It’s been over 6 months since my last update, and over 3 years now since we moved abroad. I really enjoy sharing what we’ve been up to so that if you’re thinking of uprooting your life, you can at least get a glimpse of what it’s been like for us!
What’s crazy is that this all began from the moment I decided I wanted to incorporate more travel into my life. I saw my future when we were living in Los Angeles, and I realized how much I didn’t want to work a job that offered me a couple weeks of vacation out of the year. I wanted to be traveling. I didn’t want to work towards retirement. The job itself wasn’t the problem, it was really the long-term work/life balance that I couldn’t wrap my head around.
Provence and the French Riviera, South of France: Photos edited with the India Collection for desktop
When Jacob and I originally moved to Amsterdam, I knew I’d love living there. He was skeptical, but it only took a couple of months for him to fall in love with it too. I’d always dreamed of moving to Europe. I wanted to hop on a flight and explore a new country during long holidays, and make friends from different backgrounds. I wanted to feel inspired on a daily basis, wandering along the centuries-old canals and learning how to speak a foreign language.
We moved abroad and started sharing our journey at a convenient time: no one really knew you could make money from Instagram, us included. In the last few years, we’ve been able to grow (first unintentionally, and then intentionally) a business while taking photos and traveling. Through it all, Jacob worked remotely part-time for a company based in New York City. I worked part-time for the first year. We also founded a production company together separate from Find Us Lost, purely dedicated to creating photo and video content for hotels and brands.
Our time was so split. While we had moved to Amsterdam, we were rarely there. As some of you know, we made the decision to travel full-time last summer. The goal was to save money on rent and capitalize on the momentum from Find Us Lost, creating non-stop travel content and taking on jobs with brands that took us around the world. It’s a dream job.
By fall we were already burnt out from our hectic travel schedule. I missed Amsterdam so much, and I still do. We had left when our time there felt ‘unfinished’. We had never planned on traveling full-time and living out of a suitcase. By the end of the year, it was time for a change — we no longer wanted to be without a home base. Jacob had been communicating frequently with colleagues in New York, and there was an opportunity for him to work from an office there. The decision was made: we moved to New York as soon as we could.
What I Love About Living in New York City
It’s now been 6 months since we moved into a rental apartment in New York. I’ve enjoyed a number of things about the city that I didn’t expect to. For one, there’s a community of bloggers and photographers here that I’ve been able to connect with. Coming from Amsterdam, this type of community didn’t exist in the same way. There are events, opportunities, and group meet-ups here, and I try to attend as much as I can whenever we’re in town.
I’ve also loved working from our apartment. In Amsterdam we had a one-bedroom studio, but now I work from our guest bedroom when we’re home. We rented a furnished apartment, not knowing how we’d feel about living in the city. I really want to be able to decorate and make the space our own, something I had just started to do in Amsterdam before we left.
I love the energy of New York. There is an overwhelming sense of drive and passion that you feel from the minute you walk out the door. Some of my favorite memories so far: visiting Central Park in the snow. Grabbing dinner together, followed by a Broadway show. Celebrating my birthday last month with friends at a trendy bar in the Lower East Side. Spending time outside of the city in upstate New York during autumn.
New York has also been great to travel from. Besides having one of the most international airports in the world, it’s between Europe and the west coast of the United States. For us, that means only a 5-hour flight to visit family in California. It also means lots of direct flights to cities in Europe. We recently flew from JFK direct to Nice, France, landing in the morning and making it to the beach by noon.
Though we’ve been enjoying our time here, there are definitely cons as well. New York is expensive and crowded. What got us an apartment on one of the most famous canals in Amsterdam — with the freedom to travel guilt-free once a month — doesn’t even make up half our rent here.
West Village, New York City: Edited with the India Collection for desktop
What I Love About Traveling
People often ask me how they can travel more. The biggest question to ask yourself before uprooting your life is what will truly make you happy. What exactly are you looking for when you travel? Do you want to take more trips throughout the year? The experience of living abroad because you’ve never done it before? Do you want to be checking international trips off your bucket list? Or do you want to be exploring more on long weekends? Do you love to travel so much you’re daydreaming about making a living doing it? Or do you want a break from your current routine while you figure out what’s next?
I know my answer to this question now: I want to be living somewhere that inspires me. I want the freedom to take trips constantly, and not be restricted to a standard job’s vacation time. I want to immerse myself for weeks in cultures I’ve never experienced before. But, I also want simple weekend trips that allow me to explore new places (Europe was perfect for this, because I was always an hour flight away from a new city). I want to be doing something creative on a daily basis. I want to inspire others to travel.
For those of you who ask me why we chose to leave Amsterdam: we didn’t, really. We are considering the possibility of moving back. But we’re also figuring out our lifestyle, and how to balance these goals together. We want the freedom of spending time in cities we love, and traveling for our job when we want to. And we are more open than ever to splitting our time in multiple places, rather than choosing a place to ‘settle’ for the next 10 years.
You might be dreaming of traveling more or trying to live abroad for a short period of time, like I was when I had my 9-to-5 job. On the other hand, other travel bloggers and influencers I’ve gotten to know over the years all crave routine and their own place. I’ve lived through both now, and I can tell you for certain that finding a balance is just as hard with the latter. That’s why asking yourself these questions now will set you up for happiness in the long run. It’s easier to make a big change in life when you know it’s moving towards something you’re truly passionate about. And you should definitely, definitely go for it if you know it will make you happy!
What I’ve Been Up To Most Recently
I launched our photography presets at the end of last year and I’ve been so positively impacted by the response. A lot of you crave more ways to capture your travels and improve your photography skills. Taking photos while traveling the last few years has ignited a passion in me that I never knew existed.
Our trip to India earlier this year was a major source of inspiration for me. The colors, the people, the buildings — all of it was new and overwhelming. I developed new presets from this trip that launched last month. I’ve personally been using them non-stop. I used them all through our South of France trip and I’ve been using the mobile presets to edit more than ever before. I actually get so much joy from answering all your questions about photo editing. There’s honestly nothing more rewarding than getting DM’s on Instagram or emails about how you love them and how they’ve made you excited about photography.
Jaipur and Udaipur, India: Photos edited with the India Collection for desktop
Alongside a new blog design that’s launching in September, I’m working on something that’s been years in the making. It’s a feature that I’ve wanted ever since trying to plan our three month road trip in Europe – the one we went on right before moving to Amsterdam. My biggest goal with our blog is to make travel as inspiring and accessible as possible for everyone, and this is a move in that direction. I’m so excited to share it with you. I really think it’s going to make your trip planning process so much better.
We’re also getting ready to travel to somewhere new next month, a place unlike any other Jacob and I have visited before. We’re headed to Svalbard, an island located in the arctic, north of Norway. We’ll be on a ship without connectivity or WiFi for 10 days. It’ll be the first time since starting @finduslost three years ago that I’ll be taking that type of time ‘off’! I’m nervous but also really looking forward to it. It’ll give us a chance to really focus on content and capturing the experience, without the distraction of social media or posting in the moment.
What’s Next For Us
We’re enjoying our time in New York while we try to figure out our longer-term plan. I used to think the answer was finding the best place to live for the two of us, and settling there. But more and more lately, our conversations have centered around how to bring the best of both worlds together. Traveling and having a home base we love. Knowing that the goal isn’t work work work, retire. It’s ‘how do we frame our life around what we know we love’? Not ‘how do we make our lifestyle work in the context of what’s expected of us’?
If I could share one piece of advice with you, it’s that uprooting your life is always possible. Forget finding long-term solutions or day-dreaming about travel but worrying how to do it. Just go for it. In the last three years, what I’ve learned is that there are many ways to make traveling more a reality: and the ones doing it don’t have it figured out either. But they love it, and that’s what matters when you lay your head down at night.
Menton, France: Edited with the India Collection for desktop
This article is fantastic! I can totally relate. I am also trying to figure out the alance between travelling and home base. Good luck!
Selena SaysPost author
So glad to hear that! Hope you figure it out – it’s a process, so always changing for us 😉
Tosh Bene Says
Beautifully written and this just oozes with your passion for what you do. Thanks for being genuine with everyone, always. Keep it up 🙂 xo
Selena SaysPost author
Thanks Tosh! I really appreciate that xx
Courtney Hardy Says
This is really inspiring! Love following along on your journey.
Selena SaysPost author
Thanks Courtney! xx
Kirsten Raccuia Says
I totally get this. We wanted a better work-life balance, so we moved from Chicago to Penang, Malaysia six years ago. We sold it all and reinvented ourselves online so we could work from anywhere.
We do love it here, and life is very affordable, but sometimes I like the idea of being more of a digital nomad and having less of a home base. Slow travel is our jam, and we don’t do it enough. So we just started doing home exchanges which helps to offset paying rent and accommodation while traveling.
But I wonder if the grass is always greener… it often is for me, so I have to check myself. It is all about balance and finding that seems like an ever-changing lifestyle that is just out of reach!
In the meanwhile, I’m loving the adventure of it all.
Selena SaysPost author
I love this – thank you so much for sharing! That is in adventure in itself. I can relate to that feeling of also wanting to get the full-time travel out of your system. And slow traveling is THE BEST way, if you do end up going for that down the road.
Congrats on such a bold move and for making it work, it’s inspiring to hear your story! xx
I loved reading this, and I relate so much to this! After living out of a suitcase for the last year we’ve set up a home base again as well. I agree, it’s all about balance and crafting the life you want now, not when you retire. You guys keep inspiring us all!
Selena SaysPost author
Thanks Meredith! You said it. 😉 Curious, where did you end up?
Really enjoyed reading this article. I am inspired by how you have followed your heart and went after your dream life. Your pictures are gorgeous!
Selena SaysPost author
Thanks Anele, that means a lot. So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂