On Going Home

Or “home” I should say. In just over a month, we’ll be going home to the US again. Except this time we’re planning on staying there. I have many mixed emotions, and I can’t say I’m particularly joyous about our return. Of course, I also know with us things rarely end up the way we expect. We’ve ridden that roller coaster many times.

going home

When we returned to Budapest earlier this year, we had hoped to make it home for at least a year. Unfortunately, the residency process hit a cultural wall that just couldn’t be bypassed. You see, in the US when you’re adopted your birth certificate is changed to the name(s) of the adoptive parent(s). In our case, I was the only parent. This means that in the mother section of Tigger’s birth certificate it says “None.”

Immigration just could not grasp the concept of “no mother.” They repeatedly demanded a letter from Tigger’s mom stating she was OK with her child living with me in Hungary. Even though they saw the birth certificate themselves and I explained it in many ways.

After spending hours upon hours going to the immigration office to provide yet another piece of documentation (unrelated to Tigger) and finally receiving a letter requesting information they already had in their hands (on top of the Tigger’s mother issue), we decided enough was enough.

Since we planned on going back to the US next year after our time in Budapest, we decided we might as well just rip off the Band-Aid and go now.

We managed to secure some house sits in the UK and in the US to help ease the transition financially and logistically. We’ve been away from Budapest for close to 2 months now, and really neither of us has missed it. So I guess that was confirmation it was time to go.

Don’t get me wrong. I still really like Budapest, but I now view it as a superb place to visit but not necessarily to live in long term.

going home

Fears and Concerns

As we’ve seen in the news, many parts of the US (or the world) aren’t exactly friendly to trans people, especially trans women. So this makes me even more nervous for Tigger. However, there are places that are more accepting and have good access to gender services, so we’re targeting those as our possible home base.

I’ve become quite spoiled regarding health care. We generally haven’t needed to see a doctor in the last 5+ years. When we have, we’ve been in areas where those visits are extremely affordable, as is the cost of medication. Overseas one of my pills costs about $10 or less per month whereas in the US it’s over $100. In most places, both of my meds don’t require a prescription, but they both do in the US. I’m definitely concerned about the healthcare situation in the US. I’m hoping some of my friends who are expats in Mexico won’t mind shipping me some meds until I can get back on an insurance plan, get in to see the doc, etc.

I will definitely miss not being worried about needing to see a physician or go to the ER. The total bill for my Australia ER visit a few years ago was less than my ER copay in the States.

I think healthcare costs are one of my biggest worries about going home.

Next up is finding a place to live. It’s been so much easier abroad. Our last apartment we found through a Facebook group. I showed up, we looked around, I said yes, and voila we had an apartment. No credit check. No checking references. No proof of income. And so on. I also didn’t have to set up utilities as they’re in the owner’s name.

And a high electricity bill in Budapest was around $50-60 USD for a month.

Living outside of a really big city in the US also usually means a lack of public transportation. There are good and bad points to owning a car, and I’ve really enjoyed not having to have one. I’m not looking forward to trying to get around on just public transportation until our finances are at the point where getting a car is practical again. Although, I will say that it will be nice to not have to rely on bus/train schedules or to have to schlep groceries on foot.

The last time we were in the US we felt like aliens. It took about 1-1/2 months before we felt like we fit in more. Our personal culture is so varied from the typical American one that it’s definitely going to take some adjusting. Since our lifestyle has been fairly unique as well, I realize there is a big disconnect going in. I sometimes wonder how hard it will be to find “our tribe” locally.

going home

It Isn’t Giving Up

I had to wrestle with this feeling for a while after making the initial decision to return. Because of visas, length of allowed stays, etc., we haven’t really been able to just have a base for an extended period of time (beyond a few months). I still love travel, but I’m also tired. Tired of constantly moving, not having a feeling of “home” and community, not having an equipped kitchen, dealing with visa requirements, not having my own “stuff” in the house and so on.

So I first worried that returning was really just giving up somehow. Of course, it isn’t. When we set out in 2011, it was to live life on our terms. We’re still doing that. I have to remind myself that we haven’t “failed.” We aren’t going back to the US defeated and because a travel lifestyle didn’t work out. We’re making our lifestyle fit our current needs, especially for Tigger.

Looking at how we’ve handled things during our recent sits, I think we’re ready for some settled-down time. Well, Tigger’s been “over it” for a long time. I finally got to a place where the idea seems very inviting and where I no longer feel pressured to go explore like crazy in every new city.

We Aren’t “Stuck”

One saving grace in all this is that we know we aren’t stuck anywhere we live. If it ends up that we don’t want to stay, don’t want to return to a more “normal” way of life, there’s nothing holding us there. We know how to do this and we know what’s possible. That’s extremely liberating.

going home

It Isn’t All Bad

There are things I am definitely looking forward to. The US has a lot of advantages and benefits, and there are definite positives and many opportunities.

To deal with my fears, concerns, worries, whatever you want to call them, I’ve been working on reframing my thoughts about some things, focusing on the positives, etc. I don’t know that I’ll get to a point where I’m excited to head back, but I hope to at least feel less anxious about it as the time draws closer.

On the plus side, Tigger’s anxiety has been quiescent, and I’m thankful for that. It helps confirm for me that we’re on the right path and that’s extremely helpful.

Going home is just a huge change for us. And big changes can be scary.

Share This Post On


  1. I know exactly how you feel Talon. We have been planning on moving to North America ( ideally BC) for years but kept putting it, due to moving costs and finding a home base we like. But the community here isn’t what we want it to be, and to be honest we all miss having 4 seasons. But now the final push is like with you: visa issues. We have basically two months to decide if we’ll get another 1 year visa or finally make the move. We plan on first visiting my Mom in Portland, and may make that our home base. But like you, I have that ‘giving up’ feeling that creeps in. I don’t want to do with all the BS that’s in the states, and I’m not even talking about the political issues ( although that’s always an issue too lol). I feel torn and have a very tight timeline to figure things out. I’m blown away by the cost of living not just in Vancouver but in all of BC. 1 apartment of small house there costs 4 to 5 times what my 4 bedroom house costs here, and it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around that. On top of that it’s much harder to find a place to live via googling, for all of Canada. They have Craigslist and Kiijii but both have limited, high-end listings that are mainly not pet friendly. Inwant a like-minded community so badly but I’ve almost given up on finding it.

    Post a Reply
    • It’s definitely a tough decision. No place is perfect, but it can be tough finding the place that ticks enough of your boxes to make it worth giving a go. We still need to check out BC. I guess living outside the city is the cheapest, but I don’t know how many conveniences you have to sacrifice for that. Of course, for us BC isn’t really an option. We have a plan B, C, and D, though, which helps.

      Surprisingly, as we are now almost 1 week out, I’m actually feeling excited. Didn’t expect that!

      Post a Reply
      • Where in the States are you planning to go? Are you still contemplating working locally when you get there?

        Post a Reply
        • Right now we’re planning on Washington state. I probably will get a local job or something to help me get out of the house.

          Post a Reply
  2. Very interesting reading, and I love love the pictures, especially the first one. It sounds like you are making the right decision for you and Tigger for right now. I admired you for leaving, and I admire you for coming back – for now. As your needs change, so will you. You’ll just “know”. I’ll be looking forward to reading your adventures still and seeing where you finally “land.”

    Post a Reply
    • I love your comment “As your needs change, so will you.” So very true. We’ve always done this and will continue to do so. Also, Tigger will legally be an adult in just a few years, which will allow me to be more independent. One thing we’ve definitely done well at is constantly adapting. We’ll keep doing that.

      Post a Reply
  3. Love the positivity coming through Talon! It’s just a ‘next step’. Yes, American healthcare baffles us Brits, the socialist ones 😉 I have seen a massive change (literally) for trans people in my area over the past 18 months so I am hoping that you do feel the same. Interesting read, wishing you all the best.

    Post a Reply
    • Yep. Just a different type of adventure.

      Health care in America baffles me as an American so don’t feel bad. lol

      Happy to read you’re seeing such great changes in your area!

      Post a Reply
  4. Dude, your first picture from Amsterdam is just around the corner from my apartment. In fact, had you taken a picture including a few more boats in it, you would have also included mine in the pic (a little green one).

    Hope you enjoyed the Netherlands! 🙂

    Post a Reply
  5. I just came upon your blog and I am so moved by your story. As an American living abroad, I have had some of the same thoughts about if and when we ever move back to the US. A big thing for me has been about healthcare as well. When we lived in the US, we were covered under my health insurance which meant that I had to work full time. Now having a child, I would hate to have to go back to working full time just to be able to afford medical care. There are many things that I love about the US, but living abroad will open your eyes to some of its shortcomings.

    Post a Reply
    • So very true, and so very sad. I’m hoping that my state’s exchange will be reasonable enough that I won’t have to choose a job just because of the insurance.

      Post a Reply
  6. Interesting and a bit surprising. Totally feel your concerns about the medical situation there. I recently spent a couple months in and out of Thai hospitals, several surgeries, and so many pills I felt like I was eating M&Ms. In the end the damage was four figures, but certainly much less than the five figures had I had been in the States at the tomorrow.

    However, I too have hit the same “tired” phase and can totally relate to your feeling of needing a “home” even if not a permanent one. In fact I am currently establishing a new home base in a country that I have yet to announce. While I won’t stop traveling (in fact, I will be in several more countries before the year ends), my 100% nomadic days are definitely coming to an end.

    Congrats to a smooth transition back and as always, feel free to give me a shout if you ever want to chat. Cheers buddy 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • The nomadic life has its definite ups and downs. If I had a partner, it might make things a bit different, but I’m definitely missing local community and an equipped kitchen.

      It will be interesting to see where exactly we end up and how long we end up staying. Part of me feels like it’s just time to settle down during these last few years of Tigger’s childhood. Then when she’s an adult, I may reassess whether or not I stay rooted or how frequently and for how long I disappear.

      Even though I’m ready for a base on one hand, on the other I’m rather unsettled (no pun intended) by the idea.

      Post a Reply
  7. Godspeed. This moving home thing is actully another part of your adventure. If the first place isn’t a good fit, think about the West Mt. Airy neighborhood in Philly—an inclusive place for all kinds of families for decades.

    Post a Reply
    • Yep, just a different sort of adventure for sure.

      I don’t really see PA in our future, but I’ll keep that neighborhood in mind. Thanks!

      Post a Reply
  8. Good Luck on your return! i will be following along and hope you both find the perfect place!

    Post a Reply
  9. Safe travels to you & Tigger as you embark on this new chapter in your adventure. I completely understand how scary “home” can be, especially when you are returning with the intention of it being for much longer this time, but you know you have made this decision having looked at all the facts and that it is really the right one for your family. You absolutely didn’t fail—you guys have been traveling for years now!—it’s just that your needs and wants have evolved as you have progressed in your journey and it make sense for you to be back in the States. I really hope you two find a place that does feel like home and that offers you all of the perks that living in the U.S. does offer (because it certainly does have perks!), but with not too many cons (because it certainly has those too). It takes a lot of courage to do what you have done, both leaving and now returning, but you two have that in spades; I know you will be all right!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks! In some ways it’s a tough pill to swallow, but I know it’s the right course for now. Not looking forward to the “getting there” parts, though. Hopefully, we won’t have to bounce around too much before settling in on the right area. You’re a great cheerleader! 😉

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

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