Finnish Residence and the Anxiety of Hope

Katie and I are incredibly close to accomplishing big, audacious goals, but recognize how fragile things are.

My greatest fear right now is that our residence in Finland won’t be extended, and that we’ll have to go back to the United States. There’s really no single strong reason to deny us an extension. Katie’s finishing up her masters and no one can see any reason why she won’t get accepted into the Ph.D. program. The only reason I haven’t switched over to being a registered Finnish business is because I need to be consistently making a little bit more money before I can afford to pay higher Finnish taxes — which I will not mind paying, because of everything we’ve gotten and will continue to get in return. We don’t cause any problems, we pay our bills, and we’re here for legitimate purposes.

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But she’s at the end of her Master’s, and she’s not officially been accepted to the Ph.D. program yet, and I’m not a Finnish business. It’s a state of transition. With all of the political weirdness, and all of the tension about immigrants (it’s not limited to America), who knows? They’ve also changed the process for gaining an extension, and I don’t know if it’s merely procedural or if there are tighter guidelines or even ideological components involved. We just don’t know. It’s a cause for anxiety.

Politics aside, neither Katie nor I feel that there’s anything for us in America other than some friends. She’s a teacher, and we know how that profession has been going. Any jobs she might get, either in the public school system or at the university level, would likely be low paying and deeply embattled. I can do what I do anywhere, but there’s frankly a lot more support for small businesses and entrepreneurs here than there is there. We wouldn’t have the quality of life that we have here.

What we really need is more money. I know, that’s the truth for most people, but it’s a bit different for us. We can cover rent and groceries and normal expenses month-to-month. As long as we show that we’re not a potential strain on the system, that we put money into the local economy, refrain from going on crime sprees, and aren’t taking jobs from qualified Finns, we’re pretty safe. But Finnish Immigration needs to see that we have a cushion. If I had a job contract, a guaranteed income, it would be different. Because I’m self-employed, they want to know that we have a safety net.

I am dancing as fast as I can. So is Katie. In the next few months, things will level out. She’ll be in the doctoral program, and drawing stipend, and that will be enough to solidify residence. I’ll be releasing some big books, and expanding from digital-only into print, which will boost my income and get me to the point where I can become what’s called a “private trader” in Finland (sole proprietor), which will be enough to solidify residence. We’re so close. So close. That’s why I’m so fearful, so anxious. We’d lose a lot of what we’ve worked for, if we had to start over in the United States now.

So if you haven’t bought any of my books and have been thinking about it, now would be a really good time. If you know people who might be interested in my books, please spread the word. And if you like the podcast, or the things Katie and I post on our blogs, consider buying us a coffee or ten.

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