Monday, August 20, 2012

The pain of temporary living

Our life is kind of a mess right now. When we left Switzerland, we planned on having a month long vacation before moving to the UK and starting our new life. I never imagined that our vacation would turn into a long term situation. But since we will eventually move to England, we are kind of in a transient state of trying to have a normal life, while still needing to be ready to pack up and move at a moments notice. Living in this transient lifestyle has caused us many problems. First and foremost is our health insurance.

Temporary Health Insurance (AKA the nightmare):
When we first came over to the US for our "vacation" we signed up for one month of temporary insurance. When July rolled around and we still weren't in the UK we signed up for another 50 days of temporary health insurance. This policy is set to expire next week and I tried to get another month long policy only to find out that once you have had two short term health policies you are disqualified for one year for any more short term health insurance! So what are we supposed to do? Well, we have to pay more money and sign up for normal health insurance. Thankfully the cost of health insurance in Colorado is 1/3 the cost if we were still living in California. But still, it is frustrating that we have to go through the entire application and health screening process for health insurance when we may only be here for another month.

Car Rental (AKA the ripoff):
My mom was nice enough to let us borrow her car for the month and a half that we were living at my parents place. But once we moved to our apartment it was time to get a car. But what do you do when you don't know how long you will live somewhere? We considered buying a cheap car, but then we have to get auto insurance, pay for maintenance, worry about reselling it, etc. Or, we rent a car. But have you ever rented a car for a month at a time? They are EXPENSIVE!!! I'm talking thousands of dollars a month. We searched and searched and found a used car lot that rented us a "well loved" car for which we pay nearly $700 per month! Can you believe it? But what can you do when you are living month to month and not knowing if you will be around to make purchasing a car worthwhile...
Jack and our awesome "race car"

Short term apartments (AKA the blessing)
Since our application for visas has not even been touched by the UK immigration office (who is completely backlogged due to the Olympics) we decided to sign a three month lease and move into an apartment so everyone could feel a little sense of "normal life" again (as if we ever knew what a 'normal life' felt like). So I search the internet for short term apartments and was happy to find several good places. I had a list of about 10-15 places to visit, and one morning I decided to call all of them to see if they would do a 3-month lease. One by one I had to cross off the apartments because no one offered a 3-month lease. My huge list was dwindled down to two places. Place #1 was a nice apartment, completely furnished for $3,000 per month. Not only was it ridiculously expensive, but it also had the train tracks running through the backyard. There was only one option left for us. I was crossing my fingers that it would be at least decent. The kids and I made a trip to check out this one last option and it was like the clouds parted and the sun shone down on us. The apartment complex was perfect! And the cherry on top was that they even had a game room with a Wii for Jack (apparently the thing he misses most about Switzerland is our Wii). We signed the contract the next morning.
Playing Wii in the game room

Furniture rentals:
So now we have an apartment but we have nothing to fill it with. Each of us has one suitcase with clothing and that's it. What about a couch, a table, spoons, forks, knives, coffee maker, etc? Do you ever think about all the little things you use everyday that you take for granted? Well, we had to start thinking about them. We looked online at renting furniture and housewares and the prices were $600 and more for very basic living supplies. Thankfully my mom and dad had a ton of furniture that they let us borrow. We have their couch and ottoman, dining table and chairs and mattresses to sleep on. But we still needed things like can openers, pots, pans, cheese graters, etc. So I looked online again and found a small used furniture store who rents out "house ware packages" for around $150 per month. This gives us all our linens, plates, bowls, cups and all knifes and utensils. It's hard to say if we could have just bought all this at the Goodwill for the same price...we probably could have. All the stuff is "well loved" and the pots and pans are a complete frustration every time I cook since everything sticks to them. But it works. And I can cook and we have everything we need in order to live. Except, I guess I'd really like a better can opener. The one we are renting only does half the job and I have to use a knife to help it along... but I have a nice one sitting in storage in London waiting for me.
Rental coffee pot

Rental blender and toaster

Rental plates and bowls 
Rental utensils

August will soon be coming to an end we are noticing cooler nights and mornings. Soon we are going to need some Fall weather clothing. But of course, we packed only summer things. Everyone has flip flops and shorts. Of course we all have nice shoes and warm shirts/jackets in London, but if we are stuck here we are going to have to buy all new Fall weather clothing. I guess I shouldn't complain about that... I think most women would love to shop for more clothes. But, really I hate it. I think we will all be in shorts and t-shirts as long as possible.

School starts soon, but Jack won't be able to attend the bilingual school in England that we hoped he would go to. Instead we had to search around here for a preschool who would be okay with the idea of him attending for just one to two months. Thankfully the church that we are attending (and really love) has a great preschool and he is signed up to start next week. He will be able to go twice a week for three hours at a time. I think the harder part is going to be trying to find a preschool in England mid school year.

All this is to say that temporary living is no walk in the park. Everything is about double the price and half the quality. Except for our apartment. This is the one saving grace to our whole situation. I absolutely love our little apartment and Jack has been able to make several friends which is just awesome! We finally have a fairly normal life again and we are even getting back into a day to day routine! Life is comfortable and I know Luke would be happy if England didn't work out and he was able to work from our apartment for several more years. But for me... I still really want to go to England. I loved our experience in Switzerland and I would love to have another chance at living abroad. So I'm trying not to get too comfortable just yet because I'm hoping that any day we will finally be able to book our tickets to the UK and start another chapter of our Expat Adventure. Until then, I will just enjoy living in our apartment with the amazing view:
View from our balcony of our new apartment

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