We have some big news. #notababy

by Janelle Hanchett

Well, I’m just going to say it: We’re moving to the Netherlands.

We are selling our house, getting rid of most of our stuff, and moving to the Netherlands this summer.

I’ve started this blog post about ten times and keep giving up because I know you’re going to ask me “Why?” and I really want to explain why, but it’s hard. We’ve been contemplating this for years and I don’t know how to wrap ten thousand hours of conversation up in a single blog post.

And no matter what I say, out loud or to myself, I am acutely aware of how lucky we are to do this, how we are nowhere near the people threatened by or suffering the most from what’s happening in our country right now, and our reasons for leaving sound a little like a blend of Eat Pray Love (puke) and some sort of DITCH THE CUBICLE FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS weekend workshop in Missouri.

Our reasons are small and material and vast and, dare I say it? Spiritual.



We want to live. We want to do something. We want our kids to witness a reality that isn’t American.

Our lives aren’t working. No. They are just working. That’s it. We are surviving. Full stop.

We work and drive and pay and sleep and work and pay and drive and look to the future for relief. Someday. Someday it will get easier and better and we won’t feel like we are spending our ONE SINGLE FUCKING LIFE working and paying and driving in circles, all of it in circles, still living paycheck to paycheck, so we can turn 65 or 70 and maybe retire, hoping we make it that far, ten or twenty years before we die, thinking finally Oh good, now I get to do some shit.

When I say this, I think of how damn near all of us live this way. I feel the privilege of even contemplating a different life. My life as a writer. A house we can sell. No dependents we need to stay and take care of (as in, ailing parents). A family that I’m 99% sure would buy us plane tickets home if we were about to hit the streets of Amsterdam.

I don’t think a life lived in the crushing grind of late-stage capitalism is a wasted life, a life less lived.

What I think is that Mac and I are tired of being trapped in a life that works on the outside but costs us everything we’ve got on the inside.

We want to try something else, somewhere else.

We have always wanted to not live here for some portion of our lives, but when we had kids five minutes after we met, we gave up that dream. When we visited Spain and France in 2017, it re-planted itself in our foreheads and refused to leave. It spun around our brains but always fell dead against another thought: But we can’t do that. How would we do that? We have four kids. We aren’t trust-fund babies.

Eventually, we began to wonder who gets to decide what we can and can’t do with our lives, what’s “immature” and “irresponsible” versus “mature” and “reasonable.”

WHO GETS TO DEFINE WHAT MAKES SENSE IN OUR LIVES?  Who convinced us that this is life? And why and how did we buy so fully into it?

When you’re on your deathbeds, you’ll never regret going. But you may regret not going. Those were the words of my friend Lisa that did us in.


We’re going on a freelancer visa. Mac is going to make & sell custom steel and wood furniture (as in, starting a new business) and I’m going to continue writing and teaching.

I don’t think everyone can do this, wants to do this, or needs to do this for “fulfillment.” I don’t think we’re braver or more profound or harder workers than anybody who wants to do something like this but isn’t or can’t. I don’t think we are special and to be quite honest I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite as exposed as I do right now, telling you this, which is why I’ve waited so long.

Because I can’t control what others do with this narrative. Of course I can’t control what the internet does with any of my words, but normally, by the time my fingers hit the keyboard, I know what I think and I know what I want to say and I am prepared to stand in the truth as I see it, knowing, of course, that I could be wrong, but that’s another topic.

Normally, I have considered and thought through and feel comfortable standing by what I say.

But I don’t know shit about this. I don’t know if it’s the “right” decision.

It’s messy and I’m afraid.

And the truth is, if we fail, we’ll move back. What else can we do?


And so, here I am, telling you this, and inviting you to hang out with us on this fucking adventure. We are packing and selling our house now. This is the first place I’ve ever felt is a real, real home. That’s another post, but we’re saying goodbye to the happiest home we’ve ever had, the brightest, most comfortable place, even though there’s a triple bunk in one bedroom and Arlo’s dresser is in a hallway.

I don’t know how to leave my parents. I don’t know how to leave my friends. I don’t know how to say goodbye to the roar of the northern California ocean and the redwood trees and Lake Tahoe and the vineyards of Sonoma County. There’s so much here for us.

Mac has never lived outside of this county. Not country. COUNTY. We don’t speak Dutch (I know everyone there speaks English but still).

What if it all goes wrong? What if we just can’t do it?

But what if we didn’t try?


the trip that did us in


If you read my book, you’ll know this was a dream of mine since I lived in Spain in 2000.

Fuck it, here we go.

137 Comments | Posted in .....I make bad decisions..., Netherlands | March 10, 2019
  • Katie Sluiter


    • Robin Jenkins

      Good for you and Mac! Willy and I are cheering for you all. Follow your dreams and don’t look back. You both worked hard for the prosperity that is allowing this decision so good for you. What a grand adventure, I suspect you will never regret this decision! So exciting!

    • Shelley

      I think it’s bad-ass and brave and I am cheering for you!

    • Hank

      Wow congratulations! Best of luck to you and your family. Living abroad at this time is a brilliant idea and I only hope that you and your family will experience the kind of better quality of life that I was able to find living in Australia. I thank my stars every day that I no longer live in the States – a place that I was once so proud of growing up in – where hate and xenophobia is sadly becoming too common place. In Oz, the wages are fair, healthcare is incredible (was even able to get subsidies for fertility treatments) and most companies offer 12-18 weeks paid maternity leave. I’m just plain bummed that I only discovered your blog after searching in google “my 10 month old will only sleep on me” as I embark on a return next week to a pretty gruelling career that I already once tried to leave before. Anyway, wishing you all the best and will definitely buy your book!

      • Grace

        I can say for certain you will not regret this. I did my PhD in aged care and heard many stories of life regrets – very few were for things done (the few that there were of these were falling out with poeple, friends, family etc) the vast majority were of things NOT done – especially travel which many left too late in life and weren’t able to do. Even if you have, or choose, to move back to the states at some point you still will have succeeded at showing your kids how big and amazing the world is and how different cultures think, live and work. Even if they struggle to fit in initially that in itself is so valuable to learn what it is like to be an ‘outsider’ – it will make them more compassionate to others later (I can vouch for this from personal experience). So enjoy every high and low and no matter what happens it will all be ‘successful’ – for everyone.

  • Jennifer Wolfe

    WOW! That’s so cool…I’m jealous. Seriously. I do look back and wish I had taken my kids away…I could only manage to do it for weeks at a time, and then my daughter took study abroad during college. I’m hoping my son will, too. Good for you. I can’t wait to follow along!

  • Elizabeth

    I have been reading your words for a while. I’m going to buy your book now so maybe it can help you with your dream just a tiny bit. I’m rooting for you! I have a magnet on my fridge that says “If you do not change direction, you will end up where you are heading.” I have frequently made big life decisions based on that magnet????.

  • Amanda

    Wow! Whoa. That’s crazy and awesome and really freaking cool. I hope you’ll continue your blog and Facebook page as I love to read your work. Good luck and I can’t wait to hear about your journey!

  • Kellerich

    Hi, I have never in my life commented on a posts but was inspired by your brave move to do so. I think it is amazing, courageous and super adventurous to give this a try. I love reading your blog and will be even more attentive following your move. I speak from experience when I say that it won’t be easy but it will be incredibly enriching…even the tough stuff. Be sure to join the Facebook community Two Fat Expat. You will find a worldwide expat community prepares to help with all sorts of questions. Then find the local English facebook group in the Netherlands for more local support. It will save your sanity! Good luck! Enjoy!

    • Lorain

      This is freaking awesome, and I cannot wait to read about it. You are giving your family a gift that can never be duplicated. Be open to opportunities and adventures that may come up unexpectedly. I’m thrilled for all of you!

  • Jackie

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Anne

    I’ve moved abroad twice, come back to California twice, and I still ache for the friends I made overseas. Every time, no matter which direction I traveled, it hurt to leave. There was culture shock and reverse culture shock. I can’t wait to do it again.

    • Ola

      Reverse culture shock is real!

  • Jo

    I live a parallel life to you Janelle. It is freaky. It happens in my life and I then read about in your blog. This week has all been about emigrating from the UK to Spain, then I read this! I live Amsterdam, it is amazing, and a perfect place to bring up children. Hope you have your cycling legs at the ready! Good for you, that’s all I can say. Good for you. In my parallel life my two eldest are not up for moving to Spain. I have more work to do ❤️

    • Jenny

      Oh Janelle, I got tears reading this post. It actually took me a few days to open it because it’s hard to watch other people do what you’d like to but can’t. I am so happy for your family and desperately jenvious. I hope it’s incredible. Love it up for all of us!!!!!

  • Trina

    You are doing the right thing. Even if it’s the wrong thing, it is the right thing. I am SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY for you!!

  • Michelle

    I love your perspective if only for the fact that you are one of the very few women who have ever admitted out loud that Eat, Pray , Love is nauseating. Ultimate Ick . Thank you and safe travels ????Be Well

  • Zan

    Awesome! Way to jump! Happy landing to all of you!

  • Siv Hansen

    I am ridiculously excited about these news. Excited for you, but also because you are going to be CLOSER TO ME – like – still in a different country, but here! In Europe! Haha! Maybe you will do a workshop!? Good luck!

  • Katrine Capion

    One word: YEEEEEEEEESS!!! (Fuck yeah!!how awesome)

  • Jessica L Hyatt

    Wow! This is so inspiring and brave. Follow your heart and who knows where it may lead!

  • Jill

    Girl, I am so jealous. The Netherlands are so lovely and the people are so kind. What a perfect antithesis to our current cultural and economic clusterfuck. It has to be scary as hell, but you will figure it out. What an awesome adventure. ????????????????

  • Sarah

    Congratulations. I’m in the uk and on a selfish note it’s nice to know you are closer if you ever do a tour. I would love to leave the UK however I’m separated from my DS’s dad, so am stuck here until he is 18. But that does give me plenty of time to plan. Bulgaria here I come (in 6 years).

    And always remember how brave you are being for your little ones, and remember to breath.

  • Kayla

    I think this is amazing and my husband and I find ourselves in a somewhat similar situation although not entirely. We’ve lived in Northen Virginia our entire lives. It’s a great place to advance in career but is rated top 3 worst traffic. There used to be seasons but now it seems like it’s either miserably cold or miserably hot and humid. We just are not happy here so our house is going on the market 3/22 and we are moving to San Diego. We have to plan either but we love San Diego. We love the beaches. We’re extremely excited. I get you not knowing how you feel because (although we will still be in our native country) this could be complete culture shock for 2 east coasters. It could be too expensive. But we keep coming to this – we have one life and we will not waste it away working and sitting in traffic all week. I hope your house sells fast and your visas go thru quickly and that you have the most amazing time ever! Congratulations ????

  • Leila

    You’ve got a place to stay in Norway if you make it up this way. Not even kidding, come visit! From a Canadian who randomly picked up her comfortable-but-not-THE-life world in Canada and moved to Norway “for a year” 12 years ago… you are making an AWESOME decision! It’s not always going to be easy. Frankly, a lot of it is going to be crazy hard. And so, SO worth it. I’m here if you need a friend in the same time zone. 🙂

  • Dina

    Good luck with your move. I am of the belief that you cannot know until you try. I packed up and moved countries on the spur of the moment 32 years ago and it was a great decision. It was scary and exciting and there were some shit times but all worth it. I have just made another drastic move a couple of months ago and the roller coaster began again but whatever happens I think it is better than getting into your 60s and realising that by playing it safe all you did was exist not live. I will be sending good vibes across the ocean for you and your family

  • Alexandra van Dam

    Stumbled upon your website a couple years ago before I had kids and kept following. Do not always agree with you, but many times I do. I’m Dutch and can tell you with certainty that you will be fine here. Everyone speaks English, through all ranks of society. I’ve been wondering how you guys deal on a daily basis with the suffocating truth of Trump being president. But I guess this is it. Please be warned that we have some loonies in our parliamenf as well (Thierry baudet and Geert Wilders for example). Of there’s anything I can assist you with, do reach out. My husband is partner at a PR-agency that may be interested in helping you gain some attention for your writing. Also, i’m looking for kids furniture of Mac is interested in doing that. Are all your kids coming? Good luck!

  • Lisa

    Hell yeah! Y’all got this. Everything’s going to work out, in many cases unexpectedly. Prepare for pleasant surprises. Prepare to be homesick (you will be, all of you – just expect it and let it pass). Prepare to complain about the weather. Prepare for countless family bike rides with picnics! The Dutch are very welcoming people, you really couldn’t have chosen better. This expat is about an hour an a half away in Germany – ping me if you need anything. Hold on to your hats!! One way or another it’s going to be a wild, thrilling ride! But you still have to do laundry…

  • Suzanne

    Yayayayayayay!!! The tulips are starting to bloom. The pop-up restaurants at the beach (Scheveningen) are starting to pop up. Hibernation is over and the streets are filled with people who have a spring in their step. Can’t wait to show the fam Den Haag and NL. We await your arrival! Hugs…

  • Špela

    Welcome to Europe! 🙂

  • Laura W

    Wow Janelle, that is just amazing! So, we did the opposite (sort of) – came from the UK nearly 4 years ago, and settled in the LA area. I’d always loved the idea of living somewhere else/showing ourselves a different culture. The Netherlands has ALWAYS been on my list, as I’m half Dutch – husband was freaked about learning another language… it can be tough to make those kinds of decisions. I look forward to hearing where you end up settling, seeing your photos of the amazing coast (especially Northern Holland – it’s wild and beautiful), and hearing about your adventures with bicycles! OH and being able to cross into other countries, no fuss. So wonderful to have all of Europe on your doorstep! See, now I’m homesick 🙂

  • Jen

    YES!!! You go girl! And may the force be with you (or whatever it is you believe in!) 🙂

    I’m 40 and nearly died in 2017 due to a freak medical accident. In summer of 2018 my husband almost died from a rupturing gastric tumor we didn’t even know he had. The day I took him home from the hospital I told him “Fuck this… we’re surviving, not living.” We made the decision that day to relocate out of state to our vacation cabin in the rural UP of Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior. We did that just 2 months later – leaving behind jobs, family, friends and everything we knew.

    I’d like to tell you it was easy. Five weeks after moving, our insane drunk-ass armed neighbor threatened us over a hunting dispute (he was wrong) and stalked our 9-year-old daughter. He was arrested with an arsenal of weapons in his living room and we are still dealing with testifying against him and maintaining Personal Protection Orders for ourselves and our property. Then a few weeks later, I broke a 25-year silence as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse on my blog. I thought the world would end because I spoke my truth out loud and waited for the sky to fall.

    As life would have it, my karmic retribution was our home burning to the ground on Feb. 2 with all our worldly possessions in it. I cannot tell you what it feels like to stand in 4 feet of snow on the ground, in the middle of nowhere and watch everything you own be consumed in the largest fireball you’ve ever seen. To be standing there in the clothes on your back and no idea what comes next… We had spent our live savings relocating and I was looking for a job as a L&D RN while trying to deal with our traumatized 9 and 3-year-old daughters.

    We are currently living in a hotel and waiting for insurance to come through … but you know what? Never, not once, did my husband and I look at each other and say “We shouldn’t have done this.” We’ll get through this and be stronger for it. Things can be replaced – people and moments and LIFE cannot.

    Life is too short. Live your dream – and if you have to … come home. But even if life deals you a similar hand to mine, I promise you – you won’t be standing there wishing you’d done anything any different.

    All of my best to you and your beautiful family! (And thank you for your book – I LOVED it and it resonated with me SO much!).

    • Brooke

      Hi Jen,

      You’re comment struck home with me, quite literally. Hello from a fellow UP-dweller. We spend most of our summer up on the shores of Lake Superior, and I swear, the air is just lighter up there. My husband and I have had many a conversation about moving up there permanently, due to the rat race here “below the bridge.” Frankly, I’m not sure why we haven’t done it yet, seeing as we continually feel like we’re just going through the motions, day by day.

  • Peggy

    Go! girl! You’ll never regret it!

  • Lisa J

    Vulnerability is courage in the face of risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure (according to Brene Brown) and is absolutely required for connection. Your willingness to be vulnerable / authentic has connected people all over the world. It’s the major reason we love you (the fact you are hilarious and swear helps too). I can’t wait to share your new experiences and read another book. Yay.

  • Moira

    Good for you. We did the same three years ago and we don’t regret the move at all. We’ve had bad times and lots of insecurity, but really do feel like we are on holiday all the time, even when things are tough. On a different note, my sister lives in Amsterdam if that’s where you are heading. She and her husband work and really struggle to find available tradespeople to do work on the house. I really don’t think there’s a lot of handy people there. I always think if we were young and childfree then it would be worth going to Amsterdam as a tradesperson and you would never be short of work …decorating, building, electricians etc. It’s worth a try if one of you is good at it. Good luck!

  • amy gutowski

    i’m not saying why. i’m saying HELL YES. more than anything i want my daughter to travel. happy adventure. excited to follow yous.

  • Amy

    Ummm, how is it that you keep getting awesomer??? So happy for you and your family! Plus, they have chocolate flakes (chocoladevlokken) to put ON SANDWICHES in The Netherlands (I used to room with some Dutchies)!! How can THAT not be the greatest country in the world when you eat chocolate flakes on sandwiches? And Gouda cheese…..

    • Courtney

      Yes! Pretty sure the chocolate flakes on sandwiches + stroopwafels are reason enough to move to Amsterdam. Here’s to listening to our hearts and living our best life *now* instead of never!

  • Monica

    I cannot wait to read about your adventures. Good luck in this new journey.

  • Maryanne

    We said all those same things when we decided to open a retro arcade. When we are old and on our deathbed are we going to regret not doing it?

    We are a month away from opening and it’s been hard and the amount of money we’ve spent so far takes my breath away. We are so close though.

    Good luck.

  • Nieves

    Double fuck yes!!

    Where are you moving to in the Netherlands? I love Holland. The first thing I do when I go is get some vanilla vla, and then as soon as I can I got to a fish shop and have some herring wth onion, so delicious!

  • Nieves

    And! You’re going to take us along for the journey, I’m looking forward to reading all about it!

  • Katie Steenstra

    YES!!! What a phenomenal, risky, awesome decision! Cannot wait to hear more about your adventure. Congrats to you for making it happen!

  • Sophie

    We lived a couple years in the Netherlands (Eindhoven) pre-kids. I would still move back in a heartbeat with kids. Things just made sense there. You can live really well on a small income, get a few used bikes with good locks and invest in nice raingear. It’s hard to get into established Dutch circles but the expat life is booming. Everyone at least understands English, most speak it. The government might provide classes with your visa. Looking forward to read your experiences!

  • Michele

    Yep, a some day never comes. I’m going to be 60 this year and one of my biggest regrets is not pushing against the “norm” sooner. We (my husband and four kids) have had more adventures than most, and in 2012 my husband took a work assignment in Germany, where we lived for four years, but I wish we would have found a way to change it up sooner, while the kids were still at home.

    Have a grand time, and I’ll be pulling for Mac’s furniture to sell and your second book to be a hit. :o)

  • Denise B

    How fucking fantastic is this? While there will be times when things seem dark or difficult as they inevitably do when you go and change EVERYTHING, please remember to give yourselves some grace. I’m excited to see and hear about what’s next. Love and support and adventure to you!

  • Sem

    I’m reading your blog from Europe (Austria to be exact) and while I always wonder a little bit about most Americans and how they see and do things (surprisingly different from most Europeans), I can imagine you and your family and your way of life being very happy here and fitting well. The Netherlands should be happy to have you. Save travel!

    • Robin Jenkins

      Good for you and Mac! Willy and I are cheering for you all. Follow your dreams and don’t look back. You both worked hard for the prosperity that is allowing this decision so good for you. What a grand adventure, I suspect you will never regret this decision! So exciting!

  • Amy Peggs

    I came straight from instagram to post this. (And then my friend came over and I got distracted for a few hours but whatever) I am so excited for you guys!! Moving country was the best stupid awesome thing we ever did, honestly. We left the UK for Germany 5 years ago and I haven’t regretted it for a second. I also assumed that a baby at 20 would have put the “living abroad for a while” dream into just a pipe dream, but (spoiler alert) it actually doesn’t? And it’s pretty awesome. Oh and also Dutch people are lovely. And you should read the blog Amsterfam, because it’s about a family who moved to Amsterdam and it’s hilarious. And also hello we will be on the same continent, yay!

    But mostly aaaaaggh and yay and I’m excited for all of you.

  • Deborah Cooper

    Have been discussing This Very Thing and moving to the Netherlands with 2 kids, and feeling like We’re Too Old. There are so many seeming obstacles but I’m inspired by your move…hope you’ll keep blogging about it!

  • Miranda

    Amazing! Jealous, inspired, curious and so looking foward to hearing the ins and outs. A loooong time dream of mine. Perhaps it’s time to start planning!

  • Judy

    Wow. Just wow. I tried for years to talk my husband into something like this, but it was a non starter. So, after 32 years, I got rid of the negativity in my life and I’m ending the last year of my fifties as a single woman. I don’t know if I’ll pack up and leave (I can’t take my adult life along) but I know if I didn’t do it, I would be miserable till the end.

    Congratulations on being awesome and taking chances.

  • Linda Laino

    Bravo! and well done! I have lived in Mexico for seven years (solo, my son is grown) for all the reasons you cite, and it’s been as fantastic experience. I only WISH I had done it with and for my child when he was younger. You (and your kids) will never regreat it. I’ve been a teacher here and have watched many ex-pat kids simply flourish with all they are exposed to.

  • Jen

    Congratulations!! So excited for all of you and am sure it will be an experience of a lifetime.

  • Michaela

    Fucking good on you all!! [insert triple applause emoji…] Maybe you needed your current home as the safe space in which to grow into this decision 🙂

  • Erin

    I loved, loved, loved reading this post. But I was moved to happy tears by the comments. So much support and friendship and LOVE (the awesome kind, not the nauseating eat/pray kind) for you that I can feel it radiating from the page (or my tablet is giving me cancer, but I prefer not to dwell on the negative). If I could follow your example, I’d do it as soon as I could get passports for the boys and myself. I’d come up against some vaguely patriotic correctness though. So like your other readers, I will look forward to your adventure updates and send good vibes across the ocean to you. <3 xox

  • Tonya Kantola

    Good for you!!!

  • Rose

    Wow! Just go! full stop. Cannot wait to here all about it

  • Marie

    Oh. My. God. FUCK YES!

  • Tara

    I lived in Rotterdam for a year in my early 20s and LOVED it. The lifestyle is so appealing, in so many ways. Many of the appealing aspects are things you can’t really appreciate just dipping in as a tourist, so hopefully you’ll enjoy the process of discovery. Most people do speak excellent English, but the language is also very accessible and the kids in particular will learn quickly. Whatever happens, I can guarantee that you’ll end up feeling happy you at least tried! Best of luck to your family!!!!

  • Candice

    Good for you! I can’t even imagine how scary it must be to walk away from the known to the unknown. No matter what it will be an incredible adventure for you and your family.

  • Necole

    Good on you! Trust your gut and know that the best adventures and most exciting stories are made possible by this initial thrilling, nauseating, panicking, marvelous leap into the unknown.
    All the best to you and yours. And here’s to a Life Well Lived!

  • Helene

    Go. Go! We’re here. WRITE, WOMAN, WRITE!

  • Anna Goanna

    That is so fucking awesome Janelle!
    We took a risk as a family and moved halfway across the country with going kids to a place we didn’t know a single soul. It paid off and we’re so glad we did it!
    Having courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s feeling the fear and doo B&B it anyway. Own it, you badass family!

  • Shannon

    Oh My God. DO THIS THING!

  • Sara

    Exactly one year ago, my husband and I plus 2 kids and 3 dogs moved to Canada. It has been a wild ride, but we are so glad we took the plunge (and yes, I know, it’s Canada, but the northern US border isn’t as porous as you’d think, and our lives here are truly different from those we knew before. My husband had never before lived more than 30 miles from his birthplace. So many similarities. You’ve made an awesome choice and you’re in for a great adventure.

  • Kathleen

    Hot Damn!!! I can’t wait to read about your family taking the Netherlands by storm. Happy to hook Mac up with a Shopify store discount. Hit me up when he’s ready!

  • Jen

    Hats off to you!! That was a thoughtfully written post and I am so excited for you and your family!!

  • caris

    hi Janelle
    I am sure you will not regret this, as your friend so wisely said. Thankyou for sharing your fears and dreams! I’m back inThailand visiting my ex husband after leaving him here twenty years ago and moving to australia- now my kids are grown up i am traveling alone again, but when they were babies i lived in India and Nepal with them, and I feel so!! privileged to be someone who is able to move around this planet and experience different ways of living, breathe different airs:) *Every place I lived in I left thinking i’d come back soon, and many many places I have never returned to, yet … there is HEARTBREAK in moving places… I still cry when i think of India … but this is a full-hearted life, no? A life where you LOVE what you are doing and where you are, where you don’t feel trapped.

    Make the most of every minute!
    Please keep writing this blog, I am excited to read about your life in Holland!
    All the best and lots of ❤️ and hope! xxx

  • Jennifer

    Hi Janelle,
    First off, I’ve read you for years, since I lived in California with my American husband and always thought you were one of the funniest, most heart-wrenching writers I’ve read. I read your posts on motherhood whenever I need a good ugly-cry. We moved to my native country of Sweden almost 8 years ago. I was lucky enough to have a spouse who’s not scared of adventure and we now have three kids here and are running a place called Södviks Gästgivaregård, a B&B, restaurang and event place at 300 year-old grounds. Pretty sure he would trade it for the Netherlands if he could, it’s a wonderful country and he’s going with friends for his 40th in just a few weeks!

    I don’t know if you need any word of advice but I’m giving them anyway 🙂 I read another comment about reverse culture shock and that is so true: you are not the same as when you left, and it’s hard for people to relate to you in the same way when (or if) you return. You have different glasses on and the light reflects in new ways. This move will change you all, even if you choose to return. With that said, you will NEVER regret it for long. A new language is tough (I also work as a Swedish for immigrants teacher) and people can be surprisingly difficult to get close to in some European countries (how I miss the American spontaneity!) but oh. The sights. The sounds. The food. The freshness of it all. Europe at your doorstep. Even when it’s tough, you feel alive in a way that’s impossible to explain before you go for it!
    I want you to have a writers workshop in the Netherlands and I’ll be there! Just not around major holidays or summertime please (work day and night then..) April or September would be wonderful 😉 Or you can have it here. I’m serious, we would love to host you, even if you just need a little trip with your family, we have room for you all, beautiful places to write and could have much use of your handy husband 😉
    This turned in to a book (what happens when you spend 9 years before writing your first comment) but I’m serious, email me.
    Hugs on you brave people! Let’s live!

  • Janet Rogers

    Our family didn’t go that far, but in 2007, after my husband was laid off from his job of 28 years, we decided to move from Florida, the over crowded land of hurricanes and one season, and had lived our entire lives, to the Charlotte, NC area. Haven’t been back since, and have never regretted it. My kids and grandkids are here, and I’m content..

  • Steffanie

    Fuck yeah!! That is so exciting (and I’m sure equally terrifying in your shoes). Can’t wait to see the awesomeness unfold.

  • Mel

    Yes! Everyone will have an opinion, positive and not-so. That’s cool. It’s not their life, but whatever they need to do to deal with change (even someone else’s!) is fine. We moved from Sydney to Tasmania this year, leaving friends, family and, for me, a well-paying but all-consuming job that was making me question the meaning of life. No shit. And I’m sooo much happier! But even if I wasn’t, taking a chance was still worth more to me than stagnating in the existential miasma. I, for one, am fucking rapt for you. And that’s my two cents’ worth ; ))

  • Kerry

    Yay! Congratulations! My husband did his post-doc in Groningen and we have wonderful friends in Leiden. We’ll be visiting the Netherlands in October this year (first time for me.)

    We lived in Cape Town, South Africa from 2009-2013 when my son was age 4-8 years. Best thing we’ve ever done as a family. I lived abroad for most of my 20’s before having kids and can say we found it so much easier to meet great friends with the kid in tow.

    You’re gonna have moments in the first few weeks or months when you land in NL and you’re gonna ask yourself “WTF were we thinking?!?!?” Then that big sale will go through or that writing contract will show up and you’ll realize things might just work out and holy damn we’re happy and this is actually working!

    Rock on Janelle’s family. This will be worth it!

  • Inca Dunphy

    When I was 11 my single mum, younger sister and I sold everything we owned and moved to Amsterdam without a plan. We didn’t have any assets to fund us but selling all our stuff paid for the tickets and we survived off the single parent pension from Australia for a few months. We didn’t have proper visas and my mum ended up delivering flowers by bicycle in the city for almost no money. At one point she negotiated for street buskers from Russia to teach us music in exchange for English lessons in our kitchen. We managed to stay like that for a year until the whole lack-of-visa situation started to become an issue and we had to leave again. I don’t usually comment on blogs but I’m writing this to let you know that as a young adolescent it was by far the best and most enriching year of my life. It shaped the person I became. I learnt so much about the wold, about myself and about what matters. I’m currently sitting on the couch with my six week old daughter and am looking forward to giving her similar experiences in the future.

  • Belinda

    Just do it. That’s all.

  • Wendy

    Go for it! I have heaps of relatives in Holland and would love to go live there one day so am v jealous! For now I would be happy to move to New Zealand to get away from our political shire fight called an election that is happening here soon.

  • Anna

    Before I can commit to follow this storyline I need to know if the dog will be ok.

    • renegademama

      Why, he’s coming with us, of course!

      • Anna

        Excellent! Have an amazing adventure then!

  • Erika

    So excited for you and the family! Also super jealous!

  • Nancy Davis Kho

    Right decision. Even if it turns out to be the wrong decision, NOT trying it would have been the wrong decision. And I bet it works out great. Super excited for you guys and honestly lightweight jealous. xoxoox Nan

  • Stacy

    Wow. This is absolutely amazing. This is so what we all want to be doing and you have the fucking balls to do it. I love this and the way that you let us into your family, struggles, joy and pain. Godspeed and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you all. <3

  • scar

    Welcome to Europe! It’s great here. A couple of things that might be helpful:

    Do you guys know about this initiative in Amsterdam? It sounds like it might be useful for Mac? https://www.expatfocus.com/c/aid=5296/podcast/2019/how-an-amsterdam-workshop-is-providing-an-entry-point-for-expats/

    Also, I run a writing and translation agency and we commission a lot of articles about expat life in Europe. If you’re ever looking for a couple of article commissions to kill time / earn a bit of cash in between writing for your own projects, drop me a line. I love your style 🙂

  • Catherine Uretsky

    I know it is scary but this is an amazing thing you are doing for yourself and your family. Broadening the children’s horizons and exposing them to another culture is one of the best gifts you can give them. I have many relatives in the UK and if you ever want a place to stay there just ask. That is what Europeans do, they open their homes and hearts to others.

    Plus medical care. And higher education. And culture. And travel. And a more progressive viewpoint. And the ability to have a discussion about religion or politics without getting to the point where you worry for your safety. AND you can send your kids to school and not worry that they will be shot.

    I am so happy for you and can’t wait to see your blog going forwards.

    P.S. Try the pancakes. Life changing.

  • Sarah Riedl

    Amazing. So, so, so good. I will buy your next book to help fund your new life. And in the mean time I’m sending you all the good vibes and happy wishes.

  • Andrea Eisen

    Love love love this. So very much.

    I’m thrilled for you all. Can’t wait to see how this journey goes.

  • Tiff

    OMG take me and my band of crazies with you!

  • Catherine Forest

    This is just amazing. We have ditched the busy life 5 years ago and have been living in a big bus with our daughters (3 teenagers now!) and yes it’s scary and messy at times, but it’s so freeing. And we’re not racing anywhere. No lunch box, no soccer practices, just lots of great adventures together. I’ll be following your adventure with great interest. The next step for us is Europe (after Costa Rica, Canada and the US).

  • TimWarp


  • Cindy

    I can’t wait to hear how it all goes and wish you and your family a safe move and believe you will all be very happy and successful❣️❣️

  • Claire

    Wow, I was not expecting that! Good for you. Our Swiss adventure is just ending butand you break your heart being an expat. But it’s 100% worth it! Can’t waitto hear of your Dutch adventures. I only wish we would have crossed paths in Europe! X

  • Tracy

    Good for you! My only experience with this is moving from Colorado to South Carolina so my husband could go to chiropractic school. We’re back in Colorado and my husband is a practicing chiropractor now. We met some amazing people and had some incredible experiences – not to mention the culture shock we encountered! However, my regret with the whole thing was that my attitude sucked! I just kept thinking about what I was giving up and missing out on by not living in Colorado. The whole thing ended up making me fat and depressed. If I could go back and do it again, I would focus on having an adventurous and grateful attitude instead of only being happy when we could visit family back in Colorado. If this move is right for you and your family, you go Girl! Can’t wait to read your blogs from The Netherlands!

  • Isabel Ford

    Don’t try to justify this or help us understand because 1. we love you and don’t need you to justify shit and 2. we all understand. We may not all want that, but I would love to do that. It is crazy and scary and if you have the chance to try, then go for it! My husband looked at my like I was crazy when I told him that I wanted this, too, so I don’t see us leaving the United States any time soon specifically Texas. But man, I look forward to reading about your adventures which I hope will push me to risk more myself. Best of luck! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  • Jemimah


    • Jemimah

      My parents moved our family to Paris from England when I was 6. We lived there for 10 years. I am forever grateful for this amazing experience.

  • Liz

    I LOVE THIS!! Yay for you! LIVE!!!

  • Cheney

    YES! So happy for you and your family, and can’t wait to read about the new adventures!

  • Karen

    Also, Lisa is never wrong.
    True story.


  • Bernadette

    Good for you! This is something we too have contemplated often. We look to Canada and maybe Ireland. What made you pick the Netherlands? Do you always need a lawyer? What is a freelancer visa? Good luck!!

  • Katen

    I’m pretty much okay with whatever decision you make, as long as you keep the blog posts coming. Good luck on your next adventure.

  • Stanislava Legdeur

    Now! Listen to me very carefully – you are sooo going to call me when you get here (NL)! Last summer we (husband, kids, cat) did what you are about to do.
    Everything you wrote resonates in my heart. I will be there for you! And it’s gonna work! If you need any information – write. If you need a chat about it all – write!
    I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am <3

  • Farrell

    This is so exciting and I can’t wait to follow you on this journey!!

  • Steve McDowell

    Amazing! Best of luck on this adventure! You guys are so global it should be fantastic! Be safe and let me and Wendy know if you need anything! Hugs!

  • Krista

    Such a brave decision!
    I love living in the Netherlands but I was born and raised here so I would like to take my family abroad some day…
    Anyway, if you need any help with anything while you’re here, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I would love to get to know you and your family and show you around or explain how things work over here!
    Good luck to you all!!

  • Anne-Cathrine Nyberg

    Welcome to Europe 🙂

    I am Norwegian and my husband is American, and we live in Bergen, Norway. My husband has never regretted moving here

  • Avichag Ohayon

    Woot woot! We just moved to the Netherlands and it’s pretty cool here. I miss NYC but my kids are happy and so free here, so that’s worth a lot. Also, health insurance is kind of a joy because I haven’t spent ANY HOURS AT ALL arguing with health insurance people and haven’t received any obscene bills. So there. That’s a huge plus. And everyone cycles everywhere which is also a joy.
    Welcome 🙂

  • Amie

    I am American & live in Germany. I did what you are doing (without kids/family though), 12 years ago. I now have a half German kid & full German man. Life here is far better. You will miss people & friendly smiles…but allow the depth of life & culture to work it’s way into you. You‘ll miss the sunshine but find beauty in the rain, candles and cosy life. I am so happy to not have to deal with the US & it’s bullshit. Every place has a dark side but the quality of life is just so much better here!! You will be fine. Just keep trying new things & ways until you find your place. It’s really quite fun!! I can help you with retreats/workshops if you need…as a yoga teacher I have Secret spaces all over (a killer one in the French Alps)! Been wanting to take one of your workshops for like ever!! ❤️❤️❤️

  • Petra

    Hi Janelle,

    some more unasked for advice from me, a German, lived in the US for 4 years (LA), New Zealand for 2, Spain for 2, France for 3. Hey, we pester you with advice because we like you and want to help. Can you blame us? 🙂

    In a nutshell, the 3 biggest dangers I see are 1) not enough jobs and suddenly there is not enough money coming in next month and you can’t loan money and panic sets in, and 2) a “cold”, European everyday rudeness that can be like 50 slaps in the face every single day, and 3) yes, the weather is a factor. We can’t always hang around in Spain or Italy. And with money tight and no budget for a week in the sun, you can quickly find yourself looking out the rainy window thinking that this was a huge mistake, even though the idea is fine and your mind is just exhausted from the daily onslaught of cold people and cold weather.

    Solutions can be simple. Good lighting at home. As many lamps as you can. Light helps. Make it an every day task to network, call and write to everyone you meet including acquaintances on the street. Track names and personal fact in a Google sheet so that you can ask them how their kids are the next time you meet them, just like slimy sales people do. Nothing in Europe is given out based on how skilled or nice you are but on whom you contact again and again to way beyond what one would consider polite. People are strangely reserved. If you don’t make the first step, they won’t and it will always seem as if they purposely don’t like you, even though they are just indifferent. Europeans are fucked up. It’s not personal. But you need all the local support you can get, for anything from free furniture to the next paying job. Do exercises and go swimming once every week, or sauna. Important for your mindset. Spend a ton of money on warm outdoor clothing (I’m talking about 200 EUR upwards for a coat). You need to go out in cold weather. A lot, for your sanity. And you don’t want to be wet and cold all the time and spend too much money in overpriced cafes just to warm up. How long is the marathon before you see light at the end of the tunnel? Immigrants say it takes 3 years until you start to feel like you belong somewhat. If you stay past 4 years, you’ve “settled”. That’s about the time to expect for the soul to adapt. For children, half that time.

    Me and my husband have been following the rise of facism in the US with concern because we have friends there and we worry about the start of another war like the one our parents had to endure. The similarities between pre-war Germany and current US are worrying. We can totally understand why you’re leaving. And good on you for doing it. Even if you won’t make it through the 4 years and eventually go back, you won’t regret it. It’s character building and your children will probably thank you for life.

    We are in the suburbs of Munich, btw. People we know with kids and a tight budget usually spend a night at our place because it is a free half-way stop between northern Europe and Italy/South of France. You are hereby welcomed to do the same if you want 🙂 Good luck! (PS: write my name in that Google sheet 😉

  • Ash Hanlon

    I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS I CAN’T EVEN. ARGH. Holland is on the list of places that we really, really want to visit, when i’m not so ill that we barely make enough to pay the bills. YOU ARE GOING TO BE PRACTICALLY NEXT DOOR EVEN. Ok we’d have to get passports again, (and probably, arseholing bastarding visas, because my country is currently in political freefall, but you’re PRACTICALLY NEXT DOOR. Also, Amsterdam Zoo, It is bloody amazing. I cannot wait to go again, you should go.

    Also, when you need new dog tags, hit me up. We do swears 😀


  • Colleen Vernon

    As long as you all still cast absentee ballots in 2020 for the rest of us poor fucks still living here, I will allow you to go.

  • Rachel

    My friend sent me this post because it reminded her so much of me. My husband and I also just picked up and moved to the Netherlands in 2017. Our first daughter was born here. We’ve had our fair share of struggles and challenges but we don’t regret it. Even when we want to move back, it feels like the right choice for this minute.

    Good luck! Let a fellow expat know if you ever have questions! We’re all always happy to help a member of the tribe.

  • Darin

    I can appreciate this. In my case, I’ve done what was “normal” and “expected” most of my life. That’s not a bad thing, just a thing. 3 years ago I caught my husband of 20 years having an affair. Fast forward to today and when my new husband was offered a job 900 miles away, we said hell yes and we went. We now live in the Florida panhandle where we ride the Harley, scuba dive and live 20 minutes from the beach. Everyone around me panicked – I said, yep, I’m going to pack my shit up and move to FL. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll pack up what’s left of my shit and move back home.

    It’s not that hard, and truly, assuming you have support in this world, it really isn’t that serious. You can always come back. But in the time being, live a great adventure of a life!

  • Lindsay

    What everyone else said!
    LOVE this

  • Flora J Roberts

    We did it too! We have 3 kids and moved to the Netherlands (Leiden) in 2017. Our kids speak fluent Dutch now. We cycle everywhere, or take trains. We don’t own a car. The kids roam the neighbourhood unsupervised and run errands for me. We have a small house that’s quick to clean. We’ve made good friends from all over that we have over for dinner regularly. We can cycle to the beach at weekends. There’s a lot to love about the Netherlands! Get in touch if you want advice about settling in.

  • Alexis

    AWESOME!! Your family will thrive. I moved from San Francisco (with my 2 cats) Scotland 8 yrs go, married a Scot and had 2 girls who are now 4 and 7. I can’t imagine what are lives wohld have been like of we’d done this in California. Life abroad is AMAZING and the be at place for us as a family. Schools- great healthcare? Fantastic. He’ll, it’s so good you might have baby #5!!!! Happy for you!!!

  • janet appe

    I. LOVE. THIS. I am so incredibly excited to follow this journey with you and your family. So brave. So cool. This is just the best.

    • janet appe

      Oh, also, I lived in Amsterdam in 2000 and it was, predictably, amazing and life changing.

  • Marie

    So excited for you! I’m a New Zealander but spent about a year living in Holland in my early twenties, and LOVED IT. Fucking good on you!!!

  • Kelley

    “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -it’s the too-huge world vaulting us. And it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
    Sal, On the Road

    It’s going to be wild and crazy and frustrating and fun and full of all-the-things, and we’re all here for it-and for you.

  • Beth Tilston

    Get a Patreon!

  • Min

    YEAH!!! Do come visit us – Germany is not that far away – if you ever need something! Really cool news!

  • Veronique

    Well, I think it’s absolutely great you guys are moving over here! Can’t wait to show you around. I sent you an e-mail about it. Good luck getting ready to go!

  • Robin

    Hi Janelle, I have never commented here but I just read your book recently, and I just wanted to say I’m so happy for you! I did a year abroad after college, and met my husband (Catalan) while living abroad after school, and we now live in France after 7 years in Belgium and stints in Barcelona and the US….which is to say that you can TOTALLY DO IT, and it’s great. Holland is a super choice, because everyone speaks English (in fact, in Belgium I had such a hard time learning Dutch because everyone responds in English), and you can live without a car (I now live in the countryside and need one, but really miss our bike-centric life in Flanders), and for all the reasons you say above. I really believe that you and your family can flourish rather than just survive. Also, it’s so hard but feels so freeing to sell most of your stuff and move to a new place. I wish you all the best!!!

  • Cristina

    I am so excited for you, we have a similar dream! You won’t fail. Adventures don’t fail.

  • Sherrie

    My family is in the process of trying to stay in Germany permantly and I so feel you on all of the conflicting emotions that occur when making a decision like this. But it turns out, when faced with a downside argument, our motto has become ‘fuck ’em.’ It is our life and we beleive that we should be able to do what is right for our family, even if it seems ‘crazy.’ Sure, I miss my mom, but who in your family is really going to say no to being able to more easily vacation in Europe? They’ll visit you, you’ll learn Dutch, your kids will be safer. I’m glad you’ve jumped ship, welcome to the craziness.

  • Laurie

    This is BATSHIT and I LOVE it. If you only make it 6 months, or a year or if you stay forever it doesn’t matter because the lessons your kids are getting are invaluable: See things that are different. Do things that scare you. Try. Don’t be complacent. You get one life, man. Live it.

    All the love and luck to your family!

  • SJ

    I’m so excited to read about your adventure!

  • Des

    “Twenty years from now you will regret more the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. … Explore. Dream. Discover.” I live by this quote and am so happy to hear you are embracing it and your dream. I am so grateful for everything you write (including your book!) and I can’t wait to see what this new adventure holds.

  • Geochick

    I haven’t read in a while (what is wrong with me?) and I love that when I finally came back to see what’s up, you’re taking a huge leap! This is awesome and so much luck to you!

  • Michele Miles Gardiner

    Janelle, I just discovered you (as in twenty minutes ago), and found this post. I get it. I live in California, all we do is work and pay bills. It’s insanity.

    What you’re doing is a fantasy for me. Why? Because my parents did the same thing when I was little, sold it all and took their kids to Europe. Now, we traveled in a trailer, so it’s different. But the experience is forever in my brain grooves.

    No, you won’t regret doing this. But you know you will if you don’t.

    I’ll always be grateful to my parents for being daring enough to sell it all for a new adventure.

  • Julie

    You are probably super busy I am cheering for you wholeheartedly.
    I ditched North American life 8 years ago, packed it in and took to the winds.
    I now live in Spain with my new baby and am thankful every day that I was that stupid/brave way back when.
    If you have a European writer’s workshop I’d love to come.
    Good luck and even when it feels lonely and hard and cold and stupid…stick it out.

  • Ceciel

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read—even those the little Renegade Mothering icon is on my home screen. My mother is Dutch—I was born in the south, in Tilburg—have visited numerous times as a child, as an adult, as a mother. It’s a beautiful place. And the attitudes on child raising will gel with your instincts. Sex and drugs aren’t scandalous, although the Dutch do have tons to work through when it comes to race and racism. (As do us white Americans). Stuff Dutch People Like is a book that’s hilarious and accurate. While the language will be a challenge, there are links to English in it so you’ll manage. And parts of this move will be so difficult but hopefully you’ll be biking a ton and that will keep your spirits up—that’s how it was when I lived in Denmark for 5 months (with my then 2 year old and 4 year old). I wish you the very best in your adventure and exploration. Please keep us readers posted and reach out personally if you need any Amsterdam info (is that where you’ll be?). You helped me a few years ago when i was a new and less confident mother so I’m here to support you. xoxo

  • Rosa

    “What I think is that Mac and I are tired of being trapped in a life that works on the outside but costs us everything we’ve got on the inside.”

    This. Yup. We want to do this as well. Live a humane existence and gift that to our kids as well…

    The last 3 plus years have been nothing short of soul-sucking. I thought #43 was bad.

  • Kate

    I did this and it was the best decision. Good luck! It will be great.

  • Patricia

    Congrats! I’m not Dutch but i live in the Netherlands for 6 years now and it’s wonderful.. Just go for it!