There is a saying we have all heard and probably even believed at some point in our lives. “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Is it though? Have you ever been on the other side? What makes the grass so green over there? These are questions I have been thinking about lately.
Over the summer we traveled back to the states to visit with friends and family. If you have been following us from the beginning then you know we were originally only going to be here for a year. Well now that we have told our families we can finally share with all of you we are in fact staying in the Netherlands. Questions I kept getting from everyone is: what is better over there? What are the top 3 best/worst things? Is the grass greener?
On the plane ride home I really thought a lot about this. So I thought I would write a post about the biggest differences between the U.S and the Netherlands that we have noticed.
Let’s start with the biggest difference – Quality of Life. In the states the drive to work more, be more, have more is so prevalent. It’s what drives us so hard. I am not saying that isn’t changing, but for us to be able to provide a quality education for Z, to live in a safe neighborhood that was good for families, we had to work a lot. So much so, that we only got to spend a total of two or three hours a day together before it was bedtime for Z. Even then we were still struggling financially. In the Netherlands, Z is getting an amazing education, we live in a great neighborhood, and we don’t have to worry about after school care because we don’t have to work until six or later. We don’t spend an hour or more in the car getting to school and work. Rob and I both work from home now. Z’s school is a quick six minute bike ride from our home. Time is precious. I realize how precious it is now that we have more of it, and when you have more of it, your quality of life is better.
Getting around is easier in the Netherlands. I know, I know it depends on where you live in the States. Some areas have great public transit, most do not though. The need for a car is so high in the U.S. We had bikes in Charleston, when we lived close to my salon, I did bike to work sometimes. Once we had Z, and had to move so we could afford a good school (see quality of life). There was no way I could bike to work or school, not to mention it’s not so safe, and taking a bus, it wasn’t possible. We have lived without a car for over a year now and love it. Sure, if we want to take a road trip we rent a car, but it’s still a lot cheaper than owning a car. When we were in Charleston, I was driving and saw one of the MANY signs that said “share the road” I got frustrated, because no, there needs to be proper bike lanes. In the Netherlands there are, You can bike everywhere. In fact it’s harder to get around by car. We can get to our friends’ houses in about 10 minutes by bike, and by car in 20 minutes. When it’s raining, which is a lot, Z and I wish we had a car sometimes. We have gotten use to it though. That is what ponchos and rain pants are for!
Now, let’s talk food. It’s hard to find a bad restaurant in Charleston. Charleston prides it’s self on two things it’s rich history and it’s food. I mean a few weeks leading up to our wedding I told Rob I had to break up with Charleston because the of the food. Here there are good restaurants, nothing like South Carolina though. I would give anything for a taco from Taco Boy, or shrimp and grits from The Fat Hen, or really anything from Chez Nous or Jack of Cups. Cooking at home is different though. Yes there are Farmer’s Markets and the grocery stores have organic food. In the States, the prices of such food is outrageous. The market every Saturday is amazing. We can get fresh baked bread, fresh eggs, milk, produce, meat, seafood, and cheese for under 50 Euro! Grocery shopping is also much cheaper here. Our grocery bill in the states was always $100-150 for the week, here – buying only organic- our grocery bill is Never more than 80 Euro. Good quality food here isn’t a privilege, it’s just normal.
Travel. The reason we moved here. We wanted to travel and explore Europe. We also wanted to travel and explore the U.S. The prices of flights in the US are insane. Sure you can get cheap flights on budget travel lines, but lets be real: once you add your bags the cost can be the same as flying on Delta. We have traveled to nine different countries including UK, France, Poland, and our up-coming trip to Croatia. The most expensive flight we have had was Croatia and it was 600 euro total for all three of us. We also travel predominately with KLM, the Dutch partner of Delta. I could not even get a flight from Atlanta to Charleston for less than $300 for one of us. Also the trains here are amazing. They are affordable, really nice, and fast. It’s so easy to travel here. I wish traveling the US was as affordable and as easy as it is here. It’s a beautiful country and one day I hope we can see as much of it as we have Europe.
So back to the question: Is the grass greener? I mean sure it is, it rains a lot here. The foliage is also brighter. Does that mean it is better? I don’t think so. Sure, quality of life is better, travel is easier, quality of food you bring into your home is more affordable, but we are missing so much. The birth of dear friends babies, weddings, and birthdays, and I will take Charleston’s Palmetto bugs over Dutch spiders any day! I think there are always great things about the other side of the fence. There are also going to be not so great things. I think when we stop looking over the fence and start watering our own yard, We will see our grass is just a green as everyone else’s.
Stay tuned for more adventures of Rob, Z, and I.
“The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The Grass is greenest where it is it watered. When crossing fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.” – Robert Fulghum