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To ask for help to decide whether to stay or move countries?

(42 Posts)
shinny Fri 06-Oct-17 05:18:12


I have a country dilemma and hope you can help me see sense. Ive made so many pros / cons lists but still am going back and forth.

We are a family of 5 living in Far East for 2 years. 3 DC - eldest is doing GCSEr, middle Yr 9 and youngest in primary. Eldest is not happy here due to small school, limited social scene, various other teen moans.Middle child is very easy going and doing well academically. Never keen on change but can be persuaded and generally makes the best of things. Youngest is ok but the school is small and many kids are naughty and disruptive.

We were planning to return to UK next summer without DH but he would visit us whenever poss. DH has now said he can't bear it. He has to stay here for at least 3 more years and doesn't want us so far away.

Id not really considered remaining here for another 2 years (after this year) as had always expected to return to UK. However now we need to find a compromise.

I have settled well but cons are: limited social life, rent is high and appalling value for money; schools aren't that great given high cost; pollution. Pros: cosmopolitan, safe city with great sports and kids have a lot of freedom. I appreciate good value and the school is not providing that as whilst results are good, the facilities are under par and kids are really pushed. Im not delighted with the primary.

After DH dropped the bombshell that UK wasn't an option Ive started thinking that maybe we should remain here TOGETHER as a family and just look for other schooling options at least for eldest. Its always been our priority to stay together but now I wonder if education should be the priority?

Another option is to return to UAE where we spent 5 years prior to coming here. School is known to us and great. DH would travel to see us in all holidays and about a week a month too. Socially its better for me and eldest for sure. Middle child would probably prefer to remain here (but doesn't express strong opinions either way) but youngest would love to return.

So remain here and stay together as a family in under par, overpriced schools (and housing) with one unhappy DC and not great social scene OR return to UAE where all DC would be generally happy, value for money is better, school is great but DH not there all the time.

I think my eldest is desperate to leave here and I dont want that to shape our future. We've had several discussions about how where we are now has many positives and therefore the reasons to leave must be strong and valid.

Boarding school is not an option either. Its something that we have considered but is not right for us.

I am going round and round in circles and would appreciate some input from others in similar situations. I avidly read the Living Overseas boards for other peoples experiences.

Many thanks if you've read this far! Ive tried to be deliberately vague as dont want to out myself.

waitingforlifetostart Fri 06-Oct-17 05:23:02

Why is your husband deciding that Uk is not an option?

Therealslimshady1 Fri 06-Oct-17 05:32:49

I think, yes important....

But isn't keeping the family together more important?!

Surely your DH could quit his job? You could both try finding a new job in the UK? You must have savings, do you?

I think you need to try and write down what your priorities are.

For me, keeping the family together would come first.

But I know there are expat families who live apart, and where it "works" (but never without problems)

Tough decisions!

HappenedForAReisling Fri 06-Oct-17 05:46:03

As you must know, good secondary high schools in the UAE are few and far between (the reason we left after 10 years). What are your chances of getting a place back in a good school in the UAE? Would you be able to get residency in the UAE without your DH? Would your eldest DS would have to get his own sponsorship in the UAE at 18?

It's a tough one, and I appreciate what you're feeling. Education was the final straw for us leaving the UAE - eldest DC did a few years in secondary in the UAE then went to boarding school in the UK - and when it was the DC's turn we made the decision to move. We were all on board with the move (eldest DC joined us in new country) but my DH spends a lot of time overseas with work.

Education IS important but realistically, how much longer would your eldest spend there? Would he go to uni overseas anyway?

shinny Fri 06-Oct-17 05:53:41

Thanks for replies. I'll try and answer questions.

DH not keen on us returning to UK as he would be staying here - flight times are very long and he couldn't realistically see us enough. I support him in this which is why Im trying to compromise.

Keeping family together is v important to us and we've managed until now. But people are starting to want different things and Im not sure who gets the biggest say.....should DC even get to have input? I never did as a child. Not that my parents used to move me around the world though...

Ive written out so many lists - and my mood changes and then my decisions change.

DH can't quit job at moment - totally impossible for contract purposes unfortunately.

Yes we'd have places in a good school in UAE and residency would be ok too. Ive checked both issues out. DH would be with us quite often.

We can only count on being together for another 2 years anyway as eldest will go to uni. Not sure where although probably UK. Then Id have to decide if I return there.

Tough decisions indeed!

AJPTaylor Fri 06-Oct-17 05:55:11

given your post UAE seems the obvious decision. you really shouldnt subject eldest teen to rest of their childhood somewhere they hate.
is dh in diplomatic service or locked in a dungeon? i assume it must be one or the other.

HappenedForAReisling Fri 06-Oct-17 05:56:46

I understand your DH having to stay put. Sometimes it isn't as cut and dried as "just get a job back in the UK, then" (it's right up there with "Well if it doesn't work out, just move back").

highinthesky Fri 06-Oct-17 06:14:36

Most parents would put the children first. If your eldest is in Year 11 now I think moving in the summer is ideal in terms of timing; uprooting him mod-GCSEs would not be on. It would also fit in with the start of year 10 for your middle child.

2 years was the plan, so how has DH unilaterally decided to extend his work without prior discussion.

BUT 3 years as a separated family is a long time! And your eldest would be an adult by the time your DH is done. And DH would still be paying high rent. I don’t buy any claim that the contract can’t be terminated before the end of the tenure.

It seems obvious to me that DH needs to look for new work in the UK, if that’s where you are returning to.

paq Fri 06-Oct-17 06:44:23

I would go home to UK. Sorry. I think if you went to UAE you would end up being unhappy and moving again.

Your DH needs to look for a different job.

intheairthatnightfernando Fri 06-Oct-17 06:51:53

Of course your children’s happiness should be a priority. How on earth could it not be? Your DH must have agreed to remaining longer knowing at least one of his children would be acutely unhappy about it.

pinkdelight Fri 06-Oct-17 07:06:25

What intheair said. No job is impossible to leave and no job should dictate so much. You talk about who gets to decide what to do, but you're effectively held hostage to this five year(!) contract in a place that doesn't work for your family. If you're resigned to powerlessness re the job situation, then UAE seems the better option. But your plan was to go to the UK and I'd stick with that and if your DH can't cope then his plan needs to be to join you and work here, not make others unhappy by making them stay. I hear you about kids not always having a say, but you don't have to run your family that way knowing you're effecting their formative years so negatively and you don't like it either.

MyOtherProfile Fri 06-Oct-17 07:08:35

I'd go for the UAE. You already know it and know it will work for you. Dh can carry on his job and you still all get to see each other lots.

splendidisolation Fri 06-Oct-17 07:12:37

Hey. I was an expat kid and did not get a say, we also lived in the UAE.

One of the reasons we left the UAE is my mum didnt want us kids growing up in what she saw as a kind of altered reality. So when I was 12 we moved back to Europe. Thats also something to bear in mind. Its not just about education but also the kind of world you want your kids to be aware of.

Can i ask you a question: if you werent taking kids ir husband into account, where would you personally like to be?

RandomlyGenerated Fri 06-Oct-17 07:16:14

Having known plenty of other families on international contracts in similar situations, the route most opted for was boarding school for the eldest DC. I know you’ve said you’ve ruled this out though.

thegirlupnorth Fri 06-Oct-17 07:18:43

Stay together as a family. Teenagers and kids of differing ages want different things wherever they are/live.

araiwa Fri 06-Oct-17 07:19:35

Are the teens complaints legitimate or is it just a normal whiny teen?

A limited social life is nothing compared to dh losing his family

Evelynismyspyname Fri 06-Oct-17 07:24:46

Send your eldest to one of the state boarding schools in the UK for sixth form. It's pretty tough to insist a 16-18 year old stays somewhere shitty because daddy can't bare to be without them, but if the rest of you are fairly content it would seem sensible not to risk your marriage for no reason. Sensible to let year 9 child finish GCSEs and then all move back in 3 years as planned.

araiwa Fri 06-Oct-17 07:31:08

daddy cant bare to be without them

What a horrible thing to say about someone losing their family. Wouldnt you care if your entire family moved to the other side of the planet??

Evelynismyspyname Fri 06-Oct-17 07:33:02

Why is boarding school not right for you?

At 16 plus the question is is it right for dc1? Not will you miss him or her - you'll have to suck that up. If dc1 wants to go to board in the UK he or she should, for 6th form. 16 is old enough to be away if it's by choice.

If you offer the choice of boarding in the UK or staying with the family in the UAE you have been fair to dc1 and given them a level of input appropriate to their age. If they don't want to board they have at least had a choice and will then have to accept that the consequences of choosing not to be independent yet are remaining somewhere very limiting with their family.

Evelynismyspyname Fri 06-Oct-17 07:37:18

ariwa I'm talking about letting the eldest child do their 16-18 education somewhere they'll be happier, not about the entire family moving to the other side of the planet.

I've already talked to my eldest about whether she might fancy a UK state boarding school for sixth form (we're abroad too) but so far she's not interested (we're abroad too but she's only 12).

Kids need roots and wings. At 16 they need wings and it's cruel and selfish to cling on to them if it's not in their best interest, or not to give them any say about their lives within the parameters of what is realistic.

scaryteacher Fri 06-Oct-17 07:41:47

I second state boarding for the eldest. There is an excellent state sixth form in Winchester, Peter Symonds, that has two small boarding houses, and only charges for the boarding, not for any tuition. Ds went there and had a great time, (as did I, 30 years earlier). It gave ds some UK street smarts; he found his tribe, having been not too happy at his international school; and he was given lots of help with UCAS forms etc.

There is a set routine for homework, and enforced curfews during the weeks and weekends. It's also a good prep for going to university as the boarders are expected to do their own laundry, hit their deadlines etc, without their parents breathing down their necks.

It's one of the sixth forms in the UK for the Falkland Island sixth formers, so the pastoral care is good, and it demonstrates that people are confidential send their kids there from a long way away.

shinny Fri 06-Oct-17 07:46:02

Thanks so much for all your replies. So helpful to me.

Thanks Reisling - its exactly like that. DH would dearly love to be more free to choose but that's not possible yet. Can't say more than that Im afraid.

Very true about someone suffering - I read on a living overseas board post that when the whole family moves, decision can often be made to suit one person in particular. When trying to suit 5 people its impossible. Moving here was a jointly taken decision. We said 3-5 years so DH isn't really going back on his decision. Now trying to react to suit everyone well to compromise.

We wont return to UK - Im not sure that Im even keen/ready for that. But I do believe it offers the best education options but at the cost of far less DH. Not something Im keen to do.

Interesting question about where Id like to be.......somewhere we are all together I guess for most of the time. But New York would be great too! But for now I need to put the family as a whole first.

Also have found that our current city is much more 'real' than UAE. I agree that DC need to be a bit street wise as they grow up. I hope European holidays will give them some experience.

Teens complaints are legitimate I must say. Although there is a tendancy to moan. Which is why Ive said to really think through reasons for leaving to ensure they are valid. I dont like the idea of my DC being unhappy and I think they usually make the best of wherever we are.

bluejelly Fri 06-Oct-17 07:46:09

As a mother of a teenager, they moan wherever they are. It’s part of the deal grin

5rivers7hills Fri 06-Oct-17 07:48:13

At what point do you put your husbands happoness (fulfilment at wok) over three children’s happiness and your own?

If DC1 wants to board you should let him.

I’d really suggest your husband works his fucking ass off to get a job elsewhere - nothing is impossible.

Evelynismyspyname Fri 06-Oct-17 07:49:55

Shinny why not state boarding school for the eldest's 16-18 schooling then?

As you say the dc1's complaints are legitimate and you think the UK would offer better education. What's stopping you offering DC that option?

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