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It’s been nearly two whole years since I’ve had somewhere to call “home”. During that time, I’ve visited no fewer than 39 countries, each one my temporary “home” for between three days and three months. But I’ve had nowhere to really call my own.
Some of those places felt like home, sure. But as much as they were my home, they were never really mine.
And I think it might be time for that to change.
I never thought I’d say this, even (and especially) when I lived in the UK, but I think I want to buy a house. To have somewhere that’s truly mine.
And that’s what brought me to both Montenegro and Portugal this summer.
Why I’m looking for a home
I’ve never been a milestone kind of person. I’m not particularly fussed about marriage, still undecided about having kids and never saw myself owning a house.
When I think about it, I guess it’s partly why the nomadic lifestyle appealed to me so much. I never felt like I fit into the normal mould. I always wanted to see if there was another way.
And, even though I found another way, it doesn’t mean things don’t change.
RELATED READ: 11 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Become A Digital Nomad
Well, that’s certainly changed. But it hasn’t changed entirely… Just because I’m considering buying a house, it doesn’t mean I’m fully “in”, either. I can’t imagine the thought of giving up travel and, if I had to choose between travelling and settling, it wouldn’t be a hard decision. Travel would win every time.
I don’t feel any real need to have a home, per se. I just think it would be nice.
Nice to have somewhere to accumulate things. Somewhere to leave the camera gear I don’t need when embarking on a trip. Somewhere to go into full on work mode without worrying about missing out or feeling guilty that I’m not exploring enough. And somewhere to build a studio and a productive place to do that work.
Oh, and I’d rather like a dog.
The big question: where would I live?
Ah, the million dollar question!
How long will you keep travelling for?
Where do you think you’ll end up settling down?
When are you coming back to the UK?
“Will you ever live in the UK again?”
That’s the one questions I’ve always known the answer to: it’s a solid no. I never really felt at home in the UK, so I don’t see myself ever living there permanently. Don’t get me wrong, it will always be “home” in many ways, but it’s not somewhere I would ever choose to live.
For me, the UK just doesn’t offer the kind of lifestyle I want. And it feels silly saying that given that I still don’t know exactly what my ‘ideal lifestyle’ would look like, but I know it doesn’t exist in the UK.
The weather isn’t great. It’s expensive. I feel slumpy, grumpy and stuck when I’m there. It just isn’t me.
Like a friend you love in small doses, the UK and I have a much better relationship when we get our space.
Now that I’ve tried living in so many places, I also know I won’t get as much for my money in the UK. And, given that I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, it just doesn’t make sense to make my money stretch more than I need to.
So… which countries fit the bill?
What I’m looking for in a home
Like any big life decision, there are certain things I’m prioritising when looking for a long-term base. I like to call the most important ones “The Three ‘C’s”: co-working, community and connections.
Let me explain…
Co-working: I’m going to spend a LOT of time working from wherever I end up. That means a good work environment is non-negotiable. After all, one of the main reasons why I want a base is so I’ll have a reliable place to buckle down and be productive!
Whether that’s a dedicated office in my home or a nearby co-working space doesn’t matter. Ideally I’d have both. But I’ll take either if it feels right… and that’s something I’ll only know when I see it.
Community: I’m a people person. One of the other main reasons I want a base is to have a more regular social life. I’m talking gym classes, nights out and weekly coffee catch-ups. You know… normal people things.
Travelling full-time and working remotely as an extrovert is hard. Doing it as an introverted extrovert is even harder. I need a group of friends around me to be the best version of myself, so it’s something I keep in mind when considering the big question.
Connections: My third priority when choosing a base has nothing to do with the place itself… it’s about getting away. I still plan to travel a LOT – I’m a travel blogger, after all! – so having good transport connections is essential.
That doesn’t necessarily mean being near to an airport, but it does mean being able to get to places as easily as possible. So, a pedestrianised town probably isn’t going to be ideal. Similarly, I’d rather be a 2-hour drive from a big international airport than 10 minutes from a tiny one.
Other things I look for in a home
The “three C’s” are the essentials. They’re pretty much non-negotiable (and the reason I won’t be living in South Africa… sigh!). There are some other things that I’ll definitely be thinking about, though. I guess you could them the things that would be nice to have.
It goes without saying that FOOD is pretty high on that list!
More importantly, though, is access to healthy food. Wherever I end up, I’m probably not going to survive on the local cuisine alone. Sure, it would be nice to live somewhere with delicious local food. But having access to a well-stocked grocery store and plenty of fresh food is way more important to me.
And since I eat a mostly pescatarian diet, being near to the sea and having fresh seafood would be awesome.
Gyms and classes
Following on with the healthy living theme, fitness is important to me. One of the reasons why I’ve loved having a 2-3 month base is because it’s meant I could justify a gym membership.
Even though I have certain tricks up my sleeve for staying fit on the road, nothing beats having a regular place to work out. Plus, I love a good spinning or Pilates class, so having one nearby would be great.
Easy to get a dog
Spoiler: the main reason I want a house is because I (eventually) want to get a little pup. It looks like I’m going to need to get my furry friend in the UK if I want to be able to bring him/her into the country, so it would be good to be somewhere close by.
It’s obviously not going to be the deciding factor in where I end up living, but it’s definitely something that’s on my mind.
Easy to rent out
Since I’ll still be travelling a lot, it makes sense to buy a place we can rent out while away. If we can make a nice income from rentals, even better!
The plan is to look for a 3-bedroom place where one bedroom can be converted into an office/storage room and locked up. That way, we can ditch some gear and also make money on the remaining rooms while away.
Things to do nearby
Yes, this one is pretty far down the list.
I’d love to be somewhere that has plenty to do (and photograph!) nearby, but it’s not essential. If I had to compromise on one thing, it would be this – I plan to be travelling, after all, and day to day life is more important. But that’s not to say it’s not something I’m thinking about when considering places to live.
So… that’s what my next few months look like. Rather than choosing places I desperately want to go, I’ll be travelling to places I think I could live in. Where will I end up? Watch this space…