It’s not Hackney, but Amsterdam does have some decent neighbourhoods

The news is as fresh as wet paint, but here it is: we’re moving to Amsterdam. Effective immediately. Seriously. I’m boxing stuff now. Well, not now exactly, but I might as well be. Because on 2 January Chiara starts a new job in Amsterdam – which explains both the move and its rush.

It has been good times in London, but maybe I should have seen that it wasn’t a permanent solution a long time ago. Regardless of my coming to grips with London and our relationship with it, we’re on the move again.

I love London and, though there has been so much positive that has come out of living here, from getting my Master’s Degree, professional experience writing and a broadening of the improv circle of experience and collaborators, two Edinburgh Fringes, museums, real ales, and of course meeting tonnes and tonnes of great people, but it has become apparent that it’s time to move on.

Some months ago I realized (with even more certainty than the last time I realized it) that I actually really wanted to be working for myself. The nature of that work has the potential of being quite varied: teaching, coaching and performing improv, copywriting, rapping, acting, scriptwriting, communications consulting and so forth.

Turning that around in my mind, and trying to see how to make that happen in a way that I could make a  steady income but be in charge of my own professional life, well, it didn’t seem quite possible in London.

Some exciting professional opportunities have come up recently, some writing gigs, but especially improv trips to Amsterdam, Brussels and Bedford. However nothing consistent or long-term, (and not much, incidentally, that actually took place in London).

Then I was made redundant. This could have rapidly become a major problem – in a rent-paying way. However at the same time a parallel situation was occurring. Chiara was going through a recruitment process for a job in Amsterdam she was really excited about. A position in corporate social responsibility that would draw on all her experience, from EU policy stuff in Brussels to the environmental law stuff in London.

And then, a week ago, we found out the news: she got the job!

And the decision to move back to Amsterdam was made. One job in Amsterdam beats zero jobs in London.

The good news about this is that we’ve both lived there before, about ten years ago. In fact it’s where we met and fell in love, as young, romantic, beautiful, exchange students.

And Amsterdam is an amazingly livable city. My regular commute in London is/was around an hour and a half each way. You can cross Amsterdam on a bike in about twenty minutes. So it’s got that going for it.

It is also where I first got the taste for living abroad in foreign cities. And of course I also worked there as an  improviser, and that time at Boom Chicago was hugely influential. So between meeting my wife and sharply colouring my improv style and philosophy, I can say that it was a seminal period in my life. And not only do we know the city geographically, but we made some good friends there years ago, (and have a surprising amount of friends from other places who have ended up there).

And now we’re moving back. We’re not necessarily committed to settling there, if everything works out, we’ll spend another big phase of our life there.

It looks good for Chiara, professionally. And holds potential for me. I think my range of creative communications, improv, comedy and creative writing could actually go over quite well there. And with Chiara working there is some time for me to see how that will work out.

And story-wise this next phase also has some thematic coherence. It’s the first time we’ve moved back to a city we’ve lived in (Amsterdam, Vancouver, Rome, Brussels, London, Amsterdam). And that city happens to be the one we met and fell in love in.

As far as a story arc goes, it’s got a good foundation. We’re off to build on that.