Cross #27 off the 40 before 40 list: we’ve officially moved from Seattle to Madrid.
On our very first date, way back in May 2014, Dane and I talked about travel. It was the first date, so we didn’t make any plans together, but we shared where we wanted to go and why. Admittedly, it was essentially a list of countries and food we wanted to try, but it was excellent first date conversation. At one point we even talked about our desires to live in a different country. Little did we know then!
Dane and I are planners at heart. Seriously: we had our wedding venue booked before Dane proposed. This transatlantic move was planned out and executed across two years, and was not without a healthy amount of headaches, frenzied excitement, and luck.
Step 1: Get our jobs in place. For me, that meant finding a new job entirely. Mentally, I was already there – while I loved the firm I was working for, I wanted to be doing more community building work, preferably in the tech industry. I didn’t know if it was possible to take this international, and I knew I wouldn’t be happy taking a “just because I want to move” job. My career is deeply important to me, and wasn’t something I was willing to sacrifice so that I could live in a foreign country. I lucked out, and found the perfect job with Automattic as a sponsored volunteer for the WordPress Open Source Project as a Community Wrangler. Automattic, a fully distributed company, has made it seamless for me to pursue both career and life goals, and my team has been super supportive of my move.
For Dane, that meant getting a promotion, and then finding the right job overseas. He worked hard to get that promotion, and it was very well deserved, in my totally, completely unbiased opinion. Amazon has tons of positions internationally, and Dane, like me, didn’t want to take any role just so we could move. Luckily we were in no rush, and he was able to find a role in Madrid that fit his career interests and goals. He interviewed, and was offered the job.
Step 2: All the paperwork. Seriously. Even with Amazon’s help, which made our move infinitely easier, applying for and obtaining a visa requires reams of very official paperwork. This required patience, diligence, and a good amount of fist shaking at nothing in particular. It also required a trip to San Francisco to visit the Spanish Consulate. We entered with our armloads of paperwork and relinquished our passports (well, because I had to travel internationally for WordCamp Nordic soon after, I had to mail my passport the following week, but that was a whole different story and headache) so that we could get our visas. A nail-bitting five weeks later, our passports and visas are mailed to the unofficial consulate in Bellevue. Needless to say, Dane and I were absolutely relieved to have our passports back in hand.
Step 3: Celebrate! Panic. Rejoice! Panic again. Celebrate again! I don’t know if the fact that we were moving to Madrid ever really settled in while we were in Seattle. Sure, we looked at each other with broad smiles on our faces, exclaiming, “We’re moving to Madrid!” But then there was a seemingly endless, daunting list of tasks to do in order to move. Why the heck didn’t we plan for this?! Note to self for the next time: write up the damn list of things to do before getting to Step 3. Top of that list? Go through all your stuff and donate everything you’re not taking as soon as possible, and not the week before the move. Set up a mailbox and mail forwarding. Give everyone ample notice of your going away party.
Note on the going away party: it sucks. I mean, it’s heartwarming to see all of your friends and family gather together, and amazing to have them send you off with all the well wishes in the world. But parting ways is hard and painful, and the first goodbye is just as gut wrenching as the last one. It’s not for forever, and thankfully technology makes it much easier to stay in touch, but that was a particularly trying day that made me cry many tears.
Step 4: The Move. Honestly, I don’t even know how this all happened. The past few days have been a blur, and thank goodness we had a full plan for the physical move that we
followed closely clung onto for dear life. When we landed and got checked into our hotel, we slept for 15 hours. Thus went our first day in Madrid! 😂
Which brings us to Step 5: Figure out which way is up. It is now day 2, I have wifi, I have a place I plan to cowork from, I went grocery shopping, and I’ve attempted lots of Spanish successfully-ish.
Er, stay tuned for how Step 5 pans out. I’m optimistic.