We're moving to France! We applied for our long term visas (1 year) on Wednesday, and then settled in for a two week or more wait for a response. To our surprise, we received an email yesterday afternoon telling us that our visas had been approved and that we could pick them up next week. We're ecstatic! This has been a several month process of getting ready to go, and the approval process was what we were waiting on to make our dream a reality!
Why we're moving for a year
Last winter was one of the harshest winters Canada has seen in a long time. Somewhere between ice storms and polar vortexes, my husband and I decided it was time to finally put our money where our mouths are and make plans to move to Europe for a year. We have been talking about living abroad since before we got married (8 years ago!) and just never thought it was the right time. There's something about 100+ days of minus 20C weather to help change your perspective!
The truth is that there were several factors that influenced our decision to take the plunge now. As I mentioned, moving abroad has always been on our radar. We have always wanted to give our children the chance to live and learn in another language and culture. Then life took over and we got too busy to really plan for it. We finally got serious about it when we started discussing my plans to go back to work.
I've been a high school teacher for over a decade. I worked as a department head of International Languages, supervising between 6-8 teachers at any given time. I love teaching, and dedicated most of my time on evenings and weekends to my job. After my first son was born, I ended up taking extra time off work to complete my Master's degree. At the same time, my little guy got really sick, and had to extend my leave until we figured out what was wrong. Turns out it was gluten. I started my Celiac Baby blog, and found over time that I really enjoyed the writing process.
After the birth of our second child, I was scheduled to return to work when our oldest got sick yet again and underwent an extensive round of testing for a variety of illnesses. I once again extended my leave, and began freelance writing to earn some income. When the time came to confirm my return to work, I found that my interests had changed. I had become more excited about writing the blog and completing freelance projects than I was about returning to teaching.
That's when my husband and I really began to discuss moving, and we decided that there was no time better than the present! We made some plans, and put our house on the market. We toyed with the idea of renting our house out, but we wanted to have some of the money from the sale to get set up, and we also didn't want to be worrying about our property here while we're over there.
We chose France for a few reasons. We did discuss other locations, such as Costa Rica, Panama, and Spain, but ultimately France won out. I did an exchange year in France as a university student, and really took to the people and culture. In addition, my husband and I both speak French. Our oldest son attends a French school in Canada, so we thought that might help make the transition easier for him.
We've chosen to move to the southern part of France, settling on Toulouse. In September we took a 6 week trip through the country, and fell in love with Toulouse. The city is beautiful, big but not too big, and situated just a few hours from Spain and the coast. The cost of living is cheaper than Paris, but there are many international companies located there. My husband has a working vacation visa, and I'll be there on a visitors visa. I'll be focusing on writing and growing both blogs, and writing about all the places we visit while in Europe.
We would love it if you would keep up with our journey here on the blog. Life as expats with two kids in tow is bound to have its share of excitement. Tack on a gluten free lifestyle in the land of baguettes and croissants, and we'll have some interesting stories to tell! We can't wait to bring you the best in gluten free and kid friendly restaurants, sights, and activities that France and the rest of Europe has to offer. We'll share our ups and downs as we navigate the new world of life in France, and would love to hear your tips and advice too.
Here's to new adventures in 2015!