When I arrived in Edinburgh on April 30th, 2015, I came to see the Beltane Fire Festival. Within 48 hours, the city became my favorite in the world. I determined to set up a home base here. 18 months later, I realized my mistake.
My original stint in Edinburgh lasted five weeks. During that time I met with Brendon Vince of Nerd Travels. He helped me with my blog and signed me up for my first TBEX. I spent the rest of the month making future travel plans and researching what it would take to get my British Citizenship.
Through the rest of 2015 I went to another 20 countries before surprising my dad for Christmas in Portland. Finally I returned to Edinburgh with the intention of setting up my home base. The intention was to get a job and make some wherewithal to continue my travels. The first step was getting my citizenship and passport, which should have taken just a few weeks. Instead it took a full three months, which you can read about here.
After that I made a trip through Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands in July. I had a whole series of adventures and I’m still writing about them all!
When I got back, I had my next hiccup. I had to get a bank account and a National Insurance Number, which were prerequisites to a job. In order to get those, I needed a home address, and they wouldn’t accept a hostel. So I started searching for a flat. In August. When all the students were arriving into Edinburgh for university. They were all looking for accommodations too. Most flats who posted a listing would have dozens of inquiries in the first 24 hours, if not the first hour. The competition was fierce.
To make matters worse, I was in and out of town several times in August and September, touring different travelers around Scotland and taking a bus tour of Ireland with Shamrocker Adventures.
Between trips, I viewed different flats. It was a challenge, looking for something I would really enjoy while still in my budget. Truth was, I really didn’t have any budget for a flat, but I planned to get a job in short order.
Finally at the end of September I struck gold. I found a shared flat with a tiny box room and a loft bed for only £400 a month, including all bills. It wasn’t the cheapest flat I had look at, but it was in a good location close to the city center, and I loved the bed. There were a couple downfalls, including not having a window! The room was a mere 185 cm by 235 cm. As I’m 183 cm tall, that didn’t leave me a lot of head room in the bed.
Before making it official, I talked with Catherine, the lady I would be renting the flat share from. We discussed my desire to rent the room out on Airbnb during times I was out of town to supplement my rent payments. She already had the room on the website, and was happy to do so. I also brought up the fact that my dad was coming back to Edinburgh, and I wanted to let him stay in the room if I wasn’t in town. No objection was raised to this.
I rented the room on September 19th, and left the next day to pick up my dad from Luton Airport. I stayed in southern England until the 26th with my dad at a House Sit. While I was out of town, two different guests rented out my room on Airbnb. Unfortunately, I never saw any portion of the money they paid, nor was my rent lowered the next week.
When I got back to Edinburgh, I moved my dad into my room as I was scheduled to leave to France the next day for a week. While I was enjoying Tignes, Catherine wrote that she decided she didn’t want my dad there, and demanded that I move him or “have my room empty,” even though I was in France. From high in the Alps, I had to book my dad into a hostel and pay for that, while still paying my flat’s rent.
As soon as I got back to Edinburgh, I hit the ground running, looking for a job. I sent out dozens of CVs and applications, had several responses and two job interviews. Not the best ratio, but I was told more than once this was usual in Edinburgh. Job competition is about as fierce as it is for flats.
On Monday morning on the 10th of October, after a successful interview, I had a trial shift at Brew Lab Coffee. At the end of the shift, the manager said he really liked me, and would get back with me by the end of the day. Evening the next day I was told the job had been given to someone else, and the manager wouldn’t say what I could have improved or what the decision was based on. That same day, I heard back on several other applications, all of which said the position had already been filled.
I was back to square one with a flat I didn’t have the money for. My dad was still in a hostel and things weren’t looking good.
Finally I had to make a decision. I could continue to struggle in Edinburgh, hoping to find a job quickly to pay for the rent, or I could change my plans. Having a home base is important, my mistake was picking a city which was too expensive. The top two nomad hubs in the world are Chiang Mai, Thailand and Medellin, Colombia. Both of these locations have great appeal primarily due to their fantastically low cost of living.
The decision was made. I’ve been pining to returning to Thailand ever since I left a year ago. Renting my own flat for a month in Chiang Mai, including bills, will cost just a little less than a single week of rent in Edinburgh. So that’s where I’ll be headed next.
The six months I’ve spent in Scotland have included some of the best adventures in my life. From my week on the Haggis Adventures tour, to the numerous adventures in June (the best month of my life) and even running the Tough Mudder, it seems everything I do in Scotland just makes it even more of my favorite country in the world.
I still plan to set up a home base in Edinburgh. To be honest, I will still technically have one in Scotland, as my dad will remain behind. He has to stay in the UK for three months before he can get his pension. As mentioned in my last post, I’ve set up an amazing farm for him to stay and work on in Aberdeenshire while I’m gone. I can’t begin to convey how excited he is about this setup.
I’ll be leaving all my extra baggage with my dad while he’s in the UK, and then I’ll be establishing another home base in Thailand. After all, Johnny Ward from OneStep4Ward started with a house in Thailand before he bought another in London. Of course, he’s also made over $1m from his blog and online work. I have no intention of following in the footsteps of travelers like Nomadic Matt and Adventurous Kate, who have rented houses in New York. I’m done with living in America, and I certainly don’t have money for cities like that. I’ve learned my lesson with Edinburgh. However, I certainly intend to eventually have more than one home base around the world.
Where would you set up a home base?