Packing up your life and moving to another country can involve a fair amount of coordination. Imagine doing it on a regular basis. How do you organize two places to live, your finances and the other aspects of your life? To get a personal angle on what it’s like to live and work in two places, we spoke with a couple who currently divides their time between Prague and New York; we also asked a relocation specialist for useful tips on how to manage multiple residences.
One Family’s Personal Experience
First of all we wanted to know why he decided on this living arrangement in the first place.
“We split our time because we have family and work projects in both places. I’m American and my wife Petra is Czech and we both work in the film industry, which makes us natural nomads.”
The couple rent in both Prague and Orlando, FL because in Paul’s words “Once you own a chunk of land, the land also owns you.”
Challenges they have encountered include the emotional and physical upheaval of moving, adapting to new places and not always being present in the lives of friends and family, not to mention the nuisances of administration and regular air travel.
On the positive side, Paul sees that they have friends in many places in the world and coming back to a place feels like “a new start with a fresh perspective”. The move can even broaden a person’s appreciation of the places they live in.
“No place is perfect and after a while each place’s unique challenges can grow tiresome. It helps to be able to take a break from that and see life from a fresh angle. Then it’s ok to come back.”
The biggest challenge the couple face is travelling with their young son. Having a child requires a lot of planning. The Ratners have to ensure continuity in terms of care and enable him to deal with the language differences.
“On the other hand, we see that he’s growing up to be a very comfortable citizen of the world,” Paul said, adding that his son has travelled more now than when Paul was the same age.
But is this lifestyle sustainable in the long-term, especially when you have a child? Paul said they would do this for some time. The main challenge would be their son’s education.
“We wouldn’t want to keep pulling him out of programs as it’s important he gets a continuous experience for his friendships and education.”
Tips for Making It Work
Paul’s experience is just one of a myriad of possibilities. To get a more general overview, we contacted Alexandra Morgan, the Managing Director of Expat Care, a company specializing in the relocation of foreigners to the Czech Republic, to get some general advice. Here’s the advice she gave us:
-Book flights 2 to 3 months in advance to ensure cheaper fares.
-Know when bank holidays are in both countries to avoid travelling at more expensive times and when public services will be reduced.
-If the situation is permanent, have a fixed address in both places. This will reduce the need to carry items back and forth.
-For large sums of money, use a currency group. Try to avoid money transfer services as they are expensive. For smaller purchases use a credit card as the charges are lower.
-Speak with someone about taxes. Find out what you’re liable for.
-If you have kids, decide which country will be their home. It’s not a good idea to move back and forth with them. However, if you do decide to do this, speak with the school directors to see how best the school can accommodate the child’s education while moving.
-If you have a chronic medical condition, get a full medical report including treatment and have it translated into Czech.
-Maintain a routine. Treat both places as home and places where you work and try to do the same thing. If visiting the gym is your thing, join a gym in both cities.
-Have a reliable friend/person in the Czech Republic in case something is needed while you’re in your home country.
We also got an additional piece of personal advice from Paul.
“Be flexible and do a lot of research. To be comfortable living in several places, you need to feel like you have a grasp on the life of wherever you are.”
Are you currently living in two countries? What advice would you gave?