Juliet Sullivan, Vancouver

Name: Juliet SullivanJuliet S - fam
Originally From: Brighton
Moved To: Vancouver

This is the Sullivan family. Theirs is a transatlantic story spanning 25 years.

Lee grew up in Canada after his family moved from Brighton when he was two years old.

Juliet, also from Brighton, went to Canada for a holiday for the first time when she was 20. She fell in love with not just the country, but with Lee after they met through mutual friends.

Lee moved from Canada to England with Juliet, and they set up home, married and had two children.

Fast forward ten years, to 2003. Their daughter was 14, their son 5. They both felt an undeniable pull to go back to Canada; they wanted their little family to experience the sporty, outdoorsy, family-orientated lifestyle that Lee had enjoyed as he was growing up. They knew that if they didn’t make the move now, they never would.

And so it was that in March 2003, they packed up their lives and set sail for the faraway shores of Beautiful British Columbia. On a plane though, obviously.

For 12 years, they enjoyed the best of what Canada had to offer. They bought a 6 bedroomed house in the Vancouver suburbs, complete with a walk-in closet and a laundry room. They bought a big car, a built-in vacuum, a massive fridge/freezer. They spent the weekends hiking the surrounding lakes and parks; swimming in the clean, clear Pacific Ocean; skiing (or trying to) on the nearby mountains. The kids thrived. Lee set up a successful masonry business, Juliet trained and qualified as a real estate agent. Life was good.

But, walk-in closets and giant fridges aside, Juliet was not entirely settled. She had always battled homesickness. She loved her life in Canada, but since they had moved there, she had always had one foot planted on home soil. This was due to a connection to not just her family but to her roots, and Brighton itself, a city she found it difficult to be away from. She missed the eclectic vibrancy of not just Brighton and the people in it, but the British humour, English country pubs, Dairy Milk, gravy granules, and British supermarkets.

And then in 2015, she found herself at the proverbial crossroads. Among other things, Juliet’s 82-year-old father in England became ill, and suddenly she was faced with a very real dilemma: stay in Canada and miss being with her dad when he died; or go home. She decided to go home.

The big, beautiful house was sold, and once more the family made the trip across the ocean, this time with the dog and the cat, and an uncertain future.

Juliet’s dad died shortly afterwards and she found herself taking over his business in Brighton.

She is grateful that she could be there for her dad at the end. Avoiding regret was her top priority. But the move has created a division in the family, which is ongoing to this day. Lee returned to Canada – to his business and his elderly mum. The kids (now 27 and 18) also went back. Canada was now their home and they did not feel ready to commit to living in England. Juliet found herself committed to living in England, alone, with the elderly dog.

Lee and Juliet are still very much together, and the family is still close, if not geographically then emotionally. She now splits her life between the two countries; an expensive, exhausting, difficult endeavour which means she never feels fully settled or at home. However, she is truly experiencing the best of both worlds and she feels very lucky to be living an exciting, if unconventional lifestyle. It is not what they planned, but it is their reality, for now.

To read more about the Sullivans’ expat life, go to: www.thexpatfiles.blog

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