Many people leave their home to go on a tour of the world. Newly weds Michelle and Rob however left London to live in and ‘exclusively’ tour their favourite city of New York! They have already lived in four NY neighbourhoods and have plans to try at least another two more before they move on to the Far East.
1. Where are you from originally?
I grew up in a small suburb just outside London, but I’d been living in Central London for a few years with my husband Rob before we started travelling. We love London but don’t miss it yet – apart from the chips!
2. Where do you live now?
Mainly in New York City: we spend a few weeks at a time in different apartments around the city, so that we can experience and get to know all the neighbourhoods. So far we’ve done the Upper East Side, Lower East Side, Chelsea and the Upper West Side. Soon we’ll be going to Astoria in Queens and Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
We’ve also been visiting other cities while in the US. We’re doing it through Airbnb, which means we don’t double up on rent if we want to take a brief trip to say, Washington DC for a few days.
3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?
I’m obsessed with New York, and thankfully Rob is too! After we got married last year, we decided to quit our jobs and come here for six months so that we’d have time to work out what we really want to do with our lives. We love that New York has so many events, classes and opportunities to meet interesting people; we really wanted time to make the most of all of that. So I guess we moved for a combination of work and lifestyle.
We’re halfway through our six-month stay; afterwards we’ll fly home to London for a few months, and then we plan to spend a couple of months in Thailand. We’re not intending to settle down in one place anytime soon!
4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?
We’re currently in the tiniest, cutest one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We’re definitely getting good at living in small spaces! We stay here until the end of the month, and then we’re off to Boulder, Colorado for a “holiday” before going to another small apartment in Queens.
5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?
We’re very unadventurous adventurers! We might be travelling and trying out new things, but we’re dreadful when it comes to learning new languages. Having said that, sometimes we even struggle out here in New York. Who knew that a “biscuit” here is so different from a UK biscuit?
6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?
We can’t earn money while we’re in the US because of our visa, so we’re using this time to work on some personal projects that we might be able to monetise in the future. We’re also helping out some friends by working for free to build up our freelance portfolios.
Our backgrounds are mainly in writing and editorial, so that’s what we’ll be doing more of in the future. I’ve written a couple of very niche books which are selling quite well, so I plan to write a few more in the future. The latest one is called “If I’m Not Mistaken, That’s Bacon” – it’s about the kosher dietary laws for confused Jews!
We work from home and from New York’s many fantastic coffee shops – we thought about joining a co-working space, but we’re still enjoying the lack of commute at the moment. With Skype, it’s just as easy to collaborate with people as it was at home – actually easier, because there are fewer pointless meetings!
7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?
An internet connection is quite literally our number one priority when we’re looking at new Airbnb places to stay. We couldn’t survive without it, and I tend to get terribly (and embarrassingly) panicky if the connection ever goes down.
We’re real geeks and tend to try out every web app we can find, but Skype, Dropbox and Google Docs are our must-haves.
8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?
We use Metro Bank to get cash out of ATMs and pay with credit cards – they don’t charge any fees for foreign transactions, so we never have to consciously exchange any currency.
9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?
One day we’ll have to do the whole “settle down and have kids” thing, but not yet – we’re having way too much fun. We think it’s important to ensure we’re completely financially stable before bringing kids into the mix.
10. Did you bring any pets with you? Or leave any behind? How did this work out?
We purposefully didn’t get any pets because we knew we’d be coming out to New York. But Rob is extremely broody for a puppy, so that’ll be the first thing we do when we’re living somewhere for a decent amount of time!
11. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
It’s a million times better. We were both happy in the UK, but we really wanted an adventure and some time to work out what sort of work will really make us happy in the future. It’s been great to have this breathing space to learn new things, develop our skills and meet really cool people.
12. What are the best things about living in your new country? Has the move been good for the whole family?
The best things are the things that sound a bit cringey out loud: being inspired by the people around us – who are really making a go of things and following their passions. All the entrepreneurs and freelancers in this city have a really positive outlook, and they’re more than willing to share their thoughts and experiences with others. That’s been really great for us.
We’ve also had so much fun moving around from apartment to apartment every few weeks, and experiencing different neighbourhoods.
13. What are the most challenging things about moving to and living in your new country?
I don’t think we can really say that anything has been too challenging. Like I said, we’re not very adventurous adventurers, and living in a first-world country with clean water, air conditioning and nice, firm mattresses is hardly challenging compared to what some people do! We’d be silly to complain.
14. Are you here for good? If so, why? If no , why not?
We’re not, because getting a “proper job” is the only way to get the visas we’d need to earn money, and we have no intention of doing that! We plan on being “location independent” for a while yet.
About Michelle and Rob
Michelle and Rob married in May 2011 and took the rather bizarre next step of quitting their jobs and setting off for a six-month New York adventure – with no prospect of making any money while they were there. They have plenty of projects and plans for the future though, and have been using their time in the city to work on their projects and learn new skills from the many classes, courses and events going on around them.
They’ll be spending the next year (at least) living in Airbnb apartments and now consider themselves to be experts when it comes to using the site as a traveller. They spent so much time advising friends on little-known tips and techniques to get the most out of Airbnb that they felt it was time to write a guidebook – to help fellow nomads get the most out of it too. You can get download the guidebook from www.airbnbpro.com.
Michelle has written a couple of (rather niche) books and intends to write some more when she’s home. Her books are If I’m Not Mistaken, That’s Bacon and Haggadah Good Feeling About This – both available on Amazon.