After doing a bit of planning ahead for 2024, I felt like reflecting on the year 2023 so far. In January this year I set myself a goal. My goal was and still is to create the foundations for a new business that hopefully and eventually can give me a ‘retirement’ income.
The job I have at the moment is not a bad one at all. I work online and as long as there is good internet, I am able to work where ever I want. No need to commute and to spend money spent on office outfits. A huge disadvantage is the lack of time freedom as it is essentially a job from 9-5.
So the aim is to ‘fix’ that with other income streams. I am aware that this is for many people a dream goal and it may not be as easy as it sounds. I am having a go and the year 2023 was the year to set up a few structures and work towards that goal.
Moving forward in the year 2023
During the first three months I have been focussing on my health and decluttering. Not literally decluttering but shifting unnecessary baggage from my mind and my computer. They do say, if you get rid of un-necessary clutter, you create space for new things. And somehow that happened and an iPhone photography course showed up in my social media feed.
It was affordable and I got stuck in to it when I finally caught covid in June. This little critter made me feel very tired so doing a course seemed a good way of passing the time. I even followed it up with an editing photo course. Very creative stuff and it motivated me to take pictures in a more focussed way.
I have to admit that I dabbled at photography since I was an eight year old. I grew up in a house with a dark room to develop pictures and I had a go at graphic design and photography at art school. You can read more about it at a later stage.
Being on a roll
Since then an online Finnish magazine chose two of my pictures and and published them in one of their online editions. One is the feature picture for this article and the other one is just below. I also have created an account with a stock photo company and I have now submitted close to 20 pictures.
To date, they have accepted 9 of them with a good rating and these nine pictures are now for sale. One photo got a rating of 4/4 and it happens to be the same picture that the Finnish magazine chose. Maybe it is indeed a good photo and you can see it just below.
I feel I am on a roll. I have even gone so far as making the decision to create a photo gallery website. And after a few weeks of brainstorming a business name with friends and family I have now registered a domain. More about that to come!
So if I draw the year 2023 to a close, I have done two photo courses and have 9 pictures for sale on a stock photo website. Two of my pictures are published in an online magazine and I registered a domain for a photo site. I feel that is a fair bit of progress!
There is more in the pipe line but I am not ready to get that off my chest. After all the year is not finished yet…
Have you ever dreamt about relocating within your country or abroad? Chances are many of you may be perfectly happy with where you are. On the other hand there will be some of you who can’t help having an image of seeing yourself living in a different state or country.
Longing for a different and better life is often an inspiration for a move to a different location. Maybe you like a cultural or climate change or want to immerse yourself in another language or just crave for an adventure.
Relocating from a romantic perspective
Many people from the ‘New World’ countries have a romantic expectation about moving to older cultures. Australians tend to see spending a period in France or Italy as one of the ultimate achievements in life. Many retired Americans move interstate, to Mexico or to Europe for a longer period to find out whether such a move could be off permanent nature. British people have a reputation of seeking out a new beginning in many South European countries.
Such moves are usually driven by positive motives. Yet on countless occasions more critical reasons come into play – war, recession and wanting to escape a political regime can all be reasons to move elsewhere.
The practical reality
Aside from the romantic notion, the practical consequences of ‘relocating’ can be daunting. As a matter of fact settling in another state may separate you from loved ones. Moving countries could strip you from your professional credibility and your qualifications may not have the same status as they have at home.
If your new country has a different language, it is likely to cause you severe stress. It will frustrate you that you don’t know how to do things. Your new local community might not immediately accept you or with great hesitation. Obviously, these are just some of the ‘issues’ that may arise after settling in a new country.
Whatever your motives are for relocating it is wise to spend time reflecting on a couple of essential things. Moving requires a lot of preparation, organisation and the willingness to start from scratch. In other words, take your time to prepare yourself mentally and physically.
Challenge yourself before relocating:
Firstly, take time to assess your big ‘WHY. Brainstorm your motives, emotionally and rationally. Assess the things you will lose or gain and how you and your family will handle that.
Secondly, plan a temporary move. Rent a house in the location of your choice. Live the local life for 6 months and see how you fit in.
Thirdly, consider the practical and emotional consequences for you, your partner, your kids, your jobs and other essential things in life.
Having gone through a handful of moves myself, I urge you to take the above tips seriously. In conclusion, explore your motives, consider the consequences and try it out without committing or burning bridges.
I can totally see that moving abroad seems attractive to many people, as I have done it five times myself. Our last move was in 2017 and we moved from Australia to France. As we are originally from Europe, it felt a bit like going home although France is not our home country.
After more than 5 years in France, we can conclude that our move was successful. We have settled in a lovely small town in the Aude surrounded by vineyards and gorgeous countryside. There is plenty to do in this area although covid threw a huge spanner in the works.
People have asked WHY we left, as Australia is an attractive country to visit and settle. It certainly is or maybe better, it was. We arrived in Australia in 1991 and at that time, it was a great country but it has changed and not entirely for the better.
Our reasons for leaving Australia
Cost of living
Since we migrated to Australia, the country has become increasingly more expensive. Consequently, a reason why we left was the high cost of living.
Easy to settle
France is part of the EC and that makes it relatively easy to settle there. At least for me with a Dutch passport and it would have been for my British husband before UK left the EU. Fortunately, he has been able to get French residency status because of being married to me.
Being able to see other countries and spend longer periods in other EU countries was part of our decision to leave Australia. Distances in Australia are huge, and it takes time to get a change of scenery. The landscape is stunning but relatively similar and it usually requires a plane trip to immerse yourself into a different type of landscape.
Closer to family and friends
An important factor was to see family and friends more regular although we found out that travelling in Europe is not without hiccups. A flight from Australia to Europe takes 24 hours if you are lucky. As a result, you don’t hop over for a weekend. It requires planning and realistically you may see loved ones only every couple of years. A few people came to visit us, but we often heard that a visit was too costly or would require their total annual holiday.
If you like it hot, you can have it that way Down Under. After having lived through 17 subtropical Brisbane summers, I can honestly say that I had enough.
What you must consider before moving abroad
Understandably there is a lot to consider before moving abroad. A mistake many people make is not knowing how they could support themselves. It is important to know to find out in advance if you are allowed to work and if there is work available.
If you are thinking of setting up a business, you must find out if there is a demand. Since we moved to Limoux, the offer of holiday accommodation has at least doubled. For example, a bed and breakfast business is not an automatic ticket to success.
Those who plan to retire, they need to check whether it is possible to receive your pension. Do your old country and the country you are going to, have an agreement to pay out pensions. Many Australian have found out that they won’t be able to receive their pension in France.
All in all, moving abroad can be an exciting adventure but it needs realistic planning. You need to assess your reasons why and become clear about the things you will leave behind.
I hope that give you some food for thought!
Feel free to reach out if you want to explore this further.
As a matter of fact, I can and ……..I am proud that I made it.
Curious? Here we go. In April 2022 instead of flying to London I spent unexpectedly a day in hospital on a heart monitor. Consequently I found out that I had a few heart rhythm issues and that I would need an operation. The cardiologist muttered almost mischievously that of course drinking alcohol was not the best thing to do. While saying that he was doing a scan of my heart and did not even look me in the eye.
In France there is a joke that if the doctor asks if you have been drinking and your reply is – ‘No, nothing at all’. He would say: ‘What, not even wine?’
I decided to take the cardiologist’s advice rather seriously. Maybe because deep down I felt that I would love to drink less regularly. In fact I had been thinking about it for some time. I looked up causes of the heart problems I had and there it was – cause number one, alcohol and number two, coffee. Two of my favourites!
The best decision in action
Moving forward 6 months, I am still drinking a few coffees per day. However I have almost removed drinking alcohol from my life and against expectations, it was not hard. To be honest, it almost went by itself.
This made me think as I never before had a real need to stop having a glass of wine. Despite the fact that I felt that I rather would not have the habit. This time the urge to have a drink was gone and I slowly became indifferent about it.
Throughout the summer I explored zero alcohol beers and I discovered they are getting increasingly popular. Furthermore there are some tasty ones out there and I tried a few different brands. When Autumn came and the weather became slightly cooler I did not fancy a cold beer.
Then something interesting happened!
Imagine coming home from work on Friday. You feel like a drink to reward yourself and to finish of the work week. Instead, I felt more and more that that drink was not going to give me that feeling of reward anymore. In fact a cold glass of sparkling water with a slice of lemon had the same effect. It seemed that the association of alcoholic drink and reward had become less strong.
It went even further and even if I poured myself some wine with a meal, I forgot to drink it while I was eating. So why have it then, was the logical conclusion. I am not sure what exactly happened but without me putting any effort into it, I had reduced the association between wine and enjoyment. To be honest I am thrilled that it happened like that.
My best decision made
Now I tend not to drink during the week and have a bit when socialising with friends or going out for a meal. I am happy to sit hours on the tiniest glass of wine and usually end up pouring it into my husband’s glass.
And one more thing – no more bad wine, please! If I have some, I would like a wine I appreciate. For instance there are a few local cafes where they serve rather mediocre cask wine. It definitely is less attractive going there since I made this decision.
Can you relate to this at all? I am sure there are many people out there who wish they could do this as well. Yet it never seems the right moment. In my immediate circle of friends there are at least a handful of people who have made the same decision during the last year.
Housesitting was something that came into our lives by pure coincidence! Before we left the land Down Under in 2017, a friend asked us to housesit for them. In fact, she wanted to know if I knew someone who would be willing to house sit their house and dogs. I looked at her and said: ‘We could do it’. And she said: ‘I hoped you would say that’!
That housesit in Brisbane was the spark that ignited a new exciting lifestyle. Since then we have done over a dozen house sits in The Netherlands, Spain and France. We only use one housesit website and nowadays get many direct requests to housesit.
Housesitting as a lifestyle
So, what is so good about housesitting, you may ask? I bet there are people who consider it their worst nightmare as you may have to work for the privilege. Homeowners may ask you to walk their dogs and cuddle their cats. Other chores are mowing the lawns, maintaining the pool, watering the garden and more.
Sometimes there are 3 – 6 dogs and a few cats. Some dogs apparently need up to 4 walks per day and cannot be left for more than 5 hours. Others may require daily medicines and leave dog poo everywhere which you are required to clean up.
If you don’t like the idea of this, you may not be suitable for a pet housesitting life as it ain’t a holiday. You are stepping into someone else’s life and are required to continue the pet routine that the homeowner established. In other words, the chores are the reason why you are there!
Your benefits are that it is free, most of the time as there are some homeowners who charge a small amount for utilities. And you get opportunity to see different parts of the world.
How to make your housesit successful
For us a successful housesit is a win-win situation and nor home owner and sitter should feel that it is not. In the past I have applied for housesits that required us to do change overs for a whole summer and be available 24/7. The owners would give us a small renumeration. But reality was that they wanted someone to run their business while they went on a trip with their teenage boys.
I could be interesting taking on a housesit that is partly a paid job but only for the right reward. As I said it must be a win-win situation – a barter that feels in balance. Not one that fills the pockets of the owner while the house sitter does the work.
Some homeowner consider you living in their home a privilege and ask you to perform more tasks than the home, pet and garden care. If they ask you to take care of their business as well, we feel there should be an additional monetary exchange.
When housesitting becomes a job
I know that some people take on sits like that for no extra pay, but I would not. It is important to discuss such matters before taking on a housesit. I have heard about disastrous mismatches where sitters left after only having been a few hours in the house.
The best example was a young, groomed couple that thought that an off-the-grid remote sit with 6 animals would be charming. They literally left right after having had dinner with the homeowners. They left them stranded with no sitters, 6 animals and a ferry to catch the day after. Not good for your house sit profile!
If the idea of housesitting appeals to you but you are unsure how to start, reach out and chat with me.