Today, on the “Families Moving Abroad” series, Lauren and Martin share their journey from the USA to Norway.
Lauren and her husband knew for a while they wanted to experience living abroad, so they jumped at the chance to do so when an opportunity arose. However, it hasn’t been a straight forward journey once the decision was made. Lauren nevertheless shares her journey with an amazing optimism, in her uplifting account below. She also sent me her post and photos whilst they were moving into their new home, what a superstar! Let’s dive in…
Our family is made up of myself (Lauren), my husband, Martin, our two boys: MJ (2 years) and Henry (5 months), and our dog, a giant schnauzer named Baron (5 years). We recently moved to Stavanger, Norway from Houston, Texas for my husband’s job. Moving abroad was always on our minds and something that my husband and I constantly talked about for almost 10 years now.
Why would you ever want to leave America??
My husband and I love to travel and experience new cultures. Together we have travelled to South America, Europe, and Asia; so, the idea of incorporating travel or living abroad into our lives when we had kids was always something we talked about. The seed was planted deep within our minds when we visited my cousin and her family in Quito, Ecuador back in 2012. They had previously lived in Japan for a couple years with their 2 girls, moved back to the States for a few years and were now living in Ecuador.
We loved how globally minded their girls were. They were speaking Spanish in school as a second language, going on Amazon rainforest excursions, and were attending student UN trips in Brazil with their school.
WOW, it made such an impact on us that these girls were so knowledgeable about other cultures and parts of the world that no one back home even knew existed!
Marty and I knew then that this is how we wanted to raise our children. We wanted to give them an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in another culture and language, as well as give them an opportunity to travel parts of the world that would more easily be accessible to them living in Europe.
So, when Marty asked if he should apply for a new position within his company in Norway, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! When he received the position, we were ecstatic; we could not believe our dream was finally becoming a reality.
The Move: Babies, Surgeries, and COVID-19
I was due with our second son, Henry, at the end of October when we learned that we would be moving to Stavanger. After discussing a start date for the family to move, we settled on the first of the year 2021.
Henry came 2 weeks early, and we learned we were going to have a long journey ahead of us after his birth.
Henry was born with Pierre-Robin Sequence and would require multiple surgeries before he is 1.
At 10 days old he had his first surgery and his second was the end of January. We made the decision as a family to have Marty go ahead in January while I would stay behind with the boys and live with my parents until we could fly over.
It was extremely hard on Marty to not be there for Henry’s second surgery in January, but Henry is a normal, happy boy today and you would not guess he had such a rough start to life.
Moving During Covid
Through all this, we were also moving during a pandemic!
Me and the boys were finally heading to Norway at the end of February 2021 and reuniting our family.
Between the time Marty got to Norway and the end of February, Norway had changed their rules to only allow residents and their immediate family members to enter the country.
Luckily, Marty had received his Norwegian ID number and established residency. While it was hard being apart for a couple months, we were glad it did not end up being longer as it easily could have. Marty has a co-worker who was supposed to move to Norway mid-February and still has not been able to enter the country. She and her family have already packed up everything and sold the house. They are still living out of a hotel until Norway eases their COVID-19 policy and allows non-residents into the country.
What Makes a Great Move?
We read A Great Move: Surviving and Thriving in Your Expat Assignment by Katia Vlachos to help prepare us for our move and life as an expatriate in Norway. The book was a huge resource for us to help align our expectations with life in Norway. One of the concepts she talks about is what “home” means to you: a place, a feeling, or proximity to loved ones.
To both my myself and Marty, “home” is a feeling; therefore, moving to a new country is something we could adapt to quickly.
Vlachos also discusses strategies to help incorporate your children into your relocation to make them feel a part of the decision, the move, and a part of the house-hunting once you have arrived in your new country. While our boys are too young to really understand what is going on around them, we will follow the advice and plans laid out in the book for when we do return to the States.
In addition, we talked about aligning our expectations for our family for living in Norway. We discussed how we want to be out hiking, camping, and exploring the country every weekend. We have booked our first family vacation to the Lofoten Islands in August and have multiple hikes planned out for our weekends ahead. We love the work-life balance that Norway affords, and the fact that our boys will be raised in an outdoor-centric lifestyle. We recommend the book to anyone thinking about moving abroad or are in the midst of a relocation.
You’ll Never Know When You May Need Another Bottle of Wine in Quarantine…
In addition to reading a book about creating a great expatriate assignment, we also connected with the expat community in Stavanger. We talked with those that had made the move before us and took notes on everything they said they would do differently. Everyone was more than helpful with answering our questions and one of them even brought us a bottle of wine when we ran out in self-quarantine!
Lessons I Learned
One lesson I have learned recently is to give ourselves a little grace with our outings. Because of COVID, we have done little to nothing outside of the home the past year. So, we are learning not only how our family of 4 functions with outings but doing so in a foreign country. With every outing we are learning more and becoming more efficient toting 2 under 2 around Norway!
Whether you are relocating internationally for a job or considering moving for personal reasons, there seems to never be a perfect time to move your family halfway around the world. Despite the challenges we faced getting to Norway, we held on to our dream of living abroad and the desire to raise globally minded children.
You can continue to follow our journey on Instagram by following @kruegerfamilytravels. Stay tuned for more nature and travel inspiration from our local and global family adventures!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Lauren, I wish you all the best in your new life in Norway and look forward to seeing you settle in your new life. I can’t wait to see your updated on your hikes and trips in your new European life too!