From left: Emerald, Nene, Niko, Chase, Missy.  Bottom: Aaja

We’re a blended family from Texas about to embark on the experience of a lifetime. WE’RE MOVING TO ROME THIS SUMMER.  It all started with a vision Niko had for our honeymoon.  As a fairly frugal person, I was impartial to having a honeymoon at all, but I figured we could spend a long weekend in the Caribbean, sure, why not.  Well…Niko was not having that, he wanted to go Rome.  I showed him the price difference between the two and just knew he would choose the Caribbean.  But no. He told me, “Look, I’m going to Rome, you can go to Mexico or wherever, if you want.” (You’ll come to know his humor, if that’s what you can call it.)  Needless to say we booked our honeymoon to Italy for 3 nights in Venice, Florence and Rome.  We were in love! Oh, and by the way, Hurricane Dean devastated the Caribbean islands that August. Since 2007, we’ve been to Italy 5 times and feel like there’s so much more to explore.

So what initiated the move now? Well, as an petroleum engineer in the oil and gas industry, I felt the thorn of low oil prices that plagued the industry starting in late 2014.  I could feel the layoffs in the air. Without my job, we could manage, but we would probably be house poor.  Thankfully, several corporations had decided to relocate to West Plano and even though we’d only been in our home for a year and a half, we had  tons of equity. Even the going rent was about $1000 more than our monthly mortgage.  Being a God-fearing and believing family we prayed about the decision, looked at some homes for rent in Rome, ran the numbers on just my husband’s income as a part-time government contractor.  Welp, it seemed that all roads let to Rome!  We decided to make the move about a month after our daughters were out of school for the summer, the first of July.

My God-given instincts about my job security were right.  On Jan 5th, I was laid off along with many other engineers at my company.  The travel agency I started in August of 2015, primarily as a tax deduction and an avenue to get cheaper travel for our yearly summer vacations, had been bringing in good money, but boomed almost immediately after my layoff.  Our home is currently listed for sale and rent.  Our flight tickets are purchased and our visa appointment is coming up this Friday.  All the wheels are set in motion and we decided to bring everyone along for the ride.