What is Extravagant When Living Overseas?

I have lived a variety of lifestyles, living and traveling both in the US and overseas. I’d never say I’m frugal but I certainly wouldn’t call myself extravagant either. I live a good lifestyle, living in a beautiful rental home with a yard for my dog. I rent a long term car, I travel on some of my vacations and I work on being debt free.

Defining Extravagant

I was on a local bus a few months ago talking to two colleagues. We were talking about how much Starbucks costs in Hungary and I mentioned how much I love Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes. I continued with the fact that I usually visit Starbucks once a week and always get my favorite drink. One colleague looked at me in horror. She went on to say she thought that was extravagant when there are many cheaper places to get a coffee in Budapest.

Starbucks VS Coach Purses
I don’t drink coffee, and Chai Tea Lattes are difficult to come by in Hungary. Even if they were plentiful, I found the comment surprising. Spending $4.80 US a week was extravagant in someones eyes? If I was buying Coach purses reguarly, costing $200-$400 US as some of my friends in the US did I would agree that was extravagant, but a weekly Starbucks? Later I sat down and did the math. One grande Chai Tea Latte every week for a year at 1,150 ft = $4.80 US totals $249.60 a year. Yes, there are many things to do with $249 US, but what is the point of working hard if you can’t enjoy your life?

Iced Chai Tea Latte

It’s All in Your Perspective
In my eyes a visit to Starbucks is a small pleasure. It’s a half hour where I can wind down after a long week. It’s a familiar piece of HOME. It’s a place I love, no matter how commerical and western that sounds. To me, comfort and small pleasures are not extravagant, they are necessary. Life overseas is challenging.

, When you are learning how to live in another country it’s time consuming and at times tiring. It’s nice to know there is a little piece of home at the end of a week. What are your little pleasures? How do you define extravagant?

Living in Budapest; The First One Hundred Days

Each overseas post is a little different; but one thing remains the same, there’s an adjustment period for each of us. This time around in some ways my adjustment was easier, but in other ways it was just as crazy as usual. We often hear people speak of a president’s first hundred days in office. Well I’m taking that phrase and using it to highlight my adjustment to Budapest, and my third overseas job.

Touch Down

My arrival in Budapest was a little intense. It took a few minutes after ALL the passengers had departed with their luggage for me to find my dog. STRESS!! Then the driver sent to pick me up didn’t speak English. Not a happy moment for me, not with a dog in tow.

As we rode into the city and I saw all the beautiful bridges and historic buildings I was enchanted with Budapest. My dog was next to me in the van and I was feeling excited to start a new chapter in our overseas life. Here is a link to my photo impressions of our first week in Budapest.

Living in Budapest and Finding A House

house hunting in budapest

One of many houses I looked at, but decided against. This one I liked but the landlord wasn’t willing to remove their art or furniture.

Everyone has questions and wonders what it will be like to find a house in a foreign country. I can happily share with you that house hunting in Budapest is a great experience. The houses will not disappoint you. I was shocked at the amenities offered and the beauty of the houses. (This is Eastern Europe after all.) I was not expecting the fantastic options I found.

Also keep in mind I’ve lived in Berlin and house hunted there. Berlin was a little different. I didn’t have my dog then, I had cats. So I opted for an apartment right in a shopping district of Berlin. This time around I needed a BIG yard, for a BIG dog. I needed a spacious house with space for him to be comfortable. Take a look at My House Hunting Budapest Experience

Getting Settled

Getting settled into my house was pretty straight forward and a good experience for us. I’m living four blocks from shops and public transportation. Tanner loves our yard and as an added bonus for Tanner and I we were asked to care for our landlords cat when they moved to Austria. Now Tanner has a new buddy, and they get along very well.

My Shipment Is Here

household shipment

This part of my experience was more difficult and complicated this time around. When I moved to Berlin my shipment came by air and arrived within days of my arrival. This time, that wasn’t the case, due to some confusion with the shipping company. Because my employer was paying for shipping costs there were certain guidelines. (Just like in Berlin.)

To err on the side of caution (because I didn’t want a big expensive bill for excess weight) the shipping company had to send someone out twice to double check the dimensions and weight of my shipment. The problem stemmed from the fact that I was departing the US within days and shipping company was overbooked with appointments and couldn’t send someone back out to check my shipment.

Plan B

My shipment was departing from Florida, and fortunately my aunt lived only 8 blocks from the storage facility where I was storing my household belongings. Most of which remain in Florida, with a small shipment to Budapest. Because my storage was filled to capacity I worried that the movers might take the wrong boxes. So I loaded my rental PT Cruiser and made multiple trips to her house in Florida’s 100 degree summer heat. Fun stuff!

I stored my 24 boxes, my bike and two paintings being shipped to Budapest in my aunts garage. Though my shipment was coming by air, there were multiple delays :-(. The moving company whose price quote I’d accepted was fully booked for pack outs and when they had a free day to come my aunt was unavailable……ahk it was a vicious circle for a bit. Finding a date and time that worked. At last my shipment arrived, cleared customs and was delivered in September; six weeks after my arrival.

Figuring It All Out With A Lot of Help

living in Budapest

My first real shopping excursion and the small and expensive bags of dog food, that would never work for a 140 lb dog.

It took me a bit to figure out the daily details of life in Budapest. My employer and colleagues were fantastic. Seriously, fantastic. If I needed to know how to find something someone, many someones were there to help. That was a godsend. We forget until we’re overseas that we have to figure out every little detail to begin our life…. Where to shop, where to find hard to find products and spices, and where to find dog food in bags larger than say five lbs. Yes, that clearly wasn’t going to work for us. There was also finding my way around, and navigating the city transportation. I wanted to learn where my colleagues and friends were living, and where to find my favorite ethnic restaurants.

It was a process; even with substantial help, it took a few weeks to really feel like I had daily life in Budapest under control. I’d say I finally felt like things were in control around Halloween. I’d settled in, I had my household goods and I’d had a weeks vacation. That was 96 days in to my adventure of living in Budapest. That’s why I say it really takes about a hundred days to feel like you have a handle on living life overseas.

Living in Budapest: Our Journey to Budapest

Moving overseas with a pet requires organization, USDA paperwork, patience and sometimes multiple leg journeys by car and air. This is the break down of how my dog Tanner and I arrived in Budapest.

Miles Driven 1,822

Rental Cars (4)

Miles Flown 5,518

Flights (4)

How Do The Miles Break Down?

1,140 miles, driving round trip from my family’s home in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Bethesda, Maryland to the Search Associates Recruitment Fair.

682 miles driven alone with my dog Tanner from Fort Wayne, Indiana to North Beach Maryland to my cousin Cindy’s home, and on to Dulles Airport to depart for Budapest.

jeep liberty
Our ride to Maryland

Our Flights

931 miles flown from Fort Wayne, Indiana to St. Petersburg, FL to complete the transfer of my household goods to a smaller storage unit.

Flights Missed (1)

Leaving St. Petersburg on a 6 am flight, I overslept (sleeping through two alarms) and missed my flight.

Cost…don’t ask.
An additional same day flight to a nearby city.
A one way rental car.
An additional 101 miles driven.

Flying with Dogs; Doggie and Mom Flights (2)

Lufthansa Budapest

pet airline ticket

4,587 miles flown by Tanner and I together from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Frankfurt, Germany and on to Budapest, Hungary. Layover time: 12 hours to make certain Tanner got his pet rest stop for potty breaks, food and rest. (5 hour minimum required by Lufthansa Airlines.)

Budapest Bound in Six Days

I started writing this short post last night, and fell asleep loading the photo…That may give you an indication of my level of exhaustion through this international moving process.

I Will Be On An Airplane to Budapest in Six Days.
I am excited to begin this new life in Budapest, Hungary. I am also amazed and overwhelmed by the list of remaining tasks to complete before our departure.

Pet Relocation Tasks
I sent off Tanner’s required International vet certificate yesterday (to the USDA office in my state via Fed Ex.) I pray that it will arrive back to me via Fed Ex on time, on Wednesday am so that I can breathe a sigh of relief. It seems insane to leave it so close to departure, yet that is a REQUIREMENT of entry for pets to most or all countries. The forms must be completed and stamped within ten days of arrival. My thought is that I don’t want to land on the last day the form is acceptable. I’d rather have a few days lee way, just in case. That means running tight on this end, giving myself fewer days to get it signed to have the lee way on arrival. Either way you go it is a STRESSFUL task.

Things I’ve Learned All Over Again
You quickly realize as you pare down belongings for departure that there are times you will look at things and say, in this moment, I can live without that. The tasks of packing, shipping, organizing and dealing with weight limits becomes a pain in the ass. You easily let items go and say, I can buy that overseas. I’m leaving it here, giving it to a friend or donating it.

airplane in flight

There Will Be More Things on Your To Do List Than You Can Do
This I already know…..lol When I moved to Germany from Hawaii I spent the first hour of my flight out of Hawaii with a garbage bag and two weeks of mail to read and recycle. You cannot get everything done. You will delegate a few last minute chores, it is the reality of an overseas move. Thank goodness for family and friends.

The Joy and Excitement Will Out Weigh the Frustration and Hassles of Your Move

At the end of the day, my anticipation for life in Budapest brings me through the longest days, and the most time consuming chores. When it feels overwhelming, and IT DOES, I take a moment and reflect on the blessing of what lies ahead. An amazing adventure and job in a new culture and country. That is the pay off. That makes everything worth it.

Photo credit Vox Efx