Relocation, relocation, relocation

Photograph of an art installation consisting of two very high piles of brightly coloured luggage.

Photo: Susanne Nilsson, Flickr user infomastern. Licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.

I’m about half way through a one year contract, so of course much of my headspace is occupied with wondering what comes next. (I’d rather it was occupied with great research, or any number of other things. This is one of many problems with the early-career norm of short-term contracts, but that’s another topic.)

As I look around at job adverts, naturally they are all over the world, and also varying in length. Recently I found myself looking at a short one in the US and thinking “I’m not sure I want to relocate intercontinentally for just a year”. My initial thinking was that I’d consider it more seriously for two or three years, but a one-year contract wasn’t worth the upheaval.

Then my officemate pointed out that I had jumped at the opportunity to live in Japan for two months, which is much shorter. I replied that I hadn’t actually “moved” there, it was simply a visit. But where does one draw the line? In my head, two or more years is definitely moving to a place, while two months is definitely a visit. Could a year be considered from either angle?

Possibly it’s less about duration than other things. In Japan I lived out of a suitcase, but I don’t think it really comes down to how many belongings one takes with. Perhaps it has more to do with whether one is getting paid in the other country, dealing with bank accounts, setting up local healthcare provision, househunting, etc.

Food for thought, and in the meantime I’m not ruling anything out.


Hmmm. I planned 6 months in NZ and that was definitely a visit because I was backpacking, and picking up casual work.

I sort of moved to London for my MSc year, and but didn’t actually move because I got a job back home before I got a job there. That could have gone either way, and if I’d stayed there no doubt I’d have said I moved from the beginning of the degree.

I took a room and a job in Leeds a couple of years ago for the summer, but didn’t move until I t brought my altar, furniture, and cats.

I had a phase in my early twenties where “home is where I hang my hat” and I was fairly rootless. Now… Home is people.

Yeah, people is another big consideration. In a practical sense, when I was in Japan I still had my flat in Orkney. That wouldn’t be feasible for a year-long “visit”, so my stuff would end up in storage, which definitely shifts things to another level.