Going back to the UK and feeling the fear! Is it just temporary or will this feeling pass?

Hi All,

I’ve been living in France for 4 years now with my partner who is Spanish. I originally decided to go to France when I finished university because I wanted to be with my partner, as well as being tempted by the adventure of moving abroad. However, over the 4 years, I never really settled. I felt the need to do stupid and simple things like getting an affordable house with a garden (renting being expensive in the capital and other areas not really appealing to me), having children and progressing my career. I know I could/can do all of these things in France, but I never wanted to do this in France, I just felt like it was too much of a busy, frenetic city for family life and I could never have imagined living there my whole life as well as the effort that it would take to pursue my ideal career would have double hard taking into consideration the language barrier.

After about a year of deliberation, with continual doubt, I plucked up the courage to leave a permanent, average paid job to go back to the UK and build up my life again. The main motivations were a desire to do a UK qualification that would have allowed me to advance in my career in a way that wouldn’t have been possible, or rather, I wasn’t motivated to do in France as well as being closer to family and the possibility of buying a house in the UK, learning to drive etc. After a first shaky few months and bleak outlook on the jobs front, I have finally been offered a fantastic position, but with my partner in France, I am still feeling unsettled and starting to ask myself if I have made the right decision.

I miss Paris so much at times and it really is true that its the small things that you miss most; the beautiful buildings, the culture, the feeling of being at the centre of Europe, the food (!!), the weather!!! Then I think about how I achieved so much to get to where I was employment wise, how I learnt the language and dealt with so many challenges that I start to think, why should I give everything up so easily?

At the same time, I missed my family, I felt ever so lonely, even with my partner and just felt like there were not the same opportunities in France as back home. I felt like I wasn’t brave enough to go through the rigmarole of buying a house in France, going through the paperwork and also because I could never visualise my whole life there, meant I always had the nagging doubt of going back home. I don’t have children, and nothing else to hold me back, so I just thought, it’s now or never. The point is, even though I have now found a great work position, I still have the doubts in my mind. Did I make the right decision? The weather is a big downside, it always seems to be cloudy and rainy, my heart sinks when I see how the sun shining in France and here it’s tipping it down…Brexit is another factor – I’m worried about the consequences this could have for my partner. It sounds stupid, but most people would give so much to live in Paris, and I’m turning my back on it. I just don’t know where my head is at. Is anybody else had any similar experiences? Has anybody made the leap, and then gone back? Is it a case of the grass always being greener on the other side and am I condemned to a perpetual state of indecision…?

Sorry for it being such a long post, I had to get those thoughts off my chest!
Grateful for any thoughts!

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Would they? Loving Paris and wanting to live in Paris are two different things. I love visiting Paris but no way would I want to live there.
I think you need to be a certain sort of person to live in a capital city. You don’t say where you’re living in the UK - are you in London? I suspect not, if affordable houses are high on your list.
Nowhere is perfect and it’s a personal decision what your priorities are and what your deal-breakers are, nobody else can tell you what’s right for you. There are many more places in the world besides Paris and the UK. But home is where the heart is, and it sounds as if in your heart you’ve always thought of the UK as home (“not the same opportunities in France as back home”).
You don’t have to explain or make excuses for your choices, you know. It sounds a little as though you are being defensive because you’re afraid other people will think you made a wrong decision - but it doesn’t matter what other people think; it’s your life. It would be a bit stupid to live in Paris just because you think that’s what other people would do.
Just my two penn’orth, as one who stopped listening long ago to all the people saying ‘Why on earth did you…’ ‘If I were you I would…’ ‘Don’t you wish…’ ‘Why don’t you…’

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It sounds to me that you have made the right decision. You have given living in France a good trial and say that it doesn’t feel right as the place for you to settle down. There would be as much difference between living in Paris and living in an area in the UK with affordable housing as there would be between living in Paris and a different part of France. Busy hectic life might be Part of your Paris experience but you will find the same in many parts of the UK whereas rural France can be anything but. Like Anna I picked up on your use of the word ‘home’. For me home is where I live, not the country I left almost 31 years ago, for you home is obviously the UK so the move back makes sense. Be careful though, not all UK locations are the same; before I left the UK I lived and worked in West Sussex for three years and I found life there to be more foreign to my previous experience than living in Europe felt. No one can comment on your relationship with your partner as all partnerships are different. If you settle in the correct part of the UK Paris is hardly remote and you might be able to adapt rather than change your relationship. Above all, as you move on, look at the Paris experience as a positive. It has given you an insight to another way of life, a knowledge of one of the World’s greatest cities and a good working understanding of a second language. You are moving forward not burning bridges. Good luck.

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Amy, your situation is not dissimilar to mine 15 years ago and I very much understand your concerns, so I hope my advice can help.

The problem is that once you have been living in Paris for a reasonable period of time (especially at a young age) you will not get Paris out of your blood. It is the way it is. This is my third time living Paris and with age and experience life gets better and Paris does eventually become your home. I would argue that Paris is actually one of the best places to live in France. It takes time to work that one out but having lived all over France, I would argue it is one of the best places if you can make it work.

Have you done the right thing ? The answer is yes. You now need to decide is the UK is your home. Given what you have said I am not so sure. I don’t think think there are many places in the UK that can compare or offer what you had before. Is a career worth the sacrifice ???

I would advise working for the next two years and save as much money as you can whilst trying to decide. I reckon in 18 months time you may want to move back. Or maybe not…who knows. But the important thing is you needed to answer that question so moving back was the only thing you could do.

Remember there are places in Paris (not necessarily in Paris itself) where you can have a nice family life.

BTW, would I live in Paris for the rest of my Life ? No. Would I live in the UK ? No.

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Hi Anna,
Thank you for your advice.
I definitely feel like I kinda have to justify myself, my partner is not so keen on my idea and now I feel like I have to promote the idea to him all the time. Even though he was semi supportive of my decision when I first mentioned it to him. I think you are so right by saying so not listen to other people but to myself in this. To be honest, I feel like I’m in a game of tug and war between my family who want me in the UK and my partner who wants our situation to remain in France. I suppose the ultimate decision lies with me.
Thank you so much for your advice, it is very much appreciated.

Paris is a very busy place, full of hustle and bustle, but it’s also a beautiful city full of culture and life. I lived just outside Paris for many years until family commitments took me back to Wales. I am planning to return to France fairly soon but not to Paris this time but somewhere a bit quieter maybe Brittany. I would say to you think carefully before you move, write down all the plusses and the negatives and make the right decision in your own time. Good luck

there is a great Facebook group called: I am a triangle it is for people who have lived in places other than their birth place and you will find a lot of support from the group and the people who express similar feelings as yours.

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Hi there,
I have lived in the stunning Pyrenees for 12 years…i lived in other countries around Europe for 10 years before that and am currently contemplating going “home”… for similar reasons as yourself but we also have had 2 children here and above all, for us, the school system is our main reason. I have agonized about the decision and often i doubt myself. I know there are many, many things i will miss, perfection in any one country is difficult to achieve, i think different places suit us at different times in our life…well done for being brave enough to make a move and remember…nothing has to ve forever. Good luck :grinning:

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Buying a house is ne of the few things that is easier in France than UK.