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Family of 4 considering living abroad for 1 or 2 years. Advice?

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Background

My wife and I are in our early 30's and have two small children. We currently live in the US, and because of our unique income earning situation, have the ability to live anywhere with reasonable internet connection.

We view our current situation as an opportunity to explore a few parts of the world, before our children really start to set down roots somewhere. Our end game is to move back to the US where all our family and friends live, but want to have some great experiences before the opportunity goes away.

Initial Plans

When we first thought of this, we started kicking around the idea of starting in Europe. My wife has traveled quite a few times through Europe, and we feel it would be a good spot to transition in the beginning. Neither of us speak any other languages, and it could give us a good taste of other cultures before trying something a little more "adventurous."

Budget

We would be able to shed nearly all of our financial obligations in the US, and put most of our belongings in storage for a few hundred dollars per month. Ideally we want to spend somewhere around $2000 a month total on living expenses. Renting a house or apartment in the neighborhood of $500 a month is what we were thinking.

Goals

It may sound counter intuitive, but we want to save money. We currently spend nearly $5000 a month just on living expenses in the US, and feel we can do a lot better somewhere else, and experience different cultures in the process. We are thinking a smaller town that has very low cost of living, but has public transit that can get us to major cities and then allow us to visit other parts of the area/countryside/continent.

Saving money is certainly not the driving force behind this, but we are thinking we would be able to. Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

I would be working 4-5 days a week (from the house) and then the other days we could travel or hangout. We could also take extended trips to other locations as long as I have my laptop.

Location

Since we were thinking Europe would be a good starting point, we have been looking at France as a decent central location. But this is really where we are looking for advice. We are open to anything, and would really like other people's input. Once we have an area nailed down, then we could dive further into investigating that specific region.

After Europe, we do not really know. We have considered South America and South Africa, but there is no particular reason we have thought of those. We really are not that worldly in our travels, so any advice here would be great.

Security

Security is paramount, since we have two small children that will be with us. My wife will be spending a lot of time by herself with them, so being able to travel freely and securely is a must.

Transportation

We would prefer to avoid getting a car, since we are tied to them in the US. It would also help to lower our costs.

Housing

A house is preferable, but a condo or apartment is doable. We would need at least 3 rooms, preferably 4.

Timing

We would be leaving the US next summer (around July). The beauty of not having anything holding us down is we could always return if we did not like it, or up and move somewhere else.

Schooling

This one we still need to work out, but our oldest would be in their second year of preschool starting next year. If possible, enrolling them in a local school would be great, but we can work around that if its not a possibility.

Visas

I run my own company, but I am not sure I could actually get a work visa in that situation. I assume we would have to be on a short term travel visa in most places which could complicate things. Truth is, I have never had a visa before so I do not know much about them.

Conclusion

What I would really appreciate is some input from others who may have experience in this, or know of areas that we should look into. Plus anything I may have overlooked. Thank you for your time.

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