Exciting Opportunities Living Abroad

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living abroadMy wife and I were recently talking about the differences between being white collar and blue collar.  I admitted to her that I was more of a blue collar guy and that I hated dressing up for swanky events.  I would much rather sit in my backyard hanging out with my friends over an open fire while grilling some steaks.

 

She, on the other hand, enjoys dressing up and going out.  She loves the experience of going out to fine dining and trying new and different foods.  Meeting new people is also something she enjoys.  She likes hearing people’s stories and connecting with them.

 

An Enjoyable Evening

living abroadMy wife was thrilled when she learned that we were invited to a fancy party.  One of our friends is an accomplished author.  He held a big book signing event for his latest novel release, The Final Target.  He’s an incredibly talented writer.  If you’re into thrillers, you should definitely check out his novels.

 

Now I’ll fully admit, these type of events are not normally my thing.  But, it was important for us to go because we wanted to support our friend.  It ended up being really fun.  There were delicious hors d’oeuvres and waiters passing around champagne, equipped with a fully stocked bar.  My friend and his wife are great hosts.  I definitely don’t have the same gift of gab or the gift of hosting, for that matter.  

 

In the past, I typically skipped events like this since I like staying in my box as an introvert.  But I’m so glad that I married someone that actively pushes my self-set limits.

 

Meeting a New Friend

During the course of the party, I started talking a guy named “Brandon”, and we hit it off right away.  We are in similar industries, which is code for we both are accounting nerds.  He shared about all the opportunities that he’s had to live around the world with his current organization.

 

Stuck at Home

living abroadWhile my wife and I love to travel, we have slowed down because of our son.  He regularly exhibits his intolerance for remaining in a car seat for more than an hour or so.  Taking him on trips of any length can be difficult at times.  

 

When we went down to the beach over Memorial Day weekend, it was only a four hour trip.  However, he screamed for an hour of the trip down and back until he passed out from exhaustion.  It’s as if once he hits his car seat “limit”, he is inconsolable until he can get out.  Based on this, we shy away from airplane rides of any length of time.  The last thing we want to do is disrupt all of the passengers on the plane.

 

On top of that, last September we went on a cruise with him.  You can read about our experience here.  It was a bit rough tailoring our excursion schedules around our son’s nap times.  He was still napping twice a day at that point, so after we debarked from the ship, before we knew it, we had to return.  Additionally, it was pretty tough sleeping with him at night because he would wake up and immediately want out of his Pack N Play makeshift crib.  Let’s just say, our cruising experience that go-around was not very relaxing.

 

I’m less so complaining and more so trying to convey that he is just not an easy travel companion at this point.

 

Back to Brandon

living abroadBrandon told me how he had scored an assignment in Vienna, Austria, a few years back and had used it as base to travel all over Europe.  He was able to visit every country in Europe in just three years.  

 

I thought, goodness, I wish I had had this type of opportunity a few years back before kids were in the picture.  I assumed that was probably how he went overseas as well.

 

But I was wrong.  

 

He mentioned that he went, along with his wife and three small children.  He admitted he was skeptical at first, as I was too.  However, he said it was the best thing that he ever did.  He said when they first moved out there, one child was in school, another still in diapers, and the third was a newborn.  

 

Adjusting to Life Abroad

living abroadWhile it was an adjustment, he said once they moved out there, his children quickly adapted and traveled well in no time.  His children even started to ask where the family would be traveling each weekend.

 

He touted Vienna as the perfect place to base, as it is one of the most underrated cities in Europe with top-notch safety and cleanliness.  On top of that, he was excited for his children to have some amazing experiences.

 

How many American children have the opportunity to see the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Roman Colosseum?

 

An Opportunity for Us?

living abroadI started to daydream and think how amazing this sounded.  As I was zoning out on the thought, he asked me if I was interested in pursuing a career similar to his.  I must have choked on the brownie that I was eating, as I wasn’t sure if he was actually offering me a job.  

 

I beat around the bush a little bit and asked him to tell me more about the organization and the process to go overseas.  He went on to describe the job, which was basic accounting work along with some opportunities to take on other roles.  As an accounting nerd, I was drawn, but of course the real appeal was the abroad aspect.  

 

When describing the hiring process, the organization normally brings you in and evaluates the best fit for you depending on your interests.  It typically takes a year to be approved and trained before they send you out.  

 

Brandon eventually gave me his card and left me with, “I think you’d be a great fit and could do some really compelling things.”

 

Telling My Wife

I came home that night with card in hand and the whole conversation with my wife.  I was expecting her to shoot down the idea because of all of her responsibilities here.

 

But my wife surprised me.  

 

She said, “Let’s do it.  What do we have to lose?”

 

My jaw hit the floor.

 

Meeting Dan

living abroadSo on Monday, I reached out to Brandon, and he put me in touch with his manager Dan.  Dan started to walk me through the process and explained all of the benefits.  These included covered housing costs along with children’s schooling.  Essentially, the only thing that we’d have to pay for is food and transportation costs.

 

The Benefits

Did I mention that the starting salary would be more than I was making as well?

 

Of course that benefit was incredibly compelling.  I began to imagine how much money that we could bank to potentially reach FIRE that much quicker.  But even more important, I thought about all of the experiences that we could have along the way.  

 

tenant mortgagePlus on top of that, the foreign earned income exclusion, which for 2016 was $101,300, would apply on my taxes.  It applies as long as you live abroad 330 full days during a 12-month period that begins or ends in the tax year to meet the physical presence test.

 

So a higher salary, lowered taxes, free housing, and lasting creating memories.  Where do I sign up?

 

My Hesitancy

living abroadI still had apprehension.  I just started a new job.  The last thing that I was looking to do was leave my current job after a couple of months, especially since I like what I am doing.  But there is no harm in thinking about the opportunity in the meantime.

 

Also, being so far from extended family isn’t ideal.  Even still, we still consider this as a once-in-a-lifetime offer.

 

Dan and I agreed to continue talking until I hit the “right” time to take the plunge.  I have been reading up on various aspects of the position and different locations it offers.  Rome, Vienna, London.  They all sound amazing.  

 

I’d love to hear from you the readers.  Do you have any desire to live and work abroad?   If you have lived abroad, how much traveling did you do?  Share your thoughts below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.



68 Comments

  1. I’ve been living abroad for the past decade and, overall, I’m loving it and would do it all over again in an instant, if given the chance.

    Being away from family and old friends is indeed difficult, and even knowing I’m just a cheap plane ride away, it’s not like I can hop on and travel ever couple weeks!

    Still, living abroad is an overall amazing experience. I’ve done quite a bit of travelling, but this of course depends on the job you have and how you’re able to schedule your vacation time.

    However, as much as I keep preaching about how great life abroad is, some people have a hard time adapting to different lifestyles. Travelling is one thing, but moving and starting a new life in a different environment isn’t easy for everyone.

    Such opportunities don’t come that often though. Lucky you! 🙂
    Adriana @MoneyJourney recently posted…Brilliant ways to save money on your weddingMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Adriana!!! Living abroad sounds like it can be amazing if you’re open to it and know what you’re looking to get out of life. We are definitely excited about the possibility in the future.

  2. Wow, that sounds like an amazing offer. The opportunity to see Europe on someone else’s dime, a higher salary, free housing, and a quicker path to FIRE would be hard to turn down. I would be willing to bet that your son would adapt quickly to the new environment – maybe just a tough plane ride over. (It’s just 8 hours or so)

    As you mention, leaving family behind would be the toughest part. I seem to recall your sister-in-law needing some assistance.

    Good luck with your decision.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…2017 Mid-Year Report // More About Our Gap Years GoalMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Mr. Need2Save!!! Yes, my sister in law does need some assistance but we’re trying to line things up so that it would minimize any impact to her. So we’re trying to get our ducks in a row when the opportunity presents itself we can go.

  3. MSM — we are currently living abroad with our company. AND WE LOVE IT. Unfortunately, we need to head back to the US next month, but we’re hoping to get another overseas position again soon.

    In the past 2 years we’ve been to the Netherlands, England, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Cyprus, Israel, Greece, and Spain.

    Many in the FIRE community, or in the personal finance blogosphere, write about wanting financial security and enjoying life by traveling. If you can do both at the same time, why not? Our kids were 3 when we moved and they’ve had wonderful experiences.

    Good luck in pursuing this further. I recommend it, and feel free to email me directly if you have any questions about living abroad.

    –Rich
    Rich @ pennyandrich.com recently posted…Are The Rich Hoarding The American Dream? An Examination Of Penny And Rich’s Path To Income Inequality.My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Rich!!! I will definitely be reaching out to hear more about how things have worked out for you. Sounds like a rewarding time for you and your family.

  4. I pretty much lived abroad mos of my life as I am an immigrant in Canada lol. After living here for so long I now pretty much adapted to Canadian life. Fortunately, I have extended family in Canada also.

    I too have difficulty traveling with kids as they used to hate sitting still. Now that my son is three, he started to ask us to take him to places and we booked a cruise for next April. I am crossing my fingers and hoping for a decent trip.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com recently posted…Should You Manage Your Own Investments?My Profile

    • My wife and I love cruises although it was a bit rough with my one year old son at the time. Hopefully you have a little better time than we did 🙂

  5. Over the last ten years I’ve run boots on the ground projects on four continents. The longest time I spent was four months over a nine month period in Australia. I’ve also applied but failed to obtain a job in Singapore. We would take a job abroad if we found an opportunity in a heart beat. But, realize these opportunities do not grow on trees. This is an expensive proposition for companies. Also realize culture shock is real, so if your serious you need to be prepared to deal with your whole life changing,

    • Thanks for sharing Full Time Finance!!! I am a bit terrified of the culture shock. I’ve NEVER lived outside of Virginia so leaving the country would be huge. So I am definitely excited about the possibility and a bit terrified at the same time.

  6. Sounds like an amazing offer. An incredible experience for the entire family. I wonder if it would be a better fit when you son was a little bit older? The thing to keep in mind about being away from family is, that is not for ever. If at any point you felt homesick you could hop on a plane. Good luck with the decision
    Brian recently posted…Net Worth Update: June 2017My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Brian!!! I definitely would miss my family and that is the biggest thing holding me back. Although I might kick myself if I passed on this type of opportunity.

  7. I think my wife would do this in a heartbeat. I’m not as willing, but I do acknowledge it would be a fun time and sounds very cost-effective. That said, I would keep it as an option. You never know.

  8. This sounds like a really cool opportunity. We considered moving abroad when my wife’s old company opened an office in London. Unfortunately the stars didn’t align on that opportunity and we never ended up making the jump.

    My aunt and uncle actually moved abroad for a few years when they had young kids. They basically planned to stay abroad for 2-3 years before coming back to the states. That would give them the time to have a lot of incredible experiences, but also give them a timeline for coming back to their extended family and comfort zone. They loved it.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Brace Yourself for the Next RecessionMy Profile

    • That really stinks that the opportunity didn’t come to fruition. That would have been an amazing experience living in London.

      I definitely wouldn’t mind being like your Aunt and Uncle to take advantage of living overseas for a couple of years.

  9. What an amazing offer! Phew, what a decision. I dunno that I could ever do it. The travel would be incredible though. Great opportunity to see and learn so much about our World. I guess you have to ask yourself if this is where you are feeling led?

    3:33

    • Thanks for sharing Amy!!! It’s definitely something my wife and I will be praying about over the upcoming months. Hopefully it will become evident 🙂

  10. Mkay, so we used to live abroad when I was growing up (also in Europe). There are a lot of great experiences, but here are a few things we weren’t fans of:

    1. The costs of living are much higher over there. Even though our housing was paid for by the U.S. govt, groceries and gas were OUTRAGEOUS.

    2. I couldn’t play with the German kids because I didn’t know German. When I tried to learn, I realized I sucked at it lol! The isolation was really hard for me.

    3. We weren’t near family, so my parents couldn’t really go anywhere without us kiddos.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! July 9My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mrs. Picky Pincher!!! I definitely think about the downsides that you mentioned. I’m not sure what all my options will be down the road but it would definitely be nice to find a location that speaks English so that’s not as much of a problem 🙂

  11. That’s an amazing opportunity. I’ve said “NO” to 3 offers already just because I am waiting for my US citizenship. This is the task number one for me for now.
    And frankly speaking, I’d rather visit a country for traveling than for working. because it’s completely different experience and you will not have that “flavor” of excitement when you know that on Monday you have to go to work.
    But that’s for us and our plan to retire in 10 years.
    Friendly Russian recently posted…It is the time for ESPPMy Profile

  12. Go for it! Some friends of ours just returned from a 3-year stint in London with their 3 children. They had a blast and got to see so much of Europe on the weekends and school breaks.

    I’d love to do something like this, but Europe is challenging for US-trained physicians to work without additional training in Europe. Maybe I’ll just early retire there and open a donut shop.
    Dr. Curious recently posted…Did We Wait Too Long to Have Children?My Profile

  13. Awesome opportunity! Living abroad has always been a dream of mine and my husband’s. We are content for now with our Kentucky adventure and looking forward to some big trips in a few years when the kids are older. (Some with the kids, and some without–can’t wait until they’re able to stay with relatives for a week or two!) Good luck as you explore this option!

    • Thanks for stopping by Brad!!! The company is a fortune 500 company with tentacles all over the world and it’s a lot of cost accounting type work at this time but with some opportunities to branch into some other lines of work down the road.

  14. What an amazing opportunity! As a fellow accounting nerd with a lust for travel and new experiences, the idea of uprooting and heading to Europe for work sounds too good to be true!

    I would jump at an opportunity like this myself. However, like you I also recently started a new job and would be hesitant to make a hasty decision.

    With that being said, after reading your post I’m definitely going to start exploring some options overseas.

    If you decide to go ahead with this opportunity, I wish you the best of luck!

  15. I would love to live abroard but so many things are holding me back. I have a huge family here and so does my wife. We’d probably be really lonely in a foreign place and my kid would miss all of his friends as well. Plus our family offers a lot of support whenever we need them so this would be a huge drawback. I don’t even know if we could move somewhere within the US without giving it a huge amount of thought.
    SMM recently posted…Comment on Do It for the Future You – Retirement by Simple Money Man (SMM)My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing SMM!!! We are definitely plugged in here although our kiddo is small so we figured now would be the time to try it. But we will see if it actually comes to fruition.

  16. I honestly dont think there will ever be the exactly “right time” – if you have a company willing and able to do it and provide the costs I would jump at it *if* the job was right.
    I wouldn’t worry about only being in the new job for a couple of months, this is short enough to say “not really settling” or similar to that, but if you think you can make it work, take it!
    I think more of my friends are working overseas than remain in the UK!
    Cheers,
    FiL
    FIREin’ London recently posted…June ’17 – Go T’ Pub PerformanceMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing FIREin’ London!!! We have had a ton of friends live overseas and rave about it. Plus others have moved to different parts of the country. So at times we look around and say where did everybody go 🙂

  17. Wow, what an opportunity. Take it! Worst case, you’ll look back and say that you tried. I think the thing that sucks the most is asking yourself the “what if” ; and not trying this would be a way bigger “what if” than the “what if” of had you stayed.

  18. Rick and I aren’t big fans of traveling overseas, but MAN, does that sound cool!! Pray about it – you’ll know when and what. And we’re with you: steaks over an open fire beat fancy stuff anytime. 🙂

  19. Did you receive a firm employment offer? I don’t recall but I assume your wife works. If you rent out your house and your wife doesn’t work in Europe, would you still come out ahead financially? If so, I would recommend it. Kids adapt easier to this kind of move at a younger age so delaying will make it tougher on your kids. Your son seems to be the age where he could easily learn a 2nd or even 3rd language simply by immersion. At that age, kid’s can learn languages extremely fast…faster than adults.
    According to Brandon, it typically takes a year to get trained before going abroad so even it you started tomorrow, you wouldn’t be overseas until Summer 2018. All the more reason to accelerate your decision.

    • Thanks for stopping by Dan!!! I haven’t received an offer yet, so it’s definitely a bit of daydreaming at this point. But hoping things progress.

      Since my wife doesn’t work we wouldn’t take a hit with her salary coming off the books.

      So we’ll see what happens down the road. Hopefully something firms up down the road.

  20. When I read stories of people doing those moves with kids, I am a little jealous: they seem to have the guts to make the move and turn it into a succes.

    My biggest fear is that as a family, it would be too much stress for us to cope with. And being introverts, we would be stuck withe ach other just too often.

    When younger, I took a 4 month assignment in South America. I just had myself to take care off, so, it was a no brainer.
    Amber tree recently posted…Calculate your FI dateMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing!!! Being single I was actually more afraid of going overseas. I was terrified I wouldn’t make any friends. Now that I’m married I have more confidence that I have at least one built in friend 🙂

  21. AHHHHH that sounds AMAZING! There’s going to be a lot of unknowns and a very, very steep learning curve but wow imagine Baby MSM with all the worldly knowledge of a seasoned traveler. If my hubby wasn’t so against working remotely (he can’t do it, he gets distracted too easily) I would jump on that idea.

    Think about how lucky that would be…majority of people will never have that option. This would also make some killer blog posts!
    Lily He-Prudhomme recently posted…Bad Plumbing? Slow Drainage? Ant Invasion? Should You Hire a PRO or DIY?My Profile

    • I had a classmate in business school that moved abroad while we in session. He would fly in every couple of weeks during our program to take classes. The stories he told were incredible and I definitely wish I had jumped on the chance to travel more when I was younger.

  22. The free housing would be a big win, but I doubt you’ll do well on taxes (unless you’re headed to someplace without income taxes like UAE…) – you’ll be taxed locally, which’ll likely be higher than U.S. taxes. And if your income goes above the foreign earned exclusion (which it most assuredly would, esp. as the U.S. would probably consider the housing as income), you’ll get to do both U.S. and foreign income taxes and reconcile the two. You shouldn’t be taxed twice, but making sure that it’s done correctly and getting correct credit for foreign taxes paid can be a bit complicated. Alternatively, some firms will make you whole, tax-wise, as if you were in the U.S. (and help with your taxes in the process) – you may have an overall higher tax liability from living abroad but the firm will cover it for you. It’s definitely worth asking them about.

    All that noise aside, you should definitely do it. Opportunities like this are rare indeed – seize the bull by the horns!
    Paul recently posted…Contrarian FunMy Profile

  23. I think I speak for many here that if you can do it eventually then do it. I hope to actually be able to do it soon. My job is a little different because, in some respects, it is part of my job to research and talk abroad. I have taken students on several overseas study tours. However, I would love to have the opportunity to teach for a year or two at a university and explore Europe. Sounds like a great opportunity and the benefits sound amazing.

    • Thanks for sharing Jason!!! It sounds like an amazing opportunity that you have. Especially to take students overseas. Hopefully you can teach abroad someday. It sounds like you would enjoy that immensely 🙂

  24. Wow, that sounds like an amazing opportunity. However, it is a decision that both you and your wife have to be onboard with. It would be an unbelievable educational experience for all of you, but especially for your son. As an accountant, I am sure you will review the pros and cons from every possible angle.
    Dave recently posted…Locus of ControlMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Dave!!! My wife is definitely way more on board than I am. I am slower to move with ideas at times. But her gut instinct is usually right 🙂

  25. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity, MSM, and also something that would look great on the resume down the road. I know a few friends who have re-located long distances for work (with small kids), and each one of them have said they wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, it’s tough to live away from extended family, but it would also give some of them a reason to come visit you overseas. That would be a great experience for everyone involved!
    mysterymoneyman recently posted…WOULD YOU BUY YOUR CHILD THEIR FIRST CAR?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing MysteryMoneyMan!!! I’ve had a lot of friends that have loved living overseas. Having never lived outside VA I’m a bit apprehensive but we’ll see how it potentially works out 🙂

  26. Sounds like an amazing opportunity for you and the family, not my cup of tea, but defiantly something for you to think about in the near term.
    I am 100% on your side with the fancy parties and what not. Do you think you enjoyed party because of the meeting and conversation you struck up or would you have the same opinion if that meeting hadn’t happened.
    FIbythecommonguy recently posted…Net Worth Update #3 – June ’17My Profile

  27. Our time living in Asia for 4 years was an amazing experience for us and the kids. Yes, there are a lot of difficult things (like culture shock and missing family) but we grew a lot through the experience and were able to save a lot of money. There is a lot involved with the tax situation, covered allowances, etc so feel free to send me a note if you want more info from our experience!
    Making Your Money Matter recently posted…5 Financial Measurements You Must Know (and how to calculate them)My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Kathryn!!! When/if we get closer I will definitely be reaching out. I’ve read your posts about Asia and it sounds like you all had a fantastic time which helped inspire me to think about it. Before that I honestly thought no way 🙂

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