One of the things we’ve been asked more than once since we began telling people we’re moving to Ireland is, “how are you going to support yourselves?” As you might have guessed, it was one of the first conversations Liz & I had with each other as we began thinking and praying about this move.
While our hope is that we will plant a church which will eventually become self supporting, clearly that will not happen when we get off the plane in Dublin next July. So in the meantime, we are connecting with friends, family and churches to ask them to consider making a monthly financial commitment to support our family until we get the church in Ireland off the ground.
In working with the leaders in the Vineyard over in Ireland (Republic & North), they have suggested that we take the first 18-24 months there to be part of the Dublin Vineyard , get acclimated to the culture, and build relationships before beginning to plant. With that in mind, we are asking those who support us to make a 3-5 year commitment to this.We really believe that getting acclimated to the culture during our first 18 months there is crucial if we are going to plant a healthy church.
The next item we had to figure out was how much we’d need to raise. As we looked at the cost of renting a place for a family of 6, and figured out other stuff we’d need to actually live there, the numbers did begin to add up quickly as you’d guess. At this point we are in the process of trying to raise $7,000/month to support our family, and cover ministry expenses (such as inviting people we meet over for dinner) as we move there. I wanted to share a few things that went into coming up with that amount:
1) Converting Dollars to Euros:
Although the Euro has been making the news a lot lately, and is not quite as strong as it has been, as of today it still costs $1.30 to buy €1. So on a day like today, $9,000 becomes €6700. In general, there is some fluctuation in the exchange rate. In the past 2 years it has been as low as $1.20 and as high as $1.48 (which means that $9,000 fluctuates between €7500 and €6,428). The majority of the time it seems to be between $1.35 & $1.45, but even that leads to a fluctuation of $460 per month. So part of what we’ll be doing is on months when the Euro is lower, putting some aside to cover for when it is higher.
On of the things we noticed while we were there was that everything seems similar in price. Lunch costs 10-12. Dinner 18-26. It’s once you realize you are working with Euros not dollars that 10 becomes €13.50 to €14, and 18 becomes €24 to €25.
2) Living in a Major European City
One of the responses we first received when we told people we were going to be moving to Dublin was, “It’s too expensive. You should live in the country!” And while this person was right that living almost anywhere else in Ireland is less expensive than living in Dublin, we believe God is calling us to be where people are…specifically Dublin. Although it was in the top 20 during the height of the Celtic Tiger, Dublin remains one of the top 50 most expensive cities in the world to live in.
And while the price of property is falling since the economic crash of the past few years has hit over the past few years, homes and apartments are still much more expensive than they are in Ithaca.
3) Gas…excuse me…Petrol is about $7-8/gallon (& rising)
When we were over there, one of our kids saw the price for Petrol (currently around €1.60 on 07/05/13) and asked why gas is much cheaper here…once we explained litres to gallons & Euros to Dollars…gas went from cheap to double what we pay here. Needless to say, we’ll spend a lot of time on public transport, biking (very bike friendly city) & walking.
5) Finding Jobs
Elizabeth, Hannah & I all plan on finding jobs once we get there (although most of Hannah’s money will be going towards tuition.) As you might have picked up earlier in this post however, the economy in Ireland is quite bad at this point and understandably, there is often a bias towards employing Irish people first.
6) Assorted Family Stuff
And of course part of the cost is that we are a family of 6. We are a family that has people with medical issues, so private insurance is really a necessity for us. In addition, Liz and I recognize that moving our kids at their current ages is a difficult transition, and so we are trying to find a place where they can each have their own room. We have also put in the budget bringing them back to the US once per year so that they can see family & friends. Then of course there is school for each of them, and strangely enough, they all like to eat.
One of the parts of our lives that has paid long-term dividends was that when we were first married, we were working as campus pastors (that means we made not much money:-). We both worked jobs on the side to supplement our income, but we learned to stretch our budget. In fact the first year of our church plant, we had 3 kids under 6 and lived on $11,000 for the whole year…(have I mentioned that I still hate lentils & ramen?) That means we are able to go into this with no debt, and an ability to live pretty frugally.
I hope that helps you understand a bit more of what we are working on. If you have any other questions about Dublin, or how we’ll be supporting ourselves & this new ministry, we’d love to hear from you.
[this page was originally written in December of 2011, and updated in May of 2013]