Best country to raise children (overseas or UK?)

(28 Posts)
LadyCybilCrawley Thu 24-Jul-14 23:54:21

Started another thread in wrong place and then found this .....

Ok so we are fortunate to be living abroad at present - but after a recent trip back to the UK to see family we wondered if raising our children in another country was the best thing for them.

We are currently where we are for employment, outdoor lifestyle and quality of life. But does any of that matter if your children miss extended family?? I just don't know what's best anymore and would be really interested if anyone has had similar situation and moved back and if so, what was it like?

Pros and cons?

What am I missing ?

vvviola Fri 25-Jul-14 00:00:29

IME there is no "best". It's sometimes a case of "least worst", if you see what I mean.

There are many things I love about NZ (outdoor lifestyle, beautiful country, sport in schools, relatively cheap childcare, beaches, summers) and many things that drive me crazy (badly built housing, the "she'll-be-right" attitude especially in certain schooling issues, it's so far away from everywhere else, my family aren't here).

Likewise there are many things I love and hate about home. And sometimes you just have to go with your gut on what suits best (or best right now, or least worst).

If I could mash the two countries together I'd be a very very happy woman. grin

There is no best place anymore, but for me it would be where you have family and friends support. It's pretty lonely this expat life, especially our current assignment, I've never felt so alone.

DH doesn't want to move back to UK (grim north) and there isn't work for us I my home (NZ) but I think I would like to move there for awhile anyway, even though I've been away for <sucks teeth> 19 years. The DC are happy where we are (USA) and doing well in school but I know DS1 is lonely and needs some friends too.

AggressiveBunting Fri 25-Jul-14 13:56:05

There are pluses and minuses to everywhere. For me in HK, the pluses are career prospects, financial (to be perfectly honest), affordable and flexible childcare, excellent behaviour and academic standards in schools and high levels of personal safety. Main minus is the air pollution, small apartments and no family (although my sister does also live here, randomly).

LairyPoppins Fri 25-Jul-14 14:02:45

We loved NZ and thought it would be a great place to raise kids. But we wanted their extended family fairly close. So me moved to rural (coastal) Cornwall, to a farm. The kids have a wonderful life; beaches, running wild, cosy fires in the winter and lots of visitors to keep them busy. We also live in a fabulous little community where we know lots of people. Next term the DCs start primary school; only 50 pupils with sea views from all the classrooms smile

Bonsoir Fri 25-Jul-14 15:47:22

There is no best: moving around guarantees that you will always find something new and better in every destination that you won't be able to take with you! The more you move, the more you will know about the possibilities the world offers and that they aren't all in one convenient spot.

LadyCybilCrawley Sat 26-Jul-14 06:57:36

Wise words from all of you

So for those who have moved back what is hard? What makes it worthwhile?

SwiftRelease Sat 26-Jul-14 13:54:19

What makes move back Worthwhile:

Uk education system, hands down better thsn where we were
Freedom for kids - cycling, transport options
Culture
Nhs - dental & health for free
Family & friends

Less worthwhile:

Normally the weather but now a lovely exception
Frosty people relatively
Life too boring sensible
Far less get up and go around
Bureaucratic hassles postmove

SwiftRelease Sat 26-Jul-14 14:00:08

Ah you said hard. Well, huge adjustment coming back, like moving overseas in 1st place but with nonepf the excitement. No one really gives a monkeys what you did/ where you went etc despite it being your LIFE for however many years, will often be frowned upon as "showing off"

Education system huge adjustment. I got out my credit card in the dentist for the usual hefty bill. And put it away again grin

You will really reppraise the life -house/job/friends/plsce- youre moving back to. May well find wanting and then be on the move again.

I am doing it from opposite perspective - reasons why I don't want to move abroad.

Like the seasons here even if weather not always great.
Family and longstanding friends here.
Culturally people 'get' you
Money doesn't drive me enough to sacrifice the above.
Lots of sporting outdoor opportunities for children you just have to accept the weather.
Great education system
Etc

giggly Sat 26-Jul-14 16:14:45

Lairy poppins sounds like a wonderful place.
We moved abroad 2 years ago and despite"putting ourselves out there". Or pimping myself as I prefer to call it wink it is so hard to make friends. I have been desperately lonely and have watched my eldest vibrant dd suffer badly trying to fit in.

The thought of my girls being stranded here with no support when we are old/ dead with no history is to much. So much so we will, be back in the UK before Christmas. Yeah!!!!!!!!

HolgerDanske Sat 26-Jul-14 16:34:24

For me it would be Denmark.

But I am danish so maybe a little bit biased smile

And the UK has treated me and my children very well, so I'm not complaining.

chloeb2002 Sun 27-Jul-14 18:42:43

For us our kids have been born and bred here. Three out if four have never been to the uk. Work dictates that we need to be in the commuter zone for a major city, so that limited us in the uk. Here we have the rural life with all the city perks!
Settling is hard. We gave ourselves an initial 4 years in which however hard it got we wouldn't make any plans to leave. It got hard, missed family , friends, dd struggled at school, ds has big health issues. But somehow 7 years on we wouldn't leave as it's now home. I still miss people, but I'm making new connections. Dd loves school as much as any other 12 year old!
Certainly where we were in the uk there is no nhs dentist and the cost was eye watering. We have private health here so only pay 10%. Medicare is based on nhs.
As far as pro and con of where you call home, it depends on what drives your desire to move else where. I know if we moved back to the uk our lives would be ruled by others. The cost of May sports are huge compared to here, ds is far better off here than the uk. I worked in the nhs.
He gets more help and funding here than the uk.
Schools here (private sector) I love. Not expensive and varied curriculum.
Cater for ds too. With far less drama than I read from uk schools!
I guess home is where you choose to make it.

CommonBurdock Mon 28-Jul-14 10:43:02

Home is absolutely where your heart is. And only you know the answer to that. So if you completely love the place you have moved to then stay there. If not, go back to the UK and face up to the devil you know.
I moved back last year and the only thing I really didn't like was the coffee and the ridiculous bank charges. Everything else was miles better.

SwiftRelease Mon 28-Jul-14 10:46:27

Not sure the heart always know though! The more i travel the more i see both the good AND bad in each place, rarely straightforward decision. Always costs & benefits, everywhere.

AggressiveBunting Tue 29-Jul-14 02:33:20

The heart is a fickle friend indeed grin I had major wobbles last year after spending a glorious month in the uk in that beautiful summer. My heart kept wandering over to Rightmove, looking at houses to rent in Clapham. Then I went back at Christmas- it rained non- stop, the kids bickered and the traffic was awful. I stopped looking at Rightmove.

nooka Tue 29-Jul-14 03:54:23

We live in beautiful British Columbia (Canada), and the fact that it really is quite beautiful is a major plus. We've been here for almost six years and have no plans to return to the UK. Might move somewhere else once the children are in university though. We really like the school system here, all the local children go to the same good comprehensive and it's very low stress (for example at 13 and 15 neither of my children have more than half an hour or so homework) if I compare that to their cousins in the UK I'm very thankful to be here.

Of course there are downsides too, but for now this is a good place to be.

lostprince Tue 29-Jul-14 07:31:55

If family is the draw back to UK then just make sure you would live where you would actually see them. It is very easy to get wrapped up in your own lives. I have two siblings, oNe who lives a few hours away and one at the other side of the world. I only see them in person once or twice a year bit we talk on phone/ Skype loads.

rushingrachel Wed 30-Jul-14 16:16:16

We moved back in March. We had been in Brussels for 8 years, my DS1's private international school had raised the question of whether he had ASD and it was hard and expensive to find a psychologist who could deal with the issue in English. DS2 was in a local Belgian school and loathed it and gave up speaking. Pretty much entirely. We couldn't afford to pay for him to go private. I had a strong sense for personal reasons both would thrive better in an English language environment.

I would say broadly its been far better for both of them. DS1 is happy in the local village primary. Nobody has mentioned his behaviour once and they say he is a lovely boy. Little one is like a p*g in sh*t at nursery and has blossomed. He chatters away a lot. I love being able to have tea with my mum without having to see her for a week, and it's so good for the kids to be able to be picked up by grandparents and aunts and play with different children in the family again without a massive treck to get there.

I really liked the idea of them being bilingual and cosmopolitan world citizens in the capital of Europe. But it just wasn't happening for them and they're just so much happier being home.

Which brings me entirely back to what the other posters have said that it depends on your children and your family.

pupsiecola Wed 30-Jul-14 17:09:51

Glad all is going well for you now rachel and the kids are settled. It is so hard to relax and make the most of things if they are stressed and unhappy. We always know what's best for them, don't we.

rushingrachel Thu 31-Jul-14 15:27:33

Thanks pupsiecola. DH was dead set against leaving Brussels because he loved his job. And he hates it now that he has to commute (and in fairness the railways here are pretty crap). But I was convinced to my core that I knew what would be best for the kids and felt we had a responsibility when everything was derailing, especially when the little one stopped talking. I was as you say uptight and unable to relax and now feel such relief seeing them more at peace and at one with themselves (esp DS1).

pupsiecola Thu 31-Jul-14 23:16:41

I hear you. DH loved his job in SE Asia and the commute was very fast and very cheap. He's traded that for a commute of 2.5 hours to some of his customers, and 70 quid a pop (thankfully expensable). He goes up on a Monday morning and comes back on a Wednesday usually. Thursday and Friday is working from home, mostly. It is such a drain for him though and he can't do this forever. Thankfully he is still working for the same company. It has taken him a year pretty much to get to the acceptance stage. Still not sure what our long term plans are. We have just bought a house (Completed today) but we made sure it would be easy to rent out.

Calgary Sun 03-Aug-14 18:02:51

This is likely controversial, but As a serial expat with 4 nationalities between me and my dh I feel that the best place to raise your kids is whatever place and country you and your dh are happy with at that time. For us that means, opportunities to do new things and have challenging and interesting jobs. Kids are smart and sensitive to how their parents are feeling and will pick up if you're unhappy about your situation, for whatever reason. It's very easy to project both good and bad feelings onto children so I'd suggest keeping that in mind when you make any decisions. I have yet to come across unhappy expat children with very happy parents but there are plenty of the opposite.

evalyn Sun 17-Aug-14 11:27:06

We moved abroad just before eldest DC started proper school, and back a few years after the youngest left for university. (For which they all chose to go to UK.) We'd always had itchy feet, had lived abroad before (different continents), but came back to UK to begin procreating (thanks, NHS!). We would have kept moving, too, except that once DC started proper school we allowed them a vote; they always simply wanted to stay in the same place, so we did that.

(My and partner's feet, not so itchy now, in fact. We like where we live and very rarely go abroad except to visit family. Age, I suppose.)

Turned out fine for us and for DC. They have an internationalist outlook; speak different languages; have good qualifications and now decent and interesting careers; variously settled in UK and elsewhere; friends around the world; partnered-up variously with British/foreigners; are confident in choosing their own lives and styles. (Some are raising their children monoglot, British-style, others making shift to raise bilingual children. Which is better? Their decision, anyway.)

Partner and I more-or-less retired to UK. Enjoy life here now, whilst missing some aspects of where we spent the majority of our working lives. There were many advantages to living where we did, and we'd make the same choices again.

However, DC have, at various times, felt a bit rootless. They didn't share much general culture etc. (childhood TV shows!, fashions ...), with their friends/peers at uni, for instance, which they found tricky in certain ways. 'We're anglophone British but we don't think the way British people do,' one of my DC expressed it, 'People expect us to know all about things we've never heard of.' Neither British nor non-British, the expat condition -- sometimes this falling-between-two-stools aspect of it all was uncomfortable for them as they grew up. Perhaps still? I'm not sure. They seem fine now.

DC did miss the extended family, it's true ... but really I think that would have been the same even if we'd just moved to another part of UK. And anyway, like many of our cohort (footloose baby-boomers), partner and I were from different parts of the country, so at best we could have lived near half the extended family, supposing we'd wanted to.

Of course our expat experiences were different from others of our friends. (We have lots of friends/acquaintances all round the world as a result of our wanderings.) Much depends on where you go - Australia is a very different place from East Africa, neither is like continental Europe or Scandinavia or USA ... But all-in-all, I reckon our lives and the lives of our children went better for our indulging our itchy feet the way we did.

You might be the same. Or it might work out differently or worse for you. And the world is different now in so many ways. But it might be useful to read what, on reflection, turns out to be an overwhelmingly positive view on moving abroad with children. It certainly can work out very well -- I know because it did for us.

TheSarcasticFringehead Sun 17-Aug-14 11:42:19

We're in the US. DC were born here. DH moved over here as a teen, but all his family are in Ireland otherwise. I studied here. It feels like home.

Pros are that we have a wonderful outdoor lifestyle. Swimming, the beach, more walking. The summer camps and the sport they do at school is must better and more varied. The education system is fairly good and there is a focus on their social development too. We are in a perfect place in terms of weather, social life, nearby colleges, trips out and also can afford a nice house for cheaper than I'd get even in cheaper parts of the UK. It is one of the only places where I can work in my field.

Cons are that we're far from family. Find it hard to keep in touch with old friends. Life has gone on without us, the DC have never met relatives I used to be very, very close to and who they would have loved, because of the cost. Education system is, like I said, good, but not as good as in the UK imo. Healthcare is pricey. Although we are active here and can do more, there's less average every day walking and more car use, bigger portions and so on, and I worry what effect that might have on the DCs.

If we moved back to my home, they'd still miss out on being close to DH's family, and vice versa, but it would be cheaper to see each other. But people would speak differently - they don't have English or Irish accents - and they wouldn't have the roots.

I don't think the US is the best place to live for a variety of reasons, but it's still pretty good, and that's as much as you can hope for, I suppose.

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