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AIBU to be thinking of changing jobs and moving to a different country alone with two kids?

(22 Posts)
SafariSurnise Wed 03-Jun-20 07:44:07

We live in Scotland with two children and have bought our first house about two years ago. We love the house, not so much the area and we would definitely not want our kids to grow up here. Our eldest is in P1. We moved to Scotland because of my work. I love the nature and have gotten used to the weather as well and - believe it or not – really like it! My husband hates being here. It’s been very isolating experience in many ways – having no support network and no friends, it’s been just the two of us and extremely stressful. We’re both worried about children growing up here though. We live rurally and the school seems ok. DD is doing well in school academically (although I fear that the expectations here are lower because a lot of kids come from socially challenging backgrounds) but she hasn’t really been able to form any close friendships although she’s very sociable. I think this has affected her greatly. It’s not a very diverse school/community so we do stand out.

My current job is not bad – lovely team, relatively well-paid (about 40k) and secure (civil service). I joined the company three years ago. Within next year I am expected to move to next pay grade (about 50k) and that will be the plateau in terms of salary for at least next five years, although could even take 10 years or more.
What I don’t like at my current job is lack of challenge - I joined as a technical person but now work on policy and I feel like I am becoming deskilled. Although internally there appear to be many options for exploring different career paths, it is also quite competitive and biased towards white British with “posh” accent or degrees from Cambridge/Oxford (a lot of discussions about this internally but I don’t expect the culture to change any time soon). Regardless, after reaching next pay grade there will be no opportunity for me to move up the ladder for a while but I can keep changing jobs and get fancy sounding titles. If I wanted to leave, there are not many jobs available in Scotland that would suit my profile and salary expectations.

I got a job offer for a two year on-job technical training. It would be in Germany, the salary a bit lower than what I’m earning now, the contract is fixed for two years and I would be required to relocate to Germany within the next three months. The training is very competitive and has good international reputation in my field. Most people who complete the training go on to work in more senior roles than my current position (or at minimum one pay band up) and they get access to amazing alumni network. I would be able to strengthen and further develop my technical skills and apply them in a new context. It’s pretty full on training and I would not be allowed to keep my current job (it’s one of the conditions of the traineeship).

I am thinking of accepting the position and moving with my kids while my husband stays and looks after our house. He can work from home so he would visit as frequently as possible, for longer periods, but right now we’re not yet ready to sell the house yet and cannot rent out. He would be looking for jobs in Germany at the same time. My husband is very keen on this. I am too but at the same time quite anxious as it could potentially really jeopardise the whole family. However, we have been looking for an opportunity to go to Europe, are quite pessimistic about the direction UK’s headed in, it’s been very difficult for my husband to find good job in Scotland and he doesn’t have much hope that this will change any time soon. Germany would mean being closer to my family, children can learn German, possibly better quality of life and ideally better career prospects long-term. It will be easier to make friends and meet people with similar profile and interest. Eldest would go to nursery for one year before starting P1, so she would have time to learn German. But this is for two years and then what?

In terms of finance, it will be tight but we’re pretty sure that husband can cover the costs (mortgage, expenses) in Scotland and I would use my salary to cover living expenses in Germany for myself and the kids. I have lived in Germany before but not in this part where the job would be and not with children. I did entertain the idea of staying in my current role and apply for a different role within civil service to keep the safety net and guaranteed income but a part of me feels that if I am not willing to take some calculated risks I cannot expect any change.

Am I just dreaming or do you think we can pull it off? If I was single it would be a straightforward yes. But I’m not and my whole family’s future depends on me.

OP’s posts: |
SiaPR Wed 03-Jun-20 07:51:13

What needs looking after in a house? I live overseas and have a house in the UK. I have not been back as I would have due to CV, it’s fine. And if it’s not what is the worst I will face? Surely you need to be a family more than look after a house?

Yesmate Wed 03-Jun-20 07:56:24

You have already said your husband hates it and feels isolated. Wouldn’t that be worse if you were all gone?

BubblesBuddy Wed 03-Jun-20 08:05:54

Why not relocate in the uk? Where are DHs friends? You are giving up a secure civil service job for a two year contract? Why?

Why do you think your DC would be happier in Germany than elsewhere in the uk? It would be a huge challenge for them and are they going to relish it? What might they gain from being in a better school and more friendly part of the uk?

You seem isolated in Scotland but your dc might be isolated in Germany and why would it be better for DH? Surely he will not be happy alone in Scotland without his family and travel is difficult right now too.

If you had a permanent, better paid job, in Germany I think that might sway it. But as you don’t, I don’t understand why you don’t move within your current organisation. Have you explored this? Certainly to where there are better schools or friends for your DH.

Oliversmumsarmy Wed 03-Jun-20 08:07:38

What about your dh going to Germany as well and renting or selling the house in Scotland

Neither of you seem really in love with Scotland particularly the area you are in (you have got used to it but are quite happy to leave) and your dh staying and keeping a place there when he feels isolated doesn’t make sense

If your dh can wfh why can’t he wfh in Germany

TheVanguardSix Wed 03-Jun-20 08:10:26

I'd go to Germany in a heartbeat.
I'd do it, to be honest.
Where in Germany?

TheVanguardSix Wed 03-Jun-20 08:11:04

But!! I would do it as a whole family, OP.

pinotgrigio Wed 03-Jun-20 08:16:06

Would the projected increase in income (and you've said it may only be the same increase as if you stayed put) compensate for the cost of running two houses? Is there definitely no way you could rent your current house out?

How would you manage childcare (before/after school) with just you?

You could argue that there is value in taking the role for the lifestyle benefits more possibly than the potential to increase your income? How effective is the alumni network? Would you enjoy the new role more than your current one?

Would you need a second car in Germany? Forgive me, as I'm currently outside of Europe, but what would happen with Brexit? Would you still have work rights in a year?

I've worked in Germany, Italy, Thailand, UK and Australia with a lot of time training in Sweden and the USA and love working overseas, it's given me a very good global perspective and employers like that.

ShandlersWig Wed 03-Jun-20 08:16:31

Have you investigated the childcare options in Germany? I think you're putting huge strain on yourself to move to a new country with two small kids with the expectation of working full time without any support network.
Your plan sounds ok, apart from this so why not bring DH with you and rent out your home in Scotland?

myworkingtitle Wed 03-Jun-20 08:17:34

Why wouldn’t you rent the house out and all go?

Snagscardies Wed 03-Jun-20 08:18:58

I'm sorry but I think you are being unrealistic. Who is going to look after your very young children, you say eldest will go to nursery but what about youngest, who will cover sick days, school holidays, early mornings and evenings? If it's a competitive training course the hours will not be family friendly especially if you want to build a network. Either dh has to come with you with the understanding that he will be primary parent for the two years or kids stay with dh in Scotland. Are you both citizens of another EU country?

Fanthorpe Wed 03-Jun-20 08:20:10

I think you’ve laid out very clearly your practical reasons and you come across as a very considered and thoughtful person. What’s your gut feeling?

Nothings ever going to be 100%. Good luck!

TheABC Wed 03-Jun-20 08:22:27

I would jump at the chance to go to Germany for the next two years! Is there any chance of a permanent job after the contract?

I would look carefully at DH going with you. It sounds like you house is the only barrier; can you rent it out?

Ukholidaysaregreat Wed 03-Jun-20 09:27:15

I think Germany sounds like a great prospect. Take your husband and rent out your house if you are not ready to sell.

IndieRo Wed 03-Jun-20 09:38:10

Go for it. You will regret it otherwise. If it doesn't work out at least you tried it. Great experience for your children too and more prospects for them too.

TheVanguardSix Wed 03-Jun-20 14:02:53

Go for it. You will regret it otherwise. If it doesn't work out at least you tried it. Great experience for your children too and more prospects for them too.

Exactly! And if you rent the house out in Scotland, you still have a home to come back to- a base where you can then take the next step. But my feeling is, it'll work out in Germany and then some. You'll love raising the kids there. Germany is excellent. I love it there.

peajotter Wed 03-Jun-20 14:14:49

If your dh can work from home then all move together. There will be restrictions on regular travel for quite some time imo so better to move as a family, rent out the house if possible, and stay together.

Is the area in Germany relatively cosmopolitan? If you don’t both speak German then it could be very isolating otherwise. But areas with a good expat community can be much easier to break into socially than rural areas of the uk (I’ve tried both!). Get onto an expat forum and ask lots of questions about the area and costs, job prospects etc.

Cacacoisfarraige Wed 03-Jun-20 14:18:04

I’d move to Germany in a heartbeat. It’s an amazing country. My brother lives in Berlin and I visit him regularly.

The country is very child friendly, I find it much cheaper than Ireland.

KittenVsBox Wed 03-Jun-20 14:32:41

With Covid and restrictions on travel, I wouldnt split the family across an international border right now. So I'd say all go, or none go. Dont end up in the situation some families I know are in with the family separated, and no idea when they will all get together again.

SafariSurnise Wed 03-Jun-20 21:10:03

Thank you everyone for so much for your feedback and thought-provoking questions! This has been really useful and I will have to reflect some more of the best way forward and reasons that are holding us back.

I tried to respond to your questions:

In terms of DH staying in Scotland or at least travelling back and forth frequently:
- the biggest reason is the house. I did not realise this but reading your comments it does feel like this is the biggest thing holding us back. We're scared to rent it out because our neighbours down the road had really bad experience with renting (their tenant pretty much turned their home into a drug hub). Antisocial behaviour of some village kids puts the house at risk if left unoccupied for too long. The crime rate here is low but it's also a small area and people would see/find out that we're not there and I would feel uncomfortable leaving the house unoccupied for so long. I may be wrong.
- my husband's work. After more than a year of searching for a job (and over 100+ applications sent) he landed a job not related to his interests or qualifications, but relatively flexible and with an ok (not amazing!) salary. It feels risky to let it go. He is wfh now due to covid but if they open the office, he will have to go in. It may just be all in our heads, I don't know. But until he learns German it may be difficult for him to find a job in Germany;
- mortgage - if I understand correctly we would need a buy to let mortgage if we wanted to rent the house out. If we sell now we will loose quite a bit of money. We just bought a new kitchen! We also laid new floors and are just finishing a few more things. It may sound silly but I would love to enjoy the house as well for a bit.
- Since we got children we've lived in Africa and Europe, travelled a lot for work and we're both exhausted. DH is craving some "time off" so he can focus on his projects and make some progress. He will try to find a job in Germany or a better paid job that won't tie him to Scotland but to do this he needs time. So he would definitely come with me at the start until we have figured out childcare arrangements and settled a bit but he would still spend some time in Scotland (assuming borders wont shut down).
- worst case scenario - if I don't like it, can't handle it etc. and we decide to "quit", then at least we have a "home" we know we can afford. If we rented out the house immediately we don't have this option.

Most of our friends are in London but many have left and are now scattered around the world. Apart from proximity to work opportunities for my husband, there's no compelling reason why we would want to move to London (probably couldn't afford to anyway but with all the pollution and poor quality of life it's not something we have even considered doing with the family). If we wanted to relocate within the UK, I would have to change my job as well because our office is only here but could probably remain in civil service.

I don't know about childcare to be honest. There are nurseries where the children can be 7am-5pm or so and they're heavily subsidised, if not free. So from that side I think things should work out (provided we get a place). My future supervisor is aware of my situation and says it will be difficult if I am alone but not impossible. Main concern for me is what happens if the children or I fall ill? But there are single mothers who have to do this and they somehow manage, surely there must be some kind of a solution? I will have a status of a key worker and will have priority with childcare, also entitled to childcare in case of a lockdown.

My workplace is near Dusseldorf, which is ranked 6th best city in the world for quality of life. I think it will be easy to link up with expats living there and there are also many universities, which may make it a bit easier to find someone for occasional childminding.

Brexit won't affect me in terms of work rights - I (and DC) have dual citizenship. My husband is only British but I think if we stayed in Europe he should be able to get a visa if needed.

We'll probably need to get a car at some point to drive to see my family or to explore the neighbouring countries. We have two cars now, will be selling one in case of move. Public transportation is great and the area is mostly flat so I don't expect to be needing a car for day-to-day life.

There is scope for me to receive an offer for permanent position after this training. It has happened with other trainees but there are no guarantees as it all depends on politics and funding.

OP’s posts: |
SafariSurnise Wed 03-Jun-20 21:26:03

TheVanguardSix

I'd go to Germany in a heartbeat.
I'd do it, to be honest.
Where in Germany?

@TheVanguardSix it would be near Dusseldorf/Essen. Are you familiar with that area? Have you lived in Germany?

OP’s posts: |
Havanananana Wed 03-Jun-20 21:29:24

Go for it. Don't look back.

If you have EU citizenship then your husband will also be able to work in Germany - he can do that anyway before 31st December if he has a UK passport and can continue to do so even after Brexit if you have moved there before 31st December. After 5 years he will be able to apply for German citizenship, opening up the whole EU again without losing his British citizenship.

Children learn languages really quickly - I'm somewhere else in Europe but my English neighbour has two boys, 4 and 6, who swap between English, German and Serbo-Croat, even in mid-sentence, as these are the languages that they speak at home and in kindergarten.

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