Well, folks. Now that I’ve been here in sunny Palma de Mallorca for three months and am slowly getting over the initial culture shock, but not really, I thought I’d share my story and what it took to move me and the fam from San Francisco, California to the Balearic Islands. I’m going to roll this bad boy out in a series of multiple posts, so hold on to your sombreros.
Before I begin, let me preface this potential rant with a disclaimer. First, I am type A, OCD on a major scale, so the efforts I put into the move may seem crazy to some and down right psychotic to others. Please chime in with your own tips and tricks as this charming story unfolds. Second, some drama is involved, which you may notice has an influence over the tone of my posts and why at times where many would be down right happy-go-lucky to move to Europe, it has been semi bitter sweet for us.
It all began in a land far far away. Just kidding. It all began when I met my future husband, Leo some nine years ago. I had just returned from a two year stint in Spain, he had moved to San Francisco from Peru recently, we were in a bar, I thought he was Spanish, he thought I was Spanish, and that was it, we were hooked. Fast forward a year and a half when we decide to get married. At this point in the story, I should tell you that my darling husband had long overstayed his visitor visa, but had fallen in love with the San Francisco Bay Area and moi. So, we do a civil ceremony to get his fiancé visa in process and a fancy party the next year.
Fast forward seven years, yes SEVEN YEARS, when the United States government decides to deny an American born U.S. citizen her petition to keep her HUSBAND in the freaking country. Now, during this total waiting period of EIGHT YEARS, there had been some bumps in the road and signs that the process wasn’t heading in the direction we wanted it to. So about two years before this final nail in the coffin, we had luckily begun to mentally prepare ourselves for having to leave. The plan was to: start paying off debt, save money, have a baby and choose a destination. Then, shortly after returning from the hospital with Fiona, we learned it wasn’t going to happen for us. And since you never really know what kind of mood U.S. Immigration is in and just how long they’ll give you before they officially kick your ass out of the country, we decided to move quickly, so we’d always have the option to come back and visit at least.
Hello reality. Aren’t you a nasty bastard? So, now that we know we’re leaving and more or less have a timeframe in mind, we need to decide where to? At first we thought London, England. I had lived in Oxford as a girl and visited London many times, so I was already a huge fan. And there was a potential opportunity to be transferred to the London office through my job. But, then we decided we’d pretty much have the same life we had in San Francisco, just a more British version and we wanted something more for Fiona. In the end, we went with Mallorca. Leo’s parents, sister, brother-in-law and two nephews live there and we wanted to be near family, both for a support system for us, and so Fiona could grow up with family nearby. The slower pace of the Mediterranean culture was also a big draw. I wanted our lives to be more about actually enjoying life and less about working stiffs. Mercifully, my career wasn’t completely derailed, as my employer decided to keep me on as a contractor. And Leo already had a job through the family sailing company. Yay!
Why did we choose Puigpunyent over Palma? Well, like I said we wanted to be near the family and had already gone the city route for many years. We wanted to try something a little more low key. Now, I should have taken into consideration that we’d only have one car to begin with and that I can’t even drive it yet (I will conquer you, stick shift!), which would make getting around a bit challenging, but ah well. You live, you learn and there’s always the bus.
So, the moral of this story is, before you jet off somewhere glamorous, have some semblance of a plan in place. Decide where you’re going, why you want to go there, what your life might be like there, how you’re going to get there and what you’re going to do when you get there. Hey, I’m a fan of flying by the seat of your pants as much as the next gal. The last time I went to London, I didn’t even have a place to stay and figured I’d figure it out when I got there. That’s right people, I live on the edge. But now, with careers, babies, pets, etc. in the mix, things are a little more complicated.
So, since we’d paid off all debt, saved money, had baby #1 according to plan, now we had to begin executing against operation move to Europe. It went a little something like this:
- Leo sold his truck
- Leo packed up the garage and sold what we weren’t going to bring with us
- Leo packed up his clothes and anything he wanted with him right away and went ahead to Mallorca to set up shop
- Leo handled securing house, car, basic necessities in Mallorca while Andrea (that’s me) continued to work, take care of Fiona (with the help of his parents who flew out for support), and settle things State side
- After selling stuff, coordinating the move, dealing with bureaucratic nightmares a plenty, etc. (details and tips in subsequent posts) Andrea and Fiona followed Leo almost one month later
Oh, one last thing. In case you’re wondering how we both scored jobs in the EU. Leo is an EU citizen via Italian nationality. Yes, he’s Peruvian, but his lineage is Italian, so his entire family (parents, siblings, etc) have Italian passports. Score! And since Europe isn’t as ridiculous as the U.S. regarding breaking up families for sheer freaking pleasure, I can secure residency and live and work here too easily enough.
Stay tuned for How to Move to Europe: Psychotic Pre-Departure Shopping Spree