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…

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Where to Land?

This is a complicated story, so hang in there with me. In 2013, I met, fell in love, and married my husband, a UK Citizen living in France. We met over the internet, on Facebook, to be exact. You see, I recently published a book, and he happened to be working for the publisher as the book’s designer. The internet is definitely closing the gap for love across nations, but unfortunately, we live in a world of structures that have yet to recognize this.

He said that when I friended him, his immediate response was, “I’ve got to marry her!”…this from a man who swore he’d never marry again. After a week of talking, I too had a knowing, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this man,” even though I had pretty much sworn off relationships. But neither of us were quite ready to reveal to each other the intensity of our illogical feelings. That came later.

Once we knew, it took a great deal of effort to arrange for me to get a Visitor for Marriage Visa from the UK. It was easier than trying to marry in France because of the language issues and quicker than trying to marry in the states. That alone was a huge decision-making and action-requiring process. (Being beyond that at the moment, I’m going to focus on where we are now and maybe return to the earlier stages another day.)

We got married so we could be together, but we’re finding it isn’t quite as easy as we’d thought…or at least hoped. So here we are, married. I’m in the US, and he’s in France.

Our current task is deciding who goes where. Here are our choices:

I move to France.
He moves to the US.
We both move to the UK.

Simple right? Wrong.

Honestly, I thought that would be such an easy thing to figure out. But it is proving to be extremely complicated. For one thing, each of us is able and willing to do any of the above.

So, I’m writing about this for two main reasons. First, I’m trying to sort this all out in my very confused head; writing helps me do that. And second, I have found so much support from and value in various expat forums and on blogs of others who have taken the international marriage plunge; maybe I can help some other couple by sharing my experience.

So I’ll get back to our decision soon…