Guess who’s getting his five-member family’s stuff loaded onto a ship this week? The same guy who’s been packing it all, who rented a dumpster to throw out the household’s accumulated crazy garbage a couple weeks ago, and who just did a detour to talk about role-playing in Italy. I was able to keep the blog going through it through judicious preparation, but this week’s caught up to me.
What ship? A big one, going to Sweden. A few weeks after it leaves, then we get on a plane and move into the new home there, in time to receive all the stuff when it finally arrives. Yup, we’re living there from now on.
Inquiries and comments are welcome but be patient about replies. It’s not exactly tranquil during the week the Big Boat Box arrives.
The “Mustache match” post will appear next Sunday, April 16th.
Posted on April 9, 2017, in Holiday. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.
What? What?? Okay, trying for more cogent questions…
Why Sweden? Why now?
What will you be doing there? Continuing the mix of self-employed academics and game design? Or something location-specific?
See big reply below.
All I know from Nordic countries, I know it from this comic. https://satwcomic.com Yesterday I was reading a few of the strips and thinking “I wonder if it is Sweden where Ron is moving to”. Good luck on your new life, and the best for your family! In a few years I hope to see a post about these weeks under the banner “The 2010s me” ^_^
Oh, wait, I do have a personal question now, just out of curiosity. You don’t really have to answer, but since you have us indulged with an autobiographical blog… How did you guys factor in the Easter holidays into this? Perhaps it isn’t as much of a deal as in my Catholic country, I wonder if it’s a holiday where you meet with the extended family (kinda like your Thanksgiving) and if you’ll spend it on which country.
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Interesting question. On a cultural comparison note, I suggest that the most family-relevant holiday to most American holidays is Christmas, with or without (much) religious trappings, and given considerable weight by its economic demands which are a bit hard to describe because no one outside the country would believe it. Easter is of course important to observant Christian Americans, but I’m not in those subculture(s). If my family and I showed up at my mother’s home on Easter saying, “Here we are!”, she’d be baffled, and if we said, “For Easter!”, even more so.
I think Swedish life will emphasize Easter more than Christmas (which is sensibly humble in Europe) insofar as traveling to see family or anything church-ish is involved.
In my case, I don’t feel much pressure or need to visit family on a holiday schedule. I’ve been separated from that context since I left California at 18, and my immediate family has always been more oriented toward community and friends for holidays rather than kinship. My habit is to go wherever my partner is going, and also to consider what friends have invited us for, and to consider whether we should host something every so often.
As further context, as with most Europeans I know, the Swedish culture I’m familiar with typically includes asserting that one is “secular,” but also includes a number of observant Lutheran practices and significant if infrequent contact with the local church, not least funerals and burials.
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Thanks for all the info! 🙂 for the sake of correctness, I should say that here, seeing relatives on Easter is a 50% thing. Unlike what I see in US movies, most people live in the same city than their family – at least in my own background, which involves growing up in a capital city. Easter here is a four-day holiday, so a lot of people take the opportunity to make a little vacation – say, visit the Iguazu falls, and no one on their family would think they should be visiting them instead. But, to be honest, it’s kinda weird not to visit your family on the Sunday of Easter, if you’re on the same city and have not taken a vacation.
That sounds like a really smart thing to do, and I’m really happy for you! Why put up with bullshit and hardship in a country which is going steadily insane when there are other obvious options? I am also selfishly disappointed because it kicks the probability of running into you at a con down several notches!
But seriously I hope the move goes well and I hope things go awesome there.
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I figure I better pound this out and link to it anytime anyone asks the basics. To repeat, this is a permanent move.
1. Anything political prompting this, and there’s a lot, dates back to 1972, exacerbated by 1980. Everything since then, including the recent election and events, is merely symptomatic of those older things, which have nothing to do with Democrats vs. Republicans, or conservative/liberal in the simplistic domestic terms, or anything else of that sort. If you knew me from 1980 through 1983, you will recall I was outspoken about the totality of the United States then. Nothing has changed, but it’s all been confirmed. For what it’s worth, I’ve considered myself an expat since leaving the California coast and since the death of 1970s culture there.
2. My wife is native Swedish and her extended family is where it’s always been, in and around the small city called Norrköping. Her parents emigrated to the States when she was six, but she and her siblings always spent summers with the grandparents and cousins, and traveled there frequently throughout their lives. She is of course a Swedish citizen, and so are all our kids.
3. My wife’s grandfather and grandmother lived in the house in Norrköping since 1944, when it was built, and her mother was born and raised there. She and I have always stayed there on our visits, as has the rest of the family, and our kids knew her great-grandfather and know the house, area, and the extensive network of cousins. That network has always been very welcoming to me and supportive toward our family.
4. I speak functional Swedish if I’m talking with kids; our kids are all bilingual. My vocabulary and idiom aren’t up to adult levels, but my comprehension is in what I call the “radio tuning” phase, in that sometimes when people are speaking Swedish all around me, and if I know what the conversation is about, I can understand them without translating in my head.
5. My wife and I have always considered moving to Sweden as Plan B, before and after marriage, before and after having kids. All of our life-plans have included a “trap door rope” approach, which is why we don’t have any debts, for instance. So pulling the rope isn’t like some huge decision that we had to process from the start. In our case, it began not only politically, but also in my decision to stop being a biology professor in 2014 and her decision to sell her business in 2015.
6. More autobiography: I’d seriously considered leaving the U.S. in 1983, the year I graduated high school, or 1987, the year I graduated college. Anything one may saying about “running away,” “idealistic,” “good riddance,” et cetera, I heard back then, in detail. The thing that really made the difference, aside from economic constraints like student loans, was my extensive experiences hitch-hiking throughout quite a lot of the country from my late teens into my mid-twenties. I liked many of the places and people, and decided to treat the “system” – votes, issues, elections – as an environment I could live in (“to love and to work”) if not believe in, in the usual patriotic or nationalist sense, or even support with any enthusiasm.
7. Back to politics: later, I completely shut down from the very late 80s, when President Bush pardoned Oliver North and the rest of that foul crew escaped summary justice, until the mid-2000s, when I learned Homeland Security was harassing my colleagues. You can see the results of my wake-up in my books Spione and Shahida. That shutdown period is why my acquaintances from the 1990s are probably puzzled to see all these references to strong, outright dissident political views, but they may remember how quickly I elided discussion or was difficult to pin down. (I am not summarizing the views. They are not considered rational in the culture I live in.)
8. Plan B became Plan A pretty fast due to a number of overlapping events and perceptions. (i) My very excellent book, The Edge of Evolution, did not propel me to fame and fortune (which should not stop you from buying it); (ii) the purchasers of my wife’s business turned out to be jerks and intolerable bosses; (iii) we experienced at best middling satisfaction in fitting into suburban parent life, at least in this area; and (iv) the stresses of all those things were clearly hitting our kids hard, and us too. Finally, out of pocket health expenses during the year prior to the Affordable Care Act were $12,000 (yes, non U.S. people, that’s with the good insurance, just ordinary health care, no accidents or anything unusual), in the first year under the act, $28,000 (no, U.S. people, so-called Obamacare is not a good thing), and obviously, things are only going to get much worse. One more year of this would put us into debt, paycheck-to-insurance-payment, a hole that nothing indicates can be escaped.
8 (continued). 2016 brought a lot of things at the same time. My wife’s parents offered us ownership of the family home. The Swedish relatives were eager to help with renovations and to organize anything we needed there. My wife looked for a job and was surprised to find it easily and on very good terms (I wasn’t surprised; she’s awesome). Our house here in the U.S. is in good shape and is evidently an easy sale. We looked at one another, looked again at those health care costs, and pulled the rope. More recently, I seem to have made good impressions upon some European academics concerning games, and although I hadn’t considered it before, am now building support for getting attached to a university.
We’ve been renovating the house in Norrköping since January and slowly-but-surely packing up the house here, including the Disposal From Hell I mentioned in the post. The main bulk of stuff we want to keep goes onto the Big Boat in just a couple of days. My wife has to complete her work contract through most of April. We’ll travel to Sweden in mid-May, and our house here will immediately be prepared and put onto the market. The house will be ready for occupancy when we arrive, although work on it will continue throughout the summer, and the Boat will arrive in early June. My wife’s new job begins July 1, and the kids are already registered for school in the public Swedish system in the fall.
I think that covers the questions and implications that people have raised so far, here and elsewhere. Follow up with anything else you’re interested in, with my comment about delayed replies still in effect.
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😛 Is there a word for a new genre of autobiography that takes on FUTURE events? You should patent this (?) (hm, not sure if those jokes are working, maybe ignore them)
But it’s all very interesting indeed. I do wonder, as a 30-year-old guy who plans to be a father someday, how do you manage the kids’ angle in all of this? Did you guys just spring the news on them, or talked it bit by bit over different days, or…?
The kids decided long ago that Swedish economics and health care made more sense, perhaps influenced by the framing of those issues by us. That was parent move preparation step 1. Step 2, discussing the move itself, was sweetened by the prospect of having their own rooms, being allowed pets that don’t live in a tank, getting longer recesses with actual physical activity during school, getting to visit Legoland in Denmark, and having parents who aren’t pissed off all the time. Two of them were OK with it almost instantly, and the third came along once he realized that many of the “friends and memories” he was lamenting weren’t actually that great. Oh, and one of the others remembered that Minecraft is headquartered in Stockholm, and immediately pulled out his Swedish kids’ books and cracked down on his math homework, as we told him good spoken Swedish and good math skills would be valued by them as future employers.
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Ha ha ha yeah! That’s cool. Thanks 🙂
Thanks for the details. Makes perfect sense when you explain it. Safe travels and best of luck with selling the U.S. house and settling into the new life. Besides a good move, it sounds like it will be a grand adventure.
Looking forward to seeing just as much of you around the internet (and the bookshelves) as ever.
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Safe travels to you and the family!
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Hope we get to hear about that talk in Italy! And of course, I join in the wishes for safe travels and an awesome future.
Here in 2017 California, for a guy happy with Kaiser, with no kids and a partner who can “support” herself, the Affordable Care Act has worked well. Saved my ass, in fact – very fortuitous timing. Which means nothing in the broader society, and I’m not trying to diminish your awful experience, but while I’ll not generally disagree with “so-called Obamacare is not a good thing”, the fact that it IS a good thing for me personally left me hoping it might have become so generally.
Now … actually, I have got no clue. About that – or a lot of things, when it comes to “now”. Moving to Sweden – OK, I can see it. And (not that my assessment is worth all that much) I suspect expat life might well agree with you! Just sad it makes it even less likely our paths will cross here in the US.
My perspective is that the terms “health care” and “insurance” have no business being in the same sentence. Any attempt to do this is broken from the start on the most straightforward grounds, especially in comparison to the majority of societies and health systems world-wide.
Therefore the factual observation that X number of people had health insurance and that now X+Y people have it, is not relevant. The relevant point is that you, for instance, were faced with the equivalent of a bullet in the back yard, and that you understandably, although not reasonably, find yourself grateful for the alternative no matter what it is. The reasonable position is that you or any citizen or resident of a nation should not be considering this-or-that “plan” for “coverage” at all.
I doubt I have to outline how this not-a-system favors both disempowering physicians who’d like to use their time, judgment, and all available resources to help a patient and jacking up institutional prices for services and treatments, recently to a grotesque level. Nor how people who do not fit quite into the categories – e.g., the elderly for a very obvious and leveling case – are literally discarded.
To make matters worse, the ACA contains a provision for fining employers who choose insurance plans whose premiums are above a certain level – i.e., selecting for those with low premiums, i.e., narrow and low-percent coverage. A number of vulture companies have instantly appeared to benefit from these circumstances, which is precisely the reason for the jump in our out-of-pocket family health expenses.
My position has no equivalent in most U.S. discourse, which is obsessed with notions of how health insurance was “fine” before the ACA and therefore the Act should be scrapped, or “fine” during the past few years of the ACA and therefore the Act should be retained. All of that is yipyap. Heath care + insurance was not and is not fine, nor can it be.
Oh, hell yes, most U.S. discourse on this subject is … I’ll be generous – misguided. My experience leaves me a bit grateful, but more importantly led me to think that MAYBE (very MUCH maybe) the ACA is a place from which a real solution can be built, or at least no worse a place, overall, than what wasn’t working before. In some ways what’s MOST annoying about (as you say) so-called Obamacare is that all the attention on it-as-a-target is just a distraction from the real problems. Heck, I just responded to the impulse to “defend” it, all the while believing that, since it was essentially written by the insurance companies, anything in it of real value was put there incidentally, accidentally, or maybe cleverly/covertly. And in all cases, at a cost.
My mother started working as a nurse in the 50’s, and worked with doctors who’d practiced before health insurance was widespread. The prevailing opinion she told me she remembered was that the spread of health insurance was GREAT for doctors and the AMA and hospitals and insurance companies. Not so great for patients or the quality of care. Now, I don’t know how rigorously true that is, or that we can go back to things like a doctor taking whatever can be bartered as payment for a procedure, but I’ve got no problem if the real solution abandons “insurance” as we know it.
Oh, and just so I know – who IS that busting down the door in the image atop this post? And … I, for one, would’ve guessed that you WERE capable of THIS – and obviously, you’re proving you ARE.
That is Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. Yes, 70s Marvel rocked even more than what I’ve blogged about.
2: I’m jealous. We have no foreign relations (or other toe-holds) to help with the legal hurdles of emigrating elsewhere.
3: Completely with you on “insurance just to get healthcare is dumb”. The ACA attempted to patch a system that needs to be blown up.
4: Curious which year your insurance shot up? Since various things have been phased in, I never know which year someone is referring to when they talk about the “first year of Obamacare”. (Usually 2015, since those were the biggest changes that most consumers were affected by, but it could be any year since 2013, obviously.)
Sorry for the delay in replying; three rounds of moving stuff will do that to a person.
The big shift in insurance hit for us between 2014 and 2015. This corresponds to the change from my wife owning her veterinary business to working for the new owners, and to changing from Blue Cross Blue Shield to United Healthcare. The latter is probably the most important variable. The point being, however, that UHC is a perfect example of those companies which offer low premiums to employers so they won’t get fined, thus also provide absurd deductibles, reduced range of coverage, and limited networks. Such companies used to be considered desperation options, and now they’re the norm due to that low-premium detail that sneaked into the Affordable Care Act at the 11th hour, just after single-payer was removed from it.