South America Living

Is Living Abroad With Children Really All That Great?

by Molly McHugh, Former Editor/Publisher of South America Living.     About the Author

Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of living outside of your home country as a family, whether it be for a month, year or lifetime… and have been promoting it (indirectly and directly) for more than 9 years.

It’s the new rage; quitting the job, selling all belongings and saying goodbye to family and friends for an extended time… to somewhere, anywhere, other than where you were. And why not take the kids along while we’re at it? Honey…

“Get This Stupid Hat Off Of Me!” South America Living Co-owner at a Younger Age in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Evidence of the raging new trend are the equal numbers of new travel blogs accounting for the crazy move that is either in the planning stage, ready for take-off or at full-throttle… and aren’t you jealous! Don’t be.

Living abroad with children is brilliant at times but much of the time not a whole heck different than what your life was back home. Routines are routines. Needing to make money, school (or unschool) the kids, address health concerns, make friends, deal with folks you do not like, etc. does not go away. And in many cases can make life much more difficult and not all that enjoyable.

Don’t get me (or all those other courageous families out there loving life abroad) wrong… when it is good it is great. There is nothing better than the sense of self accomplishment from forging into the unknown and coming out victorious, experiencing life like you knew you never would have if you had stayed in your comfort zone of ‘conventional’ living. And giving your child that experience, sharing the adventure together.

But those moments are similar to the wonderful moments – and memories – made back home. Every day abroad is not paradise, every day abroad is simply another day, wherever you are and whomever you are with. And wonderful things plus bad things happen at times, just like in your previous life.

Have all your things stolen? Back home do you go to the police and know that they are rarely going to do anything about it and if items are found… most likely keep them? When you drive back home are you pulled over and accused of some bogus crime then forced to pay a fine on-the-spot… with no recourse for complaint?

Recently on a Facebook group specifically for those wanting to or who are currently living abroad with children a distraught mother living in Mexico posted this: “Feeling VERY conflicted tonight. Very recently, like last week, the area of Mexico we’re in was brought to the forefront of the drug war when 18 dismembered and decapitated bodies were found stuffed into minivans about 10 miles from here…”

The post goes on to ask for suggestions on what to do, which of course many offered as well as support. Is that common for you to experience back home? Do you know how you would react – or what you would do – if you found yourself in a similar situation in a foreign country? How would you protect your children? This woman’s children are temporarily not going to their bilingual school, while the parents decide what they should do. Move back to the U.S.? To another country or location?

There is a lot to think about when considering living abroad with children, beyond the hype. To help you in preparing when thinking of a move, read: Safety Tips – Traveling to South America with Children. The resources and tips are applicable to moving abroad anywhere.

Even if the adventure flops and the lifetime ‘never going to go back’ journey only lasts a few months or year or two… does that make it a failure? Of course not. What you’ve attempted, and experienced for whatever length of time with your children will remain in your family lore forever and most likely be a source of inspiration for many adventures – and acts of courage – to follow.

Photograph by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.

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