Well, some of you know that Nic and I now have a place to live! :) Last week we went to view a unit, and as of February 15th, we will be living in a small 215 sq. ft. one-room apartment. It’s on the top floor of a 5-floor building, located in a beautiful neighbourhood about a 20-25 minute walk from downtown. In fact, I wrote an article on Moneyville earlier this week about it – but boy did I get slammed for that idea! I even did a radio interview on NewsTalk1010, but instead of it actually being a story on why I decided to live in a tiny apartment (and the benefits of small space living), the two announcers pretty much just made fun of me for 5 straight minutes. Awesome.
To be honest, I’m a little bit shocked at all of the criticism. There were some harsh comments – some of them racist (!) – but those ones got deleted rather quickly. Here are a few that I’d like to share and respond to.
My response: We chose to live in a small space, and yes, I’m proud of our decision to cut back in this area. I’m not here preaching small space living and minimalism – I’m talking about understanding your needs vs. wants, and how you want to live your life. Of all people, I realize that it’s beneficial to earn more money to make my life better – which is how I’m able to afford to come to Europe in the first place! I have worked my butt off earning multiple streams of income over the last 5 years. And sure, I’d love to “make a few extra hundred dollars a month” – we all would – and I’m trying as hard as I can to grow my business. But if and when I do make that extra money, I’d rather spend it on travel and exploring Germany and the rest of Europe, than on a bigger apartment.
My response: Seriously? There is “absolutely no reason to cheapen one’s living accommodations to save a few bucks”? What about when you’re in debt, or you want to save money? We chose a small apartment in one of the most desirable areas in town. There are no cockroaches, the apartment is clean, and the neighbourhood is beautiful. What we value right now is pretty much everything other than our apartment. I have a mortgage, and BF isn’t getting paid that much – so we had to make a choice. You can’t have everything that you want in life.
My response: I’m not bragging, I’m just trying to make a point that we don’t NEED as much space as we have here in our homes in North America. My choice is based on my lifestyle, just as your choice to have a massive deck is based on your lifestyle. I fully believe that 215 sq. ft. is functional for us, and I don’t see why we would pay to have more space than what we need.
My response: Comments like yours used to really get to me, but they don’t anymore. You don’t have to read my writing, but you do. You also don’t have to take the time to comment, but you did. Maybe you don’t agree with everything that I write about, but I’m doing my job by generating discussion.
If a big apartment or a huge deck is what makes you happy, then go for it. If you want your $5 latte from Starbucks every day, fine by me. No judgement here! We’re all different, and we all have our priorities, and I am extremely grateful that I know who I am, and what makes me feel fulfilled in life.
A big home won’t make me happy – which is why I’m living in a small 1-bedroom townhouse in Vancouver (even though I could have afforded a bigger home). My “dream job” won’t make me happy, so I’m doing the next best thing to ensure that I satisfy what I love to do most.
These are the choices that I’ve made. I’ve chosen to live in a small, cheap apartment because 1) I have a mortgage to pay at home, 2) we barely have any stuff with us, 3) we won’t be spending much time in the apartment anyway – other than to sleep and eat, and 4) we want to save as much as possible in order to go exploring on the weekends. We are also trying to accomplish one 3-4 day trip each month, as well as travel for most of August. It just wouldn’t be possible if we were paying more rent. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time hanging out in Zurich, Amsterdam, Prague, Stockholm, and Venice, than in a bigger apartment. :)
We only spent about 40 hours (2 nights) in Paris, but I think it’s safe to say that we made the most of our time there. It’s a beautiful, romantic city – and we definitely want to go back before we leave Europe this year. One day just wasn’t enough time to see everything we wanted to see.
But maybe next time we’ll go when it’s a little bit warmer. :)
Here is a breakdown of our trip – in terms of money that I spent, as well as the things that we did. (It should be noted that we don’t split the cost of everything down the middle. We keep things pretty even, but it’s always a rough estimation.)
We booked our stay at Hotel Saint Sebastien through HostelBookers.com because it’s usually the cheapest place for booking hostels. It’s even cheaper that HostelWorld.com most of the time! Plus, it came with free wifi and breakfast in the morning. :)
As a side note, if you register for Great Canadian Rebates, you will save an additional 2% on any stay booked through HostelBookers.com when you click through from the GCR website. The same goes for train tickets in Europe! :) Basically whenever I buy anything online, I look to see if I can click through using my GCR account. If the merchant is listed on GCR, I will get a percentage of my purchase back as a cash rebate. It definitely adds up, and it’s free. So you can’t really beat that!
The hotel itself was functional. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but apparently for hotels/hostels in downtown Paris, you’re lucky if you can get anything decent in the “budget” category. But really, how much time are you actually going to be spending in your hotel room? We spent most of our time outside exploring the city. :)
I would consider staying here again, but will probably try a new hostel when we go back to Paris at some point this year.
For breakfast, we just ate the free food in the hostel – which consisted of tea, croissants, and bread. Lunch consisted of just snacks on the go. We had too much to see, and didn’t have time to stop anywhere.
Dinner the first night was at Au Royal Couscous, and it was just okay. We didn’t have many choices, since it was late at night and we didn’t have reservations anywhere. Dinner the second night was at some hole-in-the-wall pizza place. It’s true, the wine was ridiculously cheap everywhere we went – and delicious too.
I’d say the highlight for me was eating a huge pistachio macaron as big as the palm of my hand. It was absolutely divine, and worth every penny.
We saved a ton of money by walking everywhere and taking the metro, instead of cabs. The Paris transit system is pretty great, but it’s also really confusing – even for Nic, whose first language is French. I don’t think I could have figured it out if he wasn’t there with me.
It took us about an hour to take transit from the airport to our hotel, and once we were in the city, we just went by foot. Good exercise, saves money, and you get to see more things. :)
Since we only had one full day in the city, we decided not to go inside any museums (we’ll save that for the next trip to the city!). But we did get to see the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral – all for free. We paid to take the stairs up the Eiffel Tower (I think the price was about €12 per person), because, come on. You can’t not go up the Eiffel Tower when you’re in freaking Paris. I also paid €20 total for us both to ride La Grande Roue (ferris wheel) because I thought it was fun and romantic. And there was no line-up. Haha!
Anyway, I’ll leave you with a few photos:
Today I leave for Paris! :)
Couldn’t sleep at all last night. I’m finally excited, and finally ready to believe that this is actually happening.
After my round-the-world-trip plans got canceled a few years ago, I was devastated. So I’ve been really conscious about not getting my hopes up about travel. Even though we booked our flights and accommodation, received our travel visas, and I quit my job, something inside of me told me just to back off and not get too wrapped up in planning something that might just fall through.
Anyway, I have posts scheduled here, and on Moneyville. But I might not be around to answer e-mails, comments, or tweet a whole lot for the next 4 or 5 days.
I will, however, continue to update my Tumblr account. So make sure to subscribe to that feed, follow me, or bookmark the link. That’s where most of my travel photos will be held. :)
Also, I’ve started wasting time on Pinterest. Not sure how great it is for my productivity, but it’s certainly fun! :)