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DH has just announced he stands a good job of getting this job in France....help!!!(46 Posts)
so there we were, enjoying our lunch in the local garden centre when DH announces that a job has come up in Lyon and that he stands a very good chance of getting it. DH feels that this is a golden opportunity for us to move and for DS to eventually become bi-lingual. We both teach French (and are fluent) - DH in university, and me in a secondary school (part time). A long time ago before DS we always thought we'd like to move to France and Lyon is a city that we both like. However since having DS (6) we (well, me in particular) have changed our minds about France and are really very happy where we are. We live in a wonderful village, with a busy social life, grandparents 30 minutes away, a great house, and both of us enjoy our jobs. DS goes to a fantastic primary in our village and has lots of friends etc
If we move obviously DH will be fine job wise but I'll have nothing, and as a French teacher with British qualifications would not be able to teach French in a French school. I'd have to look at international schools which are highly sort after. I'm worried that I won't have work, we'll be broke, and I'll struggle to meet people if I'm not working. Also I am in a good position in my school at the moment, involved in coaching & teacher training etc.
am trying to think about the advantages & disadvantages but am quite upset at the moment and struggling to think clearly.
the job DH has always wanted
chance for DS to be bi-lingual
i lose my job (that I enjoy & do well at)
DS has to move schools & start again
further away from my family
I might feel very isolated & struggle to meet people
we have to sell house
am sorry this is so rambly - I feel that I need to talk about it all to help get it clear in my head what is best to do. Has anyone been in a similar position? Can anyone offer any advice? Do we take this risk and throw away a very comfortable happy life here? Arrrggghhhhhh
I'm not sure how useful this will be but can tell you about our experiences. We moved to France (Paris) nearly 9 years ago. My DH was offered a job, I stopped working when we moved (I had a job that I really enjoyed). Two and a half years ago we moved from Paris to Italy, near Rome (DH different job in same organisation). Our DS, now nearly 7 was born in Paris, he was 4 when we moved here.
Moving to Paris wasn't such as big decision as it was something we had always wanted to do. There were only the two of us then and it was a lot easier. Although I loved my job the opportunity was too good to miss. For us, the move from Paris to Italy was probably the same as your move to France, we had a good life there, were very settled, had DS by then, had finally managed to learn to speak French, and the only reason for moving was that DH was fed up at work.
Any move abroad is a bit of a leap into the unknown, even if you know the country you are going to well. There have been lots of threads on here recently about the advantages and disadvantages. You have a huge, huge, advantage in being able to speak the language, the most difficult barrier to enjoying life in your new country (in my experience) doesn't exist for you. I have always loved living abroad so I'm very biased but for me the advantages have always outweighed the disadvantages and difficulties you sometimes encounter.
The best thing about living abroad for me (personally rather than the whole family) is being able to really experience another culture and way of life - really experience it, and understand how another country and the people think, live, work etc., and be a part of it. This all sounds like airy fairy nonsense I know but it is true for me. I also think it has given my DS a great advantage in life - not just being bilingual but the experience of different cultures and ways of life.
For the disadvantages that you are thinking of:
Losing your job - true - but you could find work in France (teaching English perhaps?). Also you may find you enjoy a bit of time with your DS discovering things together - if someone told me a few years ago I would have enjoyed being a SAHM I would have called them barking - but I have enjoyed it and still do. Money considerations are a different thing though - I understand your fears about that - being skint anywhere is not much fun.
DS moving schools - that will be hard on him perhaps, but he will cope. I know lots of kids who have moved countries and they all find a way, most of them are much more resilient and adaptable than we think. But only you know how difficult this will be for him. Personally I think that the advantages for children outweigh any short term problems.
Further away from family - yes - but they can visit, phone etc. It is not that far away. You may end up spending more 'quality' time with them than you do now if they come and visit for a couple of weeks at a time.
Isolation - possibly but as I said above speaking the language is a massive advantage. Having children is great for making friends, and your DH's job will help.
Selling your house - you don't have to, we still haven't sold ours in the UK, you can rent it out.
When we moved to Italy I was really unsure at first. But after lots of thought we did it, mainly for the airy fairy reasons above really - to do it all again in another country. Also that DH was so fed up at work it was starting to affect life outside of work, and there was no chance in the near future of a different job in Paris. I do think though that you both have have to be committed to your new life, a few doubts are normal but major ones would cause problems.
It sounds like this has been a bit of a shock and you really need to have a good think about it, talk it over with DH. He is excited, you are shocked and you need a few days to get over this and have a calm think and talk about it.
Sorry - this has turned into a really rambling reply! If you are still reading I hope it helps a bit
Lyon is a great city, i used to live there. Also lived in Paris and now living in CH and have found Lyon certainly the friendliest place to move to.
I would say just go for it, however quite a few of my friends who still live in France are now leaving due to a number of varied reasons, a common one being can't find work/made redundant. Things seem quite crappy everywhere these days. Good luck though!
thank you so much for those replies especially Baccarat for taking such a long time to reply so fully.
I've tried to look at things practically and research rather than making judgements based on emotions. So, this afternoon I've been looking at house prices and they seem so much more than DH had anticipated. Without me earning I'm worried we will be very stretched. The lack of jobs is also a worry.
I understand what you mean about the culture thing Bac. We lived in Paris years ago and Belgium before that. And we did love it then. If I felt a bit more negative about our live here I wouldn't be finding this so difficult. Do we risk throwing it all away? Arggggghhh
Can you plan to go for a year or two and see how it goes? Then if you are not happy move back to the UK?
We moved to CH a while ago and intended to stay forever but now we are pretty certain we will not be here more than a few years. Living abroad when we were younger and without children was very different to our circumstances now. Plus our parents are ageing and we feel a duty to be around for them more. Jumping on a plane to rush back home for an emergency isn't always possible. We are faced with different issues now than when we were in our 20s and living the expat dream.
Can understand that it feels very daunting when it could be a reality. I felt very confident about moving with DH back to his native Sweden as I have lived abroad and loved it since graduating from university.
The reality for me of moving now with very small children was much tougher than I anticipated. I don't think it's that the people are less friendly as such (we probably live on the most friendly street ever) but being a SAHM has proved to be very frustrating at times. And because the move was for our whole family, but ostensibly for DH's benefit this has caused some major resentment/guilt between the two of us that has taken a while to work through.
I think your language fluency will be a big advantage. I speak decent basic swedish, but often feel like a thicko as I can follow the conversation but never add anything particularly meaningful to it. It has also been tough to have to rely on DH for things like bank paperwork or complicated form-filling in. You'll be much more self-sufficient, which is great. If you're fluent, then you could consider a different job other than teaching. That would give you social contacts, and a network and help in feeling integrated.
How is DS' french at the mo (do you go on holidays there etc. has he had any exposure to it?) If he struggles and feels unhappy in the beginning (which he probably will, even if it can be argued that it's for his long term benefit) then unless you are totally convinced about your choice, it could be quite upsetting.
How much do you rely on family at the moment? Visits and them staying over can be stressful if you're only used to seeing them for a quick cuppa or sunday lunch and then they're sleeping on your sofa for a week. Plus they won't be able to step in to babysit for a night out, or provide childcare if DS falls ill. If you have counted on this so far, it could be hard, and may add to feeling isolated if you can't go out with new friends for a drink because you have no babysitters...
I really don't mean to burst anybody's bubble about moving abroad. I am still glad we did it, on balance, but there have been some really sad, lonely moments and I think that it's important to go into it with eyes wide open.
Have you talked to your DH about your concerns?
Have I understood correctly that your DH is currently teaching French at university in the UK?
At the risk of seeming very nosy, what would he be doing in Lyon? I am a university lecturer in France and I'd be interested to know how the job could possibly seem attractive, frankly. Pay is dire, everyone is utterly discouraged and downhearted, and a good number of my colleagues are trying to get jobs in other countries.
You, on the other hand, would probably get teaching work in a collège or even a lycée. Not a fixed job, certainly, but now that 60,000 posts have been cut, schools are crying out for teachers and they are pretty much recruiting anyone (incl students with BTS in tourism) to do hours teaching English in schools. If you sent your CV to the Rectorat, they'd give you work like a shot, IMO.
I know I'm not answering your basic questions, sorry....
Thanks everyone for your detailed answers - there are all a real help. Particualrly as I feel I can't really talk to anyone round here about it all.
I don't think we could try it for a couple of years tbh Shaylou - We'd then have to find jobs again in the uk, and house etc. If he could be seconded there for a couple of years and then guarenteed his job back here it would be no problem...
surrounded you have hit the nail on the head! I'd be very unhappy as a SAHM - I work well in a team and don't really enjoy my own company. I'm worried that it would cause resentment.
DS is only 6 and although has been exposed to French (he has French speaking cousins) he doesn't really speak it at all. I think we'd have to consider sending him to an international school. That means fees - and on a lower income we'd struggle plus we'd need to live near the school which means in a suburb or city centre. I love living in a village and am not sure I want to go back to city living at this stage.
as for family we haven't really counted on them but must say I much prefer it now that my parents don't need to stay over anymore!
I have talked to DH and he understands and appreciates my worries. But is tempted as he has always wanted to work in a French uni. I don't think he was being very realistic about house prices but I have shown him some online and he has now seen that we would definitely need to sell here if we were to buy there.
AA Yes DH is senior lecturer in French here in UK. He feels that there is less teaching and less admin in France form what his contacts there tell him. He loves his research but here struggles to get 1 day a week to work on research because of the teaching & admin load. Does that seem familiar to you or has he got that wrong? Am interested that you say lots of your colleagues are trying to get out of the system...
Your son can be bi-lingual here! You both speak French!
As far as I can see, for moving abroad - you only do it if it works for ALL of you.
If you both work here, and want to both work when you move, well then, the move needs to work for both of you. You both need to be able to find jobs. And if a move means one of you sacrificing and being unhappy about it, you don't do it.
Lyon has a choice of 50/50 bilingual French/English schools "sous contrat" which cost 500 euro to 3000 euro per year. I know a family whose children went to one of them until recently. But I don't think you should worry about going into a French monolingual school, if you didn't want to spend money on a private but sous contrat school, and this would be far easier because your son in only 6 and he has French speaking parents. You must have children in your UK school who speak English as a second language who are learning French as their 3rd language, so you can see yourself that language learning if learnt very young is usually pretty straightforward, if in reality a little slower than some people claim it is eg "my child was fluent in 3 months comments" are simply silly and impossible, "my 6 year old child was fluent in 12 months" being far more realistic.
Why don't you think about a job in one of the bilingual schools in Lyon too?
I've only passed through Lyon on holiday, but I know 2 families who used to live there and both say it really is a great place for anglophones to live in terms of quality of life and the fact you can have a part English language education and there are so many international families there who are also far from family and depend on mutual help from friends.
Is there anything against keeping your UK house, renting it out to cover the mortgage, renting in France for the first year or 2 whilst trialing life out there? It is not obligatory to sell your house when you move abroad. We have kept our UK house even though we will probably never return.
Sounds like you just don't want to go though.
Thanks Pfft. It is so helpful hearing everyone's opinions and advice. I know DH wouldn't move if he felt it wouldn't work for us all.
Here's a list of schools in Lyon offering bilingual education.
Was shoved into a French school at the age of 6, speaking nairy a word of French. Was fluent within a term. Children are sponges at that age. Your DS is the least of your worries. I'd go for it personally.
<PS Was hugely but hugely embarrassed by my mother though. She was fluent in French - she had a French degree and worked in French, but had a truly horrible English accent to her French. Used to make me cringe at the school gates. I used to pray for her to keep quiet. She never did though. Served me right for being horrible, I reckon>
natation thanks for that link - very helpful. I don't think we can afford to pay rent on accom in France even if we do manage to rent out our place here & cover the mortgage. Plus if we do want to come back we might not get jobs. It is a risk.
haha quattrocento - were you the only English kid?
Well, I reckon that if you weren't working too much and could look after your DS on a Wednesday, if your DH recycled a certain amount of his teaching material from year to year and if his university didn't impose too much continuous assessment, then he probably could do one day's research per week.
I never manage it, but my Wednesday is eaten up by the DC because of the school week here. And since I don't have an office on campus (well, I do, but as I share with 5 colleagues and it contains 4 desks and one computer, we can't actually do any work in it), I work from home on non-teaching days, which is v inefficient IME.
Would he be teaching in Lettres Modernes or in English? If the former, things are perhaps a bit less gloomy than the latter, which is where I am. Our university has just become a mega-university following the merger of all its faculties, so we are now competing with medicine/science, etc. for research funding and it is clear that our colleagues in those fields think we do TEFL style teaching and no research. And that is pretty much what the ministry think, too, as they have made clear on several occasions.
Student numbers are dropping fast and the demise of the CAPES and likely death of the Agrégation have decapitated many of our courses and will probably soon deprive us of our few interesting classes.
Working conditions are also quite different from the UK: a "tutorial" in many departments often contains around 30-40 students (this is why continuous assessment is an issue, as marking is grim). In applied foreign languages, where there has been a rise in student numbers as people are fleeing traditional modern language courses, I take a "tutorial" with 60 students. First year, where there is a 30% pass rate, is where selection takes place: a considerable number of students enroll just because they can - there is no selection at entrance - and student status gives you social security cover and is better than the dole. It is pretty grim teaching those classes. You do need to be aware, as I'm sure you are, that universities in France suffer from the existence of grandes écoles and other establishments who are allowed to use selection at entrance. In humanities subjects, universities are often a last resort for students who are not selected elsewhere - and that includes people rejected from BTS, etc.
I'd check very closely what status he'd have (MCF or Prof.) and where he'd be on the pay scale. I am a MCF with over 12 years' experience teaching in French university, and I know that someone with my job in the UK would teach fewer hours than I do each week, would get a sabbatical occasionally to do research and would earn 50% more than I do. I should stress that I've never taught in Lettres Modernes, but have in Law, Economics and Business Studies depts as well as in English, in 2 different universities, and the experience was comparable on many levels (class size, student intake, etc.).
Prof. are not badly paid, but have to do increasing amounts of admin and spend a lot of time in meetings, (as do many MCF, actually). I keep my head down and choose my responsibilities carefully to avoid excess meetings. The university is constantly being reformed by the gvmt, so we keep reworking our courses and submitting them, then having to undo it all and rethink it because some minister who has never been to university and would never dream of sending his kids there has decided to "tackle failure rates" with a new doomed project. No reform ever takes into account the effects of previous ones, no one dares introduce selection because it's such a hot potato and would also cause the unemployment figures to rise dramatically. The general atmosphere is pretty grim.
I have a colleague who is trying to get a job in Australia, and another two who want to move to Canada, because pay and working conditions are better.
Sorry, that was v long, and you may well already know a lot of what I posted...
wow thanks AA for such a long and detailed response. I really appreciate the time you've taken and will pass all info on to Dh. He would be in Lettres Modernes. It all sounds very frustrating for you.
Yup. Forces you to mix though. Really good experience for me. Glad I did it. Gets you really properly bilingual, so that people can't tell that you are not a native. People who learn a language any later than that sort of age can always be detected as not native IME. I did read a learned article about this - it being to do with formation of the palate. It could be rubbish though.
But all I could hear at the age of 6 was that my mother sounded English ...
it sounds very plausible Quattro - about the formation of the palate I mean. It is a wonderful skill to have. DS has a tri-lingual cousin & I think she is so lucky in some ways.
I do worry also about the French school system and the competitive side. DS thrives on praise & reward - from what I know I'm not sure he would cope.
I loved Lyon when I went there on a business trip a few years ago!
We moved from UK to Brussels just over two years ago and then to Paris last summer. I was working FT in the UK and while that was hard to juggle with family, I did love my job so had mixed feelings about giving that up to be a SAHM (something I could never see myself doing). I will be honest, I was in shock for a few months upon arrival and I did resent my change in life. It was definitely hardest for me. The kids (who were younger than 6) took it all in their stride and have coped amazingly with several changes in school and two moves.
On the language thing, it is also about opening up the neural pathways to language reception as well as developing the palate to correct pronunciation. My eldest was very quick to participate in class (it was that or remain quiet which wasn't an option for him!), my second took longer (1.5 terms) but both are equally comfortable in French or English now. I was advised that after 4 years, they would have lifelong fluency which is just amazing! I would definitely not be put off the French system at this age, although it favours the brighter child for sure and as PP have stated private sous-contract schools are very reasonable. It definitely helps that you both speak French - as we do - think it makes you more receptive to the advantages of bilingualism, you can help with reading / homework, and are happy to go to the cinema, watch French TV, look at books etc.
On family - you may find you and your family get better time together as it is not just spending a few hours together but a long weekend or more at a time. We worked out that PIL spent more time with our kids than with their other grandchildren in the UK!
We didn't sell our house, and the rent received doesn't cover the mortgage but it was important to keep a foothold in the UK market. We intend to return one day and it really is not worth the costs of selling and buying for a couple of years. I would seriously consider renting in France - costs of purchase are quite high... but we get a generous rental allowance here.
It certainly takes time to get used to such a big change, but I love being there more for the boys and we've all had such an amazing experience - I don't regret it for a minute! You force yourself to make a new group of friends - the networks are everywhere, and you have great opportunities for work either in a school or privately.
Good luck with your decision - you've had lots of great advice here!
I would be reluctant to give up a life that has so much that I was happy with. And I wonder if the job your dh has been offered really is as wonderful as he hopes. It would be awful if you were all disrupted and then he was disappointed.
Could he get what he wants by rethinking his career within the UK?
You are entitled to be happy too. You should be frank with dh about your gut feel if you don't want to go.
I love Mumsnet!!!! Showed DH this thread last night and he was amazed and the effort people - complete strangers - put into their posts. Thank you all, as Superspudable says - some great advice on here on all the different aspects on our quandary.
Joanna I don't think DH can really go much further in his career here although wonders if being called for interview elsewhere would give him leverage where he is now to negociate better pay etc.
I think those who have said about renting are probably right and certainly for the first year..
At the moment I think DH is waivering. He agrees Joanna that we have worked really hard to get where we are and would be giving up an awful lot on a risk.
I'd happily move to France much later on in the future (ie retirement!). I did a teacher exchange about 10 years ago and taught in a 'college' for 6 weeks and really noticed how different the job is there. It seemed that there was much less of a team and that teachers just turned up, taught & went home - no co-planning, sharing of ideas etc. If we do go teaching will be what I'll do (hopefully I'd find something eventually) but it would be quite different. So really would prefer to move once I don't need to work.
one last comment. We moved from the UK to Belgium with the dual intention of having better working hours of only 5.30am to 22.00 (we actually lived in the UK, commuting daily or every other day to France for work including 15 hour night shifts, 12 hour day shifts, no 9-5) but what has turned out to be more important for a better life for our children. In moving, I've virtually given up my career for something else I enjoy but it's not a career choice and mainly do the job to put food on the table. The children however have gained masses. The fact they are bilingual and also 2 of them have a good level of Dutch too is a bonus. They now have such a choice of activities after school and during the holidays, that it is hard to choose. They have friends of all nationalities. They have the opportunity to go to university for peanuts, either in Belgium or the Netherlands or even France, can also go currently for free to Scotland, unlike students living in England.
hmmm thanks natation. It is so very difficult. Ironically partly because of some of the advice given on here I am feeling slightly more positive about my chances of finding some work, and about DS settling in, but DH is less enthusiastic about his job at uni in France!
I am also still very worried about the finances. We would certainly take a huge cut in income and have worked hard to get to where we are at the moment so not sure we want to lose that.
Plenty of food for thought!