Dreams of Moving to Greece, Italy, France, Spain, and Beyond??

new beginnings, live your dreams, yes yes yes, say yes to yourself, the real you, how to become the real you, dream big, dreams to reality, artisan fleuriste, bully, merci paris, paris plage

Dear Friends,

So many of you have big dreams about moving overseas, and as someone who moved from Sydney to Florence in Italy and from Florence to Paris, I feel like I have road-tested the concept of moving in all its glory and all its darkness. I’m always asked how to do this so today I’m sharing with you some of the valuable lessons I have learnt along the way.

Firstly, moving overseas is so much about our hopes and dreams, what we want to bring into our lives, and what adventure we want to go on. It’s about standing in a piazza and feeling the wonder and the beauty around you; it’s about dialling into your creativity and the things you’ve always dreamed of making in a new place; but most of all, it’s about love. The idea of loving a place so deeply that you’re willing to give up your life, everything you know, and what is comfortable to have this adventure.

It’s about loving yourself and believing in your dreams enough that you’re willing to step so far out of your comfort zone and try on a new life.


Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learnt in the past 19 years:


Lesson Number 1 – Choose a place you love

Going somewhere that lights you up, that you are connected to is the best place to start when choosing a new town or country. Of course, afterward, you will need to look at some of the practical things that may come up but loving the place is the most important. When I moved to Florence, it was my choice and I felt so deeply connected to Florence and I moved mountains to stay there. The smallest daily tasks brought me joy, such as ordering a coffee in a beautiful café, riding my bike through the ancient streets, shopping in Piazza Santo Spirito from a micro truck at my local market and all of this brought me a daily inner joy that helped override the difficulties.

Moving somewhere that someone else wants to move to is another story. The daily doses of joy were no longer there and things that I managed to overcome because I was so connected to Italy, frustrated and annoyed me in Paris.

If you can feel the love and excitement for a place, it will help you with the daily challenges without destroying your positive attitude.

new beginnings, live your dreams, yes yes yes, say yes to yourself, the real you, how to become the real you, dream big, dreams to reality, artisan fleuriste, bully, merci paris, paris plage

Lesson Number 2 – Take forever out of your story

One of the things that people always asked me when I moved to Florence were questions such as ‘Are you EVER coming back?’ or ‘Is this FOREVER?’ It always felt like someone had poured a bucket of cold water over me when they asked these questions. I would ask myself, what is FOREVER anyway? Does anyone know what they will be doing in FOREVER? My answer was always something like, ‘I’m not sure what I’m doing next week, let’s see how it goes.’ Allow yourself the luxury of the here and now and don’t ask yourself, ‘Can I live here in 20 years?’ — that would freak anybody out. Take it 6 months at a time and know you can always go home. No-one is making you sign a contract that you can’t break. On a lighter note, just imagine you are simply changing addresses.


Lesson Number 3 – Make a list of what you need

There are some practical considerations to take into account, such as how you will earn money, or do they have a professional printing place, a cinema or a supermarket? Ask yourself, what are the important ingredients for you? One of the things I learnt living in Paris is that a garden or outdoor space is really important to me, as is a printing place for my photography and ideally on my next move, I would love to live in a place where I don’t need to own a car. One of the greatest joys I have had living almost 20 years in Europe is not owning a car and using a bike, metro, or electric scooter for transport. Think of all the things you would love to have in your life, from a cinema to a local market, and see if your place fits your bill.


Lesson Number 4 – Test run

Going somewhere on holidays is vastly different from living in a place. It’s wonderful to spend some time renting an apartment where you can start to see how daily life works. Doing the shopping and seeing how much it costs, what it’s like living in a certain area, how the basic things work such as where the pool is or what the locals are like? Give yourself a chance to spend a month or more in a place and investigate as much as you can.

new beginnings, live your dreams, yes yes yes, say yes to yourself, the real you, how to become the real you, dream big, dreams to reality, artisan fleuriste, bully, merci paris, paris plage

Lesson Number 5 – Plan

If you are serious about moving overseas and don’t want to go back, make sure you have saved enough money for a year or two so that you give yourself time to settle in and don’t have to leave. Start learning the language, get the basics sorted such as paperwork for visas and how you get started when you get there and how you are going to support yourself.

You don’t need the whole story but you do need to feel safe and secure and that it’s long term. This will allow you to start your journey in a place of ‘love’ instead of ‘fear’ and from a place of love and a positive attitude all is possible.

If you are starting from fear, you are already making the whole project more difficult and your likelihood of it being long term slimmer.


Happy travels, let me know in the comments below if this was helpful and where you are off to.

Carla x

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Nectaria A Helioudakis
Nectaria A Helioudakis
10 months ago

Hi Carla, your article is thoughtful and beautifully written. Over the years, your books, and more recently, social media posts, have both entertained and inspired. As an Australian-born Greek, I’ve grown up loving two countries. I have visited Crete, in particular, numerous times, and I’m working making this my home at some stage. I’ve been here since August, I’m loving seeing the changes the seasons bring, and especially as a photography enthusiast,

Thanks for making this world a better and prettier place.

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