Meet Cleveland newcomer Martin Sunley and his wife Fiona, who relocated from Kettering Northhamptonshire, England for his job as Senior Brand Manager for the law firm now known as Squire Patton Boggs. They settled in Lakewood in January, 2014.
Tell us about yourself: Prior to moving to Cleveland I worked as a Communications Manager for a global law firm in London and commuted each day an hour or so into the city. Fiona worked in a small local baker’s shop and spent a lot of time looking after her father. Together we love walking, rugby, reading and travelling and spent a lot of time with family across the UK. Our daughter Charlotte lives in Southampton with her boyfriend, and our son Nicholas moved to Santa Clarita, CA 12 years ago, where he still lives with his wife Tanya and our grand kids Alex and Ben who are now 8 and 6 years old.
What were your first thoughts about Cleveland when you considered this relocation? Kettering is a very small, rural town but is well placed for getting anywhere in the UK. The thought of moving to Cleveland was exciting, with all the options that it offered, many of which we couldn’t get locally at home. I never imagined at 58 I would get the chance to live and work outside the UK again, so I was delighted at the opportunity, though nervous about the challenge. Part of our goal was to get out more; enjoy theatre, restaurants and concerts; and spend more time together. Relocating also provided a chance to spend more time with my son and grandkids as they would only be 6 hours away instead of 12!
What was your Discover Cleveland experience like with Executive Arrangements? Our pre-relocation experience with EA was incredibly helpful in shaping our thoughts about where to focus our home search, and the day I spent with the EA team looking around neighborhoods helped even more. Particularly, as I had to make the decisions for Fiona as the plan was to have a house bought and set up by the time she arrived. It was also nice to meet other people who had settled here – at least just to know it can be done.
How did EA help you settle into your new town? The real value is EA’s local knowledge and the fact that I can call or email for advice and thoughts on a whole range of topics from restaurants to tax advisers! The best thing for me is knowing I have people I can email or call for advice. EA President Margy Judd even took me shopping as I didn’t have a car in the beginning and needed groceries in the new house – which was way beyond the call of duty. We also really enjoyed the dinner party at Margy’s home, along with other recent EA transplants.
What have been your favorite Cleveland finds? Perhaps the greatest compliment to Cleveland is that in just 12 months we have so many great memories and favorite finds – so I’ll list my best of Cleveland.
Eating & drinking…
- Parkview Nite Club: “a cool place for shady people”, great jazz and blues and Sunday brunch
- Minh Anh: best pho outside Hanoi
- Aladdin’s: brilliant veggie Middle Eastern food in Lakewood
- Rocky River Wine Bar: really great food
- Namaste: new Southern Indian restaurant in Lakewood
- Johnny’s Little Bar: best burgers in Cleveland in a dive bar no bigger than a phone box
- Pier W: best food to date – for our wedding anniversary, we overlooked the city across the lake
- Happy Dog: great beer, great dogs and a great evening listening to sublime classical music from young musicians
- Erie Island Coffee Company: great people and great coffee on E. 4th
- Pour: very upscale coffee – very nice people – very cool atmosphere (in 5th Street Arcade on Euclid Avenue downtown)
- The Place To Be: fantastic, family-owned diner in Lakewood
- Rozis Wine House: nicest people in the world, in Lakewood, brilliant for last minute Xmas dessert wines and monthly beer tastings
Exploring the region…
- Lakewood Library: immense – free concerts, free movies, book sales (and Fiona volunteers there!)
- Rocky River Nature Center: get away from it all in the snow or the sunshine
- AMC Westwood: enormous leather La-Z-Boy seats
- Jacobs Pavilion: downtown – great venue where we saw Crosby, Stills & Nash and Santana this year
- Cleveland Film Festival: coming up again – and we’ll go and see much more this year
- Lakewood Hardware Store: like the places you only see in Norman Rockwell drawings – and full of people who will help you – whatever the scale of your project
- Lakewood Park: always something happening – even if it’s just watching the sun set over the lake
- Barry from ABC Taxis: met him the first day I landed when he dropped me at the Hilton – and he now knows the entire family, having driven them to and from the airport – that’s what Cleveland is really all about – the people
- Bike Cleveland – fighting for cyclists’ rights (and winning mostly too!)
- Cleveland Bike Rack – great place downtown where you can drop your bike, have a shower and get into work