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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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…