We’ve lived in Charleston, SC for over 20 years and I’m originally also from the state of SC, so picking up and moving far isn’t really something our family is used to. That being said, Josh and I have always had a travel bug. I was able to travel & study in Chile while in undergrad and in Mexico for graduate studies. Josh always came to visit and we had ideas of living for a year in Spain some time before having kids. Of course, life happened, jobs/careers changed, kids came, and that idea kept getting pushed off the radar.
We did continue to travel, though. We saw several new countries in the early years of our marriage and even after the kids were born. We also made several visits to our great friend Melissa (who will appear many times in this blog) who moved to the Netherlands in 2003 right after we graduated college. Melissa always encouraged us to come spend more time in NL, rather than just 1-2 weeks. Again, this seemed too complicated so we pushed it off.
Until 2020 happened. I don’t need to go into details here. You all know what happened and we, along with the rest of the world, had to cancel all plans and sit at home. At this point, the kids were 7 and almost 9 and after several months, Josh and I were itching to do something and toyed with the idea of a temporary move. Spain seemed too hard (though we have friends who moved there with their son and they are loving it and planning on another year!). Netherlands seemed logical because 1. English is widely spoken (although not everywhere and in all places as we have learned! 2. Melissa lives in NL and could help ease the transition (this was by far the biggest impact on our smooth move). 3. There is an international school in Maastricht (where Melissa lives) that accepted the boys and their curriculum was accepted by our school back home. 4. There is a DAFT treaty that (supposedly) makes it easy for Americans to move to the Netherlands and get a residence permit. As you’ll see in later posts…this was not exactly easy.
This seemed like a spontaneous decision. We made it after many afternoons sitting by our pool, not going anywhere, and definitely partaking in some pool-side drinks (cheers!). We made the decision late summer/early fall of 2020, but we did not move until July 2021. In that time, more waves of Covid came and went (and now as I type, the Delta variant is raging in the US). Countries, including the Netherlands, locked back down and then slowly reopened (some still closed). In fact, the NL did not officially reopen to US tourists until June 28, 2021. Less than one month before we moved. So by the time we arrived, it no longer felt spontaneous but something we’d been planning for quite some time.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty. Will Delta rage (again) in Europe? Will things shut down here again? We will likely cut our plans short if that does happen, but we can not return to our home in the Charleston area because it is being rented for a year by another family. So, we have some back up plans just in case…let’s cross our fingers we won’t need them!