Expat Interview with June - Irish Expat Living in Lithuania

Published: 12 Feb at 7 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Lithuania
June Molloy Vladička and her husband left Ireland in May 2013 in a camper van, unsure where the road would take them. Three months later they bought a small, tumble-down house in her husband's native Lithuania. A self-professed foodie, June is building her new life around the desire to eat local, unprocessed food. She intends to keep animals and grow vegetables in an attempt to be as self-sufficient as possible. She also hopes to develop a food product for income. June's expat blog is called My Food Odyssey (see listing here)

Meet June - Irish expat living in Lithuania
Meet June - Irish expat living in Lithuania

Here's the interview with June...

Where are you originally from?
I'm from Ireland.

In which country and city are you living now?
I now live in Lithuania in a small country village.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We arrived here last July while on a tour around Europe. We had intended to do some further travelling before settling down but an opportunity to buy a house in my husband's home village came up and we jumped at the chance. We plan to stay for the foreseeable future. We do plan to do some further travelling, but Lithuania will be our base.

Why did you move to Lithuania and what do you do?
We moved for many reasons, but mainly for greater quality of life. Back in Ireland we'd both had busy and stressful jobs. My husband is Lithuanian and so we'd travelled here quite often on holidays. We'd always enjoyed the weather, the pace of life and being surrounded by family and old friends. Last February I was given the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy from my job. After 13 years, the settlement would provide enough funds for us to move abroad and start something new. We considered Australia, where my sister lives with her family. However, Sydney is very expensive and we would have needed new stressful jobs to make ends meet. We opted for Lithuania as the cost of living is lower, enabling us to live the simple, self-sufficient life that we longed for. As yet, neither of us is working - not for a wage, at least! We're very busy working on our land and on renovating our house. We are both working on some business opportunities that will allow us to work flexibly so that we can continue to travel and enjoy life to the full.

Our beautiful village on an autumn day.
Our beautiful village on an autumn day.
Did you bring family with you to Lithuania?
There's just the two of us, but we're currently living in my husband's family home with his family.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Because my husband is Lithuanian and we'd been here so many times it was pretty straightforward. We already have a wide circle of friends and family which makes the transition so much easier.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I don't know any other ex-pats living in Lithuania. We live in a country area where everyone is Lithuanian - I think I'm the only foreigner in the county! Meeting people was easy for me as we live in my husband's home village. My Lithuanian is still not great so I tend not to socialise without my husband. Lots of people speak English though, which is great. We have a great circle of friends who we see frequently.

A real winter wonderland.
A real winter wonderland.
What are the best things about your new country; anything to recommend to future expats?
There's lots to love about Lithuania. It's a very beautiful country. The weather is fantastic - warm, dry summers and proper, snowy winters. The pace of life is slower than back home - no one seems too stressed about anything. Despite the aloof exterior people are very friendly and welcoming and would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. If you are coming with some savings then that money will go a long way here. Making money here is a different story. Jobs are hard to find and wages are very small. This is not the place to come if you want to make money. Fishing is a major pastime - Lithuania has over 4,000 lakes. In winter, cross-country skiing and ice skating are popular.

What do you enjoy most about living in Lithuania?
I enjoy the pace of life and having the opportunity to live as self-sufficiently as possible. I love the sense of community and our social circle. And it's lovely to be so close to family.

How does the cost of living in Lithuania compare to Ireland?
Compared with home many things are cheaper here. Groceries are about the same but you can get very good value if you shop at farmer's markets or buy locally. Medical and dental care are much cheaper. Property is also much cheaper, especially in the countryside. That said, wages here are very low, so in real terms many of these items are actually more expensive than back home.

Camper van life on our journey around Europe.
Camper van life on our journey around Europe.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Lithuania?
I really haven't come across any negatives. Getting used to a new culture always has its kinks, especially when you're learning the language. But because I'd been here so many times on holiday I knew exactly what was ahead of me and was very much looking forward to it. So far I have no regrets.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Come here for a holiday first to make sure you like it. The food is different and not for everyone. People are not friendly towards people they don't know, which can seem cold and rude to other cultures, especially to us Irish who smile at everyone and love to chat. Getting to know a few Lithuanians before you move here can help you to see passed that. And be aware of salaries here - it's not a place to come to make money.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I can't really say I've had any difficulties, although I would love to be better at the language so that I can socialise more on my own.

Traditional Lithuanian šašlykai - marinated meat grilled over a fire of birch wood.
Traditional Lithuanian šašlykai - marinated meat grilled over a fire of birch wood.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Research the place you plan to move to thoroughly and holiday there in advance so you know it's the right choice for you.
  2. Try to integrate with local people and customs - you'll get much more out of your experience that way.
  3. Make sure your qualifications are valid in your chosen country so that you can work in your chosen profession. Both my sister (an optician) and my husband (a neuromuscular therapist) ran into problems in this regard. If necessary, get any certificates or qualifications officially translated before you leave home.
  4. Don't buy property until you're absolutely sure you're in for the long haul. If you're renting and you decide you're not happy you can just pack up and go elsewhere.
  5. Remember that the world is very big and there are lots of options. Be brave and go conquer!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is centred around food. I started the blog when we were travelling around Europe in our camper van. I am now writing about how we're settling it to life in Lithuania, our house renovations and our attempts to grow and make most of our own food so that we can live as self-sufficiently as possible. Here's a short video of our renovation project.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me via my blog, my Twitter page (see links below), my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/myfoododyssey) or my LinkedIn page (ie.linkedin.com/pub/june-molloy-vladička/18/2a0/723/)

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJune is an Irish expat living in Lithuania. Blog description: My new life in Lithuania where I am setting up a small farm and hope to grow/produce most of my own food and live as self-sufficiently as possible.
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