Living Dibley: The summer of my discontent
Intrepid traveller Jann is opting for a total change of lifestyle, saying goodbye to Florida and hello to Wales. This will be different from any holiday visit. She knows that. She's making sure she's prepared.
I’m moving to Wales, and I blame it on the Florida heat. Last summer’s nine months of suffocating heat zapped the life out of me. Where can you go in Florida for a change of scenery? Nowhere. Where can you go in Florida for a change of temperature? Nowhere. Your only choice for change is either Mickey Mouse or Margaritaville.
I cannot remember when, or how, I came up with the concept for A Change of Lifestyle – our website dedicated to all the places in the world where you can retire and live the good life at a reasonable price. I just knew that my business partner, Vickye, was planning on moving to Sicily in the next few years. Our web designer wanted to go to Ireland. I still had France on my brain.
The website became my window onto the world. And the more I wrote about life in fascinating countries, the more I wondered how I could arrange to practice what I was preaching.
The ‘aha’ moment came when I stopped thinking and simply looked at the obvious. My husband is from Cardiff, Wales. I LIKED Wales. Friends, who were originally from Wales and living in Sarasota, moved back to the UK and were loving it. Wales popped into my brain and it hasn’t popped out yet! Moving to Wales became a natural.
My research began with making reservations to fly to Wales and to check it out with new eyes. Visiting is one thing. Looking for a place to live is another. We’d go in February, one of the worst months, weather-wise, but a good test of endurance!
Lucky for us, Continental Airlines now flies from Palm Beach into Newark, NJ and then connects into Bristol Airport, which is just forty minutes from where we wanted to explore in Wales. We didn’t have to do the Heathrow bit which would have meant first learning Spanish in order to fight the Miami traffic, flying for 11 hours uninterrupted, and then driving for another two and a half hours. PBI to BRS was simply more civilised. Just land, hop into the rental car, and within minutes we could enjoy a cup of tea with friends!
Flight booked. Check. Now, how could we do this? Could I work? Yes — if I got a ‘Settlement Visa’. What would Paul do? He works on the internet now. He can work on the internet in Wales.
Can the puppies come with us? Yes. And they can avoid the dreaded UK quarantine by getting their puppy passports while still living in the US.
What would it cost to live in Wales? After diligent research, we concluded that the cost of living would be about the same, if not a bit less, than the cost of living here in Florida. (PS: For those of you who are considering retiring in Florida, just three words: It ain’t cheap!)
Oh – and a biggie – while neither of us has health insurance here in the US (many thousands of dollars per month for two of us!), we can get coverage in the UK under their National Insurance system which funds the National Health Service. We need to get back to the UK, reestablish our residency there, become full-fledged members of the UK tax-paying society, and then we will be covered. Which means we’ll be covered in Europe as well! What’s not to like about that plan?
The details of my project would overwhelm most people. But I like lists. And as mine grew longer, only one thing nagged at me. How would I break the news to my parents who are edging into their 90s, and most importantly, my daughter – my only child — without having her feel I was abandoning her, her husband and my gorgeous, darling, adorable grandsons?
Jann Seal’s first passport was put to good use when she drove around the world in a green, long wheel-base Land Rover, driving to 36 countries in one year. Jann continues to renew her passport, add pages, pack suitcases, and dream. Dreams do become reality! Follow her as she trades the American Dream for a Welsh one at Living Dibley.