How to Flee the Country #1 (previously published on TinyLetter)

A map showing the great circle route between Newark, DE and Cambridge, UK

Welcome to the inaugural issue of How to Flee the Country. I'm your host, Daniel Beck. For the next few months, I plan to share with you the excitement and frustrations that Audrey and I are sure to experience as we expatriate ourselves from Newark, Delaware to Cambridge, England.

In future issues, I'll go in-depth on specific areas of the move, from acquiring the right stamps in our passports, the disposition of our stuff, and more. But to get started, I'll address some questions that have been asked since Audrey and I have started telling people that we're moving to England. They're genuinely frequently asked questions. I am not making up any of these, except one (which one is left as an exercise for the reader).

Why are you moving to Cambridge?

We're moving to England so we can distribute flyers about republicanism to the unsuspecting subjects of the tyrannical Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Royal Majesty the Queen

Also, Audrey has accepted a job at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) near Cambridge. Rather than subject her to 20 hours per day commuting back and forth, we've opted to relocate. More generally, neither of us have lived outside of the United States before and we thought, what better way to see the world than to live and work in it?

Do you really like the UK enough to move there?

How should I know? I have never been there.

How long will you live there?

Audrey's appointment with EBI is for three years, which can be renewed for up to nine years. Given my insatiable need to subject myself to a major move every two or three years, I don't imagine we'll actually stay there for nine years, but we don't have a set date to return. The inexplicable nature of immigration law is such that we could not apply for permanent residence in the UK even if we wanted to, under the terms we're entering the country.

What's Audrey going to do there? What are you going to do there?

Audrey's new job title will be "Data Wrangler" which I admit sounds totally made up. She's going to do something that involves computers and librarianship and open access publishing for biomedical research… probably? I'm guessing this question will be a lot easier to answer in six months.

I'm going to keep writing documentation for my current employer, WebFaction (a web hosting company). The company is based in the UK and (very generously) they've offered to make me a UK employee and pay in me pounds sterling. Otherwise, I'll be doing what I've been doing, except from new and exotic locales, like a Starbucks next to an ancient university instead of a Starbucks next to a merely old university.

Are you bringing your stuff?

Yes! Audrey's new employer is covering the cost of moving most of our stuff to the UK. We're planning on leaving behind some things that we don't expect to need (or that won't work), but most of our stuff is going to be shipped there (anticipate more on this later).

One thing we've decided on not taking is our car. We waffled on this idea for a while, but ultimately decided not to take it when the costs of moving it exceeded the costs of not moving it. So if you're in the market for a lightly-used 2014 Nissan Altima, uh, let me know.

Are you bringing your cat?

Yes! The cat's going to hate us for a day or two, but she'll get over it. Believe me when I say that moving a cat is enormously complicated. I promise a full breakdown.

Will you have a guest room?

We don't have permanent housing yet, but we plan to find a place with room enough to receive the occasional interloper. Accommodations will be granted on a case-by-case basis with the following priority scheme:

  1. Our mothers

  2. Our friends and family who are good houseguests

  3. Our friends and family who are bad houseguests

  4. Frenemies

When do you leave?

Our stuff leaves August 11, when movers take our things. We fly across the Atlantic the night of August 15, arriving in the UK the following morning. Audrey's new job starts September 1. Everything's happening soon!

Do I really offend you so much that you need to put an ocean between us?


Have any more questions? Any particular things you'd like to hear about during our move abroad? Let me know by replying to this email.