As a digital nomad it’s a great feeling when you can get up and go from wherever you are at the time, and if you are a virtual assistant it means you’re in the ideal business to travel.
Not being tied to a particular place or country because of work restrictions such as an office, can open up a whole new world of possibilities in life. But when you have a family, circumstances change dramatically, you have more responsibility, and choices to make about where you decide to live. When I became pregnant in 2007 we decided to move back to Europe. A lot of British people are now moving abroad to places like Greece and Spain for the weather, the culture, and the overall way of life. As a virtual assistant, I also consider mainland Europe a great place to be to stay connected with my family and friends back in the UK. Due to the large communities of expats, some European countries are considered a home away from home.
I have been working and living in mainland Europe with my husband and 2 children for 4 years, and whilst I would love to go and spend time in Asia, in places such as Thailand and Boracay, and now Bali after watching “Eat Pray Love”, which are all most definitely on my “to go” list! I like being in mainland Europe now for several reasons, both related to business and family life.
I love the fact that we can get in a car and drive to, from and through several different countries. Although the drive can be long, for example driving from one end of France to the end of Spain, you can pretty much get wherever you need to be in a couple of days or weeks depending on where you are going and how often you want to stop. The nice thing about this is generally the roads around Europe are really well equipped with services, and the scenery is often very beautiful and can change and vary dramatically between different countries.
#2 Internet Access
Whilst we have been through our fair share of adverse weather conditions in Europe, and the Internet can sometimes go down in residential areas, you can pretty much take a short drive and find an Internet connection. As a virtual assistant without the internet it’s not possible to do business, so this is really important to me, and I found, while living in the Middle East for example, if the Internet goes down, folk are much less concerned about it than they are in Europe. If I went back to a country such as Egypt, I would definitely want to consider getting satellite Internet as a back up, which can be costly, however 3G is readily available throughout most of Europe, and the wi-fi spots are abundant.
#3 Time Zone
I am English, so my team of administrative assistants who work with me at Virtual Miss Friday, are all based in the UK, being in mainland Europe means that I am only 1 hour ahead of them, and living and working in a similar time zone to them makes it easy to get together online. Wherever I go in Europe, and whichever country I am in at the time, it means I can always reach my team during my office hours.
If you stay further down the southern end of Europe you get to experience really great weather. The winters are not too cold (except in the mid to northern areas) and the summers are really pleasant, and not too hot. The beaches in the south of Europe are also really beautiful and you can find some really amazing places to relax or take the kids out for some fun! Overall the weather is great, and the changing of the seasons can be quite pretty.
Europe is a popular holiday destination with many major airports, easy access is provided from one European country to the next, for example, you can get a flight from the UK to major European cities like Paris and Rome and many smaller airports for a little as €20 Euro on occasion, and this makes it really convenient to pop back and see family in the UK, or take a quick city break. Low cost airlines like flybe and bmi baby are great for travelling within Europe at an affordable price, the trick is to book way in advance if you can, as I have found the prices tend to be much cheaper the further away the date of the flight is.
#6 Family Culture
European culture varies from one country to the next. We found the French to be amazingly hospitable, family oriented people, Spanish life is also very much centred around the family, although they tend to be more night creatures, so we see and experience less of it in Spain, and I have heard that the Italians also love children and family life (we will find out this summer, last time I went I was solo), and that’s one of the beautiful things that I love about mainland Europe. Family life has a very different feeling to it on the whole in comparison to the UK where our lives overall can often seem hectic. Oh, another perk I discovered, is that when I was heavily pregnant with my son, we were always waved to the front of lines, and got to skip all of the queues at tourist spots in Paris during the height of the summer season!
Europe is by no means considered a cheap place to live in, but it is possible to budget and live a great life here. The Pound to Euro ratio has evened out considerably since around the time of the recession, and unfortunately the pound doesn’t go as far as it used to against the Euro, but if you can shop around, and speak to the locals, you can still find great rental villas and apartments at a reasonable price, especially during the low season. Food is still slightly cheaper than in the UK, and the cost of living overall is more affordable.
On the whole I have found mainland Europe a great place to be, whether you are single or with a family. Running the business is relatively easy because of the facilities which are available, the people are nice, and the places and the scenery in certain areas are truly breathtaking. Without my kids I think I would still be travelling through more exotic climates, and I will always have very fond memories of that! Having a family now does hold certain restrictions, however location independence as a family is not as difficult as it may sound, a family who have perfected this are the Soul Travelers 3, and also, more recently Christine Gilbert, and I love following their journeys online.