15 Creative Ways You Can Save Money Now So You Can Go On A 1 Year Sabbatical And Live Abroad Later!

15 ways you can afford a career break or one sabbatical year abroad to France with or without a family

How would you like to go on a career break or take a 1 year sabbatical from life and the rat-race to live in France or somewhere else abroad?

And while on that 1 year sabbatical, in between French lessons, baguettes and bites of cheese, you focused on doing all those things you always meant to do or dreamed of doing but never did because you were too busy working, cooking diner, driving the kids around and just living your life.

Yes, yes, of course you would love to quit your job to take an extended 1 year trip to France but there’s that little issue of money and all those other pesky things that keep stopping you.. right?

My husband and I thought the same thing but trust me when I tell you, “you don’t need to be rich to take a 1 year sabbatical.”

With some clever planning, a dash of courage and a pound of persistence, you can make that seemingly impossible dream of a career break and sabbatical year a reality.

Here are 15 ways to make your year sabbatical dream a reality.

1- Ask your employer if you can take a year off.

Insurance can get expensive in the US if your footing the bill yourself. It might be a long shot but it’s worth asking your HR department if you can take leave of absence. If they agree, a lot of the stress of returning back home will be removed because you have your job waiting for you after your one year sabbatical. While you’re in HR’s office, see what your options are for health insurance abroad. Thy may have an option for you that will cover you while you are living abroad.

2-Can you do your current job part time and or remotely?

Technically, if you are working remotely, you are not really on a  sabbatical. But if working remotely is your only option than take it. You can always work remotely from some beach.

Or first year living abroad in France, I did not work but now I do and I am fine with that. I actually like working remotely because I make my own hours and get to work in my pyjamas.

3- Cut back on your expenses and save

Before we ever started packing or applied for visas, our family of five cut thousands of dollars from our annual expenses by simply cutting  the fat out of our lives. We ate out less, we got rid of cable T.V., shopped at thrift stores and didn’t buy anything unless we absolutely needed it.

Yes it was hard especially if you are used to eating sushi once a week buying new shoes every month but if you really want to make that 1 year sabbatical a reality, than you need to do it especially if money is tight. It’s hard at first, but once you start seeing how much money you are saving it turns into a game and gets easier and easier.

4- Sell Your Unwanted Stuff

It’s amazing how much crap you can accumulate over the course of a lifetime especially if you have kids.

Instead of trashing it, try selling your unwanted stuff to fund your 1 year sabbatical abroad? My advice is to first do a big garage sale for the smaller less expensive things. Then sell your more valuable items one by one on eBay.com or craigslist. Don’t forget to announce your garage sale either. If you’re in Canada, try Kijiji.

5- Volunteer Abroad/ Trade For Lodging and Food

If you would rather volunteer or or work in exchange for lodging and food while abroad, there are volunteer programs over the world. You should know that most of these places you find online will charge you money to match you up with a volunteer program. And they arn’t cheap. I have seen some programs charge a few thousand dollars for less than 6 months.

Don’t be discouraged because there are some volunteer programs where you don’t have to pay but they are hard to find. Let me know if you find one.

6- Home Exchange

If you live in a highly desirable place like San Francisco, New York or another popular destination then you could try exchanging your house with someone who lives  abroad in an equally desirable location.   Check craigslist and do a search on Google using keywords house swap or house exchange. Here’s one that looked pretty good, it’s called Home exchange

7- Rent Your Home To Offset Costs.

Consider renting your home or subletting your apartment. Renting our your place is a good way to offset your costs while also ensuring you have a place to stay when you get back from your sabbatical. If you rent your home fully furnished, you can rent it for even more. Look at places like www.sabbaticalhomes.com.

8- Go Somewhere Where The Cost Of Living Is Lower

Going to Thailand for your one year sabbatical. If you are from the US or Canada, the cost of living will be much less and your money will last much longer than if you live someplace like Paris for a year. Popular cheap destinations are South East Asia  South America and Mexico.

9- Start your own consulting business

If you have some skill that you can do over the phone or video or over email than consider starting a consulting business that you run completely online.

I know lots of people who travel full time with kids for years on end because they work as consultants, web designers, copywriters etc. All jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world.

10- Teach English or Music over Skype

This falls under number 9 but I thought it was a good idea to call this one out because so many people just don’t know what business to do remotely.

If you speak English or play an instrument for example, you already have a skill that you can teach others. All you need is a computer, internet and skype and a simple 2 page website to start.

11- Become a virtual assistant and do administrative jobs remotely for various companies and people

The web is full of entrepreneurs and businesses looking for other people to do small odd jobs, administrative tasks or higher level duties like Data entry, freelance writing, designing logos etc. go and check out Elance or freelancer.com. They have thousands of jobs posted by people and companies looking your help. Some people make a living this way.

12- Sell your photography

If you have an eye for photography, and you love taking pictures you can sell your photos on stock photography sites like Istockphoto. People go there and pay you the rights to use your photo. There’s a lot of competition and it doesn’t pay much but if you love doing it then not get paid for your hobby.

13- Live simply while on sabbatical

Maybe you won’t be able to live it up in a posh area of Paris but there are lots of affordable places or things you can do on a sabbatical.

Some ideas are to buy a used RV and drive across the continent visiting famous landmarks. There are whole families doing this so why not you? If you have your heart set on France, consider living in a very rural area where you can rent a home for less than 500 euros a month.

14- Use your savings, retirement fund or sell stocks

Do this at your own discretion.  When and if you return back to your homeland, can you start over? You’ll have to do a lot of soul searching for this one I suspect.

15-Sell Your Home

I know several families who have sold their house to fund their travels. Only you can know whether or not this is the right option for you to take.  Were you planning to sell anyways?  Is the market up?


There are so many more ways you can pay and afford to take a sabbatical to travel. You will need to pick and choose the ones that best suit your situation, your comfort level and your goals.  Just remember, there will always be an excuse why you CAN’T take a sabbatical. The truth of the matter is, many of your obstacles are mainly fears. If you really want to make this happen than make it a priority and do it.

Your Turn:  How will or would you finance your sabbatical? Leave your comments below.


I have #2 and it’s sooooo nice! I set my own hours and I can work from anywhere with an internet connection. Disclaimer: I did work on-site for the organization for 3 years before asking to work remotely.

The only slight downside is that if I’m away from my e-mail for a few days, like if I want to take a side trip or brief digital sabbatical, a lot of work builds up. But in general it’s awesome :-)
Brasilicana recently posted..The army’s in town. How bad is the police strike in Salvador?My Profile


Yes, I’m doing just about all of the above! Unfortunately I don’t have a job I can take anywhere, wouldn’t that be nice! I don’t have a job at all, I’m a homeschooling Mum. I’ve not made any money yet, but it’s early days, at least the plans are in place! We’ve taken a 12 month RTW trip before, pre kids. 12 months is easy, you can save for that, but this time we plan to travel indefinitely, that takes a lot more doing! That’s a great article, I’m glad I found it and your website generally. ( I already wrote a similar one myself, yours is better!)

Jarkko Helenius

My own plan in my hopefully near-future stay in Malaysia would be to earn some small side income doing gigs at Fiverr which is another web working service and also probably teaching English. I heard they pay lavishly for foreigners to teach locals there!
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We are a Canadian family living in a village north of Barrie, Ontario and we are ‘going on sabatical’ for a year in France starting May 2014. We are hoping to find a nice french school for my elementary aged children to go to. Any recommendations?

    rob shields

    Found the schools generally in Blois, France, to be good. More specifically, College Notre Dame was our choice for an 11 year old considering options in Paris, Orléans and Blois based on visiting and their interest in having a Canadian child and their attention to the child during our meeting – that is, they interviewed our daughter rather than us. Technologically, French schools seem to be behind those in Canada and teaching is more likely to be a more classical style of pedagogy than a typical Ontario classroom. The reality is likely to be luck of the draw depending on the specific teachers and peers that your children find in their classrooms. I recommend visiting the school before hand.

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