Why I’m quitting my day job and moving to Europe
Last week I quit my day job and booked a one-way plane ticket to Germany.
Okay, you’re probably really confused. Let me start from the beginning:
About 10 days ago, my boyfriend Nic asked me if I would consider moving to Europe with him. He has a 7 month break before he finishes up the last semester of his masters, and has some strong job leads in Germany. In typical Krystal fashion, I just laughed at him and told him that I couldn’t go. I have a job, responsibilities, and I need to keep saving money. We discussed it off and on for a few hours, then dropped it. He wasn’t going to go without me, and I was content on staying in Vancouver.
The next morning, while I was at my day job, I kept replaying our conversation over and over again. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but what we had talked about. What was really stopping me from going? My day job? My mortgage? I realized I was about to turn down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to Europe. Who does that!? That’s not the type of person I am. I seize opportunities all the time in my professional life – why should it be any different in my personal life? So I took a deep breath and told him that we should go. He was thrilled, and I was nervous but really excited for such a huge adventure. I’ve never traveled outside of North America before!
Over the next few days, we nearly went crazy with planning as we talked about what we would do when we got there, submitted the paperwork for our Visas, bought travel insurance, and booked flights to Paris. Our plan is to spend two nights in Paris before moving onto Germany. It’s up in the air as to where we will end up living because it depends on Nic’s job situation. But it looks like we’ll be based out of Stuttgart.
My day job
It’s tough to leave a job that I love. I have never worked at a place like this before – where the work is interesting, and my boss and co-workers are amazing. I wasn’t sure how they would react to me leaving, but they’ve all been nothing but supportive. Which makes leaving even harder, but I know it’s what I want.
Even though some might think I’m silly for quitting a well-paying, stable job so I can go hang out in Europe and write in coffee shops all day long, I really think that eventually, I would have quit anyway. It was getting to that breaking point – where I’d have to choose between my day job, or cutting back on my freelancing. The last couple of months have been really hard, and I was starting to lose focus. But I didn’t think it would be this soon, and I wasn’t planning on leaving for quite a while.
Now that I will be living in Germany for the next 7 months, my goal is to give full-time freelancing a try. I’m really nervous because I don’t know how I’m going to do now that I have to rely only on my hustle to pay the bills. It will be an interesting and much needed experiment.
Right now, I make about $30,000 through ongoing writing contracts. This doesn’t include any blog income, one-off writing assignments, or miscellaneous freelance projects. Over the last 3 months, I’ve averaged a gross monthly freelance income of $4,344. Which puts me at around a $52,000 annual salary – and that’s just with part-time effort (25 hours/week). Not enough time to really reflect how much I will make over a longer period, but it gives me some idea of what I can expect if I continue to work hard. My hope is that by dedicating more time to maintaining my blog and seeking out new opportunities, I will be able to grow that income out even more.
And the great part about this whole plan is that if I don’t end up being able to bring in a decent income, I can just get another job once we move back to Vancouver at the end of August. In fact, I already have a really good freelancing offer lined up for when I return. I don’t want to get my hopes up about this potential job, since you never know what might happen over the course of half a year, but if it does actually work out the way I want it to, I think it could be one of the best opportunities of my life. It combines everything that I’m looking for, in an industry I love, and working for a person I truly believe in. That’s a rare find these days.
I don’t know where to begin. My cash flow will depend entirely on how successful I am as a freelancer. I will still be paying my mortgage while we are gone (I have rental restrictions so I can’t rent it out – not that I’d want to for such a short time frame anyway, and with me being out of the country), and Nic will be paying most of the rent for whatever place we find in Germany. I will help out with whatever I can, and contribute to the bills and groceries, etc.
Because I’m a little uncertain of my financial position, I’ll be suspending automated contributions to my RRSP/TFSA. Instead, I’ll make manual deposits since I might not be able to contribute the $300-400 bi-weekly that I’m currently saving. I’m also going to drop my mortgage payments down to the minimum $1,098/month for the 7 months we’re gone, and hope to stash away some money to make a lump sum payment in May. Again, it depends on how much money I can bring in. I’m being extremely cautious with my money until I get more comfortable working without steady income. You all know I’m going to try as hard as I can to make this freelancing thing work, but I also need to be smart about this. By quitting my day job, I’m essentially losing 50% of my income. That’s a lot to try to make up.
I have just over $8,000 in my Emergency Fund should I need it. But since I applied for a working Visa, I can always pick up a random job in Germany to help make ends meet if it actually came down to it. And if I really get desperate? Well, I can just come home. Basically what I’m saying is that I’m confident in my financial situation while abroad. I may not be able to save as much or pay as much to my mortgage, but I won’t be going into debt because of this trip, and the chances of me having to touch my Emergency Fund are slim.
Moving to Germany with Nic still feels like a dream. I’ve never traveled outside of North America before, so I’m thrilled to be going. This is exactly the kind of adventure I was looking for, and I can’t wait for all of the fun things we will be doing when we’re there. We’ve got a couple of friends who have already expressed interest in coming to visit us, and we both know some people scattered throughout Europe. I’m looking forward to weekend trips out of the city, visiting all of the surrounding countries, and just being a part of a different culture and environment. We already have a list going of countries we must visit during our stay. :)
As most of you know, I’m a very practical and cautious person, and I don’t take decisions like this lightly. So it took a lot of courage for me to push past my fears and change the course of my life forever. Because I mean, come on. I just quit my day job. I am now a full-time freelancer. AND I’m moving to Germany. I don’t even know who I am anymore! :) This is exactly what the beginnings of financial independence should feel like – not having debt and money hold me back from once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like this.
Aside from moving to Michigan when I was 17, this is probably my biggest leap of faith. But I believe in myself, and I believe in Nic. The next 7 months are going to be a fantastic opportunity for both of us. Me, to try becoming a full-time freelancer. And him, to get such an amazing opportunity to work in an architecture firm and gain real experience before finishing his masters. I think we’re both excited and nervous and scared out of our minds. But in the very best way possible. And I’m so glad that we’re doing this together.
14 more days of work. 41 more days until we get on that plane. This is actually happening.
Our original plan was to come back to Vancouver at the end of August. However, we extended our stay in Europe until mid-December.
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.