Harry and Meghan: How people split time between two countries

By Francesca Gillett
BBC News

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Prince Harry and Meghan will spend some of the year in Windsor and some in Canada

The Queen has agreed to a trial period for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to split their time between the UK and Canada.

For senior royals like Harry and Meghan, it's an unprecedented move. But for some people, dividing their life between two homes thousands of miles apart is normal.

Some do it for love, or spirituality. Others describe their circumstances as "humble", to look after ageing parents. Here's how they make it work.


Every six months, Johanna Craven and her partner Davis pack up and travel to the other side of the world.

"This will be our third year of doing it," she says, as she prepares to leave London and head to Melbourne, Australia, where she will stay until mid-2020.

"It's funny, whenever I get to the new place it feels like I have never left," says the Australian-British dual national.

"It doesn't feel like I'm going home or going away, it's like I'm going to another part of my life."

Image source, Johanna Craven
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"I've had a lot of winter this year so am looking forward to some warmer weather," she says

The couple, who are both originally from Australia, had been living in the UK for seven years when they chose the new arrangement in 2017.

"He decided he wanted to go back to Australia, I wanted to stay. We thought let's try both.

"It felt like the right thing to do, it felt like the obvious thing to try."

The pair have a house in Melbourne - which they let out while they're away - and they rent a different place in London each time.

"This is probably the biggest challenge; finding an appropriate and affordable place to live each year," says Ms Craven, 38, who works as a composer and author.

Image source, Johanna Craven
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Ms Craven was hesitant initially but says she is "really enjoying it at the moment"

She also had to "start again" with her career - before the move she had a piano teaching business in London - but now focuses on other work, like writing historical fiction.

"I do my best to travel light. I am getting used to living with less and less stuff, which makes me realise that I really don't need very much at all."


For Bruce Chin, 47, who has split time between the UK and California for 25 years, he says the reasons are more "humble" than any stereotype of an exotic "dual national lifestyle".

"It's very much been an evolutionary process," he says. "I never anticipated my life to turn out like this.

"Really, the circumstances behind it are grounded in being a caretaker for my ageing parents, and being with my partner."

Mr Chin, from San Francisco, first came to England on a student visa to the University of Oxford in 1995 and says he "fell in love with Britain".

Image source, Bruce Chin
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"I literally land [in the US] and I will start doing errands with my father," says Mr Chin

Several years - and many trips back and forth - later, Mr Chin moved to the UK permanently to be with his partner.

He now lives in Surrey but regularly travels back to San Francisco to help his father care for his mother, who has a chronic illness.

"For the past 17 years, I go back every four months for one or two weeks.

"I have got two cars, bank accounts, addresses and friends and family and life in both locations."

Mr Chin, who is a British-US dual national, says: "I have to say, while it may have some humble origins the perks behind it are pretty incredible."

He gets to travel and, with a passion for maritime history, says he can indulge his hobby more in Britain.

Image source, Bruce Chin
Image caption,
Mr Chin, a consulting director, says using his loyalty points helps with flight costs

But he adds: "It comes at a cost. The compromise, not being able to help my ageing parents as much as I would like.

"But I bring the world back to them. I'm like an ambassador of the world and I can use Britain really now as a lily pad to travel to all sorts of destinations I never would have ever had the privilege to.

"I love my life so much as it is right now. It won't last forever, it's temporary, but I plan on enjoying it."


During the summer months, Beki Adam runs an ecological campsite in the South Downs that offers tent pitches and huts to stay in.

But for the last few years, while the campsite is quiet she has spent October to March in Woodstock, New York, where she has bought a house close to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

Image source, Beki Adam
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Ms Adam practises Buddhism during her time in the US and works on her house there

"I'm Buddhist and there's a network of people in a community here," she says. The UK is her home, but "it's a spiritual home here".

"It sounded nice but it comes with its challenges," says Ms Adam, 53. "I didn't understand the amount of work. It's not to be done lightly... If I could have it all in one place I would prefer that for sure."

She says she had no experience of the American legal system so buying a house was difficult.

Image source, Beki Adam
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"When I left England in October, I was, 'Right that's it, this year definitely selling the house,'" she says, of her US home

"On the positive side, there's a famous Buddhist saying - 'you see the mountain clearer when you're standing on the plain'. So I find myself thinking, I love the English legal system."

"And just the practicalities," she says. "If you are fixing up a house, or even getting dressed, you can think 'I've got x, y or z in a cupboard somewhere... oh, no, it's in America'."

She adds: "I'm fortunate because my sister works for an airline so I can travel back cheaply."

And as for the environmental impact, she says her campsite is "super ecological" and "I'm letting myself off for a few transatlantic flights".


"To be honest, I wouldn't split my time," says Canadian citizen North Munro, from his condo in Palm Springs, California, where he spends nine months of the year (it used to be six months, but he gradually changed it). The other three months are spent in Williams Lake, British Columbia.

"I would stop doing this if it wasn't for my parents," he says, adding that they are in their 90s.

"I still want to spend the summers away from the heat but having two homes, two sets of doctors, two sets of dentists, it's just a hassle. I don't recommend it."

Image source, North Munro
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"When I go back to Canada, it feels like it's nice to be back. And in California, it's nice to be back," says Mr Munro

"I'm sure the Sussexes will get whatever they want but for average people like us it's a challenge," he says.

Having doctors in both countries is difficult because they can't share records easily due to privacy laws, he adds, and doctors "are afraid of liability" so they want to run tests again themselves.

And Mr Munro, 67, who runs a cruise booking business, says despite all his income being generated in Canada, he and his husband have to declare jointly in the US - where the system is "crazy complicated" - for healthcare reasons.

Image source, North Munro
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Mr Munro, pictured here in Canada with partner Sean, says coming back to his home country brings "a feeling of peace"

"It's not as simple as having a summer place in one country and a winter place in another. It's the bureaucracy," he says.

Any tips for the royal couple? "I think Canada is a wise choice," says Mr Munro. "I would just tell them, be yourselves."