Advice about a Sabbatical

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Advice about a Sabbatical

Post by Streptococcus » Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:07 pm

Hello Bogleheads,
A few months ago, I decided to change job. So I recently quit my job. I have a new job offer available in another State, commencement date is right after the summer.

But in reality, a part of me really wants to be bold and take this chance to realize a project of mine: taking a sabbatical: I would Just quit, sell the house, move somewhere else with the family, a place with good schools, low to medium cost of living, urbanism, diversity and culture and do everything but medicine (I'm a physician): like starting a business; or studying medicine all day; or studying painting; or just watching tv all day, indulging in boredom and allowing my mind to wander endlessly. DW is on board. She too quit her job and she has always dreamed to work part-time at Trader Joes :shock:, which is what she would want to do during the sabbatical.

Financially, we are 5-600K away from our number, which is 2M. We feel very comfortable with our financial situation because we could retire with that number but we plan on working even after that. I'd like to do locum tenens, maybe 4-6 months a year indefinitely to finance our lifestyle in retirement and some of our kids college expenses. So for me, the number is just an "insurance policy".

If I were to opt for a 12 month sabbatical I would finance it, by working locum tenens jobs, maybe a week every 8 weeks. Being european citizens, we could spend the sabbatical in Europe and we would have no problem with language, health insurance and cost of living would be low. We could live large with 45K in a year, including a lot of traveling.

But we would prefer to stay in America because we have future high schoolers and we would prefer providing them some stability by moving to a final destination where they will live till college.

Here are the questions:
1. For those of you who took a sabbatical in the US, what advice do you have on a project of a sabbatical in the US with teenagers?
2. What ideas do you have regarding health insurance coverage? I would prefer not paying $2500 a month for cobra. If that is my only option, we are better off taking the sabbatical in Europe.
3. I am always open to listen to ideas about a destination that is urban, has great schools, culture and low to medium cost of living. I know it seems odd to ask advice about a destination but we have a gypsy lifestyle, we make friends easily and more importantly, I value the opinions in this forum because they have always been good to me :beer

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Re: Advice about a Sabbatical

Post by jacksonm » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:19 pm

I took a one year Sabbatical when I was 50 years old after my wife died of lung cancer. Along with the stress of my software engineering job and dealing with rebellious teenagers at the same time as all this was going on I was suffering from serious burnout. I'm now retired about 20 years later and looking back on it now I don't know how I would have made it if I hadn't stopped and gotten a second wind to see me through another 17 years on the job. So no regrets - at all.

Spent the year travelling the U.S.A. in my RV, making it all the way to Alaska. My kids were all grown up but my travelling companion was an adopted granddaughter, age 4 at the time (see above about the stress).

As for health insurance, I just went without instead of paying $750/month just for the two of us. One thing I discovered by doing that is that a lot of doctors will give you deep discounts if you don't have insurance and are willing to pay cash for services rendered. Even with my daughter breaking an arm and needing physical therapy that year I probably spent less than 1/2 of what I would have spent on health insurance + deductibles.

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Re: Advice about a Sabbatical

Post by sailaway » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:36 pm

If you are looking around the internet for ideas, it seems like the best term for you would be CoastFIRE or BaristaFIRE, rather than sabbatical. I don't know anyone who sells up for a sabbatical. That being said, "sabbatical" is the term my husband prefers, as well, and we plan on cruising for several years with an income.

Projects are going to be so personal. One thing my husband is thinking of doing while we are cruising is extensive mapping of the shorelines where we visit through intense sonar scanning.

Personally, I wouldn't count on your wife keeping her job at Trader Joe's. For one thing, unless they have really expanded, there aren't very many MCOL to LCOLs with a Trader Joe's. For another, not very many people actually enjoy being a cashier, which is the position I would expect for part time work. TJ's cashiers seem rather more with it than your average cashier, but I can't see someone choosing it long term without a need.

Have you tried working out a budget and living on it now? How do you spend your vacations? Some people eat out more when they are less stressed and can enjoy it, some people eat out more when they are working and just don't have the energy to cook, for example.

As for healthcare, that depends on how your nest egg is structured and what your income levels will be when you are withdrawing and working parttime. If you can stay within the right levels, you may receive substantial ACA subsidies.

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Re: Advice about a Sabbatical

Post by leeks » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:54 pm

I'd go for taking the kids to Europe for a year. They will be able to catch up in the US schools when they get back, whatever they get out of the experience will be much more valuable. Do it while you can, the older they get the harder it will get to do it with them.

I want to do this too but don't have my husband on board yet.

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