/ Sun, mood & deciding whether to live abroad

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ksjs - on 13 May 2013
Short version:

Good weather makes me feel really good and everything, especially climbing, more possible. After 3 days of beautiful weather last week it's reverted to type. It's just going to be another frustrating summer. I'm tired of thinking about it.

Is living in France or Spain the answer?

Longer version:

So, a pretty cliched subject but 2 things have brought this to the fore for me:

1. An extended winter which, despite considerable effort, saw me climb in the sun last week not wrapped up for the first time this year. I wasn't ecstatic, just deeply appreciative. My mood, perspective and balance were all significantly enhanced.

2. The thought, which I've probably had since last year's washout, that I can't take another year of duff weather. We had 3 gorgeous days from Sun - Tue and then it's just been ming with cold, wet, windy and grey the standard. The short-term forecast doesn't offer much sign of respite. Is this going to be another repeat of last year?

No doubt plenty of people will think / say stuff along the lines of "There's usually dry rock somewhere." or "Plenty of people manage to get out and get stuff done." and there's some truth in this. The truth for me however is that it just shouldn't be that much work. I want to be able to have some reasonable level of expectation that I can regularly get out and climb. I moved to North Wales 3 years ago to climb. There seems little point in being here if I can't do the thing I came here for.

It's not just about the climbing, it's about a sense of general wellbeing and facility for getting stuff done. People are happier, things look better and everything feels more possible with the sun about. It is this sort of feeling that is causing me to question my future in the UK.

I am totally aware that we may all at times think the grass is greener, a trap I want to avoid. The reality however feels like I maybe face a fairly stark choice between the rest of my life spent grabbing the odd dry day here and there, having to drop everything the minute the sun comes out, pining for better weather and letting weather affect my mood or something much easier and more natural i.e. none of the above, knowing there's a good chance I can enjoy a glass of wine sat outside on warm evenings, knowing I can express my climbing to its fullest as I'm not starved of days on something by weather and the sense of timelessness that sun seems to bring.

I'm wondering are there people on here who've made a move abroad for similar reasons to what I'm describing, did it work out or did you come back? Are there those who thought about it but didn't go and then regretted it? Am I naïve to think that good weather is the answer? I'm also wondering was I just naïve about the weather in North Wales when we decided to move here (Tim Emmett who doesn't seem short of inspiration or drive says in Welsh Connections that he had to leave as he just couldn't take it)? That said I look at the forecast for the UK as a whole and it's not like many places are doing much better.

I recognise in all of this that good weather may only have the effect it does because it is infrequent i.e. if it was every day it's lustre would soon wane. Equally, there are many practical aspects to living abroad that I haven't fully thought about yet would have major implications.

It's too early to write off summer 2013 but if it continues as is I will struggle to banish serious consideration of what life elsewhere might be like. I know the great days are great but I don't want my life to be on hold.

Any thoughts, suggestions or inspiration much appreciated.
Angrypenguin - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: Spains economy is down the pan, finding any sort of employment would be tricky at best. France not quite so bad I guess but the language barrier puts me off, it took me 6 years to learn conversational level German and I don't want to go through all that again. I've always quite fancied Australia, it's reasonably easy to get in if you have a skilled profession and aside from being quite a long way away and the spiders it's a nice place.

I certainly concur with you, the weather gets me down and I feel so good when the sun is occasionally out. It seems crazy to spend all my time looking forward to the one or two weeks a year I can get away to somewhere sunny.
Enty - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

Back in the winter of 2001 when i had a 9-5 job I think we had a period from January through to March where the weather was glorious Monday to Friday but every weekend the weather was shit. I snapped.

We just happened to be on a friends 40th climbing at Font then we headed down to Provence for a few days - over a bottle of wine one night we hatched a plan to do cycling holidays, came up with a name, got home, designed a website and put an ad in a cycling magazine.
Following May we loaded up the van and headed south, found an apartment to rent and struggled through a couple of years - language, tax, paperwork etc. (and about 4 paying clients all summer)
Well we're still here over 10 years later with a 7 year old fluent in French, integrated into the community and apart from a few twitchy cash flow moments each winter I'm climbing and cycling whenever I want and the business is doing well.
It's 23° outside and sunny so I'm just going out for a 100km ride ;-)


PS - Sister in Law went to Oz 2 years ago and they are having a whale of a time - I'd definitely consider that.
ice.solo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

do it. nothing sucks more than feeling limited by where you live, made worse knowing other places have what you want.

lots of choices really, just depends what you can do for work and visas. australia as mentioned, but dont overlook croatia, turkey, slovenia.
in fact, try it out with a few months in thailand dirtbagging and shagging backpacker chicks to see where it leads.

the grass isnt greener, and theres more to it than sunshine, but whatever. get out there, if only to be one of the few who took the step beyond idle wondering. people move for stupider reasons.
The Bouldering Badger - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

Definitely give it a go. If you're not happy then what do you have to lose? At the end of the day, if you don't enjoy it or feel like it was a mistake then you can always come back can't you! Life is too short to worry about what might have been, do what makes you happy.
Bob Hughes - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: I moved to Spain (Madrid) 10 yrs ago for more or less exactly the same reason. The weather loses a bit of its novelty - and to be honest the end of July / beginning of August are just too hot - but never so much that you don't still appreciate it. You get real seasons in Madrid Winter is cold and dry, summer is hot and dry, Spring and Autumn are both very pleasant, can be very wet and each lasts about 2 weeks. You can always get something done outdoors, especially if you're English and can even go when its raining (which is, in fairness, not often). As for jobs, it's true that the economy is screwed but it would be worth keeping an eye out. If you do have a job in Spain it's one of the nicest places in the world to live.
La Shamster on 13 May 2013
In reply to Enty:

Desert Stuart on 13 May 2013 - bba133705.alshamil.net.ae []
In reply to ksjs: Born in Scotland, I’ve lived and worked in each of London, New York, Hong Kong and now Dubai. Each had specific attractions at the time of each move. Weather probably wasn’t the primary driver for any of our moves, but I completely agree that the UK can be wet and gloomy for far longer than seems reasonable. Here in the dry heat of the Middle East we very rarely get the colds and flus that seemed so common in London. Although there is some climbing here in Dubai, I doubt anyone would relocate on that basis alone. But there is a lot to be said about living in a tax-free environment with excellent travel links. I can be in the UK in an afternoon or down in Australia within a day.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Angrypenguin: Yes, the work thing would be THE major consideration for both myself and partner. I speak French and Spanish so language wouldn't be a problem.
Chris Craggs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I love being abroad - in fact we have been in the UK just six days since September. The attraction of warm days on the rock in November never pales.
Despite that I have never had the inclination to settle abroad and being self-employed we are free birds. Rent a place, enjoy it then move on when the mood dictates.

I would check out an area carefully, many places are far too hot in the summer, then there are problems with the language, health care, insurance, taxes etc.

From our travels, if I were to settle abroad I think I would choose France, (or Switzerland if that was possible). I would be a little wary of places like Spain and Greece - lovely places and great people but their economies look stuffed so you never know what might happen down the line,

ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Enty: Good post and great story

Jealous of your 23oC... Here, it's windy outside, dry for the moment with a MetOffice Feels like temp of 5oC and actual temp of 9oC. It's May 13th and I can't help but think what is the point in being here?
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Yes, it's definitely more than sunshine. Not sure about the backpacker chicks though - I might get in trouble on that count.

I have lived in Spain (1 year), France (6 months) and Andorra (4 months) so there's some basis to my thoughts on what 'elsewhere' might be like.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to The Bouldering Badger: Very true but I have certain commitments, not irrevocable but certainly ones that I'd describe as serious, which make upping sticks a major undertaking. That's not reason enough however not to.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Desert Stuart: "wet and gloomy for far longer than seems reasonable" you may have hit the nail on the head here - I'm happy with wet, cold weather and value the different seasons. It's the interminable averageness and seemingly unrelenting nature of the weather that gets to me.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs: You touch on an interesting compromise - something along the lines of renting or living somewhere temporarily but keeping a base in the UK.

Again, for all I've said I'm not certain I could totally leave the UK behind but 4? months in southern France or Spain over the winter may be the tonic that's needed.
Tall Clare - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I have a friend who moved to New Zealand a while back because his work situation allowed him approximately six months off per year and he didn't want to spend most of that time waiting for good weather.

What about Canada?
Tall Clare - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

What do you and your partner do for a living? Could it be done remotely?
nw - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Hope he didn't move to the West Coast!
Tall Clare - on 13 May 2013
In reply to nw:

He lives in Wanaka and seems to manage to time his work (generally abroad) for the spring and autumn.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: Well, nobody's said you're being ridiculous, stop whingeing, learn to love the rain and wet rock. Nobody's saying but a,b & c make where you are brilliant. I can only assume therefore that I'm not missing much in my evaluation of here versus there.

I guess at the end of the day it's all very subjective and depends on values, priorities and temperament.

Thanks all for the replies so far.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: This is all really hypothetical at this stage but I think I'd prefer to stay in Europe, specifically France or Spain as I know and love parts of both countries, speak the languages, and would prefer to have more opportunity to see family and friends i.e. be closer geographically.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: At the moment I am very under-employed and at a career crossroads to the extent that I am potentially starting a 2 year part-time course this autumn (I have applied for and been offered a place).

If I was to work in the area I am seeking to move into or indeed in that where I have experience, neither could be done remotely. Same for my partner, whose expertise / value is based on a lot of UK specific knowledge.

Ian Parsons - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I vaguely recall some visitors to these shores a few decades ago; Americans, I think, and from one of the sunnier regions of that continent. They were keen climbers - certainly keen enough to be travelling overseas for that sole purpose - but in the course of enduring a portion of one of our typical summers they offered the suggestion that they probably wouldn't even be climbers at all if they lived here! I know we're made of sterner stuff in the UK, and the northern european climate possibly moulds - (and moulders!) - a hardier breed of cragsman, but at times, as you say, it all seems frustratingly difficult.
Jim Fraser - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

If you do this then do it with your eyes open and the arithmetic done.

More predictable weather may occur either nearer the equator or in a continental climate toward central Europe or central North America. However, there are also wild extremes out there including more sunshine than most Europeans can handle.

Don't forget the aspects of personal security that exist in the UK and in most of the richest (and most northerly!) countries. These are things to do with housing, health, education, civil liberties, policing, social insurance, pensions and so on. You won't have to leave much of those behind if you move to somewhere like Germany or France, providing you pay your dues.

The grass is greener effect can be seen messing people up even within the UK. People move from city areas to 'idyllic' rural locations and then 2 or 3 years later realise they're not up to it and scurry home. You may have seen a few examples in your area.

Bob Hughes - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: If you come to Spain, the best places for jobs are probably Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque country. The Basque country has the lowest unemployment rate (still high at 13 - 14%), the highest Gross Regional Product per capita (on a par with the Netherlands) but it can be rainy (its very green). Pretty much everyone speaks Castillian Spanish although the official language is Euskera.
Bob kate bob on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

My advice would be the grass is NOT greener in France than the UK, just different. You just have to decide if the things that are worse are things you can live with so you can enjoy the things that are better.

Kemics - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I can really empathize with this. After the bank holiday, 3 days of climbing and sunny weather I noticed I was ludicrously happy and content. 3 days was all it took to really elevate my happiness.

My general life plan is to yo-yo summer and winter. Winter in Asia and come back to the UK for June through till september. The only thing keeping me here currently is i'm studying, as soon as i'm done (and even now I'm looking at studying in Europe!) Im outta here

I'd say you've got to try it, simply because even if it all goes tits up - your back in the UK anyway. Really got nothing to lose.
Timmd on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: What about the south coast of the UK or the channel islands near to it? Or even the east coast?

My old Spanish teacher always commented on how Robin Hood's bay and around there was sunnier more of the time than further inland.

If your partner has UK specific knowledge, maybe having a look at the hours of sunlight for different parts of the UK and moving somewhere brighter could be worth a ponder?

ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Ian Parsons: There's definitely something in the fact that if you have to work at something, that process in itself can make the rewards very special. There's a limit though.

I'm very prepared to put effort in but I want to be met half way, I want a fair crack of the whip. That just doesn't feel like it's happening, I know many relish the hardships and the fact that they're being British and hardcore and all that. Fair enough but it isn't for me, give me the sun on my back any day; I'll feel far more relaxed and I'll manifest way more effort.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bob kate bob: Well, living in North Wales there are some realities that have to be faced, primarily as I've found out with regard to professional opportunities. When I add into the mix that I regularly seem to be stopped doing the thing I moved here to do, climbing, it does not take me long to start seriously questioning why I am here.

I have to add however I very much love North Wales and some of my most enriching experiences have been here.
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Kemics:
> (In reply to ksjs)
> I can really empathize with this. After the bank holiday, 3 days of climbing and sunny weather I noticed I was ludicrously happy and content. 3 days was all it took to really elevate my happiness.

That's exactly it and when it hits you in the face you think "It's a no-brainer, if good weather has this effect why would I continue where prolonged decent weather is a 1 week event 3 times a year?"
ksjs - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Timmd: Indeed - we've briefly discussed this, not very seriously so far and the south-west could definitely be an option.
thebigfriendlymoose - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I've suggested to my employers that I could add to our overseas coverage with a mobile office, based in a big Winnebago, that tours from Catalunya / the Alps in Summer, down to El Chorro in Winter, passing through the Costa Blanca and Siurana along the way. Sadly they haven't taken me up on my selfless offer.
Sam Mayfield - on 17 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I moved to Spain over 14 years ago now apart from a blip in 2008 when I bought a house in Devon which we sold last week I would say I am here for the weather!

BUT and its a big but the weather here can be a pain in the arse. In the Winter yes its nice to have the sunshine but when its horrible you struggle to find things to do, in the UK you can visit nice cities, NT houses, walk in the rain etc. Here on the Costa Blanca, not much is open all day or on a Sunday. The ground is like clay when it rains so a walk is a pain as you can't lift your feet.

The houses are not built for the cold either and it does get bloody cold in the winter when the sun is not shining! We are building our own eco strawbale house this winter to get around that issue. They seem to build all houses for the summer months so no windows, cold tiled floors etc.

The summer down here can be way too hot! we are escaping this summer to Orkney and The Lakes.

Grass no always greener but at the moment I would not live anywhere else.

Sam Orange House

TobyA on 17 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: I put my skis, ice tools and crampons away in the shed last saturday for what I guess really was the last time this 'winter'. So just make sure you don't automatically connect "abroad" with "sunshine" and move the wrong way by mistake. ;)
In reply to ksjs: Endless sunshine can be as much as a drag as the UK's permanent drizzle.

Dave Garnett - on 17 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

But my experience of Oslo is that they tend to get proper weather. Sunshine in the summer (and for about 20 hours a day!) and snow in the winter. I could cope with that.

I still (16 years after moving back here) miss Cape Town. The reliable sunshine meant that you could arrange climbing trips weeks or months in advance, or have regular weekly activities, and be almost certain of them happening. You could sit in the garden, get your washing dry, ride a motorbike without wearing a spacesuit and generally not look as if you live under a stone.
Dave Garnett - on 17 May 2013
In reply to stroppygob:
> (In reply to ksjs) Endless sunshine can be as much as a drag as the UK's permanent drizzle.

No, it really isnt.
ksjs - on 17 May 2013
In reply to Sam Mayfield: Cheers Sam - think / hope I'd be able to occupy myself during the winter. My experience of the Alicante area and further north such as near Tarragona is that yes winter can be cold but clear and sunny days are a regular feature. If it was raining and I couldn't climb or walk I am quite proficient at pottering.
ksjs - on 17 May 2013
In reply to TobyA: Think I'm definitely talking south rather than north
ksjs - on 17 May 2013
In reply to stroppygob: My experience of France and Spain (outside areas like Provence, Alicante and Andalucia i.e. maybe more inland and more 'mountainous' ) is that yes, there's plenty of sun but with the exception of high summer you aren't dealing with California style unrelenting sun.

If it was a simple choice between the 2 I'd swap permanent drizzle for permanent sun.
Tall Clare - on 17 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

I think you should go for it, if only as a sort of crusader for those of us unable to up sticks. Do it for UKC!

(up to 23mm of rain predicted for Skipton tomorrow morning <sob>)
Milesy - on 17 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:
> Any thoughts, suggestions or inspiration much appreciated.

Consider yourself lucky you are not in Glasgow. Moving to where you are would be like an exotic country for me.
AdrianC - on 17 May 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Hello! Sounds charming in Skiptoncestershire. Egually wet here in - err - Northern China.

To ksjs - don't move somewhere else because you want to leave where you are now. Move somewhere else because you want to go there.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 17 May 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to ksjs)
> I think you should go for it, if only as a sort of crusader for those of us unable to up sticks. Do it for UKC!
> (up to 23mm of rain predicted for Skipton tomorrow morning <sob>)

Buts its been really dry for weeks. Think of your poor thirsty lawn.

Tall Clare - on 17 May 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

It's been rather inclement here for quite a bit of this week!
yorkshireman - on 17 May 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> But my experience of Oslo is that they tend to get proper weather. Sunshine in the summer (and for about 20 hours a day!) and snow in the winter. I could cope with that.

I've lived in the southern French Alps for two winters now (live here year round) and I can see what you're saying, but don't underestimate how hard a 'proper' winter is, and how attractive 'proper' weather is day in day out.

I love the snow, we have a ski lift 100m from the house and KMs of XC ski trails so there's plenty to do. But having snow on the ground from end of November until beginning of April takes its toll, and I'm really looking forward to summer. I took the winter tyres off the car only a week ago.

And then there's the in-between bit, that snow has to melt and go somewhere, so right now we're having lots of flooding from the meltw*ter and a lot of rain at the moment. Mind you last summer I think it rained about twice from May to September.

Still, I wouldn't change it, and I love where I live. I guess to the OP I would say that make sure you're moving for the right reasons - there's a chance that its not necessarily the weather that's making you unhappy, and whatever is actually getting you down will continue to do so where you move to.

I was always a staunch defender of British weather. Generally it doesn't kill you or your crops. Summers are generally pleasant (I know there have been a few recent stinkers), we don't get raging wildfires or ridiculously venomous animals. Even floods are (on a long enough timeline) quite rare.

Bobling - on 17 May 2013
In reply to ksjs:

My solution is have some kids. The the equation changes from days spent climbing = days of good weather when not at work (c=g-w) to c=(g-w)/x where x represents the off chance you have managed to book childcare so that you could go climbing if the weather was nice. Lets says x = 5 : (. Then you go climbing so infrequently you just forget about it and you atrophy back into a normal person.

Just joking : ) I do fondly remember though living in places where you made outdoor plans in the sure knowledge that they would not get rained off, or if they did then at least it would be in the local news that night!

Good luck in your hunt!
pork pie girl - on 18 May 2013
In reply to ksjs: if you have the freedom to up sticks and move abroad then do it, you'll be surprised with how little money you can get by on.. i don't know how old you are but in my teens i just took it for granted that i would live abroad then in my late teens my did got ill, my mum got a bit depressed and a bit resentful of me going away... as the years went by i felt emotionally more and more trapped to stay in the uk in close proximity to my parents... the older you get the harder this gets.. the chance of escaping to another country feels impossible. do it whilst you're young enough and whilst those in your life are fit and healthy enough to get used to you not being around as much

lets put it this way, if i didn't feel like i was abandoning people (my mum.. she's on her own now as dad died a few months ago) who need me i would be away tomorrow.. not necessarily for the summer.. because i like climbing under malham's rock umbrella!! but i'd live abroad for the colder months

life is too short to wish away monday to friday and hope the weekend's weather is good enough to do the stuff that you're really passionate about..

we've just gone part time (3 days a week) and this means a lot more freedom and twice as many chances to catch dry weather..people wonder how we can afford it.. but the only thing we spend money on is the mortgage, bills and fuel to go climbing and cycling.. what else do you need?

let us know how you get on.. will be interesting to see what decision you make... when we drive down to france every summer we often just want to head further south for the winter in our van.. one day we might do that

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