Moving to Boston for two years

I pretty much spent my entire life in Antwerp -- 31 years to date. However, in just a few weeks, my family and I will be moving to Boston. Why?

  • Primarily, it allows me to reduce my travel and spend more time with my family. I flew 65,000 miles the first five months of this year, and 100,000 miles in total last year. Being away from home that much isn't fun; neither is having a permanent jetlag.
  • My wife has accepted a research position at Broad Institute, a genomics research center jointly of MIT and Harvard. As a postdoctoral researcher, it is a tremendous opportunity. Did I mention how proud I am of her?
  • Acquia, my company, is based in Boston and I want to spend more actual person-to-person time there. While working remotely is OK, nothing beats face-to-face interaction, especially when you're a fast growing start-up.

We've decided to move for a period of two years, and to return to Belgium in 2012. By then, Axl and Stan can go to school in Belgium, my wife can resume her research position at Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, and hopefully, Acquia will have offices in Europe.

Moving 3,500 miles from your home town, most of your relatives, and many of your best friends is not an easy choice. It's quite likely that -- at this early date -- we do not understand how significant of a change it will really be. While we'll miss our friends and family in Belgium, we believe that it will be a win-win.

I'll keep you posted about our move, and our adventures abroad!


Marc Bijl (not verified):

Can imagine it's not easy to live the way you did, so I guess it's a good and thoughtful choice.

Wish you, wife, suns and family loads of success!

June 01, 2010
James Walker (not verified):

Congrats on the decision to move, you guys! I know it can't be easy to move that far, but less travel + more family time is a good thing :-)

We'll definitely have to have some lobstah on the north shore this summer!

June 01, 2010
nikkiana (not verified):

Congratulations! It's a lovely area to live. :)

June 01, 2010
cato (not verified):

Good luck! We almost did the same with our family, years ago but at the last moment it was canceled. ;-(

Boston is a great city to live (with a splendid museum of fine Arts where I spent hours).

By the way: congrats with the alumni award!

June 01, 2010
Davide Giampà … (not verified):

Hi Dries,

I can understand a little your state ... is not easy, I also changed the city, I lost all contacts to follow a dream, to improve and grow in my life!

I am sure that this change is fundamental, and that Acquia will always bring more satisfaction, therefore, the transfer to Boston will have a purpose!

I apologize for my English, and I hope that this comment isn't inappropriate, I can only wish you good luck, or as we say in Italy "in bocca al lupo!".

Davide :)

June 01, 2010
H-BES (not verified):

Good Luck!


June 01, 2010
Benjamin Melançon (not verified):

In any case, Boston wins. Excellent!

June 01, 2010
YvesHanoulle (not verified):

I did a similar move from Gent to Bordeaux for 6 months, and I can say it is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Also disrupting in other ways ...

One teacher told me that the fact that my 7 year old knows it is only 6 months, he does less effort to learn French. Although I think it is not true with him, I think it is true for his teacher... So leaving the return bit more open can be better for your kids languages (but worse for the Family in Belgium).

June 01, 2010
Lisa Rex (not verified):

And Boston is thrilled to have you!

Living in another country is nothing like visiting another country, so it's a great experience. All very thrilling, but also frustrating because you have to learn how the most basic things work, such as getting a driving license and different heating systems.

(I relocated to Boston after 10 years in the UK in Feb 09.)

Good luck with the move, and all the highs and lows that will go with it. Get in touch if you have any questions about making the transition. :)

June 01, 2010
Chris Fuller (not verified):

Congratulations on the move! I've actually just moved from Boston to Bucharest to head up our engineering team here. It's too early to really know (we've been here 3 weeks) but so far it's been a great experience. I'm sure you and your family will enjoy the adventure. Best of luck!


June 01, 2010
Jake Strawn (not verified):


Look forward to having you closer to the Boston area! And a change of scenery is always nice, even if challenging at times. I moved about 2000 miles from home last year to come to the Boston/New Hampshire area. It's been quite a challenge, and very rewarding at the same time!

Best of luck, and I hope we'll see you at more Boston meetups!!

June 01, 2010
itkovian (not verified):

Just make sure Axl and Stan are talked to in Dutch, as they'll have to pass a test to go to primary school when they get back, afaik. Well, perhaps not Stan, but Axl almost for sure. Blame your government ;-)

Can we now fix the BBQ date for summer 2012, just to make sure we both have an open spot?

Have loads of fun, and I hope to catch you on the other side sometime when I attend a conference. Any chance you'll be in Reno in October? :-)

June 01, 2010
Chris Herring (not verified):

Good luck, Dries. I'm sure your family will appreciate the extra time with you. I'll pass along some great advice a wise parent once told me when I was struggling with my own time at home vs. time at work conflict: "Your kids will never wish that you worked MORE."

Best wishes for continued success in your new home-away-from-home!

June 01, 2010
Wim Leers (not verified):

Congratulations, Dries. A big change, but for the better! :)

June 01, 2010
hobo (not verified):

Watch out for the double impact ... first it'll be hard to settle in and then after two years it'll be hard to leave.

June 01, 2010
Jeroen (not verified):

You will all be dearly missed Dries, Karlijn, Axl and Stan.

It's awkward how comforting it is to have family around. Nearby. Knowing that they're close, that they're there. That you could, if you feel like it, get in the car and drive, or even walk to them.

It comforts me. It comforted me.

You are both winners Dries and Karlijn. Boston won't know what hit it.

Good luck.

June 01, 2010
Katherine Druckman (not verified):

Boston sounds like it will be great for you both! Congratulations to your wife in particular, as her new position sounds especially fantastic.

We in the US are glad to have you!

June 01, 2010
Peter Van Dijck (not verified):

Gefeliciteerd! Dat heen en weer gevlieg word je inderdaad beu :)

June 01, 2010
Geert (not verified):

Dries, moving is a great experience mate. I am living in country #3 now and #2 Australia was an even further away from Belgium than Boston :) You'll find that it takes about 4 seasons to properly settle in somewhere, make new friends and get into a comfortable routine. But hey, you both already have great jobs lined up to go to, so that's a big thing you two don't have to worry about! You'll all love it, some things may be harder to find outside Belgium though; good mayonnaise, curry ketchup, friet mosselen, affordable Belgium beer ... mmmm Duvel :)

ps. I can give you a reference to an international moving company from Belgium we used and were quite happy with.

June 02, 2010
itkovian (not verified):

You can of course make excellent mayonaise yourself :-)

June 02, 2010
Aaron McGowan (not verified):

Good luck and God speed!

June 02, 2010
Danny Englander (not verified):

Dries, congrats welcome to Boston! You will be happy to know there is a Belgian street food restaurant opening here within the next few weeks down near Faneuil Hall called "Saus". Looking forward to it myself as I have traveled to your neighbor, The Netherlands and had the famous "patat met".

June 02, 2010
Sean Robertson (not verified):

Congrats on the move! I'm sure it will be better in the long run but I can't imagine it's easy to pick up and move a whole family to another continent. Good luck with everything and come see us in DC again some time.

June 02, 2010
Youkho (not verified):

Congrats and hope and i'm sure you'll have more time for your family

June 02, 2010
Chris Johnson (not verified):

"It's quite likely that -- at this early date -- we do not understand how significant of a change it will really be." This is very true. Having done the reverse (USA to Europe) 2 years ago for a length of 2 years, here is some of what I learned:

1. Some things you imagine may be challenging in the new place will turn out to be easy and not so challenging.

2. Some things you imagine will be different but easy to cope with in the new place will turn out to be much more important or challenging.

3. There will be some things you never imagined that will be of huge importance.

4. You will have lots of opportunities for "ah ha!" moments and to learn things you never thought you would be interested in.

5. It takes 12 to 24 months to really fit into a new culture, feel comfortable with all the day to day ordinary things which are different from home. Then if you stay another 12 to 24 months after that, you find that you become such a part of the new culture that you can never go home in a philosophical sense. You will have changed. Your thought patterns will have changed. You may return to Antwerp where all is familiar, but you will never feel the same about it again.

Good luck. In many ways, Boston is a good place to land in the USA as a person from Europe. It's a big and old city, and actually has public transportation. :-) The weather is not dramatically different.

June 02, 2010
Kuldip Gohil (not verified):

Best Luck,

Living far away from family & friends is little difficult but you have good opportunity in boston.

June 03, 2010
LenZ (not verified):

This sounds like a great opportunity and excellent timing for such a move. It gets more difficult when the kids grow older! Good luck and all the best. And don't be a stranger to Europe during these two years! We have great conferences over here, too :)

June 03, 2010
Daniel (not verified):

Broad Institute .org? -- A drupal site. No further comment needed.

(Also, this is Eric Lander's institute.)

June 09, 2010
Ray (not verified):

@Dries , do you collect air-miles?

You must have qualified for a few free toasters by now, lol

June 18, 2010
Johnny van de Laar (not verified):

good luck in boston!

this is probably a great move for you and your family but also for the drupal community...

just imagine all the extra hours you get from not having to fly.... it can all be put into drupal now right? ;-)

I also assume you're playing shipping up to boston all the time now?

June 18, 2010
Hans van den Berk (not verified):

Good move and good luck, Dries, let's hope that Belgium will still exist when you come back.

June 18, 2010
Bob Gardner (not verified):

Welcome to the USA!

June 20, 2010
Jan Tomka (not verified):

Coming from Slovakia, Central Europe and having spent last 30 months in Melbourne, Australia, I know very well what it's like. Having the family with you will be a help. Good luck. Jan

June 21, 2010