This Expat Life: Month 17 + I’m Moving!

After moving abroad I started compiling monthly roundup posts about life as an expat in Southeast Asia and all the nitty gritty that goes on behind the scenes here at Travel Lush. Head here to read Month 14Month 15 & Month 16.

The month of December was full of contrasts.  In many ways, it was one of the most low-key months of what ended up being an adventure-filled 2015 and in others it was the most hectic and eventful…but I’ll get to that in a bit.

On paper things have been pretty, well, ordinary.  I’ve now been living in Phnom Penh for five months and aside from a couple quick trips to Bangkok I’ve been spending the majority of my time working and (slowly) getting to know this crazy city.

This Expat Life: Month 17 - Travel Lush

At this point I’ve developed a routine.  And it is just thrilling!

My days consist of working from my laptop in my apartment and escaping every so often to meander around the city taking photos, walk to the nearby shopping mall to go grocery shopping, or dine at one of my favorite Phnom Penh eateries (of which there are many!).

So exciting, right?

vegetarian food in phnom penh

But despite being a bit slow paced, life in Phnom Penh hasn’t exactly been easy for me.  I think it’s been clear from my general lack of posting on this blog that something has been a bit off.  I’m the first to admit that expat life isn’t always easy.  While it has its rewards, this lifestyle is oftentimes a difficult and unpredictable one.  And I have been in a big rut since I moved here.

With that being said, it isn’t necessarily living in Phnom Penh that’s been the issue.  I truly do love this city, despite its many flaws.  My reason for not adjusting to expat life here is a bit more personal, more logistical.

Since moving to Phnom Penh I had a feeling that this move just wasn’t going to work.  And, to be perfectly honest, by month two I had a gut feeling that my stint in Phnom Penh would be short-lived.  Throughout the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time second guessing my decision to move here and pondering other options.  So, after a lot of thought, some planning and an intriguing job offer that came Aaron’s way, I’m ready to announce that we are officially moving on from Phnom Penh.

What can I say, sometimes things just don’t work about the way you expect.  And that’s okay!

sunset phnom penh

I’m not going to give you all the details of my big move just yet.  But I will say that I will be returning to my home state of California this month.  Actually I’ll be back in the US in just six days…surprise!!

I’ll be spending an entire month visiting with family and friends, snuggling with my kitty and eating all the Mexican food I can get my hands on!  And I am so, so excited.

See you soon Rico’s Taco Shop!

So what’s next?

Don’t worry guys, I’m not moving on from expat life.  Last month I was busy making preparations for another huge move.  And come February, Aaron and I will be heading to an entirely different part of the world.  It’s a city (and country!) that I’ve never been to before, a place that’s completely foreign to me.  And while I’m super nervous about making such a big move to a place I’ve never set foot in before, I am actually getting really excited about the prospect of exploring an entirely new part of this incredible world.  Southeast Asia has been good to me but after spending the better part of two years living and traveling here, I’m ready to move on and see what else is out there.  And I’m especially excited about all of the travel opportunities this new move will offer me.

I promise I’ll make the official announcement very soon!  But for now I will give you one hint.  It’s freezing cold there…

elephant phnom penh
Bye for now Southeast Asia.  I’ll be back!

What do you think?  Where do you think I’m moving next?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

32 thoughts on “This Expat Life: Month 17 + I’m Moving!

    1. Ah, I’m so jealous that you’re in Nicaragua. It’s really high on my list of my favorite places in the world!! And yes, I will be in California then! I have family in Long Beach, OC, etc. so I will be around…We should figure out how to meet up!

    1. Yeah, I had really high expectations but it didn’t take long to realize that they were unrealistic. It just wasn’t going to work here. Hopefully the next place will be better 🙂

    1. Haha, I know. I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have big announcements to make 😉 It’s enough with the moving! I think the next place has to be a keeper (at least for awhile). But the place I’m moving will definitely be challenging…and one of those challenges will be the cold weather! I’m not prepared at all!!

  1. It sucks that Phonm Penh hasn’t worked out the way you wanted it to, especially because of how excited you were. But new adventures and new places are always fun, and will keep you very busy. Have lots of fun back In California! I’m a little jealous, so eat lots of tacos for me, and hopefully our pathes will finally cross after missing eachother at every step.
    Terra recently posted…Chasing the Buddha–Our Silk Road Journey (Part 1)

    1. Our paths better cross. It’s kind of crazy we’ve both been on this side of the world for years and not seen each other. I think the time has finally come 🙂 Oh…I will eat tons of tacos for you!!

  2. Home sweet home will be so good! I know that Mexican will be one of my first meals when I’m back home this spring, and I don’t even have your Cali-level goodness. Can’t wait to hear all about your next move — and cheers to you for being brave enough to move somewhere cold! Melbourne’s the coldest I can bear, and I didn’t even stick through the winter haha.
    Katie recently posted…Exploring Melbourne’s Laneways: A DIY Street Art Walking Tour

    1. I’m so excited for the Mexican food Katie!! Ugh, I am not at all excited for the cold. I’ve literally never lived in any place colder than Santa Cruz, California. I seriously don’t even know what clothes to buy for this new move…

  3. I am literally on the edge of my seat haha! Good for you, gut instincts are the best thing to listen to and I am excited to see where your new adventures take you.

    If it is Iceland, I am crazy jealous!!

    Safe flight back home

    1. Haha, it’s not Iceland but I kind of wish it was! Yeah, it’s slightly weird to announce so publicly that things didn’t work out here, but I suppose that’s life. Onward and upward 🙂

    1. Haha, I just want to say that Aaron and I watched your last Snapchat and almost died. Worms? Are you okay? Haha, I keep on almost letting the cat out of the bag myself, so I don’t worry about it 😉

    1. Haha, you’re so funny. Looking back I can see why people think it’s Europe. I wish! Hopefully my next big move will be to some sort of fabulous European city 😉

    1. Yeah, I’m bummed it didn’t work out but I am excited to experience something new. I really do love Phnom Penh and I highly encourage people to travel here. Like I said my reason for leaving is more of a practical one. It actually has very little to do with living in Phnom Penh. But then again life here isn’t always easy! Ugh, expat life is complicated 😉

    1. Yeah, I’m a little bit sad about it. Phnom Penh really could be a great place to stay long term. It’s just not working for me right now. Nope, it’s not Russia or Canada…though I would kind of love to move to Canada!!


    What an experience living in Phnom Penh must have been, though. While unfortunate that it didn’t work out, I get a vibe that you’re excited about where you’re headed next so that’s good as well.

    My guess is Canada 😛
    Chantae recently posted…This is What Cambodia Commands

    1. Ahaha, I’M NEVER GOING TO TELL! Just kidding…I’ll probably be announcing next week 🙂 Phnom Penh has been quite the experience. Though I wish I would have been able to give it more of a shot. Knowing that I’d likely be leaving so soon after I arrived put a really big damper on things, so I don’t feel like I ever fully appreciated being here. I should have been more in the moment. And no, it’s not Canada. Where I’m going I do not speak the language…at all 🙁

  5. It’s a shame living in Phnom Penh hasn’t been as good as you’d hoped, but it sounds like this big move is going to bring some positive changes into your life! I hate the suspense, and can’t wait to hear where you’re headed! My guess is somewhere else in Asia… Japan or South Korea maybe? 😉
    Ashley recently posted…The Best Things I Ate in 2015

  6. Obviously I’ve seen the title of your other post but I just wanted to say here that I’m really happy for you and totally understand what you mean when you say that when you know, you know. I never adjusted to life in Korea and always kept waiting to settle and start enjoying things. Now I’ve been here for 2 years and am so happy to be moving too. When a place isn’t right, you can just feel it, can’t you?
    Ceri recently posted…Books Read in 2015

    1. Yes! I totally agree. When you know, you know. And I think Aaron and I both knew that things weren’t going to work in PP right away. I’m sorry that things haven’t been so great in Korea. All I can say is that moving on is kind of exciting. I hope that the both of us are on to bigger and better things!!

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