In two weeks, my family and I will be moving to Austria. I have spent the last three months slowly and carefully revealing this news to everyone around me and this site is the final stop on that tour. It was a difficult few months, juggling who knows and who doesn't, who I could talk to about it and who I couldn't, and it is such a relief for it to be completely out in the open now. People have responded very similarly to the news, with varying degrees of each emotion—initially they were shocked, understandably, then sad and/or disappointed that we'll be leaving, but ultimately everyone has been happy for us and extremely supportive. I am very grateful for this unanimous support and do not underestimate how helpful it has been in making this change possible for us.
And now, to the questions:
Wow! That is huge.
I know. I mean, I've never done this before so I don't know exactly, but I agree. It is simultaneously one of the most exciting and difficult decisions that I've ever had to make.
Do you know anyone there?
Yes, Dinka's family lives there, so we'll be moving closer to many brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.
So, is this a move for work?
No, it's a move for our family, on several levels. First, we are tired of having no family around to share our lives with. Connecticut and the Northeast are wonderful and have been great to us but with each passing year and each additional child, it became harder for us to justify living at least a few hours' flight from everyone. Going it alone has certainly helped us form a family identity of our own but I think we're done with being on our own for now.
Second, living in two countries and two cultures is an experience that I want to have and that we want our children to have. Again, I can't speak from experience here, but knowing that there are different types of people in the world with different perspectives, countries with different approaches to solving problems, or even just having to recognize that the world is larger than the place that you know, these all seem like good things. More specifically to Austria, it also will give the kids (and me) an opportunity to know the place where Dinka grew up and to understand their/our history a little better.
There are a lot of things that I think will be nice about living in Austria itself but the truth is that they're not the reason that we're moving there but an added bonus. More on those bonuses to come, hopefully, as they start to roll in.
Do you have a job lined up?
Initially I didn't but since I've started announcing our move I have found some contract work that should greatly help with the transition. Even so, we're going to be staying with family until we have a more permanent source of income in place.
That's another thing that's been difficult about this move and decision—I have to leave a great job in order to do it. It was only my second full-time job after college but I know enough to recognize that it was a unique situation and I'll have a very hard time finding a new role, company and team like the one I'm leaving.
Did you need to get some kind of special visa?
As the spouse of an Austrian citizen, I applied for and received a permanent residence permit. Our kids, children of one Austrian and one U.S. citizen, are allowed to have dual citizenship, which they have also applied for and received. Lucky them.
How long have you been planning this?
It's a possibility that we've been thinking about for several years, since we were first married, but we didn't start seriously entertaining it until the last couple of years, when we thought we were in a good enough position to potentially make the move. While it would have been great to move with a job and everything else worked out, we thought that waiting around for that perfect situation to arise might mean never moving there at all and we knew that we would regret that. So instead, we picked a date on the calendar and decided that we'd move at that time, whether a job had materialized or not. We started all the paperwork processes and investigations at the prescribed times and now here we are, two weeks from the actual move.
How long are you planning to stay?
We honestly don't know and we're ok with that for now. It depends a lot on how things go, on several fronts. Given the costs of an international move (which continue to add up, day by day), I hope it's not too short. We'd like to give ourselves the chance to get established there and decide if we like it or not, but that's also dependent on having enough money to support an independent life for our family. One important thing that we recognized early on was that even in the worst case, where I can't find a job for a really long time or we're really unhappy there, we can always move back but will never regret having taken the chance to find out if we could do it and what that life might be like.
Will you come back to visit?
Absolutely, yes. We plan on using more of my hopefully generous vacation allotment to visit the U.S., whenever it's financially possible. The fact that we'll be living somewhere else doesn't make you, our friends and family here, any less our friends and family than you already are.
I hope I've covered everything. Our plane tickets say July 13th and there are a lot of things that still need to be sold, donated and packed in boxes before then, not to mention all the things that the kids want to do (see below) and the people that we want to see before we go. With each passing day, it becomes more of a reality—after years of thinking about it and months of planning it, it is actually going to happen. I'm not completely sure what's waiting on the other side of this move but I am excited and eager to find out, to say the least.