Reader feedback: American spouses hold them back

Re: Young Slovaks prepared to move abroad, News survey, January 30-February 5, 2006

Here's some interesting anecdotal information to add to the mix. Of the Czechs and Slovaks I know here in Washington, DC, the ones most serious about returning are those who are most secure financially and visa-wise. In general, these types are dual citizens (or green card holders) with graduate degrees and professional positions. The pull of Europe is a more relaxed lifestyle (more vacation and holidays), proximity to family, and a more attractive social, cultural, and political climate. In basic terms, European social democracy appears more attractive to them than American capitalist democracy.

Money is not the issue holding them back: American spouses are the biggest problem. Options for American spouses appear somewhat limited in Central Europe even if they come with language skills and advanced degrees.

On the other hand, the people I know who are on limited-stay visas (H1B, J1, and F1), and who, for the most part, are not making a pile of money here in the US, are the most resistant to the idea of returning to Central Europe. They definitely see a brighter future here than in SK or CZ. Many are women who complain that Slovakia and the Czech Republic are less progressive towards women than the US They also claim that life is easier in the US - i.e. it's easier to earn a decent living and maintain a decent lifestyle than in Central Europe. Older women (those over 30) who have deferred marriage also believe that their chances of finding a suitable partner here in the US are better than in SK.

Finally, of the people I know who are Czech or Slovak, only 1 in 10 is male, so that may be skewing the story.

John Sherwood
Washington, DC

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