If you ever wanted to live abroad, but weren’t sure how to do it with a young family – read this
We continue with our new blog post mini series.
Meet Our Curious Georgia
Today, we are talking to Sean and Jazz – parents of the Curious Georgia. They are originally from Canada and currently live in Vietnam. They both have had vast experience with traveling around the world and also living abroad (check out their vlog #1 – it gives a great summary of what they have been up to before moving to Vietnam!).
Nomad Diaries (ND): So..over a year ago, you and little baby Georgia left your home to live overseas. Why Vietnam?
Our Curious Georgia (OCG): Number one reason is we both love South East Asia (SEA). I [Sean] lived here for 3 years a while back; and we actually both met in Thailand back in 2012. It’s been a 5 year longing to return together. We chose to come to Vietnam first because it’s super close to Thailand and we had a few friends who were working in Nam at the time and said it’s a great environment for English teachers. This is what we wanted to do. Vietnam also was a little more under the radar as far as tourists go, so we thought try here first, keeping Thailand as a fall back plan!
ND: Do you have a long term plan for Vietnam or after?
OCG: Would you believe us if we said we didn’t have one! Honestly it’s a very common question but we really try our best to not look too far ahead. Like the old saying goes…life is passing you by while you’re busy making plans. We usually look no further than 3-months ahead as we find it more manageable and attainable. We feel a little less stress and are also more flexible that way rather than trying to know our every move. We are currently enjoying our time in Vietnam and will keep living day to day until something changes in us or want to venture somewhere new!
ND: How do you support yourselves while living in Vietnam?
OCG: Currently I [Sean] work as an English teacher here at a Language Centre, also teaching students online. Anywhere from 20-25 hours per week. Jazz works full-time online for a few different companies – she is a Virtual Assistant and is able to work from home anywhere in the world. Which is another big reason why we took the leap to come out here, to create an online presence and be able to work remotely. We were pretty lucky to find work rather quickly when we arrived.
“That saying “home is a feeling” really is true“
ND: How does it feel to live in such different culture and how do you make it feel home?
OCG: That saying “home is a feeling” really is true. I think having some lengthy travels pre-baby and having lived in several countries prior to Vietnam, coming here really doesn’t seem all that different than home. Beyond of course the religion, the language, the climate. It’s normal for us because it’s the 3 of us, we live in an apartment that is comparable to one at home, we both work, we spend as much time together as we can, we grocery shop together, we read books and play together. All the things we would be doing at home I guess. I think it comes down to the mental game; you can really let all those differences bother you. But, at the end of the day we want to be here. Having that mindset keeps you moving forward. There are always adjustments to be made and hurdles to overcome, but it just makes things interesting!
ND: What is the hardest about being away from ‘home’, friends and family?
OCG: Definitely missing out on special occasions. You can get that FOMO [fear of missing out] feeling, seeing your nieces and nephews getting ready for their first day at school, having to answer questions like “hey when are you guys coming home, we miss you” can strike a chord at times. Or knowing your parents are getting older. It’s always going to be a sacrifice, it’s just a matter if it’s one you’re willing to make. Jazz does a really great job at face-timing or skyping home a few times a week. The health care can be a bit a of a worry as we know the facilities here can’t and don’t really stack up to what we are used to at home. I know it added a little more stress when we first arrived as Georgia had a fever. Your mind can think all sorts of crazy things, but we were able to get in touch with a great hospital that had an english speaking doctor who was able to settle our nerves. She ended up having Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, which we later found out was in an outbreak back home town of Edmonton. So it can happen anywhere; in fact Georgia probably caught the disease before we left.
“Slow down and plan your first few nights/days ahead and keep an open mind and agenda”
ND: What are the main differences about traveling with child vs without?
OCG: Slow down and plan your first few nights/days ahead and keep an open mind and agenda. Don’t stress about sticking to a structure when you travel with a child, because anything can happen with a child and anything can happen with travel. Before, for us it was all about a numbers game – gaining that new stamp in the passport and keep pushing on. Not anymore!
Slow it down not only for your sanity, but your pocket. Slow travel = extended travel. The faster you move the more money you tend to spend. We also find the biggest enjoyment now of travel isn’t really for us to see all these new sights, it’s really watching Georgia get acquainted. Watching her interact with locals, watching her splash in the ocean. It’s true – you find so much joy seeing the world through your child’s eyes. It humbles you.
ND: Can you describe your travel style and profile in 3 words?
OCG: “We wing it”, “casual, no agenda” , “we are always late”. Yep, that’s us!
ND: Did you manage to find a good coffee spot nearby your new home?
OCG: There is this nearby coffee shop called “On Fleek” which is just a really nice location. Has a beautiful garden terrace, friendly staff, great wifi and some delicious fruit smoothies. My favourite coffee shop is also a hop-skip and a jump away to a place called “The Coffee Shop.” It’s a little more of a local joint, but serves up some great Cafe Den Da (Black Iced Vietnamese Coffee). I opt for the iced coffee’s here as it’s 35 degrees everyday and I just don’t crave a hot cup of Joe anymore! The coffee shop is a little family run place that is always packed with locals from early to midmorning, then it tends to quiet down. Just a great place to relax and get some work done!
ND: What is your favorite destination with child or without? What’s up next on your bucket list?
OCG: Well we haven’t traveled TOO much with Georgia yet. Only around Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and soon to be Bali. We love Vietnam! Pre-baby we both easily said Thailand. Nothing will ever rival the connection and love I have with Thailand. A must visit place on our bucket list is India! Crazy to some, but we are dying to see it.
ND: What is a unique spot / thing about Vietnam you’ve discovered so far?
OCG: I guess Danang (our home) is a new discovery for us. I think the biggest thing we have learned since being here is simply how much the locals ADORE babies! Georgia is an absolute celebrity here!!! We had been warned about it before, but never really knew to what to expect. It’s flattering in a way, or just cute as they just can’t wait to sneak a touch/pinch/kiss/photo with her. We can’t lie and say at times it’s a little overbearing as sometimes they forget personal boundaries and can annoy Georgia. We often wonder at times how many photo albums around the world she is going to be a part of??
ND: Do you ever think of traveling full-time again, now as the 3 of you?
OCG: Well, we are heading to Bali in October for a month, so I guess – in a way – yes! We don’t really see us hopping from country to country for a long period of time. We would love to spend a year in different countries around the world before Georgia is at the school age (5). We spent her first year of life in Canada, now Vietnam. Maybe somewhere new soon?
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”
ND: Is there anything you would do now vs. them first setting off?
OCG: Probably no. We have had thought before that maybe it would have been better to come straight to Danang rather than travel all of Vietnam first. However, doing that gave us the reassurance that we needed. Danang was the place to be for us. We now know 100% this is where we want to be…in Vietnam that is :)
ND: 3 tips you can share with people that are anxious about traveling with kids or moving abroad?
OCG: 1) Things aren’t REALLY that different abroad. Once you get past the first few “new’s” you realize things are often more similar than they are different (location dependent!). We have up’s and downs, kids have bad days and good days, we have less busy and more hectic days. But, that is the same everywhere.
2) Contact a family that has done something similar. It can do 2 things, a) give you more insight and a sense of what life is like there. They gave give you the nitty-gritty and perhaps a more in depth look to realistic expectation. b) peace of mind. We spent hours upon hours researching Vietnam before we left looking for families doing something similar to us and came up empty handed. A few that had traveled for a few weeks but nothing long-term. So it was a bit of a blind move, which is why we are hoping to provide a little more of that for families in the future. And if all else fails maybe take a quick trip to your destination first and feel it out before you make any commitments. You never really know a place until you are there.
3) Just do it. If you mind has gotten you this far into contemplating a move like this, then you should go with it. We always say that “Canada isn’t going anywhere, it’s always going to welcome us home with open arms”. You’re not faced with an ultimatum where you can never return to your country of origin. My favourite quote among so many is “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”. Go explore!!
Why We Love this story
For merging their careful planning with the laid-back attitude. For chasing their dreams and making them reality, even with a young baby in tow! For positive mindset and pure love for travel and exploring. And for the ship quote!
If you want more inspiration on traveling with babies and living abroad, check out Our Curious Georgia You Tube channel or follow them on Instagram.
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