Moving from the United States to a foreign country is an interesting process. Some of it is frustrating, most of it is great, but all of it is an education. The inspiration for us began on our honeymoon. My wife and I love to travel and for our honeymoon we toured New Zealand in a camper van. We also love to scuba dive. One night in the campervan, we decided we wanted to start our new lives together in a foreign country. We laid out several criteria which needed to be met.
Our criteria were:
1) We both had to be able to find work that we were passionate about. We’ve read the articles about the banker who gives up a high paying job in New York City to live in a hut on an Indonesian island. That wasn’t for us. We both have careers we love and didn’t want to forego those passions for beautiful scenery. Not disparaging those who do, it just wasn’t for us.
2) We had to be able to scuba dive year-round. What more can I say, we love to dive.
3) We needed to be close to home. We defined close as the ability to fly home in the same day. Both our families live in the northeast United States and family is important to us. We didn’t want to be so far we couldn’t get home quickly if we needed.
We narrowed down our options until we decided on our best choice. So, one night in the campervan, still on our honeymoon but with eyes on our next adventure, we planned a scouting trip. 6 weeks after returning from our honeymoon, we were traveling again, this time to the Cayman Islands. We spent a week on the island talking to other expats, talking to potential employers, and of course, diving.
My wife has been a diver for over 20 years. She’s done hundreds of dives and racked up the requisite certifications, but the one certification she didn’t have was Divemaster (DM). To work in the dive industry as she wanted, being a DM was the minimum requirement. Keep in mind, this is November in Connecticut. Nobody in their right mind dives in the winter in Connecticut. So she called her local instructor to ask about DM training. Her local instructor told her, “hey, nobody in their right mind dives in the winter in Connecticut, go to Florida.” So, she booked another trip, this time to West Palm. By the end of December, she passed her DM test and was crowned a Divemaster. Five weeks after that, she received an email offering her a job. The offer was for an initial 6 months, then perhaps longer if she liked it. We were ecstatic. The plan was for her to start in July after we sorted out some things.
I began hunting down a job in earnest. I had some contacts in the healthcare industry from some previous experiences and began working those angles for a job. July arrived and I still didn’t have any leads, much less a job. After how quickly my wife got a job, it was a bit deflating. We decided for the time being she’ll go down and I’ll stay in Connecticut. I had a great job that I enjoyed and it was flexible enough that I could take a week off each month (the beauty of stacking shifts), so I could fly down to visit my wife. We figured we had enough in savings to make it work for 6 months. After that we’d reassess. Well, December rolls around and I still didn’t have a job, but I did have an interview. It was encouraging but since we didn’t have anything solid, we stuck to our plan. She and I left the island together in December, and moved back to Connecticut.
Now, I’m a cold weather person. I like to say I could be in boxers in Alaska and stay comfortable, my wife on the other hand, not so much. She loves warm weather, scratch that. She loves disgustingly hot and humid weather. Now we’re moving back to Connecticut, in the dead of winter. Not good. It was stressful for us. We still had our eye on the island, but I hadn’t heard anything following my interview, my wife was unemployed, and neither one of us could dive regularly. My wife enrolled and attended a dive photo course in January which helped keep her skills up. Finally, in the middle of February, a phone call…I had a job.
Well, almost. I was told the company needed to work-out some things but I should be hearing soon from HR. March rolls around and I still haven’t heard from HR. Skype and email are great, but sometimes seeing people face-to-face is the best way to get things done, so I flew back down to meet with HR directly. I was on island for 6 days, and on day 6, 2 hours before my flight was schedule to depart for the States, I finally met with HR. I boarded the flight home with nothing in writing stating I had a job, but lots of assurances.
We were frustrated. I wasn’t about to quit a good job in Connecticut with nothing more than a verbal assurance. We continued doing our thing. I was working and taking classes to stay current. My wife was entering her photography in contests and staying busy trying to get her name out in the public. Finally, after another 6 weeks, it all came together like a bombshell. We went from hearing nothing, to being asked how quickly can you get here?! We rushed around getting lab work and physicals done. Criminal background checks needed to be obtained and licenses and certifications were sent off. We had to organize movers and shipping companies. And oh, jeez, I have to give my notice at work! Somehow, it all fell into place. By the middle of May, we were fulfilling a goal set nearly 18 months earlier. We were living in a foreign country, working in our chosen fields, diving whenever we wanted. Life doesn’t get much better.