Pied-á-terre is a french expression, literally meaning a foot on the ground. It is used to describe a secondary residence away from your first. Feet take you places, and mine took me to Australia in 1990 where I met Mick and fell in love. I migrated in 1991 and we have made a wonderful life together here in Brisbane.
In the past few years, my need to journey back to my home country has shaped into a plan for Mick and I to run away for a year. Of course, our sons needed to be old enough to look after themselves, and so 2015 began to look like a target in our plans, vague at first, but now firmly on the way to becoming reality.
Fuelled at first by losing my public service job – after 21 years of faithful service – but then shelved again, not only because I managed to end up with a new job in the much reduced organisational structure, but also because when pondering my situation as the sole breadwinner of our family I aired the idea of uprooting the family and head to Copenhagen, I was met with a resounding NO from my 15 year old son, who could not imagine life away from his friends. Fair enough. This was clearly my need, not his.
But the habits I formed in those weeks of worrying about our future – endlessly scouring the jobsites in Denmark and monitoring the real estate market in Copenhagen – continued. The ups and the downs, the effects of the global financial crisis in my mother country, so unfelt in this sunburnt country that survived on anti-austerity measures and digging more resources out of the ground; that depression in the fair Nordic country was visible in the job opportunities (unfavourably) and the housing market (buyers market).
And my longing for home would not go away – it had been festering for some years before this on-again-off-again job situation. So the plan took shape and eventually, Mick got fully on board. We plan to leave the boys with the house and take off in December 2014, just in time for Marna’s birthday party.
This blog will record our journey. The planning, the scheming, the successes, the setbacks and the experience of København. In spite of the difficult-for-expats housing policy of Copenhagen, we plan to set up a pied-á-terre right there, smack in the centre.
For me, pied-á-terre also means having a foot in both camps – in my old country and my new – while avoiding to become unrealistic about my own situation (we are parents of two very Australian young men after all) and keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground.
Credit to our Canadian friend and neighbour, Nick Fog, for describing our plan as pied-á-terre.