I've been around the boards for years, lurking in various threads and I know some of ya'll from various games and whatnot, so I know you're a bunch of kind and helpful people.
My wife (T) and I are at a crossroads, and we could use some advice.
T and I were both born and raised in the Central Valley of California - her father is a Dutch immigrant, her mother was a member of the US Air force (the met in The Netherlands, both of them were in marching band). My parents are from San Jose, and moved to the Valley when they had my brother and I because the cost of living was far cheaper. While the area was decent when we were kids, the Valley has become a fairly unfriendly place. We have a huge drug and gang problem, homelessness is a massive issue in our area, we have large amounts of white supremacy and racism, and due to real estate investment we can't afford to go anywhere else in California. Honestly, we don't want to - the societal issues that have become highly apparent in the US have been bothering us for years now, and the government's (failed) response to COVID-19 was really the last nail in the coffin - we want out.
We took a trip to The Netherlands last year to see her family, and also spent time in Belgium (Bruges & Brussels) and Luxembourg. We very much enjoyed our time in Europe, and started to consider moving. We did reach out to the Dutch Embassy to check if T still had dual citizenship, but unfortunately her EU passport had expired after 10 years (it had been renewed for her 18th birthday, but she'd forgotten about it); the real irony is that we were only a few months too late - her birthday is in the fall, and we reached out to the Dutch government early this year. If we had been smart enough to think about this before our trip last year, it would have been a breeze to renew her passport and EU citizenship.
Our parents aren't rich, and neither are we; I'd say we're comfortably middle class, but only because we don't have (or want, at this point anyway) any children. We do have a quite comfortable "rainy day" fund, which will continue to grow if we don't change anything major in our standard of living. We own our home, which we purchased back in 2016. Current market estimates say that we would have approximately $70,000 in equity at this point, though I'd have to double check that as we did refinance recently to drop the PMI from our mortgage. I do have approximately $6000 in student loans at the moment, but we're aiming to have those paid off by summer - we've already paid off around $10,000 this school year. We have no other outstanding debts.
We have three cats, who are the only family we'd be taking with us. Taking our cats is non-negotiable; my wife and I view pet ownership as adoption, and we have a duty to our kitties to take care of them and give them long, full, lovely lives.
So, the question is: Where in the world should we move?
The Netherlands is our #1 choice - the culture, government, public transportation, cost of living, and the fact that T has family there are all points in it's favor. We visited Amsterdam, Utrecht, Delft, and some other smaller towns that I can't remember the names of. We really loved Delft, but Amsterdam and Utrecht were very interesting cities, and much nicer than the large cities we're used to (Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and so on). Plus, living in Europe would be dope as hell, and would make traveling very easy (we love to travel). The problem is I'm not exactly sure if I'd be able to get a job there as a teacher of English - so far I haven't been able to get a definitive answer from the government (it's not like there's a pandemic happening or anything).
We're absolutely open to suggestions though, and I'd appreciate any input you may have. Also, if you've taken a huge leap like we're considering, how did that go? How did you line up a job in a new country, and move?
Some specific details that may be useful:
- I'm a fully credentialed Single Subject (English Language Arts) Teacher in California. This school year is my 4th as a teacher; I've worked in education for 6 years though, and love the field.
- I currently teach at a high school - I prefer working with students who are a bit older.
- I have a Bachelors degree in Philosophy, with a focus on logic and rhetoric.
- I am 30 years old (in May, but it's close enough); T will be 29 this year.
- I don't have any particular connections left at home; my Grandmother was the last family I was really close to, and she died a few years back.
- My wife has a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, with a focus on legal studies
- She has a background in corrections, but wants out - she's recently finished up studying to be qualified as Veterinary Technician, and she has started applying for various legal clerk positions, but she's open to other ideas as well.
- We are both fully fluent in English (duh), and we both understand some Spanish due to living in the Valley. I am working on learning Dutch - it's pretty fun, honestly.
- I'm considered a "hardcore lefty," in the USA. T is slightly more conservative than I in a few issues (criminal justice, mostly) but is also quite far left for the US.
- We would like to live somewhere that is more aligned with our ideals: strong social programs, universal healthcare, a movement toward green energy, strong public transportation systems, and a lack of corporate welfare are some issues that are important to us.
- We're tired of the heat - somewhere a bit cooler would be nice. The average temperature during the summer is 114 F (45 C), which is goddamn absurd. Also maybe rain? We've lived in drought pretty much our entire lives.
- We are willing to literally sell everything and move to start a new life.
- I really like lists, apparently.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for any help or advice you might be able to give. Let me know if any other details are needed.