1. Why Maastricht?
Ages ago, when Josh and I were first married, we were both pretty fluent in Spanish and always thought that at some point we would take a sabbatical from our jobs (i.e. quit them if we had to) and move to Spain for a year to live. I’d lived in Mexico for a year back in 2006 while getting my MBA and also spent months in Santiago, Chile while in undergrad. Josh was great about visiting during those stints away, but we always wished we could do it together.
Well our careers took on different paths and we found ourselves struggling to find the “right” time to go and before we knew it, we were starting a family. While we still traveled as a family, including to Maastricht in 2017, we could never convince ourselves to actually move. (More of that story is HERE).
Once we decided to move, Maastricht was our first choice because we knew the city, we had people there (Melissa and Flo and their friends whom we’d met previously), we were dying to live somewhere we could bike/walk easily, and we could get way with not being fluent in the language (at least initially).
2. Will you only stay one year? What happens if you want to stay longer?
Our plan is one year. We want to do a year so that we really feel like we are living in this new place, trying new things, meeting new people, and dealing with all the challenges (and perks) of navigating new cultures, foods, school, etc. It’s hard to really do that in shorter stints.
All that said, we have a GREAT life back home. We live in a good city, on a street with neighbors we love, near several family members who we enjoy seeing regularly, and I also help run a race directing business for women triathlons. These are the factors pulling us back and I find it, at this point, pretty unlikely that we will give them all up for a longer time here.
After 2020 we all know how plans can go. We can also end up back in the US earlier because our residency plan doesn’t pan out or COVID becomes unbearable here and the US gets better. Right now we are just enjoying this move, this life, the privilege and opportunity to pick up and be here…and we’ll see how it goes!
3. Are you homeschooling the kids?
Nope. The kids need a school environment and through Melissa’s recommendation we’ve found a great international school here with many countries represented, that teaches in English, and seems to be a great fit for us. Our school back home is on board with their curriculum and our plan and we are excited for them to start next month!
4. Are you taking the cats?
We brought the cats! Eva (14) and Yoda (12) traveled separately, arriving the day after we did. We briefly considered asking a kind friend/family to take care of them while we were gone because I was nervous to put them through international travel. Josh and the boys insisted they should come so we agreed they could come separately so we would be able to be in our home and ready for them when they got here (not jet lagged and trying to carry all the luggage and the cats and all the things!)
I highly recommend the company we used to help us with the process of taking the cats overseas. They coordinated all the paperwork and checklist of things we needed to do (which was quite a bit, but doable) and connected with all the other partners to make it happen. The cats were picked up from our house in Mt. Pleasant SC, spent two nights at a boarding facility, then were loaded onto a cargo flight for Amsterdam. From there Zoo Logistics took over, met the cats at the airport, took them through customs, took them to their vet office to check them out, then drove them the 2.5 hours to Maastricht to our door! It was clear when they arrived that they had been well cared for and we were so grateful for that. We also got little updates from the companies along the way, which helped lower my anxiety a smidge. Highly, highly recommend!
The cats were loaded up and transported to us. They arrived so happy and seemed to enjoy exploring the new home.
5. Will you travel back to the US?
Never say never, but we currently do not have plans to go back during our year away. This is hard, though, because there’s a lot pulling us back. My company’s triathlons are still happening with the leadership of my partner (and She Tris founder), Angi, and it kills me to not be there to help make those events happen. She’s killing it, though, and super capable of doing things without me. It is just more fun when we do it together!
Also, some of our favorite people are getting married in November (shoutout to Josh and Jason!) and it makes me so sad to miss this big day. It is a wedding I never thought I’d miss. Just means we will have to make up for it when we get back with a long weekend visit with them.
And lastly, we just miss our people. We are used to living just a handful of miles away from our family in town, just 2 hours from my parents, and close to many great friends. We’d love to make it home to see everyone and I think the holidays and winter will be a bit tough for us and the boys, BUT, with limited time here and not wanting to spend so much of it (and so much $$) making trips back and forth, we decided to make the effort to stay in Europe for the year.
Just a few of the people we are looking forward to seeing when we go back home. Most live so close to us or within a 2 hour drive.
6. What about your work?
As I said, Angi is running the show. We are very much ying and yang and have our strengths that make us work pretty well. Luckily for me, many of the things I do are behind the scenes (I.e. general newsletters, press releases, participant and volunteer emails, website edits….you get the drift). So I’m able to still work and support, doing many of the things I normally do….just from a different kitchen table. The tough part is not being there for our events. It is a labor of love that consumes a LOT of time and it is just easier (and more fun) when you have 2 people running it. Thankfully our community stepped up and helped Angi and Liz (our sponsor coordinator) execute our most recent triathlon so well that they may not even need me back!
7. What did you do with your house/cars/things?
We rented out the house to a family who had sold their home in this crazy real estate market and wanted to wait to buy. They even had a cat, so it felt like a perfect match. We sold all the cars (Caleb was the most sad over this) and put our most personal things in storage. I have a feeling we’re not going to even want those boxes when we get back because we realized we have so. much. stuff.
8. Will your family visit?
Some yes, some no. We have one definite trip booked with Josh’s brother, Matt, and his awesome girlfriend, Tomi. In late October we will travel with them to Rome and Tuscany during one of the boys’ school breaks. They were the first to jump on the visit/travel bandwagon and we are really looking forward to seeing them. They are also talking about a second trip in the holidays so they are super motivated! We have general ideas of seeing our parents tome time next year (fingers crossed!). While many friends want to come to Europe and we can meet them in other cities, we’d also love to show off our new home town and hope to get some visitors here as well.
9. Will you learn Dutch?
We are trying! The Netherlands is sort of enabling in that you can get away with only speaking English in most circumstances. The boys’ school will be taught in English as well. That being said, we’ve explained to the kids that it is important to try to learn the language and we are all using DuoLingo to get us started. It is not an easy one to learn in my opinion but the boys seem to be picking it up quicker than me. Josh is doing the best of all of us. He really has a knack for languages!
I think when the boys’ start school we will consider hiring a tutor to help Josh/me get a better grasp of it. Any of you readers spreekt een beetje Nederlands?
10. Do you plan to travel around?
Absolutely! We’ve already visited some cities in Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and France. We have definite plans for Italy, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland on the books and some other cities/places on our radar. Covid protocols are hindering some places right now, but hoping that will change in the new year.
Where do you think we should go?