For a couple of nights before January 1st, I had the hardest time getting to sleep. I had butterflies in my stomach, and felt kind of giddy. I had the overwhelming sense that 2014 would be really exciting, and this feeling filled my body. To be honest, I have no idea how the year will play out (well, who does, really?) but I think what I was feeling was a deep readiness for change. I am ready for a new adventure.
We have been getting a lot of signs and nudges in the last few months that our time in England may either be changing significantly or coming to a close. Most of these nudges have been rather unpleasant. But sometimes little birds need to be pushed out of their cozy little nests.
We were caught completely off guard a couple of months ago by a drastic pay cut for Jeff. He now takes home 1/3rd less than the salary he was offered with the job. In addition to this, his company will no longer be paying for private school for Amelia, and have also cut out some other important benefits.
Personally, I have been ready for a new geographic location for at least a year and a half now… England is absolutely beautiful, but culturally not a good fit for me. But Jeff and Amelia did not feel the same urgency to move. I was willing to stay for the sake of Jeff’s good job and Amelia’s good school, and some other things. I am in love with our house, and since I spend most of my life at home, this has been a real pleasure for me. And one by one, these things that were keeping us here are disappearing. Although we were able to negotiate for Amelia to finish her school year here, the school itself has gone through dramatic changes over the last few months and is no longer a great fit for her.
Our individual options are limited at this point. But what about the big ones?
A huge change seems to be where it’s at. We are looking for new jobs, new places. Our current contract only goes until mid-April, and we are hoping and praying to find an open position in the naval bases in Spain or Italy by then. If nothing comes up, we’ll sign on again until the end of Amelia’s school year, which is in July– hoping again for a new position in a new location. We are exploring options outside of Jeff’s current agency, and waiting expectantly for something good.When we moved here, we had very clear provision under Jeff’s contract for living expenses. We chose our house based on that allowance (in fact, we did our best to fit all of our basic living expenses into that amount) and so even though we get paid in dollars in a very, very expensive place to live where the dollar is so weak right now, we have always been fine, knowing that the basics were taken care of. Now we have the same cost of living but a much lower income… And we really shouldn’t be living in this house! It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s frankly better than we can afford. But we can’t get a new place just yet, while our contract is only good until April.
So if we do end up staying in England much longer, we will need to move. If we sign on here for a year or more at some point, we will most likely move to Cambridge. It’s a little more expensive, but living in a tiny little place will be worth it for the sake of a more diverse and welcoming social environment. So that will feel a bit like a fresh start, too. Either way– a big international move or a smaller move to a larger city– I’m excited. We’re ready for something new, and it’s surely coming. The suspense can be a little crazy at times, but we have been through much harder times, and this feels like relatively safe adventure.
I believe there is power in articulating what you want, and so I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you my dream scenario. Well, I have two of them, actually. The first (chronologically) is that a position will open up for us in Jerez, Spain in April. Even though the contract we would be offered would reflect similar pay cuts to ours, the cost of living is much lower there, and the social (and literal) climate is much warmer. I have always dreamed of living near the sea again, and we are all ready for warmer weather in a new country.
The second best-case scenario is that Jeff could get a job in the military educational system, DoDEA. His current job is clinical, and it’s been a cool experience working with medical providers and has really expanded him professionally. But the school positions are just better all around, in terms of pay, benefits, vacation time (summers off!) and a much higher selection of locations. In this case, we would be flown back to the States by his current employer (for repatriation) and would have a few weeks there before starting a new job– how perfect, right?
So, there is a lot of potential for a great outcome here.
I am hoping for the very best and also working on making the best of a less-optimal outcome. I am using my blog-related income right now to save up for a desperately-needed trip back to the States toward the end of the year, in case that is not provided for us. We have cut all of our expenditures to the bare minimum, and will be looking for an opportunity for much cheaper housing if we will be here beyond April. And we are doing everything we can now to make a big move possible– selling things, consolidating, talking about it as a family, preparing mentally and emotionally. And I am super thankful for the savings project we did last year that will be giving us a nice vacation next month during a somewhat stressful time!
We don’t know what’s coming, but we are ready for a new adventure in 2014. I can’t wait to tell you all about it as it all unfolds!