Taking a Leap

6 years ago by

Photos Erik Melvin

Why would you move to a new city? Love, work, spontaneity? Personally, I’ve moved for two of those reasons (never sheer spontaneity though – I should probably work on that.) While I’ve never, ever regretted these moves, I have wondered how they have influenced my life – personally, professionally and beyond. So when Garance said, “We should do a story on people who have moved to different cities!” I was immediately on board.

Lindsay, Ilona, and Danielle all made big transatlantic moves, and they opened up to us about the best, worst, and most beautiful parts of taking a leap. Should you need a little push to make a change in your life, their stories might be it.

Ilona Hamer

Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I’m from Sydney, Australia and I currently live in the East Village in New York City.

What was the reason for your move?
New York was always somewhere I wanted to move to, but when I was 20, I started working at Vogue Australia and it was the ideal job for me at that time in my life. I was there for 6 years until our editor left – I knew it was time to move into a new phase of my own life. I left work in June and was in New York in October. It was the best decision I ever made.

In what ways has New York changed your personal style and lifestyle?
I used to wear heels almost every day when I worked at Vogue so that was definitely the first thing to change! I think New York is somewhere that breeds interesting style because you are constantly exposed to all different walks of life. In a single day you are absorbing so many elements: color, texture, great style, bad style and the way people hold themselves and wear clothes. In terms of lifestyle, it’s definitely different to Sydney which is more about the environment and is very active and health focused. To wake up, walk or drive to the beach workout, swim and then have a coffee and read the papers in the sun is a very normal start to the day. In New York, you have to make sure you are conscious of being active and getting enough nature otherwise, the city can take hold of you.

What’s the best and worst part about making a big move?
Leaving family is definitely the hardest part. The best part is how challenging it is and how you really start living and paying attention to everything. When you are somewhere new and unknown, you really do become hyper aware of your surroundings, of people, of your behavior. I think that it is so important for personal growth.

Key to meeting people in a new place?
Leave the house! Go out, take chances, start conversations with strangers and be open to everything and everyone.

lifestyle moving ilona hamer garance dore photo

If you weren’t living here, where would you be living?
Possibly Sydney, but then again, I do have dreams of owning a beautiful house in Europe by the beach in the next half of my life. Somewhere my husband and I can renovate together and have all our friends and family come to stay, with a vegetable patch, chickens and a more relaxed sustainable lifestyle.

Favorite thing about New York?
Walking as the preferred mode of transportation and the constant inspiration it provides.

Thing you miss most about Sydney?
The beach and the clean, clear, beautiful ocean. I miss it Every. Single. Day. When I’m home in Australia, I try to make my last summer swim a ceremonious moment. I dive down as far as I can, open my eyes and really feel the water around me and take memory photos of the taste and feeling and let it wash over me.

Biggest culture shock moving to New York?
Adjusting to public transport again. When you are used to driving everywhere and having your car as a serene little bubble, full of all the things you may need in a day, it takes some getting used to having to plan your day around how much you can carry, grocery shopping, who you are seeing etc.

If given the opportunity, would you do it again?

lifestyle moving lindsay jang photo

Lindsay Jang

Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I was born and raised outside Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I moved to NYC in 2002 and have now been in Hong Kong since 2009.

What was the reason for your move?
Adventure, life, curiosity, family.

In what ways has Hong Kong changed your personal style and lifestyle?
I don’t know if it’s Hong Kong or just maturing in life, but I’m definitely more comfortable in my own skin the older I get. I don’t feel the need to dress with the trend; I know what I like and I know what I want. Ultimately, you’ll find me in something super comfortable because I’m constantly running around and sweating (Hong Kong is hot and humid for most of the year).

What’s the best and worst part about making a big move?
Best — challenging yourself to overcome fear of new places, spaces and people. Nothing makes you stronger than being alone in a new environment.

Worst — loneliness.

Key to meeting people in a new place?
Find community in your work and passions.

Favorite thing about Hong Kong?
The speed and efficiency.

Thing you miss most about New York?
The pizza… and the pure joy and inspiration you feel walking the streets of New York.

Biggest culture shock in Hong Kong?
Standards of hospitality.

If given the opportunity, would you do it again?

Taking a Leap

Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up in Australia. I currently live in Paris, France.

What was the reason for your move?
I studied Fashion and Textile design as well as international studies majoring in French so I sort of planned it that way. I love languages (even though they’re not particularly my forte) and always wanted the experience of living in a non-English speaking country.

In what ways has Paris changed your personal style and lifestyle?
I think I’ve stayed true to myself. If anything it’s been refined through having access to brands that I didn’t have before. I think I’m a lot more conscious of my skin here as the air isn’t as clean and I’m not swimming in the ocean as often. In terms of lifestyle I’m travelling often and so easily within Europe, that has been amazing.

If you weren’t living here, where would you be living?
I’ve thought about this a lot, I guess NYC but Paris is really my place… I’ve been entertaining the idea of an extended stay in Mexico!

Favorite thing about Paris?
I love the French – they drive you mental but I love their manner and pomp. I also love the fashion industry here, all the big houses and all the foreigners, it’s a very beautiful melting pot.

Thing you miss most about your old city?
The beach. The nature, the air, the sun, the landscape! (My family!)

Biggest culture shock in Paris?
That France still uses cheque books was mental to me! I will also never forget the time I pinched a nerve and blacked out, my boyfriend called an ambulance in sheer panic and I got a ride to the hospital. It was something like 11 euros. Health care in France is incredible. Also, in general the coffee in Paris is not great – they use long life milk here which has a particular taste! Apparently all the best milk goes into cheese production.

If given the opportunity, would you do it again?
Over and over again.


Add yours
  • Great post! I’ve changed cities many times and countries four times. It’s always exciting, challenging, frustrating, fun, sad (to leave friends and family). No regrets. It opens up the world.

  • I want to move from Germany to Sweden so I really liked the post.
    Very interesting stories.

  • I would love to move elsewhere, but alas, job, aging parents, long term boyfriend… but these are all excuses. If everyone else can do it then so can I!

  • Diana, as someone who’s lived in a foreign country for over 5 years now, those are all good reasons to stay at home. The younger you are when you make a big move, the easier it is. It’s definitely hard to be away from home when older parents get sick or when you want to start a family. Unless you move specifically for a new job, your career can take a hit, too. I love living abroad and I’ll probably never leave my new country, but this adventure has plenty of bumps in the road.

  • Born and raised in Massachusetts and with the exception of one year in Evanston, Illinois, lived in the Bay State until I was 61. Then, last summer, husband and I moved from a house in suburban Boston to Portland, Oregon. Our new neighborhood allows us to walk to the dog park, the grocery store, numerous cafes and award-winning restaurants. Would I do it again? Most definitely. I only wish we’d done it sooner.

  • I lived in 3 different countries and I loved all in their special way . Everywhere I learned a lot and it improved my
    personality immense. Some experiences were quite tough but I would never miss it and can recommend everyone to
    do it… it’s never too late

  • I absolutely love reading these interviews! As a current university student hoping to move from my city when I graduate it’s always nice to read about individuals who’ve done just that.

  • Fascinating!

    Three years ago I met a tall, handsome Dutch man and moved from the UK to the Netherlands, not something I had planned on (especially since it involved leaving family, friends and my career which was just getting started), but something I fully embraced. Even to this day I am learning new things about my surroundings and about myself too, I never realised how resilient I am to change, to different cultures and personalities.

    Something I would recommend to anyone seeking adventure, a challenge and a whole lot of life lessons!


  • J’ai connu une experience très différente mais moi aussi j’ai traversé les océans pour vivre à Barcelone (et désormais voyager en Asie).

    J’ai beaucoup aimé lire le témoignage de Ilona, Lindsay et Danielle !

    Moi aussi j’aurais adoré bosser chez Vogue Australie à 20 ans ;)

    Des bisous!


  • Thank you for this story! The past 5 years have been a zigzag for me – moving from my hometown Atlanta to be with my husband who moved for work to his hometown Memphis, then divorcing and moving to New Orleans on my own because I simply fell in love with this city. It has been challenging, exhilarating – Mardi Gras, so many festivals, the music and food everywhere, beautiful neighborhoods, the Mississippi river! – frustrating and a little lonely at times, and I would do it all over again. The experiences these women have shared makes me all the more determined to live out loud here in Nola and that its ok to miss your hometown even as you embrace a new one.

  • I’m always curious about how these moves are possible…work visas? Traveler visas?

  • Solmari Perez March, 13 2017, 10:22

    When you have your mind set on doing something, you just find a way. The first time I moved from my hometown (Puerto Rico) to Italy was in 1991. At the time there was no internet, the college I was attending didn’t have an exchange program with Italy & I didn’t know anybody who had done so. But somehow, after a couple of years of research through other colleges, through the Italian consulate, through a friend of a friend that had family there, etc… I set foot in Florence in September of 1991 already with a rented apartment, enrolled in Italian & photography classes & a few contacts. I still remember my friends faces when I finally announced I was actually leaving. Went for three months, stayed for 15 years. Will never regret a thing & can’t wait for our next adventure to star. Travelling around the globe with our kids for a year. Nothing better to open up the horizons of the mind, the heart & the soul… and of course the geographical’s too ;)

  • I just moved to NYC a few months ago after having lived in AZ for 1.5 years but also having grown up in MN. It’s a big change, I’m adapting of course. I like some things and I don’t like some things.

    -Kirsten // pork & cookies

    Blog post: Living in NYC (3 months)

  • Cool post!

  • Would love to know where Ilona’s necklace was purchased…..

  • 10 cities, 5 countries, 3 continents, all sorts of reasons, studies, work, love.

  • thank you for this great post. i’m currently in the process of potentially moving from australia to new york for work. i found this very helpful and insightful xx

  • Love this! In the last 12 years I have changed countries 4 times(for studies, work, and love) and although it is my choice of life and I don’t miss France that much, I do miss my family and friends. I don’t understand how someone from Sydney would want to move to Paris or NYC :)) Australia is my dream. Having the beach plus all the advantages of a big city like Sydney or Melbourne..uh, I probably idealize it a lot(i’ve never been there,typical)! Anyway it is interesting to see that we are so many to be drawn to new places, even though the places we come from are not that bad;)

  • I’ve changed countries and cities 5 times in the past 10 years. I’ve learned many languages, and I’ve become adaptable to all kind of places. It’s definitely the quickest way to grow and learn, and meet awesome people. I love the few months before leaving a place, when suddenly everything becomes so important because it will not last.
    At the same time, this lifestyle is tiring and l miss the deep ( and yet so simple) relationships I had with my sisters and my childhood friends, the kinds of relationship that don’t need words anymore.

  • Cet article était fait pour moi ! J’ai appris avant-hier que je partais à Bologne en Erasmus l’année prochaine… Merci de ce grand bol d’air frais, de m’apporter un peu de ce recul que l’on a pas du tout à dix-neuf ans… Si quelqu’un a des conseils ou des suggestions je suis preneuse !

  • I live in Austria but I am thinking of moving to California. I just love LA, the weather and all the positive vibes over there. I already lived in NYC for a year when I was 18 and I absolutely loved it. Now I am married with 2 teenage daughters who are as open as me. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration – it reminded me to continue working on that dream.

  • Marcia- March, 12 2017, 3:13 / Reply

    Montana -NYC-Montana-Northern Ireland. Believe it or not, the personalities and vibe in Ireland are more like New York. Montana is very different than them!

  • I loved this! Ever since I graduated college (nearly 10 years ago!), I’ve never been in the same place for longer than four years at a time. Born and raised in the Atlanta suburbs, went to university in Nashville, moved back to the ATL, moved to downtown Chicago for four years, and then wound up in Seoul, South Korea, where I’ve been for the past 2.5 years…it’s been a journey, that’s for sure! However, I don’t believe I’d trade it for anything.

  • Ah le changement! Pour ma part il n’est pas énorme mais quand même passer du sud de la France à l’est est terrible! Dans l’autre sens c’est quand même mieux. Le sud, le soleil, l’accent me manquent terriblement après 5 ans passés dans le nord! Même si je ne regrette pas ce choix par amour, je ne m’acclimate pas du tout à cette région et j’envisage de redescendre m’installer à Bordeaux. L’étranger m’a beaucoup tentée à une époque mais je n’ai jamais eu le courage de sauter le pas, peut-être un jour qui sait rien n’est jamais figé c’est ce que j’aime à penser, j’ai un côté nomade et j’ai du mal à rester en place dans un endroit. L’idée de découvrir une nouvelle ville, des nouveaux repères est excitante et me nourrit au quotidien.

  • Love that all three women gave the same answer in the question “If given the opportunity, would you do it again?”… “Absolutely”!

  • Oh I love the interviews! I’ve been dreaming of moving to another country, it doesn’t matter if it’d be Europe or some more distnat country. I think this is an exciting experience that helps us develop and get to know who we really are and what we really want our life to look like. I’m dreaming of it but have absolutely no idea where to start, whether it’s the job or maybe forst move then look for a job… So many tough decisions… What do I do?

  • Thank you for this post and all the comments! I’ve been thinking to move to Australia.. (funny, the majority of the people in this interview moved from Australia to US). But since I’m European (and I don’t live in my country) Australia just seems a fascinating idea when you are almost 26 and you have the need more adventurous and being in a place alone again.. If anyone have more encourage words, please share :)

  • I’m an American living in Germany and definitely agree with most of these comments. It’s hard to get over the initial shock of things (Germans use cash, not cards, this was so insane to me!) but you just get better every day. A blogger I love, Jess Lively, once described it as there is such a thing as a “hard vs. easy” life and also “simple vs. complicated” where traveling a lot (or relocating across an ocean!) makes your life simpler because you don’t have all the complications that come with roots but everything is just harder. I only brought a few boxes of household goods and shopping feels “simple” here but buying toothpaste really was a struggle for a few times…

  • Cute article!

    However it looks like all these ladies mostly traveled transpacific not atlantic :P just saying’



  • Fabiana May, 20 2017, 3:45 / Reply

    This is so wonderful to read about. I grew up moving from country to country when I was in my childhood and in my teenage years. I’ve gone to most continents (except Oceania, but it’s a goal of mine), and I still want to move to other places in order to experience them better. It’s great to hear the stories of people who have done these moves already! Thank you. xx

  • Ah, one of my favorite topics these days! I moved from San Francisco, CA where I’d lived my entire life to Tokyo 5 months ago after several years of dreaming about it. Tokyo is my favorite city in the world and it’s unreal to finally be living here, but it’s also still probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every day is still a struggle trying to learn Japanese, figure out how the trash schedule works, and figure out where to buy furniture. But it’s also unimaginably rewarding and amazing to finally making my dream real. I found that like with a lot of big changes, I just had to commit and tell myself and my friends that I was doing it and before I knew it I had quit my job, put all my belongings in storage, and was on a plane to Tokyo with three boxes.

    My big realization last year when I decided to make it happen was thinking about how disappointed I’d be in myself if I let the years slip by until 20 years later I found myself wondering what would have happened if I’d made the move. Better to try and fail than not try at all!

  • Hello,

    would love to know where the lovely black leather belt is from, what ‘Ilona Hamer’ is wearing in the pic above? ;)))


    Cam Xo

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