The windshield wipers were on. I remember that detail. The doctor had just given us the news that I already knew since nausea and complete exhaustion weren’t my M.O. In the last month, I had gone over this so many times. If I was pregnant we would stay. If I wasn’t we would go. So what was the problem? We were staying. I mean, moving abroad with a family? That’s crazy… right?
Having children is scary and exciting enough without adding another life-changing factor into the arena. For example, oh gee, I don’t know, moving overseas maybe. You may feel like you have to check living abroad off the bucket list once you have children, but what if you didn’t?
Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about moving abroad with your family.
Will You Regret This?
I blurted out to my husband, “I still want to go!” That’s the other detail I remember. I tried to make this decision rationally and then felt this overwhelmingly sick feeling of regret that told me If you don’t do this now, you will never do this. I don’t do well with regret and this was a mountain of it. Too much regret for me to put on myself and entirely too much regret to put on this not yet even 6 week baby in my belly. The decision to move abroad as a family was a scary one but even scarier was the regret of not doing it at all.
Move Where You can Afford to Move
Do some research into where you want to go specifically in terms of affordability and your desired lifestyle. If you are looking to have one parent stay home and the other work, most places in Western Europe will be out of your budget but places like Romania and Germany could work. Maybe consider putting Europe off until later if one parent will be staying home with the kids. If both of you are going to be working, that opens up many more possibilities of where you can afford to live but it also opens the door to questions concerning child care.
As I mentioned in In the Know: Moving Abroad as a Couple we were lucky enough to have landed in a place that is very kid-friendly. Among many other things like prego parking and cutting in lines, maternity leave in Dominican Republic is 3 months 100% paid leave. Law. The Dominican Labor Code does not budge on this. Places like Denmark offer a year paid maternity for mothers at 100% wages paid as well as governmental child support. Norway offers excellent paid maternity as well as paid paternity. You will find some pretty sweet deals for having babies abroad but make sure you do your research just in case there is a required length of time before such benefits kick in. Some places require living there for 6 months (give or take) to be eligible for benefits.
We moved to Dominican Republic knowing that I would stay home with the kids and Husband would work. We moved with zero intention of hiring a maid or a nanny and then we realized that everyone has a maid and a nanny. We figured out why. Because it’s ah-may-zing. We are able to afford a nanny that loves our kids and helps us to not lose our minds. She isn’t a replacement parent; someone to take our place so that we could jet set to an all-inclusive hotel every weekend without our kids, she is there to help us when we need to work, write, or rest. This is good for all members of our family. For us, having a nanny comes in at the top spot of our list every year of why we would stay here another year with small children. Our nanny loves our children which makes our lives easier which in turn makes our marriage happier which makes us better parents, workers, friends… you get it. Other places may not offer such one on one care possibilities but may instead offer the support and aide of the government. France for example has an excellent childcare system. Germany supports parents (you must be living here for over 6 months) with monetary support, a child allowance called Kindergeld of at least €185, about $250.
Moving with Older Kids
Moving abroad with a family that has young kids can be more exhausting but emotionally easier whereas moving abroad with older kids can be trickier. Friends of ours made the move when their daughter was a teenager. In a fair and respectful manner, they told her that she had as much of a vote (if not more since Mom’s vote was whatever daughter voted) in the move as the rest of the family. I would be lying if I said it was always easy for her. This school, as far as students go, can be a bit cliquey since many of the kids have grown up together, but when talking to Teenage Daughter she she’ll tell you that she wouldn’t have changed this experience. Sometimes you won’t be able to ask for a vote from your kids because the move is a must but do make sure to pay special attention and check in with them often.
Once we made the decision to move abroad with a baby on the way I was thrilled… until I thought about our new community. What if everyone at our new school was young and single and fun and partying while I was pregnant and tired and leaking milk from my boobs? Would we be ostracized? Would we make friends? Would we be “that couple” with loud kids that no one wants to hang around with? I emailed our contact at the school who joked that there was something in the water because everyone had kids or was having kids. Whew! Major relief. If you can, find out what your new community’s social life is like. Do people have kids? What is there for you to do with kids? Etc. If it isn’t a community that has lots of children you might want to start looking now for other avenues in your new country that are kid-friendly and family-oriented.
Logging Traveling Hours
How much thought do I really need to put into travel time when I have to think about health care, child care, and birthing plans? It might seem silly but I assure you it’s not. This wasn’t even a top 5 consideration for me… until we had an actual baby. After we made the commitment to our current host country we realized we were lucky to be this close to our home state for several reasons. First, being that we were going to have our first child – and first grandchild – being close was a monumental benefit for visiting grandparents and friends not to mention our own visits back. Secondly, cost. The longer the flight, the more expensive the trip (usually). When your child is under two-years-old and flies free, that $1000 trip is a second thought, but when your child turns three, that $1000 becomes quite hefty. Lastly, flying home with a baby and maybe eventually two babies? Short flight, please. Who wants to be on a 12 hour flight with a 10-month-old. I can tell you from experience – not me.
All in all, I don’t regret the decision we made to move abroad. I sincerely think that as a family our life here is better than what it would be living in New Jersey. Minus missing our families – which is a big one – we haven’t found many downsides about living abroad with our family that would make us consider going back to the States anytime soon.
Are you a family living abroad? What advice would you give another family moving abroad? Leave a comment!For more information also check out: In the Know: Moving Abroad as a Couple In the Know: Moving Abroad as a Single Person
~ Pack light. Live well. Move often. Repeat. ~