Earlier this year Emma and I were at my mum’s in Sussex for a week of R&R. It was a Thursday evening, cold and wet, and Danny called me with the news that there was a potential job opportunity with his firm in their Oman office. My heart skipped a beat, this wasn’t the first time we’d discussed the possibility of moving abroad for Danny’s job, but previously it never seemed the right time due to a multitude of reasons, however now it just felt right. Since going back to my job after maternity leave, I had not been totally enthralled by it and I desperately wanted to spend more time with Emma who we had put in nursery five days a week. We decided to investigate further and things started to snowball quickly from there.
We started jotting down questions which ranged from fairly important things like 'would I be able to get a work visa out there', 'what was the cost of living like' to fairly small things like 'where can you find decent hairdressers/beauticians' (I am a woman after all!!) and as a Muslim country 'can you drink alcohol' (some might even say this was the most important question)! We were at the slight advantage of being aware of the lifestyle/culture in Oman as my sister lived there for several years (this was back in the early 2000's), but my brother-in-law still works out there on rotation so that was a bonus!
We found out early on that it would be challenging for me to get a work visa, so I would be going out there as a stay at home mum (SAHM).
Now, anyone who knows me well will know that I have always been very career driven and pre Emma had you said this is what we would be looking at doing in the future, I'm pretty sure my answer would have been 'absolutely bloody not'!
However, post Emma, my priorities have completely changed, I have realised I love the stimulation my job provides my mind and I love the relationship building element; however, I can still do these things, just in a different format. Also, let’s face facts, how often are people presented with the opportunity not to have to work and spend more time with their kids!
Before we knew it, Danny was invited over to Muscat for his final interview and to get an understanding of the role. His firm also invited me to join him, a couple of days later, for the weekend so I could get a feel for Oman and ask any remaining questions we had. Now it was at this point where I couldn't decide what I was more excited about, chilling out in the escape lounge with a glass of fizz (or two) pre-flight, a seven hour flight by myself or discovering our potential new home (FYI of course it was the latter, but the first two were pretty great).
Shout out to my mum who came up and looked after Emma so we could have this weekend away!
We had an amazing couple of days in Muscat and Danny's colleagues could not have been more accommodating or helpful by answering the hundreds of questions we had about life in this mesmerising city. We were driven around Muscat and shown the various areas that we could potentially live, shown a couple of malls (think Trafford Centre/Westfields, but amazingly clean like they are brand spanking new), taken to a couple of supermarkets (always very important to see what produce you can buy), went to one of the beaches which was beautiful and we went out to some of the hotels for dinner and drinks both evenings.
For those of you that are interested, you can drink alcohol in Oman (whoop whoop), however only in the hotel bars and restaurants.
You can also obtain an alcohol license which will enable you to buy booze in a specific alcohol shop for consumption at home, no idea what these alcohol shops look like though, but will report back in a future post. The two hotels we went to were the Hyatt and the Intercontinental and as five star hotels, they are as you would imagine them to be, stunning!
During the flight home we had pretty much made our minds up that (pending offer) it was going to be the right move for us (I would also like to point out whilst having this amazing realisation, I spilt a mini bottle of red wine over my legs in the first hour of the flight – thank you to the elderly Omani lady who handed me several paper towels she had in her handbag and sorry that the area smelt like a vineyard for the six remaining hours).
It took about three weeks for the formal offer to come through and even though we knew it was coming we were still on tenterhooks. When it finally did, I have to say there is no nicer way to hand your notice at work to say you're not going to a competitor or another firm, you're just emigrating.
We made the decision that Danny would move out at the start of June to learn the ropes in his new role and also find a house for us, but this did mean that I would be riding solo with Emma for three weeks until we moved out of our rented house in Sale. This was probably the hardest part of being away from each other, mainly because I was still working five days a week and packing up our home. It’s amazing how much stuff you decide to get rid of when you know you’ll only have a limited number of suitcases you can take abroad, it’s also very cathartic! Danny returned home for a week to help us move out fully (plus he had an all-important stag do). From the beginning of July our wonderful parents let Emma and I share their homes over a six-week period (three in Chester and three in Sussex). It was so nice for Emma and I to spend quality time with the parents before the move.
We are incredibly lucky that our families have been very supportive of our decision and due to the wonders of modern technology we have now (aka FaceTime) it will be easier to feel connected and for the grandparents to have that visual contact with Emma. I also know that if my Dad was still with us he would be telling us to go for it 100%!
So, I would say that brings you pretty much up to speed with the start of our adventure, watch out for our next post in a couple of weeks which will focus on the move out to Muscat and finding our feet!