Name: Nicky Gardner
Originally From: Haringey, London
Moved To: Berlin, Germany
Visa Type: None
Berlin-based Nicky Gardner is a woman who knows her way around the world’s currencies. She’s not lived in England since 1992, and for the last ten years her home has been in Germany, a country where she also lived for a spell while in her late teens.
Nicky’s decision to emigrate was just one facet of a relentless wanderlust. “I love visiting England,” she says, “but ultimately I find Britain just a shade too insular. I have a very strong sense of being European. I like Berlin for its liberal traditions, its unpretentious style and the strong sense that life is something to be enjoyed.”
Nicky’s desk in her Berlin home is covered with maps, rail timetables and books in several different languages. She clearly slips with ease from language to language. Nicky explains that she already spoke German before moving to Berlin. Her view is that it’s folly to emigrate without understanding at least the basics of the local language. “And that’s needs to be followed through with the firm intention of acquiring a measure of fluency,” she suggests. “The presumption that all foreigners speak English is a very British conceit,” she adds.
Nicky and her partner (who is a German national) say they are not committed to Berlin for all time. “We do sometimes think about moving elsewhere,” admits Nicky. “And wherever we go – be it Denmark, France or elsewhere – of course we’ll learn the language first.”
For now, though, they are staying put, both kept busy running the publishing business which they set up in 2005. “Our company trades in several currencies,” explains Nicky. “Currency specialists Halo Financial had been a godsend for transferring sterling income to our company’s euro account in Germany,” she adds.
Pressed to reveal what she most misses about life in England, Nicky smiles and says: “Ordnance Survey maps and pub lunches.” As to her top tips for those thinking of leaving England for foreign shores, Nicky suggests that getting the basics in place makes good sense. “I know it sounds boring, but ultimately it’s things like pension plans and health cover that scupper so many plans for living abroad.”
She does another tip, though: “Wherever you move, throw yourself into local life. As long as you use the British expat community as an anchor, you’ll never really slip into the ebb and flow of mainstream life in your new country of residence.”
Wise words from a woman whose work as a writer has seen her explore cultures and communities across the whole of Europe.