Yes, We Are Crazy!

Yes, we are leaving our comfortable life in Portland. Yes, we are moving to a city we’ve never been to and a continent we’ve never visited. No, Tom and the girls don’t speak the language. No, we do not have a trust fund. Are we crazy? Absolutely.

So Why?

Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, we are trying to make a considered, thoughtful decision about what we want to do with the next four to five years of our lives. We want to start living like adults again, you know, where we plan our lives in a proactive fashion instead of being reactive. (For those of you without kids, you may not understand, but once you have wee ones, your whole life becomes reactive–feedings, diapers, preschool, applications for kindergarten–it’s ridiculous.) The funny thing is, once the kids get older and you don’t have to be reactive anymore, it’s such a habit, you do it anyway. Rope-a-dope, hands up, just trying to stay on your feet. So we are going to leave for a year, take stock, and make considered plans for the next four of five years that actually fulfill everyone’s needs.

26 Responses to “Yes, We Are Crazy!”

  1. Lisa Oman

    Wonderful, wonderful, I had no idea you were not just vacationing for a week or two. You are my parental heroes! I look forward to reading about the updates on your blog!

    Be safe and have a wonderful time!!!!

    Lisa Oman

  2. Vita

    I to am crazy….on January 15th my 2 year old son and will move to Buenos Aires. I have never been to South America and my Spanish is hardly passable. Here we come!!! If you have any advice I’m all ears, and by the way your blog is super fantastic!!

  3. Fforlani

    How do you live there? Did you find a job or something?
    I would definitively being there now, BA since an intriguing city.

  4. Michele

    We love Buenos Aires…life has been challenging, hilarious and amazing. We are all enjoying the family time together, at least most of the time! We aren’t currently working, but are taking the time to figure out what we are going to do with the rest of our lives, including map out businesses that we may start soon.

  5. Kendall

    I am so glad I found your site, it has everything I’ve been wondering about! We too are uprooting our daughter of 11 to stay in BA for 3 months in January 2010. We’ve never been before and don’t know the language.It’s nice to know their are others like us out there that just want to go for the experience! I want to put my daughter in the BAICA school while we’re there and are considering Belgrano to live in. Too far? Seems like closer apartments are unavailable.

  6. Michele

    Kendall, Great to hear from you. I always like knowing that the blog has been useful for families — I felt tortured by the lack of family resources to check out before we moved here. Tango and the young-and-the-hip are well represented. Fuddy duddy middle aged parents, not so much! Regarding distance from the school, I would really encourage you to try and move as close as possible. The schedule here can be quite a challenge for American parents, as I’ve posted about in the past, so when you have kids, you really need to pad your life with as much ease as possible. That means walking distance from school if you can swing it. We are finally close enough to walk to school, in what is now our 4th apartment, and it really transformed our life!

    I’m surprised you can’t find a suitable dwelling near the BAICA — that’s over in Recoleta/Palermo, right? There are a ton of apartments in that neighborhood oriented toward foreigners, so there is typically a lot of inventory.

  7. Kendall

    Hi Michele! BAICA is in San Fernando now, I think they moved. I’ve found lots of apartments I could live in in Belgrano, but I can find no listings in San Fernando. Would they be listed under a different neighborhood? Where is your school? Are they bilingual?

  8. Michele

    Hey Kendall! I didn’t know that BAICA had moved. I don’t know a lot about the rental market in San Fernando. I am sure there are apartments to rent there, but probably not a lot you can access from overseas. You would have to check into it once you arrived here. In looking at a map between Belgrano and San Fernando, my feeling is that it is WAY too far to consider commuting for school. You would truly be miserable.

    It would seem to me that you have two choices. 1) Try and enroll in BAICA and rent an apartment for 1 or 2 weeks in Belgrano. When you get here, use a local agent to find you something to rent closer to the school. 2) Enroll in a different school.

    A few quick thoughts on schools: almost all of the private programs in Belgrano are bilingual in some form, usually Spanish and English. BAICA is a little different in that it’s an English curriculum with Spanish as a second language. They are on the US school calendar too, isn’t that right? If you want to enroll in an Argentine school, you have to remember that summer break is Mid December to Mid February, so if you arrive in January, you wouldn’t be able to attend school until February.

    Another thing to think about: does your daughter speak any Spanish? Fourth grade is the point grade school gets much more academic in Argentina, and it is hard to jump in with no Spanish if she is only going to be here for 3 months. It would be stressful and boring in the Spanish part of the day where she didn’t understand anything and easy and boring in the English part of the day where we she would be too advanced.

    Some parents who come for fellowships or short sabbaticals homeschool and try and get a social network going through Club de Amigos. Or, they pick one of the English as a first language schools, like the American School or BAICA.

    Let me know if you have more questions!

  9. Kendall

    Hi again Michele!

    Thanks again for all the input, it’s invaluable! By the American School, do you mean Lincoln? I’m not so particular where we live, I’m just trying to make it easy on my daughter who is not nearly as excited about this adventure as we are. Ideally, I’d live by an American school I could get her to easily in an ex-pat community she might make a friend or two in the short time we’re there.

  10. Michele

    Well Kendall, I’m just sorry that all of my input is depressing! Yes, American School is Lincoln. The reason I mentioned the other families I knew who homeschooled during shorter stays is due to your timing for arriving. If you come during the summer break here, then your daughter can meet both local and expat friends through sports programs and camps at the Club de Amigos and could continue with those programs and extend those friendships even when the Argentine school year progresses while you homeschool. Otherwise, your options are really something like Lincoln or BAICA because other programs will require some facility with Spanish. As always, let me know if you have more questions!!

  11. Kendall

    Michele, what’s the San Fernando community like? I have to imagine ex-pat’s are living there for the same reason we would want to be there. Is it too far out of BA for us to experience BA everyday? Is it residential?

  12. Kendall

    Do you think Belgrano Day School or Florida Day School would be a better choice?

  13. Michele

    Kendall, I don’t know that I can make a recommendation not really knowing you and your goals for being here! I will say that my international experience generally supports the supposition that suburban enclaves of foreigners are not great locations in which to experience the resident culture! Having said that, I have no idea if San Fernando is expat heavy or not?!? In fact, I don’t know tons about it at all. I do know that it is about 12 miles out, which is going to make living here a real auto-intensive experience for you. Also, another thing to remember is that you may have difficulty getting into any private school if you only want to attend for 3 months. They tend to enroll for the school year during the year prior. Again, schools like Belgrano Day School will be starting in mid-February of 2010 and will have concluded their enrollment for 2010 by the end of 2009.

    It is also nearly impossible to try and enroll while you are still overseas, although you might have some luck with the English-as-a-first-language types of schools, I’m not sure. The way we handled it was to find a temporary apartment for the first month, figure out school, and then find a place to stay near the school. Of course, it didn’t work out for us because we couldn’t find an apartment near the school until this year, but I can tell you it was pretty rough until we were able to get closer.

    I know that it’s maddening not being able to figure everything out before you get here — especially because you’re coming for a short time, so you don’t have the luxury of trying to get your ducks in a row while you are here. You want to make some smart decisions before you arrive. Ahhh, the joys of planning an international move!

  14. Kendall

    Hi Michele,

    This school thing has me crazy because if I don’t have a reasonable expectation I can make it work, we can’t go.

    Have you heard of anyone who has had a tutor homeschool for a several week stay like we’re contemplating?

  15. Michele

    Believe me, I feel your pain and felt the same way before coming to Argentina. We couldn’t really finalize housing until we could nail down school, which we couldn’t figure out until we got here. A horrible catch-22. But, if you take the leap of faith and come, chances are that you will figure out something for school and that you will be able to find a place to live within a reasonable distance, and just that alone will be a fun family adventure! Hang in there. If you don’t find a school, I’m sure you could figure out some sort of tutor/teacher situation.

  16. Kendall

    Thanks Michele, I think I’m going to take that advice. I’ll notify the school that I’m home schooling and prepare myself to do that, and see how it goes once I’m down there. Flexibility is the key! I’m an optimist, how bad can it be?! 😉

  17. Quickroute

    You are not crazy but just wise! – enjoy the adventure – I hope you guys love it

  18. Michele

    That’s very nice of you, but I assure we are at least partially crazy, if not mostly…crazy, I mean.

  19. Richard

    Why don’t you call BAICA and speak with the director, Bob Newman. BAICA runs private, secure busses to transport it’s students. Door to door.

  20. Michele

    Sounds like a good suggestion, thanks Richard.

  21. Jenny

    Hi Michelle,

    There’s lots of useful stuff here, and you’re a fantastic writer. Thanks for posting! My husband and I are teachers considering a post at the American School and I had a couple of questions. First, what is the attitude to dogs there? We have a couple of small ones we feel we wouldn’t want to leave. Also, what’s hiking and outdoor stuff like? Is it easily accessible? Thank you for all your great info! We’ll be bringing a baby with us as well (2 year old).

  22. Michele

    Wonderful to hear from you — I’m glad you’ve found the blog useful. Let me see if I can answer your questions:

    1) They LOVE dogs here. Everyone seems to have one and they are the most well-behaved, mellow city dogs I have ever seen.
    2) Hiking and outdoor stuff is pretty great in general, but I don’t know how accessible it will be for you from where you live. I’m not super familiar with the suburb where Lincoln is located, so I don’t know what’s around there, but it’s generally pretty flat here. We do so much walking in the city as a part of our daily lives, that we don’t really seek out more hiking in the greater BA area! As a country though, you can find hikes in every imaginable landscape here — rainforest, desert, steppes, forest, blah blah blah.
    3) This is a great country to live in with children as well in that everyone is very tolerant and kind to those with the small people!

    Good Luck!

  23. Rick A. Griffith

    Love this explanation and how you embrace the yes we are crazy mindset. Gives me a new way to tell my parents I am leaving instead of arguing I can just tell them I too am crazy haha. Just found this blog this evening, and well it’s now 4 am, (I tend to get hooked on good content). Anyways just wanted to say hi as I am coming down very soon and have started my own blog documenting my journey. You guys are a great inspiration!

  24. Michele

    Rick! Great to hear from you, and welcome, it’s lovely to be a card carrying member of “CRAZY.” I look forward to reading through your blog! (Know you aren’t alone, in meeting with expats from all over the world here we’ve run across some doozy family reactions to CRAZY!!)

  25. Karina Jensen

    Hi Michelle.

    My family and I are moving to BA in Oct. 2010 for 6 months(we are from Denmark in Europe). We have a daughter( she was 3 in Nov.) and another one on the way in Feb. Do you know anything about daycare/kindergardens? I would like my oldest to have a place to play with other kids and make friends…

    We will be living in the Palermo area(or would like to) and I thought about the Belgrano day school, but you write that they are closed from Dec. to mid Feb.

    I also thought about renting a place for 1 month, and then when we get there go and see different apartments for the next 5 months. Is it possible to get a place from day to day…

    Nice website, a lot of good info for families.

    Best regards

  26. Michele


    The level of school you are talking about is called “jardin,” which is essentially preschool/daycare, depending upon the program. At that age group, you have a lot more options than if you were trying to enroll a high schooler, for instance. But, the 6 month time period you are talking about being in Buenos Aires is tough for school enrollment because you are arriving right before summer vacation. Many schools, including Belgrano Day School, will not accept new students right before summer. I only have experience with the jardin programs that were affiliated with primary/secondary schools — there may be some that are just preschool, but if there are, I don’t know if they let out for summer as well.

    We enrolled our children at Islands International (in Belgrano) and were very happy there. They don’t have a huge population of foreigners, so they are a little more accommodating than some other schools that are popular with expats. But, they do have an IB program at the high school level, so you know they are getting a decent education. Another option is to join one of the social kids clubs, like Club de Amigos, which will have programs for kids all summer long. You can use that for networking with other parents and setting up play dates, both with expats and Argentines alike.

    Regarding furnished apartments, we lived in 4 during our 14 months. Generally, to avoid spending your whole day transporting your child all over the city, you will want to live somewhat close to school if you go that route. Otherwise, it’s viable to rent for a month and then move somewhere else once you have your school/club situation figured out. Remember though, October to February is high season for the rental of furnished apartments to foreigners, so you have less flexibility than you would in say July.

    Hope this helps!! Besos!!

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