Thinking Of Jacking It All In And F***ing Off? Meet The Girls Who’ve Actually Done It

Ever dreamt of leaving it all behind? These girls actually did it.


by Stevie Martin |
Published on

January is peak 'let's book flights' month, where more summer holidays are sold than at any other time of the year – but what if you never came back?

With UK cities feeling more like a rat race than ever before, with the cost of living rocketing and the salaries staying still (brilliant), it's more tempting than ever to just pack it in and fuck right off to be a bartender in the Caribbean. I spoke to three girls who have done just that, and tried not to immediately jump in a cab to Gatwick.

'I was hopping on the tube, getting around town to see friends and thought, 'It's great I know all these amazing people but fuck this. You start your day off with a smile that gets beaten out of you by the time you get to Oxford Circus,' says Laura Jane Williams of Superlatively Rude, who was let go from her job as a PR in London.

So she decided to book a flight to Bali, and figure it all out afterwards. 'I had a choice: I could get relocated or take redundancy, so I took redundancy and a series of things became apparent. I had a freelance opportunity to do some writing that was not enough money for my Zone 3 house in London… but it was enough to live off in Bali.'


It's the dream, isn't it? Swap the commuting, the rain and the hours spent zonking out in front of a computer screen only to go home and zonk out in front of a selection of three other screens - for warm weather, beautiful skies and a fresh start.

However, while Laura got lucky – 'I didn't really plan - a girl I'd never met on Twitter recommended a homestay that costs £240 a month, and down the road there's this communal office space full of people doing exactly the same thing as me,' – it doesn't always work out.

My mate, who went to Mexico because she was fed up and wanted to give finding herself a go, said, over pizza upon her return: 'The biggest mistake you can make is to think you'll change. You're still you – but now you're watching House alone in a bed in Mexico,' which has stuck with me.

And it's something I think about whenever I get the urge to disappear: surely we can't all just head to Bali (or elsewhere) with no strings attached?

For those of us who aren't writers, and those of us who are tied down with flats, jobs and friendships… What about the mountains of admin?

Don't neglect the admin (there'll be loads)

Laura Murphy packed in her job as a community editor for a lifestyle publication to be a hostess in a safari lodge in Malawi, and while it's been a blast, there was definitely some serious planning involved.

'I spent hours researching the legal implications of emigrating, printing out forms from HMRC, listening to Student Loans Company hold music and trying to untangle myself from being the named person on all of our shared house accounts,' she says, having worked out there for eight months after moving with her Zambian boyfriend.

'Despite me doing everything by the book, I still got a letter from HMRC months later, to our company PO box, telling me I owed them £800. Start the research early, make a list of all of your financial commitments, and go through everything with a fine toothcomb.'


Good advice - and it's true that, unless you're doing something that only requires an internet connection and a laptop, you've got to take the 'LET'S JUST LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND' spontaneity with the avalanche of faff/planning that comes with it.

Basically, with great romance comes great responsibility - all the stuff that bores you to death the moment you start looking into it, is the stuff that you need to know about.

'We had issues with our work permits, which could have been sorted out in the UK before we left, if we'd not been so trusting and green! Interrogate your employer as to what exactly the contract covers and what it doesn't, and if they won't absolutely confirm something, then tread carefully,' advises Laura.

'Once you're out there, it's often super difficult to make changes. Also, get the best medical cover you can buy. It's not worth the hassle of relying on your employer's medical cover and then discover that treatment isn't covered when you need an X-ray, like me'.

Don't sit around waiting to grow a pair of balls

Whether it takes planning, or whether you're conveniently between jobs (and have understanding housemates), it takes a lot of balls to make that final jump into friendless uncertainty in a strange new land.

But at at least you can then confidently be the sort of person with aforementioned balls. That must feel good when you're sitting in a small room across the world with no wifi or idea where the nearest shop is.

'Somebody said the trick with courage is to find it afterwards, and if you sit around waiting for that feeling of bravery to take you, it's never going to happen,' says Laura J-W.

'I sound really hippy-dippy but it's true! I would need to be doing three of these jobs in order to live in London. I'm living off £10 a day, which was how much some people spend in Starbucks.'

It does seem like the emotional positives outweigh the negatives. Lucy Pike left her lucrative job at a national paper to work on a photography app in Berlin: 'The hardest part was probably leaving my friends. I love London and I have such great friends, but I had this very odd realisation that I could quite happily be there, doing the same job and going to all the bars/restaurants/clubs I knew I liked until I was 30 and then waking up and thinking, "I've never done anything new."'


Be financially, y'know, savvy

Her tip for making it work? Money, and saving lots of it, if you can. 'I would save more money, but I don't think that should hold someone back; maybe you just need to be a bit more prepared than I was,' she says.

'Not having enough money saved was one of the biggest factors. Thankfully, my parents were really supportive and helped me out. It's not easy (my mum has definitely had some teary phone calls), but I always think how amazing when I'm older I can be one of those people that says "Oh yeah, I lived in Berlin for two years".'

Know that it's probably worth all the hassle

With the admin, the leaving friends behind, and the general courage it takes to buy that ticket - the big question remains: Is it worth it? All three of the girls I spoke to, including my mate, feel like it is.

'I thought I was quite a weak person but actually the whole thing has proven to me that I'm made of tougher stuff,' says Laura M. 'I now know I can get up at 5.30am every day for a six-week run during a busy period, and not actually die from tiredness! It's made me much more direct and helped me take control of situations now we're back in the UK.'

Lucy has also, despite still being in the midst of it all (so not having the benefit of hindsight), learned a fair amount about herself: 'The best moment so far was probably realising it was a good move. I don't know if there has been 'the moment', but lots of different things to do with projects at work and friends.

'Small victories like not having to use my Google Maps to find every restaurant I want to go to or look at the U-Bahn map eight times when tipsy to check I'm on the right train,' she says. 'I'll definitely have something to talk about when I'm 60.'

It's one of those life-changing decisions that feels momentous but, as Laura J-W puts it, doesn't have to work out, provided you've given it a go. And that's the biggest pulling point to leaving it all behind: that you tried it out and, as Laura M did, you can just come back once you've had your fill.

'I suppose it depends how you look at it - there's a huge uncertainty in my life now, and if my best mate got engaged or something it would certainly send me over the edge. But I want to be able to fuck my life up,' says Laura J-W.

'You don't make the first guy you date your boyfriend, and I don't know if I'm going to be here forever. Even if it all blows up in my face, it doesn't really blow up in my face - because I got to go to Bali.'

Excuse me, while I casually check out some cheap flights.

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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