It has been a little over 15 months now that we don’t have a place we call home, that we have (re)become nomads. I say “re” because, during our round the world trip we lived more than 18 months without a house, even if at that time it was clearly more of a travel project than a real lifestyle.
In other words, after a little over a year of this “nomadic life” I thought it was the time to give you a brief feedback about the new way of life that we’ve adopted.
Note: If you stumble upon this blog post now, just know that we wrote it at the end of 2017. A lot happened since and if you want to have more up to date infos about our digital nomad lifestyle and our latest posts on this topic, you can check out this page of our blog.
The less glamorous sides of the nomadic life
Nomadic life is an alternative lifestyle and not a dream life
These pretty words is not from us. It was written by Corinne from the blog vie-nomade.com. In fact, we recommend you to read her magnificent post on the demystification of nomadic life (in french… or use google translate 😉 ). We do not all face the same challenges, but it is true that the vast majority of people who have a nomadic lifestyle agree that they would not change their lifestyle for anything in the world, but that it is not perfect every day either. And we agree with that…
After 15 months on the roads here are some of the difficulties we encountered
I put quotation marks in it because to be honest we are not great adventurers in terms of financial risk. At the time we started, we had good savings on the side and even if we are no longer able to put money aside, we still managed not to deplete our savings too much. But with our way of life, we must be flexible and above all anticipate… When we were employed, we had a fixed amount that fell on our bank account every month, so it was easy for us to make a “budget” (yes yes I am very much into budgets) and to plan. Currently our monthly income varies enormously… Some months are 5 to 10 times better than others, in other words, we have to learn how to juggle, to save money after a “good month” and especially not to panic after a bad one.
I don’t have anything to wear
Warning, this is the girly and superficial minute… But it’s true that, for me (Fabienne), it’s sometimes a little frustrating to live with the “same stuff” all the time. Our life fits more or less in a 15kg backpack and even if we have the essentials, there are sometimes little things missing… Our belongings are divided between our parents / friends places (this is not true anymore as we have a home base now), and our bags.
Last week I went for a clubbing night with my best friend. When I was getting ready, I clearly didn’t have any “outfits” in my bag. I would have liked to put some nail polish, but I didn’t have any either, the mascara? Shit, he’s at my father’s house… In the end it all turned out fine since I have a golden friend and it is without any trouble that I was able to get ready at her house by borrowing what I was missing, but you see the idea?
A rhythm shift
Since we became self-employed, we have become accustomed to working in “our own way”, i. e. we alternate weeks of traveling around with weeks of hard work. During the weeks of travel we work less (maybe 15 or 20 hours a week), but during the weeks of “work” we are clearly closer to 80-90 hours than the 45 (the standard in Switzerland). So when we are in Switzerland (these are often working weeks) it is sometimes a little complicated to justify and explain to our friends and family that we are not available. The words evenings and weekends have left our vocabulary, and just because it’s Sunday doesn’t mean it can’t be a “work” day.
To give you an idea, the picture on the side is us at the precise moment when I write these lines… not glamorous every day uhhh! (And yes, we are relatively messy on our workspace)
Nomadic life as a couple: the challenges ahead
For our part, the nomadic way of life is combined with the fact that we have embarked together on the adventure of entrepreneurship in parallel. So we certainly already had the habit of spending 24/7 together during our round the world trip, but this time the situation is slightly different. Because despite the clichés posted on the social medias, a large part of our time is spent working together.
We sleep together, we get up (almost) together, we work together, we eat together, we still work together, we have dinner together, then we usually end the evening either working or talking about projects.
Keeping time for our couple and not our “colleague” is sometimes complicated, or let’s say challenging. When we were working for someone else and a co-worker was annoying, we could release the pressure at home in the evening by talking or doing smth together… The situation is more complicated, because now the “colleague” is the one who snores next to you at night (And no, I won’t tell you which one of us snores…)
But I reassure you, everything is fine! With Benoit we are chatty so we talk a lot (about work certainly but not only). We are aware of these challenges and we try to move forward by bringing in moments “just for us”.
The sometimes complicated thing is that our job is also a passion and sometimes we tend to get a little sucked into what we do. We “just” want to finish this project before taking a day off, and suddenly “Oh no, but there’s that to do too”.
As for the kids, maybe we should start thinking about setting us a quota of hours in front of the computer every week… To meditate on! In fact, if other entrepreneurs couples read us and have any advice, we are interested!
To nomadic happiness
I realize that this article has taken a turn to the little “inconveniences”, so I reassure you right away it is far from being a disaster! In fact in this article I’m just trying to put on paper the challenges we face in order to keep a record for ourselves (so we can laugh about it in a few months) but also to help some of you who are getting started or would like to get started.
Because yes, the nomadic way of life is not only love, fresh water and mango sticky rice but despite the different points mentioned in this article I can also tell you that at NO TIME did we regret our choice!
In the “bad” days, it is usually enough for me to think about the frustration and the feeling of being “imprisoned” and killing myself at work for someone else that I
sometimes often had when we were working in Zurich.
We work more than before, but now we do it for ourselves! Moreover, since the beginning of our entrepreneurial adventure we have delivered many sites to customers, each time they were cool projects! We have worked for golden people for whom we just wanted to give the best of ourselves and so far (let’s hope it goes on like this), all our professional projects have gone extremely well.
Financially speaking, we clearly earn less than before, but we have reached a level where we can live off what we do without anyone’s help. And that, my friends, I’ll tell you, is F* awesome! (all proportions kept eh…). Our “salary” has been divided by 5 compared to before, but independence, contacts and especially freedom are compensating… So we don’t complain!
But if there is one thing that we LOVE more than anything in the world it is flexibility! Of course we have obligations, but we also have a crazy freedom that allows us to venture out on many new projects. Some may not succeed, but others may be promising… And above all, we LEARN! Never in our lives have we experienced such a stimulating and enriching time on a “professional” level.
Being your own boss requires a certain discipline, but it is also a crazy luxury to be able to enjoy a beautiful sunny day on weekdays to go out for a walk and then work in the evening…
If you want to know a little more about our motivations from here, we invite you to discover the article I wrote the day before my last day of work. A very personal article but which may also give you more explanations about our motivations. The article is called Today I’m turning 30 years old.
A brief look back at our last 15 months
Officially, we no longer have a home since August 31, 2016…. Date on which we left our small apartment in Zurich by selling absolutely all our stuff to the new tenant. (When I say everything, it’s everything… all the furniture, but also the coffee machine, sheets, dishes, TV, etc.)
September 2016: One month in Switzerland at our parents place to take care of the administration
October 2016 to end of March 2017: Chiang Mai, Thailand
We have spent almost 6 months in the small town of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. A magnificent experience that we had reviewed here. To find all our articles about Thailand, it’s this way.
April 2017: Brittany…. Pfiouuuu a breeezzzeee! We had planned to spend 10 days there and finally stayed there for 5 weeks. Magnificent encounters, crazy landscapes, nice weather… we stayed stuck for longer than expected.
End of May 2017 to July 2017: Lausanne, Switzerland
We came back to live with my dad in Switzerland. The reasons for this were that we had finally decided to set up an official structure for our website development company. In short, a few weeks between notaries, paperwork, insurers, more paperwork, accountants and re-paperwork, all interspersed with a few escapades
August 2017: Hiking across Switzerland through the alps
1 month hiking through Switzerland. A heart project that we had for a while already… An extraordinary experience that we will remember for a long time! Find out more about the via alpina here.
September 2017: Zurich, Switzerland
Staying in Switzerland was initially not planned in the program but after my grandmother’s health problems we decided to stay with her in Zurich for 1 month to help her regain her independence after an accident.
October-November 2017: Menorca, Spain
Not necessarily ideal from a nomadic point of view, Menorca is nevertheless an excellent memory and above all an island that is highly recommended for lovers of nature and sublime landscapes in Europe.
A month of December in Switzerland and Austria
We have now been back in Switzerland for a good ten days and will stay here until the end of the year. The reason for this is that Benoit has been called up for military service and will have to go to the army for three weeks. Yes, in Switzerland the army is compulsory for the men even if we tried to explain them our way of living is not really compatible with that…
While my man is serving the country, I will take the opportunity to go back to my father for a few weeks and see a little more of my childhood friends than I have not had the chance to see in recent years.
I will also go for a short solo getaway to Vienna to visit friends. This city where we lived almost 2 years before our world tour, I love it more than anything… especially in winter! I can’t wait to spend a week there enjoying the good time with people I love and also strolling around the Christmas markets. 😉
Choice of our nomad destinations: what we will remember
This year we spent “too much” time in Switzerland.
Administrative reasons, family reasons, military reasons, many good reasons, I grant you, but strangely enough it is when we are in Switzerland that we feel the least “at home”. Not having the means to rent an apartment here, we spend our time here between our parents’ houses, with relatives or in the family’s holiday apartment. Certainly we are lucky to have a golden family that supports us in our projects, but for the future we will try to be a little less at home.
We must absolutely ensure that we maintain a balance between “sedentariness” and movement.
In Chiang Mai we probably stayed a little too long and started going “in circles” and above all we were working too hard. In Brittany we enjoyed it, we took advantage of it, but we probably didn’t work hard enough…
We will try to choose destinations where we can meet other people who do the same thing as us.
Chiang Mai was perfect for that…. Menorca was more complicated. We loved Menorca, but as we told you in our review, the combination of our work rhythm and the “low season” meant that we were quite isolated.
January: we’re back on the road with new projects!
On January 4th we will take the road again towards the north this time! For this escapade we have booked a flight to Tallinn in Estonia. We will stay 2 weeks in the Estonian capital before heading to Finland where we will attend a bloggers’ conference.
What happens next? The goal is to return from Finland without taking a flight…. For the moment we don’t have a precise itinerary, or even a real timing, but we will probably go through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, then the Czech Republic or Germany. In short, a new adventure with more traveling involved! (We did all of that now so just click on the links to read our experiences in those countries)
This period will probably be a period full of surprises, twists and turns…. But what I can already tell you is that some great projects are coming up and that you might have some reading from us (and not necessarily on computer or mobile) in the coming months…. #spoileralert
Well a lot happened since we wrote this blog post. Since then we also spent 6 months in a coliving in Tenerife, we traveled in Turkey, tried the coworking Bansko in Bulgaria, went back to Tenerife and tried the island of Grand Canaria, tried another coliving in the french alps… and then Covid happened. When the world stopped we decided to buy a place in Switzerland to have a home base when we don’t travel 🙂
That’s it, I think, for this first little “nomadic” review. Do you like these kind of blog posts? If so, we will try to write some more regularly! And if it’s not the case… well…. we’ll keep our moodswings to ourselves (or not);)