Living abroad with kids

Hi there,

I am interested in living abroad for a year with my 9 year old twins and looking for suggestions on places. Ideally i'd like a spanish speaking country so that we can all improve our second language, and live immersed in another culture. I also would love to hear from those who have done this and how you planned/prepped. I own a home in Berkeley, so the plan would be to rent it our for the year. How far in advance did you start planning? How did you go about finding schools...or should this be the first thing i find and plan our move around that? thanks

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

RE: Living abroad with kids ()

We did this! We lived in Rome for a year, which may have been the happiest year of our adult lives. We almost didn't come back.

Because we knew we weren't going to stay, we didn't put our 7 year old in an Italian public school, where he wouldn't know a word of the language. Rome has two -- possibly more -- English language schools (which feature Italian instruction) -- the American School, and Ambrit, which we chose for its warm, personal vibe and better proximity to the historic center.

I'm sorry to tell you this, because it would add expense, but I actually made an exploratory trip over there the previous May, to scope out schools and neighborhoods. I don't think we could have been fully informed any other way. I returned to the U.S., and then we all went over just before the school year.

I'm just putting in my two cents for Rome. The expat community is very welcoming, we made lifelong friends, the city was a fascinating hot mess, but in a wonderful way. We never ran out of jaw-dropping things to look at (2,000 year old ruins, etc.), the food was fab, and the city, other than one's need to look out for the gypsy pickpockets, was totally safe for kids to walk around by themselves. My son developed a lot of independence.

I'm missing Rome as I'm typing this...

RE: Living abroad with kids ()

We are currently doing this with our 5 & 8 year old kids and I'm happy to share more details about our experience directly, so feel free to message me on BPN.  We chose Mexico for several reasons and are very happy with our decision.  It was hard to research schools in advance, both because neither parent was fluent in Spanish (I was at a low intermediate level when I was looking for schools) and because schools often don't have websites or answer emails.  My husband and I visited without the kids in March to look at schools and cities and chose a place to live based on the school and how happy we thought our kids would be (because that obviously impacts us tremendously!).  Then we moved in late July;  I think I started researching about a year in advance.  We rented out our home in Berkeley on sabbaticalhomes.  The thing I wish I had discovered earlier in the process is that there are  facebook groups for English-speaking expats for particular cities and/or regions.  They are invaluable for advice on schools, renting, living, etc.  But if you are interested in more details about Mexico, definitely contact me! 

RE: Living abroad with kids ()

Hello, 

We did the same search two years ago and finally decided on Spain. However, en route after selling everything, we met our friends in Puerto Rico for the month. I really didn’t want to go (it was 6 months post Maria) and PR wasn’t on my list. Well, guess what? We are still here. And we probably aren’t leaving. That’s how much we love it. Currently we spend 6 months here and 6 months in the Bay but I really love our life in PR. 

Our friends went on to Colombia and loved it but visas are so hard. My father in law became a resident of Spain so he could travel South America (if you buy $500k in Spain, there’s and exchange between certain countries in South America and Spain). Spain is also a great option but Puerto Rico is so easy and my kids learned Spanish over the past year. We live with 1/3 expats (worldwide), 1/3 mainlanders and 1/3 Puerto Rican families. Our kids are 9, 7 and 4. Feel free to ask questions!

RE: Living abroad with kids ()

Such a cool idea! I don't have any advice, but I am in this really great Facebook group called Families Who Love to Travel, and there are a lot of people who have done what you want to do and give really good advice. Good luck!

RE: Living abroad with kids ()

I wrote the response about Mexico with a 5 & 8 year-olds and accidentally checked the box to hide my username.  Here it is, and feel free to contact me if you want more information.