It has been a few months since Laure, founder of HO KARAN, became “Digital Nomad”. The idea: to no longer have a fixed place and to live where the wind takes her, everywhere in the world - and therefore, to work there too. In this first part, she tells why she embarked on this crazy adventure and how she prepared her departure, to live in particular in co-living spaces.
On September 14, it will be exactly 6 months since I became a “nomad”, that is to say that I no longer have a foothold, no longer at home, strictly speaking. For the past 6 months I have been walking around colivings in Airbnb, or in accommodation with friends and sometimes in hotels.
Become a Digital Nomad: why this choice?
In March 2020 when confinement is announced, I have been living in Nantes alone in my apartment for 6 consecutive years. With HO KARAN, we have an office in Nantes and another in Paris, I go back and forth between the two cities every week. I just had a herniated disc (note: a painful episode that she tells here), because even if morale is high, the body is tired. Unfortunately, I do not have time to rest, nor to have my operation as initially planned, because in April we are opening a pop-up store in Paris and I am almost alone in charge of this project.
So when the first confinement suddenly comes, I initially work very hard to reorganize everything, to make sure that the teams are doing well, that the projects can continue or mutate. Then I end up asking myself, and asking myself what I want, what I need to be well. I question my place of life, my relationship to equipment, money, comfort and others.
A need: to live by the sea
This is what I started by realizing: I needed to be by the sea. I like to be in the water, underwater (I practice freediving as often as I can. ), above water. I don't have a car, which means that in Nantes I hardly ever go to the sea (especially since I don't particularly appreciate La Baule). The decision is made, I have to leave Nantes to go to a hill, but which one ...
First step: gain your freedom by freeing yourself from the material
I also feel weighed down by my material possessions, stuck in an apartment that I cannot get rid of for fear of not finding so well, entangled in tons of clothes that I have accumulated over the years to deal with my frustrations, my negative emotions, and certainly insecurities and a need to seduce.
During the early days of HO KARAN I had nothing. I was a student, I couldn't afford to run this box and yet I did (by mounting a Ponzi scheme of debt, of course…). I did it because I had nothing to lose, the certainty that I would always do it, and bounce back if I had to. 6 years later I was kneaded with comfort and I was sorely afraid of losing my standard of living. I felt that I was taking fewer risks, that I had lost a little of the entrepreneurial flame of the beginning and was interested in material and superficial considerations that were not like me.
So I make a second decision: I will only take 2 suitcases with me, my essentials for living and working. I needed to lighten myself physically and mentally to regain my freedom.
The goal of this way of life: to reconnect with others
I have always been called a loner. I don't have a big bunch of friends, but small, broken groups. Social life exhausts me, and I recharge my batteries in solitude, which allows me to think, digest what happens during the day. I need my cocoon, surely because I am also very afraid of disturbing the other by my presence. And that's why I had chosen to live alone all these years. I also founded HO KARAN on my own, even though I had tried to join forces! It was not conceivable for me to wait for someone to start me. Solitary, and go-getter.
But during confinement I realized that my friends I missed. Not only because of these 2 months away, but all these years that I had spent working and where I had not seen them saying to myself "later I will have time". I didn't want to procrastinate anymore, I wanted to organize myself so that it was possible and right now.
I have also read and thought a lot about our models of society. Like many, I realized that I did not know my neighbors after all these years, that the city anonymized us. I also thought of my grandmother, at the end of her life in an nursing home in Brest, alone, and I wondered when we could have so compartmentalized the generations, and society as a whole ...
Looking for new ways of life, I came across the co-living, or, shared habitats. Concretely, the co-living is generally organized around places open to all (kitchen, living room, relaxation areas…) and private places (bedrooms, showers and individual toilets for the most luxurious). I often say that this is the principle of shared accommodation, but with the flexibility of the hotel because you can arrive and leave overnight, without having to manage anything (internet, water, electricity, various equipment, etc.). It is therefore more expensive than a roommate, but often less than a hotel. But above all, co-living is a state of mind, a desire to pool, to no longer own, and to meet the other.
In short, in June 2020: I decided to go and live by the sea, with 2 suitcases, in a shared habitat.
Living in a co-living, ok, but which city to choose?
Coming out of the first confinement, I only thought about moving and lightening up. I had not yet taken the intellectual path of telling myself that I could go abroad, nor be a nomad.
Being aware that I was going to have to come to Paris a few days a month for work, I started looking for a destination well served by train. If you've read my previous mood posts (especially the one where I explain my daily life as an entrepreneur) you may have noticed my tendency to box my life and decision making! So I naturally opened an excel file and started to classify the cities of France according to the criteria that seemed important to me: proximity to the sea, quality of the seabed, weather, atmosphere, number of inhabitants, price of housing and accessibility. from Paris by train. (note: if you are not a fan of Excel tables, there is the "NomadList", a site which lists and classifies all the destinations for Digital Nomads in the world according to the local quality of life, weather, security and even the power of the wifi!)
My top 3 has become: Marseille, Biarritz and La Rochelle. So I decided to visit these cities at various times of the year to compare them and I started with Marseille where I joined a friend who had just moved there for 15 days in August.
Except at the start of the September 2020 school year, I speak with an entrepreneur who praises the merits of Lisbon to me. Dynamic, cosmopolitan, very entrepreneurial, this is the city in which he sees himself living. I recently had the example of a couple who lived between Paris and Lisbon, and this discussion blows up two barriers in me: I can choose a destination abroad, and I have the right to fly . I am going during the Christmas holidays to test a co-living in Lisbon. I have a crush on this city and for this type of living and I announce to my relatives - little surprised - my desire to move there in the coming months.
My notice is given, I then embark on a project of “dispossession”. Thanks to the help of an acquaintance specializing in thrift stores, I sell 2/3 of my wardrobe (thank you Amélie!). Thanks to the Ressourcerie, via leboncoin and the Give application, I get rid of all my furniture and appliances. The rest (books, sports stuff and winter clothes) will be stored at my parents' house in Brittany - thank you to them !. Technically, my life is not just about 2 suitcases because I don't walk around with my library, my down jacket and my après-skis, but that's what I live with every day.
Last straight line, my farewell party to Nantes is organized, and I leave on March 14, 2021….
In part 2 - to follow next month on HO KARAN's blog - Laure will tell about her daily life as a digital nomad and will take stock after 6 months of experience. The cities where she takes up residence (about fifteen for the moment), how to organize herself well, the monthly budget, the constraints, but above all the way in which this way of life has completely transformed her. Spoiler alert: you may be shown a new life-organization-excel-file;)