Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We're Moving to Prague!

This may come as a shock, but R and I have decided to move to Europe. I have recently accepted a job at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and will be moving to Prague. I'm sure you have many questions about this move, so I've decided to answer them all in fuax interview style:

Q: Why did you decide to move to Europe?

A: I've always wanted to live/work in Europe but never had a chance to really pursue it. I saw a job posting that matched my background and applied just for the fun of it. The company - Radio Free Europe - called me up to discuss the position further and the conversation went very well. They flew R and I out to Prague over Thanksgiving break to visit/interview. We liked what we saw and they apparently thought I was the right man for the job. I was offered the position and, after a few gut wrenching weeks of back and forth, R and I decided to go for it.

Q: Aren't you and R Italian? Why Prague?

We choose Prague because that's where the job was. Neither R nor myself had ever been to Prague before last month, but we have heard nothing but great things about it. The city itself is gorgeous. Prague also has two very distinct advantages for expats: (1) There is a huge expat community in Prague (30,000 + Americans plus a ton more Brits and Italian). This means that the language barrier will not be a problem and we should have no trouble meeting new people. (2) Prague is centrally located within Europe and has a great train system and large International airport. We'll be a 1 hour flight from R's parents in Milan, a 2 hr bus ride from the Austrian Alps and a 90 minute car ride from Germany. We plan to travel an awful lot while in Europe and the Prague location sets us up well for that.

Q: So what kind of job did you get exactly?

I was hired as the "Director - Internet Technology & Strategy" for Radio Free Europe/Radio Libery (RFE/RL). RFE/RL is a US based non-profit company that receives their funding from an arm of Congress. Their mission is to promote democratic values and free speech in countries where the government typically "controls" the media. They have been around since the early 1950's and - as the name suggests - they have a strong radio presence. However, they realize that the online world is the future and have hired me to help get the team in place and figure out their strategy.

Q: Wow, that sounds pretty altruistic. I never tabbed you as the non-profit type, I assumed you were a shallow capitalist. I must have been wrong about you.

No, you were pretty much spot on. In all seriousness, I am not the "typical" non-profit employee. Unlike some people, it has never been a goal of mine to work for a non-profit company and all of my past jobs have been driven by the dollar. But, this was a unique opportunity that was too good to pass up. It provides a very unique business challenge (24 websites in 20 different languages) and gives me some great international experience. The fact that I'm doing some good in the world is an added bonus that will hopefully help me sleep better at night.

Q: Speaking of the dollar, how will you get paid?

I will get paid in U.S. dollars. My "gross" salary will be significantly less than what I was making in New York but a portion of my salary will be tax free. I will also get my housing paid for in the Czech Republic and the cost of living is lower (The Czech currency is the crown, not the Euro. However, they have been part of the EU since 2004). Hence, my net disposable income should be similar to what I'm making now.

Q: What's R going to do?

R will be quitting her job in New York and joining me in Prague. At first, she will not work and will help us get settled into the new environment. But, she will eventually get a job. R has an EU passport and speaks 4 languages fluently, so we assume that she'll be able to find something interesting.

Q: And what about your dog?

B will be coming with us.... he's part of the family. The good news is that dogs do not need to be quarantined when coming to Prague so he come home immediately. Unfortunately, he is too big to ride in the plane cabin and will have to make the flight to Prague in the cargo section of the plane.

Q: Where will you live in Prague?

For the first 60 days, we live in corporate housing. After that, it is up to us to find an apartment in Prague (RFE/RL will give us a housing allowance each month). R looked at some apartments while we were there last month and we will be able to find a beautiful 2-bedroom within our budget. RFE/RL will also pay to ship all of our household goods to and from Prague. This includes our bed, couches, dishes, etc.

Q: And what about your apartment in New York?

We own our apartment in New York, but it is a co-op. That means that we don't have total control over what we can do with it. Fortunately, our co-op board will allow us to sub-lease our apartment for up to 2 years. We're assuming that we can sub-lease the apartment for a little bit more than we pay in mortgage/maintenance each month.

Q: Will you still be training for the Ironman triathlon next year?

A: Sadly, the Ironman is the one casualty of this move. While in Europe, we want to travel and explore the continent as much as possible. This does not fit well with the Ironman training requirements (8 hour bike rides on the weekend, 2 hour runs before work in the morning, etc.). The Ironman will have to wait for some other year. I may still opt to do some smaller races/triathlons depending on how much training I get in. I also know that there is a strong cycling community in Europe so hopefully I can get hooked up with that group.

Q: Wow. This is a lot of information to take in. When do you leave? When will you be back?

My first day of work is January 29, 2007. I will leave New York a few days before that. R and B will stay in New York for a few extra weeks to tie up loose ends before they join me. We plan to come back home - to both Cleveland and New York - twice a year.

The employment contract that I signed is open-ended and there is no fixed end date. Our mentality right now is that this will be a 2 year commitment but you never know what will happen. We may get homesick and want to come home right away. Or, we may love the European lifestyle and stay much longer. It should be an exciting adventure and I can't wait to find out.

We will have a big apartment in Prague and will welcome visitors at all times. It will be good to see some familiar faces so I hope you all can come and visit us. You can get cheap air fare to Prague on a direct flight from JFK.

About This Blog

This blog was created as a means for R and I to keep in touch while we are living in Prague. Moving to Europe is a big move for me and will likely involve many adventures. I will update this blog frequently to keep everyone up-to-date.