Getting closer to a decision

When we returned to the US, it was with the idea that we would evaluate it as the site of our long-term base. We found a couple of house sits that enabled us to slowly readjust to life in the US as well as to connect with important people before we return to Washington state.

In Florida, Tigger was able to meet up with one of his online buddies. In Texas, we reconnected with special friends we met via travel. We also were able to spend a couple of weeks with a friend I had met here in Texas 11 years ago. His son and Tigger are close in age, so it was good for both boys.

We were able to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family, which was a special treat in itself.

We are in the final week of our San Antonio house sit, and soon we’ll be returning to Washington to begin our last planned sit.

We recently had an offer for a sit on Vancouver Island in Canada and would’ve loved to do it, but Tigger is expressing significant travel fatigue. We’ve been in the US for 1-1/2 months now, but we’ve lived in 6 different homes and 4 cities in that time.

For the first time I heard him say “I’m over travel.” I get it.

Austin taco truck

The Washington sit is a big one for us as we will be deciding if we’re staying in the US or returning to Europe. Right now Romania is looking really good. It isn’t that we’ve had bad experiences here, but there are some things working against the US in our mind.

  • Expense. This wasn’t a surprise, but it is a tough pill to swallow. Our quality of life is much higher in eastern Europe, and I don’t have the same level of money stressors there.
  • Transportation. Again not a surprise, but it is so hard to live in most of the US without a car. We really miss the great public transportation in most other countries, especially when trying to travel between cities. I can drive to downtown San Antonio in about 15 minutes, but by bus it takes at least an hour. I can actually walk to one place a couple of miles from here faster than if I rode the bus. Supposedly, the bus system in Bellingham is much better. If that’s true, that will be nice.
  • Fighting a culture of fear. The media peddles so much fear it can be really tough to feel comfortable here. I find myself increasingly more concerned about making a misstep that lands me in jail. People call the police for the most amazing things. While walking on a trail, I was approached by a police officer. He informed me that someone had seen “a couple of homeless guys leaving the woods, and it was suspicious.” As I left the trail, I discovered at least three different police searching for these suspicious homeless people.  I don’t think my fellow Washingtonians are quite at that level of ridiculousness, but I don’t know anymore. When we were in Austin 5 years ago, it was such a friendly place, and it is no longer that way. Will Washington surprise me in the wrong way?When we were grocery shopping, I sampled a grape from a bunch I wanted to buy. Immediately Tigger was concerned I would get in trouble for it. “Can you do that here?” During most of our travels we’ve bought produce from vendors at local markets, and they gladly hand you samples before you purchase so this was a bit of a new experience for him. His question made me paranoid.We haven’t been here for even 2 months so far, and I’m already tired of the fear that terrorists and child molesters are lurking around every corner. Tigger can be rather opinionated, and as we tend to talk a lot about things he isn’t shy about expressing his thoughts in public. I find myself trying to prevent squirming in my seat as people give us. . . interesting looks.The reports of people getting stabbed or shot during silly arguments doesn’t help either.

Rules, rules, rules

  • Rules, rules, and more rules. Most of the places we’ve lived during the last few years have legal cultures that rely more on common sense and personal responsibility. It’s assumed that if you’re climbing on something you may fall. People don’t sue each other for every little ridiculous thing. When we were driving into a state park yesterday, there were multiple signs along the way warning us about all the things we can’t do.
  • Family culture. “Why do parents yell so much around here?” Tigger asked me the other day. He chats with a lot of other teens online, and he often hears quite a bit of yelling going on between parents and kids. He has voiced surprise and disgust at the level of disrespect of parents many American kids express. He doesn’t hear it when he chats with non-American kids. They don’t spend their time cutting down their parents like American kids do. He’s perplexed by it, and it makes him feel more alien. The high volume of helicopter parenting he witnesses makes him crazy as well. He feels like he can’t do some things because he’ll either get yelled at by people or arrested.
  • General vibe. Tigger commented on the difference between how the US and Europe feel and it surprised me. I completely get where he’s coming from, though. It does feel differently here. MUCH different. I know the Pacific Northwest has a much friendlier vibe historically, so I’m hoping that’s intact when we get there.

Urban greenbelt in Austin

Another thing I have considered is that even for short international trips, it just isn’t as convenient to travel from the US. It is so much easier in Europe where being in a totally new-to-us country is just 1-2 hours away. It’s kind of hard to say “Hey, let’s go to Germany this weekend” when you live in the US, especially on the west coast.

There are definitely some pros to remaining in the US, but right now it isn’t feeling like those are strong enough to keep us here. We’re holding off on making any decisions until we’re back in Washington since the Pacific Northwest has a very different culture.

Really, I’m just looking forward to having the decision made. While I don’t share Tigger’s travel fatigue, I’m ready to find a spot that will be “home” for a while.

Share This Post On


  1. The zillions of rules and regulations in my home country have definitely been my biggest frustration in returning to Australia. It’s funny how little I used to think about it but now it drives me crazy especially with a new baby and all the laws which make my life difficult in regards to travel with three kids. Grrrr!!

    Post a Reply
    • That is one of the worst parts about being in a developed country. It can really drive you mad. I’m very glad my child is old enough for me to not have to worry about some of the craziness.

      Post a Reply
  2. The comparisons you have made between the US and Europe are similar to Australia (my home country) and Europe as well – and exactly the reason I spend most of my time in Spain. I am actually back in Australia now for 4 months and loving it, but I know it’s just a visit. I’m not sure how I would feel if I was here full time. Australia and the US are both very privileged and powerful countries in many ways, but I actually think the quality of life and general lifestyle in Europe is much better.

    Post a Reply
    • I definitely agree. And quality of life is going to be the biggest factor in our decision making.

      Post a Reply
  3. It seems that the the time has come for you both to have a home and therefore a base. A place that you both know that you are coming back to when you travel. This place is where you can make it your own and know that it will always be waiting for you both. Tigger just wants a place to call home, wherever it may be and I suspect that the European culture suits you both a lot. Settle in, declare it your home and treat it as that…wherever it is. Good luck

    Post a Reply
    • We already planned on settling down into a base. The big question is where. Tigger has very strong opinions about where he is and isn’t interested in doing that. So it’s just picking the right spot from the approved list now. 😉

      Post a Reply
  4. It’s a shame that you aren’t taking the housesit on Vancouver Island as I find that the feel and culture of the Canadian Pacific North West (and Canada in general) is quite different that the US. Totally understand Tigger’s burn out though so maybe you can try out British Columbia another time. I haven’t been to Romania yet but it is a country that I am very interested in visiting and it looks incredible.

    Post a Reply
    • It’s an area I definitely want to explore, but I understand his fatigue. We absolutely loved Romania. It felt like home to us.

      Post a Reply
  5. There are major regional differences within the United States, and I’d hardly consider Florida or Texas representative. BUT…everything you’re pointing out seems pretty universal across the country.

    Cost of living variations are not that dramatic when you remove housing from the equation. Things are expensive compared to Eastern Europe.

    Road and city layout were simply not designed for public transit, especially not intercity travel. People who live without a car tend to live in major cities that have good bus and train infrastructure within the city. Outside of the northeastern corridor, travel between cities is overwhelmingly car (or plane) dependent. The car free people I know find the car sharing programs or rentals useful for occasional trips, but they only work if you’re starting in a city to begin with.

    The culture of rules thing is very interesting. The legal environment requires all these signs to be posted everywhere. My experience is that there are significant cultural differences in different regions of the US about whether you pay attention or ignore the signs. It’s frustrating because it’s annoying to deal with signs and guess if anyone is going to care or not in that place. It’s also a major way that local law enforcement and other rule enforcers get to discriminate based on class or race. The signs are there but only *some* people get stopped, just like you found with the search for homeless people. Being poor is treated as criminal.

    I think it would be interesting to compare the difference on this last aspect between Canada and the US, so it’s a shame you aren’t able to take the Vancouver Island house sit at this time.

    Last, I’m curious about your experiences with Washington state as having a friendlier vibe. Maybe it is relative to where you are coming from or comparing things to. Or maybe you mean laid back, which isn’t the same thing as friendly to me. I am a transplant who lives in Washington, and my experience is that the Pacific NW reputation for “freeze” is extremely accurate. Culturally, people are not at all friendly to anyone they don’t know for many years. There is a laid back vibe I enjoy but there is 0 warmth and finding friends or community can be challenging. I chose to live here for the quality of life in general, as well as career aspects, and I don’t regret my decision. But that had little to do with how friendly people are, which is good, because they generally aren’t.

    Post a Reply
    • It really depends where you go and if you’re a transplant or not as well. They tend to be friendly on the street, etc., but building relationships is a different story. In rural towns/small cities, it can be very difficult to get long-timers to warm up to you, especially if you aren’t originally from WA. Although usually having a child in your home does help, too. At least it has in the past. Some areas are definitely worse than others.

      Post a Reply
  6. I think you’ve already made the decision, you just haven’t yet said the words aloud. Hmm… reminds me of someone else?! 😉

    Post a Reply
    • We’re just awaiting to arrive in Washington to have confirmation in our decision. We don’t want to make the final decision before we get there because we may feel differently once we’re in the Pacific NW. So, we’re allowing for that possibility.

      Post a Reply
  7. I don’t envy you with trying to make your decision…we are lucky that we have kept our house and the girls are all there when we decide to return. I hope your next move gives you the clarity you need to make the decision but I do understand the pull of Europe and it’s convenience and reasonably cheap travel between countries.

    Post a Reply


  1. The birthday that didn’t suck | All About Travel - […] Getting closer to a decision […]
  2. Rethinking Bucharest | All About Travel - […] Getting closer to a decision […]
  3. Travel News / Getting closer to a decision - […] Click Here To Read Full Article […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *