One year ago, I packed my bags and left my hometown of Montreal to relocate to the City of Light. Moving to the most beautiful city in the world had always been a dream of mine, but there were two main reasons why I moved to Paris: I had an insatiable urge to have the freedom to travel and I fell in love. Much to my family’s distress, I didn’t know how long I would be gone for (still don’t) or what my five-year plan entailed (again, still don’t). Now that I’ve entered into my second year, I’ve started to reflect on how I’ve changed and what I’ve learned after a year of location independence.
Here’s my experience in a nutshell:
Home is where your routine is
Getting back into my routine makes wherever I am feel like home. It can be the smallest things, like drinking the tea I’d have every afternoon at the office, maintaining my evening yoga session, or having my favourite books within reach. As long as you have your routine and a good WiFi connection you can feel at home anywhere in the world.
Cafe Cometa, Barcelona.
Airbnb and co-working spaces will make you feel like a local
I’ve made cities like Barcelona, New York, and Rome my office for short periods of time by renting apartments in areas where the locals live. This helps me get into my routine, all while exploring the city in a way I couldn’t have had I been on a fast-paced vacation. By renting via Airbnb, I’m able to do my groceries, try out local food, and discover great coffee shops. Co-working spaces and cafes are other great places to meet like-minded remote professionals. I’ve co-worked from Anti-Café in Paris and La Gare in Montreal. Shakespeare and Company just opened their own cafe so I’m definitely going to be heading there often to write.
It’s okay to feel homesick
You will get lonely and break down at the slightest thing when you least expect it (like when the laundry machine leaves your clean clothes littered in a film of lint and you don’t understand why). It’s okay to cry. Even a five-minute chat or FaceTime session with friends and family helps.
From left to right: Shakespeare and Company Cafe, Paris; Holybelly, Paris; Balcony, Barcelona.
Bureaucracy is a bitch
From obtaining necessary VISAs, to getting a phone plan in your new country, all the paperwork that goes into moving somewhere new (especially if it’s in another language) can become quite daunting and prompt you into thinking that being an adult isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. The upside? You’ll be a pro at handling these tedious tasks and may be able to help a friend in need.
There’s no greater feeling than loving your Monday like you love your Saturday
Not commuting to a 9-5 job five days a week and having the freedom to plan your schedule is essentially the sh*t that dreams are made of. This was the biggest reason why remote work made sense for me. While working from home usually means putting in more hours, which makes it difficult to unplug (24-hour workdays become a real thing), not having that feeling in the pit of your stomach on Sunday nights makes it all worth it.
Tommy Cafe, Montreal.