The nomad syndrome strikes again! After six years of a “gemütlich” if predictable life in Germany, wife, cats, the fish in their tank and I decided to pack our bags, fold our yurt and head north to greener pastures in pursuit of an objective.
You would have thought that any family with a plan would have done better to stay put and pursue their objectives in familiar and stable surroundings, especially as after six years in Germany a citizen of a member state of the European Union could apply for permanent residence and why not German citizenship. It was there for the asking, but no.
You could also be forgiven for thinking that with Brexit looming any convinced and proven British europhile would or should jump at the economic and social stability permanent German residence would offer, but no.
What made us want to throw caution to this wind, give up the stability and security of life in Germany and go somewhere else? What could possibly make this Brit pass up on the prospect of permanent German residence and why not German citizenship? The answer is simple: An urge for a different lifestyle in a different environment with different values and of course, better financial well-being, in short, something other than Germany was offering…
Plus, at the end of the day, obtaining German citizenship wasn’t something my spouse and I were willing to consider, in itself or as part of our plans, a point that ultimately weighed on our decision to move to Holland.
Holland, He Wrote
After what’s euphemistically called a change of circumstance, and a chat with the wife, I responded to and accepted an opportunity in Amsterdam*. This meant moving there, and although the material advantages sealed the deal, yet another international house move was still a daunting prospect.
*Actually, I’d been offered two new interesting missions, one in Germany and one in Holland. The German mission was continuity, the Dutch mission was change and as I was in the unique position of having a choice I savoured the moment before throwing caution to the wind and choosing not Love over Gold but change over continuity.
So opening my trusty, dog-eared Microsoft XL format relocation/house moving project planning sheet we set about planning a plan within a plan. I ran through the list of tasks and timelines for moving from France to Germany and then around Germany, Cologne to Munich, Munich to Frankfurt, and adapted it accordingly. We cancelled subscriptions, found a flat, packed boxes, booked the movers and generally let everybody know who needed to know we were moving, immediately triggering a host of “Win back” robocalls from internet and mobile operators.
That was last November. It’s April now and approximately two months after moving house we’re busy taking in a new culture, learning a new language, discovering strange new taxes and tasting a different style of cooking and guess what? I’ll take an Indonesian Bami Goreng over toasted sandwiches any day.
Yes, I’m glad we came to Holland, really I am. The original idea was to start our project in Germany. On paper it looked good, seemed holistic enough, we thought, but we had the impression something was missing.
So after getting our little ducks in a row we decided that Holland might be better suited for kick-starting our project. And you know what? I’m glad we did because two months after and we’d already collected some valuable information concerning our long-term project we would have missed had we stayed in Germany.
The End? Not Quite Yet!
Relocating is tiresome, very tiresome and the only easy part of this particular house move was the day I said yes to the job mission. Recurrent relocation only makes sense if it’s part of a bigger plan. That said, it’s often the most abstract of things that can make or break a relocation, like finally being able to rebuild the sofa after thinking you’d lost some accessory or other. Personally, what made this relocation a success was my wife’s squeal of pleasure as I carried her across the threshold of our new home. Would I do anything different next time? (oh, yes. There’ll be a next time) Yep! I’ll book a mover and let them do everything. It’ll cost more but I made a promise to my wife.
So why go to all that trouble? Why wave goodbye to continuity in Germany for something completely different? At first glance, coming to Holland may look a bit like going “… to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head”, so be it, but believe me, there’s design behind the apparent folly.