This is one of my favorite bloggers, Chelsea Fuss, a single woman who left a thriving floral design business in Portland, Oregon and who is now living in Lisbon.
Her blog, frolic, is a consistent joy: frank, lovely, wise.
Where in the world will you go? What if it doesn’t work out? What if it does?!
Some of her thoughts on the challenges of changing your life, big-time, (of which there are five in her post):
1. Nothing is perfect. Often, when I engage in these sorts of conversations, people are looking for a magical answer, a perfect life. Nothing is perfect. As my brother likes to remind me, everything in life is a trade off. Whatever new life you are able to acquire, one thing is for sure, you will have a new set of challenges. Weigh the positives and negatives and be honest with yourself about what your priorities are and what you are willing to sacrifice to make your dreams real. For example, when I left my home base in Portland, I was giving up a creative community, a great location for operating my business, all of my current and potential clients, most of my business and the ambitions and goals I had for it, everything I owned! The list goes on! Some people might say, “You traded all that and more to work as a glorified slave?” It’s all in how you look at it. At the time, my priority was to get my hands in the earth, apprentice on organic farms (I volunteered on farms in exchange for room and board, cutting out the rent factor), see more of the world, meet new people, and mix things up a bit to see what happened. I actually had no end goal in sight. I ended up staying in Europe and moving to Lisbon. I got a whole new life, and a whole new set of problems, with my new-found-life and accomplished dreams.
I know many of you are immigrants or ex-pats; here’s a brand-new blog, by an American man now living in Bucharest.
I’ve cast off my former life a few times and…it’s terrifying!
OK, it was for me.
The first time, I was 25, and won an eight-month fellowship to Paris (!) to study, travel and work in a group of 28 journalists from 19 countries, ages 25 to 35. I ditched a live-in boyfriend (willingly), my dog (sob), friends, family and a thriving freelance writing career I was sick to death of.
I was stuck in a cosy cocoon, but desperate for some wings.
It certainly gave me that!
I’d left my parents’ home at 19, and there I was, living for the first time in a college dorm room (tiny!) with bathrooms down the hall and a hyper-vigilant staff who grilled me when they thought I had “un clandestin” (i.e. a man) in my room.
I traveled alone (on reporting trips) to Sicily, Denmark and Amsterdam and spent eight days in a truck with a French driver going from Perpignan to Istanbul, still one of the best adventures of my life.
I’m still good friends with some of the people from our fellowship.
I did it again when I left my hometown of Toronto for a job in Montreal, where I’d once more be working en francais.
I loved my enormous top-floor apartment and quickly made new friends and met my first husband.
But the city was a poor fit for me, as was the newspaper I went to work for. Montreal, a charming place to visit, offered a brutally cold, snowy and interminable winter; very high taxes; limited professional opportunities, terrible public services and a much higher crime rate than Toronto.
I was gone within two years.
Off to a small town in New Hampshire to follow my first husband’s medical training there — but I had no job, no friends or family, and it was long before the Internet and its easy social and professional connections.
Then, two years after that, we moved to a town in the suburbs of New York City, just in time for a recession. Again, with no job, no family or friends and no alumni networks to lean on.
I had never lived in a small town before New Hampshire.
I had never lived in the suburbs before New York.
You can make a huge change.
Chelsea did. I did.
I know many people who have.
It takes guts, self-confidence, resilience.
Savings and good job skills are essential.
It may not work out at all as you’d hoped or planned; my first husband walked out the door (literally) barely two years after our wedding and promptly married a woman he worked with. That was very definitely not in my plans.
But here I am today, with a home, a town and a second husband that all make me happy that I made the move — and that I toughed it out.
Grand Central Station, NYC. One of my favorite things about living here.