Having fun in life and good health is more important to me than having a lot of money. I didn’t always have this view though. Growing up in a wealthy, predominantly Caucasian neighborhood as a poor, young Korean-American and losing both of my parents to cancer by the time I was 10 made me think that having money was the best answer to my problems.
My dad passed away from cancer when I was two and my mom when I was ten. That left my brother, 18, sister, 14, and me, at age 10. Taking care of ourselves as kids while going through adolescent years was truly a struggle. Losing them created a strong sense of responsibility and independence, which helped me through my teenage and college years.
Because of my hardships of a low-income upbringing, I had three goals back then. I wanted to earn enough to help my brother and sister to go to college, travel to a new country yearly, and eat nutritious food three times a day. Having had a lot of physical issues since childhood and lack of food in the house, healthy food and even insurance had to be factored into my monetary goals since both are quite expensive in the United States.
The need to afford a healthier lifestyle in combination with my other goals made me pursue a secure career path in accounting instead of writing, my passion at the time. This is how I ended up as a Certified Public Accountant at the Big 4 and was able to pay off my college loans in only two years. I finally had the financial freedom to eat plentiful and travel often. However, these achievements came at the expense of my health.
Spending 60+ hours a week in a job I didn’t enjoy, commuting three+ hours a day to and from Connecticut, and partying weekly in New York City did not agree with my body. In only my second year of working, I got fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes widespread chronic nerve and muscle pain and fatigue.
Not having parents, I’ve always pushed through life at a rushed pace, barely breathing, thinking that failure wasn’t an option. Getting sick forced me to slow down for once and rethink what I truly wanted to do in life.
After careful consideration, my husband and I decided to move to Amsterdam with the support of his company. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made in our lives. No longer are my health care bills through the roof nor do I have to make as much money to afford healthy food here.
I have more time to focus on me and what I want to do, which is a huge unexpected benefit of moving to another country. Being away from family and friends isn’t ideal for most people, but for me, it reduced obligations and created the freedom and time to focus on my health as well as my entrepreneurial endeavor.
I love being my own boss and running a successful travel blogging business; something that the high cost of living in New York City couldn’t afford me. Through my business, I can enjoy life the way that I want to, experience the things that truly matter to me, and am continuously learning, which is a must.
A wonderful benefit of this job I didn’t foresee is that people have been responding positively to the things I am sharing, especially personal anecdotes about overcoming challenges in my past and entrepreneurial insight. People exclaim things like “I’m so happy I read this today” or “I really needed to hear this”. I love that my blog not only helps people with traveling but has found a way to people’s hearts.
Overall, moving to Amsterdam has made me a much happier person. Though fibromyalgia prevents me from doing everything I’d want to, I am having a lot of fun and simply enjoying life here. In New York, I was worried that if I didn’t get healthier soon that my youth would be wasted in pain. But the other day at a techno party, I saw an elderly couple dancing until the early hours of the morning. I no longer feel the pressure of needing to heal as soon as possible because of age. In Amsterdam, the fun doesn’t stop because of your age.
Connect with Sarah via her blog (fromlusttilldawn.com) or Instagram (@lusttilldawn). Make sure to say hello! She loves chatting with new people
Photo Credit: @Lusttilldawn