THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
My 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
My 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
While 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
Brandon 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
While 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?
I 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.
So 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.
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.
Plus 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?
I 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.