Sunday, September 10, 2023

I'm Moving to Amsterdam!

Two years ago I wrote a post I'm Moving to California and today I can hardly believe I'm writing I'm moving to Amsterdam! Although I found out seven weeks ago and will get on a plane in 18 days I cannot believe it is happening. In 1992 I went to Europe for the first time. My sister Rhonda was living there for a year through an exchange program with her employer and on the flight home my dream of working in Europe began. It may have taken me thirty years to fulfill that dream but in a few days, I will head to the Netherlands where I am starting a new role as Engagement Manager for ServiceNow. 

Why Amsterdam? I have been telling everyone at ServiceNow my story since I started here two years ago. I would have moved anywhere but Europe is the easiest for Americans without any language skills. When I accepted the job on the EMEA team they said I could live in any western or northern country within Europe. I considered London and Amsterdam and chose Amsterdam because it is located in the EU, has a great airport, only requires five years before you can apply for Dutch citizenship, and the government gives highly skilled employees a 30% discount on taxes. That is huge considering their tax rate is 52%! Plus, it is an uber-cool city with a very high quality of life.

This move has a few more complicated steps than my previous move from Minnesota to California

  1. Get a new job. I came to ServiceNow two years ago because I was looking for a company where I could transfer internationally. As an American, in order to stay in Europe longer than the 90 days allowed every 180 days you have to be sponsored by an employer. This is no small feat in this macro economy that has created tight hiring practices. But I set a goal to meet one or two new people every week and finally, someone said yes! 
  2. Apply for permanent residency in the Netherlands. ServiceNow hired a service to assist with the paperwork but I will say being organized and anal has helped with the process. I was so excited when I got the email last week that the Dutch government approved my application!
  3.  Secure housing. This will be my 7th move in 8 years and this has been by far the most challenging search for housing. Amsterdam is experiencing a significant housing shortage. I hired a broker, which is common in Amsterdam. She worked with me similar to how a real estate agent does in the States. In order to secure a rental you must attend viewings before applying so she was my "boots on the ground" as well as navigating the entire system in Dutch. I would attend these viewings via video which may not seem difficult but I am nine hours different than NL so they were between midnight and 6am! I burned both ends of the candle for a couple weeks before I was approved for a lovely flat near Oosterpark (see photos below). 
  4. Find a place to purge my stuff. My goal is to fly over with my best friend Briggs & Riley (aka carry-on) and two IKEA duffle bags thanks to my minimalism. Everything else in my current apartment has to go. I do not own much but the big stuff is what is hard to get rid of because I don't want to get rid of my bed until I no longer need it because sleeping on a hard floor at age 56 is no fun. 
  5. Say goodbye. I plan to write a post about my time in San Jose but in short, my time in California has been amazing. I have met some wonderful people who accepted me as a local and fell in love as well. But as I did with Minnesota I am not running away from a home as much as I am running toward a new one. 
  6. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself. This step was on my list for my previous move and it remains the same for this one. Of course, I am nervous but I am beyond excited as well. I simply focus on tackling one task at a time and soon I will find myself waking up on the other side of the world.
  7. Jump on an airplane that will take you to your new home. I am flying out September 29, or as the Europeans say "the 29th of September". 

Below are a few photos of my apartment and photos of Amsterdam that I am so excited to see in real life. Holy shit I am moving to Amsterdam! 

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I have a balcony!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

MSP: The Great Minnesota Get-Together

I visited my 'home state' of Minnesota over Labor Day weekend. It was filled with checking some things off my to-do list as well as having fun. I wanted to put some things into storage so I checked an IKEA duffle bag. It was awesome! I had considered it for my move to California but changed to using boxes at the last minute because I was worried it would not hold up but it was great. The best part is it collapses down to nothing for the return home.

When we arrived Henry helped me move my storage from Eagan to Coon Rapids. It was half the price and closer to Paradis' new home in Circle Pines. All of it fit in one load. Some nomads pride themselves on not having storage but when I touched all the items I confirmed these are things that are important for me to keep. It is basically three totes of collection jars, four totes of photo albums, and one tote of misc. memorabilia. Annelies also has a few totes. I love the Minneapolis skyline.

We stopped at Paradis and Parker's home, met their new feline child Fern, and checked out all the work they had done on their home. I am just so proud of the two of them and how they are adulting. My children are the reason I can do this nomad thing. They are independent and make me feel comfortable knowing they are killing life!

On Friday, Annelies drove up from Mankato State University, and Paradis and I met her at the bank to move my safe deposit box. Again, we discussed just getting rid of it but it gives me comfort knowing everything is organized for my girls upon my demise. 

My friend Lina was gracious enough to host us for the weekend and on Friday night cooked us an amazing Ethiopian meal. It was truly delicious. Henry was in heaven. 

On Saturday Henry and I went to the great Minnesota get-together with the kids. It was hot. I'm not talking 80 degrees and sunny hot but "that state nearly killed me with its humidity" hot. I miss so many things about Minnesota but the weather is not one of them. Yes, that is a fan around my neck and no it did not help much. 

On Sunday we drove to Lake Minnetonka and had brunch with Lori and Bob. It was fun showing Henry the boating life in Minnesota. 

We made our way to Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall because I wanted to try my luck at creating a rubbing of a sewer cover. I ordered more supplies because I would love to hang these in my home. The supplies are small enough to bring along on trips and I think they will look cool on my walls. Yes, another item I am collecting. Sigh. 

It was a great weekend. I'm not sure when I will return but Minneapolis will always be my "home" and MSP will always be my "home airport". 

Friday, July 14, 2023

An Amtrak Adventure

We spent three days taking Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from San Jose, California to Los Angeles. It was so much fun! It took us eleven hours each direction and along the way were great views of the coast.

The time flew by. At the end of each day I found myself wanting more time. It could be because I was hoping I would have finished more crocheting for a sweater Annelies is making. Henry and I spent the entire time (except for a few hours when Henry slept) in the observation car which is open seating for all passengers. Annelies spent it all in her seat which was super spacious. She could completely stretch out her legs  

The train was pretty busy but it is summer. Trust me, there is lots of people watching on a train. We brought the majority of our food and drinks and had one meal in the dining car ($25 for lunch and $45 for dinner). The amount of luggage you can bring is pretty much unlimited so we brought a cooler and dry food bag.


The train stopped several times but we didn’t feel a need to get out so we only did it once in San Luis Obispo for a photo. It was probably more stressful thinking about getting back in time. The Amtrak schedule is fairly lose. 

We spent the following day in LA doing touristy things. Annelies once again planned the entire day from TikTok videos. I love when she does the planning. We visited Venice Beach and walked to Santa Monica pier. We spent three hours at a Korean spa, WiSpa, which was Annelies’ favorite part of the day. We ended the day riding up the nation’s shortest train, Angels Flight Railway, and having dinner at grand Central Market. 

The next day we walked to Union Station and returned home. We had fog on the way down but the ride north was clear. There were two National Park volunteers on the ride and they were so interesting! 

Overall, I would do this again in a heart beat if I had time to kill. It was relaxing and entertaining. The cost, unfortunately, can be more than a flight though. Our tickets were $50 each way. Not bad for eleven hours but I just flew to LA for $29 round trip. 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Yosemite National Park

Henry’s boys attend camp for a week each summer so we spent hours trying to decide what to do with a full week together. The planning to travel frugally can be exhausting and traveling in the summer is not cheap. So we landed on a staycation. I am so glad we did because afterwards Anna decided to stay with me for the summer and she could join us! We kicked off the week with a long weekend in Yosemite. 

We stayed at an awesome Airbnb in Oakhurst. The place was perfect and the host, Mary, was wonderful! I could see us being friends. One of the best parts of travel is meeting people. Anna did a ton of planning for the weekend by watching TikTok videos. Some people bash that platform but I think it is amazing what people are doing with it. This year is the busiest year ever for Yosemite. Ever. So we opted for an early departure to avoid the crowds. That meant a 3am wake up call but it was perfect! 

We landed at Tunnel View just at sunrise (planned) and it was beautiful. Not only was the sunrise spectacular but there were no crowds. We then parked and checked out FREE bikes through Yosemite Conservatory’s Bike Share program. Public transportation, baby! It was awesome! Yosemite is huge and parking your car and biking your way around is the way to go. 

We biked to Mirror Lake, the tallest waterfall in America, and had a picnic at the Swinging Bridge. 

We made our way out of the park with no traffic and saw El Capitan on the way. I could not resist stopping for a photo by the Sierra sign since I was wearing my Sierra Wool& dress, which I estimate I have worn 400+ days! I love the benefits of what wool brings to my nomadic life. 

We ended the evening going out to a country bar (after napping for a couple hours). It was a really fun weekend.