There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle—our apartment, possessions, storage, visas, medical needs/vaccinations, transitioning of work, phone plans—the list goes on. But luckily, we had time on our side. And being married to someone who focuses on Change Management helps a lot too.
Our first order of business was capturing everything we needed to do, determine the timeline, and assign ownership. So we created a google doc with all of these tasks:
This helped keep us on track and prevent a mad rush in December to get everything complete. And like I mentioned, we had plenty of time to complete (and we did this intentionally). Here’s a quick rundown of everything we did:
Our apartment: The big piece! We’ve lived in this apartment for three years, and it’s served us well. But we were ready to find a new and bigger place. Since we knew we wanted to do the Fischer Fellowship, we had adjusted our lease to 9 months (vs. a full year), through March 2019 (we had hoped to end the lease on 12/31, but for some reason Chicago doesn’t like to try to re-let apartments in the middle of winter…weird hah). We prepped by taking photos for a Craigslist post to find a subleaser for those three months, along with all the furniture we wanted to sell. We were ready to part with a lot of our furniture—we had a smattering of items from college, previous apartments, and IKEA. And knowing we had to store our belongings for six months helped make that decision as well. We posted all of our items in early November, giving us enough time to list and sell the items. When Nick and I moved in together during prime renting season, we actually had some trouble selling some duplicate items (and I had to leave my couch by the dumpster, *tear*). And we were also thinking “Who moves to Chicago in November and December?”
Well, we were pleasantly surprised! Our apartment was on Craigslist for less than 48 hours, and we had an amazing muralist inquire about renting. For our items, someone contacted us and said she had just moved from Seattle, and would take a bulk of our items. It was GREAT! So within a couple weeks, we moved most of the items out. There was a small chance that we’d have to sleep on an air mattress for six weeks, but luckily the subleaser purchased that. We just used pop-up camp chairs for impromptu seating, haha.
Our belongings: As mentioned above, we were able to get rid of a lot of our bigger items, leaving just boxes of belongings. And we are big fans of purging, haha. We made multiple trips to Salvation Army (which has a great dropoff process; they really make it easy). We started slowly packing everything over the past six weeks. After some research, we decided to forgo renting a storage space and asking my parents to oh-so-graciously let us use their basement for storage, haha. This would give us the flexibility when we come back to take our time with finding a more permanent place and get our ducks in a row.
Visas/Medical Vaccines: Since we don’t technically have a job in Chile and are volunteering, we’ll enter with a tourist visa. This gives us 90 days to be in the country, and after that, we’ll just need to leave for a weekend to Argentina and reenter the country. We’ll be about two hours from the border of Argentina, so it should be relatively easy.
In terms of vaccines, the CDC has pretty standard recommendations (many of which we already had). Since we are in a more remote area, we took some extra precautions and got all the vaccines recommended besides rabies. We aren’t working with animals and the preventative vaccine is pretty intense! Another great tidbit is that Chile is one of the few countries that doesn’t have the Zika virus, which was one of the big reasons that we chose to go here. Guess those mosquitos can’t get over the mountains!
And we just scheduled all the doctor and dentist checkups for late November and early December, making sure we had everything covered for six months.
Transition of work: I’m on a pretty small design team (we just grew to 4!) so making it as seamless and as little of a burden as possible was really important to me. There were a lot of reasons we had the timeline of leaving in January, and making it easy for my team was one of them. With breaking for the holiday in December, it will be a bit easier in January starting fresh and not having to leave in the middle of the year.
We had time to think about what tasks I wanted to transition to team members and to hire a new designer with time to onboard before I left.
Nick also had time to inform all of his clients and team members of our plan to leave in January, and transition work to the appropriate team members. Being a career advisor is really important to Nick, and he was able to meet with all of his advisees and set them up for success while he’s out. He will also be back in time for their review cycle, so the impact would be minimal.
Phone plans: Wifi is pretty available in Temuco, so our approach is to keep our plans that we have now and basically use our phones in airplane mode. We have a separate phone (thanks Kelli & Jeff!) that we’ll use in Chile for calls (and plan on getting a pre-paid SIM card in the airport).
Housing in Temuco: Temuco is a pretty large city (approx population of 220,000); it’s the capital of the Araucanía region. It has two universities, hospitals, etc. So for our first month, we found an Airbnb (with the guidance of our contact at the organization). We plan on finding housing for February while we are there. We also thought it could be fun to move from place to place every month and experience different areas of the region! The organization is about 10 miles outside of Temuco, so it should be an easy commute.
Transportation: This has its own post here, as it’s quite the story!
That about covers the larger pieces. We also did a lot of preparation for the work we’ll be doing at Chol Chol, and you can find more about that in this post!