A couple ditched their 9-5:00 jobs years ago to travel with their kids, move to southern France and they explain how they did it.
In February 2011, Alfonz came home from a stressful day of work. They just went through a full year of tragedy, losing an uncle to a heart attack, a stepfather after a liver transplant that was rejected and a father to cancer. All had one thing in common; they were 59 years old, with one year left to the retirement they would never reach.
They were 38 & 39 years old when they decided to change their lives. Alfonz owned his own auto-wrecking company and had been in the industry since he was out of high school, while Eva worked since 1991 at a grocery store chain called Canada Safeway. Both respected and good paying jobs, together they were pulling in over $100,000 per year.
“We felt that although the money was good, we spent far too much time commuting to work. In all our free time we were travelling to Europe and since having our two children, our travel expenses were growing.” Says Eva Hamori
They bought an apartment in Budapest as an investment back in 2007, which started to generate an income. They needed the space on their visits to Budapest especially as their visits became longer in duration; their family couldn’t put them up in their homes any longer.
So when Alfonz came home from work that day in early 2011 feeling like there must be more to life than this, Eva asked the question, ‘If you had one year left to live, what would you want to do?’ Alfonz immediately answered, ‘Southern France.’ Where it began, my letter to my husband
Eva’s step-father had indeed one year left to live before his death in hospital, and during their visits they talked about what he would do if he gets out of hospital. He said he wished he travelled more, spent more time with his family and on his motorbike doing the things he felt passionate about. Something about these conversations, and the family members that never made it to retirement, promoted an idea in Eva’s head.
“If we cash in our chips and pre-retire now, we can travel and enjoy the children while we are healthy and they are young. We can always go back to full-time work in the future.”
They planned to start off with a gap-year in their home in Budapest Hungary. If they found a new life and a way to make an income in Europe, they would make the shift and become expats in Europe. They promised themselves that they would only work if they felt passionate about the work they found, and really excited about the new life they were to live. And that became their dream, to follow their passions.
Six months later the house, and business were sold and they were down to two suitcases each. They only shared their news once their was no turning back. Eva gave in her one year leave of absence at her good paying union job and departed with the hopes of never returning. They had their tickets in hand and left on their one-year adventure on August 2nd 2011. Alfonz was determined to make Europe his home again.
Eva started their blog ‘That’s Hamori’ to document their journey in chronological order with the goal to turn it into a book. After all, if they could do it without an education, without a preconceived plan, it might make a good story. If they could inspire people to go after their own dreams, even if they did fail, it would not have been in vain.
Alfonz bought a secondhand Westfalia van in Germany. For three months they explored Europe: Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and all over Hungary. They searched for possible business start-ups, they dreamed of staying in Europe past the year mark. It was pretty clear from the start that they would end up working in the tourist industry. Eva’s dream was a Bed & Breakfast, but they were open to a multitude of business ventures.
They homeschooled, and taught their children the Canadian curriculum while they travelled during the first year. They met fellow travellers along the way. They joined online communities and realized that their plan was not as crazy or unique as they thought. There were many expats with kids travelling the world, and they knew it was in fact possible to build a life in Europe.
Eventually Alfonz and Eva found a farmhouse they wanted to buy in southern France. They put in an offer. They wanted to turn it into a large B&B complex, but the offer was unfortunately denied by the bank.
Disappointed, and without another idea, they decided to travel to the small town in France called Capestang near the farmhouse and live there to determine their next step. That was three years ago.
They instantly fell in love with their little French village nestled along the Canal du Midi. They eventually opened Le Petit Platane their B&B. The first years, their apartment in Budapest generated enough money to live off of until they got settled. Their blog caught the attention of LEOPARD FILM production company who creates House Hunters International in New York city and they filmed two reality TV show about buying a house in France and opening a business.
Eventually the blog brought work for Eva as a travel writer, and brought curious visitors to their B&B business. Both went back to school to get their TESOL accreditation to teach English as a second language which kept them busy. Alfonz went back to school again and got his WSET accreditation, and started a wine tour company called South Westy Tours. Although they have no direct ads on their blog, they share their life, which in turn brings them revenue.
Now they run their B&B as a linguistic sejour, they make enough money between the writing gigs, their Budapest apartment The Walnut Apartment, the wine tour company now runs through Vin En Vacance and the B&B Le Petit Platane to sustain their travel lifestyle. They like to visit Italy, Spain and Hungary every year, but plan to travel more and more as the years go by.
‘Life is long, and who knows what’s around the next corner for our adventurous family. Moving is always an option. We will see where the road leads!’