Bonjour, friends! And hello, France! So far we love it, but it has only been 48 hours. I have a good feeling about this country. The quickest way to my heart is through my stomach and so far, my stomach is saying yum.
Today was the first day of school. They both loved it! Of course, there will be a post at some point. Life is good.
My goal for unpacking this time around was 24 hours. We have never done it that quick, but yesterday we set a new record. It took us one week in Costa Rica, it took me four days in Quito, but we were one man down. Remember when we moved to Quito without Will? Yep, glad that is not the case this time around.
If you are new here, I would like to introduce you to our weekly series “Inside a Traveler’s Walls” where we feature families living in less traditional, unique homes. If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact me for details.
No better time than the present to introduce you to a family currently living in France. Hmmm, sound familiar? Meet the Prince family! I see so many similarities and goals between our family and the Prince family. Hopefully, we will be able to meet up sometime during the next year.
The tooth fairy has followed us around the world and delivered a different currency depending on where we are in the world. ~ Clair Prince
This family of six is definitely not new to living outside their birth country. They hail from England, spent over a decade in Singapore, traveled consistently for two years and now they are doing one year in France. I love how their travel life has taken them on such varying paths. There are many ways to do this travel life folks. I guess the key is to find what works for your family in each season and then just make it happen.
Spending time together as a family is definitely the best part of our lifestyle. ~ Clair Prince
Like the Prince family, our two children will be attending local schools in a French village. I see a compare and contrast interview post coming sometime in the next 12 months. Would that be interesting? I know I would be curious to see how the public schools vary depending on region and grade.
Wait until you read what Clair Prince misses most about a stationary life. Can you relate? The number one reason we stay for 9-12 months in a location is for this exact reason. We love to get that rich experience from the locals. I know when we started on this travel journey I was so worried about forming a community because of language constraints, but luckily we have been able to find our way. I am sure the Prince family will do the same in their little French village.
So, enough of my chatter. Grab a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.
Introduce us to the people you live with?
We are the Prince Family. There are six of us. We are British but the children were all born in Singapore. I’m Clair. I was a stay at home mum in Singapore and before that, I worked in Business Travel in London. Of course, I love to travel and learn about history and cultures and see how different countries work. I like to be positive and look to the sunny side of life. I enjoy relaxing and watching the world go by, eating new and interesting foods, and reading a good historical novel. My husband, Daniel was a Money Broker. He is the comedian of the family and always makes us laugh. He is still interested in the financial markets, learning about renewable energy, cooking and pottering around a garden. Kaitlyn is our oldest. She turns 11 years old this week. She is positive and sociable and is the most responsible of our children (as most 1st children are). She loves baking and often bakes cookies for us to enjoy. She is interested in Minecraft and Face-times with her friends all over the world. She is also interested in history and is starting to become interested in fashion too. Sophia will be 9yrs old in September. She is kind and quiet and enjoys playing Minecraft too. She loves animals and wants to save endangered species when she is older. Both Kaitlyn and Sophia love horses and are learning to ride. Then we have our twins, Lauren and Samuel. They are 5. Lauren is a loving and determined little girl. She knows what she wants! She loves playing with her toys and watching TV (when she’s allowed). Samuel, our only boy, he has a sunny disposition. He loves to play games (and win, if he can). He loves football (soccer) and being silly with his daddy. We were expats living in Singapore for 15 years. When life in Singapore became crazily expensive and over-scheduled, we realized that ends weren’t meeting and that we weren’t having fun anymore, so we decided to travel. We have house-swapped our way around the world for the last 2 years and have stayed in some amazing properties, in some amazing places. In the last few months, we have decided to stop traveling and settle down somewhere for a year as we are tired of being constantly on the move. We all decided that we’d like to try France, even though we don’t speak the language. We would like to learn it. We will take on a rental in a Hamlet in the Dordogne region of France from September and the children will attend a tiny village school, but in the meantime, whilst the cost of summer rentals are so amazingly expensive, we were lucky enough to find a house-sit and we are exploring the area from here. And that’s where we are right now.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We are currently house-sitting in an old French Gite in the middle of the French countryside. It was originally a cow shed and has been converted into a lovely little cottage. We are in Central France, in between the cities of Brive and Limoges.
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
With the current house – We were looking to rent a country house for a year so that we could stay still in one place for a while, but rentals in France in the summertime are very expensive. So we applied for this house-sit. It’s a little small for our family, in terms of bedrooms (just 2) but plenty big enough for us. It’s in a beautiful location that we had never been to before and so plenty of places for us to explore. The length of the house sit was perfect to fit with our future plans that are not too far away from here. The reason that we chose to house swap is because we are a large family, accommodation costs would be fairly large and so in order to travel for an extended period, we needed to keep costs low. We also require a kitchen to cook (which also keeps costs down as we rarely eat out and of course having a washing machine is important to long-term family travel. We have a home in Thailand that has made it possible to swap for the last 2 1/2 years.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
We don’t do much, to be honest. We are usually only in a place for a short while and I enjoy the differences in each property that we stay. Sometimes we move the furniture to make it work a bit better for us (or to prevent any potential damages). In this house, we have moved the armchairs into the TV nook, since the Olympics are on and we have the time to watch them!
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
We love the kitchen. It’s very small, but it works really well. Some houses have very fancy kitchens but aren’t very practical – this one is practical, cozy, and homely. I don’t really have a least favourite space, but it doesn’t have a patio or place to sit outside, which would be lovely to enjoy the long summer evenings.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
That it would be too small as it is only 2 bedrooms. The 2nd bedroom is huge enough for 4 kids to sleep comfortably.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
Dan, who does the cooking couldn’t live without a frying pan or good knives.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
This is a good question as this has come up a fair bit recently with our plans to be in one place for a year. It definitely has to do with friends and community. The kids, especially want to have friends that they see regularly and go to regular classes. To add to that I’m looking forward to not having to pack and unpack for a while!
What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Our youngest kids have sleep toys, but otherwise, there isn’t anything.
Do you have a pet joining you on this journey?
No. Sometimes the house swaps or sit have pets living there and the kids get to look after them for the time that we are there. This works really well as they get to learn about what it takes to look after an animal and love it, but it can be good for them to know that it’s not all fun. Whilst in New Zealand, we looked after 5 goats, which was fun, but challenging – so it was good to know that it was just for a short while.
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
We love to find the local market and then supermarket for local produce. We love to see what products are offered and to try creating dishes from them. We tend not to buy other things are we have to carry/check in anything that we buy.
If you could only have one of the following in your home, which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet
Whilst I would like to say natural light (as I realise that it does affect my mood and motivation) I think that the family would say that good internet is the most important thing. We book further travel, do research for the area that we are in, stay in contact with friends and family, study, do banking and admin, all with the internet – we would be lost without it!
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
The tooth fairy has followed us around the world and delivered a different currency depending on where we are in the world.
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
At Easter, the easter bunny always finds us, where ever we are in the world. In Thailand, the kids decorated eggs and the bunny took the eggs and hid them for the children to find. In New Zealand and Spain, we managed to find chocolate eggs for the easter bunny to hide around the properties’ gardens.
At Christmas time in Sydney, we bought a tiny Christmas tree and the kids made decorations. Last Christmas was in the UK and the owner of the house that we swapped with decorated it before we arrived – it was really lovely and seasonal.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
Spending time together as a family is definitely the best part of our lifestyle. Enjoying the simple things with life.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you? Home is where ever my family are.
What makes you love the place you live?
Since moving around and staying in so many places, we have many ideas about what we love about certain places. It’s strange that some places make you wake up in the morning up and get motivated, whilst others make you feel sluggish and slow. We live to have good natural light. It needs to be uncluttered and clean and a good working kitchen.
Can home be a person, or an idea?
Home is definitely an idea. Many people suggest that our kids wouldn’t be secure, since they don’t have a home, but on the contrary, they have both their parents around permanently, whereas when we did have a permanent home, we would be too busy with work and commitments.
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
We have been here for nearly 2 months, which is the longest period of time that we have spent one place since we started to travel continuously and so we are here for 2 more weeks. Our plan is to stay in one place from September for an entire school year (although, I’m sure we will travel during the school holidays as I think we’ll have itchy feet rather soon). Then we will see what happens in July, whether we look to find more permanent accommodation or whether we decide to start house swapping and traveling again.
How do you educate your children?
We have unschooled/homeschooled since being on the move, but the children will start school in a completely french school next month. The aim is more for them to learn the language.
Quote to ponder:
Many people suggest that our kids wouldn’t be secure, since they don’t have a home, but on the contrary, they have both their parents around permanently, whereas when we did have a permanent home, we would be too busy with work and commitments.
Inspiring family, right? I can’t read this without wondering what might be next for them. They have kept their minds open and it really shows with the diverse travel they have done thus far. Maybe they might even land in our neck of the woods.
Thank you, Clair Prince, for sharing your home(s) and your story.