Holy Winter in Nova Scotia, Canada!

Whether you’re American thinking in Fahrenheit, or Canadian thinking in Celsius, it’s COLD here.

The temperature outside our house is now -15 (C). With the wind, we’re well past twenty below zero. (Dude, that’s cold.)

I’m no outdoorsman, not an Inuit, nor am I fond of cold in general. In fact, if I can share, I’m daydreaming of a toasty beach chair and a cool tropical drink with one of those little paper umbrellas.

Continue reading Holy Winter in Nova Scotia, Canada!

Deciding to Sell Foreign Property ….Now What?

If you didn’t learn already from past posts, we used to live in Prague.  When we moved to Canada (about 2 1/2 years ago), we decided to keep our flat in Prague until a better, “easier” time to sell.  And now that time has come.  When we left 2-3 years ago, we felt it was better financially (and emotionally) to keep our flat and rent it long-term.  By the way, we tried a few months of short-term rentals, but it was too hectic, and we even crossed paths with a scammer or two.  After those first few months, we found a young family that proved to be wonderful tenants.  They stayed for over 2 years, but now they long to buy their own place, so they’re soon to move out.  At last, the Big Decision snuck up on us.  Remembering the Decision Guide in “Ship, store or sell” (on the largest scale!), we decided to sell.

I went to the whiteboard in my office and quickly started scribbling To-Do lists around who to contact first, how to prepare the place for market, and how to approach handover.  Dealing with utilities, agents, banks and lawyers will all come into play soon enough.

This isn’t a how-to post or even a real informative one.  I’m just sharing that this big decision is upon us, and we’re (yet again) tackling totally new ground.  If your stomach gets queasy just reading this, you can appreciate the gymnastics my stomach is performing, too.

If you have any consoling or uplifting words, please share them with me.  Believe me, I’m needing it.

Cheers,

-Jeff

 

My Permanent Residency Interview in Canada

Yesterday was a big day….I went to my interview to finalize permanent resident status here in Canada.

Yes, I should write up a big post about how I got permanent resident status.  But for now, I’ll share how the interview went:

Continue reading My Permanent Residency Interview in Canada

Happily in Canada, And Why Not?

Delayed Due to Happiness

Forgive me readers, I have sinned.  I abandoned my blog.  Well, “abandon” is a strong word, but yeah, for many months, I haven’t posted.  Sure, thought about and wrote several drafts, but hadn’t hit publish, so I abandoned it.  I’m sorry and  I’m back.

Why did I avoid writing for so long?  Maybe I’m just too content here.  After almost 2 years here, I feel completely at home here in Nova Scotia, Canada.

And after 2 years, finally I realize, being so happy is no reason to keep quiet on this blog.  In fact, my being content here serves as more proof for others to seek their own new HOME, wherever that may be.

My Transition Was Tough – But the Lesson was Sweet

Another reason I posted so little in 2011 was the year made for a tough transition.  I struggled going from corporate worker to stay-at-home dad.  I struggled moving from gorgeous Prague to urban-hell Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  And I struggled even more with personal matters from the past.  Thankfully, I have the world’s most supportive wife who I can also call my best friend.  She and she alone is the reason I am happily living in Canada today.

eastern passage, nova scotia

And thankfully, we left urban-hell Dartmouth and bought a house in a quaint fishing village.  Our new surroundings: Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Now, as we walk off our driveway, we can glance down the street at the water, the Atlantic ocean – a dream come true.  Possible here in “the passage.”

So content I am, in fact, that I felt somewhat scummy to write how others could seek happiness elsewhere.  I mean, how can I relate to others’ motivation to move, if I’m more than happy to stay?  Sadly, it took several more months to realize, it’s perfectly healthy to find happiness somewhere.  I just happen to had found it in Eastern Passage, NS.

And I still believe it can describe anyone.  And like the time without publishing here taught me, only thinking about something doesn’t make it happen.  Results require action and so here I am, starting over at Expat Yourself.

Happily finding peace in Canada — happily helping you find yours wherever you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Is Home?

Last week I said out loud that I’m feeling homesick because on December 5th was the holiday “Mikulas” in the CzechRepublic.  My five and a half year old daughter remembers celebrating it last year and I wish I could have taken her this year.

Wait…”homesick?” — what the hell am I’m thinking calling Czech Republic “home!” Should I?  Shouldn’t I?

I’m confused….so I’m writing this post.

Where Is My Home?

I could do research.  I could read other people’s blogs.  I could analyze my feelings.  But deep down, I know what I’m feeling.  I’m feeling homesick for my last home – Prague, Czech Republic.

BUT – I’m not Czech.  And I only lived there 4 years.  Hell, toward the end, I wasn’t even enjoying life (at least the job part).

So, why am I homesick today?  Truth is, I have no freakin’ idea.  Any comments or help from you is greatly appreciated.  But I know I miss it there, especially when I look out the window of my current life.  Guess I’m still heavily in some transition phase.

What Makes a Place Home?

I’m racking my brain trying to think why I have homesickness for a place I met just less than 5 years ago.  I’m racking my brain trying to understand what makes a place “home.” Questions to ask – answers tell us what’s “home.”

  1. Where am I living today?
  2. Where did I spent the majority of the last 5 years?
  3. Where did I grow up?

Now, here is where I am truly f*cked.  I get three different answers for those three different questions:  1=Canada  2= Czech Republic  3=US

Let’s try again.

  1. Where am I living today?
  2. Where did I spent the majority of the last 5 years?
  3. Where did I grow up?
  4. Where does my native land’s tax authority (IRS?) consider as my home address?
  5. Where are the majority of my friends?
  6. Where is the majority of my family?
  7. Where do I have any assets (income property, businesses, savings) ?
  8. Where is my “banking” done?
  9. If I’m feeling homesickness, where would I go to fix it?
  10. If I’m feeling culture shock where’s the “normal” place?

Okay — that’s a more complete list.  Still, for me, “home” is split between 3 places (US, Canada, Czech Republic), and not so evenly.  In fact, it’s Canada x3, Czech Republic x6, and US x3.  (some questions got multiple answers)

Your Turn

Where is home to you?  Where are you answers for 1-10?  What am I missing?  I really want to know.

No Normalcy Yet, But I Can See It From Here

Life is still not normal, but it’s getting so close and I’m getting excited about that!

Today, I’m still living in rural village, 2 hours’ drive from wife’s work.
Still squatting in borrowed family home, across the street from in-laws.
My parents’ are now visiting here for a couple weeks.
My kids only seeing mom on weekends has me feeling like a single parent.

How We Feeling?

All this: the very close in-laws, borrowed home, visiting parents, single-parent lifestyle – all help to peg the needle on my stress meter. Am I handling it okay? Of course not. (It’s called stress for a reason, dammit!)
As a result, both kids and I are long for & miss our Prague friends and lifestyle in a huge way. Prague’s big parks & awesome playgrounds, daily meet-ups with friends, frequent communal programs & adventures to new places. I digress…

I can’t say I’m not trying here. Yesterday, I and the kids took my parents to a blueberry festival. I take my daughter to a storytelling hour at the library offered every 3rd week. We go swimming often. Still…replacing old normalcy with new normalcy takes time.

So, Why’s Today Special?

Today is a special day for the kids and me. Today, we drive down to Dartmouth, to see our new place. Mind you, our new home is nothing grand: a 3-bedroom apartment, converted former military housing. (love describing it that way to people – really sets their impression) But it will be Our Home.
Today will be my kids’ first time seeing their new place, their new bedroom — AND all their stuff from our former home in Prague. Talk about exciting for them!!!
So, Today is the end of our transition period from Prague to Dartmouth.
After my parents leave next week, we will actually move into our new place.
Why are we visiting it today? Tomorrow is when we can register my daughter at her new school. School start next week.

Wife’s work will be close by, so we’ll all live together. One kid in school. One kid will start a bit of daycare. Routine will a part of our vocabulary. Normalcy will begin. (whoa, did I just use “routine” as a positive thing?)

So, you see, the way I see it, normalcy isn’t here, but it’s right around the corner. I can taste it, smell it, almost touch it. Oh, I can’t wait!

Making New Expat Friends

**Total sideline here**
Last week, I met up with Andrew and Alison, a married expat couple living in Belgium. They happened to be visiting family in Pugwash (total small world).
Before last week, I only knew Andrew through his comments on this site like here & here & here. So, it was a cool experience to meet them face to face.
Great meeting you both!

Alison manages a cool website for expats in Belgium. By the way, Alison is obviously also a talented photographer. Check it out for yourself at ACM Photography page.

We shared lunch in a sweet corner cafe in the village downtown. Alison and Andrew also got to meet my wife, kids and my parents, which is pretty cool for me.
They are a super nice couple and obviously in a happy place in their lives. And for me, it was therapeutic to talk to fellow expats.

Again – really cool meeting you Andrew & Alison!

See Rock; See Jeff Crawling Out From Under It

Holy comatose Batman, I’ve been asleep at the wheel here with Expat Yourself. My apologies if you’ve been wondering “Where the f- is Jeff at these days?”

We arrived in Canada 6 freakin’ weeks ago already. Again, sorry for waiting. So much to say… finally I’m writing…

yeah, I finished the Vacation video

First things first, a reminder that we motorhomed around southern Europe. I posted a vacation video Well, it was the first half.
Well, I just posted the second half. Don’t worry, this one’s not as long, because, really, how much can you enjoy somebody else’s vacation videos?? But I do hope it inspires you to do something similar. You so could, and you know it.

Near the video’s end, I give “stats” including our total cost.
Disclaimer: the stats don’t include what we paid for some damage. If you want to know more about that, write me or comment.

Anyway – here’s the second half:

How did our vacation go? Great.
How did our arrival go? Fairly smooth, but only after lengthy explanations to Canadian Customs and Immigration about our intentions.
How’s the transition going here? So so. Some culture shock going on, plus we’re missing Prague friends big-time, plus our role reversal has taken an unexpected twist.

Some Culture Shock

You know what culture shock is, right? In a nutshell, it’s getting used to new surroundings and differences.
What differences you ask? Well, in Prague we had incredible mass transit, breathtaking architecture and a wide range of friends.
Where are we now? Rural Nova Scotia, along the north shore. When I say rural, I mean our road is gravel and the village consists of ~700 people. We live here because we’re essentially squatting in an empty family house near my wife’s parents. Yeah, there’s loads of culture shock going on here. Let me jump to the role reversal thing.

Role Reversal

About a year ago, my wife and I decided, at our next chance, we would reverse our roles of bread-winner & stay-at-home parent.
Leaving Prague for Canada gave us that chance.
The role reversal thing has been great so far, and I’m not just saying that because my wife reads this blog.
But there’s an added twist. My wife’s job is in the (much bigger) city of Halifax. Halifax is two hours’ drive away, not doable for daily commuting.

Yes, that means, I’m a stay-at-home dad all week, while my wife/kids’ mom comes home for the weekends. Culture shock amplified.
Naturally, we’re searching for a place near my wife’s work, but these things take time.

Well, I’m not sure how to end this post. No zingy conclusions or valuable life lessons – hope that’s cool with you today. But at least I’m posting you today and not waiting another 6 weeks.

Cheers mates,
-Jeff

By the Way – Happy Canada Day!

July 1st is Canada Day. Happy Canada Day!!

This is my first time in the country for the holiday ever. My wife’s first time in many years. We’re spending the day with my wife’s family and many more in a small rural village in northern Nova Scotia. Local events include dancing, concerts of local talent, mini-highland games, helicopter rides, and a parade. A little something for everyone hopefully.

Vacation is over as of this week. Reality is replacing the holiday feeling, bigtime. Culture shock is working its magic. 🙂 To be more correct, this is reverse culture shock, since, at least for my wife, she’s returning “home.”

Hope all is well with you, wherever you are.

-Jeff

On Vacation Now – Miss You Guys (Too)

hey all,

Above all, I’m sorry to be away for a couple weeks. I and the family are on our RV vacation since June 1st. Another week or so to go before we return the motorhome and we fly to Halifax, Canada.

I’m in a hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland, borrowing some wireless. The barmaid knows I’m not a guest, but she’s cool with it so long as I keep ordering beers. My wife is putting the kids to bed in our nearby campground.

How’s vacation treating us? In a word: (f’ing) fantastic.

Checking the list of e-mails (all too quickly), I’m smiling at a couple nice notes. Thanks Jen, Joanna, Darrin – I miss you guys, too.

Over a couple beers, I made a video with our vacation pictures so far. I’m a huge movie fan, so I stuck in a couple choice snippets, too, that sort of match the scene. Hope you enjoy it as much as I liked making it.

Hope you all are doing well. Do let me know where you are with your ideas and planning. Above all – the most important thing to do is ACT. Dream all you want, but when it comes time for the rubber to hit the road- ACT.

Take care – CIAO, -jeff

By the way, to SoulTravelers3, I thank you for the advice to visit Cinque Terre. We left that gorgeous area this morning. Stunning!!

-Jeff