From Yorkshire to Dubai – smooth landing or bumpy ride?

Early days, but as friends and family are keen to hear how we are settling in to a new and very different life in Dubai, here are some observations to date – and some tips on the general relocation overseas thing that the forums and books I read didn’t mention. All views my own, you understand and I speak as I find.

First off, we are not relocation novices. In the early 80s and newly married to an ‘oil explorer’ we had a posting to South Australia. It was easy. Pack a bag and get on the plane. Three amazing years living in Adelaide followed, with a couple of trips back home via Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. Wow. No mobile phone communication. No email. No social media. Only air mail letters and crackly landlines.

Homesickness is a funny thing – and not just for your country of origin. I was homesick for Australia too when we finally came back to the UK and the excitement of frequent overseas travel and discovery came to an end for a while. As soon as we could we were taking our two boys abroad for holidays.

For the last few years we have been playing with the idea of having another ‘adventure’ so when the opportunity to move to Dubai came our way, it was a no –brainer. We were seasoned travellers. We know how to do this. Pack our bags and get on the plane, right? Well not quite.

Having spent more than three decades building a home and a family in several places, the accumulation of ‘stuff’ was staggering. Most people marvel at the amount of storage space we have in our house. The loft and the garage were standard issue but the additional cupboards, units and even complete rooms have been added over the years, largely out of the need to find a place to keep more and more ‘stuff.’

One half of the partnership has trouble letting go of anything so the nostalgia value of much of the paraphernalia is immense and consequently has acted as something of a distraction during previous attempts to off load. Instead of getting rid it has been more a case of ‘rearrange’ – but basically hang on to it all.

I hold my hands up too. In the past it has been far easier to simply consign something to a place where it is out of sight than spend precious time deciding what to do with a bunch of redundant possessions. Little did I realise I was feeding a monster with an insatiable appetite

So before our adventure could get off the ground we had to get to grips with the monster that was ‘our stuff.’ It was hard graft, both mentally and physically. The ultimate aim was house clearance. There would be items that would need to be kept in storage whilst we were away, things we wanted to take with us and the rest that needed to go – either to charity, another owner or the bin.

This is what I learned.

  1. Break the task down into manageable and logical steps so you see progress.
  2. Start with the smallest area and concentrate on the things you no longer want or use.
  3. Make friends with the people that manage the local tip. There are often different categories for charity collections there in addition to the standard rubbish disposal.
  4. Don’t do it alone. Enlist help with the children’s rooms – from the children. Ours are grown up but came back home to give invaluable assistance.
  5. Accept that this task cannot be completed in a weekend and ensure all parties understand the magnitude of the undertaking. You need commitment to see it through.
  6. Order a skip but one size bigger than you think you need. Be prepared to order another. You know it makes sense.
  7. Ask relatives and friends, especially the hoarding kind to take some stuff off your hands. They will, happily. The partners will overlook the inconvenience because you are leaving the country and they want to be helpful.
  8. If you have masses of unwanted books don’t despair. Check out and you could turn your used books into cash. They buy CDs and games too and are a pleasure to deal with.
  9. Get the hoarders to deal with selling items that have obvious value – they usually have the patience required to get results.
  10. Enjoy the moment when you come across an object or document that is emotionally significant. It means you have found something worth keeping in all the detritus. A triumph!

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