Can a 4-year-old learn a new language within a year? Do children travel well? Let’s examine those questions. 

Children are incredibly adaptable to new situations. They quickly learn physical skills, new words, and social behaviors. Take my daughter, for example. She’s grown up speaking English and a little bit of Spanish with me, but we spent this last year in Hong Kong where they speak a form of Chinese called Cantonese.

Accomplishments for my 4-year-old this year include becoming fluent in Chinese,  diving down into the pool, dribbling a basketball more than 10 times, but, sadly, she still can’t wipe her own butt very well.  

I hope this story inspires you to reconsider how you think about raising children. If you haven’t thought about raising children outside of the United States–or whatever country you’re from–I hope this story encourages you to give it a thought. 🙂

Basketball in Hong Kong

I’m pumped that she enjoys playing basketball with me. I challenge you to play against her in 10 years, she’s gonna be dangerous with her crossover!

Auburn and I after a day on the court

It’s been awesome to watch her become more interested in it the more we play. Seeing her grow and develop her skills each time is so much fun to witness! She really gets after it on defense! 

In the same way, she’s learned other physical skills this year.

Learning to Swim in Hong Kong

At the start of the school year, Auburn was still very hesitant about swimming. She’d had lessons a little over a year ago, but she did not enjoy them.

Since then, I’ve been trying my best to get her accustomed to swimming not just in the pool but also in the waves in the ocean.

best beaches for swimming in hong kong
One of her favorite places to swim in Hong Kong, Shek O Beach

As she’s been slowly exposed to it, she recently had a massive breakthrough! As she would tell you, “I’m not scared anymore,” then quickly dive under the water and come up laughing. 

I’m excited to teach her how to snorkel and surf in the future, but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, we need to work our way up again. 

Is Chinese Hard to Learn?

I would say yes; my Chinese is quite awful even after a year here. I can’t get the tones right, I often forget the words, people look at me confusedly no matter what I say. 

However, if you ask my 4-year-old, she might tell you it’s not so hard to learn Chinese. 

“What are your thoughts on living abroad with children? Let me know in the comments below!”

In fact, she went from understanding zero Chinese last September, to being as fluent in it as she is in English. Furthermore, she’s also a skilled translator–to my advantage!

learn chinese in hong kong
Auburn loving Hong Kong because she actually understands what people are talking about, quite unlike her father! 😀

How did she learn Chinese here in Hong Kong? By attending a local school and spending time with her Chinese family!

A School Year in Hong Kong

So, I would highly encourage anyone who is considering moving abroad with their children to do it. I know that fear of not knowing the language may hold you back, but your kids will manage, I promise you! If you make it a point to get to know the locals, you’ll all learn–but, like me, your children will be better at it. 

It took Auburn about 6 months to really start grasping the new language, but once she took hold, it was leaps and bounds after that. The development has been incredible and I’m excited to see the multilingual person she will grow up to be!

Any Regrets?

When we first got to Hong Kong last year after spending the summer in Michigan, I was again overwhelmed by the noise, the population density, the air quality. 

In Hong Kong, I live in a building that has more people than the village I grew up in. True story. 

living in hong kong
Typical residential area in Hong Kong

While I was disenchanted at first, it grew into frustration over the first six months. Sometimes at being congested with people, sometimes at having to step over carelessly thrown garbage, other times having to listen to the pounding of pneumatic hammers and plate-sized buzz saws. 

Whatever it was, it’s what lead tome drinking way too much

Once I quit drinking, I started reading into something I was always superficially interested in: zen philosophy. I think my dive into the subject has helped me learn to deal with the stress and distraction of living in the city. 

So, for the past two months, it hasn’t really bothered me at all. I just let it be as a consequence of bringing my daughter to a place where she could learn her grandparent’s language. And she’s succeeded, so, mission accomplished. 

a school year in hong kong
Auburn, happy in Hong Kong

I hope you can learn from my experience and see that single parent travel is 100% possible and your whole family will grow and benefit. After talking with many of you on Facebook and Instagram and a little bit on YouTube these days, I realize that there is a lot of mistakes we’ve made, but also successes we’ve had, that you could learn from.

Hopefully, if you’re interested, you can make the jump to a nomadic life one day! You get to travel as a single parent (or with a partner!) and your children will be exposed to new languages and ways of thinking. It’s a win-win!


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Have you recently heard the term ‘digital nomad’ and wondered what it means? I’m one, so let me tell you! It’s a person who works online and isn’t tied to any single location. We are location-independent entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, vloggers, computer scientists, marketers, photographers, musicians, and designers. Some of us are even digital nomad parenting. 

Digital nomads take many forms and infiltrate almost every industry. While there are many young digital nomads showing the world the power of the next generation, there are also people like me: single dads raising our children abroad while blogging about our journey. 

Do you think you’re ready to buck the system that breaks your soul? There’s another lifestyle out there waiting for you, are you ready for it?

I’m ready for the Digital Nomad Parenting Lifestyle!

*Affiliate links present; that means if you make a purchase through any of the links, a commission towards supporting this blog is generated at no cost to you! 

We come with extra baggage; dad joke on so many levels. 

If you’re a parent who is ready to make the leap from being tied to a desk and a plot of land–or a box in a building–to living the digital nomad lifestyle, there are a few key things you should do to prepare. 

1. Keep Your Children Well-Documented

Having your children’s birth certificates, passports, and medical records may be necessary to enter a new country. Having multiple copies of each is suggested, and always have a copy on your person. Also, have recent photos of your child on your phone showing your relationship.

If you’re a single parent, you’ll also need one of two things: your divorce decree showing that you have full legal and physical custody with no travel restrictions (like the photo below), or a letter of permission to travel from your child’s other parent.

digital nomad parenting

2. Diversify Your Income

What are you doing now to make money? Are there ways to expand what you’re doing?

I hope you’ve started a blog, if you haven’t, sign-up for hosting with this offer from Bluehost

 

Your blog is the base of your mobile life, if you don’t exist on the internet, you’re leaving money on the table.  Digital nomad parenting is hard enough without having to worry about cash flow, so up your income and your influence by starting a blog. 

If you want to copy the path I’ve been taking and find your way to working as a freelance writer, then check out  this course by Elna Cain, she helped me find my way when I was just starting and she will help you, too!

Having multiple streams of income will give you a surer sense of stability as you travel the world. I highly recommend using the programs and tools above!

3. Purchase Travel Insurance

Have you wondered about travel insurance and how it works? Is it reliable? Does it cover emergencies? What if my bags are lost? Is it expensive?

There are lots of questions surrounding travel insurance that need to be answered, but here is the most important: what’s the best company for travel insurance for Americans?

The answer is World Nomads

 
 World Nomads is well known for being reliable and covering everything from baggage loss to theft to emergency evacuations. 

Travel insurance gives you a peace of mind that is well worth it’s cost and pays for itself when accidents do occur. 

Conclusion

With the documents to move your children around legally, a diversified income portfolio, and travel insurance to keep you and your children protected, you’re ready to take the digital nomad lifestyle as a parent! 


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