Thinking of moving abroad with your family for a year without work? Yes, you can! We did.

This can help you make it happen for your family. This is part 2 of the questions that I needed to address in order to persuade my wife for us to quit the job and life in the U.S. and move to Spain, two young kids in tow, three summers ago.

“Tata!,” my seven-year old, Karol, calls me out of the blue this evening. “Thank you for being a good Tata.” (Tata is father in Polish.) “Why?,” I asked. “Because you don’t yell anymore.” That’s not exactly true that I don’t yell anymore, I thought. Just not as much. I’ve been working hard on that. But it doesn’t matter because in his mind, I don’t anymore. And that’s all that matters here and now.

Our big move is finally showing some results–a change of life into a free and happy family life. My older child noticed it and my wife and I had seen that the kids have been much happier here. . . well, for the most part. It must be the benefits of spending a lot of time together with the boys as a stay-at-home dad, now-an-intermittent-teacher mom, and full-time loving parents.

But before we got to this point of change in family life, we had to ask these questions.

Picture of a boy with a baseball cap, a banana tree and the head of a Buddha on white smooth sands of a beach with Andalucian blue sky and the Cadiz bridge in the background.  Caption reads: a year without work by  Description: Our family begins our year without work. . . from the winter chill of Washington DC to the warm embrace of Andalucia.
Our family begins our year without work. . . from the winter chill of Washington DC to the warm embrace of Andalucia.

How much do we need for a family year-without-work abroad? While planning the move, we estimated that the family would need a monthly minimum of $1,500 (roughly €1,300) to live in southern Spain. This was the amount I would later put on my Spanish extended visa application. We added an extra $500 a month to cover unexpected expenses for a total of $18,000 to $24,000 (€ 16,000 – €21,000).

Keep in mind, this is for a family of four in a big town of 200,000+ people in a developed country in Europe. There are of course other places out there where you can have your year without work that are much cheaper for your family. Think of Philippines. Kyrgyzstan. Ecuador. . . And if you are single or a couple of lovebirds without kids. . . I’m just saying. 😉

What about health insurance? Yup, that’s a big concern, naturally. When the captain of our loveboat later agreed for us to move abroad we bought this insurance. Our cost was $2,000 for the year. Again for a family of 4. I did not put too much thought into it and am sure we could have gotten it cheaper by 200 to 400. But I was in a hurry to get the sheisse off the strasse and get the ball rolling, before it hits the fan.

A father's (failed) attempt to homeschool; a dry run for the free electrons family life abroad.

The picture shows a child with a funny face who seems to be rebelling against this lesson.
A father’s (failed) attempt to homeschool; a dry run for the free electrons family life abroad

What about school for the kids? Public? Private? Daycare?. Hmmmm. Uuuuhhh. Hum-ana hum-ana, Hhhhmmmm. What was that again? Yup, I didn’t think of this one before when the Governess of my 1039 square-foot (96 square-meter) kingdom asked it. “I’ll homeschool them!,” I yelled out loud, proud and mighty, as if I’d seen the light. Hallelujah! (Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, soundtrack please. . . may they both rest in… yeah, whatever). “Yeah, right!,” is what she said. So, I started reading about how Socrates, Plato and Aristotle taught their students by walking about their city and teaching them about life. Exciting! I can do this, I thought. Then, I realized I’m more like the city idiot in one of their writings. (But there was a pleasant surprise about the kids’ schooling that we did not think was possible until we got here–more on this later).

What else? Any other? Lots. There’s also the cost of moving to think about (storage units to store your stuff that you could not sell, shipping household goods, car purchase abroad in case you want to have a car (or not), flight tickets, visa, passport costs, final medical/dental check ups…). More on this later; wanna keep this brief for you busy people). These miscellaneous cost added up to about $6,000 (€ 5,300) for us.

In the end, you’d want to give yourself a minimum of $24,000
(€ 21,000) or $30,000 (€ 26,700)–with a $500 monthly buffer and all miscellaneous costs included–to take this leap-of-faith (with a healthy heap of planning and practicality) into a different way of living for your year-without-work. In other words, to get sh#t out you’ve got to rattle the tunnel/hole a little bit (this I learned in mining school for my former job 😉 .

Keep in mind, this pricetag to freedom is for my family of 4 in a developed country in the European Union. It’s a big chunk of money, I know.  Keep your mind on the end goal!

Where to get the money for your family gap year?

As in part 1, the bottom line is that you will have to use your savings (if you have any), or start saving as soon as you’ve decided to go, and start selling your possessions. If you do not downsize your stuff, you’ll have to store them. And that costs a chunk of money. If you have any loans, you’ve got to pay them off, unless you plan on having a new identity with your newfound vagabond life! Even that costs money too (I think)!?!

Winter.  Trees without leaves. Blue sky.

Picture of an modern apartment building with a smaller blue building next to it with big printed letters on it that read "THIS IS NOT NORMAL".

Description: Own a house? Rent it out! That's one of the many ways you can fund your family move abroad with kids for a year without work.  This is not normal.  Big Smile!
Own a house? Rent it out! That’s one of the many ways you can fund your family move abroad with kids for a year without work. This is not normal. Big Smile!

$Savings. Start Saving. Pay off debt. In our case, we had already paid off our credit cards before this plan came into play. Then, with our savings we had paid off my student loans, car loan and all our other debts, except mortgage on our house.

Retirement Plan. Then we cashed in the little Thrift Savings Plan (not a wise decision according to financial experts). A word of caution: I am not advising you financially here. It’s likely a bad thing to do is what “they” will say. But it’s our money and we needed it “now” because our future is now. We’re all in! We would rather use that money to better our life now rather than spend it when we’re too old to walk anywhere. Together with the little leftover savings, we had enough to live on for this plan. Later, we’ll have to be creative with generating income. And that’s for later.

Own Your Home? If you own your own house, RENT IT OUT! Even before you move out. Rent a room while you’re still there. You’ve heard of AirBnB and others like that, right? Shortly after moving out, our tenants moved in. We were (and still are) able to pay for the mortgage and get a little extra to pay for our cost of living in our new home abroad. The extra pays for our apartment, utilities and garage here–the big ticket items! Being landlords has its ups and downs. We have a local management company deal with that. You can save money by giving the management fee that comes with it to your trusted friend to serve as landlord on your behalf.

Picture of a yardsale with toys in plastic boxes and stuff on the lawn in a small yard and on the sidewalk.  A little kid, back turned, plays with a car toy.

Fundraising for a family move abroad.  Getting rid of all the things you think you need but don't even know you had.  Sell s*it!  It will set you FREE!
Fundraising for a family move abroad. Getting rid of all the things you think you need but don’t even know you had. Sell s*it! It will set you FREE!

Downsize. Sell stuff. You will be amazed at how much money you can accumulate by selling the stuff that has cluttered your home (and garage, and storage. . . and likely, mind!). What you gain does not only fund your transition into well being. The process of getting rid of excess–of all the things you think you needed but did not even know you had–is liberating. We sold our third rickety car for 900 for example and it paid for our plane tickets, just about. Cutting off that attachment was the first step to the minimalist lifestyle that we strive to have (at some point). “Poquito a poco“, as they say here, “little by little”. The clothes that Ania put for consignment, by the way, had not only given us hundreds of dollars. They still keep on giving… (every little bit helps).

More work. WTF? If you have not had enough of work and have the time (not me, I had plenty of work–busy, stressful, but good work; and never had enough time), there are side gigs that you can do while planning and prep’ing your family move abroad. I know people who did Uber while they had a full-time job and another part-time job. There are also freelance jobs, depending on your expertise. You’ve heard of Fiverr. Upwork. Sidework… Blackwork, Redwork, Greenwork, Clockwork Orange, Crapwork… haven’t you?!?! B). Soundtrack: “Everything counts in large amounts” (opens on YouTube)…by whom?

Co-funding? Ask your supportive friends or family to give you in-kind gifts (such as funding for the family’s health insurance) instead of more toys or material stuff for holidays or birthdays. Our parents gave some funds for their grandchildren’s “world schooling” and my mother continues to sell some of the stuff that we had left to support the children’s education and cultural immersion. One of my former bosses collected some money tongue-in-cheekily couched “to pay for diapers. . . yours!”

You get the idea. Be creative! Money you can always make. You have the brains. But you can never make time. Peace out!

Now, do me a favor and write some comments below, give me a question to answer, like us, follow us, share this, print this out and wrap your dog’s poop with it as long as the name is advertised…. I’m begging you please, perdy pretty freaking PLEASE, I need to make some MONEY!!!!!!!!! No, seriously, should I give a frictionless frog?

What do you think? Big Smile!

Thanks for commenting (below).

One thought on “Thinking of moving abroad with your family for a year without work? Yes, you can! We did.

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