Now that we've told you a little bit about WHY we decided for our family to travel the world, let's talk about how we decided on WHERE we wanted to go! (If you didn't read our 'why' post, you can see that here.)
Actually, the conversation of our family traveling long-term to Europe first came up a year earlier, when we were going through some super stressful life transitions and we really just wanted to make some sort of major change, because we were feeling stuck.
But when we first talked about it, it was a pipe dream- something we joked about doing in that vague time frame called, 'One Day.' In fact, family world travel seemed almost magical and surreal!
The idea of actually DOING IT- taking the kids out of their schools, selling our house, and leaving all the people we loved behind and travelling world wide- seemed absolutely crazy, and (dare I say) reckless! Irresponsible! Downright WILD.
After my heart attack, our entire perspective on life shifted.
The doctors initially told me that SCAD patients have a 42% chance of surviving the first year post heart-attack- and that is IF they can get their stress down, be really careful not to strain their bodies, etc. etc. etc.
I'm not a 'slow down' type of person- I'm a full-on, give-it-all-I've-got-until-I-drop kinda girl, and rest is not in my vocabulary. So we weren't sure what my life expectancy was, but we knew it was scary.
Looking at life through the eyes of potentially having a year (or less) to live was what REALLY pushed us to make the family world travel idea happen, IRL, and stat.
It would be hell's bells, balls-to-the-wall, no going back. (Like I said, I'm not a slow down type of person.)
Armed with this new knowledge about our future as a family, I suggested (once again) the idea moving to Europe to travel long term. This time, my husband was 100% on board.
Wow... I definitely wasn't expecting that!
When we look back on that time, Larry likes to say that I had a determined look in my eyes- and he knew I was 100% serious about going no matter what.
I don't remember feeling so resolved, but before Larry had the chance to chicken out and come to his senses, I definitely knew we had to pick a main location for our family's home base. ASAP.
Why pick a main living location, if we really wanted to travel the world?!?
Well, we're dragging 5 kids around with us, from baby to teen. The odds were already against us because we were significantly outnumbered.
So, to make the trip easier, we decided we needed to have a "home base" where we could return back to on a consistent basis, and every 6-8 weeks we would take a long 1-2 week trip in another direction: Rome/Greece, France/Germany, Amsterdam/Hungary, etc.
With speed trains on our side, this seemed like the smartest plan so that we could see the many wonders of the world while still providing our kids with a sense of stability and a place to call HOME.
First, we eliminated places using my own personal rubric (in no particular order):
I hate the cold... I can tolerate a visit but I've no desire to live in the snow....my childhood in Colorado was more than sufficient on that front.
I love the beach. This one is self-explanatory...I mean, come on, if you could life any lifestyle in the world, daily beach side mojitos should be at the top of the list.
It needs to be somewhat affordable, because I have yet to perfect my money-tree seed invention.
It needs to be safe for the kids, with plenty for them to do in their daily lives while we're local.
It needs to have access (preferably via the Hogwarts Express) to the rest of Europe. Totally stocking up on pumpkin juice for the many train rides! 🎃
It has to have SOME sort of local, historical interest- 'cuz we're history-loving nerds, yo.
Using this framework as our guide, we knew what to look for.
So we got started on our search using the most logical way to narrow down dream locations... the YouTube travel channels. 😂😂😂
Without getting too specific, we found a few cities on YouTube that looked absolutely amazing, and starting making a list of our top choices.
Next stop on our search: popular expat websites, especially ones that narrow down the top places to live.
Some of the prime places we procrastinated working web-surfed were:
and we probably spent the most time here:
In the end, it was Spain that called to us the strongest, and we decided on a coastal city called Valencia. Your dream city might be somewhere else and that's totally cool, since your priorities will be different. 🥰
But in general, this was how we narrowed it down.
Okay, Spain, here we come!!
Oh, wait... we've gotta do the whole VISA application thing first. Bummer.
Well, at least I've got a pretty in-depth post about how we applied for our Spanish Non Resident VISA application here, if you want to check it out.
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