Two weeks ago I was still in Finland. It feels like yesterday. It also feels like months ago. There has been a lot to process, and I really haven’t had the time and actually do that. So what does “getting settled in” mean? Let me break it down.
What “Getting Settled In” Entails
To start, I’ve compartmentalized this adventure into three parts. We’ll call them “Leaving”, “Traveling”, and “Arriving”. This whole thing is a transition, but in came down to tasks we needed to do there to shut down the liefe we had, the part with trains, airplanes, and motels, and the tasks we need to perform here in order to begin again virtually from scratch.
- Packing, which means deciding what to keep.
- Getting rid of things not going with us.
- Cleaning the old apartment.
- Canceling utilities, streaming services, and so on.
- Booking a new apartment in the new location. This was insane and time-consuming. Getting an apartment in Finland while we were in the US was easy. Realtors and landlords in the new place want you to appear in person, like you’re interviewing for a job or something.
- Doing research on the new location.
- Temporarily shutting down Katie’s business, including sending off the last order and shipping unsold artwork to the new location.
- Getting my business set up to run on autopilot for a few weeks.
- Saying goodbye to dear friends.
- Clinging to a vision of getting settled in later.
- 20 June: Leave our apartment in Jyväskylä (City 1), dragging large suitcases and an overloaded carryon bag each, check into hotel for the night.
- 21 June: Get up at 6, drag the luggage to the train station, spend the day on the train to Helsinki (City 2), check into hotel for the night.
- 22 June: Get up at 3am to catch the train to the airport. Check bags. Fly out. Arrive at Amsterdam (City 3). Go through customs. Get detained at passport control. Get that resolved. Board plane to [CITY 4]. Arrive at [CITY 4]. Go through customs again. Claim bags, recheck bags. Flight to [CITY 5] is delayed 3 times. No restaurants are open. No food available. Finally board flight to [CITY 5]. Arrive in [CITY 5]. Take car service arranged by a friend that loves us to [CITY 6]. Check into hotel. Crash hard.
- Because of time zones, it looks like we left in the morning and arrived in late afternoon. Based on our body clocks and the time at our point of departure, we were awake for over 24 hours.
- 23 June: Hotel restaurant is closed due to covid. Wander the area around the hotel until we find a coffee shop and something to eat. Go back to hotel and check out. Meet landlord at new place at 11am. Exchange money for keys. Walk to the nearest grocery store to get some basic supplies. Crash hard on the floor because we have no furniture yet.
- Clinging to the idea of getting settled in later, and what our new life will look like.
- Get a new bank account. This took a whole day, because the financial institution I want to do business with is on the other side of the city.
- Get local phones. We needed local phone numbers for a surprising number of things. Because this required the internet for some reason, we had to take a bus to the library, which was closed because of covid, and sit outside on a bench to access their free wifi.
- Get the utilities switched over. For some reason this could not be done online and required me to call. I could not call the number from my Finnish phone, hence needing a new phone.
- Get the internet set up. This required an app that could not be downloaded onto my Finnish phone even with a VPN, hence the new phone redux. The app did not work, so it took 6 hours in chat with a rep, eating up my mobile data, to get things activated.
- We still need to get local ID. Passport is fine as current ID, but they require a copy of the lease and a utility bill to establish residence. Waiting on the latter.
- We still need library cards. Some of it is finding a day when they’re open, because they’re on limited hours due to covid. Some of it is waiting until we have local ID.
- Dealing with taxes. I got an extension because we were moving, and I didn’t want the stress of a 17 May IRS deadline on top of everything else. Yes, US citizens pay taxes even when they live and work abroad. Getting ducks in a row for the business in its new location.
- We still need office furniture. Without going into detail, there are spending limits on the Finnish account since we’re “abroad”, so we’re waiting for money to transfer to the new account. 7 to 10 business days. Then we can order and await delivery, however long that takes. My ideal plan was to order online while we were in Finland, so that it could be delivered after we arrive, but they require you to appear in person to schedule delivery.
- We still need media equipment. Same as furniture, waiting for money to move. A new laptop with video editing software for Katie, a full podcast rig, new camera and lights, and all of the cables and surge protectors and such to go with it. Then we need to set it all up and learn how to use it.
- The toughest one, I don’t have a functional kitchen. Cooking is my creative outlet. Eating is my joy. We have appliances, but I’m lacking pots, pans, dishes, and such. We’re living on sandwiches, raw veggies, and fresh fruit. The first thing I’m going to make, once I’m operational, is pancakes and bacon. I don’t care what day of the week it is, I don’t care which meal it’s for, I need pancakes and bacon. Getting settled in means having reliable routines and some degree of comfort.