Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Year in America

Today is our one-year anniversary. We have now been in the USA for an entire year. I didn't start my blog until the November, but Mark documented our move in his blog:

September 20, 2005
Travel diary 1: Leaving Birmingham
September 21, 2005
Travel Diary 2: At London Gatwick
September 22, 2005
Travel Diary 3: Arrival in North Carolina
Travel Diary 4: Waking up in America
September 23, 2005
Travel Diary 5: Finding my Office
September 26, 2005
Travel Diary 6: Supersize Me!
September 28, 2005
Another day, another hotel
Sunday, May 14, 2006
A Brit at Duke: Reflections of an Alien Professor
September 21, 2006
A Year in America
A year ago yesterday we were still in Birmingham (England). The removal men played tetris with all our earthly belongings so that they could fit them into a 20ft container. We gave or threw away anything that was not going with us (including a few items at the last minute because the container was not big enough for everything that we intended to take). Then we bundled ourselves into our hired car (as we no longer had our own car) and our neighbour waved goodbye as we drove to the airport. After a night in the travel lodge, we flew to America; the whole time with a feeling of excitement and adventure, but hoping that we were doing the right thing.

At first, although some things were uphill struggles, others were blessings. We had to move (extended-stay) hotels twice in one week, but then were able to settle on one that we could stay in for the next three weeks. After spending a month in hotels and sleeping on a fold-out couch because the children had the beds, we finally moved into the house that we were intending to buy. This was on the same day that our container arrived, so it could be delivered straight to the house and didn't need to go into storage (one of the blessings).

Here in the US (or at least in NC), when one buys a house, one sets a closing (=completion) date at the beginning of the process, when one makes the offer. If one cannot close on that date, one has to renegotiate a new date and/or can move into the property and pay rent to the sellers until closing. This means that the buyer can move house and the seller is relieved of the burden of having two mortgages to pay.

Our House
Unfortunately our mortgage application had been turned down several times because our international credit check turned out to not be worth the paper it was written on, never mind the amount that we'd paid for it. In addition, our house sale in England hadn't yet completed. By the time we moved into the house (to rent), we had already missed three closing dates. By this stage our sellers were irate and told us that they wanted us to vacate within two days.

That's when we said to one another that we had made a mistake and that perhaps we should cut our losses, rent a property for as long as it takes to organize moving back to England, then return home. We even found a property that was vacant and that we could move into for the interim. But in the end the sellers realized that they didn't have a leg to stand on (after we pointed out to them the wording of the contract), so backed off; the mortgage was underwritten; and cash-flow problems started to resolve themselves.

It doesn't seem that long ago that Mark and I stood in the kitchen of this house deliberating about whether we'd made the wrong decision, but here we are a year later with a house, two cars, good schools for the girls and a job for Mark that he enjoys; and we know that it was the right decision.


Lorraine said...

Happy anniversary! I'm glad that you are happy to be here. America is lucky to have you.

Anonymous said...

Q, who has returned from the wolf-infested woods of central Germany, offers his congratulations to you for sticking with it, but regrets that Blighty is much the poorer for your absence.

Looking forward to visiting you in Evergreen Terrace next year...