For our first blog post of the new year, we thought it fitting to take a look back and reflect on 2017. And what a year it was! We started the year living a comfortable life in a great neighborhood in Indianapolis and ended it living on a narrowboat in central London. We were lucky to spend time in a half-a-dozen countries—all with Schaefer—and had more amazing life experiences than we can count. Of course there were lots of challenges, some tears, plenty of ups and downs, and MANY changes, but we have so many things to be thankful for. Here’s an overview:
It’s pretty crazy to think that one year ago, we were caring for our chickens in the backyard of our 90-year-old home in a quiet up-and-coming neighborhood of Indianapolis. We had two great careers with steady incomes; we were living the good life! When the year started, we already knew that we were moving to London, although we had only told a few close family members. For most of the month, we spent our time prepping for our crazy year ahead: researching Indiana home prices, looking at London flats, gathering information for transporting Schaefer overseas, etc.
This prepping work pushed forward in February when we put our house on the market. It was our first home sale and it was certainly a learning experience. Thankfully, however, it was a relatively short experience. We also spent time on a fantastic Collar family vacation in Florida, where we found out that we were going to welcome a niece into the family!
By March, our secret was officially out. With Kiley taking a buyout at work and plans to move temporarily to Michigan underway, we told everyone of our coming move the London. Add in closing on the sale of our first home, it was a pretty jarring month; our year of upheaval and adventure had begun.
We continued that momentum into April, which began the moving prep in earnest. In particular, we began to weave through the complicated process of getting Schaefer into the UK in a comfortable manner. This involved plenty of research, phone calls, vet visits, and travel forms that all needed to be done in careful order. Thankfully, with Kiley no longer working, she was able to focus on this (in addition to her daily yoga practice). We also utilized the time we had in Michigan to spend with family and do Michigan things, like going to Red Wings games and playing some golf.
In May, we did one of the most Michigan-y things you can do: the Zoo-de-Mack bike race (except it’s not a race). We rode over 50 miles through some of the most picturesque Michigan landscapes, and it all ended at a giant beer tent before taking the ferry to Mackinac Island for a couple of days. As the month wound down, the impending move began to get real; we finalized our plans for the coming months and Mike officially took leave from work. The month ended on a bittersweet note with a lovely going away party in Waterford. It was so great to see all our family and friends before leaving.
And leave we did! On the first day of June, we packed our (few) bags and shipped off for Europe. After over a day of travelling, we arrived at our first stop: Perugia, Italy. We spent the entire month in this amazing little city. We made great friends at Club Corso and were able to visit several nearby cities: Assisi, Punta Marine (NOT Ravenna), and Lake Trasimeno. But most of the time, we just enjoyed “la dolce far niente” while wandering around beautiful Perugia.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and as the calendar turned to July, we departed Perugia. That’s not to say that the good times were ending—far from it! We spent the first ten days of the month travelling around Tuscany, stopping in Cortona, Lucca, Abetone, and Lucca again before flying to Rotterdam, the Netherlands for Schaefer’s last vet appointment before taking the ferry to the UK. It was a wonderful trip, but now we were in London and it was time for business. Item #1: find a flat (…maybe).
Flat hunting continued into the beginning of August before we decided to do something a little strange: not live in a flat at all. Instead we chose to buy and move aboard a narrowboat and live on the canals of London. So we did it! At the same time, Kiley officially started classes at London Business School. It was a crazy month.
The craziness subsided a bit during September, and was replaced by a constant buzz of work: Kiley’s schoolwork, Mike’s work-work, and everyone’s boat work. We spent nearly the entire month at a marina in Iver, with Kiley commuting an hour each way every day. It was definitely busy, but we fell into a nice groove in our new home and also began to do a lot of exploring around London. This groove was upended, however, at the end of the month when we left the marina and officially started our continuous cruising around London.
Our first prolonged stop in London was in Northolt. It was a good location for our first couple of weeks on our own; it was far enough from central London that it wasn’t too congested, but close enough that commuting was much easier. This better location allowed us to spend much more time with Kiley’s classmates as well, we both joined LBS clubs and went to more activities, and she was able to attend more professional events later in the evenings.
During November, we started to get more comfortable with the whole continuous cruising thing. We budgeted our time better and became more comfortable with actually moving our home around every two weeks. During the month, we moored in Little Venice and Paddington Basin, still two of our favorite locations. There were also a ton of fun school activities, like the Diwali party, and London kicked into high gear for the holidays, which it does very well.
After spending more time in Paddington in early December, we spent the rest of the month moored in Kings Cross (getting there involved our first locks!). It was an ideal spot in a great area, plus gate access and 24-hour security—it was pretty swanky. Closing the month was the best though: our first big European vacation since arriving in London. We left the boat for nearly two weeks (a big step) to spend Christmas in Prague, New Year’s in Amsterdam, and the first few days of 2018 in Brugge (Bruges). A great way to close out one year and begin another!
Looking back on 2017, we are obviously thankful for the opportunities and experiences that we’ve had. It has absolutely been a year to remember. That being said, the pictures, posts, and blogs don’t capture the whole story. Behind “We are moving to Europe!” and “We bought a boat!” is a lot of apprehension and difficult decisions. In addition, as we reflect on the year, there’s definitely a progressively growing sense of wanting to be in two (or more) places at once. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just an extra sense of perspective that we’ve never had until now.
2017 was certainly the most exciting year of our lives and we are both so happy that we decided to take this journey. We’ve said it before, but if you ever have the chance to seize an opportunity like this, definitely take it. Appreciate the time you have with loved ones, accept that there will be unforeseen challenges, and take the leap!