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How We Decided to Live Abroad
The first conversation Ben and I ever had was over travel. He was planning a trip to Belize in the next few weeks and I had been there the year before. We were in a gym for a large group activity, and we sat right on the floor and talked about Central America as people moved around us. He slyly asked for my number so he could “get more tips for his trip”, when, in actuality, he’d already planned the whole thing!
On our first date we had the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” conversation, and both agreed that our ideal lives would be working as our own bosses so we’d have the flexibility to travel. Six years later we’d been married, started a family, and built a successful business online.
When it was time for Ben to quit his 9-5 job and focus on our business full-time, it occurred to me that we could be location independent as digital nomads. It didn’t take much convincing to get Ben on board, and we started to plan our wild adventure abroad. Our initial idea was to live in Australia as digital nomads for a year, but it eventually morphed into the grander plan to country hop for up to two years. This would give us more flexibility, and more experience with the world to decide where we’d like to eventually settle down and/ or regularly vacation.
Living in Montreal, Quebec
We spent 6 months training new employees to take over various parts of our business and moved to Montreal, Quebec for a 2-month experiment in living away from our business’center of manufacturing. We weren’t sure how homesick we would get, how easily we’d adjust to working from home without the comfort of our individual offices, how we or our son would do on an semi-exhausting travel schedule, or how we’d react to living in a country that speaks a foreign language. Well, I can summarize living in Montreal in three words: WE LOVED IT. I, for one, had the best summer of my life.
We rented a 2 bedroom apartment off of AirBnB in the heart of downtown and enrolled Whit in a French preschool down the street. Three days a week we would walk Whit to school and I would explore the city on foot, inspiration music at the ready, while Ben worked at the apartment. The other 2 business days we would take day trips to every corner of Quebec and even Canada’s capital, Ottawa, and on weeknights and weekends we would live the Montreal city life to the fullest. We bought bikes for our city excursions, found favorite restaurants, parks, and walking paths, and made some life-long friends. I even befriended a French baker after cultivating a morning routine out who kindly invited me into his kitchen. I then spent a month as an unofficial apprentice baker as he and his pastry chef taught me their specialties! Honestly, could you ask for more in life?
Preparing to Live Abroad
We were all incredibly excited to replicate our experience living in Montreal on a grander level when we live abroad for longer. This meant preparing on a grander level, though. Hiring even more employees to make sure every inch of the business was covered, selling our dream home in Greensboro, North Carolina, selling or storing everything we own, saying goodbye to incredibly close family and friends, and figuring out how to homeschool (or world-school) a Kindergartener abroad.
Well… we’re about half-way through with our preparations! Over the course of 6 months we sold our house and most of our furniture and moved to a temporary townhouse in Orem, UT. We will be in Orem for a school year; time we’ll use to plan our itinerary and be closer to family. In June we’ll sell our remaining furniture (storing a few family herilooms) and our car and be on our way!
It sounds like all the pieces have fallen into place, doesn’t it? In most ways they have, but preparing to live abroad has not been an “easy” process. Yes, we knew we loved traveling from the very beginning and have had the goal of occupational flexibility for years, but that doesn’t make saying goodbye much easier. I, for one, had a few breakdowns once we put our house on the market. See, our house was GORGEOUS. It was big, remodeled to my specifications, and decorated beautifully. We were so happy there. I actually envisioned my grandchildren sleeping in the guest room one day. Leaving meant that Whit would never have neighbors who could say they’d watched him grow up. We not only said goodbye to friends who’d become family and a city we truly loved, we also said goodbye to the sweat, tears, and hopes that home represented. A stable future filled with the comforts of regularity. I don’t say that in a trite way, no; I truly believe that life can be wonderful.
I am more excited to live abroad than sad to leave our home, so I consider that a win. I choose to focus on the future, and, boy, will it be fun! There are plenty of concerns I have for living abroad as digital nomads with a 6-year-old, but I’ll get to those later. For now, I’m just going to sit in my tiny apartment and cruise the web for international hot springs.