Interview - Andrew and Michelle Kehoe
| Andrew and Michelle Kehoe
Andrew and Michelle Kehoe tell us about their experiences after moving from New York to Italy and then Dubrovnik. They have swapped the"big apple" for the peace and quiet of Dubrovnik. They first came here in 2006 and as they say fell in love with the city. After getting engaged in Italy they decided that Dubrovnik was the perfect place to get married. Finding private accommodation for their guests proved to be difficult and time-consuming so they decided to open their own business Dubrovnik Apartment Source. Just over a year later they are living and working in Dubrovnik.How did you end up in Dubrovnik?
Our first time here was about 18 months ago, we were living in Italy at the time and we came just to visit. We had heard a lot of good things about Croatia so we decided to see it with our own eyes. We immediately fell in love with the town. We had just got engaged in Italy and we decided to get married in Dubrovnik. When we started to plan the wedding we decided to put our family and friends into private accommodation and that turned out to be very complicated. Finding 14 nice apartments for all our guests in town was difficult. Then after the wedding we went back to Italy and started thinking that there had to be a better way to book apartments in Dubrovnik. That's how we decided to start our company here. We didn't have any background of working with properties before, Michelle worked in finance and I am a lawyer, so it was a real change for us. After seeing the business for the customer's side it helped us a great deal in organizing our company. The first apartment owners we worked with really took a chance on us. At that time we had no web site and not even any customers but through hard work and perseverance the gamble really paid off. Once everything was up and running it became much easier, after just one summer season we had gained a good track record. Now we have a situation were people call us and offer their apartments which is amazing because just over a year ago we were almost begging for apartments.What do you miss about America?
I guess we miss the diversity of living in New York, the diversity of cultures, peoples and food. New York is such a different cultures interacting everyday and I miss the feel of that. When we go back to America we immediately eat out in an interesting restaurant. One thing about living here is that when you need to shop for something for the home you realize that there isn't any great selection and that's the only time that I wish I was back in New York. Although saying that I wouldn't really want a shopping mall to open up here. Of course we miss family and friends. Although after living in Italy for one year it's a vast improvement to be here. We can go to the movies because the films are in English; the food tends to be more diverse than Italy as well. Life for us is so much easier in Dubrovnik than in Italy. We've made a lot of friends here now so it's just great to live here. It has the best of all worlds; we tell our family and friends how much we love it here and often describe Dubrovnik as paradise on earth.What would you miss about Dubrovnik if you ever moved back to America?
I would miss the sheer beauty of the nature and sea if we ever moved. The people and the way of life is something special here. Dubrovnik has it all. I would also miss the cakes here even though I don't have a sweet tooth the desserts here are amazing.What advice would you give to foreign nationals who are thinking of moving here?
If people are coming from America then they need to manage their expectations. If they are thinking of living here they need to be flexible and maybe a little adventurous. You need to realize that it takes along time to do things here from paperwork to everyday living. In Dubrovnik it helps if you know people. It's a small place and as you start to meet people and get to know people the easier it will be for you. There are not so many foreigners living here so in a short space of time people will get to know about you. To be honest we are still relatively new here so we're still learning how things work here. You have to treat the whole experience as an adventure and you must be really patient and try to enjoy the differences. Just don't expect that everything will be like it is at home. Also learning the language is really important, we are trying but it's very difficult. We really want to learn but so many people here speak English here it's almost difficult to practice our Croatian. In the time that we've been here we've picked up some words and phrases but we need to concentrate on our Croatian in the future.How often do you go back to America?
We usually go back about twice a year. Christmas is a time of the year that we like to be at home. Every time we go home we have to travel around because we have family in New Jersey, Chicago and Boston. So going home is not so relaxing, we have to go for at least three weeks to have time to see everyone. By the end of our trip home we are always pretty tired.What are your plans for the future?
We don't really make plans for the future. When you look back three years we never planned that we would leave New York and live in Italy. If you look back one year we never planned to leave Italy and live here. So you can't really make great plans for the future. We are certainly putting down more roots here than we did in last year Italy. Dubrovnik will be a big part of our plans in the future but whether we spend all year here or part of the year is still open. If we could make it work here, this is a great place to live. The beauty of our work is that we can work from anywhere, an internet connection and a laptop computer is our office. We are not so busy in the winter but you still have people who are very organized and like to book their summer holiday six months in advance. At the moment we don't have any children so it's nice to have the flexibility to work from a "mobile office". We do have plans to expand the business in the future maybe even into other countries.What was a cultural shock when you first came here?
The actual shock for us was a positive one. We had come from Italy and Dubrovnik gave us a pleasant shock. If we had come directly here from New York then the story would be different. We were in the middle of a cultural shock in Italy but when we came here it was like the clouds parted and the sun came out. It is quiet progressive here; little things are relatively easy to do here. One thing that was a little different was the size of the community and the fact that everyone knows everyone else. Now that's completely different that what we are used to from living in New York. This is kind of comforting you feel like you are part of the community. In New York you almost never see anyone you know walking down the street, in fact in New York you don't tend to make eye contact with people. We can experience the feeling of anonymity when we travel but it's nice to come back to somewhere where you know a lot of people. Especially when you are in a situation where you leave all your family and friends behind and go somewhere new it's great to feel part of the community. It's a very easy place to make friends. If you move to a large city it's very difficult to meet people you don't really even know your neighbors. Michelle lived in the same apartment for eleven years and she only really knew one neighbor. There are many ex-pats that we know here as well as lots of locals through our work.
Source: http://www.dubrovacki-vjesnik.hr/index.php?link=showNews&ID=6598&PHPSESSID=96ba2a65e1e02e0a4c4c4a3c9f61ded3Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljić
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