Expat life

Downsizing before moving to France

cabinmax bag full of essentialsBefore leaving the UK I was determined to minimize the mass of belongings I owned. This was especially important because I had no certain plans and it was possible I would have to visit a few different towns in order to find a job. I didn’t have a lot of stuff anyway, as this reduction of superfluous possessions had been an ongoing task for the last few years.

When I’d tried to relocate to Gibraltar I only took a suitcase and a backpack, but left a few boxes of books and junk at the flat that I used to share with my girlfriend. The computer I took to Gibraltar was a 27″ iMac! I’d bought a suitcase that was just big enough to fit it, but getting it there and back was a NIGHTMARE.

So this time I thought I would do things properly: I took all the junk from my old flat and threw most of it away. The keepsakes and books that I couldn’t bear to part with I took to my Grandparents who were happy to store the one box indefinitely.

Getting rid of my iMac wasn’t too hard. I posted an advert on Facebook and managed to find somebody to buy it from me for £750. With this money I bought a 14″ Asus X401A laptop from Argos for £249.99

asus x401a

When I first got it I almost freaked out. It ran Windows 8 and that meant when you logged on it didn’t take you to the desktop but to some strange screen full of Apps. The settings on Internet Explorer tried to prevent me from downloading any programs but once I managed to change the security settings, ignoring all the warnings about the risk this was putting my computer under, I was able to get started. First things first, change internet browser! Once Firefox was up and running there were a lot less pop-ups!

Open source software

What I was most worried about when getting rid of my iMac was the cost of replacing all my programs, notably the Adobe Creative Suite (including Photoshop) and Microsoft Office. Then I remembered about open source software and managed to find some free replacements that I’d argue are better than the originals. So now:

Instead of Internet Explorer I use Firefox

Instead of Photoshop I use Gimpshop

Instead of Microsoft Office I use OpenOffice

Instead of iTunes I use Miro

…and of course to play video files I use VLC

All that was left to do was to get a backpack to fit it all in and as per usual I did my shopping on the internet. I wanted something that would store a lot but not one of those travellers backpacks that people on their gap year store their life in. I didn’t want it too big as it needed to fit in hand luggage and finally I found the perfect product. The Cabin Max Metz – it looked ugly in all of the colour schemes except the outrageously stylish green and white version. In fact when I arrived somebody went out of their way to tell me I had a “Joli sac vert” !

cabinmax backpack review

So, after a few final trips to the charity shop to give away any remaining clothes that I didn’t  wear on regular rotation, I was ready to pack up and leave.

The only items tha I took that might not be deemed essential were:

  • Italian cafetière
  • Coffee mug
  • Badminton racket
  • Frescobol set
  • Penguin hot water bottle
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