Picture this: you have a nice and cosy life, a roof above your head, your friends and family close by, you’ve known your GP and dentist for years, you play tennis or soccer every Sunday or take the dog or bicycle out in the weekends on routes that you are familiar with. More so, if you miss an ingredient for dinner you simply run to the store around the corner. If there is an issue with internet you speed dial the number of the provider in your mobile phone and resolve it within minutes in your own language. Take this all away, place yourself in a hotel, in a new job, in a place where you know nobody and are familiar with no locations, let alone people speak your language. Everything is insecure and you have no friends close by to drop your head on their shoulder. Get the drift?
With 11 moves on the list I am very familiar with such situations. And now I’m on the move again. Back to Houston, Texas. Since I was based there before and I’m moving alone (not with wife and cat), I figured the objective to have everything arranged within a week would be easy! And with all I meant ALL, including the searching and signing of an apartment, internet, buying a car, getting insurances, purchasing sofa, TV, bed, mattress, sheets etc. This should be possible in the US, an extremely service minded society, where all can be done (almost) immediately.
I arrived well rested, and my evenings were fully planned with social engagements, either for work or the remainder of friends still in the surroundings. During the day I had set-up my list-to-do’s. Starting with finding an apartment. That box I ticked on day 3, the car on day 4, mattress 5, tv-carpet-internet-electricity-utilities at 6. I was on a roll!
And that is where the plot turns. In every move there will be set-backs on your path, and in my case I had overlooked 2 challenges. Challenge one was a credit history and a Texan driver’s license that had both disappeared. This meant I could not purchase (for a reasonable price) an insurance on my car, and therefore could not pick up the vehicle which I thought was waiting for me at the garage. The second was a delay in transfer to a US payroll which meant a delay in applying for a mobile phone, which turned out to be a problem because each and every company, system or process requires you to enter a local phone number!
Two steps forward, one step back, a double side-step and even a visit to the Rodeo which was in town later, I’m fully installed! This latest move made me realise that a smooth transition is always the sum of two factors. First, as there will always be unexpected challenges, a proactive approach by the person moving is key. Second, a receiving city that is service-minded and inclusive towards internationals makes a huge difference. As both factors were present in Houston, my apartment is now ready for me to stay in (although temporarily sparsely furnished as my container from Amsterdam is still to arrive). My car is waiting at the garage for the initial 30-day resident period to be completed, after which I will receive an updated Texan driver’s license, subsequently an insurance, and a car-loan, which will allow me to hand in my rental and plan for my first trips out of town. Austin, Surfside beach, Galveston, New Orleans, Dallas and beyond, here I come.
About the author: Alexander van Noort
Alexander, a true global citizen, has worked in various functions for Schlumberger since 1999. He was Chairman of the International Community Platform (ICP) from 2013 – 2015. His efforts in this role contributed a great deal to the improvement of the quality of life for internationals in the Metropool region. Having hauled his job and container across borders 11 times over the last 16 years he is a well-qualified storyteller of international life.
Follow the Check-NL blog
By aligning international demand and local supply countless opportunities exist to improve the quality of international life. Check-NL was initiated by ICP, and aims to bridge the gap between the local and global communities. Anne van Rossum (Researcher and Project Manager at ICP) writes blogs for Check-NL and invites inspiring guest bloggers from around the world to share insights that will help to achieve these goals.
Help Anne with her research for ICP by taking this 1-minute poll: Housing for internationals in The Netherlands.