Andrew and I have been living in Belgium now for almost two years, which means his original work contract is drawing to a close. We know that we want to remain in Belgium for at least a few more years. That however, seems to be the only thing we are certain of.
Andrew’s company is more than willing to have him remain in the Belgian office and, in fact, I can’t imagine moving back to Canada already. It took us close to a year to feel settled here and time has flown by. It feels as though we’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to discover here.
We are however, facing many difficult questions – questions which as of yet have no answers.
The biggest and most looming question is should Andrew remain as a Canadian employee contracted to the Belgian office or should he take a local contract? What would this mean for our taxes and for our residency status in both countries?
But staying on in Europe leaves us wondering many other things…
Is there a way for me to work in Belgium so that my career is no longer on hold?
Do we stay in the house that we are renting or do we look for somewhere else to live?
What do we say to friends and family who will be disappointed that we aren’t returning right away? Will anyone else come to visit us in Belgium, now that the initial excitement has worn off?
Andrew also faces questions at work. Which new position will he move into and what will that mean for us?
One thing that is drastically different about our expat life is the inability to make long term plans. In three more years, how will we feel about living in Belgium? How will Andrew feel about working for the same company? How will I feel about where my career is headed?
It is natural for people to ask us questions about our near and long-term future. Our Canadian friends and family wonder when we will be home. Our friends here wonder how long we will stay in Belgium. Whatever we decide, there will be some guilt and some sadness.
I also feel slightly adrift by no longer owning property anywhere. But does it make sense to by land or a house when we have no long term plan of where we’ll be in three years?
There are no straightforward answers to any of our questions. It seems that if we do manage to answer one question, four more arise from the decision.
We have some difficult decisions ahead of us over the next few months and I am hoping for the clarity to make the right choices, or at least the ability to deal with the choices we make.