For many people, 2020 will be remembered as the year they spent at home.
Others have taken a different path. They packed up and moved to the place many people dream of.
In their own words, this is how they feel about their decision a year later.
Name: Ian O’Reilly
Before the pandemic, I was a beverage manager in Boston. The restaurant where I worked was closed in March 2020, and I was subsequently fired. When I look back on my career, I realized that I no longer want to work in a restaurant. Working hours and lifestyle caused losses. I began to explore the possibility of moving to the agricultural side of the wine business in Napa Valley, California.
My girlfriend (also a senior sommelier) and I moved to Napa Town with our two dogs in September 2020. I didn’t have a job, and I quickly realized that due to the pandemic, the job market was extremely limited.
Ian O’Reilly moved to Napa Valley without a job; he now holds two positions in the wine industry.
Courtesy of Ian O’Reilly
At that time, I was supported by my employer’s online wine tasting Virtual with us. For the first time in my life, I work entirely from home. I was in contact with several other sommeliers from all over the country who were unemployed in restaurants. Given the quality of the people in the team, I am very happy to be included.
Last April, I worked as a logistics manager for a start-up wine company in Sonoma, but continued to host online events. The marriage of the two really turned my wine tasting experience around. I now manage the inventory of fine and rare wines every day, but I can talk about them as a virtual sommelier.
My working hours are reduced and I have more fun. In addition, the cost of living in Napa is about half that of downtown Boston.
At this point, I have no plans to leave. I am a permanent resident of the resort.
Name: Peter Despotopoulos
Occupation: Marketing Director
In New York, I am the vice president and managing partner of a custom wood products factory. I decided to move because I was really unhappy there. I always feel exhausted, exhausted. I hate my job and work.
Most importantly, I feel that the cost of living does not match the quality of life. I am in debt because everything I like to do is expensive-Knicks games, food, concerts. The pandemic has made New York City a very expensive and densely populated area with no natural beauty and limited simple entertainment options.
In New York, I rented a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a new luxury building with 60 units in the Long Island City/Astoria area. I now rent a two-bedroom apartment in a six-unit modern building in Voula, a wealthy area of Athens, known as the “Athens Riviera”. I have a swimming pool which is only a short walk from the beach.
The cost of living in Greece is much cheaper than in New York. There, I have about 4,500 US dollars of fixed expenses per month, including 2,500 US dollars in rent and 680 US dollars in car rental expenses. This does not have the mobile phone charges, health insurance and gas charges paid by our company. My apartment in Athens costs 1,300 Euros (US$1,520) per month, and my fixed expenses have been cut in half. The worst part of Greece is the price of natural gas—about twice that of New York.
Peter Despotopoulos (sixth from right in the back row) said he went to the beach in the morning and started work in the afternoon.
Courtesy of Peter Despotopoulos
The work pressure is less than before.I work remotely as the marketing director of the American home furnishings website, named Moro. Due to the 7-hour time difference, my working day starts at 3 pm and usually ends around 10 pm. Greece is a late culture-everyone eats late and goes out late-so I don’t mind the time. I enjoy the beach before going to work, and then enjoy the food and nightlife of Athens.
I still like to go to nice restaurants and go to the stadium on weekends to watch my favorite football team Panathinaikos has replaced the Knicks. On weekends I go to the beautiful Mediterranean islands, where there is only a 30-minute flight or two to three-hour ferry flight.
Peter Desportopoulos said that he traded the New York Knicks game for the football game at the Apostolos Nikoladis Stadium in Athens.
Courtesy of Peter Despotopoulos
After almost a year, I think I made a good decision. If you make a lot of money in Greece, this place is heaven. As a decent person in Greece, I can speak this language, and coming here in the summer makes me very clear what will happen.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to leave friends and family on some days. Changes like this require time and patience to adapt.
Name: Alister Gray
Occupation: Executive coach and founder Attentive talent
In October 2020, my wife and I made a swift decision to take our 5-year-old daughter Rumi to leave the UK for a trip when the madness of the world subsided. At that time, we lived in a small town called Tweedford. The commute time to central London is very short, which is very suitable for our business.
Working in Bali gives Alister Gray the confidence to run his executive coaching business in Costa Rica and Mexico.
Courtesy of Alister Gray
In 2018, when our daughter was 18 months old, I tried to hold a 9-month executive training course and seminar in Bali, Indonesia. This makes us believe that as long as we have a good Wi-Fi signal, we can work anywhere in the world.
We are applying for a US visa and plan to move to California when the pandemic strikes. We decided not to let it prevent us from leaving the UK’s ambitions, but to see it as a great opportunity to travel to the country we have always admired-Costa Rica.
In January, we flew from London to Costa Rica. We found a dream home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a place called Nosara. Every morning, we are awakened by a group of howler monkeys, less than 30 feet from our terrace.
We spent six months in Costa Rica and loved it, but our daughter’s school was never completely successful. So we moved to Quintana Roo, Mexico, a small place called Puerto Aventuras. When visiting friends in April, we fell in love with the way of life there. We were welcomed by a group of beautiful friends-Mexicans, Argentines, Dominicans, Americans and Canadians.
Costa Rica is quite expensive. Since then, our costs have been reduced by about 40-50%.Our expenses in Mexico are similar to those in the United Kingdom. For example, the cost of our three-bedroom 1,200 square foot apartment is about the same as the cost of our two-bedroom semi-detached house in the United Kingdom.
After leaving Costa Rica (here), Alister Gray said his family leads a more active lifestyle in Mexico, and they plan to stay there because they “like it very much.”
Courtesy of Alister Gray
With the help of maids, chefs and nanny every week, our quality of life has been improved. There are also beaches, tennis courts, running and biking trails, and golf courses nearby.
Moving is one of the best decisions we have ever made.We gave it to our daughter and ourselves, if we stayed in the UK we would not experience this kind of freedom
Name: Brian Conson
Occupation: Owner of a data analysis and marketing company TRFK
When the pandemic started, we lived in Las Vegas. I have been working remotely for many years, but my wife Jenn is a registered nurse. When the school was closed and our 5-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter had no childcare services, she was forced to leave.
The lease of our house expired in June, and we have been considering moving to Texas. We decided to visit Dallas and Austin every month. At that time, we stumbled upon a company called Landing, which leases furnished apartments for 30 days or more.
We finally liked the concept very much, and it quickly became a discussion: Why stop in Texas? Why not take this opportunity to explore the entire United States?
Bryan Conzone said that the monthly charges for the apartment he rented ranged from US$1,800 to US$3,600, including utilities. This is more expensive than his townhouse in Las Vegas, but more expensive than his apartment in Orange Country, California. The rent is cheap, and he lived there for eight years before living in Las Vegas.
Courtesy of Bryan Conzone
After Dallas and Austin, we lived in Las Vegas; Seattle; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; Orange County, California; Portland, Oregon; and Scottsdale, Arizona.
When we leave Vegas, we put things in the warehouse. We just traveled with necessities such as clothes, computers, educational materials and toys. Surprisingly, we haven’t missed something that hasn’t been 95% in more than a year.
Next, we would love to explore Denver, Chicago, New York City, Boston, and then travel along the east coast to Orlando.
A year ago, I did not expect that we could travel so freely in the United States and explore so many places. In the foreseeable future, it has indeed changed our lives and completely changed the way we look at life.
Editor’s note: The response has been edited for space and clarity.