John, Sarah and Alula are us. This is us when we started our adventure in January 2010…   this was us in 2012. This is us now alula and me

We are in this order: a designer; a writer of books and this blog; an 8 year-old whose name means winged one. These are a few of our favourite things: Alfredo de la Fe’s versions of that song, steak on a Wednesday, dancing, dreaming and doing, screaming until we get our way (that’s just Alula and I), not doing laundry, thrift store hunting, record digging, hot spring lazing, kayaks, Curzon cinemas and cake.

Can We Live Here is our adventure, started in January 2010, when we decided to leave behind the day jobs in London – John’s at a design agency and mine at a non-profit running volunteer led programmes – pack two very small rucksacks and a small child wearing a pink tutu and head off into the sunset to find a new place to live – somewhere sunny and warm, somewhere where I could spend all day writing, where John could take design to new places, and where Alula could just be (away from the evil grip of Barbie and Disney). 

Et voila. Ten months later we wound up in Bali living a hot, happy and ecstatic life, drinking lots of coconuts. OK, and the odd Margarita.

I managed to secure a three book deal with a major publisher half-way into our trip, and have gone on to publish seven young adult novels in total with them over the last four years. In 2014 I signed with Pan Macmillan under the pen name Mila Gray and started writing adult fiction. In 2015 this blog was published as a book too.

John worked in design and innovation in Singapore, as well as starting two ventures in Bali –  Hubud and Green Design Camp at Green School. And Alula… well, Alula turned into a beautiful hippy who ran free, declared her love to ‘mother earth’ and laid offerings to the Buddha and Ganesha every day. Our Bali experience and all that travel has shaped her into the most confident, empathetic, sensitive and beautiful soul I’ve ever met.

Great things did come along when we left the UK! There were huge ups and downs of course, moments of crippling self-doubt, rocky marriage moments and frequent times where our overdrafts were maxed out, but it was also the most incredible, rewarding, life-changing adventure of our lives. Can We Live Here is simply best thing we ever did.

At the end of 2014, after almost five years and lots of umming and arraing, we returned to the UK to pursue some amazing work opportunities we’d both been given. John joined a London-based tech startup with a mission to make money work better for people. I had signed with film agents in London and LA and was starting to spend more time writing screenplays.

Our plan though is to stay only until a year before we head off on another adventure: Can We Live Here pt2.

We want to inspire others to do what we have done – to dance into tomorrow, to follow their dreams – because it really does rock on the other side. Come join us. Or just be in touch. Follow me on twitter @sarahalderson or Instagram. Or feel free to email me at

J & S & A

26 thoughts on “About us

  1. rob says:

    will you still be doing steak night Wednesdays every week, wherever you are?
    sorry to be losing you for such a long time, but what an adventure… looking forward to following your moves & hearing your thoughts.
    big love

  2. Eric Hall says:

    I wish you guys all the best on your big adventure, what a fantastic idea!

  3. Leonie Saywell says:

    Hi Sarah,

    just wanted to wish you luck and happiness on your big adventure. Look forward to reading all about it.

    Leonie x

  4. Alby says:

    ooo ooo and if you get a chance in Delhi find the You will probably not find it a place ‘you can live here’ but they show you around the railway children that have been rescued from gangs who rent them out as whores and thieves. These guys were the originals before everyone started on the Slumdog band wagon!More info at – starship Stumpy entry!
    Have a top groovy one!X

  5. Alby says:

    oh and nice picture by the way!X

  6. sarah says:

    hello, What you are doing is fab, I look forward to catching up on all your past and future posts. Very inspiring- I want to do it I just need to figure out how!

  7. annelie says:

    hi there,

    So great to stumble upon your website. We’re doing exactly the same thing! We have two little girls – a 3 year old and 5 month old. We’ll be leaving in or around September. We’ve actually sold our house in london and are in search of somewhere or something new. We haven’t finalised where we’re going yet – either California, central america and south america – or india, sri lanka and not sure….
    Any ideas would be so welcome as we need to go somewhere first off that we’ll hole up for 2 months at least just to settle the kids and allow us to chill and get our heads around what we’ve deiceded to do.

    Maye we’ll meet along the way. How long did it take you to plan your trip? We’re only just starting and are leaving in 3 months.

    Anyway good luck with everything at the moment and really look forward to hearing from you.

    Take care


    1. boublog says:

      Hi Annelie,
      I emailed you privately to respond. Do feel free to email and ask any questions you have.

  8. isabella says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I read your article on Grazia UK. Me and my husband were on our way back to Dubai and once I read about your amazing adventure I has to share it with him. We have a similar idea in our mind but I’ve never heard of anyone who actually did it. You’re an inspiration and I’ll be following you on your website.
    Good luck in finding your HOME.

    1. boublog says:

      Hey Isabella, what a lovely email. Thank you. It’s so funny because from my side, out here, there are so many people doing it that we all look at everyone else back home and think ‘why are they all still doing that?’ I honestly believe it is possible for anyone if you work hard and want it badly enough. I’m writing a book at the moment on how to actually do what we’ve done or similiar. Hope you manage to find a way to join us out here on the other side.

  9. Hi, my husband and I are doing a similar thing… would love to know a bit more about the ecommerce side of things… Your blog is brilliant… my husband and I have been following for a while, but I’ve just done the whole thing at one sitting (when I should have been working on wordpress…) and am feeling back on mission with 7 weeks to departure day… Thanks.

  10. A says:

    Hi Sarah
    I have been meaning to write since I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago. I’m in the same situation as you were, even as far as working as a ‘Head of..’ in a large charity in Ireland!!! Anyway me and the other half have been talking about doing this for over a year, basically since we had to put our now 19 month old in a creche. However the ‘big fear’ looms large; the good job, the house, family, lovely safe Ireland….. Anyway I look forward to your updates, can’t wait to hear what you make of California as this is one of the potential destinations we have looked at. Your last comment about your side versus our side really hit home, are we all mad on this side or what?????

    1. boublog says:

      Yes you are! No. I don’t know. I’ve just been ecstatic dancing (anything for a blog post) and my belief is now tha everyone here is mad. It’s all perspective right? California. If we have any money left will be great – but my expectation is OC so I need to revise it rapidly. Do you have something you can do other than being Head of? I so don’t regret leaving (though the last few days I’ve been panicking that maybe I should go back to London and be a Head of again) but John being able to freelance means we’re ok (until I actually manage to sell some words for more than the price of a bottle of Absolut). So I guess my advice would be to go for it because you’ll never know otherwise and you’ll always wonder. What’s the worst that can happen? You can always go back. If you have a house keep it and rent it. It’s just walls as john used to tell me when I cried over leaving my philippe starck chairs. And family will always be there and will visit. Safe = interesting debate. You don’t have to choose to live in Haiti…My dad told me the other day that the biggest ever earthquake happened in Bali. And there are live volcanoes here too. But I’d still rather live here than anywhere else in the world. You can do it! Say Fuck it. Just do it. I’m going to write a book now on how to do it. But if you have any questions feel free to email me on

  11. Dear Sarah
    i have just stumbled across your Blog via Moaning Mum’s Blog and i just wanted to drop you a line to say INSPIRATIONAL. Very brave and truly admirable. We have finally managed to get out of London (your feelings towards the City are comparable to mine. We were always ill in London and since being here, here being by the Italian Lakes and mountains – Varese) we are much healthier and happier. My children are quite literally thriving. I am not sure if this is where we will be forever but we have made the first big step and that is acknowledging the fact that London is not the be all and end all of the world and that there are other great places out there. London seems to do that to people – make them think that it’s IT. That there is nothing that rivals it or compares. We were scared to leave. Scared of becoming provincial; country bumpkins etc etc. But the first step has been taken and from now on any other steps will, in my opinion be easier to take. California, Australia, France…? who knows??? Or maybe even right here in the Bel Paese. For now we haven’t been here long enough to Call It, but we are loving it so far
    Keep us posted on all your moves and if ever YOU guys want to visit we have space!

    1. boublog says:

      Hi Francesca, Thanks so much. I always love hearing about other people who’ve dared poke their head above the parapet and make that huge step to change their lives. That’s the hardest part – overcoming the fear. If it was up to me I’d vagabond for the rest of my life but Alula needed stability and school. I used to live in Italy (Torino) so I hear you. And next stop hopefully California. Maybe France in our 50s? I love the idea of moving every five to ten years or so. So exciting. Anyway, I will catch your blog and grazie mille for the invite.

  12. ps my Blog, should you be interested is
    but it’s all about my kids so a lil bit boring – if you know what i mean ;o)
    you’re a mum. I am sure you do

  13. Jaime says:

    Can I just say, from an office in London, with wet ankles from the articulated lorry that soaked me on way in, two days into an migraine DR enforced coffee ban which nearly pushed me to assassinate at least three people on the tube, especially Mr Grabbymcfeels you up in the cheap suit on the central line… that I ABSOLUTELY love your blog and story. You’re not sending stuff out in the ether you are making some peoples DAY.

    Over and out

    1. boublog says:

      did i ever say thank you? you made my day sending this!

  14. Jaime says:

    No but that’s ok I should thank you for being such an inspiration. I’m in Bali this year PLEASE lets have a coffee. I lived in singapore for years and used to hippy watch regularly in Bali. I can bring marmite 🙂

    1. boublog says:

      yes definitely! when are you here? I’m away from end of June until August 9th.

      That would be fun!


  15. Jaime says:

    Probaby september ish time? I’ll bring marmite and PG tips. That were the kind of requests I sent home from Singapore.

    1. boublog says:

      Cool. If you need a place to stay we’re open to couchsurfers. Unless my mum is here in September then you’re welcome to stay a few days. x

  16. Jaime says:

    Hey how can I email you? I am planning on Bali on May and need to get in touch! jaime

  17. boublog says:

    Hi Ute
    We haven’t made any plans for next year as our schedules are quite last minute. but thanks for the interest and I’ll keep you posted.

  18. It really does rock to follow your dreams. Nice to meet kindred spirits on this side.

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