Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

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2Birds1Stone
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Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:17 pm

Looking for some insight from those of you who have either considered or pulled the trigger on something like this in the past, present, or future.

I'm currently 30 and my SO is 26.

We are considering taking a gap year (6-12 months) off of work to spend time with family in other parts of the world, travel to some places that require more than the traditional week long vacation, and gain some worldly perspective.

We are both working white collar jobs (software sales, recruiting) and currently have ~8X annual expenses saved/invested. We are targeting April 1 2020 for our adventure. By then we should have accumulated ~12-15X annual expenses. That will mark my 10 year anniversary in the Megacorp world, and almost 17 years of nearly non stop full time employment (started full time @ 14 running an ice cream shop).

There is a strong possibility I will be employed with my current employer when the time comes, and my SO's work situation is likely to change.

What are your thoughts on taking 6-12 months off @ 32/28 years old with about 12-15X annual expenses saved.

For what it's worth, we don't have kids and plan on staying DINKS indefinitely. Since we have a decent nest egg, working part time jobs while we get back into our respective industries is not a big stress.


From the Bogleheads who took these sorts of breaks, any recommendations, advice, or suggestions?

flyingaway
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by flyingaway » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:28 pm

Next Friday (12/15) is my last day of work, then I am out for an 8-month sabbatical leave. The main purpose of the leave is to see the world and be with my parents, and experience retirement life. I plan to visit as many places as possible, January in Mexico, February in China, Thailand, and Vietnam, March and April undecided yet, May-June in Peru, July-August in Europe.

As I said in other threads, I am having a hard time to decide if I should retire formally. Since I work at a university, the only thing that I could not do with my job is long-term travels and stay with my parents. So I just want to see if that is what I really want for my next phase of life. Frankly speaking, I do not know what will be at the end of August.

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Watty
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by Watty » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:48 pm

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:17 pm
I'm currently 30 and my SO is 26.
One red flag is that when you say significant other I would assume that you are not married and when you talk about your finances "we have" likely really means that you have and your SO have different amounts that would leave you in much different situations and likely unequal situations if you split up. If your assets are very unequal then the person with a lot less could be in a bad situation if you break up and they have no job and not much money.

Even if your companies do not have a formal sabbatical program you might be able to get them to agree to let you take a six week of absence and then come back to your jobs which would be a lot less risky.

One of you works in recruiting so it would be good if they talked with their employer contacts to find out what they would think of someone taking a year off then applying for a job.

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Cycle
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by Cycle » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:06 pm

flyingaway wrote:
Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:28 pm
Next Friday (12/15) is my last day of work, then I am out for an 8-month sabbatical leave. The main purpose of the leave is to see the world and be with my parents, and experience retirement life. I plan to visit as many places as possible, January in Mexico, February in China, Thailand, and Vietnam, March and April undecided yet, May-June in Peru, July-August in Europe.

As I said in other threads, I am having a hard time to decide if I should retire formally. Since I work at a university, the only thing that I could not do with my job is long-term travels and stay with my parents. So I just want to see if that is what I really want for my next phase of life. Frankly speaking, I do not know what will be at the end of August.
When in Peru look up Santa Cruz Trek, best experience, and I've been back two more times to climb in the Cordillera Blanca.

I'm extremely interested in this topic, I am curious on the perspective of engineers who left megacorp for 1yr then rejoined megacorp. No kids yet but might do with kids.

Vagabonding is a good read on this subject

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by TravelGeek » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:25 am

My wife and I each took 6-12 month unpaid sabbaticals (separately, at different times). About 10 years later in our careers than you, but we both returned to our jobs with the same employer. It was a good choice for us and it made little financial difference on our path to financial independence and early retirement (FIRE), other than to perhaps confirm that this was something important to us.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by FraggleRock » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:48 am

Get married and go.

Thesaints
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by Thesaints » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:53 am

One caveat in using “annual expenses” as a yardstick is that the OP is using annual expenses at age 30, likely at tne start of his career. If one is satisfied with his living standards remaining the same throughout his life, than it is a valid yardstick. Otherwise, it is not.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:05 am

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:17 pm
From the Bogleheads who took these sorts of breaks, any recommendations, advice, or suggestions?
I know lots of people who have done this. I don't know a single person who has said they regretted it. Every company on the planet offers unpaid leaves of absence. Whether they will let you take it or not is a different question, of course. I'd guesstimate that around 75% of the people who took an unpaid leave of absence of that length ended up never returning to the job. A year of travel made them reevaluate what they wanted from life and they ended up changing their career path somewhat, even if it was just taking a similar-ish job at a different kind of company.

MrJones
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by MrJones » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:55 am

Definitely do it! I did it in my twenties when I barely had 1x expenses saved, and only regret that I didn't do more of these. The year off I took opened up my thinking so much.

You're in much better shape. You will definitely look back and thank your good senses for having taken the break.

chipperd
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by chipperd » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:06 am

Just Go

mouses
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by mouses » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:18 am

Unless this looks like a financial catastrophe in term of future employment, do it. I wish I had done it. As one gets older, physical problems can rule this out sooner than you expect.

(Ignore the get married chorus. Being single has many advantages, esp. divorce is a financial disaster.)

gypsylady
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by gypsylady » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:49 am

As you can see by my username, I'll join the 'do it' chorus. Prior to marriage, at 25, my now-husband and I did this for a year. We did it again in 2000,
and again in 2003, when we moved to our home in NM from the east coast. We have never regretted doing any of it, and never had difficulty finding jobs after one of our 'big trips', as we call them. We both worked in high level jobs, and have graduate degrees. Neither of us ever had an employer ask
about the 'gaps' in our resume's. Because we loved traveling so much we both decided we wanted to 'retire early' and travel. We retired at 50/51
and thank the collective wisdom of this board for being retired for 8 years now. It helps that we were DINKS. The trips change your perspective, and your life, in a good way!
'You are never given a dream without also being given the ability to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however' R. Bach, "Illusions"

flyingaway
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by flyingaway » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:58 am

Anyone did this after 50 and fond a similar & comfortable job after a one-year leave?

WhyNotUs
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:02 pm

Yes, I have done it a couple times and encourage my children to do the same. Living below ones means creates opportunities for personal growth.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:41 am

OP here,

Thank you to all of those who took the time to respond.

While we are not married, we are recently engaged, have been together for over 7 years and cohabiting for over 6.

We may get married before this gap year, or not. Time will tell, but we have very similar goals and priorities in life. Even if it takes us 1-2 years to get back into the workforce at the level we are at now, in the grand scheme of things we will still have a portfolio well over 10X expenses, in our early/mid 30's.

I find it most interesting that folks who have gone on this sort of adventure, have taken away valuable life lessons, perspective, etc. While this is not the primary goal for us, it's definitely a welcome side effect.

:sharebeer
Last edited by 2Birds1Stone on Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

TravelGeek
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by TravelGeek » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:55 am

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:41 am
While we are not married, we are recently engaged, have been together for over 7 years and cohabiting for over 6.

We may get married before this gap year, or not.
Combine the two - elope to somewhere beautiful and exotic :)

halfnine
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by halfnine » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:06 pm

I took a year off to travel back before I met my spouse. A few years later took another year off and traveled with my spouse. And then we both took a year off after the birth of each child. Just do it. You won't regret it.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by staythecourse » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:16 pm

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:41 am

I find it most interesting that folks who have gone on this sort of adventure, have taken away valuable life lessons, perspective, etc. While this is not the primary goal for us, it's definitely a welcome side effect.

:sharebeer
Interesting. If you are not going to learn something about life or yourself why go?

I am in the minority because I have YET to see one place in my life I was impressed with or glad I did see. Saw the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc... and just shrugged my shoulders and went on with my life. Now gaining perspective on life (working in a small village in some third world country) or learning more about yourself by seeing it is a different story and well worth it as it shapes and appreciate what you have or don't have.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by SkierMom » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:30 pm

Do it.

For perspective, I just turned 50 recently and have two kids in HS now with a mortgage and college expenses on the horizon. I took two large sabbaticals in my professional life to travel and get off the grid when I was 26 and again at 30. I hiked the PCT and hung out climbing in Yosemite and Jackson Hole, lived a summer in Bozeman, Montana. The second sabbatical I explored South America and China via bicycle.

Upon return to professional life, I always spun it as a positive. Explaining holes and gaps in your resume makes you memorable and much more interesting than any other candidate. I thought I had a great story, but my present manager (who interviewed me) had me trumped (he self-contained a ski trip in the Arctic Circle). This is likely why I've fit in so well with my present company.

You can never get that time back in your life. Our savings and retirement accounts might not be as high as they could, and I could have progressed a little more in my career, but no regrets. It's not a rehearsal.

And Cycle -- I'm an engineer

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by flyingaway » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:43 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:16 pm
2Birds1Stone wrote:
Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:41 am

I find it most interesting that folks who have gone on this sort of adventure, have taken away valuable life lessons, perspective, etc. While this is not the primary goal for us, it's definitely a welcome side effect.

:sharebeer
Interesting. If you are not going to learn something about life or yourself why go?

I am in the minority because I have YET to see one place in my life I was impressed with or glad I did see. Saw the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, etc... and just shrugged my shoulders and went on with my life. Now gaining perspective on life (working in a small village in some third world country) or learning more about yourself by seeing it is a different story and well worth it as it shapes and appreciate what you have or don't have.

Good luck.
Sometimes, I have the same feeling. But, what are the alternatives?

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by siamond » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:57 pm

I took 3 months of sabbatical in my early 40s, and this was one of the best times of my life, and definitely changed my perspective on the rest of my trajectory (now early retired). I was able to come back to work in the same company, having negotiated ahead of it. I would not have been able to do so with a longer sabbatical though.

I know a software engineer who used to work for 2 or 3 years, then go on a crazy trek with his wife for a year, then resume work, etc. This was never a problem for his raise in the workforce, on the contrary, everybody was quite amazed at his trajectory. Last time I checked, he was VP of engineering in a multi-B$ tech company.

OP, your sanity is perfectly fine. Such a trip will probably do wonders for your sanity, actually. By all means, go. The nature of your job (and of your finances) is such that you are really not taking much risk, in truth. And we have only one life, better live it fully.

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Watty
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by Watty » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:21 pm

Keep in mind that with the anecdotal stories that turned out well don't have any way to knowing what percent of the time things worked out OK.

Many people, mostly woman, are out of the workforce for a year or more when they have kid to be a stay at home parent. There are lots of stories about how hard it can be for them to get their career back on track. You would be in much the same situation after taking year off to travel. Things often do work out well but if you know anyone that has taken time off to be a stay at home parent for a while it would be good to ask them about their experiences when they returned to the workforce.

A lot really depends on your line of work too.

flyingaway wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:43 pm
Sometimes, I have the same feeling. But, what are the alternatives?
It would be a lot different but one alternative you might consider would be working overseas for a few years.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by 2 bits » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:38 pm

Been there and glad we did that. My wife and I took leaves and moved to Asia for a year. It was relatively easy to get time off approval and then, another year extension. We were a bit older but had less of a financial cushion.
We are certainly glad we went. Met so many people and learned so many different perspectives. You may not look at things the same way again.
The thing about culture shock is that you will notice people do things differently in other parts of the world. It's not wrong, it's just different. Things that make you go hmmm.

It's a big world, you have to go see it.
I sometimes think that I am living the life of which my immigrant ancestors dreamed.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by LarryAllen » Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:57 pm

I personally think a person should work their butt off for about 20 years before they get a sabbatical but maybe I am old school. At 30 you haven't even really worked that hard or made very much money yet (usually). I'd work another 10-15 years and work HARD! Earn your time off.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by cbr shadow » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:05 pm

LarryAllen wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:57 pm
I personally think a person should work their butt off for about 20 years before they get a sabbatical but maybe I am old school. At 30 you haven't even really worked that hard or made very much money yet (usually). I'd work another 10-15 years and work HARD! Earn your time off.
Is Time Worked the only metric that matters? It sounds like they've earned the time off based just on $$$ saved, getting an education and jobs that were flexible enough to allow for this situation, etc. Those are my thoughts anyway. That's not surprising though, considering I'm in a near identical situation as OP.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:29 pm

LarryAllen wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:57 pm
I personally think a person should work their butt off for about 20 years before they get a sabbatical but maybe I am old school. At 30 you haven't even really worked that hard or made very much money yet (usually). I'd work another 10-15 years and work HARD! Earn your time off.
At 32 I will have worked full-time for just a hair under 17 years, and 10 at Megacorp.

Like many of the posters above, I feel that time > money at a certain point. No kids, no mortgage, and no strings to keep us from taking some risks that can really enrich life. You can always go back to work, sure it might take a little while, but with two professional income earners with solid resumes and job performance history, I'm pretty sure we will take the year off, and then work for another 5-10 years before pursuing a more permanent early/partial retirement.

:sharebeer :moneybag

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by travelnut11 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:12 pm

Did this when I was 30 and was gone 9 months on a leave of absence from my job. Had a great time and went back to my regular job to no ill financial effect. I even still maxed out my 401k both years (trip spanned 2007 - 2008). Go and have a great time. You'll be fine.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness ...and many of our people need it solely on these accounts. - Mark Twain | | Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. - Helen Keller

JBTX
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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by JBTX » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:44 pm

Do it.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by dolphintraveler » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:04 am

Do it.

We did it. I was 30, DH 31, DINKs at the time. 2 years of travel.

We lucked out on the timing, as we traveled where the $ went far, and came back with a higher net worth because the market was soaring. (And, we weren't buying in at the peaks). When we returned I got my job back for more $ than when I left (engineering) for the same employer. He too earned more. Not long after my employer had a hiring freeze (2008-2009 crash) for a period of time, so it might have been harder had we returned then. But with the crash we could now contribute again, so we really really lucked out. Everyone we talked to during interviews (for those jobs and since) was either envious or just didn't care, it has not seemed to be negative for us.

I feel like not only did we see the world, but the travel in and of itself helped me grow as a person. I rapidly rose at my employer after my return. I had plenty of degrees, but what I learned about myself helped my confidence significantly and things worked out well.

There are so many times we look at each other and say, man are we glad we did that. We could not travel the same way we did then, and that was a decade ago. We have a kid now, and wouldn't change that for the world either. But traveling with the kid is a whole different story.

We are still BH's, and on track to FIRE at 55 should we so choose. LBYM really pays off, as does choosing fields that can be well paying.

Long term travel on the super cheap can be taxing, so we found we had to take mini-vacations from our travel - for us that meant staying in a single place for a week or so and getting comfortable. Again where the dollar went far.

Enjoy - you will savior it in memories for the rest of your lives!

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by CFM300 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:06 am

Travel while you are young. You will almost certainly have life-changing cultural experiences overseas, perhaps even unexpected professional opportunities. Go.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by flyingaway » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:45 am

CFM300 wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:06 am
Travel while you are young. You will almost certainly have life-changing cultural experiences overseas, perhaps even unexpected professional opportunities. Go.
The outcome may be good or bad and is debatable. I would think doing such things blindly is irresponsible.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by bampf » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:58 am

I have worked non-stop since I was 14. Many times I have had two or even three jobs (although not in many years). I have done well financially and I am in pretty good shape. I have never had just a year to think about what I want out of life and live as I see fit. Kids have made that somewhat impractical if not impossible right now. I would very much like to just take a year and not be beholden to anyone or anything other than myself (and my spouse). If you can, why the hell not? Sales is sales. If you are good at it, you can get back in pretty easily. Do it.

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Re: Gap Year, Sabbatical, Leave of Absence - Questioning My Sanity

Post by halfnine » Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:06 pm

LarryAllen wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:57 pm
I personally think a person should work their butt off for about 20 years before they get a sabbatical but maybe I am old school. At 30 you haven't even really worked that hard or made very much money yet (usually). I'd work another 10-15 years and work HARD! Earn your time off.
While I agree people should work hard I feel by the time they are in their late 20s they've probably got a pretty good feel for what work is all about. As such, the late 20s is the opportune time to take a year off when individuals are old enough to have some work experience, a bit more maturity, and a bit more money than they did when they were younger. Yet not so old that they are burdened with commitments and yet they are still young enough that their experiences can make a significant impact in their lives or completely alter their path.

However, I do think it is important that for those of you who are going to do it to go as big as you can as it is only going to be more difficult to push the boundaries as you get older.

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