by Angelique Duffield Published 01/08/2010
I cried. I’m not ashamed to admit that I found the move difficult, even though our stay in England was never meant to be permanent. When my husband Paul asked if I was sure I could leave the UK now that my wedding and portrait photography business was growing, I said, "absolutely".
In November 2008, four months before we were scheduled to leave – Paul’s residency visa in order, our one-way flights booked, any unnecessary items listed for sale on eBay – I panicked. I called my girlfriend, a fellow photographer, in London and told her that I wasn’t sure we were doing the right thing. While trying to explain it to our nine-year-old niece – that’s what really made the lunacy of it all really hit home. “Are we crazy? Why are we leaving our family, friends, a growing business and my husband’s secure job, weekend trips to Europe, summer holidays at the seaside or walking in the Peak District?
We’re moving somewhere we don’t know anyone, my closest family members will be 3,000km away across Canada, the market is saturated with photographers, there’s a very much smaller population base, it has the second highest housing prices in the country, and we’ve chosen to move there for the lifestyle.” It sounded good two years ago when we started the immigration process for my husband. Now I wasn’t so sure.
two girls posing on reflective surfaceWe settled in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada, in March 2009. There was a huge 'economic downturn' as the government liked to call it. Where a year earlier, when we’d done our research, there were jobs aplenty, now the unemployment rate had hit 11%. I was lucky – it only took me a dozen targeted resumés and a month to find a well-paying admin job that left my weekends and evenings free to pursue my photography business. It took Paul two months and dozens of resumés to finally land a boring job with lousy pay, which lasted three weeks until he found a better job, with better hours, and marginally less lousy pay. But we thoroughly enjoyed the summer – meeting after work at the beach and just enjoying the endless sunshine. Yup, we had the lifestyle.
Then in the autumn things started to go pear shaped. Issues were arising at my day job. One of our two cars was having to make expensive monthly visits to the garage. The fridge-freezer was barely cold enough to keep the items cold. The washing machine sounded like a jack-hammer. There were legal issues with my company name. We had plenty of debt, and the $10,000 we’d planned to put aside for me to get my photography business back in order was long gone. In fact, we had no money, so even if we wanted to move back to the UK (which I did, at that point – every day) it wasn’t a financially viable option. And now I couldn’t even afford to buy new sample albums or pay for the myriad of registration fees, licenses, municipal fees and so on that were necessary to operate a business
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