To say that a lot has changed since my last post would be a gross understatement! But it’s true. Life as we knew it is on pause; our new normal is evolving on a daily basis.
My family was planning to fly to Europe for the summer once the kids finished school in late May. We want to settle down there eventually.
But the EU has closed all Schengen borders for at least 30 days beginning March 17 to non-EU nationals to slow the spread of the COVID-19. The State Department issued a Level 4 Global Health Advisory recommending U.S. citizens avoid all international travel.
Stay Home. That’s the message. Not a big deal if you were in the talking and research phase of planning a move abroad. But what if you bought plane tickets, mailed in visa applications, put down a deposit on your new apartment in X country or worse yet, recently sold your home?
What Can You Do???
First, try to relax, don’t panic. The U.S. and Europe are essentially on pause right now so time is on your side. Handle one issue at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Plane Tickets – Contact the airline(s) or third party you booked your tickets with to see if you can get a refund or allow you to change the travel dates at no additional charge. It’s the least they can do since travel to Europe is restricted.
Visa Application(s) – If you used VFS Global to process your application all visa operations are closed until further notice. Refer to the website for up to date information. If you used another company please contact them directly for status updates.
Lease Agreements/Home Purchase (Abroad) – Contact your estate agent or landlord to discuss your options. If you’ve changed your mind about relocating find out if your landlord is willing to cancel the contract and return some/all of your deposit. If you’re in the process of purchasing a property consult with a real estate attorney from X country to know what your legal rights are in terms of terminating the deal or extending the closing date. Flexibility is key for all parties involved.
Lease Agreements/Home Sale (Stateside) – If you gave notice to your property manager to leave by a certain date and need to change it, contact them to find out if can convert your lease to a month to month situation. Otherwise you may have to crash with family/friends or find a new place to live. If you’re about to close on the sale of your home, you’re obligated to complete the sale or risk being sued by the buyer and possibly the listing agent for breach of contract which could involve stiff financial penalties. Or maybe the buyer will be understanding about your situation and let you out of the deal. Again, please consult an attorney before making any decisions.
Anything Else – You should have noticed a pattern by now 🙂 Contact anyone else directly involved with your move abroad. Everyone is venturing into uncharted territory right now so don’t assume that your plans are dead in the water. Maybe all you need to do is adjust your timeline to make it all happen!
When Will Things Get Back to Normal?
China’s first coronavirus cases began late last year and is now starting to reopen businesses, restaurants, and tourist attractions with strict virus control measures in place. Masks are worn everywhere, travel is monitored via smartphones, work areas are repeatedly sanitized and employees are subject to daily temperature checks.
There’s still fear of a resurgence of new infections in China but a complete lock down with no end in sight is not an option for economic survival either. Risking an infection to put food on the table is a balancing act no one should face but that’s the reality.
The U.S. hopes to follow suit over the next couple of months but we haven’t reached our apex yet. The United States leads the world in the number of reported infections and those numbers along with deaths continue to rise.
So for now, moving abroad is a delayed dream for many but hopefully not indefinitely!
In the meantime, continue to protect yourself and loved ones by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask and gloves when you go out, wash your hands frequently and staying hopeful during these difficult times.
Take care! 👍