On Leaving Michigan + Packing For My Move to Scotland


My entire life’s worth of stuff has been reduced to one international-sized suitcase, one carry on, and a backpack.

To my surprise, it was easier than I thought it would be. Having grown up with divorced parents and moving 15+ times in my life so far, I have come to despise holding on to things. I relinquished any emotional attachment to that letter, or concert ticket, or CD a long time ago. I’d much rather have the memory in my mind’s eye than a physical representation. I am, if anything, an anti-hoarder — or as the modernists say: a “minimalist.”

My husband is the complete opposite. He is a sweetheart sentimentalist who has some sort of emotional connection to everything he owns. Needless to say, I’ve felt like a cold-hearted witch throughout this entire process. All he wants is to keep that ratty shirt from 10th grade that doesn’t fit. And I’ve been the one to make him donate it.

All the things I thought I loved — my crystal collection*, our couch, my wardrobe, our gazillion books — are now looked at as things I either have to give away or put into storage. And very few items are actually going into storage, because, quite honestly, we do not plan to come back to Michigan to live — if we end up back in the States at all. And the less we have here, the better, because it makes moving so much easier. (*Crystals are totally coming to the UK, by the way.)

Now that Scotland is only three months away, it is finally starting to feel more real by the day. We are moving in with family for our remaining time in the U.S. to save money, and we feel very fortunate for that. If you’re in your twenties making an international move, I highly recommend doing that.

So, we decided to pack completely for Scotland prior to our temporary move-in with family, since it is almost summer in Michigan and we won’t be needing our winter – A.K.A. “Scotland” – clothes until we actually get there.

26 years of my life have been spent in the Mitten. And while I have fond memories, and most of my family and friends live here, I could not be more ready to embark on a new adventure.

While I am under no illusion that Scotland is some fairytale kingdom (well, it might be…) — I read a blog post by a woman who moved there from the U.S., and she said she wore shorts only *once* in two years — I know it’s going to be different than Michigan. And for right now, that’s all I really desire.

Something different.

Plus, lochs, and hills, and dark forests.

And living in Edinburgh — a city where I can walk almost anywhere.

And not to mention, the Highlands, islands, and sea. There is something so humbling about standing on the shore, gazing upon the massive, rolling waves coming from a seemingly infinite void.

After all, I am a Pisces.

I have heard the call of the sea my whole life.

And now it is time to answer.

So, when I looked upon my things — the very few things I’ll be taking with me overseas — I felt both proud and a wee bit worried. I honestly think I packed more for my honeymoon in Ireland. Packing critically is never something I have had to do before, because I was always coming back. And this time, obviously, it’s different.

Everything is so uncertain right now. I can’t even tell you where I’ll be living or what I’ll be doing six months from now, let alone in a year. Sure, I know the general location, but that’s about it.

All of the estate agents I’ve been in touch with have all told me the same thing: You have to be in Scotland, and physically see it, to rent a place.

And that’s obviously a bit of an issue.

Luckily, we’ve rented a cottage that accepts cats right outside Edinburgh so we can stay there for two weeks while we go into the city during the day to look at potential permanent places to rent. The Fringe Festival goes on through all of August, so moving to Edinburgh in August is an absolute nightmare. C’est la vie.

*Fingers crossed two weeks is enough time to find a place!*

I’m so used to having everything concrete. Solid. Planned. Thought out. In control.

This move really isn’t anything like that.

I cannot see much further than the first two weeks after we land on Scottish soil.

But I feel ready for it, come what may.

My Packing Tips

  • Make sure you have really good luggage. Good luggage does not equate to expensive luggage. ‘Good’ luggage for me means: lightweight, easily transportable, and has lots of room. Swiss Army hard-side luggage is what I use and love. 
  • Get some compressor cubes for packing, like these. They help tremendously with packing and I would guess save anywhere from 30% to 50% of space.
  • Pack for the climate. Obviously, Scotland is cold, rainy, and windy most of the year so I packed my best winter/fall clothing.
  • Lay everything out beforehand, and look at it critically, to make sure you are taking only what you really need.
  • Only take necessary toiletries. They take up a ton of room and add extra weight. Most of everything you should be able to purchase once you reach your destination.
  • Take any personal must-have items. For me, this means a few favorite ‘irreplaceable’ books, my best kitchen knife, laptops, and camera.

Stay tuned for more moving and ex-pat related posts.




2 comments on “On Leaving Michigan + Packing For My Move to Scotland”

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