Hello! A pretty big life update is coming you’re way. I did not bury the lede: we are moving! We’re re-starting our expat life and heading to Tallinn, Estonia, but with a few additional destinations along the way.
After living in Baltimore, MD for about 6 years, we are packing up and heading across the pond 😉. Read on for all the deets!
A little about our history:
Zac (my husband) and I met in San Diego, CA in 2009. We lived there on and off for the next 6 years, using San Diego as our home base between our 3-month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia (2012), our 3-month cross-country road trip (2012), and our 1 year stint living in Lima, Peru in 2013.
Finally, in 2015 we moved to Yokohama, Japan for 1 year, and after Japan, I decided to hang up my ESL teaching hat and get my Master’s in Nutrition, a long-standing interest (as you can see from this blog, which I started in 2013).
Throughout this time, we were working as freelancers with various hats, and whenever we were back in San Diego, we would also pick up at our old jobs in restaurants and kitchens for me, or marketing / web design practices for Zac. I’ve also had this food blog since 2013 when we lived in Peru, which has been a hobby / job over the last decade.
You can read more about these trips on my free travel blog, which I no longer contribute to: Running the World Travel.
Why Are you Moving to Estonia?
As our history implies, Zac and I love exploring new cultures and experiences. Living in a foreign country is one of the best ways to gain this experience. When we ‘settled’ in Baltimore, we assumed we would stay for 2-3 years, head back to San Diego, and leave our wanderlust lives behind.
Instead, I have been fortunate enough to built an incredible network of nutritionists, a fantastic career in nutrition, and we have such a great community of friends here. (Half our family is here and the other half is out in California, so pros and cons to both coasts!) As a result, we have stayed in Baltimore, MD for 6 years!
Enter the Pandemic. Zac has been interested in going back to school to get a master’s in his field, and was previously limited by the states in which I could feasibly expect to get a good, reliable job.
I was never that interested in virtual nutrition work, and it wasn’t hugely popular in my area, but the global pandemic shifted that and my practice is now 100% virtual at two different clinics. That really frees up a lot more flexibility of location.
Zac had been eyeing a great program at a school in Tallinn, Estonia, and once our jobs became fully virtual, it became a real possibility. We started planning how we could make that a reality.
Where Else Are You Going?
We plan to arrive in Estonia in August of 2022, but we are actually leaving Baltimore in January, 2022. We decided to take advantage of this move to Europe by adding in a few months of extended stays in Spain and Scotland. Our plans include 2 months in Malaga, Spain, and 4 months in a town outside of Glasgow, Scotland.
After living in Peru, I have a little bit of Spanish, and Zac already speaks Spanish. So Spain felt like a natural place to spent the last few months of winter.
We chose Scotland because it has some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, with amazing hikes and outdoor experiences. We’re hoping to get a few trips to other countries in Europe if it is safe to do so, but if it is not, at least we can do some amazing hikes throughout Scotland.
What About Work?
Zac & I have been mostly remote for over a year now! I am leaving my job(s) that are local and require me to be here in person, but I’m keeping my private practice and my remote clinic position. The pandemic really shifted things in a lot of ways. And while neither of us loves being completely virtual (especially not me), we are making the best of this crummy situation to head off to Europe for a few years.
Nitty gritty for my fellow nutritionists and RDs: I have to adjust my schedule, which limits who I can work with. I’m adjusting both the days and the times. SO my plan is to see clients from 7:30am-2:30pm EST 4 days a week. I will work two days at the clinic in Philly (Tues/Wed), and two days with my private practice (Thurs/Fri). If needed, I will occasionally open up a Saturday, maybe 1x per month, to make sure my clients are being cared for.
From the US East Coast: Spain is 5 hours ahead, Scotland is 5 hours ahead, and Estonia is 7 hours ahead. This means my local hours in Europe will be afternoon / evening hours, and I will have most of the morning free for exploring the city, running, and of course, Frugal Nutrition! I have designated Monday as my “flex day”, which is something I have been desperately missing since I took on too many responsibilities a year ago.
I have complete control over my private practice schedule, so if we decide to take a long weekend away, I have flexibility for my schedule from Thursday-Monday. When Zac starts his program, that won’t be an option, but we are hoping we can do some exploring for the first 6 months of our time in Europe.
What About Money? Will it be More Expensive?
I had to touch on this because this blog is definitely somewhat about money. Well, of course we are working, but as you can see, we are working less. I had SIX jobs this year. They were all wonderful opportunities, but it was perhaps a mistake to pile all of that on. I have been slowly leaving positions and fortunately, moving to Europe will actually free up significant funds.
We will be paying for a storage unit, and travel insurance, which are going to cost less than $100 a month total. We will probably also spend more money on travel, visiting family, and specialty foods when we get cravings for other cuisines. However, we are dropping a car payment, car insurance, and health insurance, which totals around $1000 a month. We are also expecting to pay significantly less in total cost of living quarters (rent, water, gas, electric, trash).
The less glamorous side: I will also say that for about 2 years straight, this blog was doing quite well, so we were less concerned about finances; however, some major shifts happened this summer and I lost a significant amount of traffic and income. So I don’t want to say everything is great and perfectly fine, because finances are always a concern when you’re normal humans who don’t happen to have some insane financial security.
So while we’re not super worried about finances, it is something we have taken into consideration. For example, my drop in blog income is the main reason why we decided to find an apartment close to Glasgow, instead of Edinburgh, which is where we originally intended to stay. It felt too expensive for us to stay in or around Edinburgh, so we pivoted.
Of course these kinds of adventures always seem magical, but there are some harder behind-the-scenes things to figure out; they’re totally worth it and manageable for us, but it’s not alllll sunshine and roses ya know.
And that’s about it!
I’m planning to keep a log of our journeys here on Frugal Nutrition, since I no longer really post on my old travel blog. So join the newsletter and keep in touch!
Bye bye from these two cuties: