Jinpa Smith moved to Berlin in October 2013, then to Portugal in 2019 with her boyfriend.
1) How did you feel on 24th June when you heard about the UK’s vote to leave the EU?
Shocked and completely gutted – like I had been dumped
2) What were the key driving factors that made you decide to leave the UK?
It was before the referendum, so I wanted to live in Berlin where life was so much cheaper and I could actually have a life. I could work part time, live in a nice place and have a great social life including travel. None of this had ever been possible in the UK as I was always skint – and I was a senior manager of a college at the time I decided to leave. The cost of living in UK is high and the salaries are low. For example, if I had done the exact same job in the UK as my last job in Berlin, I would have had to have taken a 18k salary drop!
3) How/why did you choose your current country of residence (Portugal)?
As above – plus I wanted to get into the Berlin club scene whilst I was still young enough to stay out all night (I moved when I was 44)
4) Do you have citizenship for your current country? Do you still have EU citizenship? If no, are you hoping to obtain it?
No – I am planning to build up my five years and get Portuguese citizenship
5) Do you plan to return to the UK or hope to move to another country in the future?
Once I get my EU citizenship back, I may move to another EU country – not sure. I would not go back to the UK unless there was a huge shift in the political system and it became possible to live a normal life without being super wealthy – doesn’t look likely – the Tories have ruined the country in the last ten years.
6) What was the most difficult aspect/greatest you challenge you faced in moving?
Leaving my daughter behind (she was almost grown, but still hard).
7) What do you miss most about the UK?
British humour, teabags, Euthymol toothpaste.
8) What do you love most about your current country of residence?
I can buy good quality fresh food without worrying about the cost. Wine is excellent and very cheap, people are relaxed and very friendly, there is not a feeling of underlying tension and staving off misery like there is in the UK – people don’t expect to be stressed which is automatic in UK. When I go back there, as I get on the train at Gatwick, I feel a heaviness of a society too long under pressure to just have the normal things humans should have, like secure housing, work/life balance and enough money to enjoy themselves.
9) Do you consider yourself to have a “European identity” and what that does that mean to you?
Definitely – it means I am part of a wonderful mishmash of cultures, world views and languages – being constantly intrigued, surprised and delighted by the myriad ways there are to be in the world. I have always been a nomadic type , loved travel and the idea of being stuck behind an invisible wall with Boris Johnson in a country run by the Eton 5th form boys common room fills me horror.
10) Do you still consider yourself to have a “British identity” and how do you feel about it?
I do – as my humour, my cultural references and my love of the British countryside are in my bones. I miss friends terribly, and all the culture in the UK, which is really unique, in music, theatre, fashion and art. It is an incredibly rich, stimulating place. I feel really sad that I can’t live there. Before Brexit it was possible be both European and British – I am furious I have had to choose. But my mental and physical health are better away from it as it is now – more and more right wing.
Additional Questions (relating to Corona Virus)
11) How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your life?
Not at all – I work online
12) How do you feel about your country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the UK government & media?
I am so relieved to be here in Portugal when I read the press about the UK government response – absolutely shocking! Here, it is calm, measured, safe and people are cared for. I worry about my daughter who is in the UK.