29 July 2015

Job Hunt

We hit a minor speed bump last week.  In discussions with her contact at The Vic, Pat learned that she had to have her HPC registration (basically, her Scottish PT license--not the same, but that is how I think of it) to be short-listed for interviews.  While she was ready to apply--merely a formality--she had not done it yet.  As a result, she missed the short-listing for the band 6 position.  There is still time to be short-listed for the band 7 (more £££) and we have confirmation that her HPC application has now been received.  There is no way to expedite this process, but she was told it takes only 10 days.  Unfortunately, that may still be too late to be short-listed for the band 7 at the Vic.  This would delay our move past 1 October.  So, now we wait, and hope.

Plan B: Pat has found an opening in Aberdeen, also a band 7.  She has made contact regarding that position and will apply soon.  The application deadline is in mid-August; she should certainly have her HPC number by then.  Interviews would be late August/early September.  We would then be shooting for 1 November as a goal moving/traveling date.  Pat said this position--musculoskeletal outpatient PT--sounded better to her, but she would prefer to be in Fife, closer to most of her family and dearest friends.  One good thing about Scotland is that nearly everything is close to nearly everything else.  For reference, Scotland, geographically, is just a little over half the size of Illinois.

Personally, I am usually optimistic and adaptable.  While Aberdeen will be farther from people I know in Scotland and will be significantly more expensive because it is a bigger city (third largest in Scotland), it IS a CITY--loads more of everything!  I have found a lot of interesting restaurants, several bike shops, several cinemas (Cineworld Cinemas has an unlimited card for £16.90/month!!), lots of coffee shops, including Starbucks, an Apple store, running and cycling groups, and I am still exploring.  It is a university town which I tend to enjoy.  It is close to the mountains, forest, and beach, for nearby outdoor pursuits. So, living in Aberdeen could be pretty cool.

University of Aberdeen
Otherwise, I will start my visa application process soon, compiling documents, completing the online application, conferring with my attorney to ask questions and confirm details.  I learned this week that my initial visa will be good for 33 months.  I can then apply for a further 30 months. After that I can apply for settlement which sounds a lot like a permanent resident status.  I will worry about all of that later.

Keep your fingers crossed for us...

16 July 2015

77 Days To Go

Everything is currently progressing on schedule for an approximate departure date of 1 October.  Hopefully, everyone else on whom we are relying can accommodate us, namely NHS and UK Immigration Service.

Pat applied for two jobs last week, both at "The Vic" (Victoria Hospital) in Kirkcaldy. Both would meet our needs, but one would be preferable over the other--more £££.  ;)  Both applications have been received and one has been "entered into the system."  The second, (more £££) has had its application deadline extended.  Hopefully, that means there were not very many applicants and Pat's odds are improved.  Regardless, now we wait.

The next step for my visa application is to start compiling documents per my attorney's instructions.  We retained an immigration attorney last year to help us with the process, Sarah Jack with Drummond Miller in Edinburgh.  While it is an added expense, we think the process will move more efficiently and we will have peace of mind this way.  Right now, I can't do much more than compile documents, because I can't submit the application until Pat has a written offer of employment to include.  So, we wait.

Otherwise, we continue to lighten the load, cleaning out the house, discarding and selling everything we reasonably can and raising money.  We have had three garage sales so far and are planning one more during our final weekend in Quincy.  We will probably sell a few more things on Facebook leading up to that sale as well.  We already sold Pat's Jeep so we are now a one-motor-vehicle family.

We, of course, want to see as many of our friends and family before we depart.  We have a party booked in Quincy in mid-September which should be our last weekend in Quincy.  We also should have a big family do in Chapin sometime during Labor Day weekend.  A few smaller events may come up as well.

Anyway, that's where we are today with 77 days to our goal departure date.  (There you go, Mom)

P.S.  Monday's storm shouldn't have much of a negative effect on our progress.  In fact, depending on what the adjuster says about the Explorer, it might even make things easier.

13 July 2015

Common Questions

Over the past five years, having set this goal, Pat and I obviously have had countless conversations about the move with friends, family, clients, and others.  In these conversations, several common questions arise, so I thought I would answer them here.

"What will you do for work?"  Pat was trained as a physiotherapist in Scotland and worked there for several years before coming to the USA.  She will simply return to work for the NHS.  She will, of course, have to apply just like any other job.  There are always plenty of openings though.

I, on the other hand, will not be able to continue to do everything I am doing now.  The UK has physical therapist assistants, but they are like our techs here--non-skilled.  So, I would be overqualified (and bored senseless.)  There are some certified athletic trainers and I think I could get my credential recognized.  The challenge would be finding someone to pay me as an ATC since physios do all of that right now.  I will, however, keep that option open.  Most likely, if I continue in any area of my current career, it will be in the area of personal fitness, strength and conditioning, sport performance, run coaching, bike fitting, etc.  However, initially, the plan is for me to not work and just get used to being a Scotsman.  Or, I might end up doing something completely different!

"What part of Scotland?"  That will depend on where Pat finds a job.  It could be anywhere in Scotland.  Our current preference is to be in Kirkcaldy, where Pat grew up, or Dunfermline.  Both are just north of the Edinburgh area.  This would place us near most of Pat's close friends and family.

"Where will you live?"  Initially, depending on the job sitiuation, we hope to stay with Pat's best friend in Dunfermline.  This will be temporary while we look for our own place.  We will most likely rent a flat (apartment) or small house, hopefully within walking distance of Pat's work, the train station, and basic shopping.

"Will you become a citizen?"  I have no plans to become a naturalized citizen of the UK or to give up my USA citizenship.  I'm applying for a visa as Pat's husband and will have the official status of "indefinite right to remain."  It will be similar to Pat's status here in the USA with her green card.

"How will you get your stuff there?"  For the ease of moving, decreased cost, expected smaller space in Scotland, and the fact that we did not replace many items that needed replacing over the last 5 years, we have been cleaning out and continue to discard a lot of our belongings.  We will take clothes, kitchen stuff, books (albeit a lot fewer), DVDs, bikes, musical instruments, framed items and decor, computer, and other miscellaneous items.  We will ship most of our things in 2 (hopefully, not 3) big wooden crates.  They will take 5-10 weeks in transit.  We will also mail 2-3 boxes of seaonal items in advance:  things we won't need in Illinois in September, but will need in Scotland before December, like winter coats.  Of course, we will have luggage with us on the plane.

"Will you get another dog?"  We would love to!  We would also hope to travel a lot.  So, we may get one after we are settled if we can keep him without neglecting him.

"Are you excited?"  Of course!  ...when I'm not thinking about all the details.  We have a lot of work to do and I'm generally a practical guy.  Pat is very excited and has almost no anxiety.  She is just going home.

12 July 2015

Initial Preparations

When we began looking at the big picture, a few big steps became obvious.  In 2010, our impression was that Pat would certainly make less money as a physiotherapist in Scotland and I would have difficulty getting work because many of my credentials are not recognized in the UK.  Additionally, we expected everything to be more expensive.  So...  
First we had to eliminate our debt which, at the time, was significant. Second, we had to have a lot of savings which, at the time, was almost non-existent.  Next, we had to find a home for our horses; it would be impractical to take them with us.  We also had to allow our Great Dane, Clancy, to live out his life.  We did not want to submit him to the six-month quarantine we expected, nor did we want him to have to endure the stress of traveling.  On the fun side, we wanted to take a few more trips around the USA before we left.  

Five years later, we are debt free. (!!!!) We have accumulated a lot of savings and are on track to hit our goal this fall. We found a home for our horses and though it shattered our hearts, we lost Clancy in December  2013.  We also visited the Tetons and Texas, St Louis and Chicago several times, and a few other places.  

Now, we basically just have two major hurdles.  First, Pat has to find a job--she applied for two last week. Second, after Pat has a written job offer, I can apply for my visa. Then, we wait.

10 July 2015

In the Beginning...

When Pat and I started dating in 1998, she said she would "never" move back to Scotland.  Ok, that will not be an issue.  Well...  We married in 2002 and in 2003, as our first anniversary gift to ourselves, we visited Scotland: her first time after moving to the USA in 1996 and my first time ever.  As she sat on the plane for the return trip, the tears began.

Sir Walter Scott Monument, Edinburgh
Over the following years, we had several discussions about moving to Scotland.  I had many reservations: leaving friends and family, of course, and many issues related to money and work.  Over time, Pat convinced me she needed to be in Scotland to be happy.  So, me trying to be the good husband...

The final discussion occurred around May of 2010 and we set a five-year goal to be living in Scotland, sooner would be better, if possible.  As plans have progressed, it is looking more like five and a half years.  Our current goal is 1 October 2015 (I have to get in the habit of writing dates like the Scots.)

Obviously, I took convincing to even try to make this happen for us.  While I still have some reservations and occasional anxiety about some of the details of this BIG step we're (I'm) taking, most of the time I am excited.  

At some point after we set the goal and started telling family and friends about it, one of my dearest friends from my hometown visited.  She actually lives in England.  After we told her about our plan, at some point in the conversation she said "it will be an adventure!"  I then thought...."Yes!  Yes, it will!"  That is the thought I keep in my head most of the time when thinking about the move.  This is going to be a GREAT ADVENTURE.