I had been planning a move to the Netherlands for a while, at least until a large COVID-shaped wrench was thrown into the gears. However, I was fully vaccinated by early April, and there are signs of the border opening up now, so my plans have been slowly getting back on track. I sent off my visa application today, and assuming I can navigate the pandemic-modified procedures, I should be able to make my move fairly soon. It’s a little bit intimidating, but I am looking forward to it!
Quick note: I am looking for temporary housing in NL; somewhere I can stay for
6-12 months with a permanent mailing address for receiving immigration-related
documents. I would prefer to rent out a room than to use some kind of commercial
accommodation, to be certain that I can receive mail from the immigration
services for the duration of the process. Please shoot me an email if
you’ve got a lead! I’d rather meet someone through the FOSS community than dig
Craigslist Marktplaats from overseas.
I have felt a kind of dissonance with my home country of the United States for a long time now, and I have found it very difficult to resolve. I am not of one mind with my peers in this country on many issues; social, economic, and political. Even limiting this inquiry to matters related to FOSS, it’s quite clear that the FOSS community in Europe is much stronger than in America. In the United States, capitalism is the secular religion, and my values, in FOSS and otherwise, are incompatible with the American ethos.1
Leaving the US is a selfish choice. I could stay here to get involved in solving these problems, but I chose to leave for a place which has already made much more progress on them. Ultimately, this is the only life I’m gonna get, and I have decided not to spend it on politics. I’ll spare you from the rest of the details. I’ll also acknowledge that I’m very privileged to even have this choice at all. Because I know how difficult it is to leave, for reasons unique to each person’s own situation, I don’t hold anyone who stays behind accountable for their country’s cruelties.2
So, why the Netherlands? I considered many options. For instance, I am fluent in Japanese, have an existing social network there, and understand their immigration laws and process. However, as much as I love to visit, I’m not on their cultural wavelength. Integration would pose a challenge. That said, I have also spent a lot of time in the EU, which is a hot spot for the FOSS ecosystem. Access to any EU country with a path to citizenship opens up access to the rest of the EU, making it a very strong choice with lots of second choices easily available.
The Netherlands is an attractive place in these respects. It is relatively easy for me to obtain a visa there, for one, but it also ranks very highly in numerous respects: social, economic, political, and basic happiness. I have many friends in Europe and I won’t have to worry too much about establishing a new social network there.
There are also some risks. Housing is expensive and only getting more so. Also, like the rest of the world, how NL will emerge from the crises of the pandemic remains to be seen, and many countries are likely to suffer from long-term consequences in all aspects of life. They are also already dealing with an influx of immigrants, and it’s quite possible that I will face some social and legal challenges in the future.
Despite these and other risks, I am optimistic about this change. The path to citizenship takes only five years, and after many careful inquiries into the process, I believe my plans for getting there are on very solid footing. I have been studying Dutch throughout much of the pandemic, and I’m not having much trouble with it — I intend to achieve fluency. Integration is well within my grasp. I expect to look back on this transition with confidence in a decision well-made.
Leuk jullie te ontmoeten, Nederland!
Oh, and yes: I will be re-locating SourceHut, the incorporated entity, to the Netherlands, and gradually moving our infrastructure over the pond. Details regarding these plans will eventually appear on the ops wiki. Users can expect little to no disruption from the change.
Bonus: as I’m writing this I can literally hear gunfire a couple of neighborhoods away. There have been an average of 1½ gun-related homicides per day in Philadelphia since January 1st, 2021. ↩︎
To be clear, I’m under no illusions that the Netherlands is some kind of utopian place. I am well versed in the social, economic, and political issues they face. I’m also aware of the declining state of democracy and political unity throughout the world, which affects the EU as well. But, by my reckoning, it’s a hell of a lot better than the US, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. At least I’ll be able to sleep at night if the world goes tits up. ↩︎