Should I Stay or Should I Go | Week 15 Abroad

Should I Stay or Should I Go | Week 15 Abroad

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Originally our plan was to be gone for 2 years and spend one month in each place, since that felt like the right amount of time to understand a new place without getting burnt out. That meant 24 potential locations.

Well, we’re going on 5 months out of the United States and so far we’ve only stayed a month in 3 countries: Canada, Korea, and Vietnam. Not only are we “behind” in our schedule, but we’re even thinking of extending our time in Vietnam for another month.

Boy walking through jungle of Vietnam Expat Life in Hoi An Vietnam Obriens Abroad Family travel

Having the freedom to travel by working digitally is a double-edged sword. Since we have the flexibility to go wherever whenever we end up with so many options we end up getting boxed in. It may be an issue I love, but it’s still an issue.

We’re 15 days into our 30-day lease in Hoi An, which makes this the deadline to tell the leasing company we want to extend for another month or make an exit plan.

How long should we be expats living in Hoi An?

boat cruise in Hoi An Expat Life in Hoi An Vietnam Obriens Abroad Family travel

Here’s the case for staying in Vietnam:

  • We came in with 3-month visas and we would be leaving after only staying for 2 months
  • It’s a big country with a lot to explore
  • It’s really cheap to live here, so we could use our extra month to save money toward a more expensive location
  • We already have an apartment, church group, friends, and school for Whit
  • We’re in a beautiful location and there’s no real reason to change things up
  • It makes sense to stay in this region since we want to be in Oceania by February, but other countries between us will be experiencing monsoon season

Here’s the case for leaving:

  • It’s a big world and there are so many places we want to see

The list is obviously uneven, but the difference between the two is one important thing: Passion. 

Hoi An Food Market Expat Life in Hoi An Vietnam Obriens Abroad Family travel

Do we stay because it’s convenient or do we go because we love to travel?

I have spent so much time this past week trying to figure out what I want that I’m ready to stay just so the decision is made for me: If we wait out our 3-months we’ll have to leave to renew our visas, anyway, which is a great excuse to try a new place.

But do I really want to stay put for another 6 weeks (since we still have 2 weeks on our lease)?

We made our way through north Vietnam by spending almost 3 weeks between Hanoi, Sapa, and Cat Ba Island. Ben and I both spent a long time in Ho Chi Minh City so we don’t feel the need to return as a family right now. That leaves staying put in the small coastal town of Hoi An.


Expat life in Hoi An is really nice. We are a 10-minute moto ride to the beach, which has soft white sand and incredibly warm water. We are a 5-minute ride into the center of town, which has a lot of small, delicious, locally-owned restaurants, shops, historic landmarks. We have a private swimming pool, pay $1.50 for lunch at our favorite place down the street, and pass rice paddies and water buffalo on our way to Whit’s small school.

In the past week we’ve been to really unusual and fun theme parks VinPearlLand and Ba Na Hills, taken a coconut basket boat down the river with a local guide, gone to the beach, met new friends, had clothes made by a local tailor, watched the local boys dress up as dragons to celebrate the Autumn festival, seen the rice fields begin to burn, and tons of other interesting, fun, and eye-opening things.

Father and son in VinpearLand Vietnam Expat Life in Hoi An Vietnam Obriens Abroad Family travel

It’s a good life.

But it’s also a lot of the same thing every day, which is not why we left our beloved home.

So what should we do?