Yes, we are crazy. All of a sudden about a week ago I decided I wanted to leave France permanently (of course, we’ll come back to visit though!) But yes, Jake and I are moving AGAIN.
Truth is that 2020 royally screwed over every plan that I had and life looks so different now. My thoughts on this are all a bit jumbled so let’s just start getting into some of these reasons.
I’m mostly writing these down so that I remember why we decided to do this when I’m living somewhere else and missing life here in France. So here we go!
1. I wanted to build a community
I moved to France because Jake and I had been traveling for almost 3 years while constantly moving around and I wanted to try to stay put in one place for long enough to make friends and build a life around the community there.
Of course, I could not have chosen a worse year to do that (hindsight is 2020? lol).
We literally were still buying things for our apartment when the first lockdown happened and we spent our first few months in France locked inside our apartment.
We had just moved here, without any friends or family nearby, and all of a sudden our ability to make new friends was completely gone.
Even with the restrictions lifted, we still felt like it was a terrible time to go looking for new friends.
I wanted to find language exchange partners and go out to events to start practicing French, but now all of that was canceled or done virtually.
I have taken HUNDREDS of virtual language classes. That’s not why I moved here!
Of course, I’m not mad that they were virtual, I definitely think that was the right move and I am behind that 100%.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that my life was looking about the same as it had everywhere else we had lived.
We went to church for the first few weeks as well, but soon that was canceled.
However, even if it weren’t canceled, I realized the first Sunday there that there was NO ONE our age in the whole ward.
This brings me to the next point: Nice does not have a super large young crowd. It’s a lot of retirees or people who have holiday homes here.
I don’t mind being friends with people of all ages, but I really wanted to find some people a bit closer to me in age.
As I started to look into building a community here in Nice and why we maybe should leave, I realized something else that bothered me. There isn’t even a Nice Expat Facebook Group.
I know that might sound dumb, but honestly, if there isn’t a Facebook Group for something, then that thing just isn’t very big.
I rely on Facebook Groups for seriously SO many things. I honestly don’t think we could have traveled as much as we have without it.
I have groups for VIPKID, for teachers who travel while teaching VIPKID, for blogging, for travel blogging, for Expats, for learning languages, for visa issues, etc.
On top of that, the first thing I do before moving somewhere is join EVERY Facebook Group that exists for that place. There is so much valuable information that just doesn’t exist anywhere else.
So why didn’t I think this would be a problem before we came to Nice?!
Now, I think it was a bit of a mistake that I overlooked or underestimated before we came here.
I’m not saying that I only want to be friends with expats (that means people who choose to live outside of their home country), however, it is nice to have some people who understand what you’re going through.
Especially since Jake doesn’t speak any French and I’m still a beginner. Anyway, this was an oversight for sure.
Although I totally understand why lockdowns are needed and have been supportive the whole time, the lockdowns have not been easy for me. Like I said before, we moved here to try to build a community and have roots somewhere.
Then, we weren’t allowed to leave our apartment without a signed attestation.
Our apartment is beautiful and I am super grateful we found it right before the world fell apart, however, I didn’t plan on staying inside it for a whole year.
If I’m being completely honest, it has been incredibly difficult for my mental health.
I have quite a bit of anxiety over “getting in trouble” (which I’ve had my whole life, just as my mom!), and going outside while police are checking whether you’re allowed to go outside or not has been really hard.
Things have just gotten more difficult for me and I find that my motivation and drive disappear every time there is a new lockdown and it’s incredibly hard to get it back.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I feel like if there are more lockdowns here in France, I’d rather spend them with family or in a place with a pool or a backyard where we can go outside without worrying about the police.
On top of all that, this is the first year in a LONG TIME that I’ve lived somewhere that gets cold in the winters and the sun sets at 5 pm, which I now realize is terrible and I miss Southeast Asia so much.
Anyway, this is me just expressing how I feel, not an opinion in any way about whether lockdowns are good or bad. Stay at home and wear a mask.
3. Cost of Living & VIPKID Hours
The third reason we are living in France is the cost of living. We knew (and actually predicted quite accurately!) what the cost of living here would be.
However, we didn’t predict that 2020 would happen and wreck our finances.
So here’s what happened…
My travel blog was growing and starting to bring in a lot of traffic, we were getting booked a lot of VIPKID hours and we planned that we would be making about $4,000 per month except for the months when we traveled.
At the time, I wasn’t making money from my blog yet, but if I hit 25,000 sessions in one month I could join Mediavine (an ad company) and start making about $500 per month ballpark.
Then, as lockdown hit, my travel traffic plummeted and all of a sudden every teacher in America was available to teach online.
We went from being able to be fully booked whatever hours we opened to barely being able to teach 2 hours a day.
Then to make everything worse, Mediavine upped their requirements to 50,000 sessions in one month and my goal was further away than ever.
We weren’t making enough money to afford to live in France anymore. In fact, we were making less than we had in Asia.
Luckily, we turned things around with my blog and that income grows every month (woohoo!!) but our VIPKID income remains the same.
Basically, for just our basic needs (rent, utilities, and food but excluding travel), it costs us $19,200 per year to live in France.
In a crazy coincidence, I calculated how much Jake and I made this year teaching for VIPKID and it came to EXACTLY $19,200.
So considering that we don’t know if our hours for VIPKID will get better in 2021, or if my blog will finally hit Mediavine, we had to come to terms with the fact that we would not have enough money to travel, go home to visit family, or even put money into savings.
If you know Jake and I, then you know we’re OBSESSED with savings. We put over $10,000 in our savings account when we lived in Bali for 6 months.
I hate thinking that we would be constantly dipping into those savings instead of adding to it.
Plus, in order to keep our visa, we need to have $40,000 in our bank account to show at our visa appointment. With what we’re making now, it would be incredibly stressful to keep up with that and it would also hinder us from taking any trips.
So although France isn’t the most expensive place to live, it’s too expensive for us right now.
There’s a bunch of other, smaller reasons why we are leaving France, but those are the ones that we just can’t ignore.
I’m not sure exactly what’s next for us yet, but I’m grateful for this year we were able to spend in the beautiful country of France! J’aime la France! <3