This is (understandably) the most frequently asked question we’ve gotten since deciding to move to San Diego 3 weeks ago. It has, thankfully, replaced the previous popular queries of: Permanently? Are you keeping your flat? How does Mark feel about it? How do Mark’s parents feel about it? Are your parents excited?
So far I’ve refrained from answering “why not?” Yes, I’ve never been to San Diego. Yes, Mark has only been for about a day. But, the weather is meant to be amazing. And there are beaches. And, we are young, financially stable and not tied down (ie with kids). Also, did I mention the weather? So why not move somewhere new and embrace the adventure? The real, more concise but also more elaborate answer is Mark’s job.
We’d always talked about how much easier an international transition would be if one of us had a job to move with. Last November, after careful consideration and evaluating our financial position (personal expenditures verses savings and property value) we decided to bite the bullet, start applying for Mark’s visa and do the move on our own. We’d visited a few cities in the US over the last few years, and decided Colorado (specifically Denver or Boulder) would make a great new home. The cost of living is low. Mark would have a reasonable amount of job opportunity (there are a lot of tech companies in northern Colorado). My parents aren’t too far away (when they’re home). We have friends in the area, or at least nearby. Putting together a budget – including covering health insurance – we were pretty confident in the amount of time we could sustain ourselves without having to work, so there’d be no stress.
In January, Mark’s employer mentioned the possibility of sending developers to the US. He mentioned this to me, but said it would likely be to their HQ in Washington DC, which wasn’t where we wanted to be. So what? We are young, married, happy, supportive of each other, and don’t really want to start a family yet. Living in DC for a couple of years would enable us to see lots of east coast friends, family and sites. Mark told his boss he’d be up for it. They didn’t talk dates or details, but Mark did indicate he could move on a spouse (ie not work sponsored) visa, they seemed rather keen, and the prospect of our US adventure was even more exciting. Colorado was still our Plan A, but DC was a great plan B if it materialized.
Over the next few months, the visa application progressed and we couldn’t get any proper commitments. We didn’t mind, to be honest, because we were still excited about Plan A. By May, we didn’t have any concrete information on DC, but we had Mark’s visa in hand, our flat was under offer and we were ready to commit to the move. Toward the end of the month, Mark wrote his resignation letter and met with his boss. Obviously, we were serious about this relocation thing. His boss asked if we’d still be interested in moving with the company, which we were. As he tried to get the details of a DC offer finalized, we gave some proper thought to DC. Yes, it would be a great base for exploring. Yes, it would be a pretty short flight for us to visit the UK or for his parents to visit us. Yes, we didn’t have to stay there forever. But… but… our hearts weren’t in it. The previous 6 months had been difficult. The entire time we knew we were going to be moving to the US, but had to stay focused and committed to work and life in the UK. It was draining, and we couldn’t help feeling like we weren’t giving 100%. If we went to DC, we’d once again be counting down the months until we could move somewhere else. Mark also already knew the project he would be working on, and it wasn’t one he was excited about. We wouldn’t give the city – or the company – our all, and we couldn’t do that in good conscience. Thanks, but no thanks. Colorado, here we come!
Mark did say – somewhat off the cuff – that if something came up in one of the other offices, like San Diego, we might consider it. At the time, we thought SD was a small office with maybe 10 devs. As it turns out, it’s actually a pretty reasonably sized office, which also works on projects Mark is interested in, and yes, there are opportunities there. So, a few phone calls and a bit of bureaucratic-induced waiting later, he had a proper offer for San Diego. It was the project he wanted. It was the benefits he wanted (complete with his UK holiday allowance). It was the salary he wanted. And, they were giving us a one-time relocation bonus to boot. We couldn’t have asked for a better setup, and emphatically accepted.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of my husband. Anyone who knew him at university would never have assumed he’d take such a huge leap to another country, and yet her he was – not only happy to embrace but also leading a move into the unknown. Beyond that, it made me respect him professionally. We are very close and communicative all the time, but obviously do not work together. Knowing the company was so keen to keep him – to give him everything he wanted – in the middle of a ‘recession’ and that he negotiated and handled it all so well – reminded me what a strong, mature person he can be and what a great developer and employee he is… and that was included his performance over the last 6 months when he was worried he wasn’t ‘giving it his all’ because he knew he was moving!
The last minute change – after we had already started boxing up our home and were less than 2 weeks from having it all collected and shipped – really added to the excitement about this new chapter. We began researching San Diego – the weather, the economy, the neighborhoods – and have gotten only increasingly more excited. Every person we’ve spoken to since announcing the move has responded with something along the lines of “San Diego is AMAZING!” or “WOW – that’s incredible, you lucky ********!” It also helps that we have some friends and family in the area, and we will be in prime position to visit great places like Yosemite, Vegas, Cabo and the Bay Area.
It’s still very possible, maybe even likely, we will move to Colorado when we want to have a family (the cheaper cost of living, smaller size and proximity to my parents make a strong argument for having kids there). In the mean time, we couldn’t be more excited about our new home! We already have a lengthy list of places to go and things to do, and know we won’t be counting down the days until we can move again.