I am sat here reflecting on all the experiences I have had,
All the locations I have both lived in,
and travelled to,
And this quote always comes to mind which leads to the question -
Where is Home?
(blank on purpose)
If you could live anywhere in the world...
One of the questions that I get asked a lot is "If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you pick?"
Well, being a complex soul I never view the world in simple black and white colours, and as such my answer to the above question will be long and winding and often going back on itself before the tale is over. As the more you travel, the more you realise that there is no ONE destination that will meet all your needs. My conclusion firmly rests more in relation to the point in life I am at and the needs of the time rather than on a set dream. Before marriage and kids, living in a vibrant city worked well, as I had many opportunities to go out and meet new people, experience many cultural events and fly off to new lands at a moments notice from the nearest airport.
Once married, the dynamic changes, having found my life partner. Many of our friends, as well as ourselves, found our lives moving apart geographically to follow new career opportunities. Together we felt we could do anything - conquer the world with our love and support of each other. My husband and I have a little postcard that has travelled with us since we took our first leap together in 2002. It shows two little fish who have jumped out of a goldfish bowl and say to each other: "I'm so glad we went for it together".
Then came babies. Boy, do babies come with a lot of stuff! Makes travelling light a thing of the past. And as we were first time parents living far away from any support structure, it was tough getting through that first year. It took the feeling of satisfaction for our environment (a small French village) to the limits as the local community was very distant. There were no mother and baby groups I could find. My pre-natal classes were cancelled as it was August and everyone was on holiday... The doctors said 'you may be able to get to one in September'... er, no. Baby came August 31st! So after the birth we travelled less and focused more on baby no.1 to keep some semblance of sanity. But loneliness was a battle we fought often. Then as the first child turned one, we had the opportunity to move from the small village to a large international city full of expats and 'mother and baby' groups to attend. That made life so much easier.
It was Basel, Switzerland where at the time the English speaking population was estimated at 40,000 people, so this supported a great variety of expat groups. Of particular importance to me was the PWG (Professional Women's Group of Basel). I went along to the September AGM just weeks after arriving and found myself on the committee to revamp their very dated website. That was entry with a bang!
But it was wonderful to find myself connecting with like-minded people again - and as an adult with something to give rather than being 'Mum of baby'. It was in this period I completed my MBA where I specialised in Entrepreneurism, and wrote my final dissertation on the role of the 'Expatriate Female Entrepreneur', which subsequently got published in 2007. Basel was a real hub of entrepreneurial women and I met with many fascinating women, many of whom were moving often and continuing their careers as well as having families. They inspired me and led me on the path I am on now.
Home life requirements with pre-school aged children then required a life full of good playgrounds, mother and baby groups, baby music, baby swimming and lots of other Mums in a similar situation. Public transport is second to none in Basel, so with the baby buggy this actually makes life far simpler than trying to put a baby in and out of a car seat the whole time. In toddler days we could spend the day using our tram passes just travelling between trains, buses and trams on a circular trip.
As school age approached the search for a method of schooling that followed our thoughts became paramount, and again I found that our interests were best met when living in a small city environment. Parks and Leisure facilities get used a lot when you have children. And when they are young they are not that keen on sight seeing, so the more fun on your doorstep the better.
Now we are looking at options again to take us through the teenage years, and once again I find myself drawn to places where I feel it is safe for my children to be able to walk to school and around to friends houses. I have no plan to become the taxi driver! Luckily my work with Jump Overseas means I can work from anywhere.
But I do love being by the sea. Water holds a special attraction for me, maybe it is as I am March born, under the sign of Pisces. But I do know I feel more at home, when home has some water integrated into the nearby area - whether that is a river, a lake or the sea.
So no, I cannot specify a set country, or town. It is more a feeling that suits the time of my life right now. I expect to move again many more times in my life.
How about you? Do you feel you have found a 'forever home'? I would love to hear your stories too.