Author Topic: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?  (Read 7909 times)

Sunnysof

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Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« on: January 21, 2015, 12:32:45 AM »
One of my dreams has been to spend at least a year, maybe 18 months, travelling with my kids so that they can properly learn some other languages (Spanish and French) through immersion. I would love to move to Europe to do this, but if we want to do this while the kids are pre-teens, we need to do it in the next 2-3 years. Most of the traveling families I've heard from say the pre-teen years are the best time to go, as far as language learning as well as social adjustment flexibility. So, we could start the savings plan now, anticipating that we would be spending a large chunk of it to finance the sabbatical in a couple years time. I don't think we'd have much income generating ability while in Europe because our jobs are not particularly mobile and we don't have any passive income streams.
On the other hand, we could stick to the 10 year FI plan and travel after FI but by then the kids will of course be much older and perhaps not as inclined to uproot. I am quite attached to the idea that giving my kids the opportunity to learn languages and travel is an investment in their futures, but it's still an unknown in the end. Thoughts?

nzmamma

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2015, 01:00:30 AM »
I am commenting here to follow the responses. I have often thought about doing something similar with my girls... would like to see what everyone else is thinking also...

milesdividendmd

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2015, 02:25:55 AM »
My litmus test is always, will the money being spent now Bring more happiness than the equivalent amount of freedom purchased by investing that amount of money in financial independence?

My guess is that in the case of the sabbatical, the answer is "yes!" (But only you can answer that.)

train_writer

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2015, 03:49:10 AM »
I am quite attached to the idea that giving my kids the opportunity to learn languages and travel is an investment in their futures, but it's still an unknown in the end. Thoughts?

If the only reason for living abroad is for the language-ability of the kids I think it is a bad idea, but I don't think that is your only reason ;). You probably have other reasons like,
- to create precious memories as a family, as you will be more dependable on eachother while abroad;
- experiencing new strengths and weaknesses in yourself (not only the children!) and dealing with it all.

Well, yes, go for it if it truly is your dream!

Closelyexamine your reasons for going abroad, or is it travelling around?, and always have a plan B
« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 04:12:09 AM by train_writer »

Gray Matter

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2015, 05:17:41 AM »
If you have the means to do it, do it!  My family (my parents) moved to Europe for a year with four kids between 7-17.  I was 15--it was very challenging (socially and language-wise), but still a life-changing experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.  It bought our family much closer and we can still bust a gut (nearly 30 years later) reminiscing.

MetalCap

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2015, 05:52:20 AM »
One thing to keep in mind is while your professions may not be "mobile"  There could be part time jobs to work that can reduce the delay in FI.  It might be a good way to really immerse yourself in the culture and day to day.

DoNorth

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2015, 06:12:49 AM »
I would go for it.  i grew up in Europe from 4th-9th grade (Dad was military) and it was a tremendous experience.  Ended up in the military myself as a Foreign Area Officer and was stationed in Europe again in a small Bavarian town in the south of Germany....my then 3 year old learned German in about six months of preschool and spoke with a Bavarian accent.  We moved back to DC after a few years and are now about six months from FI and already contemplating going back again for 12-18 months to give the kids some of that experience again (son is six and daughter is three).

What line of work are you in?  Could you work/study somewhere overseas?  I saved about 2.5 years of my GI bill entitlement so I could do a study abroad while we live in somewhere for the kids to get immersion.  There are various other fellowships/scholarships you could be eligible for to defray living expenses so you're not just burning through savings while you're abroad.  Two other points of consideration:

make sure the kids have at least a decent foundation in the target language (especially if they are going to local schools)  Arrive in June so you can get settled and focus on the language immersion before starting school in the fall.  Euro is going lower so now would be a great time to go...it was in the $1.30's when i lived there from 2010-2012.

RunHappy

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2015, 07:06:09 AM »
I've thought about the same thing, except taking about 12 months off.   My main worry (after the financial stuff) is reentering the workforce after being gone for a year.  Would you be able to easily reenter at the same salary you are now?

KCM5

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2015, 08:30:30 AM »
We're going to do something similar when our daughter is 9 or 10. We'll do SE and S Asia, Africa, and ending in mainland Europe. Except after the sabbatical we'll be moving to another country (Britain. We're in the US right now). I think it's all about your values. There's no purpose in blindly following anyone else's blueprint, we have to ability to make our own. And if traveling with your family is more important than being FI as quickly as possible, do it. That should be clear (as long as it really is more important for you, of course). For us, we could stay here and be FI when our daughter is 16 or so, but we don't really like living here that much and we want our daughter to be able to experience other cultures for an extended period of time. Its somewhat of a compromise.

Nords

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 06:40:34 PM »
One of my dreams has been to spend at least a year, maybe 18 months, travelling with my kids so that they can properly learn some other languages (Spanish and French) through immersion. I would love to move to Europe to do this, but if we want to do this while the kids are pre-teens, we need to do it in the next 2-3 years. Most of the traveling families I've heard from say the pre-teen years are the best time to go, as far as language learning as well as social adjustment flexibility. So, we could start the savings plan now, anticipating that we would be spending a large chunk of it to finance the sabbatical in a couple years time. I don't think we'd have much income generating ability while in Europe because our jobs are not particularly mobile and we don't have any passive income streams.
On the other hand, we could stick to the 10 year FI plan and travel after FI but by then the kids will of course be much older and perhaps not as inclined to uproot. I am quite attached to the idea that giving my kids the opportunity to learn languages and travel is an investment in their futures, but it's still an unknown in the end. Thoughts?
Thanks to RootofGood for pointing me to Jed's excellent blog "Bucking The Trend".  He's been living in Granada, Spain for about six months with his twin nine-year-old boys:
http://bucking-the-trend.com/1300-3-bedroom-house-granada-spain/

His blog is easily searchable (the "Spain" tag) and about 20 posts cover all the gory details of getting visas, closing up shop in the U.S., finding a place in the new country, putting the kids in school, and what they do all day.

His section on Spanish visas convinces me that it's much easier to do a visa run every 89 days, but otherwise it's a compelling story.

mozar

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 07:34:36 PM »
I think as long as you are back by junior year of high school (for college apps) then you can go when the kid is a little older. I plan to FIRE first and then slow travel with future kids during their summers off.
I lived in Puerto Rico (which feels like another country) from 9-15 yo. I have not spoken Spanish since, so don't overestimate learning another language, but it's good for the other reasons. We stayed way too long but it could've been fun for just a couple years.

ysette9

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 08:12:08 PM »
If you really are intent on your kids learning another language (or languages), then I believe that "traveling" is the wrong way to go about it. To learn the language you need to be immersed in it; that means living in a host family and/or going to school in the new language. If your kids are traveling with you most of the time then they will spend most of their time speaking English while surrounded by people speaking gibberish.

By all means go! I think it sounds like a fabulous adventure. But go with your eyes wide open on the language front, or choose someplace to move to and send your kids to the local public schools to pick up on the language.

ThatGuyFromCanada

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2015, 08:48:20 PM »
I am commenting here to follow the responses. I have often thought about doing something similar with my girls... would like to see what everyone else is thinking also...

We're considering this as well. Our kids are still really young (<4) so we have plenty of time to save up and plan. I'm keen to hear what others have done

Sunnysof

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2015, 11:34:01 PM »
Great to have the support to follow the dream! Our longer term plan is to reach FI and then be able to work wherever we want to live, as opposed to the other way round. So, I suppose we could also look at supplementing income during the sabbatical too. I wouldn't mind teaching English for example, as a part time job.
As for language immersion, yes settling in one town, sending the kids to school, and trying to integrate into the community would be the main plan. We'd be able to take short trips, as Europe is great for that, but traveling everywhere would not be the focus.
Aside from the language, I think we'd just like to grow in a culture that is different from North America.
Career risk is my main worry in taking time off. I could probably find similar work upon returning, but it might require a move to a new city or region. I am from a smaller city, so there are not a lot of openings and when they are filled, it's usually quite a while before they are vacated. Government.

Jed

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2015, 02:27:29 AM »
Thanks for the shout-out, Nords.

Sunnysof - If you have the itch, I think you owe it to yourself and family to do something like what you propose.  It's been a great experience for our entire family filled with a few low-low's and unbelievably high-high's all of which have led to personal growth that we otherwise wouldn't have had.

In other words, "JUST DO IT!"

In the past 2 years of research, prep and now living abroad, I've met a lot of families that have done it and I have yet to come across anyone that has regretted their decision.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 05:17:55 AM by Jed »

innerscorecard

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2015, 02:47:24 AM »
I haven't seen anyone else ask what the kids think. I'd think that would be at least one relevant factor here, possibly a very important one.

DoNorth

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2015, 06:59:49 AM »
Ironically enough, I just received an offer to work for a defense company in Molesworth, UK yesterday (currently live in DC).  For the last several months, my wife and i have been working toward FIRE and will move to a small town in Northern Michigan this fall.  It's hard to ignore the offer though, especially when there are so many pros: it's a socio-cultural analyst position working on Africa issues so it would probably be interesting work overall, pays well, can save longer, travel etc., but I also realize that it's still work and more importantly mandatory work for someone else.  For now, we're still moving forward with the plan to stay in the US and FIRE this fall, but are keeping the living abroad option open.




Nords

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2015, 09:12:18 AM »
Thanks for the shout-out, Nords.
You have a great blog, Jed, and I enjoy reading it! 

I've sent you a PM.

I haven't seen anyone else ask what the kids think. I'd think that would be at least one relevant factor here, possibly a very important one.
I think it depends on how parents sell the plan, but kids don't merit a veto on this type of proposal until they're at least a high-school junior.  And even then I'd hesitate to let them exercise their teen judgment on the family decision. 

Thousands of kids transfer overseas with U.S. military families every year.  It works out fine, or the problems that crop up are mostly the problems that they'd have anywhere in the U.S.  They have some very legitimate fears like understanding the language or reading the signs for the public bathroom, but their attitude toward those challenges depends on the parents.

During one of my visits to Japan, I talked with a U.S. Navy officer who'd managed to stitch together 17 consecutive years in Yokosuka.  (He paid his dues in some pretty crappy assignments there, but by the 10-year point he was so fluent and so popular with the JMSDF that BUPERS left him there to pretty much do as he pleased.)  He was retiring and returning to the U.S. with his spouse, but their sons had totally acclimated to the country.  One was attending university in Tokyo and the other was working in a multinational corporation in another Japan city, and it was pretty clear that they intended to make their lives in Japan for a few more years. 

Here's another sea story on how the parent's attitude will affect a kid's morale.  When I was stationed at a training command in San Diego, we got orders on a new E-8 instructor who'd been in Japan for several tours.  He'd even met his spouse over there and they were raising a family in town.  We we shorthanded so we were really happy to have him, and we were even more excited to have a guy with tip-of-the-spear experience who'd be able to help our students get ready for their WestPac deployments.

When he reported aboard, we learned that his transfer to San Diego was not his idea.  (He'd annoyed the community manager for his specialty.)  With typical senior enlisted directness, his first words to me were "Sir, I'm Senior Chief H, your new instructor, and I'd like you to send me back to Yokosuka."  He was no fan of San Diego, and his kids had learned from Japanese media that America was a running gun battle among street gangs.  (OK, maybe in National City, but still.)  There had been a serious family discussion about him doing an unaccompanied tour to America while they stayed in Japan, but they didn't want to deal with the separation (and plane tickets).  It took them quite a few months to settle in, and as soon as he could he took orders back to Japan.  I don't know if he's ever comin' back.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 09:14:51 AM by Nords »

Hvillian

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2015, 10:35:43 AM »

Thanks to RootofGood for pointing me to Jed's excellent blog "Bucking The Trend".  He's been living in Granada, Spain for about six months with his twin nine-year-old boys:
http://bucking-the-trend.com/1300-3-bedroom-house-granada-spain/


This is awesome - thanks for sharing.  I have been interested in this exact thing since I studied in southern Spain.  The kids are still small, but I am going to read through everything and start the feasibility study.

Jules13

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2015, 12:04:19 PM »
I've thought a lot about this too.  Mine are 9 and 6, so it would be within the next few years also, if we did it.

Sunnysof, I'd be interested in what kind of budget you are thinking too.  I have no clue how to begin planning a budget for this.  We've sort of been saving for this kind of travel, but really just blindly with no real goal in mind.

And yes, I say go for it!

Bob W

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2015, 12:18:36 PM »
Yes do it. 

Sunnysof

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2015, 11:58:42 PM »
I haven't really got a budget yet, but am planning on the usual MMM principles - low COL town, public schools, no car, mostly free entertainment. We lived for a year in Ireland, so know we Lived for much less $ in a relatively expensive European country than we are currently spending in Canada. I suspect Spain should be much cheaper.

Apples

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Re: Postpone FI for a sabbatical with kids?
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2015, 10:40:28 AM »
Pre-teen is the best possible time to do it.  I had friends in college who had been abroad at different stages of life.  The girl who moved to Germany for 2 years with her family, but in elementary school, barely remembers it (other than basic things like what her room looked like, favorite food, and the park-which would be pretty similar to America).  I knew a friend who went abroad for a year in high school, and had a tough time adjusting and then returning to her previous life here, but she remembers a lot.  She loved it afterwards, but took a significant amount of time to adjust.  And I had a roommate who moved here from Germany at 12 and talks about knowing a bit of English (from English classes back in Germany) but not really following all of her coursework for a few months.  But she integrated here well, and visits Germany every summer to see friends and family.  She remembers a lot about Germany, and has great stories about integrating here because the other kids were also young enough to welcome a new kid.  Moving to a new high school, especially not knowing the language...well my high school wasn't always the most welcoming to new kids.  And if this experience is something you'll value forever, why not a work a few extra years?  This kind of stuff is a major part of life, and a major part of why being FI is awesome.  You're not quite FI but have saved tons, so I vote that you do it.