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Does anyone share their time between two places? AIBU to want to live on two continents?

(50 Posts)
Aufwiedersehenpetrarch Thu 05-Jan-17 14:36:33

That. We are considering moving abroad for part of the year and staying here for the rest. If feasible summers here and winters abroad. Maybe from June - September and then from October - May giving us pretty good weather all year around. We now have two DC under four and would like a third, hence the decision to do this now is pressing on us before school "officially" starts and that complicates things. My family is from abroad and I lament the DC not being able to spend more time with them. DC1 misses physical contact with the grandparents. DP wants to stay here and just go for holidays every year. Which would be very expensive for a family of five as we would be dependent on school holiday prices too. sad In general the overall quality of life for someone in our income bracket is better abroad, but it is definitely less safe there which would be a bit stressful. Childcare for DC2 and possible DC3 would be cheap and reliable and schools good for DC1. Lots of outdoor activities but culturally not so connected to the world. We would be able to afford holidays and eating out or special treats whereas now this is not really possible and would be even less likely once there are three children. Our jobs would to a certain extent allow us to work from anywhere with a bit of work-related travel as part and parcel and so it seems practical from that side. We would have a proper family house in my home country and buy a two or three-bed house or flat in our town here we could let out for the part of the year we are abroad. Is there anyone on MN who does this, or knows someone who does? My biggest concern (and why I am willing to stop thinking this is the best decision for us) is that the regular moving between continents would damage the DC somehow. In particular when so young and not being able to understand why they have to leave that which is familiar to them all the time. I am a homebody and value my connectedness to people and places and so does DC1. I'm not sure about DC2. Knowing that DP isn't fully on board is obviously an issue as here is clearly where he is at home. DP is sympathetic and very willing to consider it, but if it were only DP's choice, would stay here. So, would it work? Or would we never feel fully "settled" and so feel unduly stressed? Would the children like it or dislike it? Is it plainly just a stupid idea? Should I have another cup of tea? grin

lunchboxtroubles Thu 05-Jan-17 14:38:48

Presumably you would home educate? As you wouldn't be able to keep a UK school place.

LuchiMangsho Thu 05-Jan-17 14:39:32

Isn't this a complicated and expensive move to make for a couple of years (before school starts)? Kids are flexible and they would be fine but as someone who has lived on 4 continents in 18 years and numerous different countries, packing and moving and resettling constantly is just a pain in the neck. And it was a pain even when I was single and childless.

Aufwiedersehenpetrarch Thu 05-Jan-17 14:43:44

Sorry, yes lunch. DC would go to school abroad. We would not have a place here for them. So no school in the UK. Meant we want to make the decision and move before DC go to school rather than after they start, so they wouldn't be disrupted when just starting at proper school. Some fee paying schools abroad would be able to accommodate partial attendance.

Ericaequites Thu 05-Jan-17 14:44:59

Don't have a third child, as it makes everything more complex. I am a third child. Also, children need stability as they get older and make friends. Providing everything needed at secondary level schools in home education is hard. If your spouse doesn't like the idea, it will be hard to convince him to try it. I wouldn't consider this, but am a furry little Republican who doesn't like change.

Aufwiedersehenpetrarch Thu 05-Jan-17 14:46:53

Luchi that's useful. I've also lived in numerous places so sympathise with what you say. My feeling is to set up "home" abroad for about five years and consider living here as something of a "holiday" for the DC even though they may have to go to a nursery as we would obviously still be working. So keep a limited "household" here and then not having to pack up and consider it a "move" when we come over.

Therealloislane Thu 05-Jan-17 14:49:33

My parents do this.

Obviously they don't have young children to consider but it seems to work for them.

They live abroad from January to June, home until start of September then off again. They come home a week at Christmas.

Their family home is here for them to return to & they rent (cheaply as so longterm) abroad.
They found they couldn't let out for part of the year as you suggest above as nobody wanted to rent for such a short period of time.

They are registered here so avail of NHS & get prescription medications before they return abroad. They are also 'residentia' on the island they stay on so can use doctors for a smaller fee than holiday makers (uninsured ones obviously)

Kathysclown Thu 05-Jan-17 14:54:12

As a family we lived abroad for a number of years, both before and during school years. We also kept a house in the UK and came 'home' during the school holidays. Whilst it was a little unsettling for the kids, it was also fun, and kept a good bond with family members in the UK. It was expensive however - flight costs mount up (especially if you have three children all over 2 years of age, so paying full seat price). Renting out a property for just part of the year could be tricky, unless you live in an area where you could do holiday lets, for example? It certainly wouldn't have been possible for our UK property. This meant that it lay empty for most of the year, but we still had to pay mortgage, council tax, utilities etc, plus home insurance was more expensive as the property wasn't being lived in for most of the year. We also had to pay for the garden to be maintained etc. All of this mounts up, so you should budget accordingly.

You will also need to consider the tax implications, and formal residency. If you become resident of the other country, you will (probably) pay tax there, but that will limit the amount of time you can spend in the UK before you come under the UK tax laws too. You do need to think it through carefully, and get proper advice from an accountant.

So, we kind of did it, lots of expats who live abroad do, and it has a lot of plus points - but the financial side needs to be worked through, so you don't get caught out with massive UK related bills.

Motherfuckers Thu 05-Jan-17 14:54:36

We did this for many years, living in various countries during the school year and back to the uk from May/June until September. It worked well when the kids were small, (we had a flat in London) but as they became teenagers they wanted to return for less and less time each year. This may seem like a long way off for you, but wherever they go to school will always be their main residence. Maybe this is what worries your DH?

Aufwiedersehenpetrarch Thu 05-Jan-17 14:57:19

Thanks Lois that's interesting. I take it then they only started doing this once their children had grown up? I hadn't considered that we would not be able to let out our place here on a short-term basis but what you say makes sense. Good advice. I also didn't think about renting abroad as I was worried about stability on that side but perhaps you have a point as it would certainly be cheaper.

I did a mahoosively stupid thing and started this thread just before having to go fetch the DC from nursery but will check in again as soon as I can.

TheSecondOfHerName Thu 05-Jan-17 14:57:28

Growing up, I spent term times in the UK with my grandparents and the school holidays in California where my parents lived. I had a bedroom and social life in both places. It sounds ideal, but I spent the holidays missing my British friends and the term times missing my American friends. By the time I was in my teens, I started to resent it. A low point was missing out on all the post-GCSE and post-A-level rites of passage. I realise this isn't the same as what you are proposing, but please don't underestimate the effect on your children's friendships.

Aufwiedersehenpetrarch Thu 05-Jan-17 14:58:17

Kathy Mother thanks! Will reply asap.

AngelaKardashian Thu 05-Jan-17 14:59:44

I know two people that do this and it works well for them. One of them spends more of her time here and the other spends more time abroad. The one that spends time here leaves in June and comes back lage September. Her DCs are educated here so I'm not sure how she's managed to get away with it with the school, but she has done for many years now!

chocolateavocado99 Thu 05-Jan-17 15:00:40

Have you posted in Living Overseas? You might get some more responses there.

florascotianew Thu 05-Jan-17 15:02:55

Have you carefully considered tax/state benefits andentitlements/National Insurance/pensions?
These can be complicated, eg:

Unless you are officially 'resident' in the UK, health care is also not always straightforward:

florascotianew Thu 05-Jan-17 15:04:15

Kathy - cross- posted. Sorry!

TheSecondOfHerName Thu 05-Jan-17 15:05:27

I've just re-read my comment and realised that I sound spoilt and ungrateful.

It's difficult to explain how it felt being in my mid-teens and knowing that my close friendship group were spending another week camping / sailing / inter-railing without me, and that they'd spend the first part of September sharing photos and private jokes before suddenly remembering that I hadn't been able to join them and so changing the subject to avoid hurting my feelings.

Trainspotting1984 Thu 05-Jan-17 15:07:28

What would your DC do in the UK in the school holidays though? They wouldn't have any friends here would they? (Sorry if being dim)

Otherpeoplesteens Thu 05-Jan-17 15:15:40

Did this as an older child and found having one foot in each place useful for exposure to each culture, but ultimately rather unsatisfying. By the time I reached adulthood I wanted to commit to one, but still felt like a bit of an outsider in both of them. I'd echo what people say about missing friends too. It doesn't take long for the friends kids leave behind to move on, and social media is not the modern solution.

I'd also very strongly support what Kathysclown says about tax and residency implications. I know far too many people who have come a cropper pretending to the authorities that they live in one place when they really live in another. Some have had to pay massive penalties running into many tens of thousands of pounds to HMRC here in the UK because they have not ended their UK domicile and therefore their tax liability, but have stopped declaring income to the UK authorities.

And I know of one case of a man who never told the authorities abroad (EU olive belt - think bailout countries) that he had a home there where he spent about half his time. He thought he was being clever by not establishing ties: never registering for anything officially, and not even opening a local bank account. He thought that by simply using a middle-east issued credit card and bringing in suitcases of cash (really) there would be no local trace. Wrong. The authorities took literally seconds to print off a list of every place this credit card had been used in the previous ten years and what had been bought with it. Along with restaurant meals and supermarket stuff, he had bought pool pumps, air conditioners, washing machines and things like that. It was all the proof the judge needed; he's in prison.

DailyFail1 Thu 05-Jan-17 15:25:04

I think personally you should settle where they go to school even if it's abroad. Then decide to return to the UK when they're older (if at all). I'm not a fan of living/moving across two different continents every year. Travel is exhausting. You have two separate residences to maintain. And kids might not enjoy or see the point of leaving their school friends every year

lunchboxtroubles Thu 05-Jan-17 15:28:00

They are registered here so avail of NHS & get prescription medications before they return


you do realise they aren't entitled to use the NHS? they may get a nasty surprise one day now that managers are getting a bit more savvy. NHS entitlement is about residency.

PatriciaHolm Thu 05-Jan-17 15:34:35

My main problem would be ensuring consistency of education for the children. Part time attendance at a private school would work whilst you were in that country, but how would you ensure they continued their education whilst away? If it's only for 6-8 weeks in summer, fine, but for half the year you would be looking at home education - how if you are working full time?

Kids generally thrive on consistency. Uprooting them (which is what it would feel like) every 6 months to move continents sounds like a recipe for disgruntled and unsettled children with a poor education.

If you had no kids, it sounds like a fab idea. With kids, you need to think about having one stable base for the majority of the time and travelling in holidays. Or maybe primary years here, secondary there, or vice versa?

Kathysclown Thu 05-Jan-17 16:23:31

Just coming back on to flag that if you are not UK resident, in many cases you are supposed to use NHS services - can't quite remember the details, and fortunately we hardly ever needed to when we were back in the UK, but we weren't able to use a GP service, for example.

We have now moved back to the UK, partly to allow the children to settle full time in one country, as they were starting to feel like some of the other pp's have said - not fully at home in either country. It worked when they were very young, less so as they got older. But, lots of people do it successfully, just not for us.

harderandharder2breathe Thu 05-Jan-17 16:31:25

therealloislane they shouldn't be using the NHS for free if they're not living here more than half the year. Bet they enjoy their winter fuel allowance as well.

Ohyesiam Thu 05-Jan-17 16:42:36

Sound like heaven to me! I think that with all the social media that is around today, when your kids are teens they might feel more able to keep on touch than pps experienced. Or you could get in 10 years of dual continent living before coming back UK full time.
About renting your house out, you might be able to do air bnb, if you paid someone you trusted to do the clean up and meet n greet.

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