I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately. Where do we go from here? What do I want out of life? What do I want to do when I grow up? But all I seem to end up with are more questions.
I’ve recently found myself in a bit of a quandary and am having to place a dollar value on things I never even considered had a dollar value. How much is setting my own schedule worth to me? Having my kids in the school we’ve chosen? Boy Scouts? Putting down ‘roots’ of some sort? The process of friendship? Health insurance? This is all very confusing.
We returned home to the USA two months ago after three years on the road cycling from Alaska to Argentina and decided we were ready to settle down for a while and live in the good ol’ US of A – something we hadn’t done for quite some time.
We came back to our hometown of Boise, Idaho and are buying a small house (attempting to anyway). The kids were enrolled part time in a great program through the local public schools. We homeschool the rest of the day. Our sons are enjoying Boy Scouts and are looking forward to playing on soccer teams in the fall.
John and I are enjoying life at home. We’re spending time improving our website and writing books about our adventures.
Life is grand, and we’d like to continue in this same vein. I think we would do exactly that if it weren’t for health insurance.
Before we left on our adventure we were covered through a plan from our teaching jobs. While on the road we picked up a health insurance policy designed for long-term travelers and expats. Now neither of them is an option.
Our traveler’s insurance stipulates that we be out of the USA for at least six months per year. That was no problem before, but now that we want to stay put it’s a big problem. Huge, massive, gigantic problem.
Because it means that we have basically three options:
- Spend at least six months per year in other countries so we can keep our current insurance
- Pay exorbitant amounts for independent health insurance – money we don’t have, by the way
- Get teaching jobs or some other job that will provide insurance – which means we won’t have time to do the other things we want to do (including time with Davy and Daryl)
Which brings me to the point – how much are we willing to pay for quality of life? And what is quality of life?
At this point in time, John and I want to stay home and be “self-employed,” so to speak. We have some rental properties and, between the income from those houses and a bit from our website, we can live. Frugally, to be sure, but we can do it. Our current income is about half of what my teaching salary was, but we’re willing to deal with that in order to have the freedom to design our own schedule.
Although we have less money than we used to, we are enjoying the time and energy we have for our children. We’re enjoying working on our own timeline and, if we find ourselves awake at three in the morning, we can work then and take a nap during the day. We like the freedom we have to take off and head to Vancouver to a conference or to Connecticut to see Grandma. We like taking bike rides along the Boise River while everyone else is at work.
We are enjoying living in the USA and having opportunities for the boys. Not only are there great educational programs available, but there are plenty of extra-curricular activities too. The boys will be able to plug in to various volunteer organizations and be pushed in ways we can’t provide while we’re traveling.
But now we’re having to put a dollar value on that freedom. How much is it worth it to us to set our own schedule? To have the boys in their school and Boy Scouts? How much is it worth to live in the States? Can we afford it?
There is no question that it would be cheaper in terms of dollars to live overseas. We could move to Mexico or Argentina or Thailand or Spain and live there. We could continue traveling on our bicycles in Europe or Australia. As for the actual dollar amount spent, it would be cheaper to pursue one of those options.
But by doing that, we would give up a lot too. We would give up the boys’ school and their Boy Scouts. We would give up soccer team and bowling. Our sons would not be able to volunteer at the zoo or be a part of a stable circle of friends.
It’s a tough decision to be sure. We have to figure out exactly how much each of those items is worth to us and if we can afford it. There is no right and wrong answer – just a whole lot of shades of gray. What’s important to me may not be to you. Your essential items may not even be a consideration on my quality of life list.
There was a time in my life when I thought people who could live overseas but chose not to were crazy. I felt I had the best job in the world and was amazed that my employers actually paid me to do it. Heck – I would have volunteered just to have the chance to live in Ethiopia or Egypt! I never thought the day would come when I wanted to live in the USA and would be willing to sacrifice in order to make that happen.
As we go through life our needs and wants change. I want the best for my sons, but I’m not really sure what that best is. Is the best for us to go back to work in order to get health insurance, but not have time for Davy and Daryl? Or should we continue traveling and give up what the boys have here in Boise?
It’s a fine line to be sure – and one I’m not looking forward to navigating in the coming months.