Why are you doing this?

When I started telling people that we were selling our house and moving out of the US, the first question was “Why”. Why would you leave Seattle, a city that you have moved back to three times? Why would you choose another country over the US? Why now? And why would you take your son out of school? Sometimes, I engaged in a lengthy conversation and explained how we had made our decision. Other times, I responded with “I promise to explain in on the blog”. So this post is for those of you that have not received an answer or new people we have met that are curious about why this came to be.

Let me start by saying, I love Seattle. Seattle has been good to me over the years and will always hold a piece of my heart. Seattle is home. I first moved to Seattle in 1989 with about 100 dollars to my name. Friends talked me into moving there because jobs were plentiful and paid well and housing was cheap. Back then, living in Seattle was easy. The city was bursting at the seams with creativity, passion, and originality. I found a job within a few days and for the first time in my adult life, I had money to burn after paying for my necessities. Now the cost of living is prohibitive and artists and other creative types are leaving the city in droves. For many of us, we need multiple jobs to just squeak by. And the traffic, the city just wasn’t ready for the influx of techies and planning decisions thus far have not eased the growing pains. As the cost of homes continued to reach ridiculous levels, it seemed for once it was time to be an opportunist and cash out. My city no longer afforded the quality of life it previously promised and leaving had the potential of giving me more time with my son, time to travel, and time to pursue other passions. Staying, meant working 60-80 hours a week at multiple jobs and not being able to be fully present as my son soars through the teen years. After weighing the options, the right path became clear. And since my current research project was ending and I didn’t receive funding to start a new one, I decided instead of feeling like all was lost… I would embrace it as an opportunity to try something radically different!

Leaving the US made sense for so many reasons. Quality of life is at the top of the list. My mother has lived in Mexico on and off for quite a few years and has been encouraging me to head south of the border as well. She started sending pictures of houses for rent close to where she was living. For less than the cost of a studio apartment in many areas of Seattle, I have a gorgeous home, lake view, maid service and a gardener! I feel privileged beyond my wildest dreams. (The thought of having hired help goes against my working class & DIY roots but I’ll save that for another post). In contrast, my salary as an academic living in Seattle barely paid the bills and I lived very modestly! It was not sustainable. Leaving the US has already provided a higher quality of life and best of all TIME! I can focus on my health, my son’s education, writing, and playing music. It has been years since I had time! I have often said that music and art are what makes us truly human, but I had to stuff my own creativity into the back of the closet so I could pursue the money necessary to merely get by. Our short time on earth was not meant to be spent making money and paying bills. About 20 years ago, my boss at the time told me “no one ever dies, wishing they had spent more time at the office.” He was absolutely right! And since life also offers no guarantees, it doesn’t seem wise to wait for retirement to live the life you want. Time and time again, I have witnessed that life can be cut short and I don’t want to take the chance of kicking off before I get to really live.

As for my taking my son out of public school, all the reasons will unveil themselves over time within the posts on this blog. As an educator that focuses on preparing youth for the transition to adulthood, I endlessly study adolescent development, best educational practices, and interventions that are the most effective. I studied at one of the best schools in the US for this field. I have trained teachers, school counselors & psychologists, chemical dependency counselors and social workers. I have observed in well over 100 schools. We know how kids learn best. We know how to keep kids engaged in learning. We know how to help improve kids quality of life, self-esteem, and social/emotional health. As a nation, we do not do it! Educators often tell me how trapped they feel within the system. Many have their students’ best interests at heart, but the system they work within doesn’t allow them the flexibility to meet kids where they are. I saw my son become increasingly disengaged from school. We know middle school is a pivot point, that can have a dramatic impact on the rest of the child’s educational experience. As an educator (and first-generation college student) the last thing I want is for my son to be turned off from learning. But even worse, I saw his schooling was taken a toll on his self-esteem. I have worked with far too many youths and young adults that suffered from the narratives others created about them. I could not let that be my son’s experience. So now, I put myself to task and will utilize all I have been taught so that my son’s education is personally meaningful and culturally relevant. Volumes of research support this approach and although I cannot immediately change the entire US school system, I can change my son’s educational experience.

So there you have it, in a nutshell. The answer to why we left our home, city, and community we love. Like so many immigrants before us, we are searching for a better quality of life.

Photo credit: My incredibly talented daughter, Nox, took this shot!

  12 comments for “Why are you doing this?

  1. October 28, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Quality of life is some thing that drives a person to take many unconventional decisions. And I second you regarding this opinion that child’s education should be always counted among the quality lifestyle bringing tools..

  2. October 28, 2017 at 6:42 am

    I think it’s an incredible brave thing to do. I have thought about moving out the U.S. for quite a long time now but haven’t been brave enough to make the first step.

  3. October 28, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I’m from the Philippines. I used to live in the capital city and everything was almost the same as you described, except that I’m not a researcher and don’t have any teenage child yet. Just like you, I’m also in a search for a better life, call me opportunist or not. The real talk is, we owe it to ourselves and to our family to try for a better life. So, kudos for a great decision you’ve made, Robin!

  4. October 29, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Wonderful post! As someone who moved to Greece from Germany in the middle of the financial crisis, I understand the feeling of people questioning your life choices. It sounds like you have made a very conscious, educated choice, and I wish you and your family well in Mexico.

  5. November 5, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    You’re so brave for moving out of the USA and, essentially, out of your comfort zone! And overall, even though some may be questioning your decisions, you gotta do what’s best for you! Awesome post. Wishing you the best in Mexico.

    • November 6, 2017 at 6:29 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

  6. November 24, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Good for you for taking the leap and doing what is best for your family. Best of luck!

  7. November 24, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    What a great post! I totally agree with taking that step and moving outside of the conventional norm. I want to do the same with my family to ensure that we have a good quality of life and can educate them with travel and cultural awareness. I Well written! I look forward to hearing more from you. My blog is also about living an unconventional life, traveling and making a career abroad.I hope to do this with my family. I think it is becoming more common as people become more aware od the increasing options. Well done!

  8. November 27, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Great for you. I might to that when I retire.

  9. January 5, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Wonderful!! I salute you!!

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