In 2001 I ended up in the UK after meeting a wonderful British man in India. We were in love and I ended up staying. The beautiful southern coast became our base and home and from there I spread my wings and travelled the world. So yes, I have been out of the country for more than six months at a time nearly every year. When I was back in the UK I worked and paid my taxes and never ever thought that I could have any problems due to my travels, I was fully self sufficient and never ever took any benefits from anyone.
In 2008 just before leaving on another long trip to Asia I met at work (southern rail) a young English man who really wanted to come with me. We had a wonderful time, came back to England. Started working three days later and had a baby two years down the line. Once our little girl was born and my maternity leave ran out I wanted to stay at home a bit longer to care for my nine month old, who would not? I did come across the “CSI insurance” in some article and mentioned it to my man, but he brushed it aside and mumbled something about the NHS covering you of course, and that was it.
In March 2014 I started working again, but part time to be able to see our girl growing up. It means I am not eligible for Permanent Residency. We have a mortgage, a house, two cars and a lot of friends. I consider us lucky, I still do have a life back in Austria, there is a house waiting for us there too, but my wonderful British partner does not speak a word of German: if we went there what would he work as? I came to the UK lawfully, I always worked hard and except for child benefit never received any other help.
I really struggle to see my beloved Europe that is so diverse and vibrant and has been, for the first time, peaceful for a long time, potentially torn apart due to something like ‘Brexit’. Sad times indeed. I always said the best thing about living in Britain is the multicultural way of life and that it is so accepting.