Word is starting to spread and we have been receiving quite a few e-mails, so we thought it was time for us to come clean about some of the big changes coming our way for 2014. I think I have been avoiding making this decision public because it somehow makes it more real and I have been in denial for quite some time. If you have heard the rumor going around that we will be leaving Copenhagen then you heard right, but the good news is that it will not be a permanent move.
As two American citizens living in Europe, we do not have the same rights as an EU citizen would. Both countries have their own Social Security systems and for American citizens who want to one day retire in the US, the US government and each of those in the European Union had to come up with a solution to the Social Security Tax Issue. They couldn’t very well let us pay partially into both systems but expect full benefits from the US, right?
That part I do not know so much about, but after quite some lengthy discussions with our international tax lawyer, we realized that we would have to leave Denmark every four to five years for six months. The interesting part is that we can spend those six months anywhere but Denmark, including somewhere else in the European Union, which was a very tempting proposition. We have spent many long nights chatting about a stay in Paris, or even just a hop over the bridge to Malmo, but in the end we have decided to go back to the US and spend some quality time with our family and friends in Atlanta.
We looked into obtaining my Greek citizenship to avoid all of this because it all felt so confusing and unpleasant to be uprooted but that only seemed to add to an already complicated situation. And to be perfectly honest, guys, I need to spend some time with my family. I want my kids to know their grandparents and their aunts and uncles and their cousins. I want them to know the sound of a marching band at a football game and the crack of a baseball against a bat, besides other things that make them Americans.
Of course this brings up all kinds of logistical questions, such as where we will live, where our kids will go to school and how we will work while being displaced. This is one of the main reasons why international companies choose to give expats their assignments abroad for 3-4 year increments. It is a tricky thing and for those living in certain countries, such as France or Germany, it could mean being displaced for an entire year rather than Denmark’s six month requirement.
So what will we do? First, we have decided to keep our house and our car here in Denmark. We have some friends that will be caring for both in our absence so that we can come right back to our home and start right back up where we left off. The same will happen for the kids’ school. We have already spoken to their teachers and will be making arrangements for homework assignments in Danish while we are away so they can come back to the same school with their same friends and everything.
We have not made a final decision regarding the children’s schooling while we are in the US, but we are most likely to homeschool them since it is such a brief period. (I think this decision will probably require it’s own blog post in the near future.)
As far as our work, it will be hard to leave our studio and our home, but we are very fortunate that much of what we do travels well. We are excitedly planning city tours for many of the places we plan to visit, have already booked quite a few weddings and portraits sessions plus I cannot wait to be able to create new DIY’s and Home ideas with so many craft supplies readily available!
So, despite feeling very conflicted about leaving Denmark from July through December, we are really getting excited about spending six months in the USA! I am tearing up just thinking about “Hotlanta” and air conditioning, dips in the pool and burgers on the grill and long strolls through Target… and most of all, I cannot wait to hug my Dad and spend hours playing with my nephews and hear face to face about everything we have missed these last four years… Oh, yes, and being home for Christmas!
Photo: Tina Fussell