The sleepwalkers have awakened.
For better or worse we are moving back to the US. Why, of all times, now? We were actually considering moving back for the past year, or even longer. We took a trip to Portland right after we married, primarily to see if it was the kind of place we could see ourselves living. I was sick, probably the release of accumulated stress and travel, but I got a feel of the city.
Cutting through a lot of things, and taking a cold look at our current situation, we asked ourselves:
Are we going to retire in Germany? No. Definitely not.
Are we going to build our careers in Germany? Only at the expense of our careers in the US, with more difficulty and opportunity cost in salary. While the practice of designing buildings has many similarities, the facts remain that salaries in the US can be almost twice what are available in Germany for the same position, and that architecture remains a business dependent upon relationships, dependent upon trust and effective lines of communication.
I could get there in Germany, but it would take at least another five to ten years to overcome German distrust of foreigners and the language barrier, and learning at half the rate that I would get in the US in my native tongue. So, if we're not building our careers here in Germany, what the hell are we doing here, apart from whiling away the years in the mild hedonism of fresh strawberries, cheap, delicious breads and cheese, enjoying the walkable city life, sipping wine on the roof, and weekend trips to old European cities? And summers and winters / scattered like splinters / and four to five years slipped away. When your life starts to remind you of Jimmy Buffet songs, maybe it's time to take stock of where you are and where you're going.
We are moving to Portland, a city we picked out of many with strong architectural job prospects and a coastal city in the western US where we feel a little more cultural kinship, but still relatively affordable- cheaper than Seattle or anywhere in California, with a walkable downtown and a commitment to mass transit.
I went to the US in April, paid for tickets and hotels out of my pocket, hunted jobs and interviewed in Atlanta, Research Triangle North Carolina, and Portland. In Portland, I had five interviews in a day and a half. I got great offers from three of them. After a lot of negotiation, I accepted one of them, and have a start date in September.
A little over two weeks ago, Saori and I told our offices we were leaving, and I started working on the list of things to do which will take us from where we live now in Stuttgart to Portland with necessary stops in Saint Louis and Phoenix. It's a lot.
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