My name is Céline and as you can probably tell by my name I am a French citizen and as the title of this blog hints, I live abroad. In fact, I have been living abroad for the past ten years, I never even worked in France.
Everything started in 2007 when I decided to go live in Montreal, Quebec. To me it was the ideal place, it was a French-speaking region in an English speaking country so I would be able to speak my own language while getting a taste of this American culture that always fascinated me.
Unfortunately, I did not manage to find a job there and decided to move back home. Since I had no intention of spending the rest of my life in France, I quickly took a place to London to be an au pair. After a few months, I was able to find a job in a market research company that paid 7£ per hour. I worked two jobs and 60 hours a week but I was 23 and loved every minute of it. In April 2009, I lost my job and got a job offer to work in Athens, Greece as a tech support advisor for A big tech company in one of their call centers. I immediately said yes. I stayed there until my mom passed in November 2009. This was a great experience for me, I learned how to use a mac, how to reach business targets, how to talk to customers, and more. After my mom died I stayed in France for about 6 months until I moved back to London in April 2010. For the next few years, I worked various customer service jobs(both consumer and business to business), as someone who is an introvert like me it was a challenge at first but I quickly realized that I was good at it, very good in fact.
Everything as fine until June 2012 when I sold my family house. I found myself with a huge pile of cash and no one to advise me how to invest it wisely. The shock of selling the house my parents had built and where I had grown up in was the biggest slap in the face of my life. I had practically ignored my feelings regarding my parents all those years and saying goodbye to the house brought everything to the surface.
So I did what introverts do best, I procrastinated, for several years.
Then in February 2016, the same big tech company I was working for in Athens contacted me and offered me a job at their European HQ in Ireland. I gladly took the job and moved to Ireland which turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. No more hour long trips to go to the market or to visit friends in the city, today my commute is 13-minute walk and 15 minutes bus on a bad day. For the first time I live in my life I’m living in a city that’s relaxed where people are welcoming and just happy to live and where people do have jobs.
Fast forward December 2016, I was diagnosed with kidney stones and because my gp at the time was incompetent they weren’t treated.
On May 2nd, 2017, my manager saw me in pain sent me by force to his GP who concluded my kidneys had stopped working. She sent me to the hospital where they had to perform a bilateral nephrostomy(they insert tubes in your kidneys to drain fluids). To this day, she still tells me I’m a miracle and that considering my kidney function that day I should have lost my kidneys or at least be on dialysis(My GFR was 8, today it’s around 90, so I’m healed). For the next few months I was in and out of the hospital and wasn’t able to work or do much so I started browsing the internet and found the FI community.( I had found MMM a few years ago but never participated in this forum or anything. )
So with nothing but time on my hand, I started to listen to podcast on Itunes. The first I found was Afford anything which is still one of my favorite to this day! Then I found the most popular podcast, choosing fire, the mad fienstist etc…
The more I read and listened the more my mind was blown away. I thought that the idea of retiring early meant I was lazy but it’s actually the opposite!
Most importantly I found a community of people who are interested just like me to not only secure their financial independence but also to focus on experiences and happiness as opposed to buying stuff they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.
One thing that blew my mind and will try to use for the rest of my life is one of MMM’s principle when it comes to buying stuff: does it bring me happiness and does it take away something negative from my life? No more ” do I need or want it” or ” can I afford it”. It’s a simple concept but it blew my mind.
Now that I’m healed( I still have a couple of surgeries but my life is no longer in danger), I have decided, and this is sound like a total cliche, that I had no time to waste feeling sorry for myself or making excuses.
While I still have to figure some things out(like side gigs or building passive streams of income), I’m not determined to reach FIRE. I now have a number(that will probably change) and something I know I will love doing when I reach FI, that won’t get me lots of money but will definitely make me happy. I know I will have to work my butt off for a good decade(if I stick to the plan) but after that, I’ll be able to follow my passion.
Now, I realize that there’s plenty of FI blog out there but so far I’ve found very little European based ones. Things in Europe are very different when it comes to jobs, retirements or even healthcare so I think I will be able to bring a new perspective to this community.
Also as someone who is not married and who is planning on staying single, my challenges are and will remain different from people who have children and spouses.
Now, only being able to count on my own determination and income also has great advantages, which I will explore here.