we're moving to china!

We’re Moving To…

We’ve been waiting for months to have news to share over here about the next stop in the wild and crazy adventures of Julie & Drew. And today we can finally (finally!) reveal that we’re moving to …

China!

(Collective sigh of relief.)

china pandas
we're moving to china chinatown slippers

To Recap:

We left London in early September on a sabbatical adventure around Europe. Our road trip took us through Italy and the Balkans, with stops in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Greece. It was freaking amazing.

We flew to the good ‘ole US of A on November 8th, Election Day. Sorry to our friends around the world who thought that the drama of the US elections would cease after that day, because the country’s been on a wild ride ever since. We don’t like talking politics here, but let’s just say it was a weird day to land in the States.

Our US travels commenced.

We hit up our old home state of Maine before spending the American holiday season with lots of family and friends. We took a trip out to California, and another road trip swing through the US South. During that one, we visited several cities that had never made our previous itineraries, including Nashville, MemphisFort Worth, Austin and New Orleans.

Visit Fort Worth: the legendary longhorns during the cattle drive

nashville weekend julie

At the dawn of 2017, we had hoped that one of my many job prospects (all within my current company) would be sorted out. But thanks to being part of a large corporation with lots of moving parts, the meetings and interviews dragged on. I was also set on remaining abroad, so I took lots of calls and exchanged lots of emails with teams in other countries, usually late at night and early in the morning.

We spent a week back in London (a job meeting for me) and once we returned to the US, we embarked on yet another journey. The plan was to visit Drew’s parents in Florida, but when the cost of a last minute flight was just a little too steep, we resorted to another road trip (our fourth since September, if you’re counting). This time, we made pitstops in Asheville and Charleston before landing in Florida for a warm winter break.

To tally, between early November and mid-January, we were in 19 US states. That has to be a record of some sort.

best things to do in charleston drew relaxing on the docks at charleston's shore

The best Charleston happy hour for oysters

Around this time, we were fairly certain that a role in Hong Kong would be finalized. We were getting excited, researching neighborhoods and language schools. And then it fell through. Well, it didn’t so much ‘fall through’ as ‘never got full approval by senior management.’ Maybe I should know better, but I was really surprised by the turn of events, frustrated that I didn’t see it coming in some way. It was a tough day.

Ater a week of licking the wounds and putting our best coping skills to the test (me: daily yoga, long walks around the neighborhood; Drew: watching a full season of Top Chef in two days), I was back on the horse, pursuing job leads and having conference calls at 5am.

Then we decided that the job situation would be a lot more fun if we, ourselves, were in a tropical location. So we set off on a two week holiday to St. Kitts & Nevis on a whim. We booked our flights on a Sunday and were sipping rum punch on the beach by Thursday.

st. kitts best beaches julie relaxing at Shipwreck Bar with cocktail

It was there, two weeks ago, that this role in China was finalized.

As you can imagine, I built up this moment for MONTHS in my head. I envisioned a dramatic conclusion, a breathless phone call with an offer, a last minute interview across the world, expedited visas and many trips to the post office to ship boxes to somewhere-amazing-but-who-knows-where.

In the end, it happened like this: a final phone call was organized between me and the two most senior members of the hiring team in China. The big call wrapped up at 9pm my time, and I waited. For 36 hours. At 5am, two days later, I spoke with the recruiting manager, who said he was writing up an offer. During this waiting period, I channeled the image below.

How the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Wingfield Estates, and Kittitian Hills Are Changing St. Kitts

In our seaside Nevis apartment, during those early morning hours, we quietly cheered the end of our months long journey. I fell back to sleep quickly, the weight abruptly lifted from my shoulders and later in the day we toasted with piña coladas and a lethal rum punch called the Killer Bee at a beachside bar.

And then, because our lives are a bit bonkers, we flew to California.

The California visit was already planned, as my sister (who lives in Oakland) was going to be visiting my parents and we figured we’d just spend a week in her empty apartment. Plus she has an amazing collection of vintage clothes and fun friends that she happily shares with us.

moving to china in chinatown san francisco

Where in China are you going? More details please!

We will be based in Shenzhen, the hugest city you’ve never heard of, just across the bay from Hong Kong. Shenzhen is one of those cities that was built up over the past 20 years as a place for China to dabble in ‘free market trade.’ You may recall the term ‘Special Economic Zone’ from school.

shenzhen

(credit)

The client relationship that I’ll be managing has their global headquarters in Shenzhen, and my company has several China offices, including one here.

We’re still getting the lay of the land in Shenzhen, but here’s what we know so far:

  • The non-Chinese population is roughly 10% (of 10+ million).
  • The cost of living is 45% lower than London (happy dance!)
  • There are plenty of ‘Western’ style apartment buildings that should be comfortable for a couple foreigners.
  • It is the greenest city in the country with lots of protected land, and vast parks, plus one of China’s best beaches.
  • The climate is pretty tropical – lows in the winter never go below freezing and the summers will be brutal to our UK-trained bodies.

Other than that, we’re digging into the research about where we’ll live, how to navigate Chinese taxes, and which VPN will be the best to access our favorite websites and social media. And then there’s that important plan to learn passable, conversational, Mandarin.

city life in Shenzhen

(credit)

We’re so psyched for this new challenge in a fascinating corner of the world. We’re eager for guests (as always) and we’re planning on having the space for you if you want to stop by for a visit.

What about Drive on the Left?

It’s true, in China they do not drive on the left side of the road. However. The left-handed driving reference was a clever play on words for our UK life, but more deeply, it refers to being strangers in a strange land, jumping into something unknown and fundamentally different than where we’re from.

If China isn’t all of those things, I don’t know what is!

we're moving to china julie
we're moving to china drew patience

So, yes, Drive on the Left will make the jump across the world with us. We expect that the content will evolve with us. We will probably also spend a lot more time talking about our adjustment and sharing cringe-worthy stories about the various gaffes we’re bound to swiftly make.

As I assume my new role at work, Drew will go back to managing the site full time, which you shouldn’t notice but which will be a big shift from the more equal sharing we’ve done over the past six months.

What’s Happening Now:

We’re working with the visa team in China to finalize the paperwork required to grant us our residency visas and my work permit. The paperwork is daunting. We are spending our remaining time in the States in California, where we have easy access to a consulate office, family and friends. We don’t yet have a date on the calendar when we will fly out for good, but we’ll keep this space updated as we know more.

(Side note, all of our top secret plans are always revealed in our monthly newsletter first, so go ahead and sign up for it if you want early access.)

And that, friends, is a wrap on our nomadic life, our fun limbo and an existence that has seen me muttering that ‘we’re living in my parents’ basement’ more times than I’d care to admit. Onwards!

we're moving to china double happiness

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  • March 20, 2017

    Pretty awesome news!! I love visiting China ever since my first trip as an adult when I was an undergrad. It’s always interesting! I haven’t been to Shenzhen, but would like to see more of the south of China! An interesting book I read is called “Factory Girls.” Some interesting books that I’ve been meaning to read are “One Child” and “Once Upon a Time in the East.”
    chewy recently posted…[Photo Journal] Going on safari in Wilpattu National Park in Sri Lanka plus tips on planning your safariMy Profile

  • March 20, 2017
    Laura York

    Wow, Exciting news! I know I keep saying this, but we really should get together while you’re in CA and before you move to China and we move to Minnesota! Drop a line with your timeline and if you have some free time.

  • March 21, 2017

    That’s fantastic news guys. So glad you’ve got something firm to plan on now. The wait was so much longer than anticipated, but it’s all worth it. We’ll definitely come for a visit once you’re settled.

    • March 22, 2017
      Julie

      It’s been a wacky 6 months, but I think we will look back at that time quite fondly. Now, it’s onto China! And yes, come and visit!

  • March 22, 2017

    Wow, we finally know where you’re headed! I’m sure it’s a relief on your end to know too 🙂

    It’s been almost exactly six months since we had dinner – maybe we’ll book a trip over to China in another six and catch up again. Good luck with your moving process!
    Valerie recently posted…What to Pack for a Destination Bachelorette WeekendMy Profile

    • March 22, 2017
      Julie

      What a wild six months it’s been since our dinner! We are happy to finally be settled somewhere after such a long waiting period. Unfortunately, that means we are currently in a visa paperwork nightmare!

  • March 22, 2017

    Congrats, you’ll have a whole new slew of countries to explore from your new home base!
    Leigh recently posted…Chelsea Market Food and Culture Walking TourMy Profile

  • March 26, 2017

    Sounds like you will have an amazing time. And what a great opportunity to explore at least part of China, which I am sure you will be doing. For me, much of China is the last really ‘hidden’ part of the world.
    Fiona Maclean recently posted…First Impressions – Prague, Czech RepublicMy Profile

    • March 27, 2017

      We can’t wait to start exploring China…once we get our hands on our visa!

  • March 27, 2017

    CONGRATULATIONS! This is such exciting news. Good luck too, I’ve heard China can be a hard place to be an expat. I think from the sound of your post though if anyone can do it, it’s you. You seem determined and driven. I wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to hear more!
    Susanna recently posted…34 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Beautiful BavariaMy Profile

    • March 27, 2017

      Thanks for the kind words. It definitely will be challenging, but that is exactly what we were looking for when we decided to leave London!

  • March 27, 2017

    What an adventure! I have never been to China and would love to one day.
    Bobbi recently posted…DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun: An Artist’s Mecca in TucsonMy Profile

  • March 27, 2017

    I’m so thrilled for you both. Great to have a solid job and hopefully enough free time to explore the region. It’s a true vicarious thrill as I’ve always longed to live overseas for a few years. So happy for you!
    Elaine J Masters recently posted…Where to find the best places to eat in OceansideMy Profile

  • March 27, 2017

    Ooh, I hope everything goes okay for you getting settled in Shenzhen. My husband used to travel there for business quite a bit, and he wasn’t too impressed. But then, he never got to really see anything except the area between his hotel and the factory he visited. You’re brave to make a home in a new country. But I’m sure if you work together, it will turn out just fine!
    Tami recently posted…Desert Wildflowers Day Trip — Borrego Springs, CAMy Profile

  • March 27, 2017

    Congratulations on the new job, what an exciting new adventure. I am not sure I could move to such a different culture without previous experience, but Shenzhen sounds like a pretty good place. Good luck with the VPN and the famed Chinese firewall. I think that may be a challenge but it is something that will need to worked out before you leave!
    Rob recently posted…The Public Bobsleigh- The Best Way to Get your Adrenaline Pumping In CalgaryMy Profile

  • March 28, 2017

    Your whirlwind 6 months sounds incredible! I can’t wait to follow along your new adventures in China. I hope to visit someday so until I can #MakeSomedayHappen I will live vicariously through you. Cheers to new beginnings!
    Christina A Thomas recently posted…9 Reasons to Visit Spoleto Restaurant for Fast ItalianMy Profile

  • March 28, 2017

    How exciting, looking forward to reading all about your adventures in China. Makes all the waiting and stress worthwhile. Fabulous to have the opportunity to work for the same company too.
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers recently posted…Daigoji Temple and a Sakura FestivalMy Profile

  • March 28, 2017

    Congratulations on the move!! That’s so exciting! And I totally agree the blog name still fits! Have a great time in Shenzhen. I can’t wait to read about all your adventures.

  • March 28, 2017

    That’s so cool guys, congratulations! How exciting! 😀 Something always comes up after one thing has fallen through, I find this especially true with jobs. But I love your approach of, “honey it’s fine we’ll just go to St. Kitts & Nevis and drink cocktails by the beach” haha, love it! Looking forward to reading all your upcoming adventures in China. A whole new chapter in life to look forward to, fantastic 🙂
    Mel Jones recently posted…Comment on Why I’m going Vegan by Natalie V.My Profile

  • March 29, 2017

    Congrats on the move! I love that you spent some time in Fort Worth, as that’s a favorite of mine. There’s something nostalgic about a cattle drive in today’s times in Fort Worth, Texas. I look forward to reading about your new adventures in China.
    Sara Broers recently posted…John Deere Engine & Tractor Museum: Waterloo, IowaMy Profile

  • March 30, 2017
    Vivian Shupper

    Dear Julie and brew,
    It looks like and sounds like a wonderful experience to China, even though it will take so long to get your Visa.
    Your parents are very proud of you, but guess they wish you would be closer.
    Have a safe trip.

    Love,
    Grandma