The image below? That’s the view out of our new townhome. This past month we made a big life decision. After months of deliberation, we signed a one-year lease and moved into a great townhouse just outside of Banff National Park. That’s right we’re officially Canadian! *not really
The town of Canmore nestled in the Canadian Rockies is our new home. It’s a big deal for us and the beginning of the next chapter in our lives.
A lot of people will probably wonder why we would choose to settle down and give up a life of travel. Admittedly it sounds odd to say we’re exhausted after a year that involved multiple weeks in Costa Rica, Bali, Maldives, and Hawaii. However, the truth is we are beaten down after three years of a nomadic lifestyle. Since we left our last “home” in New York City back in 2015, we’ve traveled to almost 50 countries and have been moving constantly.
It took us forever to come to the conclusion that we need a home base and to slow our travels down. For all of 2018, the idea was in the back of our heads after we traveled around Canada last winter and thought we could call it home one day. It only took 20 countries and 80+ flights in 2018 for us to say it’s time to find a home!
Why We Moved To Canada – All the Reasons we Moved to the Canadian Rockies
We’ve had these nagging thoughts in the back of our head. Will we stop traveling? What if we don’t like it? Is this the right call for us? Are we tying ourselves down to bills, a lease, furniture, and all the things we freed our lives from previously?
Over the last three years we have known nothing, but travel. It has consumed our lives and at times it is extraordinarily overwhelming. Researching, planning, traveling, exploring, photographing, filming, writing, and running a business is exhausting on the road. Things constantly go wrong when people travel, and most of the time you can easily move past it. But when you have things going wrong all time from constantly traveling it can make you want to scream at the top of your lungs.
We miss a routine, a community, hobbies outside of traveling, free time, and above all a comfortable bed to call our own – things that you fail to find in travel. It became obvious that we needed a home base.
In our experience and after talking to so many content creators, there are very few who can find real joy in life while being completely nomadic. As with everything it’s about balance. A life of travel is exhausting, but one without would also feel mundane and tiny. We’re looking to find that perfect middle ground in our new home. We’ll still be traveling a lot. We already have a number of trips planned this year and want to make it a goal to visit every continent at least once a year. The only difference is now we will have a resting place in between the trips. A home airport to always fly in and out of, and a desk to work from instead of laying on my back in bed in an overpriced Airbnb.
We Love the Outdoors
As one of the countries with the most land per capita in the world, Canada provides access to plenty of space to breathe. If you’ve followed our blog for a while you’ll notice we aren’t big on cities. Instead, we love to focus on the beauty of nature and it’s shaped many of the destinations that we’ve covered on this blog. I will always choose to travel to a quiet secluded place in nature rather than a city.
We now live in the Canadian Rockies and are surrounded by a national park on one side and a provincial park on the other. The possibilities for outdoor sports are endless. In the winter we’ll be snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, touring, and ice skating. Then when summer arrives we’ll hop on mountain bikes, take hikes, climb some mountains, canoe, fish, and practice yoga. I would say I can’t wait for summer, but the truth is every other season here is just as good!
High Standard of Living
We’re very fortunate to be able to choose anywhere in the world we want to live and have a decent income. With those two things in mind, why would we not live in an area considered one of the best in the world?
The closest city to us is Calgary – which may not seem much like on paper and after talking to some locals they even find it a little boring. However it’s actually been named one of the most livable cities in the world year after year. While the city of Calgary might not exactly be the right spot for us the quality of life in the region is tough to match.
We have access to anything we could want! It’s the first time in a while we can actually online shop while working from our own home office. We even got an Amazon Prime account (Although the Canadian site is not nearly as good as the US) and have been reminded of how much we missed ordering quick thing online. The Netflix here has almost as many options as we get in the United States, which is a mega improvement from just about anywhere else in the world where English speaking movies and shows are more limiting.
We can go to the grocery store and stock up on a fridge full of fresh veggies, fruits, and grab things like oat and coconut milk. While grocery shopping and online ordering may seem like small things it’s something we really take for granted while traveling.
Calgary also offers a pretty well-connected airport, and we are only an hours drive away from it. We had looked at other places to live in Canada besides Canmore, but once the drive to the airport became longer than three hours we decided it wasn’t the best move for our lifestyle or business.
We Miss North America
There is a serious love/hate relationship between us and US culture. However, we still do love so many things about North American culture in general. Although the US may have many problems, it seems that just over the border it’s fine. So we could still get that familiarity of the United States, without actually being in the US.
In our first week here, we’ve found ourselves in full on conversations with residents here on gondolas and chairlifts at the ski resort. When you walk past a person on the streets, they smile, and even may say Hi, something I’ve noticed is very common in North America, but not many other places. It’s true – Canadians are a friendly bunch!
Without going into any politics I also love that Canada is a very diverse nation, something that should be embraced. I love seeing all the colors, hearing different languages, and learning from different cultures without having to travel.
As Americans, our northern neighbors have ultimately a culture we identify with. There are many ugly glaring issues in American culture, but we are a part of it and there are a lot of people similar to us. And from conversations to lifestyles, it can be easier to identify with North Americans for us over people from another culture.
Our second option for a home this year was to set up shop in Japan. It’s one of our favorite countries to travel and we absolutely can’t get enough of the culture. However, we found it’s not one we can identify with – and would likely never be able to identify with or be accepted into no matter how long we were to live there. That and a slew of other things made us choose to move to Canada over anywhere else. We can become a part of the community here and that is something we have been missing and craving over the years.
Amazing Creature Comforts
No one does comfort like North America. We love big comfy couches, roaring fireplaces, plush rugs, and the fact that we can wear our sweatpants and sweatshirts (Tasha says yoga pants too) wherever we want. Our first day in Canada this year, we saw numerous people walking down the street in their pajama pants without a care in the world, and I instantly knew we weren’t in Europe anymore.
It may not be an admirable aspect to many outside people and cultures, but I guess you can just say that North Americans are super laid back and really don’t give a shit. Three years ago I would have told you people are far too casual, now as we travel the world in our Patagonia fleeces and baseball caps we find ourselves missing it.
We Miss A Home
We miss familiarity, we miss the United States because we know the way of life. More than anything we miss having a home. For a three years, our closest thing to home was an Airbnb that we would coupe ourselves up in for a few weeks to a month, but that only happened a few times out of the year and the rest we were doing some fast-paced traveling. In Africa, we called our trusty Land Cruiser and ground tent our home, but that couldn’t last forever either.
However, as travel continues to grow in popularity we’re finding the quality and price point of Airbnb sucks. We’re often paying a premium for less than desirable apartments with cheap furniture and a hodge-podge of crap the owner could find at a garage sale. Don’t believe me? Next time you stay at an Airbnb that’s under $120 or so a night start looking around at the furnishings and get a little critical. You may start to notice it too.
We’re sick of not having our own place. It’s been about time we got to furnish a place the way we like with furniture that is comfortable and nice. It’s been a big project since we showed up to Canada a few weeks ago with just three suitcases.
So, we have to buy literally everything, which kinda sucks. When we arrived we didn’t even have a glass to drink out of. Now we got a coffee maker AND blender (something you can seriously never find in rentals) and are stoked! Though we’re actually a little afraid to look at the credit card bill. Luckily, Calgary has an IKEA and our home town has a pretty good thrift store! With the help of my mother, we were able to buy some great stuff and repaint for a very good price.
Canada is one of the Safest Countries in the World
Canada is great as it’s very similar to the U.S. without all of the guns, violence, and mass and school shootings. The result is one of the safest countries in the world. Seriously, Canada ranks as the 6th most peaceful country while the US sadly ranks at 121. Yes, 121! People are always shocked when I tell them how unsafe the US can be.
It’s a common notion for people to think their own home is a peaceful place and question our decision to travel to developing nations and overland across Africa. But the reality is that places like Sierra Leone, Madagascar, and Namibia rank much higher than the US in regards to safety.
There’s Big Mountain Skiing and Snowboarding Nearby
We spent a lot of time snowboarding in 2018 and found that we could not get enough. Any place we would call home needed to have access to mountains and snow. We’ll have two major ski resorts within a short drive from our townhouse in Canmore— Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise. (And even Nakiska and Mt. Norquay for smaller mountains). In other words, there are a lot of options around here, and in just a few hours drive into British Columbia we will find even more resorts.
In addition to being some of the largest in the world, they’re also held in high regard for some of the best skiing in North America. Finally, when the day comes and we decide to leave the resort boundaries the Canadian Rockies present an endless amount of backcountry possibilities.
We made the decision the buy lift passes at Lake Louise and look forward to having a home mountain! Plus we got a great deal with mid-week passes for $599 CAD or $450 USD.
In the Name of our Business
Our blog is our main source of income and we have learned from other successful bloggers and ourselves that this can be a big business. Our business may be about travel, but in 2018 it became apparent that the neverending travel was getting in the way of our travel business. Managing emails, phone calls, and producing content became incredibly difficult this past year while on the road. Even just booking flights for campaigns became a problem as we never knew what airport we would need to be when.
In addition, all of this new income means we need to have our business managed properly. So, we’ve gone about finally registering as a business, setting up business bank accounts, business credit cards, and outsourcing. It’s been too much to handle while on the road and we feel good now that we have a spot to come, sit down at a desk, and have a clear brain without having to think about hotels and where I am staying next week.
We’ve also had a lot of opportunities pass us by over the past year since we had no home address and could never commit to dates or locations. Then you’ve got the big picture stuff like running tours or hosting a blogging retreat that requires a lot of time and logistics to execute. Which we fully plan on doing this year!
At the end of the day what we’re most happy about is having a desk to call our own! Not only one desk, but two desks one for each of us in separate rooms and workspaces.
Prepare the Instagram
Our home is beautiful and extraordinarily photogenic. We’ve watched a number Instagrammers gain success simply by living in the stunning Northwest, posting beautiful photos, and gaining fame on Instagram. While it’s not a motivation to live in the area we’d be lying if we didn’t hope to get some fantastic video footage and photos from being in the mountains.
Canada is Semi-Affordable
While Canada is by no means a cheap place to live I would be lying if I didn’t mention that the Canadian dollar vs. the U.S. dollar falls in our favor. We’ve found that compared to many other parts of the world we get by with a nice cost of living here. Our rent and lifestyle is by no means cheap, but everything feels about 20-30% cheaper because of the exchange rate. Sorry to our Canadian friends! Of course, this could change at any second, and we are fully aware of that, but for now we are going to enjoy it.
We work online and have learned to struggle with terrible internet speeds around the world. However, with our new place, we didn’t hesitate to get that fastest fiber internet we could. It’s literally the fastest speeds we’ve ever seen and we check every single place we travel. Even the speeds we were getting in Japan and South Korea couldn’t compare to this.
This is something you hear consistently from long term travelers, but travel is tough on your diet and fitness. We both used to regularly exercise and head to the gym, but with traveling full time we rarely get a gym. We try to stay active and eat well everywhere we go and while we haven’t gotten fat from travel, we’re far from our personal bests.
We’re excited to start taking fitness seriously again. We can both join gyms and pick up more active hobbies. Then there is our diet! We try to eat vegetarian as much as we can, but in some places it’s nearly impossible. With our new home, we can take our diet back into our hands and eat how we’d like. When we travel we eat so many meals out, especially if we are not in Airbnb with a kitchen. To many people eating out a restaurant is a special affair, but to us it was often a solution to just curve the hunger. Now we doubt we will frequent a restaurant more than a few times a month, and when we do it will now be for a special occasion.
Can’t wait to cook so many amazing meals in our kitchen!
Travel Isn’t What it Used to Be
When we first started traveling we were happy to go out to eat or the bar and share conversations with fellow travelers for hours on end. We would often find ourselves meeting new interesting people, doing unique things, and delving more into the local culture. However, as our workload grew our free time vanished. We miss the days of traveling without a laptop and feeling the need to work every night.
While having a travel blog has enabled to do some extraordinary things, live a more freeing life, and have once in a lifetime moments, it’s also tainted our travels. With our new home and offices, we now hope to no longer work much while traveling. I may not even take my laptop on my next big trip – gasp. Now, our travels will be about collecting information, taking more time with our photos, waking up for sunrise, going to bed at a reasonable hour, and exploring the wonders of new destinations. It’s the more spontaneous way we used to travel years ago before our business and we hope to get back to our roots and enjoy what we love more.
Don’t let pictures and captions fool you – working in paradise is not what it seems! And seriously – who can actually work well while sunbathing?
Closer to Family and Friends
The worst thing about travel is the disconnect we’ve had from family and friends. With our new home in Canada, we’re now a plane ride away from our family homes in the United States. That means we can visit family and friends easily, and much more affordable than coming from somewhere in Asia or elsewhere in the world AND they can come to see us. My mom was even kind of enough to come up for a week and help us move into our new place. Which was so helpful and something that wouldn’t have been possible had we moved outside of North America.
We already have several close friends and family with planned trips to come to visit us in the works. As others have more normal jobs with office hours and limited vacation time we rarely can get people to meet us when we are far away. Now we’re super excited at this means we’ll get to share our home and love of travel with them!
One of the key themes of travel and what we have learned over the years is it’s all about balance. Life requires balance. We shouldn’t stay in our one little corner of the world, but we shouldn’t be afraid of that corner either. We look forward to life still full of new travels and destinations, but now with a home base that includes moments that broadens our horizons.
4 thoughts on “Why We Moved to Canada • Our New Home in the Canadian Rockies”
Hey, Cameron and Natasha! I enjoy reading your stories. And photos are perfect! They prove your hard work and dedication. Good job and keep up!
How cool! We’re hoping to move to Alberta next year – such a great place.
I’m a California girl who moved to Canada 28 years ago with our 4 kids (and my Canadian hockey player husband)we were offered a job in Vancouver and then finally toronto. You made some good points ( with a few teeny tiny grammar / spelling errors) about our USA but I want to remind you concerning the safest countries , our USA has 300 MILLION people while Canada has 36 …big big difference, so if you compare you have to keep in mind per capita. Also my entire husbands family is Canadian and I’ve seen both side….the friendly and not so friendly once they know you’re american. However, I am so happy to have a canadian cottage and a beach house in California…speaking of TOO many people in one city or state it’s my home state! I am happy to escape back to my Canadian cottage from the Rat race (literally we have an Over Population of Rats in LA) …welcome to Canada while still ‘being american’….you will love it! I love your site!
My sister, brother and I have been seriously considering leaving the USA and moving to Canada. We are first generation American citizens and truth be told we don’t like the atmosphere of bigotry and hate and the anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping across the United States. Our parents are too old to move but the three of us have a agreed to resettle in Western Canada after our patents pass (most likely Vancouver) and possibly become Canadian citizens. At the moment the plan is to keep dual US/Canada citizenship but I don’t expect we will be coming back to America any time soon after we leave. All of us have professional careers and will have adequate retirement savings so we won’t be a burden to the Canadian tax payer.