Sunday, July 11, 2010

This Is What Makes Me Nervous....

....about moving back to the States: American Dream Is Elusive for New Generation

So most people know that we plan to move back to the US in the relatively short-term. And while I am BEYOND excited to go back, see my family and friends, eat my favorite food and start our life up North, I am also scared about how that life will be. Every day I feel like the news about the US economy and job market gets worse. They say "oh we think the worst is over" and then a month later, "we've hit a new high on the unemployment rate". Not only that, it doesn't seem that unemployment is affecting just one age range, but all of them.

When I was in college, we were all under the assumption, due to how the market was, that getting a job would be a piece of cake. Not only that, but you the person seeking the job, had the upper hand over the company who wanted to hire you. Why? Because multiple companies wanted you, and so they had to fight to get you, to show you why they were better than their competition, woo you, negotiate with you. Now, understand that some people really did take advantage of this, stringing companies along for the ride. I would never do that. But when you have several companies who want you and who offer great opportunities, all of which you are interested in, how they heck are you to decide?

Now, however, the job market isn't like that. At least from what I have heard from friends and from what I have seen in the news. So why, and how, can we just up and leave our great jobs here to the unknown there?

I worry that we won't live as well there as we do here. Not that we live like kings here, but by Chilean standards, we have it good. We save half of what we make, we live in the downtown business district, we have a car and enjoy social events as they arise. Compared to the average Chilean household, yes, we live a nice life here. (See Andrea's description of the segmentation in Santiago.) And so obviously that is what we expect there too.

I have voiced these concerns to Christian. Because they don't only have to do with the job situation, but also health insurance. We all know insurance in the States is ridiculous and as Emily pointed out, Chile's health insurance system is pretty darn efficient if you have private insurance. But I'll leave the health insurance topic at that for now. So what was Christian's reaction to me babbling on and on about how I feel like we are going to fail in the US? "Bueno, si nos va mal.....siempre podemos regresar a Chile." Translation: If we don't do well, we can always move back to Chile.

And you know what? That hadn't really crossed my mind. And he is 100% right. If we can't find jobs up there and aren't living the life we want, we can always move back to Chile. We know we can get good jobs here because we already have good jobs. And Christian having experience in the States (read: fluent English) will only make him more of an asset here.

But while that is an option, it is still scary and I don't really want to find myself in that position of having to make the decision to move back because of financial/job issues. So ya, that NY Times article I linked to makes me nervous as heck. It makes me worry even more that I won't be able to find a good job--not to mention the fact that I don't even know what I want to do when we get back. Should I stay in accounting? Transition into a different career? What job will I love? What will Christian do? Will he be able to find something without stupid racist people discriminating against him? (In case you are wondering, we won't be moving or ever visiting Arizona so at least I don't have to worry about that.)

I guess we just have to make the jump, even though it is scary and there are a lot of unknowns. I obviously don't do with well all that uncertainty, especially when it has to do with things that are out of my control. But I feel like it is now or never. And if we don't make the jump, we'll always be left wondering. I just hope it turns out the way I see it in my dreams....


Holly said...

I guess now I'm just wondering why you are even leaving Chile in the first place...

But isn't it nice when someone blows your mind by saying something comforting you never thought of, like "you can always come back?"

Andrea said...

I can definitely put myself in your shoes and see why you're nervous. But you stated yourself, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The fact of the matter is that you will NEVER live better in the US than you do in Chile. The reason being is that here, money goes further. You may very well be able to live the same life you live now but of course, it will be more expensive than it is here.
I definitely live way better here than I do there and I've taken this into account even without making a U.S. salary as I currently do.
I guess it's about taking the pros with the cons. Everything is a chance but you guys have one another and you are lucky enough to have a fall back option. That is, Chile. Just as Christian stated - you can always come back and as long as you keep up your Spanish and remain bilingual, you will definitely have an edge if you return.

Tyffanie said...

@Holly--Leaving Chile has just always been part of the plan. We both have wanted to go back to the US. While I like living in Chile, there are a lot of cons about living in Santiago that I will be happy to get away from. You may wonder why another city in Chile isn't the next option....well, basically all the decent paying work is in Santiago. So we are kind of stuck here.

@Andrea--I agree with you to a certain point. I mean, while we can save substantially in comparison to a lot of people, I don't necessarily think money goes farther here than in the US. For example, I think the cost of living here is pretty on par with the cost of living in Colorado. It may be a smidgen more expensive there, but the salary is what makes the difference. Here, for a professional position, you are paid waaaaayyy less than what you would be pain in the US. And so to have the same cost of living but get paid less = not as prosperous. I also think it is harder to save up here to go traveling. But I do think it is easier to climb up the ranks of society in Chile--only because I am a gringa and work in accounting/finance. I think that is key. For any ol' Chilean couple or perhaps those among us who get stuck teaching English not by choice, they would not necessarily have that same possibilities, whereas I am constantly contacted by headhunters to change jobs without even being on the lookout. So for me, the line isn't clear about whether or not I'd live a better life here or there. And a lot of that probably has to deal with the life I had in the US before moving down here.

Besides all of that, I am definitely thankful that we do have the fall back option of coming back if necessary.

Emily said...

I haven't worked fulltime in the US, so I can't compare from experience, but from looking at my friends it seems like my life there in a similar job would be comparable to my life here. Property is of course the big difference, in that owning in the SF Bay Area is at least 10x as expensive as in Santiago, but my friends all seem to have a similar balance between watching the budget but also spending on things like eating out and doing activities as what Rodolfo and I have here. And as you mentioned, Tyffanie, saving up for a $1200 plan ticket is a lot easier when you're earning a US salary than it is on a Chilean salary.

The article is interesting and a bit scary/depressing, but I also wonder if this situation will still be true a few years from now. I guess I hold out hope that in two or three years, things will be back to "normal" where finding a job is a challenge but not some impossible task. But if not, Christian's right, you can always come back!

KM said...

i think that andrea is comparing san fran/nyc to santiago. in that case, obviously santiago is more affordable (though are you "living better"? that's a very personal decision) you're from CO and i'm from MO and i def know that Stgo is on par w/St Louis in terms of cost of living. i could have a house and a car in st louis and could probably afford a down payment on a pretty sick house there too. if you're so worried about moving to the US- and of course reading the NYT on a regular basis would give anyone a coronary - i think you need to take a breath and remember, you haven't even applied for jobs in the US yet (or have you?) i got a bunch of different bites ...and i'm sure you will too what with your impressive resume... i mean, since when are there more opportunities in Santiago then in the US? just writing that sentence sounds silly. of course there are not more opportunities for jobs in Santiago then other comparable US cities. Also, it's not like there was no crisis in chile...there was/is. As for health insurance in the US- if you work for a good company like you do in Chile or like I do here, you have EXCELLENT health insurance. I've gone to the Doc twice since arriving and have paid a total of 20 dollars. 10 lukas. i.e. not a lot of dough. sometimes it's scary to move but let's not make it sound like chile's the only place to live. honestly life is good both here and there. i think it's super hard to compare.

KM said...

And now a NYT article about how Wall St is hiring in anticipation of an economic recovery!

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.