I still somewhat fondly remember the first pandemic lockdown. We were all so hopeful, weren’t we? Even a little bit excited for all this time we suddenly had—time to bake banana bread (if you could find the flour for it), build obstacle courses out of toilet paper rolls for our pets, and plan the next fun Zoom quiz.
But when lockdown 2.0 hit here in Germany in autumn 2020, and then lockdown 3.0 in winter, my enthusiasm for all that endless “me time” evaporated as fast as my enjoyment of banana bread had done after the spring. I quickly ran out of things to watch on Netflix, and so YouTube became a constant companion during my lonesome morning—well, and also evening—routine. The algorithm gods were kind to me back then, probably aware that I felt quite lonely and not too happy about being stuck in my tiny German flat for a full year: More and more videos of people living in beautiful, unusual, and just different places popped up in my recommended list.
I quickly became addicted to these alternative lifestyle vlogs, feeling a strange comfort from seeing people living their dreams of renovating historic buildings, or moving to gorgeous Italian cities to grow your own vegetables for homemade pasta sauces you cook for your salt-of-the-earth Italian husband. Or, hey, how about seeing the Northern Lights in Sweden in the dark-dark Scandinavian winter? Ever wondered what it really feels like to live your own personal Cottagecore dreams in the countryside? Or raise the cutest pets together with your family while traveling Korea?
The algorithm gods were kind to me, and more and more videos of people living in beautiful, unusual, and just different places popped up in my recommended list.
Here are five alternative lifestyle vlogs that are perfect antidotes for that stuck, stagnant feeling you might have right now, escapist guilty pleasures that will make you feel connected to the outside world again.
1. The Chateau Diaries
This channel was the starting point for my obsession with alternative lifestyle vlogs. The first videos randomly ended up on my YouTube recommended channels feed, and of course I couldn’t help but be curious. As a child I was fascinated by old castles and palaces, and thankfully my home country Germany has plenty of both! Just like Germany, France is known for its beautiful but sadly often neglected historic buildings, with chateaux large and small littered across the country.
I am not sure why so many British people in particular seem to love nothing more than to move to France and renovate abandoned chateaux, but given the hours and hours of entertaining and often edifying content this offers, I won’t complain!
At the center of The Chateau Diaries is Stephanie Jarvis, the eclectic owner of 16th century Chateau de la Lande, situated deep in the heart of rural France. Judging by the growing number of vlog viewers, it seems that I am not alone in my enjoyment of the charming chatelaine and her merry group of chateau inhabitants. Jarvis bought La Lande (sometimes also spelled Lalande) together with her best friend Nic at the age of 29 and moved in with her parents to restore the historic treasure back to its former glory.
Now, over a decade later, a group of mostly volunteers help with the renovations, while Jarvis’s resolute and boundlessly energetic mother Isabelle keeps the organic vegetable garden, chicken, and resident peacocks alive. Add a number of visiting friends who are, among other things, chefs, artists, or history buffs to the mix, and you have some of the most entertaining lifestyle vlogs you can find on YouTube right now!
If South Korea is your dream destination of choice, then KiSH-log is the perfect alternative lifestyle vlog for you! The vibe of this family-friendly channel reminds me of the now sadly canceled Japanese reality show Terrace House: understated, calm, low-key, and yet strangely engaging even when nothing much happens at all.
Korean videographer KiSH, a.k.a Brian Kim, captures everyday moments of his family and travel life with a great eye for charming details. Apart from gorgeous nature shots and lots of mouth-watering food adventures, his loving relationship with his wife and daughter will warm your heart. Mischievous munchkin kitten Seol, uber cute snowball-shaped dog Sowoon, and the two Shiba-inus complete the charming family vlogs.
3. Jonna Jinton
Ever wonder what it’s like to live through the extreme seasonal changes above the Arctic Circle? So far up north, the weather is cold even in summer, and in winter there is hardly any sunlight, while in summer it’s bright almost the entire day. Now, I would personally go quite mad during a fully dark winter, but that doesn’t stop me from being fascinated by the breathtaking views of the Northern Lights that songwriter, freelance artist, and real-life Elsa look-alike Jonna Jinton captures in her alternative lifestyle vlogs.
Jonna moved from the city of Gothenburg to the tiny village of Grundtjärn in Northern Sweden, where she lives with only around 10 other people—you cannot get more isolated and “off grid” than this, I reckon. I am in awe of the resilience of this woman, who moved into some of the most extreme weather conditions imaginable, all by herself, without a full plan of what she would do once she arrived in this vast, majestic natural habitat.
And of course, given that she lives an artists’ lifestyle—all her aesthetics are absolutely on point, from her fashion choices to her videography—these vlogs will please all of your senses and make you feel less trapped at home. I swear, sometimes I can almost smell the fresh, crisp air while watching these videos.
4. Nicki Positano
If an Italian lifestyle is more your cup of tea (or bowl of pasta, as it were), then you will find great joy in following British freelance makeup artist Nicole Storey’s vlog channel. Nicole, or Nicki, fell in love with Italy as a young teen and couldn’t help but come back to this stunning country again and again, until one day she decided to move there for good.
Many years later, Nicki lives in a cute little house in Positano with her Italian husband, where they grow their own vegetables and keep free-range chickens. Nestled on the cliffs of the dramatic Amalfi Coast in southern Italy, Positano is a famous tourist destination in any non-pandemic year, but you wouldn’t know it when you watch these understated, quiet vlogs. Watch Nicki and her husband shop at local grocery stores filled with Italian delicacies, see her prepare some classic Italian dishes with homegrown produce, and follow along as she explores the Italian countryside far off the beaten tracks and away from the usual tourist traps.
5. The Cottage Fairy
The Cottagecore aesthetic is everywhere these days, in large part due to our desire to escape the scary reality of modern-day life and go back to nature and to a quieter, easier life. Even though I know I have absolutely no talent for farming, given that pretty much all my houseplants have always died an early and cruel death after mere days, I still cannot help but dream of moving to the middle of nowhere, harvesting my own herbs and spending my days dressed in white linen gowns making jam.
Paola Merrill is basically living this dream, sans the white linen gowns, because she is far more practical and commonsense than us silly city-dwellers. She does dress up for her Instagram images sometimes though, mostly wearing thrifted or gifted clothes, since a sustainable lifestyle is one of her passions. The teacher and freelance artist lives in her truly enchanting cottage in northeastern Washington state together with her boyfriend and bunny Mr. Darcy, far away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities.
A self-confessed introvert, Paola weaves understated magic with her videos, which are often accompanied by her soothing voiceovers, just chatting with her viewers as if they are old friends, sharing her thoughts on living a rural lifestyle, personal insecurities, or artistic endeavors. If you struggle with anxiety, her vlogs will help you calm down and feel less stressed.
Have you found any good escapist alternative lifestyle vlogs? Share your faves in the comments below!