My Top 5 Has Been Homes

Exploring where in the world is my top choice to live?


Discover here the top 5 Places I’ve lived ranked by preference of destination and what’s to love about them…


#1 Chamonix, Haute-Savoie, France

My current home at the heart of the French Alps (bordering Italy & Switzerland) is teeming with like minded, wanderlust oriented adventurers…and of course alpinists (literally) above all else. 

It is well documented that the French in general love a good protest, a hearty union strike. Here,there is an ambience primed for getting involved with the environment and the outdoors.

At the core of the French penchant for socialism there is huge value placed in the human elements of everyday life. Between the hours of 12pm-14:00pm the local commerce freezes to a halt to allow time for a family lunch, which school children are likewise invited to attend (your children obviously, you canot just pick kids up off of the street).

Drinking in public is legal but alcohol is only ever a problem for holiday makers (especially when combined with skiing). This may sound petty but in a region with such great wine and cheese the option for a lakeside degustation does certainly appeal….daily.

In saying that the area is loaded with sporting opportunities in winter and in summer and a number of high profile trail running events which do attract the paleo tee-total type, or pale-totallers if you will. 

The biggest shock is that English is easily an official language of the area whose popularity was established by the British wealth of the 1800’s, where a trip to Chamonix would have had the same social standing as a luxury yacht trip to St.Barths today.

 (Where in the world is my top choice to live pictured above: this photo is from nearby Verbier but as you can see my daughter is in a French beret, therefore, relevant)





#2 Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand

A has been home of just 6months for us this Southern excursion brings back fond memories of my pregnancy and Patagonia Chocolates. Wanaka is definitely the go to choice for the “home-body” outdoorsman. While socialising here can be expensive the scenic hikes and breath taking terrain at your doorstep makes up for general “skint-ness”. Because by the way, the super market and rental property monopolies are a farce.

If you are looking for an extended holiday or entire season stay, contact local estate agents well in advance of your trip. The best way to find rentals can be in the old school classifieds of the Upper Clutha Messenger.

There is plenty of fishing to be done but strict rules to follow and the best kept secret is the off piste terrain for kite boarding just of the nordic ski terrain (formerly a famous Snow Park, now a place for fancy cars to test their wheels on ice as lycra clad skiers gloss by on their pencil skis.

One of the great things about Wanaka in their peak Winter season is the influx of foreign workers, which made this wanderer feel right at home. There was even a small french speaking community for my partner Karim which included local photographer Thierry Huet, see his inspiring work here.

The proximity to brilliant (but somewhat congested) Queenstown is also a plus.

(Where in the world is my top choice to live pictured above: lakeside confession with Leah of



#3 Piha Beach, Auckland, NZ

Piha would easily be my second choice to live if the proximity to the nearest skiing in Winter was more appealing (5hrs is just too much). It just so happens that the proximity to Auckland city (NZ’s largest) is perfectly arms reach though, just about an hours drive with light traffic (always expect traffic) to the central city.

This small community doesn’t have one bad egg and from the volunteer fire brigade to the surf life saving club they are regularly, genuinely saving lives. Plus the coffee is good. Dreamy.

The rip tides at this beach are not the the faint of heart and certainly not for the ill informed. However with the right intel, weather conditions and board it can be a place where even beginners like me can get on a plank…just so happens I prefer mine on snow.

There are some brilliant walks and runs in the area but accommodation is scarce, but don’t be afraid of the campground, it happens to have some of the best real estate in the area. Marcus Lush (a very well paid Kiwi talk-radio head at the time) lived there in a tent for some months and there’s even a bowles green!

 (Where in the world is my top choice to live pictured above: majestic Lion rock guards the break)




#4 Elliot Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada

When I was 16 (2006) I was part of a Rotary student exchange to this sleepy lake town. Somedays I dream of running back to this sleepy town for a life of snoozing, reading, walking and fishing. Their local ice-fishing comes highly commended by yours truly and the ice-hockey of course is something for the locals to rally around.

I highly recommend the Rotary organisation for their great generosity and sense of Global community which is something I can definitely get behind.  

I am sure to be scalded by my family for putting even this obscure sleepy hollow ahead of my home town but, by now, they should be aware I covet seclusion.

BONUS! The town is a Francophone settlement which is great news for my French partner and offspring should I ever be able to convince them that owning our own snow mobile is worth the relocation.

  (Where in the world is my top choice to live pictured above: Does it not look like your life would be Twin Peaksy?)




#5 Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand

Whangarei is growing in size and culture with hundred of beaches to choose from with either coast at hand. There are well maintained mountain bike tracks, hiking paths and even a spot of climbing.

Most people enjoy the surf and fishing but for me the main anchor is my family. Close to the entirety of my Kiwi family live in this one town.

While that can feel overwhelming in theory, it’s always a pleasure in practice…especially since becoming a Mother.

Questionable city planning has left the central shopping district a dead zone while the town basin and Hatea Loop Track will be the place to visit in years to come.

Did I mention there are Avacado orchards? And Daniel Beddingfield has a bach (local lingo for beach side holiday home) here?

  (Where in the world is my top choice to live pictured above: My family take the dog Kooper for a walk at Oceans Beach)




“If you’re not the one then why does my soul feel glad today?
If you’re not the one then why does my hand fit yours this way?
If you are not mine then why does your heart return my call
If you are not mine would I have the strength to stand at all

I’ll never know what the future brings
But I know you’re here with me now
We’ll make it through
And I hope you are the one I share my life with

I don’t want to run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
If I’m not made for you then why does my heart tell me that I am?”

– clearly a modern Shakespeare.




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