It's been 8 days since we decided to move to France - 8 days and a lot of things done!
One sleepless night of research hinted at a plan, and days of follow-through refined it:
- go through the French consulate in San Francisco; check the long-term visa requirements, and get an appointment
- create a timeline (mid-November to end of January), with important tasks to complete
- list risks and mitigations: biggest risk is if my visa is delayed or denied
- start on the application; meet with our local honorary consulate for advice (whew! that helped a *lot!*) This significantly lowered the main risk, and led us to set our plan more concretely.
- make a list of possible / probable additional documents
- discuss plans with family (yay! everyone is going to help!)
- settle on a "move" date; arrange a month in a vacation rental, and get the full address
- buy air tickets, arrange a rental car and first night hotel. Buying tickets early meant we got a good flight for less; if we are delayed, it will cost more - but the consulate visit made this a low risk (of course, it could still happen - fingers crossed not)
- get travel (health) insurance , including the first 3 months in France; note that it is extendable
- order marriage certificate
- test packed the car. We will drive with: 2 people (that would be us), 4 large suitcases (take to France), 2 footlockers (store in California), a cooler, and a few miscellaneous items (whatever else fits, hah!)
Whew! What could possibly be left?!? Well...
- visa appointment in San Francisco; see what else they want. Perhaps a letter of good conduct from the police. I called them; they need an official request from the consulate to do this.
- get a better idea of whether my visa will go through or be delayed (more fingers crossed)
- start getting rid of things: sell, donate, toss
- final medical appointments, get any prescriptions we need to last us till we find a doctor in France
- finalize packing
- drive to California
- visit family
- wait for visa; supply any missing documents (low risk of delay)
- sell car
- fly to Atlanta, drive to Florida; visit family
- fly to France:
- get rental car; make sure all 4 suitcases fit (low risk)
- stay first night in Toulouse
- drive to our apartment (near Montpellier, on the Mediterranean), check in!
- start integrating :-)