The response I’ve heard most when telling people I was quitting my job as the president of a digital media company and going on sabbatical with my husband and two young daughters was almost universal: “We always wanted to do that but now it’s too late.” I admit, it’s a huge luxury to be able to to do this, but with the sale of a property in Palm Springs, California, plus savings, we decided to just go for it. Our children’s school in Vancouver was being rebuilt. I had sold the media company I co-founded and had spent more than two years setting it up with the new owners, and I was more than ready for a break. I never got a maternity leave with my second daughter, so this would be it! (Charlotte is now seven.)
What I didn’t realize at the time was that setting up a foreign sabbatical year is no walk in the Luxemburg Gardens. It was a like a full time job for almost a year.
Most people start by finding an apartment. “It took us three trips to Paris to find one,” my cousin, whose itinerant family is now based in Africa, told me. But for us, we wanted to start with schools. I didn’t want to spend my gap year underground in the metro shuttling the girls to schools across town. And home schooling was out of the question. We needed to meet other parents and have dinner parties, stat