Ever Thought About Living Abroad?
If you're like me (Cody) you've had those times when you've wondered what it would be like to live somewhere other than where you currently live. Maybe you're watching a fictional TV show or movie set in some remote location. Or maybe you're scrolling through your Instagram feed and some amazing photo just stands off your screen; you click on the location and see where that incredible photo was taken. Then you dream a bit, just a bit of daydreaming of what it would be like to live somewhere else.
Other than a quick trip just across the border to Canada and another just across the border to Mexico, I hadn't been out of the country until I went to the Dominican Republic at age 19 on a two year mission for my church. I loved the people, the culture, the experience. I think that time planted a seed of wanting to learn about other cultures and people.
Ever since we were married (14 years ago), I'd say to JoEllen, "Wouldn't that be so cool to live abroad as a family? To see a different culture? Learn new ways of doing things? And expand our kids' experiences?" But that's usually about as far as it went… "Wouldn't it be cool…"
Sometime in the late spring of 2015 I was watching videos on a mountain bike website and saw top riders from around the world head to Rotorua New Zealand for an enduro race. As I watched their bikes carve through the lush green New Zealand landscape I was absolutely mesmerized, totally taken in by the beauty of the location. Ferns overhanging a loamy trail all surrounded by large trees. Yes, maybe it should have been the Lord of the Rings movies that told me how beautiful New Zealand is (think the rolling green setting of Hobbiton), but for me it was mountain biking in Rotorua.
Then I mentioned to JoEllen, "Wouldn't it be cool…to live in New Zealand?" and this time it was a bit different. I did a few searches, starting with jobs (usually one of the big sticking points for moving anywhere!) and they had jobs in my field (IT professional) with reasonable salary ranges. Then I searched up schools and the quality of education and found that it was a different style but comparable in quality to the US. I checked out crime stats and, other than some articles about the gang problems in NZ, concluded it was a safe place to take our family of six. JoEllen started doing her own searches and started being sold on the idea herself.
As JoEllen mentioned in an earlier post, this really became a matter of prayer and feeling like it was the right thing for our family to do. That was the seed that planted and grew into our journey to New Zealand and to now sell what's left of our stuff and spend 6 months traveling the world as a family of 6.
Not for Everybody
Living abroad definitely isn't just a big vacation. While here in New Zealand I've worked long hours at times, had a two hour daily commute, had plenty of cold, rainy days, and other thorns. The difficulty in obtaining a job, visas, selling 3/4 of our stuff and moving around the world with four kids wasn't easy. For us it felt like the right thing and we took those steps.
And although we've seen some amazing places in New Zealand and have had some great experiences, maybe the most important experiences for you and your family is right where you live or that 1 or 2 day trip nearby.
Grow Where You're Planted
No matter where you live, the best thing to do is make the most of the opportunities for experiences wherever you are. Exploring, learning, observing can be done everywhere. And if you have kids like us starting that at a young age is sure to benefit them throughout their lives.