Living abroad, would you recommend it?

(52 Posts)
Getmemypassport Tue 16-Oct-12 14:44:53

DH and and I are both teachers (he is in middle/senior management, I am not) and are considering leaving the UK.
Our reasons are: deterioration of work conditions, crappish school around where we live, cost of living, for the negative ones and the positive ones are: looking for an adventure, giving our children better opportunities and above all we love travelling (or we certainly did before the kids were born). We have 2 DC, one 6 mo the other 26 mo.
Have you made the move yourselves? Was it good for you? Did you regret it? Any teachers out there who worked in a international school and who are willing to share some advice?
Thank you for any feedback/views.

Portofino Tue 16-Oct-12 19:36:19

Hmm. We moved to Belgium. On one level I don't regret it at all. It is much more family friendly here and the afterschool/holiday club set up makes it much easier to be a WOHM. There is lots to do, lots of expats, and it is easy to travel about Europe. Schools seem to be good and my dd is now bilingual.

On the downside, it was HARD to make new friends, the cost of living/tax regime here is much worse than the UK, and we sold up to rent here. My dd sees herself as Belgian now, but I certainly don't. The UK might have its issues but it is still home. And at the end of the day, it is same shit different country, maybe exacerbated by the language barrier.

For my dd, the move was a great one. I am settled and have some lovely friends, but not sure I want to retire here....

madda Tue 16-Oct-12 19:41:55

Portofino is right, same shit, different country does apply wherever you move to

We've done the expat thing for many years extensively, and have ended up in a simple, rural life back here, which is proving to be better than anywhere we ever lived!

if you can get around always being the stranger in the strange land, then go for it!

equally, better to try it, than sit in the nursing home in later years wishing you had done it!

good luck with whatever you decide (but would recommend renting out your home while youre away, just in case...)

fraktion Tue 16-Oct-12 19:47:49

Abroad is an awfully big place. Are you thinking Europe, ME, SE Asia, anglophone country?

There are places I would live/return to and places I wouldn't.

Realistically you would need to be moving very fast to get a job in an international school to start next year. The fairs start very soon.

C0smos Tue 16-Oct-12 19:58:40

Don't ever move because you don't like the UK, most places are much worse, more expensive and lack things such as free schools, healthcare and social security. Only move abroad if you have a deep desire to live in the country concerned - otherwise it will same crap different country.

Your reasons for wanting to leave on the UK are a bit dubious sorry - e.g poor work conditions, where I live you get only 15 days annual leave, working week is at least 10 hours longer, only 10 days paid sick leave per year (drs note required for every day off which you have to pay for), only 12 weeks maternity leave unpaid, crippling healthcare costs, no unemployment or any other type of benefit available, the UK has one of the best working conditions in the world.

Getmemypassport Tue 16-Oct-12 20:24:12

Thank you all. We are thinking Asia or Latin America. We don't own our house so we would not need to sell.
We like the UK but fancy a change. I assume (perhaps wrongly) that the working conditions as teachers in an overseas/international school will be similar to those in the independent sector in the UK. Thank you again for your no nonsense talk. I appreciate it.

Portofino Tue 16-Oct-12 21:19:46

The NHS seems shit til you don't have it. I think healthcare is amazing here. But we have insurance and have to pay to see the GP, though I can get a same day appointment, and claim it most of it back after. I have still not worked out what happens if you have no money....I know when a child at dd's school developed leukaemia, they did fundraising to help with his medical costs....

ContinentalKat Tue 16-Oct-12 21:32:20

International school does not automatically mean British school or that your degrees are transferable at all. I speak from bitter experience, and we were only moving around Europe!

In any case I would research very carefully, also offset your future income against cost of living, including rent, healthcare, childcare and cost of travelling home in an emergency.

Living abroad can be a very enriching experience, but the grass will always be greener on the other side if that's your main motivation. Same shit in a different place covers it nicely! grin

ripsishere Wed 17-Oct-12 02:57:01

We have done it for 12 years. DD was born in Oman. My DH is a teacher, he has always taught at International schools.
I'd be very choosy about which country you want to go to, and look very carefully at the schools you apply to.
In our experience, not for profit ones are the way to go. Stupidly, he didn't take his advice for the one he is currently teaching in.
Normally class sizes are smaller, this one has 28 per class. Also check the tax situation. In some countries we've been to, he hasn't paid tax, the housing and health insurance has been covered by the school, and in Oman we had an interest free car loan for two years.

HollyMadison Wed 17-Oct-12 07:36:27

Your children are a great age to do it for 2 years and see what you think. Depending on your children's personalities and routines and the climate you choose, you may still find yourself at home a lot and not swanning around eating out and the like. That's ok though. If something went wrong health wise you could return to the UK for NHS treatment (this option was open to us when my DS was diagnosed with a medical condition but we decided to stay where we are and pay for treatment privately).

Your lives will be richer than if you didn't give it a go and you don't have to make any permanent decisions.

ClareMarriott Wed 17-Oct-12 08:22:29

If you have are thinking of Asia or Latin America , it can be trying on top of everything else if you only speak English at the moment. Do you and your DH speak any other languages ? Clare

LIZS Wed 17-Oct-12 09:08:57

We lived in Switzerland for a few years. Lifestyle was great but hard to integrate into local society so reliant on the expat community which rather limits your comfort zone. Local rules and regulations which require respect and little recourse when things go awry. In many ways it felt like we lived in parallel to the locals rather than being accepted as part of the community.

Teachers at the local International School seemed to have a good deal ie. free school places although I think this may have changed in subsequent contracts as that was 10 years ago. There were also exceptions such as if the child needed a special needs programme the parent-teacher would bear the full cost. Plus you have to take into account cost of living/lifestyle expectations (in ME you may live within compounds or specific expat areas and may often have housemaids/au pair), insurances, local tax arrangements, private healthcare, cost of flights home etc. International schools could be hard work as turnover (children and staff) can be high and you are having to cater for a variety of children with EAL needs and who have come from a diverse background eduationally, so not all are at the same starting point each year. I think the main recruitment fairs take place in Jan/Feb so nothing to stop you/dh going along to find out what is out there.

pupsiecola Wed 17-Oct-12 09:18:27

We're four months in to living in Singapore which is a very gentle introduction to SE Asia. We've had ups and downs but mostly ups. We wanted an adventure. We're really glad we did it, so far. It gets harder as the kids get older. My DSs are 9 and 7 and they have found it tougher.

Just research, research and research and then follow your gut feeling.

ZZZenAgain Wed 17-Oct-12 11:06:03

you could go for one stint surely.You don't have a house to sell and your dc are both too small for you to have to worry about local schooling options. It might depend for me on the ease with which I think at least one of you, probably dh since he is on a higher level can realistically hope to get a good job when you return to the UK. And that will always be a gamble.

Safety, healthcare and the cost of housing, running a car would be the main concerns. If that all looks viable, I would consider trying it out as a short-term option and seeing how that goes.

If you are going to be a SAHM while you are away, you may find it harder to get back into a job on return. So if you do decide to go, perhaps see if there is some way to get some more qualifications while you are away.

NulliusInBlurba Wed 17-Oct-12 11:13:50

Are you both officially qualified teachers of children (rather than EFL teachers etc)? Because if you fancy living in Berlin, I'm pretty sure both our junior school and senior school are looking for qualified English teachers, although the secondary school wants someone to specialise in music. It's in the state system, which is relatively well paid , excellent health coverage (much better than the UK) and a v exciting place to live, without being too 'foreign'. Both schools are bilingual, which means that half the subjects are taught in English by English native speakers and half in German by Germans. So maths, for instance, is always taught in German (ie not so good if your special subject is maths).

madda Wed 17-Oct-12 11:15:33

i dont think it would be harder for OP to get into a job on her return

employers look favourably on overseas working, and many employers do also look favourably on SAHM career breaks. Of course it depends on what you want to do OP, but I wouldnt not move overseas just because you fear what may happen on your return. Much better to cross that bridge when you come to it

I know if I had the choice of recruiting a mother who had lived abroad, raised kids over there and supported a family in a foreign land, these are vastly superior life skills than someone who had not taken the chance, and used their money to build an extension on their house instead of using it to fund an overseas relocation...life skills are often more appealing to an employer than we realise

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Wed 17-Oct-12 13:33:41

The teachers in Hk seem pretty happy with life. money is good, holidays are long, and the kids are well behaved- what's not to like? my friends brother teaches in an international school in Chiangmai and loves it. Language usually isn't a massive problem in Asia as English is pretty widely spoken.

Astelia Wed 17-Oct-12 13:41:50

Have a look at the TES now as the schools are already recruiting for August 2013. Also look on the TES overseas discussion board for comments about the different schools.

The pay and benefits vary hugely from school to school so you need to do your research.

ZZZenAgain Wed 17-Oct-12 13:42:39

if you teach in an international school, it isn't going to be that important to have mastered other languages. You'll be helped to settle in. Part of the fun of it will be getting the hang of enough of the local language that will actually need to use when you are there IMO

Getmemypassport Wed 17-Oct-12 14:25:18

My eyes are constantly on the TES. Never thought about the forums though, will have a look tonight.
We are both "officially" qualified (PGCE, QTS) and are looking outside of Europe.

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Wed 17-Oct-12 14:34:05

I teach in KL and absolutely love it. We've only been here a few months, plan to stay a few years then look elsewhere - possibly South America.

There are a few things I don't like about Malaysia (the smell, mostly!) but our standard of living here is FAR higher than at home. School is amazing - no-one is stressed, no OFSTED, no crazy beurocracy, lovely kids who want to learn, excellent resources. That said, you can (I hear) come across shocking international schools.

My advice would be to look on the TES 'teaching abroad' forums for discussions about where to go. Decide on a few locations and target schools individually. Look on their websites for positions and send in your CVs (with personalised covering letter) for them to keep on file. TES doesn't have a lot of the jobs. Do limit yourself to '1st' tier schools, or maybe 2nd at a push. TES will give you a good idea of salary expectations.

Good luck! smile

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Wed 17-Oct-12 14:37:40

To give you an idea of package here: Similar salary to UK plus housing allowance, annual return flights home for family, free schooling (for up to 2 kids but have know to increase this), full medical care.

Getmemypassport Wed 17-Oct-12 14:40:05

Is t really competitive to get a job in a good school?

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Wed 17-Oct-12 14:42:49

I only applied to this one so I'm not sure I could say, but I helped with the recruitment process recently for another, and I'd say there were lots of applicants but not many good ones. Teaching couples are preferred (more likely to stay - stability). Write an excellent CV and do a good Skype interview, should be fine. Depends on your subject of course.

Forgot to mention shipping allowance in benefits package. Was about 750 gbp - enough for 10 medium 10 large boxes and a few outsized things. (Sale at shipping co.)

Getmemypassport Wed 17-Oct-12 14:48:27

This sounds pretty reasonable. DH is aiming for management positions and I am a "straight" teacher. Fingers crossed!

IdaBlankenship Wed 17-Oct-12 14:48:44

I lived o/seas for 6 years and loved it, but it is a lot harder once you have kids of a school age (reason we came back). Unless you are in an English speaking country, you have to make the decision to pay for their education or send them to a local school. I have friends still there with kids who now speak the native language far better than their parents, and have a whole other life that their parents can't understand. It does cause problems!
If you do go make sure you get recruited from o/seas (rather than moving there first) as you'll get financial help with the cost of moving and may be eligible for good tax deals (depending on the country).

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Wed 17-Oct-12 14:50:10

Do you have kids?

LadyMargolotta Wed 17-Oct-12 14:51:43

If you can get good jobs in your profession in your own language, then that is more then half the battle won.

It will be a lot harder if you have a profession that is only transferable if you speak the local language.

Getmemypassport Wed 17-Oct-12 14:52:46

Yes, 2 one 6 mo the other 26 mo.

fussychica Wed 17-Oct-12 14:55:35

A friend of ours went to Mexico to teach. Despite being out of teaching for a couple of years he got 3 interviews (2 in Spain) in a short space of time. He is loving the life he has carved out for himself in Mexico and looking at his Facebook pages look like he's always partying.

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Wed 17-Oct-12 14:57:07

OK, so you'd need FT child care? Probably a live-in nanny would be cheapest.

fussychica Wed 17-Oct-12 15:00:37

Forgot to say - recently moved back from 8 years in Spain. Loved it and really glad we went. Our son had a real childhood - lots of freedom and little commercial pressure and fluent in another language so all good. He's now at Uni in the UK.
We have settled back in the UK ok except the bloody weather which is driving us nuts!

kuros Wed 17-Oct-12 16:22:04

Living abroad is not a bed of roses but I can recommend it without hesitation and have a lot of experience of it in various European countries.

I like:

- superior medical services
- quality schooling with "academic" route possible through secondary
- the higher status of women
- excellent public services thanks to higher taxes
- full range of cheap/free after school and holiday time activities
- fully subsidised or very cheap childcare for babies and pre-school children (think c 350 pounds a month for the very top earners)

Not to mention different cultures and languages : )

Basically life seems to be more positive and more centred around the family unit, whether parents are separated or not.

In comparison, England seems to be getting poorer and poorer with more and more people struggling to get by, to get on the property ladder (like nothing is more important in life).. with shopping and obsession with brands the most popular leisure activity (???). Constant ranting against single parents.. etc etc That´s my impression. A particular bugbear is the ridiculous situation where friends have their children in different schools. What a nightmare.

Rant over, sorry, got distracted ; )

OP, as your kids are so young, I would bear in mind that it can be difficult to travel around much. You could end up frustrated that it is difficult to visit those dream destinations when your DC resist making the trips..

Mosman Wed 17-Oct-12 23:57:21

We are in Australia and I will never return to the uk other than for a holiday. Lots of reasons but our standard of living and quality of life is just better here so why move.

Astelia Thu 18-Oct-12 01:27:08

There are usually two types of contract, expat contracts (rent allowance, flights and health for self and family plus salary) and local contracts (just salary and maybe a small living allowance).

If you are recruited from abroad you get offered an expat contract. If you already live in the country or if you are moving and your spouse has already got a package you will only be offered local terms.

When a teaching couple is employed they don't both get an expat contract, one gets the expat and one gets the local contract.

Some International schools do have OFSTED inspections, an OFSTED provider is used and inspectors are flown out (at great expense to the school).

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 18-Oct-12 01:40:02

If you live in HK/ Singers, your childcare costs will only be c £500 pcm- full time, live in.

Most of the international schools here give massive discounts to children of teaching staff.

However, what Astelia says is correct. You won't both get an expat contract with the same school. However, not sure how it works if you apply to different schools from the UK- how would they know?

Astelia Thu 18-Oct-12 01:45:36

In the contracts I have seen the school reserve the right to remove rental allowances if your circumstances change (though they won't add them if your partner loses theirs). I don't know how they would know though- unless your colleagues grassed you up to HR!

Getmemypassport Thu 18-Oct-12 10:16:22

Seriously guys, you are being so helpful, thank you!
I googled jobs fairs in international schools but I am not convinced by what I saw and also, for the 2 I found, they start on a Friday. Not helpful when you already have a job.
I think I will give up this route and keep stalking the TES.
The TES forums are helpful, thank you for suggesting.

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Thu 18-Oct-12 14:55:00

Our school do (Fairly sure, will check) give two expat salaries to teaching couples, so do other schools nearby I believe.

ripsishere Sat 20-Oct-12 02:28:15

Same as DHs school currently and historically.
We've known a lot of teaching couples on expat contracts. Never known one described by Astelia though.

Astelia Sat 20-Oct-12 13:01:03

Not saying it is all schools that have this system- but it is in the case of the one I know personally. It is something to be aware of and check.

In practice it doesn't affect the teaching couples much as they get rent allowance, flights, health. The only difference is if the spouse with the expat contract wants to stop work the other (on the local contract) can't then take over the expat contract. Suddenly they have no rent allowance. Exactly this has happened to someone I know.

None of this was made clear to them when they signed up and it is now causing major problems.

SucksToBeScaryMe Sat 20-Oct-12 13:15:31

I will be moving permanantly to Argentina when DD is (3) is 5. My DH is from there and i really love the country and the people.
Its a different way of life but i have learned to appreciate the difference. That a nice car/house/kitchen is just not as important as i first thought!
I know that i can't give my DD the same standard of living here that i can there. Our money will go so much further,and we can easily but property and land.
It will be nice to leave DD something in my will other than debts.

SucksToBeScaryMe Sat 20-Oct-12 13:16:01

*buy not but.

Alligatorpie Sun 21-Oct-12 08:18:34

Dh and I are both teachers ( well I am taking a year off as we have a baby) in an international school outside of Cairo. We were both given an expat package, I have never heard of schools only offering the expat package to one half of a teaching couple. I would certainly not work at that school.

But if you move somewhere and then one of you looks for work, you will be offered a local package. If one of you has all the benefits, ( medical insurance, housing, schooling for dc's, flights) it may be doable. It would depend on where you are.

Our life here is much better than it was at home (ok it was better with two expat salaries, this year is a bit more like being at home) but I know it will better again next year.

As the developing world is so inexpensive, we save money as well as enjoy life. We have way more disposal income, holidays, meals out, a cleaner, we are members in a private club that has playgrounds, 4 pools, restaurants and loads of space dd to ride her bike / scooter.... general much more fun and time to enjoy life. Yesterday we went on an hour long fellucca ride on the Nile, for less than £5 total ( there were six of us, the boat easily would hold 20)
In Egypt, we would be looking at about $5-600 US a month for a nanny for dd2, so also much cheaper than home. We could never save on two teachers salaries at home.

One thing I recently came across was getting dc's to school. Dd1 goes on the teachers bus with DH ( we are driven to and from school) but I have many friends who teach at another school which does not allow children on the teachers bus. One mom takes her dd in a taxi every day, I am not sure what others with school aged children do, as teachers leave in the morning before the kids. I guess they need to get a car.

Overall it has been a fantastic experience, we will probably be moving to Asia next year for a few reasons, but I highly recommend teaching overseas. One problem we have is feeling obligated to go home (Canada and the UK- so extra flights) for all our long holidays. I have already told everyone that next Xmas is for us, and to only expect us for home half the summer! it's hard when kids, there is the guilt about depriving the grandparents!

Feel free to pm me if you want - dh is a total researcher!

Alligatorpie Sun 21-Oct-12 08:18:53

Wow that was long!

Alligatorpie Sun 21-Oct-12 09:02:50

Also class sizes are small here - my KG (reception class) had 15, dh teaches 19 grade 7's. The kids are wild though, I don't think i could have handled 30 of them smile

mirai Sun 21-Oct-12 10:22:01

Hi Alligator, could I ask what qualifications you and your DH have? We are currently teaching in Asia and starting to think about the future smile

Alligatorpie Sun 21-Oct-12 12:14:37

Mirai - We did our teachers training in Vancouver, Canada, so are certified there and a few months ago we got our QTS. It was really easy, we just filled in the app, didn't even have to pay!
Where are you now? And where are you thinking about going to?

Missymoomum Fri 26-Oct-12 06:19:25

Being teachers would mean that you could just do a 2 year stint abroad if you wanted and that may well satisfy your desire to live abroad. I'm not a teacher but work in an international school as a school nurse in Asia so therefore know a lot of teachers! At my school, they tend to take teachers on on 2 yr contracts and while i don't know the ins and outs of the contracts, they get housing allowance, medical insurance and places at the school for their children (I've no idea if these are free places or heavily discounted though i'm afraid). The school i work in takes children from 1 through to 18 so this also helps staff with very small children although where i am, you can also get domestic help and childcare help very cheaply here too. You would need to honour the contract in terms of it's length though as my dd's teacher left in the summer after just 1 year and she had to fund her family's relocation back to the UK herself. For my personal experience living abroad, i came here with my dh's job (not teaching) 2 years ago with my ds and dd who were 2 and 3.5 at the time. It was the ideal adventure as my children were young enough and we could do 2 years and then come home.....It's had it's ups and downs but we've now decided to stay a further year and will possibly extend for another year after this but the we WILL come home!!!!

Salbertina Fri 26-Oct-12 09:23:56

Right now? Bloody no way! Don't have a package - costing us a bloody fortune, agents/landlords crap and rentals overpriced sadangry
Had enough!

shypuffin Thu 01-Nov-12 15:59:13

Don't move unless your relationship is rock solid. If you split up and one of you wants to stay then the children will stay too if the country is signed up to the Hague convention. I wish someone had warned me of this before I left the UK sad

Longtime Sat 03-Nov-12 14:28:13

I'd gladly move to Asia, or at least some parts of it. I wouldn't bother with Europe (am in Belgium like Portofino) as in the current economic climate it's no better, if not worse than the UK. Still, you're not thinking of doing that so I'd say go for it, especially as you are teachers. Missymoomum (great name - I've been calling my dd Missymoomoo for years!) sums it up well. Make sure your dcs (although they are too young at the moment) can get free places at any schools you may work in as local schools are fine until you want to continue your dcs education in English and then it's not so easy for them to swap.

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