In the beginning...
In April of 2020 my husband and I decided to move. Our country was less and less a place we felt comfortable and, though we were cautiously optimistic for the upcoming election, we felt that significant change was unlikely to happen within the next decade (regardless of how the election went). We discussed, at length, whether leaving was a sign of weakness or cowardice or laziness and what sticking around to see if our predictions played out could mean for us. Despite some guilt and trepidation over our decision, we began looking at other countries that we might, eventually, call home.
The places that quickly topped our list were:
New Zealand - beautiful, progressive, options with similar (and preferred) climate to our current locale, growing tech industry, ability to get by using our native tongue, and a long list of recommendations from those that we know and respect. This was my husband’s #1 choice.
Germany - beautiful, fairly progressive, easy access to many different countries, ability to transfer within the same company, ability to get by using our native tongue while learning a new language, some personal familiarity with several places (albeit from many years ago), and lots of friends saying, “That’s so great, we’d love to visit you there!”. This was my #1 choice.
The Netherlands - an incredibly similar list to what Germany had to offer us, minus the personal familiarity. This was #3 on our list for a long time.
While all three seemed like incredible options, there were downsides to each.
In New Zealand, the general cost of living is lower than where we currently live, but the fact that so many day to day items are imported means higher costs for initially setting up a new life. And, while practially paradise, it is really, really far from everywhere we might need to go.
Germany, while closer, physically, to our old lives and comparable in cost, has some complicated rules governing how one can get residency and the steps that must be taken upon arriving, particularly for the city we became focused on - Berlin.
The Netherlands have one of the most attractive residency options for folks like us - the DAFT agreement. Despite the acronym, this option was a huge plus to us, but, while the cost of living is affordable if you’re able to live in a smaller town, it can be pricey if you want (or need) to be in a major area for work (and our transfer options, while available, are primarily in their larger cities).
After a few months of research (and checking out lots of other places), we ended up settling on Germany and, more specifically, Berlin. While this was a win for me (I’ve dreamt of living in Berlin since I was a child), it meant a lot of studying, daily scans for available transfer options, and trying to understand the complications of moving to a city that loves paperwork and bureaucracy. While all of these things can feel overwhelming, there was something we hadn’t really thought about: 2020 was not a year that allowed complications to simply exist, it had to go and wreck things completely. COVID, and all the rules, restrictions, and consequences of our country’s batshittery, made it practically impossible for us to move forward without one thing: a sponsored Visa from an employer…
Next time: Stalled on the Road to Nowhere
Thought you were coming to my little Portugal, as you say in your 1st post 😀 Enjoying Berlin so far?