We went on a trip to Europe 3 years ago and never left. Our kid’s life is way better here than it was in the US.

In January 2019, my father died. For months, I was in a fog and, in an effort to lift our spirits, I asked my husband how he felt about an open-ended trip to Europe.

It was the perfect escape since our son is homeschooled, and we have flexible work schedules as writers and composers.

He was all in, so we took a one-way flight to Italy and explored the United Kingdom and Europe for six months while we worked and schooled in between.

We didn’t end up returning to the US.

We fell in love with Europe and ended up buying a house in Portugal

Author Lana Katsaros, her partner, and her son smiling

Lana Katsaros



During our trip, we spent a long time in the Netherlands, where we learned more about the culture. We were especially impressed with how independent the children were.

We witnessed kids as young as 4 years old bike themselves to school past our rental house almost daily. It was far from the reality in the US, and this stop on our trip is where we began learning just how great Europe could be.

We planned to return to the US in early 2020, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit worldwide. We felt scared and confused, and going home seemed less of an option as some borders closed.

So, we extended our stay in Europe and then headed to Portugal, a place we were already familiar with.

We began renting a charming Airbnb in the Portuguese countryside and extended our trip so many times that the owners asked if we wanted to buy the house.

Affordable home prices in rural Portugal coupled with extremely low interest rates for mortgages allowed us to say yes.

Life began to feel calm and somewhat secure.

While my friends posted on social media about fighting in the supermarkets to buy toilet paper in the US, we were feeling OK. Our community was incredibly kind, and neighbors brought us food from their farms.

This temporary situation eventually became our new reality. We started to realize living in Europe may actually be a good idea for our family.

It’s been 3 years since our ‘accidental move,’ and we have no regrets

Author Lana Katsaros, her husband, and her son posing in front of a monument

TK

Lana Katsaros



We began referring to this journey as our “accidental move.” We’d left for vacation with three suitcases, and suddenly, we were building an unexpected life in our new home in a new country.

In the US, life felt fast-paced and hurried, but moments feel savored here. Although it was initially challenging to adapt to, I now embrace the rhythm and want it for my son.

Witnessing many advantages — the ease of homeownership, exceptional healthcare, a safe environment, and a warm embrace by the community — solidified our decision to stay.

Here, our son thrives with ample outdoor time, easy access to healthy food, guaranteed medical care, and the constant opportunity to explore new cultures.

Though the US will always technically be home, and we’ll always be connected to it through our chosen academic structure, our jobs, mandatory taxes, and our house there, we’ve certainly found Europe to be our sanctuary where we feel most peaceful.

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Lana Katsaros