For 20 years, I’ve been scheming to find a way to leave the UK and live abroad, and finally I’ve made it :). As of April 2015 Justine (my wife) and I are now living in Umbria, Italy. Having worked at all levels within IT and over a decade at a senior level meant that when an opportunity for Voluntary Redundancy came up it was all the excuse my wife and I needed to make the move. We had spent the last ten years upgrading our house to maximise the equity when it came to selling to make the move.
If I’m absolutely honest, I didn’t know how we were going to make a living when we got here. And, it was a leap of faith from Justine for which I will always be grateful; her confidence in me never ceases to amaze. In 2013, I completed a TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and thought that this might be a way to make some income. We had a fairly decent reserve pot of cash that we estimated should last us 18 months, and I was confident that we could find enough work before it ran out. As it turned out, I don’t actually like teaching much, at least not in a standard classroom environment. This was going to be a problem. I really, really, didn’t want to end up doing a job I didn’t enjoy; this was one of the reasons for leaving the rat race to begin with.
To tell the truth, we spent the first five months settling in and making new friends. It wasn’t until September that we started looking for work in earnest. To cut a long story short, we ended up registering on Remote Working sites where a lot of the work was for creative writing. Now, I had written and self-published a book in 2009, so I knew a little bit about writing and the game of publishing. Justine had also written and published articles in her earlier life, so we thought this might be a potential way of earning enough money to extend out our stay in Italy. If you’d like to see how we started, and our current progress then read my post on Carving out a Career in Writing
We’ve also looked at other ways of earning a living, as writing is one of those things that will take to pay in any significant amount. I have spent a lot of time looking into Pay to Click websites. Most of them are a complete waste of time, and money if you are unwise enough to be taken in by their claims. However, there are a few that are legitimate, and that you can make some money from. You can read my reviews and articles on my blog PTC Unsanitised.
If you’re still reading, and still curious enough to want to know more about me, then here’s a brief potted history.
I left school with not a lot and worked a variety of jobs starting at a fairground and pool hall before getting a Saturday job in one of a chain of fast food companies called Pizzaland. I started in the exciting position of pot washer, or kitchen port to give it its official title. Five years later I was head chef running a team of 6 staff. It was in this year that I discovered computers and splashed out to buy a Sinclair ZX81, not just the basic model, but with a whopping 16k RAM pack. It was on this machine that I taught myself how to code in Assembler and with the help of a book called 1001 Programs in 1k I managed to write a fair few routines. My passion in computers continued to grow, and it wasn’t long before I moved up to the Amstrad CPC464 with a mind blowing 64k RAM and an integrated tape deck, and I discovered a new talent in writing BASIC programs. I decided to see if I could get a job in the world of computing; the pay looked fantastic compared to the catering world. So I enrolled in my local college for an HND in computing and set about writing to as many companies as I could.
Fast forward a year and I was finally offered a post as a data entry clerk at Bowater Windows (a double glazing company), it was actually less pay than what I was earning at the time, but it was where I wanted to be, and the potential was so much better. In a matter of a few months, I’d moved from data entry to database administration, and I was off on the merry-go-round that was proper computing. It was here that I learned my trade; in those days, being in computers meant you did everything from setting up a help desk, to training, to writing code and networking. Five years or so later I left to join Schlumberger as a regional IT administrator, and it was here I started to specialise in networking. At the time, Novell were the biggest and best with regards to networking, so I got myself qualified as a Certified Netware Engineer one of a few hundred in the UK. A further five years and I got my first taste of management as I was an acting manager for the IT department. Truly, I hadn’t got a clue what I was was doing, but it sure was fun having all that power and responsibility.
Around this time my life went a little crazy, I got divorced, met a girl and moved from Liverpool to Ipswich (a small town in Suffolk, UK). I needed a new job and was lucky enough to land one at Logica. The company ran the IT outsourcing for a prominent insurance company in the region, and I was on the team. Logica was a company that runs on procedures; everything has a procedure. It was here that I learned how all the components of IT should fit together and work toward providing the best service possible. I had discovered ITIL, and it was a complete revelation. Within two years I was running the contract, it wasn’t a large one by Logica’s standards, and it gave me room to experiment and learn, and I found I seemed to have an aptitude for finance and procedures. It was around this time that I certified as an ITIL Service Manager. It wasn’t long before I was running a second contract for a major energy supplier and things got a lot bigger, and more complicated. Logica taught me how to manage teams of people, and how to deliver excellent customer service.
About eight years into my working at Logica I met my future wife, at the same time I was getting bored at work. By following the procedures and using common sense the job had become too comfortable, and I always seem to need a real challenge in my life. A position came on my radar at the local hospital for a deputy head of IT…. interesting… I jumped ship. This was the sort of challenge I was looking for, although truth be told it was probably a lot more than I had bargained for 🙂 Within a year, or so my boss moved onto pastures new, and I became Head of IT with the responsibility of the end to end IT service. The problem was that the NHS didn’t seem to understand what service meant, this caused me to butt heads a lot, and I don’t think I was the most popular manager in the Trust. Luckily after a further year there was a significant push to move into the 20th century and adopt ITIL as a methodology in delivery IT services.
Six years in and I was starting to get bored again, I’d taken the IT department as far as I could with the funding I could get my hands on. My boss gave me plenty of projects to keep me busy, and it worked for a few years. At one point, I had over 500 staff and was responsible for not only IT but nearly all of the administrative and reception personnel in the hospital. It was during this period that I started many personal projects, a few being Genealogy, website design, learning to play the guitar, writing and publishing a book, and motorbikes. This last project became my major passion in life and continues to this day.
A further two years later and I knew my time was coming to an end, I knew I could handle pretty much anything my boss threw at me and it was just a matter of time till I left. An opportunity came up for voluntary redundancy, and we had recently discovered, and fallen in love with Italy. It was time to make to leap into the unknown of emigration.