We’ve been working on “the great move” for a while, by the time we arrive in Fort Collins there will be 6 months that passed since the day we took the big decision.
6 months full with lots of organizing and changing directions as we went. We didn’t only do plan B, we did C and D too probably.
I’m writing this post because I had many people ask us about our reasons and how we are going about it, organizing the move across the pond.
- Why are we moving in the first place?
After all, both of us, my husband and I, spent about half of our lives in The Netherlands and our daughter was born here. We studied and worked here, we own two homes, we have many friends here and it’s close to Romania where my family lives.
My husbands career came to a stop after 23 years with the same company. Change is the only constant in life and this was a big change and quite scary at first. But sometimes things that might appear scary at first are just huge blessings in disguise. My husband got to see our baby girl every day, he has seen her first smiles, heard her first giggles, her first ‘dada’ and there is nothing in the world that can describe the value of those little moments that are so dear to us. And oh boy, how great full and lucky I am that I had my husband around to bring up baby together.
Baby is the other driving force behind our decision to move. We wish for her to grow up surrounded by family and moving to Fort Collins will be a huge upgrade in family life, she will have 6 aunts and uncles and 12 nephews and nieces at an arm distance. We believe that it will give our daughter a better sense of belonging and a lot of precious guidance to grow into being the best she can be.
We contemplated before about moving to the States so when my husbands job came to an end we realized that this was it – it is the perfect moment for us to pick up our life and move. This is what we call our plan B!
- Starting the immigration process
We made our decision that it was time to move in May. Based on nothing else than our wishes, we agreed that we would give ourselves 6 months to organize whatever needed organizing. Start my visa application, rent out our home, pack our things and go. Sounds simple and easy, right?
We started with getting informed on what we would need to relocate. I’m a book geek, whenever I need to learn about something new I go to amazon.com where I choose the best reviewed books on the subject. And so it was done, the first three books on immigration to the States made their entry to our home. I read the first book in one evening – from beginning to the end.
The first thing that made it on the to do list was the paperwork: getting my daughter’s American passport and applying for a green card myself.
My husband is American which automatically makes our daughter an American citizen born abroad. Getting her American passport was easy once all the forms were filled in. It took in total not even two weeks. Compliments to the great service of the American Consulate in Amsterdam.
For me it’s a bit more complicated. As a Dutch citizen I am allowed to travel to the United States for a maximum of three months at a time. In order to become an US resident I need permission from immigration. My visa application was sent to Chicago at the beginning of July and as we speak there is still no status update 2,5 months later. We are confident it will be a positive response, it’s just that we need to be patient.
After a positive advice from the immigration in the States it will take at least another couple of weeks to complete the process. I would need to get a medical exam which is required previous to a final interview with the American Consulate in Amsterdam. Because this process takes a while to complete, we figured we would still leave in October as we planned. The difference is that I will travel on a tourist visa and start with setting up some basics. I am allowed to travel to the United States and stay on a tourist visa for a maximum of three months at a time. If necessary, I will come back to the Netherlands for a short while awaiting for my interview. There is a plan B here as well though. We spoke to an immigration attorney as we needed advise on any issues that we might get into. It turns out that there should not be any issues and once we are in the States and the positive advise from the immigration is in we can make use of a waiver that would allow me to have the interview in Denver instead of in Amsterdam. That would make our lives a lot easier.
The conclusion is that in our case we are free to move forward with our plans as there is no reason to delay our departure. The tickets are booked for the 9th of October when my family and I will fly to Denver through Minneapolis, arriving the 10th of October. Exactly 2 weeks from today!!!
- Buy or rent a new home
Except the paper work and the costs involved, moving abroad is in many ways just a move like any other. It sounds quite big but it is not really. You still need to arrange the same things: a new place to live, pack up your things, talk to movers and work towards your moving date every day. But first things first, where will we live?
We talked about this subject many times, at first we wanted to buy a home straight away. As it turns out, that is easier said than done, even if you need only 70% of the purchase price on mortgage, even if you offer the bank to set aside two years worth of mortgage in a locked account, even if you can show that your assets are at least equal to the mortgage you would get.
Like in any other country you need an income in order to qualify for a mortgage, to start with. Second, you need to prove you are reliable in your financial behavior. It didn’t seem like a problem to us until we went to our Dutch bank to ask for a letter that would show our good financial behavior. They simply don’t do that was the answer we got. There is apparently no exchange of financial information between Europe an the United States. The only document we could get is one from the credit reporting in The Netherlands, but since the system is totally different it would be of no value to an American bank.
In America we have no credit history yet, that means we are starting with a credit score equal to 0! No, that is not a good thing. You need a credit score in the range of 700. Anything lower than that is less and less good.
- How will we build our credit history?
Hallelujah to credit cards! I only now understand why Americans seem to have tens of cards in their wallets – they need them! While in Europe it is considered a virtue and outstanding financial behaviour to have no debts and not buying on credit at all, in America it is the opposite. The way to prove your financial behaviour is to have your financial behaviour being registred and reported to one or more of the three financial reporting institutions in America. You do that exactly by making use of credit cards and loans. Paying cash will do you no good as the system is not fed. It doesn’t mean though that you should spent the maximum on your credit cards, that would not give you a good score even if you have absolutely no issue in paying it off right away and your payments are always like clock work. Using your credit to maximum will give the message that you spent too much and that is not good, you get some points but not the best score that you want.The trick is to use multiple cards and not spent more than 10% to 20% on one credit card and never ever even get it in your head to miss a payment. Another trick to boost your credit score is getting a loan from a bank. Yes, even if you don’t need a loan. I know many Europeans would be amazed to hear how this works. They would shout in choir ‘ridiculous’. Well, getting a loan brings you credit history. We are going to try to ask a bank in the States for a very very small loan, let’s say 500 dollars and pay it back in 6 months or a year. It costs you a bit of money actually because naturally you also pay interest, but hey, if this is a way to feed information to the three financial credit reporting companies in the States than so be it. I see a big administration file on my pc in the near future. Being a ‘bean counter’ as friends call me in the States instead of a Financial Controller as it is officially called according to my degree, will remain useful till the end of days.
There are many tips and tricks out there on how to build your credit history as fast as possible. I got those tips from different forums where many people that emigrated shared their gained wisdom.
Our real estate agent in the States is still looking for our ideal home and she is looking into other possibilities of financing a home.
By now you must get the picture – we need to be patient and move on to plan … is it C or D already?
We are renting a home for the first year.
- Our new to be home
We are in the process of renting a home in Fort Collins. It is a nice home very close to the mountains on one side and on a few minutes walk to a beautiful park. Most important of all is that it is very close to our best friends in Fort Collins.
It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, one half bathrooms and an unfinished basement.
Renting a home started for us with with finding the bigger Internet sites like trulia.com or realtor.com or you can work with an agent. We selected a few interesting homes through Internet and had our best friends see the houses and give us their view. Yes, we do trust them a lot.
The American homes are quite different to the European ones. For example, it is very common that homes in the States have just as many bathrooms as it has bedrooms. In Europe, most homes, unless custom designed, have one full bathroom and a guest half bathroom. Another common thing in the States is that most homes have a basement that is just as big as the first floor of the house. Many home owners transform their basements into a variety of designs meant as maybe a home theater, a bar, a playroom, a crafts room, an office, an extra guest bedroom. Our new home in the States has an unfinished basement that is used at the moment as a laundry room. I’m doing a lot of inspiration to transform it to an office /yoga room/crafts room/playroom. My challenge will be to spent as little as possible on this project since it’s a rental home. I’m quite excited to have such a project to look forward to and I’m looking forward to learn a lot about the dyi stores. It will be a great learning experience before moving into a permanent home.
- What are we going to do in Fort Collins?
Besides making a new home for my family and being a full-time mom? I am not allowed to work yet until my visa is approved.
I’m planning on visiting the city in the beginning with the intention to learn the whereabouts in the city of Fort Collins: where to shop, where to eat, where to take my daughter for outdoor activities.
There is going to be yoga in my new to decorate basement and quite a few crafts. Luckily for me, many of my friends don’t know this about me, my grandmother and mother taught me many things. They taught me to work with a sewing machine, knitting, crocheting and a lot more crafts. One of my plans is to get back in touch with my creative nature – make things instead of buying everything.
Another thing that I am excited about doing in Fort Collins is joining a “hash” group and get out in the nature as often as possible.
My other big plan is to start a study in Holistic Nutrition, followed by a Natural Chef course. All of it will take me about two years to complete. I don’t know at the moment what I am going to do exactly with those studies in terms of setting up a business of some sort at a later point in time, but if nothing else, it will make me more knowledgeable and skilled to my family and friends. I know that at least my husband is thrilled with the idea of me spending even more time in the kitchen than I do now. And who knows what other wonderful things are to come. Every journey begins with one step as they say.
My husband will look for a job in the corporate world or start his own consultancy firm. I’m confident he will succeed as he has got tons of experience and skills not to mention an inspiring and motivating personality.
- What are we busy with at the moment?
Besides packing up moving boxes? We are rounding up our life here!
Saying good-bye to colleagues and friends is the hardest part. No matter how you slice it, this makes us feel melancholic.
The easiest part is that on the other side of the pond there are good friends and family awaiting us. How wonderful is that?
There are many things that we are enthusiast about, many things that we are looking forward to living in Fort Collins.
We realize how fortunate we are to be able to do this and we are breathing in the air that is filled with dreams and new opportunities.
To round up this post, I can tell you that sometimes, plan B is better than plan A! And if it is needed just go ahead and move on to plan C or D too. When opportunity knocks at your door, make sure you are there to open!