The Middle Ground

In just a 10 day span back in March, we were back to both Boston and Barcelona. It’s the first time we’ve been to both places in such close proximity to each other (unless we were living in one of them). And it’s only recently that I started to think about them in a new and different light.  But what’s most interesting to me is that I’ve now started to incorporate the Netherlands into that playbook.

We miss Spain.  And we miss the US.  Both for different reasons.  Here are just a few…

First and foremost, of course, our family is back home in the States.  It’s a huge draw.  Like massive.  Life is “easier” at home.  I don’t mean that life is easy per se.  Life is challenging no matter where you are, but it’s easier when you know the ins and outs of a culture, processes, where to buy certain goods, etc.  You can be on autopilot in a very different way when it’s your home culture rather than a foreign one.  Everyone speaks my language!! But on the flip side, living at home means living a very different lifestyle than that in Europe – with a constant live to work theme that we don’t agree with.  And let’s not get started on the health insurance / medical system!

Spain was different from the US in every single way.  This was good and bad.  It took so much adjustment from what we were used to.  But we got used to (quickly) the beautiful weather which meant spending time outside every day, all year long.  And the slower pace of life made us realize just how fast we’d been moving – so fast that we weren’t paying attention to all that we were missing.  However, the language barrier was a huge issue for us during our time there making it challenging in a lot of ways.  From a medical perspective, the costs were significantly lower, especially when filling prescriptions or a quick office visit (back when we only had international insurance – long story).

And while I compare both the US and Spain, what I’ve realized is that the Netherlands is essentially sort of a middle ground.  When we first moved here, I used to call it my “transition country” – primarily because of the weather at the time.  It didn’t have anything close to the beautiful 300 days of sun in Spain, but nor did it have the severely harsh winters of Boston.  It was my middle ground.

The Netherlands isn’t perfect by any means.  But it’s slightly closer to home, making those trips just a little bit easier with only one flight instead of two.  Most people here speak English fluently, making the language barrier less of an issue.  And while it definitely doesn’t have the slower pace of life of Spain, nor are the Dutch workaholics like our US counterparts.  Because of the lack of language issues (don’t get me wrong, it’s still challenging, just not on the same level as Spain was), life here is a little easier than it was in Spain, but not as “easy” as in the US.  The medical system isn’t as complex as that in the US but nor is it as simple or inexpensive as Spain was.  Again, it’s right in the middle.

So while this list is by no means comprehensive of the differences in each place, it gives a little tidbit of some of the big pieces that factor into some of our decisions and likes/dislikes about the places we’ve lived (or are living).  The Netherlands won’t be forever.  But then neither is Spain.  Or even necessarily the US. Who knows where we will land after this.  But what I realized recently is that the Netherlands has a little of everything – a compromise per se.  Which makes it a good place for us, for this moment. 

The conclusion is that nothing is perfect. No location has it all. All three have amazing pros but also challenging drawbacks. So what do you do?  For now, we stay as we are until the time is right. No decisions need to be made today and who knows what factors will affect those choices months or years down the road. I do know this, though, whichever place we land next, it will be an adventure.

Knuffels en kussen,

Julie

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