The Real Cost of Our Year Abroad (Glen)

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One question that Julie and I don’t get asked, but I’m guessing people really want to ask, is, “So, how much will it cost for you to live in Barcelona for a year?

Jane Hirt echoes this in her article Radical Sabbatical (see link to article in previous post)…the thing people said most frequently, at least to my face, was: “Wow, I wish I could do that.” My response? “You actually can.”

Others who have lived abroad will tell you that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Of course, you’ll have to be okay giving up your American standard of living. It would be very expensive if you had to have a big house with spacious rooms, a modern kitchen with a huge refrigerator, a large outdoor lawn, etc. On the other hand, if you’re okay living like the locals—and that might mean no air conditioner in the hot summer months—then the costs can be kept in control.

But, these are just the financial costs. There are other costs that can be rather large: the personal and relationship costs.

This weekend we have been visiting our kids in Knoxville and Nashville. We’ll get to see them again before we leave, but it’s clear that this is the “real cost” of our year abroad. Giving up our proximity to them is a big price to pay. Sure, we’ll be able to email and Skype; and they are planning to visit us, but it’s the not the same as being able to bop down and visit them on a whim. And, this is a cost that has to be shouldered by both them and us.

I think this might be the real cost that holds most people back from doing something like this. Whenever I talk to people about our plan to live abroad, invariably they remark that it is a really cool idea that they would love to do too. For some people, the financial cost would be doable, but it’s often the personal and relationship costs that are the obstacle.Kids

It was a great gift for us to spend this weekend with them.  Julie and I got to see them in their place of work: Carly at Wild Love Bakery, Connor at AXA, and Clint at Moto. In each case, their bosses made a point to tell us how happy they were to have our kids working for them, and what great employees they are.

Seeing their strengths shine through gives us the confidence to take on this journey. We’re so proud of them and thankful they are making it possible for us to take this next step.


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