A Change of Scenery: Reflections on Living in a New Place & Remote Working in Istanbul

A new home, far from our normal way of being, Istanbul. More specifically Cihangir, Istanbul.

I knew coming here that I could use change but was scared. Not change in terms of location, I love Cape Town more than I ever have. But none the less I was scared about what it might like to feel living here. Also scared that I would somehow feel lost in my role at WooThemes. I’ve always told myself that I am at my best when I am around people and I’ve always loved working at WooHQ and been slightly nervous about the transition to remote working.

My fears have subsided as we are loving this new place. Creativity around every corner. It’s hard to put your finger on what makes it so special. It might be all the old meets new and east meets west (sorry I know it’s cliche). I am captivated by the people, language, sites and tastes. It’s the kind of space that grows on you. At first glance or first passing by you might think it’s a dumpy old neighborhood but the more often you pass the streets the more you notice the layers to it’s beauty. It’s completely unfamiliar but incredibly welcoming. And while there are adventures and kitties around every corner the thing I am most excited about is the change happening in Annchen and I as we evaluate our paths and path going forward.

A New Era

Annchen and I dubbed Feb 3 (the day we moved here), our new year, which conveniently allowed us to eat and drink horrifically unhealthy while in Netherlands, Belgium and France. Our new year goals were to focus in on areas where we feel we could be better versions of ourselves, individually and together. Less television, focus on keeping in touch with friends, and dedicating time to really get better at the things we want to pursue. To make more time for expressing our creative sides and to get a grasp on where our faith is taking us. More on some of that in a future blog post. But to wrap it all into one phrase, ‘to simplify our lives’. And it’s happening. Our seeds of thought, prayers and hopes have led to steps towards change. I guess change is possible although it doesn’t always feel like it is.

Change in general can bring hope, hope that we are not stuck. For me, there is nothing worse than being stuck. The last thing I want to be is filled with empty promises and ambition. I want to be a do-er, I want to reimagine ways of doing things and I want to share my life with others.

This new found season of simplicity has enabled me to rise above the everyday frustration and monotony of the ‘have to dos’. To be able to take some quiet time and evaluate where I am going and then see those things through. It has been incredibly healthy.

Working abroad remotely has forced me to be more intentional about communicating with my colleagues around the day to day and project based work. In general I feel that I have more to show for my time, that in some way stepping away from the office has allowed me to focus. Honestly I wouldn’t have predicted this to occur. While I’m extremely extroverted I think I am learning that I am more driven by progress in my role and department than I am by people. In the past two weeks I have become more hermit-like in my role than anything and I’m loving it. While it could just be a season, it gives me hope for a future that likely includes a lot of remote working. Don’t get me wrong, I still need some life around me, hence the co-working space.

What to Make of It?

In hindsight the very thing I was afraid of is the furthest thing from my sight now. Removing myself from the comforts of our life in Cape Town has enabled us to reinvent ourselves somewhere new and for a host of reasons we are more focused than ever. I write this to share the journey, not to encourage everyone to pack their bags. I don’t think a change in location is always the best catalyst for growth, sometimes it can be quite the opposite. I’ll have to share my ‘New Zealand’ experience sometime (fail) or my journey around letting go of moving back home as the answer to my life problems. I think contentment often is making the most of where you are at but being open to change in all forms and being ready to stick it out through the storms of life. It is in the overcoming that we come to grow and change, even if the change is self imposed, like moving to Istanbul in the dead of winter. The dim rays of light that peak through the darkness and tall buildings that line the hills was worth the wait, and journey.


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