Still boyishy handsome, Ricky Schroder will celebrate his 40th birthday on Tuesday with a pizza party – no small feat, given that he and his wife and four children now live in Spain.
"I feel good," the former Silver Spoons star tells PEOPLE, also noting good-naturedly that he does suffer occasional lower back pain and possibly needs reading glasses. But most of all, reaching the milestone has afforded him perspective – which explains, at his wife Andrea’s urging, why the family packed their bags and moved to Spain last June.
"Our oldest son is going to college in the fall," Schroder tells PEOPLE, speaking by phone from the family’s rented home in Barcelona.
"Andrea had this dream of living abroad for a year and giving the family an international perspective. My first knee-jerk reaction was, ‘I can’t do that.’ Then I went to see the movie Up with my daughter Faith," says Schroder.
"In the movie, the man finally made time for his wife to take a trip to their dream destination and it was too late. I felt like the movie was speaking to me. I thought ‘I can’t let my wife not have this dream.’ "
Since setting up house abroad, the family has enjoyed skiing in the Alps, surfing, going to Morocco and Italy, and, most of all, "reconnecting and recommitting to each other as a family. It’s been wonderful."
Upon the family’s return to the States in June, Schroder will get back to what he does best – the entertainment business. The actor has spent much of his vacation working on screenplays and writing his biography.
"I’ve been looking back on my life and the last 35 years, pulling out the stories that I’ve long forgotten. I started when I was 5 years old with print ads and modeling, and I’m fortunate that I still love what I do," Schroder says.
Schroder recalls meeting Michael Jackson nearly 20 years ago and asking if the King of Pop had any advice to share. "He said, ‘Ricky, it’s remaining inspired.’ "
Adds Schroder: "Now that I’ve lived another 20 years of life since he told me that I understand what he meant. What that means to me is challenging yourself, not settling. Make things great in your career, in your family life. I have that."