Why We’re Living Internationally As a Family for 1.5 Years! (Or More…πŸ˜‰)

Our first post about this can be found here.

Did you know that one of the top 3 reasons we started this blog and business was because our dream was to one day be able to

work from anywhere in the world?! πŸŒπŸ’»

And while it didn’t necessarily happen quite the way we imagined it would (our imaginations were already hazy around it because when you have what feels like a Big Giant Crazy Dream, it’s fuzzy because you don’t put too many details to it! Because it’ll probably “never happen,” right?)…

…in a way I can’t believe it’s actually happening!

FULL TIME TRAVEL FAMILY

“Dreams Can Come True” (The Cranberries Had It Right!🀣)

Several months ago, during the time we were going back and forth about pulling the trigger on this decision, I found an old journal from 2019 (you know, back before dreaming of traveling the world took a huge kabosh in 2020)…

…and I’d been outlining the same type of “dream” I’d had since I child: live in a bunch of different places (but stick nowhere for too long because no place has all the flavors!πŸ˜‚πŸ’ƒ). Try living in X country, then Y country, then Z country…or even within X country, why not try the difference between living in A, B, and C locales within that culture?

Crazy dream, right? How on earth does a married woman with kids do this, right? “Right,” is what I thought back then.

But then over time, as we traveled around the USA with our girls and Matt and I had long talks in the front seat during road trips and over glasses of wine at dinner, we did what we’ve learned to call “Vision Casting.” (Just talking about dreams and “visions” for the future.)

One thing that came out of our discussions was the blog, so that “the dream” one day could become reality if we could work from anywhere in the world. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t…but we were gonna put ourselves out there and try! (Plus, I love to write and design and take photos and help people and communicate, so this job is pretty close to perfect for me! Our dreams have to tie in with our abilities, to some extent… πŸ˜‰ )

world travel family

Quick Backstory: Why Blogging Wasn’t New to Us!

When we moved to New Zealand over a decade ago, I (Jess) started a blog before we left the U.S. because I wanted one central place where all friends and family could see photos from our travels and life there without having to send to each individual person.

It turned into a space for writing and sharing everything from travel and living abroad to thoughts about life and growth.

So blogging didn’t feel 100% overwhelming. I knew those ropes (or so I thought πŸ™‚ ), and I’d been in an industry for years where I got more experience than I ever expected to, building and working on websites with talented teams of people. So much of my background prepared me for that moment to take the plunge…

And of course with Matt taking over or supporting with much of the back end and technical side, we felt it was a good mix.

full time travel family

“Why did you make this decision?”

I expected to write a small booklet alllllllll about how we came to this decision, but we’re just having so much fun in our current international location (to be announced!) that I’m going to keep it simple.

Reason #5: Our lease end date on the beach house was coming up…

…and we had to make a decision whether to stay, buy, or do something else! We LOVED living at the beach, so if the below 4 reasons hadn’t been a factor all converging at this same moment in time, we would have stayed!

Reason #4: Matt’s job went 100% remote!

My job here is already something I can do from anywhere! And Matt’s “regular” job currently is with a client who has him 100% remote for a year, so bam! Golden opportunity? Hellz yeah! We can be A-N-Y-W-H-E-R-E! (Music to my ears.)

Reason #3: Our kids’ ages!

I’ve heard you really want to put down roots and stay in one place once your kids are in junior high, so I looked at my 8-year-old one day and said with big eyes to Matt,

“The window of opportunity is closing!”

Oh sure, we can travel with our teenagers and all that later on, but to do this for a 1.5 years or more?! THIS IS OUR CHANCE! And we’re taking it!

Reason #2: It’s always been a dream!

And when an opportunity comes to make your dream a reality, you gotta GRAB IT!

Reason #1: It’s just a blazing good idea, man! πŸ˜„πŸ€—

The experience of living in other countries has (in my opinion) been consistently one of the best experiences of my life. And I knew (and informed Matt way back before we got marriedπŸ₯°) that I was going to want to take my children to live in a culture outside their own comfort zone at some point during their lives. We think the exposure to other cultures, customs, landscapes, and everything else that comes along with experiencing other parts of the world (even within your own country sometimes, depending on where you live!) is

invaluable.

full time travel with kids

“How are you guys doing this…financially?”

We’ve gotten asked this question and–while I’m sure I’ll have an even richer answer for you later in the year as to how it’s going–here’s how we’re breaking it down so far.

PS: The one word answer is “Spreadsheets.” These are The Best. They can break down eeeeeverything! 😍 (I’m singing “Oh, How I Love Spreadsheets!” to the tune of “Oh, How I Love Jesus!” Don’t worry; He already knows.)

Because we sold our house and were living in the beach rental, with the lease ending, that completely ENDS any kind of house or rent payment we need to make!

So we took what we were paying per month for

  1. Mortgage/rent.
  2. Electricity bills.
  3. Gas bills.
  4. Water bills.
  5. Trash & sewer bills.
  6. Home & renter’s insurance.
  7. Alarm system.
  8. Car insurance (since we sold our cars and won’t have this).
  9. Home supplies (this is a line item in our budget where we put things like toilet paper, paper towels, replacing linens, etc.)
  10. Home maintenance (this is another line item we have from experience of things going wrong/going out in a home, that you have to replace or fix–even when renting! Landscaping maintenance, lightbulbs, cleaning supplies, etc.)

and started a spreadsheet breaking down all that into what we would now be paying moving around

  1. Monthly rent (some home rentals/landlords give 28-day or more discounts vs going weekly, which often works out pretty fantastically!), with no utilities.
  2. Transport costs as needed (train, plane, bus, ferry tickets…and any motos, rental cars, or e-bikes as neededπŸ˜‰)
  3. Supplies as needed (We know from experience we’ll have these, from bandaids or medicine to “little luxuries” like when you lose your pencil or your kids need paper to draw on when you’re stuck on the tarmac, or you need to replace your deck of cards for family game nights!🀣 Who knows what will happen?! Not you or me–that much we know!πŸ˜‹)

full time travel with kids

More to take into consideration…

  • Our health insurance already covered international, so that was made easy, thankfully!
  • Selling the cars also took out a huge chunk of cost, because not only do you have the insurance costs, but you also have registration costs, smog checks, parking, maintenance, and other fees associated with car ownership, as well as all the unexpected “extras” (like car washes) you often forget about!
  • On paper, the new budget works out well! Many of our budget line items, we don’t know how they’ll shake out yet. (i.e. Will we spend less on clothing living this way? Will we spend less on art supplies and all those other random miscellaneous life items?)

Just a TEENY TINY glance at alllllll the many details we’ve been coordinating while

  1. Booking flights
  2. Booking our new homes for the dates we need
  3. Selling almost everything we own (and we already went through a massive downsizing last year when we sold our house!)
  4. Selling our cars
  5. Medical appointments
  6. Goodbyes and final hangouts with friends
  7. …and I’ll stop there because I could go to line #87 and don’t want to bog you down in the Deep Lake of Details.

preparing to travel for 1.5+ years with kids

Feeeeeeelings…

How are we feeling about it all?

As our kids will say when we all share our feelings, we’re ALL different mixes and parts

  1. Sad to leave a place and people we love
  2. Excited for new places and people and experiences
  3. Thankful
  4. Nervous
  5. Confident
  6. Overwhelmed

I’d say overall, we’re mostly EXCITED and moving FULL STEAM AHEAD!

Opportunity has knocked, and we’re opening the door!

Where’s our first stop? The Azores! Stay tuned for the story of our new house and daily life…;)

Update: Our first post about life in the Azores!

PS: In the meantime, check out our other travel adventures!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Larissa

    I’m equally excited and envious!! πŸ˜€ Would love to do something like this with our kids when they’re a wee bit older. My parents pulled me out of school twice during my teens for 6 and 12 months, to live abroad, it was hugely formative and definitely gave me a greater appreciation for other cultures and languages, and the food… (can’t forget the food!). How did you go about choosing which locations to stay at? I bet google searches for The Azores have tripled in the past 24 hours…

    1. Jess

      Yes, your international experiences have made such an impact! I think it’s especially formative while our brains are developing (they say until we’re 26!). And no, you can’t forget the foodβ€”how they do food is SO tied into each culture!!πŸ€— And as for your last question, oh man that’s a whole other post I’ll have to add to my listβ€¦πŸ˜‚

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