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A move overseas -am I being realistic?

(18 Posts)
themightyfandango Mon 15-Apr-13 21:56:22

Hi

My DH has the possibility of taking VR with a decent package (approx 35-40k) this has come at a good time as he was planning on going contracting at this point in his career anyway, he works in IT.

We have vaguely discussed the idea of going overseas before but it never seemed the right time. My eldest DD was doing gcses and A levels. She is at uni now, has her own place, a couple of jobs and is semi-self sufficient. My DJ has favoured Singapore as he lived there a short while years ago but from what I have researched it seems too alienating somehow.

I am thinking of talking to him about the US, maybe LA/Santa Monica. I have done a bit of research and it seems to tick a lot of boxes for me. He is less keen on the US when I have mentioned it in passing but can't give me a coherent reason why.

To give you a bit of background into my reasons for wanting to try it, even as a short term thing.

We have had a really tough 7-8 years, our 2 eldest DSs have ADD/ASD/Dyslexia and DS2 has severe ADHD (medicated). We are not close to family and have limited friends and it has been a real struggle at times educationally, I moved DS1 to a private school a year ago out of desperation. I also have a DS3. They are 12,9 and 6.

Our house is suddenly feeling small and our climate is really getting to me. I feel like somewhere warmer and more geared to outdoor living would be better for our very boisterous elder boys and perhaps make us a happier family which we are not really at the moment. I also thought that perhaps there might be a better level of acceptance and support for their conditions in the US (I realise it's not free though unlike NHS).

On a personal level I feel like I really need a change and an adventure. I gave up my career primarily because of the children's SN although I did run a small business until a year ago and have done the odd bit of temping. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown about a year ago and became very depressed due to difficulties with the DC,DH working long hours and to be honest feeling very bored and trapped. It came as a bit of a shock as I have always been a strong, capable person.

I know we could move house in this country but I can't see any great incentive to other than more square footage which would cost £££.

Am I being unrealistic about such a move taking into account the DC SNs (I know adapting will be harder for them) Does a warmer, beachside lifestyle make a complex family life easier or would it be frying pan/fire territory?

I'm not opposed to say a two/three year contract somewhere to see how things worked out.

If anyone has been in a similar situation I would love to hear.

TIA

themightyfandango Mon 15-Apr-13 22:21:21

Just seen about the Boston explosions. My heart goes out to everyone involved. Feel like a whingy shit posting my woes now. :-(

jkklpu Mon 15-Apr-13 22:27:43

If you're really considering it, you need to be confident about the employment opportunities, including meeting all necessary immigration requirements. If your DH will be contracting, he'd probably need to sort out all necessary health/other insurance policies himself. Do some real research about how much this would cost, especially with youngish kids, and bearing in mind that you might well be unable to work.

I expect you could get some ideas from US NGOs that support families of kids with similar conditions to your boys' about what is available. And there must be loads of expat web fora in both Singapore and the West Coast of the US.

If you decide to go for it, do spend lots of time, eg a year, making very careful plans so that you don't get there and suddenly realise that the schools you were looking at are a waste of time or the budgets won't stretch.
Best of luck.

butterfliesinmytummy Tue 16-Apr-13 00:16:31

I would check out the visa requirements first. We're in the process of relocating to the US with dh's company. The visa requirements even for an intracompany transfer visa are pretty tough - we are at the last stage and have a 3 hour appointment with the US embassy this week (including Green Card style interview about our marriage and family!).

Also bear in mind tax - the US taxes you on worldwide income, not just domestic like the UK.

pupsiecola Tue 16-Apr-13 01:13:41

Just to say I would think very carefully about Singapore. We are about to leave after what will be 11 months. Private schooling here is mostly crap if your kids are anything other than "normal" and unless you want to shell out lots of money on top of the fees for outside help which half the time isn't even needed. Also, yes it is sunny here but for us it is too hot to live an outdoor lifestyle. With boys of 10 and 8 I hear ya re lots of energy etc. It's very hard to be outside for too long here unless you love being hot and sticky!

We had wanted to try the US or Canada but have put that on hold. We've got a great UK state school lined up which ticks all the boxes. But I can understand why you would want to try it and we still hope to at some point. The very fact that it is so huge and vast (vs Singapore) means you will have more choice re schools etc. and the climate over there, and sheer space and scale is very appealing.

Finally, re the breakdown, don't beat yourself up. There are a couple of excellent books by Dr Tim Cantopher - Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong is one. I can't remember the name of the other one. It's the strong, capable people who give too much who mostly end up with depression. I highly recommend this book. It's a real eye opener.

Take care and let us know what you decide!

pupsiecola Tue 16-Apr-13 01:16:55

Also, just to say we too wanted an adventure and a change and we don't regret it at all. It hasn't worked out but we have had plenty of fun along the way, some fab holidays, met some great ppl and are returning in a better position financially. It's been really tough at times but rather this way around than staying put and wondering "what if...".

MarjorieAntrobus Tue 16-Apr-13 01:37:06

I would think getting a visa/work permit will be an issue, and not at all straightforward (understatement) if you are self-employed.

Also don't underestimate the effort involved in relocating abroad. The much-anticipated sunshine goes unnoticed if you are struggling to adjust to life in a new country. I mean tasks like how do I open a bank account, find a rental, tax my car, pay a bill, get injections for the DCs, etc etc.

Can you use the the opportunity you have with the VR money to take the DCs out of school for a few months and travel rather than relocate?

ripsishere Tue 16-Apr-13 01:46:37

Thin very carefully about it. I don't know Singapore, we are in Malaysia.
The struggle to get dependents visas for me and DD would take an age to explain.
Cost of living may be much higher than you are anticipating.
If SI is really where you fancy, start a thread solely about that.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

NatashaBee Tue 16-Apr-13 01:55:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Tue 16-Apr-13 02:03:05

Agree with Pupsie that you are probably right to discount Singapore, given your circumstances. You don't get outdoors more than you would in the UK, and, like many Asian hubs, private schools are oversubscribed so "pick and choose" the easiest pupils. I think (Pupsie , correct me if i'm wrong here- I dont live there but have looked at it in the past) that in Singapore expats aren't allowed to go to government schools, so that would be a big burden in respect of school fees. Also, re your DH's line of work, one of the problems in IT is that there are a lot of contractors from India/ SE Asia who come to Singapore on a "single man" basis (i.e. they leave their families in their home country, at least initially). This compresses salaries in the general IT contracting market, so unless your DH has a niche speciality or is very senior, he might find that the salaries aren't what he'd need to support you and three children in private school, plus rents (which are very high) and med insurance. Cars are super-expensive too.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Tue 16-Apr-13 02:15:28

SN provisions in Singapore are a BIG problem. No need to do more threads, just PM Pupsie and me and we'll point you in the right direction for the lowdown.
Just filling in the school applications and trying to get in will be extremely stressful. I know absolutely no one in Singapore that has found a barely reasonable solution in the International school system. There is small network of homeschoolers but that would just alienate you further I guess?

For that reason only, The US seems a more sensible choice.
California is really progressive in terms of alternative therapies, you'd have a much more nurturing experience there to prop you and heal you as a family.
A friend did a family workshop here
There are family centers like this everywhere. Advice and support is widely and readily available.

Of course visas will be a problem and YOU will not be allowed to work unless you find an employer willing to sponsor you. And you have to factor in the costs of private insurance and taxes.

Take good care of yourself.

pupsiecola Tue 16-Apr-13 02:23:23

RichMan, my understanding is that ex-pats can go to local schools although need to meet the criteria (catchment for example). However, given what I've heard about the local schools (strict regime, lots of pressure, learning by rote) I wouldn't choose that for my children, SEN or not.

However, local kids cannot go to international school.

I think I have that the right way round!!

OP, I like the idea of taking some time out and doing an epic adventure style trip! Two or three months around the US for example. Might be enough to scratch an itch...

Horopu Tue 16-Apr-13 02:32:28

Can't comment on USA/Singapore as I've never lived there but it is a big upheaval and a lot of hard work. Worth it for us as we are now very happy in NZ. I agree with the comment about not enjoying the sunshine if you are too busy filling in paperwork. We live a half hour drive from amazing beaches and do not go there anywhere like as much as I thought we would - real life gets in the way and things have gone very smoothly for us.

I would second (or third actually I think) using some money and travelling. We spent 8 months going round the world with ds1 and ds 2 aged 5 and 7 and it was fantastic.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Tue 16-Apr-13 02:32:31

very good point about insurance and pre-existing conditions.
Am sure though that in California there will be a very wide network of associations running free workshops and seminars as well as a lot of community help available through school.
Go to living in US thread, there are at least 3 MNetters I can think of in the LA/Santa Monica area. They might be able to give you more info on schools and SN provisions.

Yes, in Singapore, no access to local schools unles you have permanent resident status.
And ys about "single family" contractors and compression of salaries in that sector + steadily rising cost of life in general.

kickassangel Tue 16-Apr-13 02:37:30

The US is very difficult to get visas for, and depending on the local school district, there can be almost NO SN provision, with class sizes up to 40.

Silicon Vally was hugely hit by the recession, although housing around there is still expensive even by UK standards.

If you move abroad, any emotional problems within a family are likely to be intensified. No matter how great the weather, if you don't know anyone in the area, it can be very isolating.

Having said that, I live in the US and love it, but it took a Couple of years to feel settled. There is so much less crowding, we live where it is quite cheap so have a much better lifestyle, there are more outdoor things to do, and the idea of family is much more respected and accommodated. (Not so great for some people).

Perhaps really looking seriously into different areas can make you see what you do have going for you in the UK. Maybe some traveling, or using the redundancy money for something to make life a little easier, would help you.

I'm not saying don't do it, but it's actually quite a tough life change, and you have to be pretty certain you can make it work.

justaboutalittlefrazzled Tue 16-Apr-13 02:54:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

themightyfandango Tue 16-Apr-13 10:24:47

Thank you for all thoughts. I will read them all carefully.

I agree with Singapore not being suitable for us, you have confirmed what I thought. It was more my DH's first thought because he enjoyed it before (as a single man though!)

I don't really know exactly how feasible it is employment wise unless I talk closely with DH and he maybe does research. He is reasonably senior, earns around 75k has has worked for a number of big global companies. He is 45, nine years older than me. I don't know if age is a factor with US visas as it is in Australia.

He told me this morning that it looks like he will get the go ahead to leave in June so I might try and have a good talk over the weekend.

I know it would be hard, I've read a few of the threads on here, and there would be times I might wonder what I've done but I can't shake the feeling that there has to be a better way of living for our complex family.

It is heartening to read your comments about your boys JustAbout, very few people truly understand the impact SN have on a family and sometimes small things like better weather or being near a beach can make life much more bearable.

I will give the travelling idea some thought but to be honest we have all but given up on holidays in the last few years because by the time DS2 adjusts to the change in environment it is pretty much time to leave which sets him off again so the idea of moving from one place to another in succession might not work for us.

Lots of food for thought here so thanks again.

NatashaBee Tue 16-Apr-13 11:30:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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