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Melissa Buckler Smith, North West England

I’m Melissa Buckler Smith, from Maryland, US.

I met my husband on-line. After almost 5 years of a long distance relationship, I was granted a Visa to marry him in January 2011. I moved to the North West of England in February and we were married in May. I was able to come for six months the previous year. I used that time to make sure this move was what we both wanted and to insure I could live here. When I returned to the US to start the Visa process I knew there was no where else I wanted to be. I also brought my cats with me from the US.What challenges did you face during the move?

The Visa process was a bit daunting. I found a company that was approved by both the US and UK to help with the process. Though I had to wait for the Visa to be approved, it was on the first try. I am also fortunate that in the States, I lived near several military bases and was able to find a moving company that specialized in moves abroad to send my belongings across. They even took care of finding a company in the UK to get the goods through Customs and deliver to my address.

Bringing my cats into the UK presented all sorts of complications. I was able to go through the quarantine process before entering the UK through a local vet.

How did you find somewhere to live?

My husband owns his own home so I didn’t have that issue. There are lots of property for rent or for sale in our area.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

I don’t know if there are many Americans in my immediate area. I know there are many different ethnic backgrounds in this area and expats from all over the world.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

I enjoy the “English” way of life and have adapted to it. I enjoy shopping at the market and interacting with the locals. I find them pleasant and just like people anywhere.

What do you like about life where you are?

My husband makes me life wonderful. We have a great time exploring the countryside and the surrounding areas. Even though he has lived in this area his entire life he sees the area through my eyes and we’re able to find so many things to do that he has never done. We both enjoy nature walks and we’ve found many paths that he didn’t know existed. I love being able to go to the local market to find fresh veg and home made goods. I love being able to walk everywhere. If the weather is bad I can get on a bus and go wherever I want.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I’ve adapted to my life very well. My parents are far away and that is the only down side to this life I’ve chosen.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Thoroughly investigate where you plan to move both the country and the area, There are books and websites readily available. Read as much as you can about every aspect of moving abroad. Plan for the unexpected. Find a trust worthy company to assist you through the Visa process. It won’t be cheap but it will be worth it.

If you plan on bringing pets, be prepared to start working to get them through the process a year before you plan to leave. Find a scheme that will help you insure the paperwork is present and correct.

What are your plans for the future?

My husband faces uncertainty in his job. If he loses his job we will consider moving back to the US. I’m quite happy to stay in the UK but if he wants the experience of living abroad I’ll be happy to go back. As long as we are together I don’t care where we live.

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