Is it time to repatriate?

We’ve been thinking about moving back to Germany for a long time now. I probably started thinking about it after being a couple years in California. But ever since there were always enough reasons for us not to move back yet. New job opportunities, new projects, kids settled in school, having good friends, happiness, the Californian climate, lots of travel destinations in close proximity, the diversity and tolerance in the Bay Area. But there were always many reasons to think about going back to Germany as well: Children have more freedom in Europe (especially when they get older) and living closer to family and old friends. Less of a meritocracy than in the Silicon Valley which means less significance of your possessions and salary. And for me personally going back to being a teacher in Germany.

Repatriating means to restore or return to the country of origin, allegiance, or citizenship.

Re-patriating for us would mean to actively make the decision to move back and to follow through. We’d have to quit jobs, take our children out of their schools, move all our stuff and then find new housing, new schools and new jobs in Germany. That’s hell of a project and it holds unimagined risks and difficulties for all of us. It is a tough decision. It is so much harder than moving to California for a few years of adventure. Now, after building a life here, you basically have to decide which life you choose for the rest of our children’s childhood. I know, you could always try to come back, but it’s not very likely to pull your kids out of school twice, especially when they are about 12 and 15 and are having a rough teenage life already. I’ve been saying for a while that I’m waiting for a sign that tells us moving back is the right thing to do. I was more thinking about a job opportunity, someone in the family in the need of our immediate support or something like that.

But now. This. Sign.

After this election the discussion about a move has become significantly more important in our house. Previously to the election, my husband and I were joking: “Well, if Trump becomes president, we’ll move back to Germany.” And here we go. This is not good. At least we are in California, which should be an example for the rest of the US. A melting pot of cultures living and working together pretty successfully and that is the 6th strongest economy in the world.

I don’t believe that this election will change the rhythm and connections in our daily life, but I’m not as confident as others might be that influential, more serious Republicans will stop Trump from running amok. And I’m not sure if I want to live in a country where so many people are obviously ok with voting for a racist, sexist and homophobic business man who has almost no political experience.

Is leaving the better option? I know there are racist and homophobic people in Germany, too. So, what to do now? Should this be one of the reasons that make us move back to our country of origin? I honestly don’t know. But I think it might be.

I’d love your comments on this one!

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

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18 Comments

  1. topochinesvino

    November 14, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I have dual US and Spain citizenship and my wife and i had this same conversation yesterday. If things go to hell here (which I am cautiously optimistic they will not) then Europe will be hard to resist. Spain or Croatia, which we just visited and loved. Check out our blog posts on that trip if you haven’t seen them: https://topochinesvino.com/2016/11/03/croatias-terroir/

    1. bellamonte

      November 14, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’m not as optimistic as you are considering the staff he’s starting to announce, but I hope that domestic politics won’t be as bad as we might fear. I’m more worried about foreign politics. And I will check out your blogpost for sure, Croatia is on my list of travel destinations and we loved all our trips to Northern Spain.

      1. topochinesvino

        November 14, 2016 at 10:32 pm

        It’s perhaps blind optimism?

  2. S.V. Cambria (@SVCambria)

    November 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I found your blog through Restless Jo and wanted to say I feel your pain. I’m American, my husband is British. This election (I can’t even type his name and the word president-elect) has been extremely stressful and disheartening (as was Brexit). I just hope you’re right, that it won’t make a big impact on our daily lives (we’re based in Washington near Seattle), but I’m gutted by what this says about a country I love . . . even more so by the fact that the majority of those who did take the time to vote were shown once again that it doesn’t matter.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA</a

    1. bellamonte

      November 14, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment! “It is painful, and it’s gonna be painful for a very long time.” It might not even matter where you live, we might all feel the consequences of this election, worldwide. Let’s hope he will have at least one or the other decent consultant of which he is positively influenced.

  3. Carol Levy

    November 14, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    i laugh at the idea of you moving back to Germany. I just wrote to some Germany friends: “Move over, Germany! it’s time for America to get its Nazi government!”

    If I did not have a couple of significant issues keeping me here, i’d probably be looking to move to New Zealand or more likely, British Columbia, Canada. I do have friends going to Canada – they are wealthy and retired and are disgusted with this direction our country has gone. They made the arrangements after the Bush presidency and have just been renewing it, whatever it is.

    For me it would be two issues – my husband’s job — he’s 62 and not ready to retire — and i have have a severe health issue that has me on a clinical trial.
    But honestly, with friends moving here and there and everywhere i’m losing hope that i’ll know anyone locally within 5 years.

    The thing i hate most about this situation is that i know my tax dollars will be used on projects that i have such disagreement with, it makes me sick. Honestly it has had me despondent and sleepless. i want to take every penny i have and disappear to another country.

    I openly wish that t Mitch McConnell could be tried as a traitor for openly obstructing our President’s every move. I still wish that Cheney would be tried as a war profiteer, which he most certainly is. Where the hell are attorneys who should be taking these people on?

    Now that the cabinet is shaping up for the next president — #notmypresident — i am more than disgusted, i no longer feel American. This is no longer my country. My father fought bravely as a WW2 hero and i thank God he is deceased, or he’d be outraged – and he was a true Eisenhower Republican. That good GOP does not exist anymore.

    Now it’s just greedy sons of bitches who can’t wait to take money from people with disabled children. The fucking GOP started the wars we’re in against our wishes, and they were the ones that fucked up the Veteran’s Administration’s ability to help the soldiers returning with catastrophic health issues. America’s middle class has forgotten how screwed up this place was when Obama took office. The economy was imploding and veterans were getting ignored and screwed out of what was due them for their service. Auto companies were heading to bankruptcy and they would have taken millions more people with them who supply parts and support for those companies’ customers.

    I can’t wait until those working middle class idiots realize that Trump ha no intention of keeping his promises — he will raise their taxes and take us even deeper into debt. He lied his way to the White House. Now he’s putting white supremists in there, i feel awful for anyone who is not a white man with a lot of money. Those guys will get richer and our middle class will be more desperate than ever.

    I blame the Democrats too – they lost their way, too. Bernie Sanders probably COULD have won this election because he has no baggage and he is passionate about the middle class. But the Democrats fucked it up too. We needed a woman in the white house.

    1. bellamonte

      November 14, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Carol, thank you for your comment. I can hear your anger and I agree with you in many ways. The Democrats didn’t do a great job with their campaign and yes, I’d have loved to see a woman in the White House. And he did lye his way to become president. He’s already pulled back on some things he promised. But I wonder why you feel that you have the right to laugh at me moving back to Germany? It’s my home country and I actually think that we showed way more human decency in the last years than the US. Moving back would give me the chance to stand up for a German government that is less hypocrite but more liberal and tolerant.

  4. Sandra

    November 14, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    I had this conversation with friends and family while visiting home (Kölle) this summer. 8 years abroad seems long enough for me, but now I’m wondering if taking my son (14) back will not do more harm then benefit to him. However, if the aftermath of this election will bare negative consequences for us, leaving will become a reality!

  5. bhigley001

    November 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Hmmm….. I don’t want to see you go. I’m a better person because I’ve had you in my life. I would like to think that I have had some positive influence on you as well and guess what? I’m a republican. Or at least more of my stances on issues and government structure and laws lie on the red side. I will not defend Trump the man. I can’t. I just can’t and don’t want to even try. I find him vile, egotistical, and hateful. It is not what I stand for as a republican. But voting Republican is more than voting for the man they unfortunately put on the ticket. There are many checks and balances in the federal government I will remind everyone on here. So he isn’t just a lose cannon.
    On all issues it seems, you will have someone or something benefit and someone on the other end who loses. More times than not, those are very difficult calls to make. Unfortunately, more than it should it tends to be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Those squeaky wheels usually have lobbyist with very deep pockets. But I don’t want to go down that road right now.
    Some things termed progressive and more tolerant by liberals I find to be opposite. One example is affirmative action or diversity in the work place. I absolutely agree that equal work should get equal pay. I absolutely agree that a man or woman’s career progression should not be influenced by the color, background, or religion (or lack thereof). But because of the current need to run a diversified practice or promote frankly from people other than “white men” I see many unfair work practices taking place all in the name of “fairness”. For example, my husband works with a lady who had a baby, chose to continue working after having the baby, chose to breastfeed her child. All these things are fine on their own. However, when you take the same women in these circumstances and because she is a “working mother” with an infant she works until 2 pm and has Friday’s off to spend with her child. She also gets paid full salary. What a wonderful place to work as a working mom! These experiences probably get companies on the lists of “Best places to work as a mother” etc. However, what about all the people who are now doing her meetings if they happen after 2pm or on Friday? What about the employees who do her work because everyone is still working at 8,9,10pm or later on a regular day and now get to do extra work on the weekend because essentially they are short one staff member because she has to spend time with her newborn? Do I sound heartless? Maybe I am. All the while my husband put extra hours into his normal 70 hour work week I had my own newborn, oh wait!, I actually had twin newborns plus four other children to take care of. I had less help at home because she received more consideration from the company in the name of diversity, equal opportunity, and tolerance. She received the same pay for less work, I received less help from someone doing some of her work, which actually cost me money because I would have to hire help to sub for my husband’s absence. I had no offer of compensation to make that up or even recognition that this was happening. My children received less time with their father and that’s a something that you can’t make up or get back. This happens all the time. To me what she was doing was dishonest. I found it stealing to do 60% of the work for 100% pay. But even if she felt that way (and maybe she did) I don’t know if the firm would have changed anything because they were “being progressive and tolerant and diversified”. Just one example. There are many. As I’m sure there are many that go the other way. This problem is only solved with honesty.
    You could take laws on running schools or laws on environmental issues and you will find a winner and a loser every time. The winner might be a company that employs thousands of workers and therefore sustains thousands of families but the loser might be the mountain and wildlife and local ecosystem along with everyone who has ever enjoyed or would ever enjoy that part of nature. The winner might be the family that can’t afford groceries but the loser might be the man buying ground beef because that’s in his budget waiting behind the lady buying crab legs with food stamps. True stories.
    There is no one-size-fits -all government. There just can’t be and won’t ever be. The best you can do is keep your own house in order and teach your children to grow up and be contributors to a healthy society.
    I believe in teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him a fish. I understand and support the need for welfare assistance programs but believe we need a better system to ween people off these programs. If you expect nothing out of people that is what you will usually get. People need and want responsibility. That is how you grow, learn, and gain pride in yourself and your work. But, all the while I remember these are individuals with families. I believe in helping the refugee and immigrant but I also believe in contributing to a country you move to. I believe in the whole but also love and have charity for the individual. I ramble now….
    I don’t think a republican government is as bleak as you might imagine but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe your views tend to lie more blue than I realize. And that’s your right. Never can we take away one’s God given free agency- the most fought for and sacred of privileges. We should not take away one man’s or instition’s freedom to give another’s his claimed freedom. How do you navigate this? With individual integrity for starters.
    I’m really not pointing a finger here but I do want to say- never let us forget that losing honesty, integrity, and charity in the name of progress (a term that gets thrown around so easily these days) is not really progress at all.

    I’m glad your my neighbor and I hope it stays that way for a long, long time. I love you my friend.

  6. bhigley001

    November 14, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    And, by the way, I love your profile photo.

  7. incahootswithmuddyboots

    November 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    This is one of the most disturbing events in my lifetime. What worries me more than anything is the group of characters who are going to be making decisions for the next four years. I just can’t wrap my head around all the hate and vileness that has come to the surface! To think of how many people endorsed this ticket, regardless of “why”, is mind-boggling! I hope they get what they voted for, but somehow I doubt that will happen. The new GOP world order doesn’t care about anything but lining their own pockets. If the GOP really wanted change for the good of ALL of us, they would have changed their ways decades ago.
    For the first time ever, I feel absolutely devastated and almost hopeless as to the future of human decency.
    I wish you all the best and am sure that your family will make the best decision that’s right for you! In the meantime, know that you’re not alone in this!

    1. bellamonte

      November 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment. I hope that we’ll make the best decision for our family, too! It is very good and helpful to share all the feelings we have about this. I think somehow it applies to both parties that they didn’t change things for the good of ALL people, that’s we so many people are frustrated and discouraged and gave their vote to the GOP, because they wanted things to change and in their eyes, Hillary didn’t offer this change. Maybe Bernie Sanders could have? I don’t know. Maybe there will be always winners on one end and losers on the other end when it comes to political decisions. But now with this president elect hatred and racism makes its way into the white house. Scary.

      1. incahootswithmuddyboots

        November 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

        Very scary indeed! I have friends and acquaintances who voted for him. That blew me away! Society has become way to self-centered to where I often feel that no one give a damn except for themselves. Sad! I do however, very much appreciate your thoughtful posts on this entire mess! Be well. 😊

  8. Constance Kaltenbach

    November 16, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Hello, I feel your pain. 15 years in the US, our first presidential elections as American Citizens, and now this. Honestly, I wish we had gone back to Germany many years ago, but it is also an issue whether you agree as a couple or as a family. Not everyone wants to go back or stay at the same time, but if you agree as a couple, that is already wonderful. Then the second question is, whether it is the right time for the kids, or both kids, and there is probably never the right time for the entire family. Someone will always have minor or major disadvantages with the new situation.
    And believe it or not, after the election I got a phone call from Germany, somebody was giving congratulations on the new president -elect and celebrating in Germany, somebody I would never have thought had this way of thinking. I was crushed. I guess just like here more people even in Germany actually support this unsuspected outcome – as there are actually a lot of people very unhappy with the political situation too. We might be very surprised – you might want to postpone your decision until the 2017 “Bundestagswahl”. Of course I still hope this all is just a bad dream. Good luck with your decisions!

    1. bellamonte

      November 16, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      I agree with you, Constance! There is never the right time for everyone. But taking everything into account, I think we will move and try to make it as positive as possible for each of us. I don’t really want to let politics influence our own personal life that much, but we won’t be able to vote in the US before 10 more years and that is something that started bothering me, too. I talked to Germans as well and even though as for now I really hope I don’t know anyone who’d vote for the AfD, I heard that many people are convinced that they will get into the “Bundestag” as third strongest party in 2017. But I’m pretty sure they won’t put up the next chancellor. Germany is still better off with its multiple parties than the US where you could be sure that your third party vote didn’t really count. But anyway, for now this world heads in the wrong direction and that is what makes me nervous in general, for ourselves and for our children. We have to do anything we possibly can to teach our kids tolerance, kindness and to stand up for others. Thank you for your comment!

  9. arv!

    November 19, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Recent UK and US elections point to one thing
    People want change! Good or bad? That’s a difficult issue. moving? Yes if that has always been lingering on your mind. hope this helps

  10. fatfreddysproject

    January 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Good luck with your choice. The next president may not be, well, desirable (understatement of the year), but he’ll not last forever. I was repatriated to home country (Sweden) years ago after spending 20 years overseas. It took me a good decade to feel at home and at ease with the idea of staying for good. Yet I came home under favourable circumstances – I had a job to go to and I had somewhere to live whilst sorting out permanent accommodation for the family. It was so much harder to come home than I had envisaged. May you have an easier journey

    1. bellamonte

      January 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind reply, Freddy! It is great to see that people actually read what you write and that people share common experiences.
      We are bracing ourselves for the move back and we know it will be really tough, especially leaving California, the land of milk and honey after such a long time.
      But we do miss Europe, the culture and customs and I hope that the experience of living there will be enriching for our kids. And I’m afraid that politics in European countries might change for worse, too. Let’s hope that the Germans and the French will be smarter than the Americans. Thanks again and a happy and healthy 2017!

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