After the hugely successful launch of the Bordeaux Business Network I have been in touch with a local expat working freelance in the Bordeaux region. Kira is keen to expand her network so please don’t hesitate to check out her website and get in touch with her for more info!
Over to the interview…
1. Where are you originally from?
I’m somewhat of a periodic nomad! I was born in the US to the children of European immigrants, but have moved around a fair bit and lived in probably too many places. We’ve just moved to France from Wales, where we were for ten years, and as that’s the longest by far that I’ve ever been in one place, I’ll go with my passport and say Wales.
2. Where are you living at the moment?
We found a lovely little house to rent by the coast. We’re six minutes from the beach by car, but can get to Bordeaux in less than an hour, so it’s perfect. We’ve tried city living in the past and it’s not for us; the view of the pine trees from our sitting room window is just what we needed.
3. How long have you lived in the region?
We’ve only been here permanently since November, after a while of back-and-forth. We’re quite glad to be settled at last.
4. Why did you move to France and why did you choose Bordeaux?
As cities go, Bordeaux is our favourite! It’s big enough to be lively and diverse, but small enough not to feel overwhelming. We realized a few years ago how much we loved the French way of life – the French pace of life – and have been looking for a way to make our dreams a reality since. I have some health problems and whereas in the cold and damp of Wales, I can get quite ill, here in the warm and dry I’m more or less normal! Even now, in December, I’m healthier than I was in Wales in July. It rains a lot!
We wanted the opportunity to live a life that was focussed on more than just the doldrums that have become the norm now in the UK, and with Brexit looming in all its horror, we felt we’d better go while we still could.
5. What do you wish you knew before moving here?
How much we would like it. The language is difficult (more on that in question 10), but we are so grateful to be here. Everyone we’ve met has been kind, helpful, and wonderfully friendly; it puts the UK to shame.
6. Did you find it easy finding accommodation when you first moved here?
No, and yes. We don’t have CDIs, so were at an automatic disadvantage. We looked at lot of houses from Le Bon Coin! Miraculously though (and with the generous help of some friends), we found landlords willing to give us a chance, and are delighted with our home.
7. What do you do for a living?
My main work now is writing, editing, and design/photography. I edit books for public and private sector projects, and write content for websites, brochures, and magazines. I handle the photography and illustrations myself, and I also design and implement websites. I’ve written a novel, but as of yet have no idea what to do with it!
I have a fairly diverse employment background (I was an ice dancer and taught ice-skating, for example), and I studied philosophy and archaeology, but I’ve always gravitated back to writing and design.
My passion for language (and its power) has been with me since childhood, and my skills with design and photography come in part from my in depth studies of colour and its relationship with human psychology. Plus, I’m synaesthetic, which helps some!
8. Was it easy finding work?
I’m freelance; at the moment I’m working on a project for a charitable foundation and their associated university, but am always looking for new opportunities. I don’t think we’ve really been here long enough for me to answer fully!
9. Has it been easy meeting people?
So far, yes!
10. Did you already know French?
Yes and no. I was fluent as a child, but many years of not speaking French, plus four years spent achieving proficiency in Spanish, pushed much of what I knew out of my head. I’m slowly regaining my understanding and vocabulary, but I hope that maybe I’ll wake up one morning and it’ll all be back. Until then, I’ll keep learning!
11. How do you find the cost of living/lifestyle in Bordeaux?
We’re not really the “going out” types – I think we might be the only teetotalers in France – so in a sense I can’t comment. That said: our rent is much cheaper than it would be on a comparable house in a comparable area in the UK, and we’ve found our food bill – even with our 100% organic shopping habits – less too.
12. What’s the best thing to do in Bordeaux on a summer’s day?
Go to the coast! I’m a surfer and my husband and son bodyboard, so we like to get in the water as much as possible. If you’re stuck in the city though, I would say to sit in the shade under a tree at the Jardin Public, and listen to the world go by.
13. What’s the best thing to do in Bordeaux on a rainy day?
Find a nice café and watch the rain. Or stay in, curled up, with a good book and a cup of tea!
14. What are the positives of living here?
Everything! We love the weather, the quality of the food, the people, the welcoming atmosphere. The fact that we have city, countryside and coast within such a short distance of each other is amazing. Plus, the “green scene” here is fantastic: so many bio shops, the Darwin Ecosystem, and a tangible focus on sustainability.
15. What are the negatives of living here?
So far, we haven’t really found anything specific to here, above and beyond the problems faced by so many places now. The language is somewhat of an issue, especially for my son, but we’ll get there!
16. Are you involved with any groups / associations / teams, etc?
I’ve joined the Bordeaux Business Network, but nothing else as of yet. I’ve been on crutches since we got here (great timing for a fall down the stairs, two days before our big move!), so have been limited somewhat. Hopefully in the new year I’ll be back on my feet again.
17. Do you have a business / website / blog?
It details a fair bit about what I do and how I work; if you’re interested in working with me, please get in touch!
18. Any closing comments?
Thank you! To anyone considering a move here, my advice would be to try it! Don’t be afraid to use your French even if it’s patchy; our experience is that people are grateful for the effort and usually very patient. I learn so much from every conversation, even if it’s a struggle.
If you want a better, fuller life – if you believe that here you can find one – go for it and make it happen!
Thanks again to Kira for the inspirational interview and see you at the next BBN meeting..!