Paul Davidson left the UK in October 2016 to move to Estonia with his wife and two children.
1) How did you feel on 24th June when you heard about the UK’s vote to leave the EU?
I was pretty shocked, I felt like what I held true and believed about the UK was either wrong all along or had changed. I grew up with classmates and colleagues from all around the world, took an extended gap year living in Europe and met my wife and always appreciated the beauty of the EU bringing people together, while I knew racism and xenophobia was a thing as a white Brit it had always been pretty abstract but I was suddenly self conscious speaking in foreign languages in public and worried for my wife and children.
2) What were the key driving factors that made you decide to leave the UK?
Uncertainty about what might change over the coming years, fear of xenophobic hate crimes. Definitely also a large measure of voting with my feet and wanting to see other Europeans doing the same to help “the 52%” see how naive they were being.
3) How/why did you choose your current country of residence?
This was pretty easy, I had lived in Estonia before meeting my Estonian wife and after we met and married. I was already fluent in Estonian and we had been thinking and talking about a future move back here as we prefer the education system and possibilities for spending lots of time outdoors.
4) Do you have citizenship for your current country? Do you still have EU citizenship? If no, are you hoping to obtain it?
I don’t have Estonian citizenship yet, but I will be able to apply next year (and plan on doing so)
5) Do you plan to return to the UK or hope to move to another country in the future?
Return to the UK – highly unlikely, a lot would need to change. Other countries – maybe at some point, I work remotely so I value being able to travel without limitations but probably not until the kids are done with school
6) What was the most difficult aspect/greatest you challenge you faced in moving?
I had a good job and quit in order to move, we were also pregnant at the time with our second child which added some fun constraints and considerations to the decision making process. We quite quickly decided we would quit the UK but needed to figure out whether we should do it before or after Finn made his arrival.
7) What do you miss most about the UK?
I miss my friends and family.
8) What do you love most about your current country of residence?
There is a lot to love about Estonia, The climate is pretty perfect for me and Estonians spend tonnes of time outdoors in the spring and summer because of the long harsh winter, cold winter -10C and snow, “hot” summer 24C, 22hrs of daylight in the summer. Estonia is a very digital and tech centric country, there are loads of innovative startups here and the government is a big believer in using technology to make life easier for people.
9) Do you consider yourself to have a “European identity” and what that does that mean to you?
Definitely, I am very aware that being European enabled me to come to Estonia as a teenager hassle free, fall in love, get married, work, learn. I am keen for my children to have the same freedom.
10) Do you still consider yourself to have a “British identity” and how do you feel about it?
I was born in Britain and I used to be proud of how inclusive and multicultural my country was, I was brought up to believe that national pride generally only leads to evil, Brexit killed what I identified with so I am looking forward to opting out of citizenship.
Additional Questions (relating to Corona Virus)
11) How has the Covid19 pandemic affected your life?
My Granddad back in the UK passed away from Covid (thanks in part to the shambolic anti-science shit show the UK government put on), Estonia acted fast but I have been working from home since I left the UK so the impact was minimal for me. We are back to normal here now. My parents can’t visit their grandkids because ironically the UK would expect them to quarantine for 2 weeks despite Estonia having one of the lowest infection levels in the world.
12) How do you feel about your country’s response to the Covid19 pandemic compared to the UK government & media?
Estonia currently has just 29 active cases with elimination a very real possibility over the next few weeks and months, we shutdown schools and started a (somewhat soft) lockdown a good 2 weeks before the UK. I am glad to be here and get a normal summer but it sucks that my relatives are in the UK I have zero confidence in the UK government not continuing to fail this test