Actually, I can’t remember what the last thing I told you was, with regard to the move to Utrecht.
1. We were going to try to move before summer, did you get that? Because we figured if we put the kids into a new school mid-year, they’d be free to learn the language and figure out how to navigate their new setting, and the academic expectations would be low at first.
2. We were going to rent out our current house, because the local housing market’s flooded, we didn’t want to take a big loss, and if we can wait five years or so, we’d probably make a lot more money on it, because of the new highway that’s planned.
3. We were looking for something spang in the middle of Utrecht, because OurTown is just not close enough to a real city, and we’re both sick of missing out on things because it’s just too far, you know? We don’t go to a two-hour movie or concert because it’ll mean three hours in transit and it’s just not worth it. Moreover, I, at least, would like to bring my style of living more into line with my political beliefs: for one thing, I don’t want to use the car every day. The era of cheap cars and cheap oil led to the creation of suburbs and rush hour traffic and the idea that spending two hours in your car every single day is somehow normal. The recent high oil prices had people thinking more about fuel efficiency and hybrid cars and the like, but I didn’t see anybody floating the solution I like best: rearrange your life to drive less. Live closer to your job, work closer to your home, as much as possible. And I’d be a hypocrite if I wasn’t willing to do myself what I’m advocating for others.
But then new information came to light, things happened that changed the equation. Or will change it. Or might change it, maybe, but it’s too soon to know for sure.
1. As I said before, DrBob’s job is really quite challenging. In a good way, yes, but it’s still a lot of work, just about exactly as much as he can handle. It’ll get easier, but at the moment he’s still learning the ropes, and everything else that comes with moving a family to another country = more than he can take on right now. The first quarter’s almost over. The second quarter has Christmas in it. Buying/selling a house in the winter has all kinds of problems, we should probably wait until April or so, and if we’re going to wait that long, we might as well let the kids finish out the school year here. They want to anyway. So now we’ll probably start looking for a house in April, offer, counteroffer, deal with bank, sign this, notarize that, move in July or August. That seems like a reasonable timeline.
2. Um, remember that whole housing bubble, subprime mortgage, financial meltdown… thing? Well, it wasn’t as extreme here, but it’s having ripples. Specifically, this past summer it looked like we could afford to rent this house out instead of selling it because we could have gotten a loan with no down payment, because DrBob has such a good job. This is probably no longer true – our German bank has already said no. The proposal from the Dutch bank was mainly hypothetical, and if we were to ask about it now, they’d probably rub the back of their neck and look pained, and say “well, see, things are… kinda different now…” Indeed they are different, and much less certain. DrBob says we’ll probably have to sell this house now, if we want to buy one in Utrecht. I have pointed out that the market in OurTown is still flooded, so we’ll be taking a loss, if we can find someone to buy it – everybody’s having trouble borrowing money right now. He acknowledges the sense of this, and invites me to suggest an alternative, and I really can’t.
3. Houses spang in the middle of Utrecht are expensive. We could find and afford something smallish, and I’m in favor of that – I love our current house very much, but I just have to accept that it’s too big. I can’t keep it clean and organized, there’s just too much space, too much stuff. DrBob wants something big, and doesn’t mind that it’s harder to keep clean, because cleaning is not his responsibility. I want the kids to be able to walk or cycle to school, DrBob doesn’t mind if they have a bit further to go – they’d have to get up earlier, and so would I, but DrBob wouldn’t, so he figures it’s not a problem. (Marriage query: how do you say “wow, you’re being really selfish” without giving offense?) This is also part of bringing my way of living into line with my beliefs – one of those beliefs is that you should live within your means. I don’t want to work the rest of my life to pay off a big expensive house, and I don’t want to spend every day struggling to keep it clean. I’m tired of running to stand still.
Sorry this post got so long – there’s a lot going on. I don’t know how we’ll resolve that last bit. I don’t know if all of this will still be true in three months. I don’t know a lot of things right now. This might be part of my current anxiety.
Song du jour of the day: She’s a Mystery to Me, by Roy Orbison