Saturday, September 22, 2012

Do it while you're young...?

When I told people in 2008 that I was moving to Kenya, the common response was, "Do it while you're young.  Before you're married with kids."  I was 30 years old at the time and didn't really understand that thinking.  I tried to explain that most of the people I would be working with at an international school in Nairobi had families.  Age wasn't a factor.  But many American friends didn't understand that idea.

I recently read this article that might help those same people understand a little of why people choose a life abroad. Even with kids. This is an interview with a CEO of Vodaphone about his family's decision to move abroad.  You can see the whole article here: Moving Abroad Helped Create Close-Knit Family.

The time in Budapest was the first move abroad from Germany for you and your family. How did you find it?
It was an extremely positive experience. Looking back I can say that our decision to move abroad was definitely the right one. All four of us developed a lot more in Hungary in many respects than we would have if we had stayed at home. A pleasant side effect was also that we spent more time as a family than we probably would have done in Germany. We probably wouldn’t have done so many things together with our children, who are now aged 14 and 17, in Germany as in Hungary. At that age children start increasingly going their own ways. Abroad, in a foreign-language environment, we did more together. I can certainly recommend a move abroad to parents who want to spend more time with their children during their teenage years.
When do you think is the optimal time to move abroad with the family?
If parents want to have it easy, then they should move when their children are still relatively young. However, if they want to give their children an experience that will benefit them in their later lives, then it’s best to choose a time when children can consciously recognise the possibilities of the host country and take full advantage of them, as in our case. Essentially, however, there is no right or wrong time, just like for many other things such as marriage, having children or building a house. It’s always the right time. Of course there are always arguments against moving abroad. You need to be aware that it will always entail some compromises and sacrifices. But it helps to concentrate on the positive aspects. We managed that fully. We certainly didn’t regret our decision to move to Hungary in 2009. It must be said, however, that Budapest made it extremely easy for us. I’ve rarely experienced a city that is more welcoming to foreigners than Budapest, and I’ve seen quite a lot of the world. I wasn’t once reproached in Hungary for not speaking or barely speaking Hungarian. Nor can I report any negative experiences generally with regard to our status as foreigners. We had many guests from Germany during our time in Budapest and all of them were pleasantly surprised and much taken with the capital and Hungary. Budapest is simply one of the most beautiful European capitals. It is a good place to live with children. We never had to worry seriously about safety. The public transport in Budapest is also very good.

My time abroad has held a lot of surprises and experiences that I am very grateful for.  Just like this man stated, I think I've developed a lot more than I would have living back home.  My perspective of myself and the world has evolved from experiences like living next to a Nairobi slum, loving on kids with HIV, and hearing a Hungarian friend talk about life during communism.  I am better because of my choices to live overseas.  This is why people choose this life.  Whether they're 20 or 80.

And it's a really GREAT adventure!


  1. Hi Kimberly, I love your summary of the why abroad. :) I found your blog via the expat blog site. If you feel like participating in a short expat blogger interview re Budapest, please let me know at please. There are about ten questions, and we link back to your blog as a source if you wish (or website), besides thanking you for sharing your insights.

  2. Hey Kimberly, I love your post, I've been to Kenya as well last year as a volunteer teacher but only for 3 weeks, and I recently moved to Budapest, I was a little hesitant about it since I am 27 and thought I should be settling down but then I figured age is just a number, it shouldn't affect your choices in life. I can totally relate to what you wrote, and how the choices you make and traveling shapes your character and makes you the person you are. Thnx for sharing :)

  3. @Ingie... It's so good to hear when someone follows their heart instead of the voices all around them. You seem to be doing just that!

  4. I agree completely. At first, I thought it was something I would do for a few years, then "settle down." After 6 years, I'm realizing this is the lifestyle I love and want- and, to me, this is settling down!!

  5. Good article and so true. Thanks for sharing.

    Love and God Bless,

    Sue G.