Moving Abroad in Your 50's: Starting Over in the UK with Teenagers

Felicia is no stranger to LMDES. She’s written a stunning piece on finding emotional support while abroad which you can read here! She moved from Bermuda to the United Kingdom with her family and is a full-time entrepreneur and freelancer. We asked her some questions about her journey that took her across an ocean and onto an entirely different continent!

Photo by  Cassandra Hamer

Tell us about yourself: where are you from, where are you based currently and what do you do for a living? 

I was born in Bermuda where I resided until I attended Indiana State University in the U.S. After graduation I returned home to look for a job, the first offer was from a financial services company so I took the opportunity. This launched a twenty-year career which spanned financial services, public service and hospitality industries. At the time, I had no idea how this breadth of experience would prove to be an advantage in later years. At each place of employment, I completed an educational or personal development project. This included; a Master’s degree, a coaching certification and various other certifications. I believe that you should leave each role with more knowledge than you entered with. This philosophy has also proven to work to my advantage. 

In 2017 I started re-considering full-time entrepreneurship. I had always worked on some sort of venture, dating back to my teens when I had a hair-braiding business, to later years when I launched a leadership development company. Unfortunately, I was a bit ahead of the market and the recession had caused companies to tighten their expenditures, so it made sense at the time to re-enter the job market. I worked my way through some amazing roles until a few life changes converged to push me to walk away from what I had considered to be my dream job;

Changes in leadership at the company that I was working at saw my autonomy and progression become stifled. 

My teenagers had educational interests that would require them to study overseas. 

I was essentially limiting my own potential by only working as a coach part-time.

The self-actualization process that occurs as one transitions through their 40’s can either propel you to move forward with unrealized goals or descend you into a life of unfulfilled regrets. I chose the former.

We decided as a family that we would take a chance and see if we could make it work. Once we relocated, I registered my business in the UK and now continue to serve as a business growth strategist. I launched my Find The Money Business Academy©, a combined coaching and e-learning platform helping business owners step away from the daily grind of running a company and find additional money by generating more leads, more clients and more transactions. In addition, I am also very active as a leadership and personal development coach.

I don’t think you can ever be certain that you are doing the right thing, but you have to be sound in the reasons why.

You decided to move from Bermuda to the UK in order to be closer to your daughter studying in Spain. How did you and your family prepare for the relocation process before leaving home? (both literally and emotionally)

The primary reason for our move was so that our son could attend a high-performance engineering high school. There is no boarding element at his school and at fifteen he is too young to reside on his own. Once he was accepted, and we realized how amazing the opportunity was, we moved forward with our plans. Of course, being closer to our daughter, who has just completed her third year living in Spain, is a bonus!

To be honest the process was, and still is an emotional roller-coaster. I don’t think you can ever be certain that you are doing the right thing, but you have to be sound in the reasons why. At a certain point you just have to set a date and work towards it, otherwise you will be in a perpetual state of contemplation. There were moments when I felt physically ill. Once of these moments was walking out of the home we owned and had lived in for the past fifteen years not know if we would ever go back to it. There is comfort in stability which creates a false sense of security. All of the things we cling to as a safety blanket can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye, but they lull us into complacency.

We hired a relocation specialist to help with the move. This proved to be worth every penny since we were able to move straight into a house once we landed and had a support system for the first few days to help us get our utilities and affairs in order.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d received before transitioning your life, and more importantly, your family to a new country? 

Expect the unexpected! Connect with someone who has either made the same move or can give you a realistic overview of the environment that you are moving into. Use that to create a financial and action plan for at least the first year. Don’t expect your current work experience to transition seamlessly, in fact, this is a great opportunity to start fresh and try something different. 

This is more than one piece of advice, but these all stand out in my mind as important.

Your daughter is in Spain and your son is in the UK with you. What have they mentioned to you in terms of culture shock? Have you had similar experiences? 

The language barrier was an obvious issue for my daughter. She moved to Spain at the age of sixteen to complete high school. At the time she only spoke GCSE level of Spanish. It was a bi-lingual school; however, Spanish was clearly the first language. Her German teacher told her on the first day that she only spoke Spanish and German [not English] so she is going to have a problem! For those two years she studied and lived with teenagers who for the most part spoke a minimum of 4 languages. She is now at a Spanish speaking university where no instruction is delivered in English. Her level of Spanish is now so good that Spaniards cannot believe that she is not native.

Our son had a different experience. Although Bermuda is a (self-governing) British dependent territory, none of his peers even knew where to find Bermuda on the map and had to “Google” it! There are also distinct differences in terminology which he had to learn.  The weather has also been a big difference. When you grow up on an island you take the sun, sea and nature for granted. Fortunately, the winter was mild this year, so we are grateful for that!

What do you do to preserve and include your Bermudian culture while living so far from home? 

Technology helps a lot. We all have the Whatsapp app on our phones to keep in touch with friends and family. My son, like most teens, enjoys his Playstation time. He can carry on conversations with his friends from home while he plays, and he has even “introduced” friends from his school in the UK to some in Bermuda over Playstation games. We follow online media and watch special events online.

My husband and I still have business interests in Bermuda so travel there frequently. We also have an athletic development Academy there that requires our direction.

What are 3 practical steps other women in their 50’s can take to have a smooth, and successful relocation process? 

The first thing would be to redefine what smooth and successful means! Not everything goes to plan and if this is unsettling to you, it will throw your confidence off. I suffered from this first hand.

The second is to learn as much about the differences in your new location as you can and incorporate how you will overcome these into your transition plan. This is a core element of personal development coaching; the determination of where you are now, where you want to be, and bridging the gap between the two.

Third, establish support networks in the location you are leaving and the one you are moving to. I speak about this more in the article I wrote for the Las Morenas de España.

What do you think holds moms, empty nesters and women over 50 from taking the leap? How did you overcome these obstacles yourself? 

The perceived loss of stability. That could be; employment, income, living arrangements, or anything else that we have a fear of letting go. The reality is that the more mature you are, the more terrifying it is. If you have a career, society deems you to be “at the top of your game” and once you hit your mid-fourties conventional thinking would have you spend all your effort on working towards retirement. It’s a leap of faith for sure and the cycle of work, retire, die is all that we have been taught that life is for. The reality is that there is less time on this earth ahead of us now than there is behind us, which is a very sobering state of being!

I want to be transparent and state that there are difficult moments. You do have to constantly re-evaluate that the pros outweigh the cons. Instead of wondering what’s the worst that could happen, decide what’s the best that can happen?

Overcoming this is a process. I am naturally rebellious against societal norms. However, I am proud in how creative and progressive this has made me. It has caused me to grow as an individual who is confident in thinking differently than the status quo. I understand that I have made mistakes and have suffered failures. I have embraced these are part of the growth process. The tumultuous times propel you toward the next level of self-actualization, which helps you to understand that “it is clear that that the future is unclear, no matter what you decide to do”.

move abroad in your 50s

Felicia is a lover of travel and adventure who relocated 3,500 miles to support the educational paths of her children. Using her skills as a personal development coach, she helped them zone in on their unique talents. Splitting her time between the UK and her home country Bermuda, Felicia maintains a residence north of London with her husband and son while her daughter attends university in Spain. In addition to her work with corporate clients helping them to implement programs for employee success, Felicia works with her global coaching clients using Lifestyle Design™ strategies to help them create their best life and maximize accomplishments.