/ Not Another where is the best place to live post!

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blakeclimber07 - on 17 Sep 2017
Yes... That's right.. After sport/trad/ice/mixed/alpine climbing, skiing, touring and paragliding with many of you UKC members all around the world (mainly Europe to be fair!) I am now coming to the group for some advice.

I am very lucky as my work allows me 6 months off a year, but the other 6 months are full on with no time for any climbing or other fun activities. I have mostly been living out of my van for the 6 months off, travelling and meeting up with people to climb and generally go out on mountain or Ocean/Water adventures.

However, I am now looking for a base, somewhere to call home! I am British, and I do like the UK, but I think it is hard to find the sort of place that i am looking for in the UK.

So, can any of you think of a location that offers all or at least a good proportion of the following:

- Year round access to the outdoors, the more varied and the closer, the better. If i don't have to use a car, then I am a happy man.
- A great community of out door people and clubs/groups. This also includes people who are not stuck in a 9-5 job. I often have time off in large chunks, so waiting for people to go cragging after work or only on weekends wont cut the mustard i am afraid!
- Large enough that there are things to do.. I am not a party animal by any stretch of the imagination, however a beer after an epic day in a mountain setting is always amazing and to have the ability to meet up with other people other than your climbing partner is also sometimes nice too.
- Not too large... No Cities please. I always feel claustrophobic and stuck in cities and so i am not a big fan.
- Easy access to an airport, either direct transport links or some way of getting to and from an airport easily, i need to fly to work and I will likely be travelling as well as spending time in my new home..

Some places that I have been to so far and have considered as possibilities:

- Chamonix - Fairly obvious choice - ticks all the boxes, but surely there must be something else out there?? Maybe Annecy as a fairly local option?
- South Ecrins area - Somewhere between Briancon and Gap.. Lovely area, great mountains, lake and rivers... Only 2 issues are getting to and from there and possibly a lack of a community that I would be able to settle into. Possibly hard to find climbing/ski/paragliding/cycling buddies year round!?
- North of Lake Garda - Lovely climbing (although a little polished in places) and lots of other activities to do, really nice climbing scene and the town is full of gear shops and lots of local events. But - Traffic can be a nightmare and Italians in the summer are just nuts! No easy airports or good transport links, not sure what the locals are like to permanent British folk.
- Pyrenees - I love this mountain range, it's great! But other than St Lutz, I think the mountain villages are too small for a plucky Brit to live in and find an active community to enjoy. Also transport links are pretty pants, so getting in and out can be tricky!

Any thoughts, comments, additions, suggestions, ideas... Good, bad, indifferent!!! Please bring it on!

If you can think of somewhere in the UK that fits the bill, then please mention it too .. Maybe I just need to be a little more open minded and muster up some courage with the rain!

Thank you guys!
steveboote - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
Vans welcome, airport 7 miles, 4 national parks within 2 hour drive,

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mod-cons-travellers-camp-3552334.amp
blakeclimber07 - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to steveboote:

Humm... I like the enthusiasm, but 2 hour drive isn't exactly being in the action, Liverpool is a pretty big City, which I'm not really keen on and I would think most climbers would be in some sort of 9-5 style job.

So, just to be clear... I am currently using my van as a bit of a home, but i would like to get an actual property of some description to live somewhere so that I don't have to live out of my van. Obviously ill still use my van, but it would be for trips, rather than general living!

But thanks for the post... Keep them coming!
keith-ratcliffe on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
As I approach my 3 score & ten milestone I have come to realise that the best place to be is where you are as long as you make the most of it. I used to spend a lot of time & energy trying to get to places I wanted to be but then I discovered the joy of being where I am and exploring that place for its own features. So where ever you find in your search - enjoy being there.
Post edited at 20:36
blakeclimber07 - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

I couldn't agree more. That is exactly why I would like to have a base, so I can get stuck into the local scene, community and enjoy being there, rather than always planning the next place to go. Van life is great, but when it's your only option, the continual moving can get tiresome.

If I find a spot for a base, Ill be sure to let you know how it goes!
keith-ratcliffe on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
I hope you do find that base. I didn't exactly choose to be where I am - it was chosen for me, hence the point about making the most of it. Having said that I wouldn't change where I now find myself and what I have around me. It may be rather old but I now identify with a Crosby Stills & Nash song - Love the one you're with - not a person but a place.
bouldery bits - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Kendal.
malky_c - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Fort William, perhaps. Bit rubbish for airport access, and rather wet, but fits most of your criteria.
veteye on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

In this country, what about on the periphery of Glasgow, Edinburgh or Manchester?
Abroad, apart from some of those already mentioned, what about somewhere between Seattle and the Cascades?
Costa Blanca?
You're going to have to do a lot of work to sort out all the pros and cons of each venue. Only you can do that part.
You will need to also consider the exchange rates as Brexit comes into play.(Or not.)
blakeclimber07 - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to veteye:

Kendal is somewhere that does get mentioned a lot.. I have never been, but I do hear good things, do you live on Kendal? Are there people there year round, or is it more of a summer town? I think the rain may drive me slightly mental... but maybe that's just me being pathetic?

Ft William is just a little too hard to get to and the winters there can be pretty miserable (last winter being a prime example) But, when its good, im sure its amazing - Do you live there? I have heard that the midges are pretty brutal in the summer and it is more of a weekend worrier town?.

As for living in the outskirts of a UK City with access to the outdoors... yes.. I'd probably be keen, but I suppose I was hoping for some actual examples of people who live in these places or who have spent a lot of time somewhere that could fit the bill...

It would be great to hear if anyone else has looked for something simular? Maybe someone who can work remotely, taken a gap year, sponsered sportsman/women or retired, or has taken a sebatical .. etc.. that has gone somewhere and lived the dream with a great community of people around and lots of access to climbing and the outdoors.

Does anyone live in any of the places mentioned so far?
JayPee630 - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
Ariege in France I think is lovely. Can you afford Chamonix? Having just been I can see the appeal as long as you escape high season. Is price a factor at all? Somewhere in Yorkshire like Ilkley would be high in my UK list. Not Scotland, weather would be unbearable for me.

And are you thinking UK/Europe or further afield? Are visas an issue? The Bay Area of the US, or further north to Seattle or Vancover would be great if expensive and difficult for sorting out with bureaucracy.
Post edited at 07:42
badmarmot - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
Hi

I now live just out side l'argentiere near Briancon to answer some of your question, travel can be a pain the nearest airport is Turin about 1.5 hours away, it has 3 daily flight to the uk London, there is no real public transport links, you have to drive or at least drive to oulx 40min and then a train, I am lucky enough to work here so can't comment on how much of a pain it is, but I know a few that do it.

For finding partners and community, I have found that easy, we didn't want a massive expat community and we think the one here is about right, most people hear work hard in the summer and winter (tourist industry's time) and then play in the shoulder seasons, but you can normally find someone to head out with even in the work season,
The climbing and ski touring are amazing and I am loving living here,

One thing I would say is social life after sports is not great, but I guess we chose that, I moved here with my girlfriend and we are happy with it so in winter after a tour chilling in our little house with the wood burner on, Serre che has a bit more of a party scene, I guess it's what you want, living between Braincon and gap could mean anything for a tiny house on its own, to nearly city(big town) living?

Happy to answer any question here or email me rob@dream-trails.com

Cheers Rob
malky_c - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
> Ft William is just a little too hard to get to and the winters there can be pretty miserable (last winter being a prime example) But, when its good, im sure its amazing - Do you live there? I have heard that the midges are pretty brutal in the summer and it is more of a weekend worrier town?

No, I'm at the drier end of the Great Glen (Inverness) which I much prefer for living, but it probably doesn't have the same concentration of climbing/outdoor bums in it (although there are certainly a few). Also it's a little further from the hills.

I get the impression that most outdoor folk living in Fort William (which is quite a lot) are either involved in the outdoor industry in some way, or working as bar/kitchen staff, so definitely not the usual 9-5 crowd. Midges probably aren't a big deal in the centre of town, although maybe more so if you live at the outer edge of one of the housing estates up on the hillside. It can certainly be a bit grim in the middle of winter for sure (you didn't mention that in your criteria though...), but being at the foot of the Ben and close to the Nevis Range ski slopes, there isn't really a proper 'off' season where it is quiet.

To be fair, it's probably a hard sell compared to somewhere warmer and more continental!
Post edited at 10:04
BruceM - on 18 Sep 2017
Doesn't Brexit screw any future chance of living somewhere on the continent for more than 3 months at a time? You won't be an EU citizen with free choice of where to live in less than 2 years. Then you will be on a 3 month visitor's visa, and prob have to pay a lot for health insurance during those 3 months. A bit of a bummer all round really.

seankenny - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to BruceM:

> Doesn't Brexit screw any future chance of living somewhere on the continent for more than 3 months at a time? You won't be an EU citizen with free choice of where to live in less than 2 years. Then you will be on a 3 month visitor's visa, and prob have to pay a lot for health insurance during those 3 months. A bit of a bummer all round really.

You're almost certain to be correct, and yes, these threads are now just fantasy threads. Unless of course you want to get politically involved to fight for the freedom that you're about to lose.
Andy Hardy on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

"people who are not stuck in a 9-5 job. I often have time off in large chunks, so waiting for people to go cragging after work or only on weekends wont cut the mustard i am afraid! "

I think this is likely to be your problem, wherever you end up.
Kevin Woods - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
I live just down the road from Fort William and find it hard to fault. Not to mention direct access south to Glen Coe and Glasgow; west to Mallaig, Skye and the west coast; north to the NW Highlands, and east to the Cairngorms & Aviemore. Three ski centres in an hour's drive if that's your bag, about every style of climbing on the doorstep and now good indoor facilities. Plenty folk absolutely not doing the 9-5 thing. Plus you say "hard to get to", which isn't the case when you're already there. It ain't sunny continental Europe though.
Post edited at 12:52
MischaHY - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
I can't recommend being based on the continent enough. I currently live in Tübingen whilst my girlfriend is studying, and whilst hardly being the centre of the action, the ability to up and drive anywhere on the continent is stunning in its versatility.

Visited locations thus far (in a single season) include Frankenjura, Verdon, Tannheimer Tal, Fontainebleau, Donautal and many more local crags (the local Swabian limestone is very peak-esque).

If you have the possibility to live even closer to the action then I suspect the possibilities are endless. Depending on language/culture preferences (we're both German speakers so the germanic countries do make more sense), I'd say somewhere around the French/Swiss border south of the Alps would be ideal, or perhaps Spain if your time off tends to coincide with Spanish winter.

Final step: Find yourself a lovely european climbing/life partner in order to dodge around the brexit problem ;)
Post edited at 13:01
Tall Clare - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

A friend in a similar situation moved to Wanaka, New Zealand.
blakeclimber07 - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

Hello Jay,

Thanks for the post, I only briefly passed through Ariege last summer, I have heard a lot of good things about the area, is there anywhere in particular that you would recommend?

Chamonix is indeed very expensive, Les Houches is much cheaper and only 5 mins drive, i think that's where a lot of Brits are, but it can be pretty quiet when not in mid season. I can afford something basic there, but in almost any other location, I could have a much nicer property or the same price, however I suppose that's what you get for the access! The sheer number of people is a little annoying and that is probably the biggest down fall. It's a fine line.. People are great, but too many is worse than too little!

Yorksire is an option... Ill have to look into it more! Any specific places in mind?

Anywhere in world could, in theory, work. However NZ is probably a little too far as i would need to fly back to Europe every 6 weeks or so. To be honest, i really wasn't that impressed with Vancouver.. The city is OK, the local hills are OK, cragging in Squarmish is great but over run and Whistler is just like Disney land on snow, a little too plastic fantastic for my liking. But both Revelstoke and Nelson, BC, are awesome little towns with a lot going on... Getting there in winter can be a bugger though! Too much snow... 1st world problems!
Chombi - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Have you looked at any of the bigger towns in the vercors? Villiard de lans springs to mind
blakeclimber07 - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to seankenny:

Regarding the whole Brexit thing... Without changing the whole thread to Brexit bashing... It really isn't an issue for me (im not saying i agree with it), but anyone can buy property in most European countries (Like France, Spain, Italy), sometimes there can be slightly tighter rules, but I know plenty of USA/NZ/OZ people who have bought in Europe without any issues. Also, an annual limit to 3 months is very unlikely, even people from other continents with a Schengen visa can stay for up to 6 months annually, I can't see them reducing it for Brits and 6 months is plenty for me. Also, I am not looking for work, so it would just be "holiday" trips ;)

In reply to badmarmot:

L'Argentière-la-Bessée is a fantastic area, it seems to have everything from nice local craggs, big mountain routes, great cycling, white water rafting, and not too far to the lake, I loved it! Vallouise is a great little town. This could well be a winner, but i was just a little worried about fitting in with the locals and yes, getting there isn't easy without a car, I will probably send you a PM for a little more info..

In reply to Andy Hard:

Yes... the 9-5 job thing is generally the biggest problem for me, that's exactly why i would like to be somewhere that people go to live for the outdoors/seasonairs etc..

In reply to MischaHY:

Thanks for the Post.. I am glad to hear some people are enjoying the move to the continent. Yes, southern side of the alps is definitely a thought i have had! I have spent a lot of time in Barcelona before and climbed a lot of the Spanish rocks, it is lovely! But other than the cities (which im not keen on to live in) the smaller towns are either ghost towns out of season or just filled with OAPs... I haven't found a thriving active outdoor community in rural Spain yet... Although, i am sure it exists.. Any suggestions??

In Reply to Tall Clare:

I have heard great things about Wanaka, NZ... But it might be just too far from everything else for me? I think I will head down that way sometime soon as i have a few friends in that general area and I would love to see it... You never know.. Maybe i wont come back!


Thanks for all the info guys... Keep it coming!
blakeclimber07 - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to Chombi:

I was planning on heading through the Vercors in a few weeks on my way to Corsica, if the weather permits! I haven't been there yet, but it looks great in that area. Do you know anyone who lives there? I will certainly stop by Villiard de lans when I go through. Thanks for the info!
seankenny - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

> Regarding the whole Brexit thing... Without changing the whole thread to Brexit bashing... It really isn't an issue for me (im not saying i agree with it), but anyone can buy property in most European countries (Like France, Spain, Italy), sometimes there can be slightly tighter rules, but I know plenty of USA/NZ/OZ people who have bought in Europe without any issues. Also, an annual limit to 3 months is very unlikely, even people from other continents with a Schengen visa can stay for up to 6 months annually, I can't see them reducing it for Brits and 6 months is plenty for me. Also, I am not looking for work, so it would just be "holiday" trips ;)

Maybe, but then again, maybe not. The whole point of the exercise is to make it harder for people to settle in the UK from the EU, and hence vice versa. Sure, you might get six months at a stretch, sure they might let you buy property, but you're totally at the mercy of politicians doing crazy shit - not so much theirs except in retaliation to our crazies. Would you invest a lot of money in something that could be ruined if the Conservative Party antagonise Brussels? What about health care? What if there's a requirement for manditory health insurance?

This kind of thread just strikes me as naive. If you want these options open to you then you'd better get writing to your MP and getting organised pretty quick. I suspect the days of people easily moving between the UK and the rest of Europe are numbered, it'll be possible but it will be difficult.
blakeclimber07 - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to seankenny:

Hello Sean, please don't turn an interesting and fun topic into you own vendetta against Brexit. Start another one and chat about how bad everything is going to be when Brexit kicks in and moan and groan to your hearts content. However, I feel that calling myself and others looking for fun and exciting life somewhere in the world as naive and swearing about politicians in the UK is not appropriate here and it certainly isn't appreciated.

Such negativity is something that would drive me away from such places like London and want to move abroad even more.

I am happy to take the risk and enjoy life to the fullest, I am not scared of politicians and I certainly wont let propaganda and fear of the unknown stop me from living the way I want to and giving this a go. If it fails, so be it, but when im old and on my death bed, i certainly wont be lying there thinking.. Gosh I am so happy I didn't have those amazing years in Europe because someone said it might be difficult!

Maybe that makes me naive, but ill be happy in my world and definitely wont be trying to bring other peoples dreams down with negative comments.
seankenny - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

> Hello Sean, please don't turn an interesting and fun topic into you own vendetta against Brexit. Start another one and chat about how bad everything is going to be when Brexit kicks in and moan and groan to your hearts content. However, I feel that calling myself and others looking for fun and exciting life somewhere in the world as naive and swearing about politicians in the UK is not appropriate here and it certainly isn't appreciated.

It's not a "vendetta" - it's being realistic about a big change that's going to be done to us Brits. I'm not moaning and groaning, I'm merely pointing out that change is on its way and you're making plans like it's 2015. It isn't. Sorry about that. Did I swear about a politician? Yes, I said they did some crazy shit. I think that's a fairly objective descrption!


> Such negativity is something that would drive me away from such places like London and want to move abroad even more.

Broadly speaking, London is a pretty positive place, full of people trying to make their way in the world. Sure, it's not for everyone, but that's cool.


> I am happy to take the risk and enjoy life to the fullest, I am not scared of politicians

Thus speaks a young man who's never had a political decision mess up his life!

>I certainly wont let propaganda and fear of the unknown stop me from living the way I want to and giving this a go. If it fails, so be it, but when im old and on my death bed, i certainly wont be lying there thinking.. Gosh I am so happy I didn't have those amazing years in Europe because someone said it might be difficult!

Oh gosh, I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying it's been made a lot harder for you to do, and that might be worth giving some kind of a toss about. If you want some freedoms (and they are great freedoms to have), then maybe you have to fight for them.


> Maybe that makes me naive, but ill be happy in my world and definitely wont be trying to bring other peoples dreams down with negative comments.

It's not negative about your dream at all, and I'm sorry you see it that way. As I said above, it's a great thing to do (tho I think your criteria are in conflict with one another!), and it's the sort of thing that should be totally fine and easy to do. The tragedy is that it will probably be made an awful lot harder. If that is bringing your dream down, then don't shoot the messenger...

bouldery bits - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
> Kendal is somewhere that does get mentioned a lot.. I have never been, but I do hear good things, do you live on Kendal? Are there people there year round, or is it more of a summer town? I think the rain may drive me slightly mental... but maybe that's just me being pathetic?


I did until the middle of summer just gone (had to move to Devon for work.) It's a great town. Lots going on. Year round - as it's not in the lakes it's not as touristy. You can easily get in to the Lakes but it's also perfectly located for North Yorkshire. Great climbing community based largely round the local wall - which is really very good. There are some fab pubs and there's always something on at the brewery arts centre.

When it's raining - go fell running!

Highly recommend it. Hope to come back one day.
Post edited at 20:02
seankenny - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:
Blake, this evening you wrote me a rather snarky little letter in which you called me "selfish and arrogant", "a complete idiot" and a bunch of other stuff, for having the temerity to write a reply on *your* thread something that you didn't like.

The tone was a bit whiny - has no one told you that writing "Thanks... for nothing!" at the end of an email is rhetorical equivalent to a teenager shouting "I didn't ask to be born!" and slamming the door? It also seems to have escaped you that this is a forum, people write all sorts of nonsense on here and one either lives with it, or doesn't bother.

If you've something to say to me in future, say it in public please. Otherwise keep your little moans to yourself like a big boy.

Anyhow, best of luck in finding somewhere nice to hang out.
Post edited at 22:48
blakeclimber07 - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to seankenny:

Sean.. I thought this thread was going really well and I found that peoples comments were useful and to the point of the topic. I am very greatful to eveyone who posted. Now it is just about you and your opinions on things not relating to the original posting. You made a fair comment early on about Brexit that I replied nicely to and said that it wasn't an issue for what I am looking for and that I didn't want this to become a Brexit thread. In my opinion that's where you should have stopped. Send me a personal message if you really felt the need or to start another topic yourself.

This was suposed to be about funding a place with a good life close to nature and nice outdoor community balance. And other peoples experiences of living in these locations. Why ruin that? Why continue to post things when your told it isn't appreciated? I don't understand what you intend to get out of doing that? I am trying to gather some information for a community of well travelled people who are interested in an activity that I love.. to get to hear about people's experiences... what are you doing? What good has come from your actions?

I don't think my personal opinions of you are for the general public forum that is about finding somewhere to live. I would rather this stayed to the point and if you have something else to say, then make a new public thread about brexit and if you have something personal to say to an indevidual, then say it directly to them... this, in my humble opinion makes much more sense. why would anyone else be interested in personal comments?

This topic has now changed massively and I know I am largely to blame for continuing to step up to your comments. But I am just frustrated that someone like you can come on here and change something that was going so well.

I apologies to the UKC community for letting this annoying indevidual get the best of me.
PCD - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

A million and one places in Cham to park a vehicle to sleep in. Good toilets and water available.
jon on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

> I thought this thread was going really well...

If all you're looking for is positive endorsements of your idea and you're getting upset with Sean pointing some incredibly obvious snags, you are indeed being naive.
blakeclimber07 - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to jon:
Hey Jon,

Yes, I can see what you're saying, but my issue isn't that he has mentioned Brexit being a potential snag, it's that even after in the early posts when he mentioned about Brexit and i replied:

>" Regarding the whole Brexit thing... Without changing the whole thread to Brexit bashing... It really isn't an issue for me (im not saying i agree with it) " - I then went on to brief explain why it isn't an issue.

Really, in my opinion, then going on to say that this is just a fantasy thread and that im being naive, is not particularly useful or welcome. He very quickly belittles something that I actually take quite seriously and without really knowing what he is talking about. Not to mention that saying Brexit could be an issue is sort of a pretty obvious point. It isn't like anyone with internet access and who speaks English isn't fully aware of the Brexit situation.

Without going into my life story, my brother lives in Germany with his wife and 2 kids, my girlfriend is Australian and I have been working in various places around Europe (and other places in the world) since i was 17 (i am now 31), so i know a lot of people living in Europe (sadly not too many climbers) who are very aware and cautious of the Brexit situation. But, their are options out there, people are still moving to the content everyday and I strongly believe that people who spread the Brexit news around without knowing the facts (not that there are many actual facts at the moment) and called people naive and in a fantasy if they want to try and do something in Europe as just being rude and uniformed.

I think people should highlight issues they think will come along and issues that may have happened to themselves, but to go on about a point that doesn't need to be pressed and to belittle people trying to live a little is not very constructive.

Surely, of all the communities out there, the climbing community should be about finding solutions to life's problems and trying new things, being positive about people wanting to explore and going to new places and enjoying life to the fullest???
Post edited at 11:00
Sean Kelly - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Somewhere in the north of Italy. It really has it all. If I was younger and could speak Italian, I'd go tomorrow.
It has great cragging, alpine climbing, skiing, cars, beautiful women, football, lovely healthy food, fashion, history, culture (and art to die for!), and Milan airport is not so far away. My personal choice would be Lucca.
But on the downside, I know it's a basket case economically!
blakeclimber07 - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to Sean Kelly:

Yes, the Italians have some pretty amazing lifestyle and scenery don't they!? I have to say that Italy would certainly tick a lot of boxes, but for some reason I have never really felt at home there. I don't know why.. I have felt more comfortable in France, Spain and Austria.. But quite possibly it's because i haven't been to the right place yet. Although, saying that, I did really like the Arco area...

Lucca... I can't say that i know it. Google maps shows it as near Pisa / Florence. Is that the place you mean?

In reply to PCD:

Ha.. True that my friend! But I have tended to go to Cham in the Winter, and small van life gets hard in the cold nights! I did climb with someone who had a wood/coal stove in his converted "van".. Which i thought was a novel idea, but a little on the risky side of things.

plyometrics - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Base yourself in Kendal / Staveley / Ambleside then capitalise on the fact you've got a van and drive to different venues in Europe for short breaks when the fancy takes you.

Feels like the perfect compromise to me!

Whatever you decide, best of luck.
blakeclimber07 - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to plyometrics:

Hey.. yes I have considered this. Having a nice UK base and get a good group of climbing /skiing buddies, then maybe a garage or lock up somewhere in Europe for the van. Just fly in and head off wherever the weather is looking the best. Kendal certainly comes up a lot. I think I'll have to pop up and see what the fuss is about!

I think if I ended up in Chamonix... I would do much the same. Use it as a base of action.. but head off in the van to explore the alps a little. And a few week trips back to the UK for some good sea cliff climbing action!

Hummm... some nice ideas around, thanks for the input!
Chombi - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Ah I hope you enjoy it! I live in Grenoble, I made the suggestion based on the fact that it's close by, you have 3 really different mountain ranges a stones throw away and good links to almost everything you were looking for. My boss at work lives just outside villiard-de-lans and is a mountain nut who seems to love it. If you go definitely get yourself to presles if bolted multipitch is your thing, l'arête du Gerbier is also a fantastic little outing, although not really climbing!
SenzuBean - on 20 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

> To be honest, i really wasn't that impressed with Vancouver.. The city is OK, the local hills are OK, cragging in Squarmish is great but over run and Whistler is just like Disney land on snow, a little too plastic fantastic for my liking. But both Revelstoke and Nelson, BC, are awesome little towns with a lot going on... Getting there in winter can be a bugger though! Too much snow... 1st world problems!

You must've only got to the honeypot crags (e.g. Smoke bluffs on a sunny day!) - there are plenty of crags that are empty and lovely (there's a lot of new development). There's also a lot of great rock on Vancouver island (see my photos for some idea) that is excellent to climb - no crowds at all.
Revelstoke and Nelson would likely become too hot during summer (I've not visited those two, basing on Penticton which is nearby) to climb. I was utterly melting in June there. Not sure if that's an issue for you?

I would recommend Victoria on Vancouver island as a good place. Way smaller and nicer than Vancouver, airport, still have tons of rock climbing and alpine stuff (there's a lifetime of alpine stuff on the Island). Ice climbing is fickle but probably still better than Scotland. You could always fly out to the interior for ice trips too. There are a few ski resort options, definitely more rustic than Whistler. Very low risk of wildfires (it's been a smoky summer here).
L arthurwellsley - on 20 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

I live in London, but bought a share of a place in Chatel. Ideally I would have liked Chamonix but Chatel was better value for money. The run to Geneva and Sion airports is easy, the run to Chamonix or Verbier from Chatel is about 70-80 minutes.

But the bottom line is any of the main ski/summer mountain bike resorts or the nearby towns would probably fit your requirements well. You could also look at Thonon, Annemasse and Evian if you wanted a large town feel. If you can afford Swiss franc exchange rates then look at Vevy, Montrieux, Aigle, and Martigny.

I have friends who bought in Les Houches and Servoz. Personally I am not so keen on Servoz. I have another friend who bought in Les Gets.


There are often lovely properties for sale up near Bernex (look at Dent d'Oche) and the passes down to the lake, if you want smaller villages off main roads, but not too far a drive from all you need. I have another friend who moved to Le Sommet in the Col du Corbier pass, which is a very small village but pretty.

I think Chamonix is the ideal, but after 17 years in Chatel I am comfortable with the compromise I have made, and it's easy enough to find plenty of locals to go out and play with.

I would suggest that you focus on places that are winter ski resorts and summer mountain bike accessed lift resorts. These type of places have all sorts of infrastructure advantages ie cheap rides to Geneva airport etc. Also because of the two season nature they already have plenty of expats staying, and some who have married the locals.

Also look for somewhere like Le Fer Rouge in Chappelle d'Abondance. This is a bar run by a local French lad, in barn converted from his parents farm. He didn't want to be a farmer, went travelling in England and Ireland, learnt to brew beer for a few years, and moved back to France to make UK/Irish style bitters/stouts in a microbrewery with a twist to make them palatable to the locals. It's a great place to meet expats and locals and make going out arrangements.

So you need to add to your list of things to look for a well known local bar that is a mecca for the outdoors/seasonaire/expat community to hang out in.
Sean Kelly - on 20 Sep 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

Link to Lucca here
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/italy/7983893/Lucca-Italy-cultural-city-guide....

I had a bike when I stayed here for a fortnight a few years back and it was wondreful. . Even an Elton John concert in the main square that was free. You can cycle around the city walls, which give stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Pisa by contrast is a dump. Nearby are the Appuaine hills which is where Michelangelo obtained his marble, but also has some excellent walking along limestone ridges. The coastal areas are stunning too where Madonna had a home. But best to find out for yourself. I forgot to add, not so many tourists like Florence and Pisa. Really an undiscovered gem.
blakeclimber07 - on 24 Sep 2017
In reply to arthurwellsley:

I really like all the info on the area south of Geneva, thanks for that. Some spots to check out this winter and Spring for sure. I think you are right and I have thought about it for some time, the resorts with double seasons are the best bet for my particular wants. I suppose Chamonix just seems to be the obvious choice as there is just so much online about it and it is so easy to meet people there on forums and facebook pages. But it is very expensive to buy and really crowded!

In reply to SenzuBean:

If I go back that way, I am definitely going to Vancouver Island, I have worked with a few people from Victoria and they love it. I am a bit gutted that I stayed for so long in the Vancouver area and didn't make it to the island! Next time I'll be on the island for sure!!

In reply to Sean Kelly:

Perfect, thanks for the info, I am going to be working in Genoa for a few months this winter and so ill check out Lucca on a weekend. The links looks great.
blakeclimber07 - on 24 Sep 2017
In reply to Chombi:

villiard-de-lans is on my list of places to look at. A few people have mentioned it or the area and looking at images and various topos, it looks like a fun place to be. Also, the Southern Alps area is great, it has good weather, close to other areas in the Alps, and to all of the south France limestone.. Not too far from the Pyrenees and of course Catalonia, which is epic.
kiwiflea - on 06 Oct 2017
In reply to blakeclimber07:

I have a small house inWanaka NZ, and we are doing a similar thing. Working (Programming) and roaming........Currently in Bilbao Spain flying to Croatia tomorrow. My current dream favourite is Squamish in BC. Great little town, spectacular scenery, excellent friendly climbing scene, and not too many guns! Haven't seen it in the winter though, I expect it could be grim.

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