Alice and I have been thinking about this trip since early 2015 and when we got started trying to figure out where to go first, we were stumped! If you could go to just one country, where would you go? It’s a tough one.
(We are on the Picton ferry right now so I thought I’d update you on my downtime, attached is a photo of us on Oriental Way looking across at the ferry terminal.)
We did this the same way we handle any major decisions – we made a spreadsheet! (This is how we named our kids.)
First thing we knew we wanted and needed was good internet. There’s no way we can go somewhere too remote because that means we can’t pay for our time there which means the trip ends. Can’t have that. Sure, many a romantic comedy has been set in a Tuscan villa or Spanish hacienda in the mountains, but we are not making a movie, we’re digital nomads.
Second thing was a moderate cost of living. Too high and we can’t afford to stay there for more than a week. Too cheap and we start having knock on effects like crap Internet, crap food, unstable governments; that sort of thing.
With these two things we then used a country search tool which allowed us to compare these two things together and out came a list of ten countries. Latvia and Estonia were near the top. Who and what?! (I’ll post this tool in the comments, I don’t remember it at the moment.)
I’m really embarrassed to say I did not know where those countries were and thus started a small online search frenzy as Alice and I learned more. Both countries share a Russian past which they are now free of , and both countries love singing. Deep, passionate from the guy singing. Sounds good to me!
Riga, Latvia looked promising, the capital of Latvia, and Tallinn, though more polished than Riga, looked rugged enough for our tastes. You see, we’re not looking to go to the usual places – Paris, Berlin, and Madrid are off the list for the time being. We want smaller towns and more chances to get off the beaten track. Latvia and Estonia feel this way overall which is why their capital cities made our list.
The other criteria that’s always in the back of our minds is the Shengen Agreement. Look it up for more detail but basically it allows travel across any country in its purview (Estonia and Latvia are part of this treaty) for 90 days but then you have to leave all those Schengen countries for another 90 days. This is why we will be staying in one group of countries for that 90 days and another group for the other 90 days, 1 month in each country on average, but some stays will be 3 months long because of this.
If you’re curious the third country to make the list was Hungary. Pretty cool! A lot of the Balkan states, just west of Russia, are spending a lot on infrastructure and to shed their previous image as Russian states – they are boosting internet speeds and relaxing business rules to encourage entrepreneurship to flourish. Estonia, especially, has a great system of growing businesses. Even in Latvia if you buy a building in the downtown area that’s enough for citizenship! I’d be really tempted but two citizenship are enough, thanks.
Another consideration is public transport and most European countries have good train and bus systems (I’m sure they’ll put Auckland’s to shame!) so we won’t have a car unless we absolutely need it; we’ll rent one to get out into the country, for example.
If you had to choose one country, which would you visit?
Latest posts by Nathaniel Flick (see all)
- Bali, our last day here - 29/03/2018
- Bali, Goa Gajah – the Elephant Caves - 27/03/2018
- Bali, Dad’s birthday and more shots around Villa Bhuana Alit - 25/03/2018