The Pendulum Doth Swing – Revisiting Our Relocation Decision

Today, Stuart popped the question.

Since we’re already married, you might be wondering “what question?”

“Might it be better, less stressful, if I were to come to America?”

Stuart and I are now both wondering if we aren’t totally nuts planning on living in France. Life has become so complicated! France may be beautiful. It may be cultural heaven. It may be close to everything we want to see and do. It may even hold untold gifts for us. But even running a business, let alone two, over there is getting a bit daunting. I won’t go into French business structures and taxes lest the eyes with which you are reading this roll back into your head and never return; suffice it to say, “Merde!” Stuart also brought up the unthinkable,”What if something were to happen to me? You’d be stuck in France alone with no income and no home to return to.” Apparently it has been weighing on his mind, and I can’t say it hasn’t crossed mine.

Ironically, for several months, we’ve tossed this decision of where to live around and around until we finally began making moves towards the realization of living in France just a few weeks ago. It felt good. It felt right. It felt “verified” by Spirit. It was a relief! And now? Now neither of us are so sure. France once again presents the extraordinary challenge of daily and business life in a nation that speaks…well, French!

Our choice to live in France all made perfect intellectual and heart-felt sense. Stuart was settled there making it easy for me to go as his spouse. It was a gateway to the UK if necessary. It was something I’ve always wanted to do. But what if it isn’t for us…not yet…and maybe never? I’m having to really look at my attachments to living there: “Oh, Europe! Far from Fukushima, nonlabeled GMO’s, and American stupidity”…and the assumptions I’ve made about it: “My true destiny awaits!” What if all moving there served to do was complicate our lives in irreversible ways?

What are the consequences of altering our decision? I’ve quit my day job and put my house on the market. I’ve organized all the forms I need to close my business in December, turning away opportunities and not bothering to cultivate new ones, started changing my domicile to Florida (opened a new bank account there, got forms I needed from the post office certified, purchased a mail forwarding service), gave away a bunch of my belongings, and have been doing research about France to the point of turning purple. So, if we brake and reverse course, what happens next?

  • I’ll have to undo everything I can undo including taking my house of the market and buying things…like a hammer…that I really don’t want to have to purchase again.
  • We’ll have to now initiate the CR1 Visa process with a 6-month-average wait time and burden family with sponsorship.
  • While we wait, we have two households to pay but I’ve quit my day job and Stuart’s income remains capped due to all that stuff I didn’t get into that would have made you blind a couple of paragraphs ago.

It isn’t too late to change direction. It isn’t like I’ve had offers on the house. I haven’t sold my furniture. But it is so disorienting…like some kind of creepy fun house that  isn’t really all that fun. Every corner provides some new “pop up” obstacle or consideration making me drool and make musical noises with my lips. Can the straight-jacket be far behind?

I’ll have to deal with the, “I thought you were moving to France,” comments and explain to people…wait…forget that part. Romantic notions about living in France are all well and good, but this is a decision with just about the biggest ramifications imaginable. Do I really need to explain anything? What’s really important here? We want to be together.  We want to be happy. We want to create and prosper. Where’s the best place for us to do that???

I feel utterly, completely, entirely torn apart because I want it all and want it NOW! (A Veruka Salt moment brought to you by Youtube.)

It has made me call into question this so-called gift of free will. For one thing, it’s an illusion. For another, I don’t want it anymore! Would someone up there please just tell me what precisely it is we’re supposed to do in a clear, irrefutable language that even a very stubborn human can understand?

My head hurts.

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?

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…