New beginnings

Drastic times call for drastic measures Posted in:

Crows circling the treetops

I have quit my job at Oculus, and immigrated to Spain.

External events have this habit of conspiring to throw your life into harsh focus. The first couple of months of Covid were relatively all right for me, I guess. I prefer working from home anyway. I don't mind entertaining myself at home. The next four months were a steady slide into monotony. Work and life blurring together until the passage of the days lose all meaning. Eat. Sleep. Work. Rinse and repeat. Lucky to be healthy and employed, but not feeling that way.

At the same time, the Brexit clock was rapidly counting down towards December 31st, and the moment when I lose my right to remain in the EU. I think it may be hard to grasp the significance of that from the outside, but EU citizenship is a privilege pretty much beyond comparison. The right to live and work in any of more than two dozen member countries, spanning a wide variety of languages, cultures, and climates. No visas, no work permits, no fuss.

So I sold what I could (which wasn't much, given the mass-exodus then underway in Seattle), hired someone to cart away the rest, terminated my lease, and flew over to Spain in October - before the winter lockdown closed that door forever. Met up with family on this side, so we could hunt for property here. And when the lockdown inevitably returned, rented an apartment to wait it out.

Spain is of course delightful, lockdown notwithstanding. Friendly people, excellent food, mild climate even up here in the north, and just a staggeringly low cost of living compared to urban America. After six weeks here my desire to go back to work under Covid conditions was just about at zero, so it was mildly fortuitous (albeit less so for my colleagues) when my team at work was on the receiving end of a fatal reorg - the day before I was scheduled to return. Followed shortly by the company deciding it wasn't ready to permanently allow remote work across international borders anyway. So I handed in my notice, and from today I'll be taking a bit of a break from the corporate side of tech.

What's next for me? Waiting out the lockdown, finding a small farm to restore, planting some orchards, and maybe getting a little arts and crafts going on the side. All while sorting out the many bits and pieces of paperwork that accompany immigration.

After that, we'll see. I'd like to figure out a tech niche that doesn't involve working 9-5. Which may prove to be an interesting challenge, as someone who prefers specialising in obscure technical areas, and has almost exclusively worked on big corporate projects the last decade 🤷‍♀️