See, I've told you that if you want to learn how to move like a pro, you should stick with me. We've done our second move in 6 months.
When we moved from London to Phoenix, it was a breath of fresh air. We could actually enjoy life a little more and not worry about not havi money to pay for food and/or day care. Although we enjoyed our lives in London, yes, we did enjoy it a lot, salaries are way lower than in the US and many times we had to really tighten our belts to stay afloat. Cost of living in Phoenix is much lower than London and the other side of the coin, is that cost of living in DC is much higher than Phoenix. We almost had a heart attack when we had to go food shopping for the first time and get all the pantry staples, fill the fridge, etc. Crazy! And that's not all, every time I go to the grocery store for a quick trip is always more than I expect it to be.
I was doing a search online and found this site where you can compare cost of living from thousands of cities around the world. According to the Expatisan site DC is 62% more expensive than Phoenix. A few things that I didn't think would be too expensive:
Bread: $3.29 DC x $1.69 Phoenix
1qt/1ltr milk: $1.05 DC x $0.71 Phoenix
500g/16oz Cheese: $9 DC x $4.74 Phoenix
But the good thing is, in the US, salaries follow the cost of living (pretty much), unlike England, where the salary really doesn't support the cost of living. So, if you move to a more expensive city (I'm assuming, you'd move with a job already), your salary would increase as well.
Expatisan is great because they have people adding the items and prices locally, which means the list gets constantly updated. Their blog is outdated and their international school database that I wanted to use is not ready, but the cost of living comparison is really great.
Please note: This is NOT a sponsored post. I found this site and thought it would be useful to share.
Just to make it clear, I'm a person who has some kind of cemetery fetish and goes there as night falls. But I do have to say, I've always been curious about cemeteries. In Brazil, growing up I'd see the cemeteries, I don't have any pictures of my own, but here is one I got from Wikipedia on one of the cemeteries in Sao Paulo.
In Brazil the tombs are big, it goes back to the Catholic church and how it the people would bury its family members. Especially if you're a famous politician, artist, writer or from a rich family. One of the most traditional families in Sao Paulo has a tomb that goes 2 levels underground, so everyone from that family is buried in the same place. Now, that, I find weird...
When we used to drive to school I'd see this (other) massive cemetery and outside you had a flower market, and we used to go there on the weekends to buy flowers to bring home, so I always had good memories of it. And to be honest, I find it a peaceful place, it's always surrounded by trees, plants, and silence.
In London my favorite one was Brompton cemetery. Even the entrance is nice, with 2 red phone boxes on each side of the gate, so English.
The crosses are different from a Brazilian cemetery, and of course, with all its history, depending which cemetery you go to, you have tombs from many hundred of years ago.
Very different from an American cemetery, the grass is overgrown, there are crosses with chains on them, very Gothic looking. Many of the tombs are so old that you only see pieces of it.
In DC, obviously Arlington cemetery is a huge fav of mine. It has grass all over, trees with flowers, the tombs all white and lined up in straight lines. Perfection. And of course, it has so much meaning to Americans as a whole.
So, there, three countries with three different cemetery styles, who'd have thought? That's another way to get to know the different cultures.
If you live in the Greater Phoenix area, there are lots of day trips you can go on. One place that I take everyone who comes to visit is Sedona. It's the cutest town, surrounded by red rock mountains, and where apparently everyone who is into crystals and vortexes head to, for some... well, you know... purification of souls, or... whatever... Sedona is about 2hrs from Phoenix, and it's nice to visit at anytime of the year, even in the summer it is a little cooler than Phoenix. So, today I met some friends and we drove up for a hike. I had never done a hike in Sedona, if I hike I pretty much stay in the Phoenix area, so I was excited.
We decided on Westfork, you pay $2/person, or $10/car and they're open between 9am-8pm. It's a popular hike, so it gets busy. Ok for children, dogs, babies, grandparents, etc.
Our hike started great, beautiful creeks, gorgeous pine trees, cliffs towering over you, so gorgeous, I highly recommend it. Then, all of a sudden, 30% chance of rain, turned into 100% certainty. It started drizzling and within 5min, it was pouring down, the sky was black, crazy stuff. So we decided to turn around and go back. According to my phone, we walked for about 85 minutes, which is not bad.
After the hike, the plan was to have lunch and walk around town, but right as we finished lunch, the rain followed us into town, and kicked us out of there. We just made our way back.
Here are some of the photos I took today and some photos of Sedona from the various trips we've taken there. I love that place.
I remember like it was yesterday the very first day I arrived in Switzerland. I actually remember all my first days in every country I lived in, but today I am talking about my loved Switzerland.
I landed in Zürich and we drove to Weggis (about 40min), all I remember during my drive were the homes. It was August and all of them were like doll houses with flowers on the windows. I couldn't believe it was so beautiful. I wasn't too impressed with Zürich, it's just a big city, but the rest of the drive was amazing.
The fun thing about Switzerland is that it's such a small country, but it's basically divided into 4 parts, each with its own culture, food and architecture. I was lucky enough to have lived in both the German and French parts and traveled all over. We used to rent cars and drive go for day trips. It's such a small country, it's easy to go places.
Each part, also has its own languages, Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansh. Most people speak English (the younger generation anyway), and they not only speak the main language from where they live, but dialects and other languages as well.
Switzerland is an expensive place to live. I remember going out to clubs in Geneva or Zurich and being broke for a month after. Being a student and having our own student bar was very handy because prices were student friendly. Rents were expensive as well, when I lived in Lausanne, I paid almost a grand for a tiny studio, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. Bedroom, bath and kitchen, no stove, just a sink and a small fridge. Seriously, it was smaller than tiny.
You will see a lot of high rises in big cities. In smaller towns, you will see a lot of houses and small buildings. It's charming, it is cute and it is well preserved. Within the architecture, you see roman ruins and castles all over. Like the rest of Europe, you breath history.
If you visit a Swiss person, you will be required to take off your shoes before entering the home. I love this habit, although I don't do it in my home anymore, I used to when I lived in Switzerland. A much cleaner habit.
Flowers everywhere, spring comes around and you see flowers in every windowsill, every balcony, it's so pretty!! Can you tell I love that country?
I'm not sure if this is the case, but when I lived in Switzerland, everyone smoked. Very common. Mind you, this was in the mid to late-90's, so quite a few years ago, (ssshhhhhh, let's keep it as our secret), things might have changed now.
Just like in architecture, food varies a lot depending where you are in Switzerland. And no, the Swiss don't eat fondue and raclette for every meal, I do have to say that I could have eaten it forever, I love it.
The Swiss eat a lot of game, I tried veal, rabbit and ostrich for the first time during my time there. Ostrich and veal are delicious, rabbit, not so much, too fatty for me (and I am sorry for vegetarians and vegans out there, it is what it is). Fridays is a day for fish, hardly any other meat.
Another really delicious dish is Spätzle, I can't explain, it's like a pasta dish, it's so, so good. It's made with eggs and flour, and you eat it mostly with meat with sauce dishes.
Do you like chocolate, wine and cheese? This is the place for you... or not, depending how you look at it.
You can hit some of the best parties in Europe in Switzerland, I know I did. My life in Switzerland revolved around a good party and it was great, I tell you. My introduction to techno music was in Zürich, you have street parties, week-long carnival parties... Oh dear, just talking about it brings me right back. You wouldn't think, but Switzerland is a brilliant place to party.
The best public transport, ever! Taking a train? A bus? They leave at 5:03am and not one second before or after. If you're not in, you lose it. You can get anywhere with their trains. I used to take an early train in Winterthur and it's like a school bus, all the kids are in, traveling from one place to another to go to school. Bicycle is also another really common method of transport. In some cities, it's normal to get a bike that is parked outside the train station and drop it off back afterwards.
Mandatory army for every man and voluntary for women. I wasn't going to add this here, but one fun fact is that you go to the army base, you keep your guns at home, and it's very common for you to be traveling in a train loaded with soldiers and their guns. At first it was very weird to me, but with everything, you get used to it.