Moving to Another Country?

If you’ve ever moved, and I’m sure you probably have, you know that it is no fun and a lot of work. Well, all of that just increases when you are moving to another country on another continent. As a child, we only moved once. I had little responsibility then, as I was only eight.

Once I got married (I was eighteen then) it seems I’ve been on the move ever since. I moved six times from ages eighteen until twenty-two and eight times after that before I moved to Italy seven years ago. During the eight times, my work was the reason and they paid for and hired movers to pack, transport, and unpack. That is a great help, but it’s not everything.

Some of the difficult things about moving to another country are finding out the legal requirements to do so. Do you need a visa? What type of visa do you need? What type of documents should you take with you? What will be required of you to stay there? What will you do about a driver’s license? What about health insurance? What about tax responsibility? I don’t recommend that anyone take it lightly. It requires a real desire to move there and a lot of research. Then, once you have the facts, you have to decide if it is all worth it.

For me to move to Morocco, I do not need a visa. Americans can enter without a visa and stay 90 days. Since I am married to a Moroccan, there will be documents to gather to complete my residency there, but in the meantime, it is sufficient to stay 90 days and leave the country (take a ferry to Spain) and return the same day for a new passport stamp.

We had to find someone to move our goods. We didn’t bring furniture or anything that we really need. We plan to rent a furnished apartment and buy household goods. The things we brought are only those things that make a house a home. There are books, artwork, glassware from my grandmother, and clothes. Our lives now fit in 30 boxes. My husband hired a man who does import/export between Italy and Morocco and is a family friend. Otherwise, we could have hired a professional relocation service, paid three times the cost, and received our goods in about three months.

The things that we weren’t taking, we had to sell. “Yard sales” are never fun and never profitable and it is even worse when you live in a place like Italy where apartments are small and people don’t accumulate things. Getting rid of everything turned out to be one of the most difficult parts, right up until midnight the night before we left when we waited for the “quadrofoglio” or Florence’s large trash removal service, to come for a large wall unit that we had bought and couldn’t sell.

We wanted to bring our two cats, and boy is that a fiasco! Pet passports, microchips, vaccinations and health certificates all had to be gathered. That requires an entirely separate blog.

Cats moving
Cats moving

In addition, when you move you have to close accounts, turn off utilities, shut down automatic payments and all types of administrative items. Accomplishing these things in Italy takes several steps for each one. It usually starts with a phone call and ends about a month later when you have to send a registered letter asking them to cut off the service and include copies of your residency card.
We knew that we were moving to Morocco about six months ago. I promptly located an apartment and found our transportation and then we had to wait. Administrative items, packing, and selling things really have to wait until you’re close to the move date.

Friends asked, “What things are you redoing on your last days here? Romantic walks, visiting museums, eating in favorite restaurants?” We had to say no to all of those. Our last two weeks were filled with lots of hard work, stress, and a few shining moments when we had a meal or a drink to say goodbyes to friends.

I’m writing this from the ship and can’t tell you what relief we feel at this moment to be finally on our way. Our new life waits.

Genoa to Barcelona
Genoa to Barcelona

We’ve Been Happy Here-Moving

Packing everything up for moving is a bittersweet task. This is my third transcontinental move. Each time, I sort through my belongings, which have become less each time, to evaluate their value. The value usually has nothing to do with money, but more with memories, replaceability, and sentiment. Furniture, kitchenware, and linens never make the cut.

Instead, I chose books that I bought at museums and art exhibits, or places that I have traveled. Art that spoke to me on a sidewalk in Rome, Florence, Paris, or Bruges I carefully wrapped with no thought of leaving it. All of the framed photographs of friends and family that will personalize my new home I place into boxes. Pottery we bought on our honeymoon, glasses that were a wedding gift, an afghan that my grandmother made are all making the move.

I look around this tiny apartment with three rooms of about 600 square feet and think how happy we’ve been here. It was our first home together and five years of our lives have passed here. It’s a drop in the bucket and a lifetime at the same time.

We’ve had countless dinner parties with friends, played cards together night after night, watched movies, hung out the windows to watch the parades down Borgo Ognissanti, become friends with neighbors, and know the owners of most of the shops along our street. One of my cats who was eighteen years old died here, and we took in another kitten as an addition to our family. We celebrated several Christmases with my sons. Friends slept on our couch.

As I pack, the rooms start to look empty and lose their personality. The thought of leaving it and this city is heartbreaking. The thought of my new exotic home is exciting and intoxicating. Starting over again is intriguing and frightening. So many conflicting emotions. I pack those away in one of my internal boxes as well. I will take them out and look them over once I arrive in my new home.

The Winds of Change

The winds of change are blowing in my life. At this point, I’ve seen many changes, both good and bad, but all of them cumulatively led me to this wonderful place in my life. I have never been afraid of change and always approached it with optimism for the future. That being said, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of sleepless nights, anxiety, and concern. And so it goes with this change. I am excited, inspired, invigorated, intrigued, and ready to begin my new adventure. This time, I won’t be doing it alone, which is always a comfort.

My husband and I have decided to move to Morocco. We will be relocating to Tangier on September 30th. We are leaving on a ship from Genova for a forty-eight-hour voyage into Tangier’s Medport. We have secured an apartment on the seaside for our first five weeks while we look for permanent housing. We have packed up about 20 boxes of our precious belongings, secured passports for our two cats, sold all of our other worldly possessions and are ready to start anew!

I’m getting to be quite the expert at paring down my possessions, and the things that I packed to bring are odd and mostly of little value. They are the things that for me make a house a home. They are reminders of my past and my experiences and memories.

    Why Move?

Why? Because dreams never really stop. Do they? I dreamed of living in Italy and have had an absolutely magical time here. Eight years of learning about the Renaissance, making new friends, learning a new language, embracing a new culture, falling in love, getting married, eating and drinking fabulous food and wine, and living “La dolce vita”. It’s been perfect. Well, almost.

There are a couple of things that caused us to consider another place to live. Bureaucracy in Italy takes its toll, and for us, documentation issues don’t give us the freedom to travel together outside of Italy, something that we both feel very strongly about. Secondly, between not being able to find full-time work, the taxes that must be paid, and the cost of living, it creates an unnecessary economic environment for us.

My husband is from Morocco. He grew up in Meknes, which is about four hours on the train from Tangier. He originally suggested Tangier as a possibility because it is a large, upcoming city with lots of growth and national attention. It is a “western civilization” due to the international flair coming from the influences of France and Spain combined with Moroccan history and exoticism. One hour on the ferry from Spain, you can hear many languages lilting across the warm sea breezes where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Seas come together.

In order to make this big life altering decision, I decided to visit Tangier on my own. It was important for me to learn if I would be comfortable walking alone in the streets, shopping in the stores, eating out, communicating with locals etc. Of course with my husband there, it would be easy, but I am independent and would like to stay that way. You can read more about my trip in upcoming blogs, but suffice it to say that not only was I comfortable, I was inspired, and fell in love with this amazing city. The decision turned out to be an easy one.

So, here we are, just a few weeks away from the big move. I will no longer be An American in Italy! Oh, what to do about that? Well, first of all, I want to thank you all for your loyal readership. It has been wonderful to share this part of my journey with you all. Secondly, I would like to invite you to follow me as I continue my journey and change the direction of my dreams. In fact, my new blog will be called, The Direction of Your Dreams and you can find it here.

And on Facebook.

The new blog will be similar to this one but I will be writing more personal essays while I explore my new home, encounter a new culture, learn yet another new language, and travel to/from and around Africa. On Monday, September 18th you can start to learn all about the preparations for the voyage and my experiences along the way. See you there!

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