Friday, August 27, 2010

The decision to move abroad

Resigning from a job, selling a house and/or car, and leaving family and friends to move abroad can be scary. But I did it in 2006. And now I’m sharing the steps (in the order that they appeared) that led me to work up the nerve to move abroad:

  1. Get fateful email from husband: “I got the offer.”
  2. Google, “Should I move abroad?”
  3. Eat lots of high fructose corn syrup.
  4. Google, “Living abroad.”
  5. Toss. Turn. Repeat.
  6. Wear sunglasses to cover up bags under eyes.
  7. Remember who is president (2006).
  8. Repeat #7. A lot.
  9. Go to work. Stare at vacation balance. Shake head.
  10. Realize looking back and thinking, “what if?” would suck.

If you’re living abroad, what made you decide to go? If you’re not, what’s holding you back?

This post first appeared on my blog about the international writing life, Writer Abroad.

19 comments:

eNVy said...

We moved to Winterthur in 2008... why?

* The US economy / housing market was going to tank and I didn't think we could hold off buying with a young family.

* We love travelling to/in Europe. Again, difficult to do with a small family.

* We'd been in the same place for years. It was time for a change.

Chantal said...

Those sound like great reasons too!

Jess, Andrew and Family said...

I discovered your blog in January right after my husband called me and asked, "What do you think about moving to Switzerland for 2 years?" After I got over my shock, #7 was the biggest thing I kept asking myself. I was pretty scared though, and worried how I would manage our 3 small kids in a new country where I didn't even speak the language. Blogs like yours helped a ton, because they lessened the culture shock by giving me an idea of what to expect. We've been in Basel for two weeks now, and so far we have been able to enjoy every minute of it! (After we got over the jet-lag of course...)

Barb said...

Years ago, I lived in the Netherlands as an exchange student.
I knew at that time I was destined to live in Europe. I came back home and then moved to Luzern. Long story short...became engaged to a dutch lad. The relationship tanked but the dream lived on. I have been back in the states for years but hubby and I share the dream of someday relocating. I follow your blog and this post just grabbed me.

hugs,
Barb

P.S. I just did a post about this little "dream".

Chantal said...

Jess, glad it worked out and glad the blog helped. That is always great to hear.

Barb, glad your dream lives on! Hope it works out.

Hattie said...

We left at another bad time in the U.S.: 1971, and returned in 1985. Also not the best of times, but we had no choice.
I think I finally figured out how to post to your blog!!!

Chantal said...

Hi Hattie,

Wow, so were you in Switzerland for 14 years? Was it hard to return?

Lindsey said...

This is my second move to Switzerland. First I moved to Neuchâtel in 2006. I was in a relationship that either needed to turn into a marriage or dissolve, so when I got the job offer, I took it without any thought at all, really! Unfortunately, it was my first job in my field and I really suffered for lack of experience. That all worked out in the end, but Neuchâtel was small and isolated. Then my boyfriend came for a three month visit and proposed! We went back home after my contract was up and now three years later, we're back here together.

We work in the same field so we are quite fortunate to be able to live abroad if we choose. We are just outside Zurich, which is much more comfortable than feeling isolated in Neuchâtel. Even if you've done it before, it's still a huge step. Pulling up roots is uncomfortable.

When it was time to make the decision in March, we realized, if we don't do this now, we probably never will. Right now we don't have children or a house. And with Obama in office, people are much more pro-American than they were during the Bush era. We resigned from our jobs, sold our car and most of our furniture and belongings. We brought six big suitcases and 2 boxes and the remaining precious items went into a 6'X8' storage unit. The move itself was gut wrenching for me. But honestly, now that we're here, it feels right. It won't be forever, but for now, it's a nice place to live and call home for the next 3 to 5 years.

How long do you plan on staying, Chantal? You do have a C Permit after all!

Chantal said...

Hi Lindsey,

No, no C-permit for me yet. That would hopefully be granted next year, if we decide to stay.

Yep, before it was the big "what if", now it's the big "if"...

Philly Girl Abroad said...

We moved to Den Haag in April 2009. We decided to move because the job offer was substantially better than what we could anticipate at home. It was a great opportunity to expose the kid to other cultures. And, Lord knows, I just love to wear orange.

Hattie said...

Hope this posting goes through, since I seem to have lost my rather long comment on your question.
I was not easy to return, but I'm very glad we did. That's the short answer. We found that being foreign over the long haul was not for us.

Chantal said...

Orange is a great color :-)

Foreign over the long haul...yes, I don't know if I want to be foreign for my entire life either. The question now is, how long do I keep at the foreign thing? Do you reach a point of no return?

Federica said...

I decided to move to Switzerland with an intra-firm transfer because, after 12 years as a globetrotter in various parts of the world (of which 5 wonderful years in California), I felt the need to "come home" to Europe for a bit (I am from Italy), both to build a professional network in Europe and to participate more closely in the lives of family and dear ones. Next year the big question: do I make the move permanent or do I go back to California? Decisions, decisions...

Chantal said...

I know what you mean about decisions. It's crazy to wonder where in the world I'll be in a year. But then again, that's part of the great adventure. And life is sure never boring this way!

Julia said...

Just because my significant other got a good ofer, now I'm trying to get used to work at home and having 0 relation with real humans many days, I hate it.

Chantal said...

Julia, I know what you mean--I've been there. Have you considered looking for a job here? Under my "Dear Frau" column section, there's a post about looking for jobs in Switzerland.

Julia said...

Ah the problem is that I allready have a nice job back in Barcelona, I travel there every month for one week and the rest of the time I work from home with my computer and a phone.
Its a family business I have been working during 5 years to take over my father when he retires, we will stay here 3 years and I like what I do in my job and after 6 years I can/want not leave for 3 years and then go back :-( but working home-alone is so hard ! argh!!
Its a tricky situation :-(

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