End of an Era? Getting a Home Base
If you missed it: I have a house again! In the Netherlands . Who would have expected that, a year and a half ago, when I flicked my entire household on the rubbish dump and started traveling around the world. Not me.
If you had told me then that I would take another house a year and a half later, even in the Netherlands, I would have laughed at you. But nothing is as changeable as a person, so today let me talk about the decision to take a base again in the Netherlands.
A year and a half ago, in September 2017, my boyfriend and I closed the door behind us from the apartment in Utrecht where we had lived for five years. Why we have lived there for five years is a mystery to me, because I was not happy at all. I hardly knew anyone in Utrecht, I didn’t like the neighborhood where I lived, and our neighbors had a new child about every nine months, so I woke up regularly in the morning by crying babies. The only nice thing I found was our apartment, a nice house with lots of space and light.
Anyway, after years of tricks, my boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to try: becoming a digital nomad . Of course we both loved traveling very much. I had been working online for years, so I was location independent for a long time, but in principle my friend was not. As a filmmaker, about half of his work consists of filming, and of course that has to be done on location. He could just do the other half, editing work, while traveling.
We both needed adventure. Freedom. To experience something. We could always sit behind a desk, we decided. And so we jumped into the deep. We gave up our house and went traveling indefinitely.
We knew from the start that we would return regularly, due to Joris’s work and other obligations in the Netherlands. Anyway, that’s the beauty of being location-independent: you can go wherever you want. So that wasn’t a problem.
The Digital Nomad Journey
The first three months flew by. We started in Singapore, and I still remember being at Gardens by the Bay that night, and tears came to my eyes. I had really done it: my dream came true. I was so happy.
The next destination was Thailand , where we quickly discovered how difficult it was to travel and work at the same time. With a month in India on the horizon, in which we would not work or did not work much, we had to do as much work as possible in Thailand. But yes … you also want to see something of the country. It was a difficult balance. Although I did a lot in Bangkok, I mainly sat inside and work for all three weeks I was in Chiang Mai. Pretty unfortunate.
The month in India was everything I had hoped for. A dream trip that I had been dreaming about for ten years. The first two weeks we did a tour of northern India, after which we went to Mumbai for the wedding of a friend of mine, and then we ended with a week in tropical Goa. After that, it was time to fly back for the holidays.
In the periods between our travels we both stayed with our parents, and although we were incredibly grateful for that, we soon realized that this was actually “living out of a suitcase.” You are a guest and do not really have a place with your own things. But need your own place? Not at all.
And so we left again, this time to Bali for two months. A wonderful period in which we had our own place. We rented a room in a fantastic villa among the rice fields, where we lived with other digital nomads. I learned to ride a scooter, tried to surf, and got a chance to completely unwind.
We spontaneously decided to go to Australia for a week to visit Joris’s brother. We visited Melbourne, rode a piece of The Great Ocean Road, and saw koalas and kangaroos. And of course we could cuddle endlessly with our nephew and niece.
After that Joris went back to the Netherlands for his work, while I went on to Malaysia to travel solo for about three weeks. I have already said it a million times, but I really had the most fantastic time. I have made friends there that I still speak to and see. When my third week was over, I reluctantly boarded the plane to the Netherlands.
What followed was a messy period of shorter journeys (two weeks in Finland and Sweden with my best friend and one month in Romania), followed by a summer that we spent in the Netherlands due to circumstances. I made the best of it, but I didn’t really like it.
Home in the Netherlands
I interpreted that experience as being that I was not yet ready to live in the Netherlands again. But I actually think that it was mainly due to the fact that I was no longer happy with my old place of residence Etten-Leur (where I no longer knew anyone), and that I still lived from a suitcase.
So after the summer was over, we couldn’t wait to buy a plane ticket to a faraway place. We hesitated for a moment between Mexico and Vietnam, but it eventually became Vietnam. We had more than two months before we had to be back at the end of November for a wedding.
More than enough time to travel through the country from North to South, and still work, right? Well, basically. Halfway through the journey I only found out that one travel day brings me two working days. One in which I have to do the work that has remained, and one in which I write about what I did during the travel day. And yet I tried to keep going. Not only to see everything, but also to immediately write about my experiences and eliminate my to do list. In other words: I was already completely broken in half. I wanted nothing more than to lie in a hotel room with the curtains closed.
Over Living from a Suitcase
Moreover, I suddenly noticed how much I had finished living out of a suitcase. The fact that I lived with my friends on the other side of the world, and that I had finished with traveling Asia for now. It was the first time I felt it, but it was immediately so strong. I started to fantasize about what it would be like to have a house of my own. Ordinary, something small, something cheap, so that we could still travel regularly. In the center of a nice city, with enough friends around us. So that I would like to come home as much as I would be traveling.
And that idea felt so good. I was done every time searching for a new supermarket and laundry, navigating cultural differences, and smearing myself every day with a chemical cocktail of sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Funnily enough, my boyfriend had exactly the same thing. He, too, really began to miss his friends, and it began to disappoint him that while traveling he could only focus on one part of his work and could not continue to grow (in his opinion).
Finding a Base in the Netherlands
And so we suddenly decided: it has been enough like this. Let’s look for a small place in the Netherlands and use that as a base for our future travels. We can have a house with our own things. We can really enjoy ourselves more during traveling, and when we get home we can focus more on our work.
This way when we’re back in the Netherlands, I no longer have to live out of a suitcase and have to travel twice a week with my household effects between my parents and my friend’s parents.
And so it happened: after we enjoyed the holidays in December, and I spent the first two weeks of January in London, our search began. The fourth house we viewed was the hit: this was our dream house. A historic home with beautiful high ceilings, lots of light, just enough space, and nice in the center.
Living in Den Bosch
Because I get this question quite often: We are going to live in Den Bosch. A choice where we (just like with our apartment) have completely relied on our intuition. I knew that I wanted to go back to Brabant, where it is all just a little nicer and friendlier. The choice was between Breda, Tilburg, and Den Bosch.
When we walked arm in arm through the center of Den Bosch on a cold December evening, on the way to an appointment with two friends, the historic facades were illuminated by the street lamps and the snow came dripping down in thick flakes. And suddenly I felt it inside: the click. Den Bosch was the right choice. And it felt like the most logical decision ever.
Our Own Home
Well. That is the story behind how we decided to take a rental house in the Netherlands again. We have been living there since 2 April, and since then I have been cleaning non-stop because I think this house has not been cleaned for a century and a half haha. In addition, we are still busy with the design (we currently have a moving box as a coffee table). The most important thing we’ve bought so far is our yellow couch, and I’m in love with it. So if the house is decorated a bit to our taste I will share some pictures :-).
I am really happy with the decisions we have made. Everything is right for me. The decision to take a base again, the decision to live in Den Bosch, the choice for this specific house. I’m happy. And I can’t wait to make some great new journeys from this cottage, starting with New York!