I get people telling me all the time that they're living vicariously through Mr. F and me as we live abroad. They bask in the wondrous adventure of life on a Mediterranean island. While there's a lot to be said for that, there's the other side. The dark side, so to speak. And that side is what we're talking about today. The reality of international living.
Immigration. It's a bitch. (I'm sorry to all my sweet friends who never, ever, ever use such language, sometimes, you just got to do it.) We are three months into this adventure and are still awaiting a work permit. This was due to some major miscommunication between us and the company and the fact that Cyprus has some really fickle immigration laws.
Because we're still awaiting legality, we cannot travel to the north side of the island or leave the island at all. Further, we can't buy a car, which would save us an incredible amount of money. But we can't buy the car without insurance and we can't get insurance without a work permit. So we're renting. With the money we have spent on car rentals, we could have bought our car already.
Because of that extra money, our monthly budget has yet to hit "normal." While everyone has monthly emergency spendings that will make their budgets fluctuate, ours have been constant and costing us thousands (by this point) of euros. Moving into a new apartment, having to buy all new appliances, a car, immigration paperwork, multiple rental cars, etc, etc.
Unlike the rest of Europe, Cyprus has very poor public transportation and the country operates, much like Detroit, behind the wheel of a car. If you don't have a car, you really can't get around. Horrible sidewalks, pretty significant distances between shops, and scooters everywhere make walking around town rough and biking a death wish.
Then there's finances. Most people move abroad with the promise of a promotion and are more settled in life. Not us. We're newlyweds here on an entry-level position. Mr. F's salary, while decent, is hardly anything to go crazy about. Even without all of our surprise expenses, our budget is mercilessly tight. If we were living at home in the States, I would have the liberty of going out and finding and a job and adding to our income.
But I can't. Why? Because we don't have that damn work permit. Even then, it is hard for foreigners to find jobs on this island unless they are brought in by a company. So that's why I've been painting and producing cards. Yeah, it's been amazing to reconnect with my inner muse (who, by the way, I'm pretty sure speaks through NPR. no joke..) but I'm doing this because I really have to. Right now, it's about the only way for me to make money.
Most days, I can usually ignore a lot of this. But today has been one of those days where I wait all morning for the banks to open in the U.S. so I can start making phone calls. Then I have to coordinate with them on how to make international wire transfers (which aren't cheap) so I can pay bills we still have in the States which can only be paid through U.S. accounts. I've spent the better portion of the afternoon sorting through this and am absolutely nowhere closer to figuring anything out. Especially since the banks here close before the ones in the States even consider opening.
And we don't have any Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
So yeah, it's amazing to be surrounded by about four thousand years of history and the Mediterranean, but really? We're just living life like everyone else. One paycheck, one electricity bill, and one trip to the grocery store at a time. So don't envy us. Empathize with us.