So… I’m Moving to Scotland!

Updated February 16, 2017
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Moving to Scotland Glen CoeQueen of standing awkwardly for photos

I’m returning to the land of kilts, whisky, sometimes indecipherable accents, and epic scenery!


This may not come as a surprise if you know me (hi!) or if you follow my monthly updates, and it may not seem surprising given I often describe myself as a “perpetual expat”, plus I’ve been back and forth between Spain and Scotland for the past year. But it’s still sudden given I booked my flight on Monday!

I’ve lived in five countries other than my country of birth, New Zealand, since I was 16. I studied abroad during both high school and university, and I worked random jobs in Australia twice and in Scotland. For just over the past year I’ve been teaching English in Spain. Moving to Scotland will be my 4th move abroad in just over 5 years, not counting all those times I’ve temporarily packed up and based myself elsewhere for a few months, or been backpacking and travelling long term. Except this move is different….

This time it’s permanent!

Well, as permanent as the foreseeable future, because you never know what’s going to happen in life! But for the first time ever I have a visa for a country that doesn’t have an end date. Or at least I can renew it, but that’s a complication for later.

Every time I’ve moved abroad before I’ve known that I would be leaving. Either because my working holiday or student visa would end, or because I had plans and places to go after I saved some money and got my life together, in the case of when I left Australia. Setting up a new life, again and again, can get really tiring. Dealing with the ups and downs of moving country can begin to take their toll after awhile.

Like any traveller or expat I’ve had to say goodbye many times over, and many times when I knew it would be forever. It honestly doesn’t get any easier. But everything must come to an end sometime, and we’d complain if nothing really ever changed. This time I’ll be setting up a life that I won’t be leaving anytime soon.

When I was younger I always said I was going to go to university, move to the United Kingdom and then take advantage of working holiday visa schemes until I hit the ripe old age of 30, when most of them would no longer available. Well, this year I turn 30, but that’s not the reason why I’m suddenly deciding to base myself in just one country for the foreseeable future. There are plenty of reasons to move to Scotland (it’s awesome, duh) but none of them are exactly why either.

You see, I fell in love.

Yes, I am a walking travel cliche. I went travelling to fulfill my own personal dreams and in the process, I found someone that I want to share them with. And it just so happens that this someone is an Englishman who lives in Scotland. And that we’ve decided to make that the place where we will be together.

Moving to ScotlandMe and EB

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

Azar Nafisi

I think I am different in every place I’ve lived. I mold to the lifestyle. In Australia I would naturally wake up at 6am everyday, and enjoy my time before work in the sunshine like many other Queenslanders. Try and wake me up at that time anywhere else in the world and you might be on the receiving end of some rather harsh words! In Spain I eat at Spanish times, often having lunch at 3 or sometimes even 4 in the afternoon. Elsewhere I’d have eaten the lunch I packed for work by 11am.

In spite of the natural changes, I try and take a part of what I love about each place with me, or maybe what I like about myself in that place. After Canada I was more adventurous. I wanted to explore the beauty of what was right on my doorstep in New Zealand, and I tried to make that happen. In Spain I’ve put so much effort into learning Spanish that I don’t intend to let it slip away when I do.

Leaving Spain Moving to ScotlandSpain life

Moving abroad once again is bringing up a huge range of emotions. Moving to Spain was a huge deal for me. It was the culmination of a lot of things I wanted to do, learn Spanish, teach English, live somewhere where English wasn’t the dominant language. It’s strange to be coming to the end of a long held dream, and the end of something that was really all about me.

At the same time I’m excited, because as much as I love Spain it feels like I’m in some sort of purgatory. Albeit a happy one. I can’t fully settle here because I know there’s an end, and it’s not here. Is it Scotland? I don’t know. But I do know it’s with the one I love who is there and waiting for me.

I was worried I wouldn’t be ready when the time came to say goodbye to Spain. This week has gone both slow and fast, as I’ve packed my things (and repacked them, and bought a second bag to pack all the stuff that wouldn’t originally fit…) said goodbye to my Spanish teacher and the lessons that will be one of the things I miss the most, and left my job teaching English in a high school and dealt with the makes-me-want-to-tear-my-hair-out Spanish bureaucracy for the last time. Now I’m writing this in a one of my favourite cafes, before I go out for a last night of tapas with friends. And I can’t help but think how lucky I am for this experience, and to be leaving it to be with the person I love, and marry him in a few months time.

I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I’m excited for it, and I’m ready to take the next step. This is far from the end of my adventures, it’s just another beginning.

Scotland (and EB), I’m coming for you!

Leith The Shore Edinburgh

Have you moved abroad for love? I’d love to hear your story! 

Sonja x

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  • Reply Cassandra February 16, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    So excited and happy for you, Sonia!! (: I bet dealing with Spanish bureaucracy has been difficult and very frustrating at times, but I’m sure that this is just the beginning of even more exciting adventures for you and your soon to be husband! Sending you both lots of love and safe travels and happiness for the future!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Thank you so much! The world likes to make it difficult for international couples, but we just have to refuse to give up and find a way! xx

  • Reply Chiera February 16, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Yay! Scotland is happy to have you!!!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Yay! Happy to be here haha. Thanks! Scottish Travel Bloggers meetup?!

      • Reply Chiera February 25, 2017 at 9:19 am

        Sounds like a plan! ?

  • Reply Katie February 16, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Yep, moved for love a couple of times now and no regrets! First time was choosing to stay on in the UK to be with my boyfriend at the time by getting a student visa when my Working Holiday visa expired, and now I am in love with an American – which is kinda tricky – I live there for 6-7 months a year and we travel together and I spend time back in NZ for the other 5-6 months.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

      That does sound tricky! Visas really are a pain. It sounds like an amazing adventure though and it’s always worth it for love I think. You never know otherwise!

  • Reply Alice Gerard February 17, 2017 at 2:00 am

    No, I’ve never moved anywhere, including abroad, for love. I would like to move overseas for love. Who knows? Hope never dies.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Very true! You never know what’s around the corner 🙂

  • Reply LC February 17, 2017 at 2:06 am

    Hooray, Scotland! Glad to hear your visa woes are finally behind you and hope the move goes smoothly. My BF is also English and is in your position, but we may have to head back to the UK next year. It’s worth it, for love.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:05 am

      It definitely is! I’m so relieved, it felt like a physical weight had been lifted. I really wanted it to not get me down as much as it did but it’s all been worth it in the end! Good luck xx

  • Reply Amy February 17, 2017 at 3:33 am

    I am SO excited for you! I honestly felt like crying reading this. Love is wonderful!

    Also I feel very jealous that you’re going to live in Scotland!!! Haggis forever!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Thank you so much!! It really is, and we never know where it might take us! I absolutely love Haggis haha, can’t wait to have it available all the time!

  • Reply chewy February 17, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Yay! Safe travels! I haven’t moved for love before, but had thought about it when I was seeing a Finnish guy. Didn’t end up doing it, but it didn’t work out anyway.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

      Thank you! Well you never know what will happen in the future :).

  • Reply Daniela February 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Good luck, Sonja! I’m moving to Scotland in two weeks. My fiance is Scottish and we’re planning to get married on the Isle of Skye in 2018. Meanwhile, I’ve applied for a master’s programme at the University of Edinburgh, so hopefully we’ll be settling down in my favourite city 🙂

    I’d be happy to meet a fellow travel blogger in Edinburgh, by the way 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Oh that sounds amazing!!! The Isle of Skye is so beautiful. We’re getting married just near Edinburgh! It would be really great to meet you! Let me know once you’re settled in :).

  • Reply Danielle Eskdale February 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Oh what a fantastic story you have! It must be amazing to get to fully immerse yourself in a place by living there. It’s also funny that you are coming over to Scotland and I want to go to New Zealand haha!! I live right on the border of England and Scotland so have the best of both worlds but I guess ‘the grass is greener’ applies for me 😉
    All the best on your move and new life – I’m sure it will be amazing!!


    • Reply Migrating Miss February 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Thank you so much! Haha people often ask me why I want to be here when they want to go to New Zealand! It’s what you don’t know I guess :). Hopefully you do check it out one day!

  • Reply Kelly | A Pair of Passports February 18, 2017 at 11:24 am

    This makes me so happy! I just went through this with my English fiance (now husband) earlier this year and there’s honestly no way to describe the feeling you get when you realize that you finally get to go…and stay…without worrying about any visa expirations or asks too many questions border patrol officers. Let us know if you two find yourselves down in London for a weekend 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      It’s so strange and I can’t seem to get used to it just yet!!! Although I’ve only been here a couple of days haha. It’s probably one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done in my life. I think it’ll take awhile to sink in! Thanks so much, I definitely will :). We hope to get down there sooner or later! 🙂

  • Reply Corinne February 18, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Aghhh! This is so exciting! I’m so happy for you (I may have squealed a teeny bit when I saw your reason for moving!)


    • Reply Migrating Miss February 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Aww thank you so much that’s really lovely! 😀 😀

  • Reply Victoria February 18, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    How exciting, and what a beautiful story!!! I relate to your story quite a bit, as I found the one I wanted to share my memories with during my travels/USA life and now we are in France . It can be a bit scary to think that the move is permanent, but it is just another type of adventure. You will get to discover Scotland as an insider, and that’s awesome. Wish you all the best and embrace this new stage in your life 🙂


    • Reply Migrating Miss February 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      It really is another type of adventure! And I’m looking forward to it :). Thanks so much, I hope you’re enjoying your time in France. I’m sure you will be!

  • Reply Sarah February 19, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    So so so happy for you! I can defo relate in terms of the visa struggles (my end date is in December 🙁 ) Which visa did you go for?

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      I feel your pain! It’s a difficult time and I remember it well. I’m on a Fiance Visa (a type of Settlement Visa) and after we get married I’ll apply for further leave to remain on that basis. It’s a long process and we’re far from done but I feel like we’ve cleared the first hardest bit! Thank you!

  • Reply Kathi February 20, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Yay for you two! While I haven’t moved to Scotland for love (but for uni) and decided to stay a little longer before I met my partner, I know that I will forever be tied to Scotland in one or another way because of him – and that makes me so happy, what a place to be tied to 🙂 Good luck with your new life in Scotland, and we definitely have to meet up!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you!! It is the most amazing place, and I’m so excited to be living here once again :). We definitely need to!

  • Reply John Ingersoll February 21, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I’ll miss the Spain posts but since I haven’t been to Scotland I’ll look forward to your expressive posts and pictures.

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 22, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Don’t worry there are still Spain posts on the way! I haven’t even begun to finish posting about it yet :). Thanks so much!

  • Reply Michelle February 22, 2017 at 2:08 am

    So exciting! Congrats, Sonja – I look forward to seeing more of your Scottish adventures!! We visited Scotland at the end of last year, and even though it rained most of the time, it was definitely somewhere I could see myself living. Fell in love with Edinburgh 🙂 And it did remind me so much of NZ, too!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 22, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Thanks so much! It’s such a lovely place I think, despite the rain. And it’s even sunny today! 😀

  • Reply Caroline February 26, 2017 at 12:20 am

    Yay, you! Yay, Scotland. Yay, love. Yay, travel!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Haha thank you!!! I am in a pretty yay everything mood too 😀 😀

  • Reply Camila February 26, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Aw welcome to Scotland! I’ve been leaving here a few years and just returned on a spouse visa two weeks ago 🙂 I also fell in love with a lovely British man haha And I love that Nafisi quote so much!

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 27, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Thanks so much! I used to live here a couple of years ago so it’s wonderful and weird to be back haha. Welcome back! 😀 British men have a lot to answer for haha.

  • Reply Sabbi February 27, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    It makes me happy to hear that there’s so many others that move abroad for love 🙂 met my partner in Canada where I’m from, moved here to the uk together, my visa is ending so now we’re moving to Finland in a couple of months (where he’s from) and I’m super nervous but excited to start the next chapter! Good luck in Scotland 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 28, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      That’s so excited that you’re moving to Finland together now! It will be awesome to have both lived in each others home country. Good luck in the new chapter!

  • Reply runawaybrit March 20, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Good luck with your move to Scotland! I met my partner when I was living in Vietnam and he was travelling SE Asia. I eventually moved to Sweden for him. Since then we have lived in Tenerife, India and now Slovakia. Maybe Scotland will just be a stepping stone to more adventures together! I agree with you about being different in every place you live, I seem to evolve completely each time I move. I get involved in different activities and wear completely different clothes, jewellery, even different hair colours! It’s like living a different life every few years 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss March 21, 2017 at 10:01 am

      Thank you! Wow those are some amazing places to live! I like to think I just have different facets to my personality that get brought out in different places haha.

  • Reply Ralph Kiko March 30, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Funny caption on the first photo 🙂 What an adventure you had Sonia! And even more adventures to come on your next and final? move to Scotland. I can related to the mixed emotions you must be feeling right now, one part excited, another part anxious, happy, sad and more. Your readers look forward to your Scottish adventures! I am sure that you will bring all your experiences from all other countries into your new home!

    • Reply Migrating Miss April 6, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks so much Ralph! I’m not sure it’s final but it’s for the foreseeable future at least! Thank you 🙂

  • Reply Scottish Home Style August 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    As a fellow ex-pat in Scotland, I have to say I love it here. But there are ups and downs, of course. Same with any country you didn’t grow up in. But there is so much good there. I wrote a blog just yesterday – please let me know if you agree with any of it now you’re here!
    x Beth

    • Reply Migrating Miss January 24, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Thanks Beth! Unfortunately the link has been lost with my spam filter but I’ll check out your website!

  • Reply Kate December 22, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    I’m moving to Edinburgh in a few months time to be with my partner who lives there. Beautiful city and can’t wait to join him. Roll on June! First time I’ve moved away from my home town so a little apprehensive and I have a soon to be 4 year old little girl so it’s going to be a big change for us. Still, I know it’s the right decision for us all and 18 months of long distance is plenty long enough.

    • Reply Migrating Miss December 30, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      I know the feeling!!! Moving has its ups and downs but I think when you know what it can be like to be apart it certainly helps! Let me know if you need any Edinburgh advice 🙂

  • Reply Julia April 15, 2019 at 4:36 am

    Hey! Just read your blog. I’m a fellow teacher as well and currently living/ teaching in England. I’m looking to see if teaching is any different in Scotland ?! I absolutely love Scotland. It’s so beautiful and the people are so friendly. My boyfriend is English and we are looking into possibilities other than England. Any advice would be appreciated! 🙂

    • Reply Sonja - Migrating Miss April 17, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Julia! Sorry I’ve never actually been a teacher in Scotland so I can’t help you there… I was teaching English in Spain! I’m sure it’s pretty similar but you might be able to find some more information about the school system online. Good luck!!!

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