Where to Land Continued: Hurray!

Hurray! Stuart and I have finally come to a decision about where we will settle as a newly-married international couple. It is actually the decision we had started with, but now, having taken time to consider all our options, it is the obvious choice.

And the winner is…France!

The Reasons Why

I’m sure this does not come as a surprise if you’ve been following this blog. I’ve been leaning that way all along. Even though it is mostly irrational and somewhat of a bigger challenge for me, something in my heart keeps saying, “France” and I’ve decided to listen…even though it is a little scary. In addition to the dream I had about Paris being “home” and the knowing I had that I would be moving to France a couple of months before meeting Stuart, I also had some astrocartography done which revealed the region in which Stuart and I will live as a very supportive area for both of us. I also had a psychic tell me that my destiny lies in France…and since I already knew intuitively that was true, I take it as a confirmation. I release expectation, though, because who knows? Maybe my destiny lies in France because I have to go to France to learn my destiny lies somewhere else.  : )

As for the logical reasons, first of all, it allows us to be together sooner rather than later. And hello, we’re middle-aged newlyweds. We don’t want to wait an additional 6-12 months on top of the time is will take to organize this venture in order to start our life together! As mentioned in my earlier post about France, as a non-EU spouse of an EU citizen, I can arrive in France without obtaining a special visa and apply for a Cart de Sejour once there. (FYI: This option doesn’t apply in all situations; most folks will require a passport…even fiances.)

Second, as a result of our deliberations, we discovered something miraculous and wonderful called the EEA Family Permit. So, should we decide we’d like to settle in the UK after all, we can do so by applying for the currently-free family permit, available to UK citizens (and their spouses) exercising their treaty rights in the EU, which Stuart is doing by working in France. We therefore bypass the rather complicated and expensive UK Spousal Visa.

Third, France has the winning climate and a location for easier travels to other European destinations. France will give us the best of everything.

As for the Negatives

The language, the lack of choices in the grocery stores, the difficulties in establishing work and collaborations there…none of them need be as daunting as my mind tries to tell me. I musn’t forget my potentials, all that I have so far achieved in this life, that I am the creator of opportunity, and that I will be with my thoughtful, talented, loving and kind Stuart. This chance holds too many gifts to forsake it out of fear. And as for the negatives of which I am as yet unaware, I shall endeavor to see them as gifts…and forgive myself when I forget. I know the little challenges will be balanced by little triumphs.

I will without question miss my friends and family, my sweet house, and many of the things with which I have identified in the US. There will probably be periods of homesickness and grief, but these will be balanced by unexpected pleasures and newfound joys. And even better, I will not be one of those people who wonders what would have happened if.

Looks like this is really, truly happening! All I can say is “Holy Merde!!!!”

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A Hard Choice? Selling My Home

One of the big decisions that comes with relocating is whether or not to sell my house. In 2007, right before the plummet of the US housing market, I purchased my first home. Now, several years later, it has lost 16% of its value. It is a common story many people share these days and one complicated by my sudden international marriage. So much for the American Dream!

The fact that I even have a home is somewhat of a miracle to me, one I worked hard for. You see, my home was purchased through Habitat for Humanity. In addition to income qualifications, it took me 200+ volunteer hours of building houses and working in their retail store. I did all this despite 8 weeks of mononucleosis, my father’s death, and then shingles. It was quite a year. Though I’ve often wanted to pull my hair out, homeownership has been an incredible journey of personal growth and inner strength.

I am so grateful to have a mortgage without interest. That’s the Habitat deal. However, if I am ever to leave this house, I have to pay back both the 1st mortgage and the 2nd mortgage… the interest I haven’t been paying. If I were to sell now, the good news is that I might just about break even.

This is yet another big decision in a long list of decisions I now have to make as the new spouse of a nonresident alien.

“So don’t sell. He can move here,” you might say. There’s much more to that decision, such as tax implications and culture shock, which I addressed in another post.

“Then rent it out while you are in Europe,” you might be thinking. “Create an income.”

If only that were an option! You see, under the Habitat agreement, I am bound to live in the house two weeks out of every month or risk default. Renting it out is not allowed. While I understand the importance of having such provisions, it all rather sucks now that my life has taken a totally unexpected twist. I’ve fallen in love with my book designer!

The first hurdle we had to face was me being able to travel to Europe for six weeks in the first place. Fortunately, I suspected I’d be traveling earlier in the year due to the recent publication of my book, so I had already spoken to Habitat about the possibility of traveling. They graciously agreed to make allowances for me to be away longer than two weeks providing I met certain criteria, but I suspect it isn’t an exception they would repeat.

So now we must decide whether keeping the house and all it provides is a good enough reason for Stuart to uproot his entire life to apply for a CR1 Immigration Visa or whether to sell and lose not only my home of 6 years but the nest egg it was supposed to hatch for me.

Certainly the standard of living we’d enjoy here in the US in an interest-free mortgage home would be much better than what we’d have overseas. And in a couple of years, we might even have enough equity in it to actually make a profit if we wanted to sell.

But do I want to be so attached to a house here when my life might actually be waiting for me over there? Do I want to make a decision based solely or mostly on economics? Do I want to subject Stuart to US taxation? Or do I want to dream big and dare to fly? Cautious and smart or carefree and wild? Will I come to regret my decision? I guess that in itself is a choice. So whatever we decide to do, I’m deciding now to be at peace with my choice…today, tomorrow, and forever.

My life has taught me that there are no mistakes. Regret only occurs when we believe our own stories, when we are hooked by the thought that we should have done “it” differently. We fail to embrace the reality of what is and move further from truth as a result. I just need to keep remembering this.

And as for this “decision”, I can spend all the time in the world weighing the pros and cons and get worked up into a mental frenzy, but there is something far more intelligent and peaceful poised to deliver the right choice at the right time if I just get quiet and create space for it. So while I allow my mind to do its protective thinking thing here, grateful for it, now…I think it’s time to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight!