The 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 with the yearly 2 week to 4 weeks off for vacations.
In 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 high tech internet company in Redwood City California).
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. It can also open your eyes to what you are capable of doing. Meaning, when you hold a job and the rug is pulled out from under you, it forces you to do things you never thought possible. At least, that is how it was for us.
We eventually found jobs but then were laid off again and again. Something that was not all that abnormal in Silicon Valley because jobs were abundant or at least they used to be. But you can be laid off only s many times before you start to worry and you can be unemployed for only so long before you start to worry.
“We started to worry”. It’s not cheap living in the San Francisco bay area and the life we created required high paying jobs to maintain that lifestyle. We knew we had to do something. Rather than sticking around and depleating our savings, 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. We thought in the least, our money would last longer in a less expensive area.
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 for the boys. The rest of our things or what was left of them were in a storage unit somewhere in Massachusetts.
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 family in the states. It seemed like the perfect place for two ex 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.
- Use what we have: Make our current rental income and savings go as far as possible.
- 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.
- Find jobs in France. (almost impossible, we tried this and it never panned out because we are not EU citizens).
- Upgrade our 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.
What’s my point in sharing this with you?
We all have our own set of circumstances, road blocks or whatever it is that is stopping us from making our dreams come true.
Sometimes it takes an unfortunate event to make us break from the mould.
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. It may take you a while but eventually you will get there and you will not regret it because anything worth doing takes work which makes the victories of your success so much sweeter.
So there you have it. What issues are you struggling with? What’s stopping you?