Breaking The Mould: How We Decided To Move To France

breaking-the-mould how we decided to move to franceThe path you take when you finally decide to move to France will be unique to you and your circumstances. Our decision to move was set in motion by unemployment followed by a series of circumstances. Here is a very brief look at the events leading up to the final decision to move to France.

Move to France: Taking The Road Less Travelled

Nothing really prepares you for it; you just have to jump in and do it.

Although living in France has always been a dream of ours, we never actually believed it was something we could achieve any time soon. Our lives, our mindset and the golden handcuffs of our jobs kept us chained to our perpetual lives. Lives that were good by most peoples standards maybe even great. But for two people like Blake and I who had itchy travel feet, life seemed a little mundane. Each day looked like the previous day. We worked, played, ate, slept and took the kids to school. Rinse and repeat.

The Catalyst!

laid_off gave us the balls and courage to take the next stepIn 2007 and 2008, the economy took a turn for the worse and my husband and I were BOTH laid off from our jobs on the same day. (We worked at the same company).

We didn’t know it but everything changed that day and getting laid off would be the catalyst that set us in motion towards moving to France.

It would just take a while to get there.

Flash Forward A couple of Years

Being unemployed does something to you. For one, being jobless scares you but at the same time, it can give you a sense of relief. Relief from your stressful, busy, maybe even monotonous routine. At least, that is how it was for us.

We eventually found jobs but then were laid off again and we started to worry. It’s not cheap living in the San Francisco bay area and we knew we had to do something. Rather than sticking around, we decided to cut our losses and get a fresh start on the east coast nearer to where our families lived and where the cost of living would be less.

Between October 2010 and October 2011, we lived somewhat unconventionally as a semi nomadic family of five. We had two home-bases. One in Montreal Canada with my aunt and the other in Maryland with Blake’s sister’s family.  We carried only what we needed with a few extra things for each of our three kids: small toys for Catherine, a skateboard, guitar etc. The rest of our things or what was left of them were in a storage unit somewhere in Massachusetts.

Why Boston?

Strategically speaking, Boston was in the perfect location. Not only was it located in New England near the water, but it was also almost directly located between my family in Montreal and Blake’s in the states. It seemed like the perfect place for two laid off silicon valley workers like us to look for jobs, settle down and start new lives.

Or so we thought!

The mind-set dilemma

Although no one ever said it outright, if you spend any amount of time living in North America, it is implied that there is a certain conventional lifestyle that we all should try to achieve. (Some people call it the American Dream). If you break away from that mould then somehow you are doing it wrong or hurting your children and family.  Or at least that is the sense that I got.

That year of living like vagabonds outside of social norms changed us. 

We were breaking the mould big time and I felt strange, even guilty for living like a family of vagabonds. To make matters worse, it felt like we were spinning our wheels looking for jobs that didn’t pan out, didn’t exist or didn’t pay enough.  Both Blake and I became disheartened, stressed out and in some ways a little desperate.

Something strange or interesting happens, depending on how you look at it, when you are backed into a corner , hit rock bottom or run out of choices.

Our situation made us get creative and we started looking at options outside of our comfort zone.

That’s when we entertained the idea of moving to France for a year. Both Blake and I had lived abroad before meeting one another however neither of us had any experience living abroad as a married couple let alone with three children in tow. We had discussed it before however there were always road blocks. We had jobs, a house, lives and friends. But now, all those barriers were gone. Our stuff was conveniently in storage.

We could go anytime now so why not?

Money! That’s why. 

The Money Dilemma

We had already tackled the mindset dilemma but like any normal family, we had concerns about money and how to pay for our trip.  After brainstorming, we came up with some possible scenarios.   We knew that if we could somehow manage the money part than we would be one step closer to making our move to France a reality.

  1. Use what we have: Make our current rental income and savings go as far as possible.
  2. Freelance: Earn money by leveraging our skills and strengths by freelancing or consulting. This would give us the ability to earn money anywhere we land. 
  3. Find jobs in France. (almost impossible, we tried this and it never panned out because we are not EU citizens).
  4. Upgrade my skills: Believe it or not this blog is a way for me to keep my skills updated should I ever decide to return to the workforce. I write, I promote, I troubleshoot, I create all my own graphics. I do it all. You can hire me to help you if you like. 

Obviously we overcame all our obstacles because as I write this we are living in France.

My point in sharing our thought process is this. 

We will all have our own set of circumstances, road blocks or whatever it is that is stopping us from making that dream come true.

Sometimes it takes an unfortunate event to make us break from the mould.

Why wait? 

If you really want to do something don’t let your fears stop you. Don’t let other people tell you how you are supposed to live. If you think it is a good idea or the right thing to do than do it.

So there you have it. What issues are you struggling with? What’s stopping you? 

David William

I’m on board with you! I am trying to think about what it is that I want to do… exactly…

My current set up is good enough for now, but I certainly want more. I appreciate your openness about your business ideas. Perhaps I need to start a list of my own…

    Annie Andre

    It’s definitely been a challenge. I have lot’s of things i’m good at but i’m not passionate about all those things.
    Finding that intersection between what you are good at and something that you can make money from and staying true to your values is really hard but the journey has and is very fulfilling. I’m sure you will find the answer if you keep looking.

daigoumee

Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

Name (required)

its a great post and I agree about what you see . I will back again. thanks

Brendan

Hi Annie, I found you and your website through a post of yours on Elizabeth PW’s site. I am an international entrepreneur. I am in Mexico City right now writing from a lovely Boutique Hotel. Which made me think that facy boutique hotels in mexico city might like to have sassy eye masks for their clients. Yes they can be used for sleeping, but I can think of *other* unmentionable sassy activities that guests might use them for. Just saying. (I shall be going to a confessional right away!)

If you manufacture your masks in Canada or USA then you’d avoid import duties. Or if you wanted to get ambitious, establish a manufacturing shop in Mexico where you could produce at lower cost AND be helping out some cool local entrepreneur.

Just an idea. Mexico is awesome (despite what you hear on the news). Mexico city is especially special. You and your family would love it. Heck, you’ve probably been here and already know.

Anyway, good luck with the vida loca and thanks for a great blog!

    Annie Andre

    Hello Brendon,
    i’ve been struggling with the whole outsourcing manufacturing thing. I found loads of companies in CHINA. I’m opposed to this. I tried to find companies in the U.S. I found a few but the cost would eat into my profits quite a bit.

    I actually had not considered Mexico. Silly me.
    I love your idea of approaching boutique hotels. I’m going to look into that tonight. I had the same thought with beauty spas.

    So many ideas, so little time.
    come back anytime and inspire me some more please.. :)

Heidi

Thanks for sharing the whole thought process. You have so many great talents! I know that what ever you choose will be a success as long as you believe it will be. (hope that makes sense) I wish you the best of luck.

We went through this when my husband lost his job last year. We picked his strongest talent, marketing, and built a buisness around it. It’s still in the begining but it’s enough to fund our small adventures and I have faith that soon it will fund our BIG adventures.

Anyway your blog is awesome and it looks like people are attracted to you and your story so I know you’ll do awesome.
Heidi recently posted..3 Really Inspirational GuysMy Profile

    Annie Andre

    Heidi,
    Thanks for the encouraging words. It’s been almost three years now since we’ve been unemployed. I wish we hadn’t waited so long to hit the road and rebuild our lives.

    I’ve been following your story from a far too. I would love to chat over skype sometime.

cheap airport hotels

Hi Annie, I hope you succeed in your quest, I am not unemployed but striving to make a better life for my son and your words are inspirational. I strive to start a business to be financially independant, hard work,but hopefully will pay off.

Shirl

Craig

Thanks for sharing your story. I’m in a similar situation, I love to travel and my husband and I have dreamed of a more nomadic lifestyle. Having grown up and spent a most of our life in the Boston area, we’re finally taking the plunge and getting out of here in a few months. It’s very exciting
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