The lure of Nelson’s lifestyle

In 2000, Leslie Vissers moved from her corporate office in Oakville to a virtual office in her new home in Nelson

Leslie Vissers, a computer programmer for AMEC, works from her home office in Nelson, B.C.

Leslie Vissers, a computer programmer for AMEC, works from her home office in Nelson, B.C. — Photo courtesy Leslie Vissers

Way back in 2000, a young Toronto-based couple decided to abandon city living for a home close to the recreation they both loved. Leslie and Mike Vissers did some online research and liked what they learned about Nelson, B.C.

“We wanted to be able to go skiing out here more than just once a year on our vacation,” Leslie said. “Our research showed that Nelson seemed to have a strong community feel, and that’s part of why we picked it. We’d never been here before and thought we’d give it a whirl.”

Leslie and Mike Vissers left Toronto in 2000, choosing to live the Kootenay lifestyle in Nelson, B.C. — Photo courtesy Leslie Vissers

Leslie was able to get agreement from AMEC, her employer, to continue her work for them as a computer programmer, albeit from a distance. Mike left his teaching job behind.

“We moved here in November of 2000 and I stayed as an employee with AMEC for a year and a half, then became a contractor,” Leslie said. “Then late last year, because of the flow of the projects that come and go, I was hired as a full-time employee again. My husband is a French immersion teacher now, and we have two boys who were born here.”

The Vissers family enjoys an active outdoors lifestyle. — Photo courtesy Leslie Vissers

In 2000, in Nelson, access to the Internet was still done via dial-up, but Leslie was able to do her work in spite of the slow connection. Now, Nelson provides broadband fibre-optic Internet access, which has transformed the world’s workplaces. She deeply appreciates the time she has reclaimed because she doesn’t have to commute.

“As long as the work is information-based as opposed to hands-on service, this arrangement can work,” said Leslie. “Even if a lot of face-to-face is required, that can be done via video chats, and there’s no extra cost for those even if your client is in another country.”

She said that the other crucial element in successfully working from home is self-motivation. Though some people need a structured office environment for work, those who are self-motivated can tune out the distractions of their home environment. A dedicated office space with walls and a door makes that easier, of course.

We asked Leslie if she had a cautionary word for anyone who might be thinking of making a move from a traditional office to an online home office, and she couldn’t think of a single one.

It was the skiing that first attracted Leslie and Mike Vissers to Nelson, B.C. — Photo courtesy Leslie Vissers

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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