Last year, our family set out on an adventure, leaving our cozy city of Boise, Idaho, and heading into the wide world. We lived in Thailand for a little under a year, but quickly realized it wasn’t a good long-term fit for our family. So we packed our things (again) and moved to Boise for the summer while we went through the process of applying for our Portuguese visas.
I make this sound cut and dry: move to Thailand, move to Boise, move to Portugal. But the thing is, this whole deciding where to live internationally is anything but easy. There are checklists, Google searches, YouTube marathons. We review all the official government sites, and research diseases and health and safety. We talk with people who live there, read articles and books, listen to podcasts. We spend months deliberating and deciding, and once we feel we have our choice nailed down, we leap.
In the end, we have to trust our vision, and trust our commitment to this life we’ve chosen.
For more than eight years, my husband and I held on to a vision of living internationally with our family, of exploring the wide world, of never resigning to a pre-packaged life. I built my business to be location independent so we could accomplish this vision. And while that vision was inspiring, it felt big. When we made our first move (Thailand), and then our second (temporarily back to Boise), and then our third (Portugal), we were starting to get fatigued. Who wouldn’t?
Because, let me be really honest here, it is extraordinarily hard moving countries. Putting aside all the packing, which is its own brand of difficult, there are also reams of visa paperwork, consulate visits, spreadsheets (so many spreadsheets!), and endless planning. There are moments, especially when we’re jet lagged and feeling run down, that we question ourselves: Is this the right path? Why are we putting ourselves through all this? Is it really worth it?
But I’ve learned that the best things in life require some level of sacrifice. I live by the maxim, “Do the right thing even if it’s the hard thing.” We choose this life because otherwise we would risk inauthenticity, and that, I think, is one of the worst possible ways to live.
Maybe someday our choices will change, but for now, living abroad is the right path for our family.
So here we are now, in Portugal, still unsettled but finally, finally seeing our vision come to fruition. Thailand wasn’t a fit for us, as much as we dearly love the country, but we think Portugal will be.
Part of the reason Portugal feels right for us, I’ll admit, is because it feels easier. Thailand was challenging, mostly because our kids kept getting seriously ill and also because of those darn wild dogs, deadly snakes, and disease-carrying mosquitos. (I share more about our difficulties in Thailand in the post, “What I learned from my hardest moment in Thailand.”)
Portugal feels closer to the life we left back in Boise, while still being new and exotic. The people are lovely. Vegetarian food is abundant. The time zone difference and travel time is much better for my work, and when my work schedule is better, our lives are better.
I think we’ll love it here. I really do.
Still on the agenda: selecting a school for the kids and finding a place to live. In between research and scouting trips, we’re making time for some adventures.
We visited Palácio Nacional da Pena, a castle in Sintra, which is outside of Lisbon.
The we went to see “Big Kitty,” as our kids call it, which is a large Iberian Sphynx scuplture by Bordalo II made of reclaimed garbage cans and other recycled plastic.
We took a sky car, traveled to Sétubal (just outside of Lisbon), and enjoyed a phenomenol vegetarian meal.
We are feeling optimistic. Hopeful. Like maybe, just maybe, this place could be home for at least a little while. After trusting our vision for so long, that is a wonderful feeling.