A really good exercise for me is to give myself an I AM statement. Sometimes I find it really hard to compliment myself or give myself a pat on the back and just sat that things are going ok. It is always so tempting to find a negative thought, to find fault in what is going on in my life.
So having a good, positive thought like: I am a badass, I am living in France just like I said I wanted to definitely serves me. Helps remind me that I am courageous and capable of really hard things.
In fact, more than just living in France, I think things are going really, really well.
Moving here is happening in multiple phases and with a lot of research and due diligence for sure.
But the very first step was having the dream, the thought that I wanted to reinvent my life and move across the Atlantic. (with my family onboard as well!)
And then I had to overcome the obstacles that my brain kept putting in my way. Old beliefs surfaced and tried to drag me down, derail by plans. Self doubt snuck in whenever I wasn’t looking.
- How will we determine exactly where to move in France? What city would check all of our boxes?
- How would we arrange visas and have the right to live in France.
- What type of place would we live in? How would we find an apartment?
- My French is rusty, after 30+ years of barely using any vocabulary, how would we get by?
- What about our business? How would we transition and support ourselves?
- What about our kids? Keith’s mother? Would everyone be on board?
- What will be moving abroad look like? How stressful will it be? How will be downsize? What is coming with us? What can we live without?
- How will we get 4 dogs 6,000 miles?
- How will we say goodbye to our dear friends and family, we have lived in Phoenix for the last 16 years and have such a lovely community.
You could look at this list and be overwhelmed and see these obstacles as huge roadblocks. This will never work. It’s never going to materialize. Instead I strategized, using these hurdles as my road map.
Each of these 9 points has its own story – and of course some are still in the works. But the hardest part has happened, I drew that line in the sand and said this is what I am going to create for my life and I set to work to make it happen.
Finding this apartment was one thing, finalizing the lease and finally moving in were another.
There is no way I could do this big of a move without some help on the ground. Prior to Covid, this plan was already taking shape. A college friend of mine had bought a home in the Occitanie region of Southern France. I first reached out to her to chat about her process. She mentioned a city called Montpellier, which to be honest I don’t think I had ever heard of. And I consider myself reasonable well versed in all things France.
I decided to check it out, online of course. Reading everything I could get my hands on. And in some facebook groups as well as other blog articles, I saw the name Renestance, French Lifestyle Dream, keep popping up. This company is based in Montpellier and owned by an American woman named Dennelle. This is fall, 2019.
Without going into all the details, we made contact with Dennelle. Had our first zoom meeting to discuss the possibilities of working together. Then Covid hit, so our plan of visiting France in Summer, 2020 wasn’t going to happen. We had to wait one election and another summer to finally get to visit. We spent the month of July in France in 2021.
Montpellier was obviously on our itinerary to take a long hard look at. But other places to review were Uzes, Arles, Marseille and Aix-en Provence. Nice also snuck in as a contender. The month was spent reviewing pros and cons of each town/city. Our check list was lengthy and it included 3 generations of wants/needs. Montpellier seemed to check most of the boxes, if not all.
The Pros of Moving to Montpellier!
- Weather. It has 300+ days of sun per year, that was a major one on my list. I couldn’t handle rainy, dark + windy.
- Medical. As Dennelle explained to me, MP has the universities that the Paris doctors come to train in. Excellent hospitals and an abundance of doctors.
- Transportation. The tram serves a wide area within and around the city and soon expanding to the TGV train station as well as the airport.
- TGV. Access to the rest of Europe by train, easily. Our new apartment is less than a 10 minute walk from Gare St Roch.
- Airport. Montpellier has an international airport conveniently located just a few kilometers from town.
- City Center. The old part of Montpellier is incredible, large and gorgeous. Tons of cafes, restaurants and shopping. Everything you need within walking distance.
- Beach. The Mediterranean is a tram/bus ride away. Within 15 minutes you can be dipping your toes in the water.
- Schools. One of the high schools has an English component. So once Gabby’s French is at a certain level, she can acclimate right in. Also, colleges, this is a university town.
- Social Life. For all of us this was very important. I wanted the kids to be self sufficient, jump on a tram, walk or a scooter to meet friends and enjoy all the city has to offer. The same for Keith, myself and his mom. We want to sit in cafes and linger over a coffee or glass of wine enjoying the incredible weather.
- Culture. MP has 2 opera houses. And loads of other cultural activities including museums, music venues, markets, etc.
And that leads us to this apartment. We debated buying a home in the countryside or renting an apartment in the city center. Seeing how thriving being within the city is, we opted for the apartment. (Not fans of the new part of MP, it is one of the fastest growing cities in France so there is a large, modern area just on the other side of the River Lez.) City center it was, no car needed, we can walk to everything!
I found this apartment on one of the local rental sites. It had just been renovated to modern perfection meets historical preservation. Renestance was by my side this whole time. They needed to negotiate the lease, help me get a guarantor for renting a French property with no rental history, set up the bank account, electricity, internet, etc. etc. Could not have happened without them, hands down.
A longer, more thorough review of how helpful they are will be coming shortly. They made a large move somehow manageable with kindness and patience.
But this apartment is everything I always dreamed about France. The history, the location, just everything. I’m smiling writing this because it is the apartment that was on my dream board for the last 30 years. (My dream board originally had Paris, but the weather and cost of living were just not what we wanted for this stage of our lives. Now we can jump on the TGV and be in Paris in just over 3 hours).
My reminder that I am someone who had the courage to move to a foreign country at 52. I am someone that believes in herself enough to know that she will thrive in this next chapter.
I am proud of myself and every part of my life that led me to be here, right now.