A Retrospection – How Did I Get Here

Nomadic dreams and surfing

I have been fascinated with the idea of living as a nomad for a long time already. When the word digital nomad first popped into existence I felt very much drawn to the concept. I used a lot of time just browsing the Nomad List and reading stories about people “reinventing” their lives. I was also envious as hell, because at that point I worked as a teacher and realistically had no chance of the lifestyle. And after a while I forgot about the “unrealistic nonsense” and moved it aside.

Around the same time I tried surfing for the first time and loved it right from the start. I hated living so far away from surf spots and therefore only being able to do it for a week at a time. Surfing a week once or twice a year doesn’t develop a middle aged bad surfer that much. I always hated leaving back knowing that the next time I try, I’d basically be a full beginner again. I still continued the surf trips and thought that one day I will make it possible to stay longer.

Goodbye teaching

What changed then? Well, I simply decided that teaching wasn’t my final profession after all. Not because of my desire to be location independent, but because the job was just simply too taxing for me. I loved most of teaching and what comes with it, but I just realized that my personality was wrong for the job. I took things a bit too seriously and noticed that I worried too much. I worried about my students’ well being, about my efforts not being enough and about a dozen other things.

This never went all the way to burn out, but I realized that one day it might. So, I decided to head back home to Finland (I had spent the past nine years in Germany) and figure out something else I could to do.

A new line of work

I got extremely lucky with my career change to be honest. I went to school (very practical IT stuff) for only about a year and found my first job already while studying. The first job was horrible, but without it I wouldn’t have landed the one I’m in now. I’ve been working in the service desk of a Finnish IT company close to three and a half years now. I know it doesn’t sound like much and I definitely don’t call myself an IT pro, but the job is rewarding, challenging AND every day it stops at 4 PM. It also pays better than teaching…

After the first year in my current job I got back to thinking about working from abroad. Our company had possibilities for remote working back then already. The policies were a bit stiff and it wasn’t easy to get permissions from all the corporate layers. Then corona happened and you know the story. Everyone has worked from home for more than two years now and there’s no going back to office based working.

After more than a year of home office I decide that I’m going to spend the fall 2022 in Spain or Portugal. My bosses were not against it and all the company bureaucracy was surprisingly easy to sort out too.

Planning and concerns about finding an apartment

After I knew this was something I could really do, I started thinking about two things:

  1. Where do I want to go really?
  2. How am I going to find a place to stay?

Number one was tough, because for surfing only, I wouldn’t really hesitate long. It would be Portugal, somewhere north of Lisbon most likely. Well, who am I kidding, it would be Baleal (more about this later, since I’m actually heading there in a few weeks). But I have also wanted to learn Spanish for a long time and northern Spain was also where I lost my surf virginity. After some hard deliberation I went for Spain.

Number two wasn’t easy either. I noticed that the area I was thinking about didn’t have a lot of reasonably priced apartments especially for just a four month period. Most of the ones I found had a clause that stated they were only available for 12 + months leases. This I really struggled with and had no idea about how to solve this. Until I went out with a friend and told him about my problem.

The most expensive beer I ever had

In early March a friend called me and asked me out for a beer to a jazz bar in my home town. There was a modern jazz trio playing and normally that would not be my cup of tea. But life always has a way of showing that you need to do stuff outside of your comfort zone. Not only did I enjoy the gig tremendously, but that evening solved other worries too.

I told my friend about the difficulties I had experienced in finding an apartment. He made me feel like an idiot with his first reply: “Have you considered buying a van and living from it?” I was dumbstruck and just couldn’t believe that I never thought of this myself. I immediately realized this would solve many issues:

  1. No need to worry about finding an apartment.
  2. No need to worry about being stuck with poor surfing conditions or with an area that I ended up disliking.
  3. No need to worry about finding company (camping and parking areas always have other like minded people).
  4. No need to worry about managing the whole trip with things I can fly with.
Looking for wheels

I then started my search for a van. I’m not handy enough to trust my own hands to be able to do much so I humbled myself and started looking for ready made vans. The market is very broad and unfortunately the prices have gone up quite a bit during the pandemic. My hopes and expectations for the van also went up which meant more bad news for my savings. In the end I realized that I wasn’t really looking for a van any longer, but rather for a mobile home. I went to test drive a few and as I took “my” Naranja out for a drive, I was a goner.

I’ll write a separate post about Naranja and about coming up with the name later. But there’s a picture below of how it looked when I made the deal.

My Naranja

If you read the post you might think that me being here right now is something really deliberate and planned but the reality is actually quite far from it. Things happened in-between and life had its surprises. The storyline above is by no means fiction and it covers at least some of the turns of events that led me here, but I took quite a lot of shortcuts too. As self narratives always tend to be, this one also depicts a subjective image of how I now see things went in the past and maybe also a little how I’d like things to have gone. That got a bit theoretic, sorry!

I may get back to some of the shortcuts and bumps at a later point or I may not. We’ll see how and where things end up this blog.

2 thoughts on “A Retrospection – How Did I Get Here

  1. Pingback: This Is Naranja, the Road Ship - Roadnaranja

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