Tag Archives: relocating

Moving day has arrived, and the container is here, but will it all fit?


20 Foot Container…We Need A Miracle to Make it all Fit!!

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This may look like a lot of stuff, but let me tell you, this is only the beginning!  As we carefully packed, bubble wrapped, shrink wrapped, numbered and inventoried every single item in our house, the total number of items came out to 203.  The sofa counts as 1 item just like a trashcan does, so you have to consider that.  It’s been one heck of a week trying to get all of this done by today, Friday.  François and I ended up going to bed at about 3:00 in the morning, deciding to wake up early  to finish up the rest before the movers would arrive.

1010452_10151640711113374_1425742124_nWhen the team of three movers arrived, they took one look at all, and first told us that it’s “the best wrapping we’ve ever seen.”  I asked if I could quote them 🙂  But then they told us that in their opinion there’s “no way that’s gonna fit in a 20-foot container, so you should start to consider what you would like to leave behind.”  What???  That’s not what they told us when we reserved this thing!  After about fifteen minutes of real stress, mostly from my sweetie, I went out and had a look at the container.  The thing is huge.  As of right now, the movers are still here and trying to load it all up.  I’ve decided to remain optimistic (is this a trend?) and believe it will all work out.  I’ll keep you posted, but for now I’m sitting here on my living room floor blogging away while I watch them try to fit the sofa through the front door.  This is the first time we’ve ever had movers do the work for us, and I would highly recommend it.  I can’t help thinking about when our container arrives in France and we have to unload it without a crew.  Every time I packed a box, I imagined that the next time I would see our things would be in our new apartment in Béziers.  By the way, we decided on the first apartment!!!  We listened to what all of you said, and took the plunge.

I’ll stop writing now so that I can go and see the progress, but for now, everyone repeat after us:

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“We believe it’s all going to fit!!”

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I Love Paris in the Springtime…


I’m so ready for spring to get here.  Yesterday it was snowing up a storm, so we may have to wait a little while before seeing some nice weather.  With the arrival of spring, the countdown to summer gets shorter and shorter every day.  I figured out that we only have about seven more full weeks of teaching left (not including holidays), and then we will quickly be getting our furniture ready to ship on the container.  It’s supposed to take 3-8 weeks to arrive in Béziers. My last day of work is in May, but François has to work until June 18.   I’ve been spending some time (when I can find it) looking at apartment websites, just to see what’s out there, how much the rent will be, what the conditions are, etc.  Of course, that’s a bit frustrating because as soon as I find something I love, I remember that it’s a little to early to start signing papers!  I really hope we will be able to find a spacious apartment in a nice area of town so that we can walk everywhere (bringing kids to school, grocery shopping, going to restaurants and cafés!).  On the other hand, there are some really cute “villas” for rent, and they’re more spacious, newer, have private gardens….  But they’re not right in town.  It sure would be nice to have an extra bedroom to have for when people come to visit.  I’ve got a feeling we’ll have quite a few visitors now that we’re going to live in France!!  It really is hard to stay focused on the tasks at hand though.  I’m so excited and ready for this adventure.  My husband is a bit antsy and nervous about the whole affair (especially about finding jobs), but I just know that it’s going to be great.  I have a very good feeling about it all.  

House has sold, and we’re really moving to France.


After seven months of pursuing our dream of selling our house then moving to France, today it has officially happened.  We closed on the sale of our house in St. Louis!  Neither of us was quite ready to believe it until all of the closing papers had been signed.  Until the last minute, we were living in doubt.  Since putting our house on the market back in March, 2012, we have had six different contracts fall through for one reason or another.  We really wanted to move to France this past summer, and it was a harsh reality to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen, not exactly the way we wanted it to.  Looking at the big picture, we can both see that leaving next summer will be much more practical on many levels.

We will be staying on in St. Louis until mid-June 2013 due to the nature of our jobs (we are teachers), and also to avoid interrupting the school year for our children (ages 5 and 8).  This wait will also give us the opportunity to save more money, as we will now be paying to rent an apartment rather than paying a home mortgage!  In addition, we won’t feel rushed and unsure about everything as we did last spring.  Not knowing if we were going to move put us in a position where we couldn’t really talk to  many people about our grand adventure.  This time, we will be able to share our dream coming true with friends, family, colleagues.  There will not have to be any secrecy about it now.  In the spring, when we were hoping to sell our house quickly, we still knew that there was a huge amount of uncertainty involving our move.  We couldn’t inform our employers of our move, just in case things didn’t work out.  We knew that if the house didn’t sell, we would need to have our jobs in the fall.  That was good thinking on our part, even if it was very difficult to stay quiet about it all.

Our first step now will be to find an apartment to live in for the next seven months, and it shouldn’t be hard to find one right in our neighborhood.  The next step will be to eventually inform our employers that we will not be returning in the fall.  I think that can wait a few months, still giving them time to find our replacements.  Beyond that, there’s everything we need to get done logistically speaking for the big plunge:  French nationality for me, and American nationality for my husband being the two main tasks at hand.

As the months go on, we will plan out (as best we know how) our first year of living in the south of France.  We need to find jobs, some reliable source of income to support our family.  I feel very optimistic about this as we are two very marketable professionals with many talents, and we have some pretty good ideas already.  My husband is a little less optimistic, but I think that’s just a result of (1) being a husband and father, and (2) being French!

It does help to know that we are moving to a very familiar place where we have family, and we have also already spent a year living there (14 years ago).  We have also spent the last 14 years spending the whole summer over there, so we feel comfortable.  The kids and I already speak fluent French, which I’ve read all over the Internet as being one of the main obstacles of other American families who have the same dream of living in France.  Here in the US, I’d say we already  live as much of a “French lifestyle” as possible.  It’s just the way we are.  The way we live daily and the way we raise our children corresponds much more to a French norm than to the American way.

Over the next seven months, I’ll do my best to record the steps we will take to get prepared.  Hopefully this blog will serve to help others in the same boat (we can’t be the only ones doing this, right?).  So now, let the fun begin!  Thanks for reading, and I’d love any comments or questions that my readers may have.

Let the French adventure begin!


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It’s kind of hard to believe that this is really going to happen for us.  All of last year we were getting our house on the market, thinking all the while that we would be moving to France during the summer (after the successful sale of our home, of course!).  By now we would have been settled down in the South of France, children would be learning lessons in a French school.  Things sure don’t work out the way we sometimes imagine, do they?

After the heartache of six failed contracts on our home, we now have a rather official looking “sold” sign in the front yard.  The closing won’t be until next week on the 19th, but at this point there’s really no turning back for either parties.  This is going to happen, and we need to find an apartment to live in for six months.  We have negotiated staying in the house until the end of November, giving us time to pack and find a place to live.

Everything now seems so official, and we both hope that we’re making the right decision.  It’s going to be very hard to leave the house where our children have grown and continue to grow up.  We have many, many memories after ten years in our little nest.  The truth is, we really love our house, our home.  I hope I won’t be too emotional on moving day.  After ten months of really being proactive about moving to France, now it seems rather surreal to me.

In many ways I consider us fortunate to not have sold our house in a rush during the summer.  Selling it now will give us the proper opportunity to enjoy our last 6-7 months here and to live through the different emotional stages of such a transition.  It will also give us a chance to save some money, and I’m sure we will be very glad we did!

Putting France on Hold…. Hanging in there in St. Louis


I haven’t written on this blog since the month of May.  4 months ago.  I think I just spent so much of last year getting ready for the move to France that wasn’t.  We spent almost a whole year getting the house ready for the market, packing, taking care of administrative details, and just gearing up emotionally.  We’d decided 100% that moving to France was what we wanted for ourselves and for our family, and we never really put much thought into what would happen if our house didn’t sell.

We still are very fortunate in that we were able to spend two months vacationing in France this summer.  It’s a good thing neither of us quit our jobs, that we went ahead and enrolled the kids in school “just in case”, and that we booked round-trip flights.  Our flight back home was scheduled for August 6, and until the end of July we were still holding out for something to happen with the house so that we could stay in France as planned.

August 6th has since come and gone, and here we are back in St. Louis working and living our lives as usual.  St. Louis happens to be a wonderful place to live and raise a family, but we are still hopeful about our move to France.  We’re just putting things off for one year (hopefully).  The house is still on the market, and we even have a contract.  Closing date is supposed to be on October 19, but we have learned not to get our hopes up too high.  If everything works out with the sale of the house, we will move into an apartment for the remainder of the school year and make the move to the South of France next summer.

So I apologize for disappearing without a trace.  Something about writing it all down just made it not possible for me there for a few months.  Talk about an emotionally charged summer!  But I’m back now, and ready to keep on keeping on 🙂

Crossing all my fingers and toes


Contract #4, Let’s do this already!

My last post started out, “Moving to France in 24 days, and long-stay visa”.  That was on May 14, and two contracts ago.  The funny thing is that there are a lot of people interested in our house, but for reasons way out of our control (nothing to do with us or our home), the sale just keeps falling through for one reason or another.  We are now (or most likely will be tomorrow) on contract #4.  I think it’s a good sign that the people who want to buy our house are French.  They need a car too, so we’re going to throw in the Beetle for good measure (I needed to sell it anyway).  Everyone who has been crossing fingers and toes for me, please don’t stop now!  This is it; I can feel that this is going to happen now.

In seven days I’ll be leaving on a trip to Europe with my students.  I’m leaving François at home with the kids, and he still has to work until June 15.  It wouldn’t be very nice of me to leave him with two kids to care for and a whole house to pack, so that’s what I’m going to start working on tomorrow.  I guess we will go ahead and reserve the container, get everything ready to load into it, and if it doesn’t work out…. Well if it doesn’t work out then I just have no idea what to think about what the next step should be.

I did get to Chicago last week for my long-stay visa.  I was so nervous leaving my passport at the French consulate, knowing that I need it for my trip next week.  They pretty much assured me that I’d have it back in time.  I sure hope so!  Say what you like about French bureaucracy, but I had a great experience once I actually found someone willing to answer my emails.  In the course of one day, about ten emails were sent between us. She helped me locate the documents I needed and assured me that when I came to my meeting in Chicago everything would be fine.  Guess what?  My meeting was scheduled for 10:20.  They called my name at 10:10 because I got there a bit early.  By 10:14, we’d completely finished and I was out the door.

Now I have to psyche myself into believing that we’re really moving, and that this time next week I’ll be on a flight to France with my students, and I won’t be coming back (not to live here, anyway).

Checklist for the next week

1.  Reserve 20-foot container for a date in late June.

2.  Pack up everything François and the kids won’t need over the next few weeks and get it ready to ship.

3.  Empty my classroom and desk at work.

4.  Put finishing details on student tour of Europe.

5.  Inform my friends and family that this is really happening and somehow manage to say good-bye (???)

6.  Organize a big, huge play date in the park with kids and their friends who they may never see again… That’s going to be rough.  BBQ maybe?

7.  Quit my job…. No, I’d better wait till after closing to do that one.

8.  Get banking in order….401K thing may need to get done after we’ve moved.

9.  Purchase one-way flights for François and the kids…. at the last minute just to be sure.

10.  Stay calm, cool and collected (this may be the hardest part).

 

Looks like we’re moving to France!!


Moving to France in 24 days

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Visa long séjour

 

The best news is that over the weekend, we received an offer on our house and signed a contract.  Now we’re just waiting for the building inspector to come through, and if there aren’t any major problems with our house (God, I hope not!), we’re going to close on June 1.  Our buyer said he would only walk away if the inspector found something really bad.  I don’t think that will happen.

But wait…. It’s already May 14!  June 1 is only 18 days away! I’m not complaining.  Just trying to figure out the logistics of the thing.  Departure date for us will be June 7.

1.         Reserve a 20′ container to be at our house by May 27.

2.         Pack up everything in the house, get ready to ship.

3.         Purchase one-way flights.

4.         Sell my car.

5.         Get banking in order.

6.         Figure out how to get a long-stay visa (it takes 21 days apparently, and you                                 have to do it in person at the French consulate in Chicago….. and I don’t have all of the necessary documents…)

7.         Quit my job…..

 

I’m not sure how it’s all going to happen, but the important thing is that it IS HAPPENING!

Round-trip or one-way flight to Paris?


Pour mes amis francophones:

En ce moment j’essaie de prendre une décision importante.  Le moment du départ arrivant, je ne sais pas si on doit acheter des billets aller-simple ou des billets aller-retour (deux fois le prix).  Si on achète l’ aller-simple (très tentant), on risque de ne pas vendre la maison avant de partir et on sera bien embêtés du coup!!  Et bien sûr, dès que j’achète l’aller-retour, la maison se vendra sans doute et on aura perdu des milliers de dollars pour rien.  Mais il faut positiver, n’est-ce pas??  Je crois qu’on attendra encore quelques semaines avant de les acheter.  Que ce serait chouette d’être plein de fric et de ne pas avoir à réfléchir comme ça!  Si jamais vous avez des idées de génie, dites-le-moi!

For my English-speaking friends:

Trying to make a very important decision.  Our departure date is quickly approaching, and I don’t know if we should buy one-way tickets or round-trips (twice the price).  If we buy the one-ways  (very tempting), we risk not selling the house before leaving et as a result will be really bothered!!  Of course, as soon as I buy the round-trips, the house will sell and we will have lost thousands of dollars for nothing.  But we have to stay positive, right?  I think we’ll wait a few more weeks before buying them.  How great it would be to have lots of money and not have to think about things like this!  If ever you have a brilliant plan, let me know!

Top Ten Reasons to Live in France


My TOP TEN reasons for wanting to relocate to France:

(maybe I forgot something, or maybe you know better!  in any case, let me know what you think!)

 

Reason # 1

Quality of life


Reason # 2

Work to live, not live to work.  Taking time to enjoy life, spending time with family, longer lunches and dinners.  Slower pace of living.  Sundays are what they used to be in the United States forty years ago.

Reason # 3

Healthier lifestyle, pedestrian friendly cities, beaches, mountains, walks in vineyards.

Reason # 4

High-quality health care system, affordable to all, low cost prescription drugs.

Reason # 5

French gastronomy, locally grown fresh produce markets, bread, cheese, olive oil, Mediterranean diet.

Reason # 6

Easy travel to diverse locations (other European countries); children grow up (with the possibility of)  being exposed to more foreign cultures.  And no matter where you live in France, Paris is just a quick train ride away.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway

Reason # 7 

Some of the best, and most affordable wine regions in the world.  Summer wine festivals in the Languedoc are fabulous.

Reason # 8 

Mediterranean climate:  The weather may not be so fantastic in every part of France year round, but in the Languedoc, it really is quite pleasant most of the time.

Reason # 9

Manners are still important in France, and the vast majority of children are raised to show respect.  This is very important to me.

This is a picture of my son, my niece, and some friends.

Reason # 10

Comparatively low violent crime rate.  We are not planning to live in a big city, but even in Paris I feel safe walking alone at night.

What we’re going to put in our 20-foot container


Our house still hasn’t sold.  42 days or so on the market and two weeks since we’ve had a showing, but I’m still curiously optimistic.  I don’t know how I’ll deal psychologically if this doesn’t work out.  Let’s just not think about that 🙂

Here’s what our container will look like.

 

Doesn’t look that big, but we’ve been assured that everything we have left in our house should fit in there:

Dining room

Kitchen

Living Room

Three bedrooms

Clothes/Shoes for 2 adults & 2 children

Toys, bikes, etc.

We did get rid of a LOT at our moving sale back in February so when moving time does come, NO CLUTTER.

While getting rid of things, we didn’t keep anything electronic that we thought we could do without.  That includes mostly all kitchen appliances, one television, some lamps.  Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have gotten rid of so many things.  However, at the time we didn’t know we’d have enough space in the container.  Oh well, no regrets!

Originally, we’d planned to sell or give away the electrical appliances we still have just before moving.  That would include a television, PS3, Wii, DVD player, hair dryer, flat-iron, iron for clothes, a couple of lamps, coffee maker, espresso machine, rice cooker, and a few other little things that we consider important.  Now that I think about it and I’ve done a bit of research (and I know we have enough space in the container), I do believe I’ll just go and buy enough $10 electrical adapter/converter devices and hold onto our appliances.  That will save us a lot of running around buying things when we get to our apartment in Béziers, and it will be cheaper too.

A word about keeping the television.  The only reason we will do this is to play video games and watch DVDs on it.  It happens to be a nicer, newer T.V., so maybe we’d like to have the little luxury of having it, even if we won’t watch real television programs or French DVDs.  We will need a larger size converter for this.  Suggestions?

We’re not going to bring the car, though.  I love my VW Beetle, but it’s just not worth what it would cost to ship it over.  Plus, I’m pretty sure we’d have to have some changes made to the car once in France just to make it street legal.

What do you think?  Any comments?  Many of you probably have a lot more experience shipping personal goods overseas, so I’d be thrilled to receive any advice you may have.