What’s This I Hear About America?

stellar feets So yeah I was thinking I should post an update on the thing about moving to the US.

First, some background. While visiting Cassie in LA in March 2007, and then in May, I realised I would like to spend more time over there. The idea struck me that my company has offices pretty much everywhere, including Los Angeles. In fact the office in LA is about 15 minutes drive from Cassie’s apartment. I thought, would it be possible to get my company to find me some work in that office. I asked my line manager, his line manager, my supervisor at work, the project manager, the development engineer, and someone at the bus stop, and they all thought it was a good idea, that I should try it, go for it, grab life by the horns etc. They also said I had done the right thing by going through the correct channels in the correct order.

The next thing to do was to find some contacts in the LA office. So by looking around at the company intranet, which has a page for each major office, I picked out a few likely names for the disciplines I am involved with. I called them all, got a few leads, and put forward my proposal to them.

Given that Cassie and I hadn’t been together long, it would be a big step into the unknown to quit my job in the UK and go and live in the US. Apart from anything else, the visa situation would be very unfavourable. So the best way to do it was to find a position in my current company, and transfer internally.

The next time I visited LA in May 2007, I met my leads in the offices in downtown LA. I had to get a lift there, and realised that LA is a pig to get around in, even with a car. It was a useful meeting, but with no specific leads on positions, just discussions on what kind of work was coming up. I tried to get back using the bus, and that drove home the lack of public transport. I also went to meet people in Orange, which is a bit further away, in Orange County. The situation was the same there. I met one of the managers, and had a very nice Thai lunch, but it was a pretty fruitless trip as well.

The next trip I took, I spent the whole of October in Los Angeles. It was wonderful, spending some serious time with Cassie, and I took the opportunity to go to the La offices again. However, by this time I had made contact with some people in San Francisco. So Cassie and I drove up the scenic and twisty Route 1, stopping off in Monterey, to visit San Francisco and see what I thought. It was a great place, made as lot better by the fact that the reaction and sense of possibility I got from the San Francisco PB crowd was a lot more positive. We stayed with Cassie’s brother Don and family in Orinda, and had a nice touristy day in San Francisco, before heading home to LA, this time on the quicker, straighter, and much more boring Route 5.

While in San Francisco, I spoke to some people about a possible position in San Carlos, just south of San Francisco, and when I returned to LA to spend Xmas and New Year with Cassie, went and talked to this contact. Cassie and I were up in San Francisco anyway, having a big Italian-American family Xmas, combined with a birthday for Cassie’s nephew George (no Xmas Eve here, just George’s birthday). The meeting in San Carlos was really good, but in the end, no position was available until the next client budget year, in November 2008.

Back to square one. A pretty depressing first couple of months for 2008. But another possibility was then mentioned in San Francisco itself! I went back in March 2008, the same day I went in 2007 (an omen?), and took the opportunity to fly up to San Francisco on the new Virgin America service in the morning, have a meeting and an interview of sorts, and then fly back in the evening. It was a really useful trip, but in the end, the skills and experience they needed there, I just didn’t have.

Just as things were at their lowest ebb, I was suddenly sent an email describing a position in San Diego. I hadn’t considered San Diego at all. But a bit of research and asking around told me that it is a very nice place. Cassie’s brother Don had studied there, loved it, and his wife Darien was a big fan too.

Various wrangling later, I find myself going through my belongings, deciding:

  • what to set aside to be shipped to San Diego;
  • what to set aside to be packed to carry to San Diego;
  • what to give away to friends or charity;
  • what to leave in the flat for use by my new tenants; and
  • what to lock in the loft, never to see or use again.

That’s the situation as I see it at the moment. The Twitter feed at the right tells a more detailed story. There’s obviously lots to do, and lots to tell. Watch this space (by which I mean, “subscribe to the newsfeed”).