Two years ago, my husband and I took one of the biggest risks of our lives. We sold almost everything we owned including our house, cars, and furniture to move to Paris, France and set down new roots.
Before our big adventure, we had both lived in Michigan for most of our lives and had never lived in a big city, let alone another country. Many events led up to us finding work, getting visas, and moving to this wonderful city of lights!
How we got here, our careers, our hobbies, and relationships shape our story here.
For many years, I have been sharing my photos and thoughts on standard social media sites, but have recently felt limited as to what I could express and who I could share with. That being said, I thought a website might be a great way to share our experiences better with our friends, family, and beyond.
BACKGROUND & EARLY LIFE
Growing up in the USA, I had three of my four biological grandparents that were of European descent. My dad’s mother was French and, more specifically, Parisian. She grew up in the early part of the 1900s in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. During World War II she met my American grandfather who was in the US Army and stationed in the city. Long story short, they fell in love and moved to Detroit, Michigan after the war where they had two children (my uncle and dad) and stayed there until the end of their lives. However, that was not the end of the story in France. They would travel every year to Paris and Aix-en-Provence to visit family and travel together.
Once my mother married my father, they continued on the tradition and first brought me to France when I was 5 years old. Surprisingly, I have strong memories of this trip, despite my tender age. We were not fortunate enough to go back every year, but I did go back at ages 12, 13, and 15. I had always loved going, but the obsession truly started after the trip at 15. With other family trips that came up after that and being at university just after, there was a large period of time where I was not traveling very much. This was a time where I was really missing France, and often day dreamed about a day where I could live there.
STUDY ABROAD & THE TRAVEL BUG
After university, I started working, and finally had a little bit of extra income. So, I would put all of my extra income into travel and moved back in with my parents to be able to do so. I did a decent amount of world travel, and on some of my trips would return to France. I went back in 2007 and in 2009. In 2010, I had hit a point in my life and career where I really needed to shake things up after going through a divorce and losing several members of my family. So, I decided to save some money and quit my job (at the time I was an architectural designer for retail store prototypes) in order to pursue my master’s degree more full-time and follow my dreams.
I noticed at the university I attended for my MBA program, that there was a study abroad option, but nothing really fit what I was looking for. I had chosen International Business as the concentration for my MBA, so I wanted something rich and life-changing. The study abroad options were also not in France, and only lasted one week for each. This was not what I wanted, so I talked to a counselor at the school and told her what I really wanted to do, which was live and work abroad for an extended period of time. She told me that I could write a detailed proposal for a directed study that could be submitted to the dean. It was a long shot, but I had my mind set on it. The counselor also told me about a friend of hers that worked for an international organization that had a satellite office in France. So, she gave me the contact, and it ended up being the place I would apply to and add into my proposal to the dean. Miraculously, both were accepted – I got the co-op study abroad job with the organization, and I got the dean’s approval for my directed study!
Within a month of leaving my job, I had found the perfect opportunity and had to start preparing for my 3-month stay in France! I lived in a small town of 1,000 people in the Loire Valley from September to December of 2010. It was one of the most amazing times of my life. When I had returned home, I met my future husband (although I did not know it at the time). On our first date, he warned me that in about 6 months, he’d be studying abroad in Italy for four months. After we had dated a bit, I knew it would be serious with him, so I decided to call up the place I worked in France and see if they’d hire me again. My former boss, who is now a good friend, agreed to my request, and I would then be back in France while my boyfriend was in Italy. At least then we would be closer! Also, bonus: I was able to do online classes while abroad, so I lost no time.
From September to December of 2011, I was back in the Loire Valley and my boyfriend was in Florence, Italy. When I first arrived in France, we met up in Paris after a month and a half of being apart. It was our first time going that long without seeing each other, so it was wonderful to see him in such an enchanting place. In short, we saw each other in-person at least once a month and would meet up in different places each time, including various cities in France, Italy, and Malta.
THE HARDEST TIMES
When we got back to Michigan that winter, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and our lives came to a screeching halt. Neither of us had a place to live or a job yet, so things were looking bleak and were quite the contrast from our fairy tale in Europe. Thankfully, after just a couple of months, we both landed jobs. I was hired as a design manager and he, as an architectural designer. At least we had work and had something stable at this uncertain time.
My mother was sick for 18 months and unfortunately, lost the battle to cancer at 56 years old. We had also bought a house at the exact same time. To say that it was one of the saddest and stressful moments of my life would be an understatement. For a long while, I was not myself, although I did a pretty good job keeping a mask on at work. My mom was my best friend, and now she was gone. This was so difficult to accept. Also, nine months after my mom passed away, my father moved to the south of France to be closer to family and to get away from everything that reminded him of his past life. Although I understood his decision, it was so hard seeing him leave. As I’m an only child, I realized it was me, and only me that would get out of this mess alive and happy.
NETWORKING & THE ART OF STORY-TELLING
Once I came out of my depression, I began to be inspired and got into doing my artwork once again. We also started traveling after a long hiatus and went to India, Hawaii, Greece, and did a west coast road trip in the US. In 2014, I started having the itch to want more from life but wasn’t sure what exactly. We both had great jobs, a beautiful house, two cars, had the means to travel, etc. but something was missing. I would stare out of the window and dream of being somewhere else almost everyday. Finally, it clicked, and I knew that we needed to move to France. I discussed it for months with my husband until he was coming around to the idea. As he loves to travel too, is a photographer, and is adventurous, I knew it would be an interesting change for both of us. I started networking with people to find professional connections in France. It’s amazing what can happen from telling people your story. That is ALWAYS how things happen for me – by sharing my story with other people and having them do the same.
I would get a random phone number from someone and call their contact in France via Skype. I had a basic conversational level of French before all of this, and did pretty well talking to people overseas, but it was still very difficult! After several hurdles, I was put in touch with a company in Paris. They seemed interested but skeptical of how this would work. I interviewed probably 10 times with various people in the company. All in all, they wanted to hire me but really wanted to meet me in-person before making any kind of decisions. So, before our destination wedding in the south of France in July of 2016, I made a stop in Paris and interviewed with them. About a month later, right around the time of our Michigan wedding reception, I received an offer and accepted. We did not know at the time how long it would take, but the process of getting our visa took 6 entire months.
Five days after our backyard reception, we sold our house. Within the two or so months we had left of living in the house, we had to organize, sell or donate almost everything we had including furniture, tools, clothes, and more. We had both an estate sale and donated a lot to good will. After moving out of the house, we lived in an Airbnb for several weeks, and then with a friend in his home.
DESTINATION: PARIS, FRANCE
Finally, in the beginning of January of 2017, we got the news that our visas were in!!! We had two weeks to give work our notices, prepare our cat for travel, and pack our bags with all of our possessions!
We moved to Paris at the end of January 2017 with 9 suitcases and our cat, Remy. We went from a 2,100 square foot house to a 430 square foot apartment. It has been a crazy, beautiful, exciting ride…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am still working full-time with the same company I worked at when we arrived, but I wanted to be able to share our adventures on a larger scale to both help and inspire others in their own travels!