Moving Stuff Overseas: More Than I Ever Wanted to Know

So, today, I have begun my research into moving all of my crap overseas. You may be able to tell by my use of the word “crap” that I am less than enthused by the impending process.

It’s a good thing I starting looking into this now, because like every international process, it is incredibly complicated, costly, and full of bureaucratic delights. Today, I discovered, for example, that I need what’s called a “Certifcat de Changement de Residence” from the French Consulate. (What would have happened, I wonder, if I had failed to realize this? A 21.2% TVA on my items?) This gets sent to me, I fill it in, it goes back to them for a stamp, and then gets sent back to me…or something like that. And rats, I think I also need a Certificat de Non-cessation to prove all items are for my personal use which I failed to request when I called the consulate not 20 minutes ago. Doh! Maybe, just maybe, they’ll include it?

There are other things it says I need but I don’t think they apply to my situation as a spouse of an EU citizen. I’m not relocating for work, for example, so I can’t provide documents to that effect.

I am not bringing a lot with me, and the more I learn, the less I feel attached to things. Nothing I own is really worth anything…’cept to me, of course. I have very little furniture anyway, and only three small pieces that I want to have in my new home. I do have several electronics items and my sound healing tools, and hopefully, I can locate some proof that I own all this…ahem…crap because supposedly, I may encounter difficulties without recus or receipts.

I’m also bringing some clothes, shoes, jewelry, suitcases, books, much-loved kitchen items like the colonial flatware I grew up with and ye olde US measuring utensils, and papers. Really, I can’t imagine it taking up more than 25 sq ft. of space. Though I would like to bring my unused cosmetics, supplements, and food items, it sounds like that will be more trouble that it’s worth. Best to start using it up (and yes, I will grieve the loss of my irreplaceable, beloved Neem toothpaste).

I apparently will need a detailed inventory of all items, one inventory per box, electronics separate, in duplicate, signed and dated…and of course, translated into French. Wee. And I’m not talking French! (Please pardon my oui joke.)

Now, as for getting it there, I seem to have several options starting with air or sea. They say sea tends to be more economical, so that’s most likely the way I’ll go. Now within that category, I can pack and transit myself to the carrier, pack myself and have it picked up, or have it packed, transported, and shipped for me. I can also have a private or shared container, in which my belongings would be created with the belongings of others. It can arrive at a terminal in France where I can pick it up or it can be brought to my French residence. So many options!

I don’t know anything else yet…and frankly, even this was more than I ever wanted to know. I’ll post more as I learn more. Wish me bon courage!

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Money and Moving Overseas

Today, Stuart and I have finally sat down over Skype to face the reality of our financial life. I’m feeling extraordinarily depressed over the whole thing. Love across borders isn’t cheap. In fact, it is just about out of our means. Part of the problem is that I am saddled with a house for which I paid $150,000 which is now worth significantly less. Having lived here only 6 years, I don’t have a substantial enough equity to make anything on it. I’ll be very lucky if I come out even. Plus I’m not making much money right now while in transition; my little savings won’t last much longer. On top of that, we’re looking at expensive moving and immigration costs. There’s plane tickets, shipping fees, mail forwarding service, paperwork processing fees, accountants fees, and on and on and on…

Brake!

Is looking at the big picture in the way I always have done really necessary? Helpful even? Because all I feel is drained by it all. Is this an outdated habit that repeatedly confirms to me concepts of limit and impossibility? By letting myself see this current “reality” in detail, am I discounting the miracles the universe has in store for us? Shouldn’t I be putting my attention on creating a buyer at my asking price? Shouldn’t I be focusing on creating future income streams? Where’s the love in figures? Where’s the joy? Love , joy, gratitude…these are the creative and manifestive energies of the universe. How do I pull my head out of the butt it’s always been in and give it some fresh air???

Where to Land Continued: USA

Last post, I discussed the various pluses and minuses of relocating to the UK as the non-EU spouse of a UK citizen who is currently living in France. Today, I’m clicking my heels and asking, “Is there really no place like home?”

I’ve lived in the US my whole life. Though I’ve been lucky enough to do some traveling, I’ve never been gone for long. In fact, the longest trip outside the US was actually to the UK with my sister in the 80’s. We stayed 3 months, and I’d never been so happy to see the backside of a country upon my return. But I’m a different person now…happier, more mature, more cultured…I hope.

I love America and the ideals for which it stands…or at least stood. Let’s face it. It isn’t what it once was. It has entered a rather ugly adolescence of violent crime, political bickering, biased media, and corporate greed. It is tainted by an absolutely dreadful educational, health, and corrupted financial system with imbalances and senses of entitlement bordering on the insane. Will it continue the plunge into the shadowy depths  of overweight, undereducated sheeple led by a government of bullies, manipulators, and liars before it re-emerges as an adult nation with a better sense of responsibility and the intentions of our forefathers…which I’m sure it will…one day?

That said, it’s home to me and therefore “the devil I know”. Here I have a house, a business, friends, and family. I live in a great city, one of the best, which has isolated me from a lot of the worst parts of US living. My life has been good.

The question is, if we were to go through the 6-9 month process (the longest of all three possibilities) of applying for a CR1 visa for Stuart, would it be worth it?

Yes: Stuart could eventually become a US citizen (and despite everything I’ve written so far, this is still a pretty awesome country). That would make things a lot easier legally and financially should something happen to either of us. Eventually, Stuart and I would both be able to come and go as we please, too.

No: I alone cannot meet the financial requirement to bring him here. It would involve getting a sponsor, which we do have, but I’m not crazy about the idea of burdening a loved one.

Yes: Because of current exchange rates and the fact that Stuart’s income is the Pound, our standard of living would be significantly higher here…and wow, wouldn’t I like to experience that for once!

No: Enter US taxes…on worldwide income. As it is, because we married this year, I will no longer be getting what would have been an over $500 tax return unless we choose to file jointly…and we can only elect to do that once in a lifetime. But frankly, I can’t see dragging Stuart into the US tax system prematurely.

Yes: I’d be near friends and family. Business relationships and musical collaborations would go on as before.

No: Obamacare. As a single, poor person, I was really excited about Obamacare. I would have had health insurance for the first time in 12 years for a whopping premium of FREE. But now that I’m married, that premium has jumped to over $4000…and that’s just for me. And if we don’t buy, we face increasing penalties. Compared to the healthcare systems of our other options, the US doesn’t stand out.

Yes: From coast to coast, America can’t be beat for landscape, cool cities, an abundant lifestyle, and all the things that make America the amazing melting pot it is. And…we both understand the language. And…I already have a driver’s license.

There’s always culture shock to consider too. But of course, that will happen for one of us no matter where we go.

So…now that I’ve summarized the pros and cons of life in our three countries of choice, what do you think? Where would you go? France, the UK, or the US?

Where to Land Continued: UK

Last post, I talked about some of the variables associated with living in France. This time, I will be ruminating on the pros and cons of relocation in the UK.

If, as an American, I applied for a spousal visa in the UK, it would cost upwards of $850. There would be postage fees and costs associated with obtaining my biometrics in Charlotte, a city two hours away and the closest immigration service center to me.

One of the good things here is that having applied for a Visitor to Marry visa not that long ago, I am quite familiar now with the UK visa process. The applications aren’t that different…just much longer in the case of a spousal visa. Since the visitor visa, once spread all over my floor, when compiled was about two inches thick, I’m thinking the spousal visa will end up being even thicker.

Do you have any idea what goes into these applications? I certainly didn’t. In some ways, it feels like everything under the sun…bank records, tax documents, birth certificates, divorce decrees, proof of marriage, what I’ve eaten for the last 3 years, and oh, something really fun called a financial requirement form. It looks like a real nightmare to fill in, but I won’t go there right now. (I’m just kidding about the what I’ve eaten part).

Now, one would think that since I had to have my biometrics taken for the visitor visa a few months ago that I would have already met that requirement. Not so! Apparently, I would have the joy of doing that all over again. No biggie; just a pain.

Stuart is currently in France. We are lucky though because he is contracted by a UK company and is paid in the UK, so establishing proof of income won’t be an issue. The challenge is that Stuart will have to find a place for us to live. While finding something is not an issue, timing certainly is. This application process can, according to a friend who went through it several years ago, take as little as three weeks. It can also, according to a recent article, take up to 12 months. Why should Stuart uproot his life in France now when it could take a year before we got visa approval?

Enter the cousins. We are blessed that Stuart has generous cousins, a married couple, who have offered to open their home to us so that we can take the time to find a place of our own. This makes everything so much easier. With an address, we can now apply for our visa without Stuart having to rush to relocate in the UK.

Apparently though, getting a UK driver’s license…I mean licence (that’s another thing…all those misspelled words over there!) is no less joyful an affair than trying to get one in France. The success rates are about even…44% passing. However, the fact that the test would be in English and not a language I barely understand is a definite plus. In fact, being in a country where I understood the road signs, the mail, the food labels and everything else would certainly make life easier. Documents wouldn’t need to be translated either.

The other benefit of living in the UK is that it would be so much easier for me to re-establish my client base, and I could be teaching workshops in no time. Plus, I could schedule book signings and increase my book sales there.

Sounding pretty good, ain’t it?

The main drawback of life in the UK is…well…life in the UK. It’s cold, it’s depressing, and it’s expensive. We’d relocate to the sunniest coast, but even in the height of summer, temps don’t generally break 70F. That’s practically still winter!

AVL
Asheville, NC

During my visit for marriage, one of the first things that struck me was how miserable everyone seemed in the cities. Living in Asheville for 10 years, one of the happiest cities in the US, has spoiled me so!

The area of Devon was nicer than the central areas, and I could see myself living in certain parts there even despite those narrow little roadways.

In fact, my whole life, I have wanted to live by the sea. So maybe, just maybe, the UK would be OK if we lived by the shore. And the grocery stores there, after having been in France, Eee!!! Delight!

But I also recall how upon disembarking from the ferry once back in France, the whole sky opened up and the sun shone down gloriously! I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing as I removed my “tea cozy” hat, scarf, and sweater (which I had to wear in September no less!). The whole world was smiling again.

But it would also be much simpler for us to eliminate the third country from a complex-enough two-country life. And it certainly would be nice to ultimately share a country with my Honey and not just be a permanently floating expat. Who knows? Maybe establishing residency and then citizenship in the UK is the best way to do that.

That’s all for now. Next time, considerations for the US…