no matter where we go.

If you move a lot then there are others ways to make home home too. You probably can’t be the custodian of Grandmas antique dresser, and you are unlikely to be sinking big funds into designer furniture. But you can take favourite colours, music, and recipes. My life is spread over more than one geographical location and so we need to live light. I signed up for this life when I married a guy from the opposite side of the planet and I have grown into it more and more. Yes it is painful to deconstruct a home like I am doing now, but the people and experiences ahead are higher priority. We are moving to spend time with all the precious people we love in Sweden.

One massive help to us right now is that we have a home to land in when we get to Sweden. My mother in law has welcomes us to stay as long as we need until we get on our feet. I was close to crying with relief when she said that to us. This means we start life in a home that is very familiar to us, and we don’t need to panic to find an apartment and furniture. I have stayed and even lived in her home many times since I met my husband.

One crazy thing about moving between Sweden and Australia is the dramatic temperature differences. In January it can be a 50 to 60C difference! We will leave a 40 degrees furnace and arrive to a crisp minus 15 or 20C! It is a breathtaking experience. The sky in Perth at that time is a blazing blue and in Stockholm it is subdued grey and there is snow.

I will post photos of that day when it comes. For now I have to keep sorting and packing and selling stuff. I am also sorting through the emotions of leaving. In order to arrive well, you have to leave well. But more on transition another day. Bye for now. Siobhan.

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