Feb 022016

I found this in the “drafts” section. It was written around 2011/2012 before we moved.

I don’t have a lot of acquaintances, but the ones I do have asked me about why and how I will be moving to France.

Why are you moving to France?

Aaron: I lived there in 2003 for about a year and made some friends there. Since that time I’ve always wanted to live there. Since then I’ve gotten married, had two kids, and finished my Master’s but I’ve basically always had this plan.

How long will you be there?

As long as it takes! I guess. We don’t have a set amount of time to return to the States, so “forever” is the official answer.

So you found a job?

Aaron: Yes. Finding a job as a technically skilled worker was “not difficult,” I would say. You do have to speak french well enough to get through the interviews of course. I will work for GFI, apparently as a consultant about 40% of the time and on in-house projects about 60% of the time.

Will you get a car?

Maybe. The plan is to NOT get a car, but since I’ll be handed out to work on projects for various companies at different locations it may be necessary. The public transportation system is quite good over there though, so we’ll see.

Where will you live?

In Aix-en-Provence in the south. It’s where I stayed in 2003 and it’s a great city.

Are you going to buy a house?

We don’t have enough money to just buy houses in other countries. We will save up though and see what happens. There are very few houses in the center of town where we’d like to live anyway.

But what will you do in France?

Aaron: This is one of those “I don’t get it” questions that I get sometimes. I will go to work, come home, spend time with my family, and everything else normal people do. Just because it’s a different country doesn’t mean I’m retiring or ending my productive life.

Jen: The same things I do here. I will take care of the kids, take care of my husband, take care of our home, and whatever else I need to do. After that I will figure something out. There isn’t really an answer for “what will you do” here in the States, so there isn’t a real answer for that in France.

What about your kids?

They will be fine. They’re not the first kids to speak two languages. We can all think of some other examples. 🙂

What about your dog?

He will be fine. He’s not the first dog to speak two languages. He’s coming with us of course! There’s no quarantine when going from the States to France. Quarantines tend to be only for islands like Britain and Hawaii.

Will you visit the States?

Yes. Probably at least yearly, although we haven’t decided what time of year yet. There are advantages to coming during a warmer time of year when outside activities (besides skiing) can still be enjoyable. We have Ohio to visit for Jen’s family and Colorado to visit for Jen’s and my family.

Can I come stay with you (for free)?

If we’ve said to you “you should come visit us,” then yes. Otherwise, no. In other words, if you were invited then yes, otherwise no.

What will you miss the most?

Aaron: Probably Chipotle and watching my mother and daughter play together.

Jen: Besides my friends and family, Starbucks.

What will you love the most?

Aaron: I will love raising my children in a place where salads are served in schools, where there is a minimum of 21 days vacation a year, and where the work week is 35 hours instead of 40 without a huge fuss. We also plan on trying to absorb some of the better assumptions and prejudices that Americans have about the French, such as there being less consumerism there and having a general love for life and personal enjoyment instead of a love for work and money. Plus it’ll be fun and a challenge.

Apr 222012

When deciding the logistics of getting our stuff from the states to France, we decided to try to sell as much as possible and to then mail over the rest. We didn’t own anything worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it was easier to just sell everything. We did have a family member mail over a number of boxes for us though, which was very helpful. Here are some things to note from our experience.

  • Mailing boxes is expensive. It was about $80 per box for us. This was the cheapest option as it was a flat rate type of thing.
  • Mailing boxes takes longer than letters. Some boxes took two weeks; some boxes took 4 weeks and were then held at customs until we mailed them a letter explaining exactly what was inside the boxes and the exact value of everything.
  • Boxes are mistreated at the post office. Whatever your current idea of “mistreated” may be, it’s actually worse than that. We’re talking they throw it off of buildings and then play soccer with it type of mistreated (see the image below).

Here are tips on packing that will help smooth things along during the whole mailing process.

  • Use a large garbage (construction) bag to line the inside of it so that water won’t damage the contents.
  • Put the soft things near the outside and fragile things near the middle.
  • Pack the box as FULL as possible, especially if anything fragile is inside. Packing the bag full means that the contents won’t shift while the postman is playing soccer with the box. The contents of the box help it keep it’s shape and it’s the best defense against mistreatment.
  • Write the exact contents and the exact value of everything inside the box on the outside of the box and tape it to the outside of the box. The tape should completely cover (like laminating) the paper so that water won’t ruin it. Or if you’re worried about things getting stolen you may just note this somewhere. However, we had two boxes that arrived in customs for which we were asked for their contents and there was no indication as to which box was which and no way to tell them apart. It didn’t pose a problem though, so use your best judgement.

This box we received prompted this post (image).Mailed Box, Ruined

Feb 192012

Week one in France is all about lack of sleep and rushing to get as many things done as possible because my work wants me to start so soon that we only have three week days before I start working. This includes finding an apartment, opening a bank account, going to the préfecture to continue the visa paperwork, getting cell phones, etc. Despite questions about settling in, this week isn’t really about settling in. We’re still in a hotel and we’re not doing any settling.

The apartments we’ve looked at have been okay and varied, as you can see from the pictures. The kids aren’t adjusted to the time change yet on day 3 here, obviously…

Lesson learned from moving: Open a bank account before you go, and get the check book and carte bleu before you go. This will facilitate buying things and may not be possible with some banks (like Crédit Agricole). BNP Paribas is probably a good one since they are a part of Bank of the West in the States.

Things we didn’t budget enough for:

  • The hotel stay in the states,
  • the hotel stay in France,
  • and Jen’s new iPhone (because AT&T sucks).

Things we did this week:

  • Looked at 6 apartments,
  • visited the OFII (l’office de l’immigration et de l’intégration) for the visas,
  • finished opening a bank account,
  • went grocery shopping twice,
  • bought a single stroller because a double wide is too big,
  • and got myself cell phone service (but not Jen because AT&T sucks).
Feb 012012
Airplane Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s actually happening. Almost 6 months after I was offered a job in France, we will actually be flying there to live. So much for the “it will take about a month” that I was told 6 months ago.

There was about a 2 month pause of not hearing anything new from my employer nor the OFII or consulate. Then out of the blue I received an email from the french consulate saying my visa was approved by the OFII and that I should come apply for the visa at the consulate. It’s ridiculous and expensive to go to the consulate for your state in person, but it’s also necessary as they insist on it. So we flew to California, handed in our paperwork, and 7 days later we received our visas in the mail. The only reason I can see that they have you show up in person is because they take your fingerprints. Obviously this could have been done locally and mailed in…

Now that we have our visas (the first part of them), we have to go to the prefecture after we arrive in France. They will also give us a medical exam apparently. I imagine this is to make sure we aren’t going to France just to take advantage of their health care system, but it’s just speculation.

My family’s visas were easier to get because mine was already approved. We did NOT use the “regroupement familial.” Although it might seem to make sense to use that to get my family a visa, one of the requirements is that someone has already lived in France for a minimum of one year. Nevertheless, getting the rest of my family a long stay visa was easier due to my visa having already been approved. We filled out the “retirement” type of long stay visa on the form, but they didn’t ask us for much of the paperwork (like proof of income) because they already had it.

We’ll be very busy over the next month or so. I’ve added most things to the to-do list page to track what was necessary. We’ll have about 5 days in France before I’ve agreed to start working. This probably won’t be enough with the time change and the two young kids, but I’m not too worried. Being in France will be AWESOME! I’m very excited about finding a new place and visiting my friends.