A few months preceding our wedding, sometime in the Fall 2013, my then fiance, says out of the blue “we should move, go live and work somewhere else; Australia, what do you think about that?” Completely unaware of this inquiry’s seriousness, I used my goto line when something sounds crazy but don’t actually want to engage. “Sure. Why not?”
“Crazy” might be a strong word; what I really mean here is irrational. The facts are that our family, friends and careers are all rooted in the US, so that proposal’s initial mental processing translated more or less to “how about we leave behind work and everything else that is dear to us to go live 10,512 miles away from here (I googled it) just because it’d be a cool thing to do.”
Now, I’m the laid-back unconventional nonchalant node of this relationship. Libby on the other hand is the more pragmatic long term visionary. If we’re chasing unicorns, you can bet it’d be my idea. At this point we’re all talk. I assume we’re playing the “what if game.” You know, the one where you ask someone something ridiculous to test their hypothetical boundaries like: “If I gave you three million dollars tax fee, would you let Donald Trump cut the tip of your left pinky and post the video on YouTube?”
By the way, your response to that should be, “is it tax free?”
The Follow Up
A wedding, honeymoon and a new year roll in. It’s early winter 2014. After a tough week at work Libby is burned out, angry and fed up with the weather. Australia is brought back to the table. This time around the discussion isn’t speculative. Concepts of age, personal growth, children and unpredictable futures are considered. Timeouts from the obligations of life, likely, will not be an option when we really become adults, you know… in the future. We have the opportunity now and so decide to go for it.
How does one do the marriage thing and still manage to dodge the whole adult thing?
“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Ben Parker
The way I see it, adulthood is a balance of autonomy and duty. That line though, is forever shifting with respect to growth and achievement. At various times those boundaries have been defined by various arbitrary milestones: drive, vote, work, live independently, love, commit, and now groom life. That last milestone is a long term commitment; no timeouts allowed, just constant execution. So that’s where we’re at. I’ve managed to contextualized this definition and, in the process, again deferred the idea of adulthood. Soon… but not quite there yet.
Ready, set, not yet.
After our heart to heart that winter, the plan is to leave for Australia in September 2014 later that same year. Four months later, in July, Libby gets offered an awesome new gig. Plans are meant to be broken. We’ll stay in New York longer and instead leave in January 2015.
In the meantime, after contacting an Australian visa lawyer, for an assessment of our options, things start to look a bit bleak. First, being over 30, we’re too old and thus don’t qualify for their working holiday visa. Second, it turns out that neither of us qualify for independent visas based on their Skilled Occupation List (SOL). Reality check! We’re not as special as we thought we were, which means that unless we got sponsored or transferred from a US company, our options would be to stay in country for 3 months on a tourist visa.
Our optimistic takeaway from all of this negativity? We’ll move to Australia with enough money to survive those first few months, look for work, get sponsored and stay for a while. Why not?
Fast forward. It’s November 2014 and between local opportunities at work and the new year being right around the corner, we agree that it makes more sense to leave in the Spring 2015.
Well… actually once January comes around we realize that our spring is their summer and moving to the southern hemisphere around that time sets us up to arrive while they transition into winter. Dumb idea. New plan! We’ll move in September 2015.
Numbers dictate a new value proposition
All while departure dates are getting pushed back, we start to crunch numbers. Australia is pretty damn expensive… like New York City expensive. The idea of moving to an expensive foreign country with no guarantee of a transition into their workforce no longer seems like a strong value proposition. After all, the numbers in our bank account really only allow for a three month cushion in the great outback. Since our goal had always been to experience a new environment together, instead of the high risk of failure tied to Australia workforce assimilation, we instead decide to only spend three weeks there. This shift allows us to defer a large portion of our budget to travel elsewhere over a period of 8 months.
Unlike previous iterations, as our new target date approaches (Sept 2015) commitment tasks start to get done. One way plane ticket purchased. Notice to employer and landlord sent. International friendly credit cards ordered. Storage place leased and movers scheduled. Words have morphed into actions and travelers’ backpacks are being delivered shortly.
August comes around and with it a family emergency . Our biggest fear of moving across the world comes true. Not being there.
Nothing is set in stone
At the top of our list of priorities is family. Contrary to Nostradamus and the Mayans the rest of the world isn’t going anywhere in December 2015. We’ve made adjustments before; with that mindset simply cancelled and pushed back reservations with a wait and see approach. Few things in this world will make you feel as helpless as being a by-stander to a loved one’s fight to regain his or her health. These moments put back in perspective how important and fortunate we are to have our health.
One month passes and everyone’s back up to full throttle. New departure date set with itinerary for the first 4 weeks in stone. We enter New Zealand October 5 and exit for Australia on October 30. The rest is to be continued…