The Decision to Move Abroad
It’s been a rough week for me and while I have some half-written posts on my dashboard I’m not feeling inspired enough to finish them. I just don’t feel like pushing out happy, travel-inspiring articles this week.
Just a few weeks ago I was perusing realtor.com daily, telling Brandon I would be equally happy living abroad or settling down in the US and buying our first home. Now, though, I can only really imagine ourselves living overseas. While that switch has mostly been politically motivated there are quite a few reasons why moving abroad is right for us.
Donald Trump has stated that in his first 100 days of office he will place a hiring freeze on federal employees and reduce the federal workforce. The timing couldn’t be worse because as a military veteran this affects Brandon directly. For us the driving force for settling down in the states was getting a reliable civil service job where Brandon can apply his military service to his retirement. Now those plans are on the chopping block.
News reports are stating that some of the work will go to contractors and Brandon can certainly get a job with them. So since we’re having to look at contractors, why not get a job at one of their international locations?
Stink is Still Young
Brandon has always told me that he would rather we live abroad now while Stink is young. I agree that for her the transition would be much easier. At the age of 4 she’ll be able to pick up a foreign language more quickly and the cultural adjustment will be faster than if she were older. Not to mention we would have two years to prepare her for the local school system.
The Timing is Right
With Brandon ready to graduate from uni, his mind (mostly) fresh from his German classes, he stands a better chance at getting a foreign job. Of course his 10 years of military experience may count for nothing but that’s a risk we’re willing to take. And at this point in our lives we have few possessions, no home and our lease is up in May. We could move anywhere, why not overseas?
Yes, politics are a factor in us moving abroad. I’d be lying if they weren’t. And while this election was the tipping point it wasn’t the sole reason. For a while I have been concerned about the prolific use of guns in America and the mass shootings that occur way too often at public schools. Stink will start school in 2 years; how can I ignore the gun violence and bullying that is plaguing our nation?
I also worry about our lack of concern over preserving the environment. Now I feel that for the next 4 years the issues I care most about will stagnate or worse, take a step back in progress. I want to move to a place where those issues are being valued and addressed.
Of course I’m not completely naive. I know that wherever we move we will experience laws and customs we may not like. No country is without flaws. But I do believe that there is a country out there that might be a better fit for us. And if there’s not then we can return to the US with a new perspective and a better appreciation for what we have.
Travel Makes Me Happy
This is something that I’ve shared with very few people but lately I’ve been struggling with serious depression. At first I thought it was seasonal because it was mostly prevalent in the winter months. But as the years went by it became harder and harder for me to pull out of my winter funk. This past year I finally decided to visit my doctor to get help. Right now I feel like I’m coasting, neither terribly depressed nor overly happy. Sort of just even keel.
But travel awakens my soul. Vacations never give me enough time to fully experience a new land or a different culture. Long term or expat travel would be the key to fixing that and I think it would give me the “reset” that I need to battle my depression.
Travel doesn’t just make me happy either, it’s something our whole family enjoys. Stink asks constantly about our next adventure and remembers so much from her past travels. She’s such a pro at navigating airports and subways and she’s open to trying new foods. I want to nurture her passion for adventure, an opportunity I never had as a child.
So what does this change of heart mean? It means that we’re going to push much harder to live abroad than stay in the states. We’re researching more countries that we might be willing to move to, including South and Central America. Our list of countries will be based on a multitude of factors: job prospects in the IT sector, ease of bringing pets, child-friendly amenities and acceptance of expats. Some countries (like Denmark) are being crossed off the list while others (like Peru) are being added. Ireland is still at the top of my wish list while Germany remains at the top of Brandon’s. Taking a trip to each country and staying in hotels is one potential way of working out whether that country feels right for your family. For example, because Ireland is at the top of my list, perhaps staying in Dublin or Cork hotels for a few weeks will be a good way to see if that country will eventually feel like home or not. This can be a good method to trial the country for a bit, instead of just moving your lives over to a foreign country without experiencing the lifestyle and culture first.
Furthermore, Brandon and I have discussed the very real possibility that he’ll have to accept an entry-level position. It would mean a tighter budget and less money for travel in our new country. We might also have to fund our move, something we would have done anyway if he studied abroad in Germany. Brandon and I also discussed cancelling our trip to Cancun and using that money to spend a few weeks in Europe so he can go job hunting.
I’m well aware that my family and friends think I’m overreacting to the election and I’m crazy for wanting to move out of the country. That’s okay. This isn’t their life to lead. Plenty of people didn’t think I’d climb Mount Kilimanjaro either but I did. I think a move like this would be good for our family and if in a few years we decide to come back to the US we will be happier because of it.