When we first set off, now 15-months ago, we had very clear motivations for pausing our busy city lives and stealing away with our kids. The very first, the inspiration for the naming of this blog, was to slow down our lives and devote more time to our children. We wanted to really be present with them and to soak up the precious and fleeting moments of their childhoods, when family is the centre of their universe and life can be enjoyed for its most simple qualities.
We were also feeding our wanderlust. We’ve always loved travel and we wanted to experience more of it with our children. We wanted to explore farther reaches of our world, take in new cultures and make new friends. We hoped to find, and I think we achieved, a better understanding of our place in this great big world.
Now, looking back on it all, I think there was another, subconscious motivation: we were seeking inspiration for how to live in the years to come. We had had twelve wonderful years in London, full of adventure and excitement in their own way, but we were at a point where we could quite easily envision what the next 12-years might bring, and the 12 after that. We shared a secret desire to pen a new chapter — could we enjoy living outside of the city, on a farm or in the countryside? Would life be more fulfilling (and simpler) if we lived closer to family? Could we find a small town somewhere in the world with the slower pace of life we desired, but a smidgeon of the big city sophistication we had become so accustomed to?
Over the past year we have visited countries both new and familiar. For the most part, we gave ourselves ample time to experience them, to settle into a routine and to live, in a small way, like the locals lived. We developed a genuine connection to most every place and got a feeling for the town, its people, culture and customs. Granted, you can only learn so much in three weeks, but we experienced enough to wonder, and imagine, what our lives might be liked if we lived there permanently.
Some places captured our hearts more than others. We fell so in love with the pretty Brazilian beach town of Trancoso, for example, that we started looking at real estate and dreaming up ways to start a business and raise a family there. We felt so completely at home and welcome in Uruguay that we could have easily ended the adventure there. It was decidedly different yet wonderfully familiar, even European, and we came to know an inspiring group of expats who had settled in charming towns dotted throughout the small country. We couldn’t stop ourselves from enquiring about schools, property and visas.
We left each country with butterflies of excitement in our stomachs. Had we just discovered our future home? What would our lives be like there? What might we find in the countries still to come? It was all really exhilarating. We felt utterly untethered from our former lives. With each passing week the pressures of school and work and finances melted away into new possibilities. We saw people like us, former big city people, living happily and simply, a world away from it all. By December, it’s fair to say, the prospect of simply re-entering our former lives was growing more and more remote.
It wasn’t until April, however, that we were certain. Could we live in Trancoso, Brazil, La Barra, Uruguay, Pichilemu, Chile or Raglan, New Zealand? Yes, yes, yes and yes…. BUT, we had found somewhere that spoke to our hearts even more. It was Byron Bay, Australia, and we were smitten.
Within one month of exploring beautiful Byron Bay and the towns dotted throughout its hinterlands, we all agreed that this could be our spot. We had quickly and easily made dear friends and found a rhythm and routine that was incredibly natural for our family. We felt an undeniable connection to the natural beauty of the area and were drawn to its infectiously happy residents. Of course there was also the surfing, the sunshine, the good food, the creative community and the bohemian lifestyle that’s always appealed to me. We had fallen in love and could not deny our deep attraction to this place. We quizzed the kids – could you live here? Their answers were always, and unambiguously, ‘yes!’ At the end of our month-long stay, we couldn’t wait to return.
In just a few weeks we’ll be boarding a flight for Australia, stomachs full of butterflies again, with dreams of making a home there. There will be much to do, especially with visas and the logistics of emigrating, but we will be exploring all of the options and are hopeful that Australia may take us in. We’ll look forward to a day when we can really unpack our suitcases and start to build a nest again (to light candles, buy flowers, stock a pantry, hang up children’s art – the simple things we’ve missed). We’re also looking forward to sending the kids back to school, signing them up for activities, and finding a routine for our family again. Michael and I can’t wait to go on dates again, to take yoga classes and to focus on our careers. Of course there will be the challenges, but we’re even looking forward to those!
Thank you, as always, for following along and supporting us on our journey. There is much to come and I am eager to share our experiences along the way. The adventure continues…