How Can You Afford a Career Break? (Gap Year, Sabbatical, etc)

Time for a Career Break, Gap Year, Sabbatical?This is the question that mystifies most, thus we are regularly asked it in one form or another. Many people don’t like to bring up the subject, especially those we know in the United States. It is socially seen as “impolite” to ask such things, but not in our eyes!  Ask away. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight forward answer. The best answer I can think of is “We worked very hard, made it a priority, simplified and saved”.

How Can You Afford a Career Break?

We have found here in Europe, people have no trouble asking us “How Can You Afford a Career Break?”. In fact when we were visiting the Roman Ruins in Merida, we met a “Snow Bird/Retiree” couple from Germany. They come to “Winter” in Spain every year in their RV. They approached us and said we looked “American”. After a good visit and learning about each others lives they asked  “Are you the Rockefeller’s?” Of course we had a good laugh and said no way. It doesn’t really take much. In fact, it is significantly cheaper for us to live this life, than the life we led in North Carolina.

Lucky Ducks

The general response we get from people is that we are so Lucky to be living our dream. We agree with you in a general sense, but luck doesn’t really have much to do with it at all. It is really loads of dreaming, planning, simplifying  saving and overcoming fears. You see, quite a bit of hard work went into this and plenty of sacrifice as well. I guess luck may be mixed in there somewhere, but no one handed this to us and we didn’t win the lotto. It is possible for you to be “lucky” too, if you make it your priority.

In future blog posts we will share with you exactly what we have done to make our dream a reality. We will include our budget, some actual costs and tips on how we saved. If this type of life is your dream, you will see it could be within your reach.

It is possible! You can afford a career break or some version of it.

I have found that the process of this adventure took us through several phases.

  • Dream Phase (Wouldn’t it be nice if…)
  • Research / Assessment Phase (What would it take, fear, research from A-Z)
  • Expenses / Saving Phase (Saving for the rainy day, live a more simple life)
  • Acceptance / Commitment Phase (OMG we are going to do this)
  • Management / Planning Phase (Red Tape, Getting All of Your Ducks in a Row)
  • It’s Real / Action Phase (Put your Plan into Action, Make it Real)
  • Now Let’s Tell / Sharing Phase (When to Tell Others)
  • Gone / Living it Phase (Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor!)

All of which we plan to write about in-depth, so keep following us to know the “magic recipe” for our career break .

Enjoying the Swiss Alps on our Career Break

Atop Niederhorn, chilling

Thanks for reading.

Is something like this your dream too? Please comment and let us know those burning questions you were afraid to ask. We will either answer in the comments or include in a future post.

Curious about our Budget and Spend our first 4 months?  click here

More info on Sabbatical and Career Break

Moving Abroad? How To Select The Country, Town & Make The Move

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  1. Great post, Heidi!

    You could create a separate category, or even another blog, where you discuss the mechanics and/or process of moving abroad. There’s plenty of demand for this kind of information/community forum, and that could also become the answer to a question you asked on another post: “How to make money and stay longer in Spain”
    🙂

    • I have been spending LOADS of time researching how to do just that! an ebook looks most appealing to me. we will see what I can accomplish.
      Thanks

  2. Very interesting post indeed ,
    it is also my dream , I am also curious about the mechanics, specially that you represent a successful application of your own planning, it would be nice to know the following :
    what would change if you had to go back in time and do the planning again ?
    was everything as you expected in Spain ?
    would you choose south of Spain again now that you know how it is ?
    what attracted you in your village ?
    what do you miss from North Carolina ?
    where would you now call home ?

    Fadi

    • This is great! I love your questions. The answers should be coming soon in a post. We do say we are from Almuñécar and get the funniest looks from people and then have to say we moved from U.S. Then they feel better. So I guess we call Almuñécar home!

    • Hey Fadi…. so I asked the entire family today and we all say we call Almuñécar home! We all agree home is where ever we are! Alan and I have lived so many places, we adopted that thinking many years ago.

      As far as your other questions… working on those soon. 🙂

  3. How do you guys travel? Did you purchase a car or do you rent? Have you had to get a Spanish driver’s license? I hear this can be tough – you must take classes and pass difficult written and driving tests. Probably a bit easier to do in a small town than here in Madrid. Also, when did you guys visit Merida? My wife was born in Merida and we often visit her parents in Villafranca de los Barros about 40 km south of Merida (about 20-30 minutes drive). We on Villafranca the last two weekends in fact – so I hope we didn’t miss an opportunity to get together!

    • Hey Paul! We wound up purchasing a car. We have our international d/l, but I would like to get a Spanish license. I’ve read that it’s easier to take the test in English, and schedule the practical in English. It normally takes a while to schedule, and I have no idea what the cost is.

      We went to Merida on our way back home from Portugal. The Roman Ruins were very cool. Give me a ping if you’re ever close.

      • Alan: Can we trade contact info? I presume you have a Mobile (cell) phone in Spain. I just got a Smart Phone (Samsung Galaxy Note II). What is your contact info (address/phone) in Almuñécar? It seems like you guys are having fun. I will be in Villafranca de los Barros over the Xmas holidays and might consider a trip to Almuñercar but it’s over 400 KM and not sure I’ll have a car and you said you all were going to Paris for Xmas; do you know when you’ll be in France/Spain over the holidays? Are you flying to Paris from Madrid? Cheers, Paul

        p.s. – My wife gets Cary’s Maple Syrup at the Navy Exchange at the U.S. Embassy (where she works). They also occasionally have peanut butter! Since she’s Spanish her purchases are limited but there is also a store in Madrid – “Taste of American” which has American products – -www.tasteofamerica.es – they have several kinds of maple syrup and pancake syrup – including Aunt Jemima’s! ¡Buen provecho!

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  7. I could afford a 16 month career break due to working throughout. I did a CELTA course so I was qualified to teach English as a foreign language. While the downside was that you are fixed to one location during most of the time (we were in Vietnam), the good side is you can afford to stay as long as you want as you are working, you can visit places within that country and countries close by (Cambodia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong etc).
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  9. My husband and I have decided to take our family abroad. We have five children and run our own business. We think we need two years to get everything in place- then we’re off! Though I would love to be gone longer, we are shooting for 9 weeks. Your blog has provided much information and inspiration!

    • Wow! Thanks so much Joni. So glad you found us and that we have been able to provide you with inspiration and information. I am so excited for you and hey 9 weeks is better than nothing! There is no rule that tells you how long or where you need to travel, just get out there and see the world. It is a wonderful place and very special to experience with kids. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We are an open book, so just ask. 🙂