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Trying to decide whether to do an expat posting - with kids..

(18 Posts)
emmyloo2 Mon 14-Oct-13 04:27:12

Hi, my DH spent around 7 years living in a couple of locations around the globe, with both our jobs. We then had my DS and moved home to our home city in Australia when he was 3 weeks old. My DH stayed with his company and I started a new job with my company. Fast forward 3 years, we are still here and I have just come back to my job after 4 months maternity leave after having DD. DH's company is a global company and are very big on moving people around - hence our previous overseas postings. It is likely they will approach him about another move sometime next year.

Just to paint a picture of our life here - we own our own home in a lovely suburb, we are very very close to both our families and my DM and DMIL look after both children several fulls days a week as both DH and I work full-time. We both very much enjoy our jobs, although they are demanding and stressful. I find raising small children very very difficult and find it quite stressful but I am seeing the light now that my oldest is turning 3.

I guess what we are trying to consider is whether we should consider another expat posting and the pros and cons. He is thinking he might offer to move to KL and try and me trying to get a role with DH's company. Other option is North America and he moves with his company and I move with mine. I just can't figure out whether moving overseas would make life significantly more difficult without the family help. However, particularly if we moved to KL, in-home help is much more affordable, so perhaps in many ways life would be easier? Obviously, financially, a posting would be advantageous particularly because DH's company provides accommodation, schooling, travel allowance etc.

For those of you with young children (i.e. babies and toddlers), would you recommend an overseas posting away from family? Anyone have any particular experience living in KL?

I just think we should stick with what we have got and not take the risk. But on the other hand, I would love for my children to experience life overseas.

All advice welcome!


SavoyCabbage Mon 14-Oct-13 06:45:07

We just considered a move to KL too. We decided against it because of the live is staff business and the fact that I might not be able to get a visa.

In the bumf that dh brought home about the job there was stuff about having a driver and playing tennis with 'expats' which sounded like something I wouldn't want to do!

I looked at the international schools and they all seemed ok but it's really hard to tell.

emmyloo2 Mon 14-Oct-13 06:57:20

Hmmm...thanks Savoy.

I would definitely not want to sit home and play tennis either! However, I would only go if I got a job which I was happy with and it was good for my career. I have heard the schools are quite good but expensive.

SavoyCabbage Mon 14-Oct-13 07:44:34

We were getting schooling as a part of the package. You need to find out if the visa you get will let you work. Otherwise you will playing tennis with wives. Nightmare!

PeriPathetic Mon 14-Oct-13 07:49:58

It's much, much easier to do when your children are very young. So if you're going to relocate its best to do it sooner rather than later.

Shanghaidiva Mon 14-Oct-13 08:44:57

Agree with Peri - much easier to move when the children are young. DD was 2 when we moved to China. It is easy and realtively cheap to find fulltime childcare/household help, the only issue is whether you feel comfortable with someone in your home full time. I don't so have a cleaning lady for 12 hours per week and a babysitter on ad hoc basis.
My dcs were born overseas so have never had any help from family, but there have always been plenty of freinds/other expats who are prepared to help out in the event of an emergency. Had a list of friends who would take ds if went into labour early etc.

emmyloo2 Mon 14-Oct-13 08:57:10

Thanks. Savoy - I would want to be sponsored by a company so that I had full rights to work. A move only makes sense if it helps both our careers because we rely on both our income, plus I am very career motivated (without sounding like a prat!).

I think we would like to do it just for 2-3 years and then return home because I really want my children to grow up with their grandparents and cousins etc. But both my DH and I adore living overseas and love the travel so we would like to go overseas. However, having done it before, I know how incredibly hard it can be living in a different country away from home, and adding children can only make it harder...

Shanghai - how do you find living in Shanghai? I spent some time in Beijing for work but not Shanghai. I imagine it has its challenges but it looks like an amazing place....

RedundantExpat Mon 14-Oct-13 09:05:15

Shanghai is HUGE and DIRTY and getting around is a nightmare. Well, it was in the mid 2000s and unless you take the metro will be worse today.

Personally, I loved the possibility of live in staff (had my triplets there) and there would be great career opportunities for both of you, I imagine. I wouldn't like to return to the environmental hazards (for the DC) and being stuck in traffic (for myself) but you might not mind.

I second getting it out of your system while the DC are young.

emmyloo2 Mon 14-Oct-13 09:08:20

See that's interesting - I always imagine it to be easier when the children are older. But that's mainly because I expect life to be easier when they get older!! I find babies and young toddlers, very very difficult. That's a whole separate issue though!

RedundantExpat Mon 14-Oct-13 09:16:40

THen an expat posting in Asia affords you to step back a bit from the drudgery of the baby/toddler age, not to mention all the regular housework: go for it!

Shanghaidiva Mon 14-Oct-13 09:26:53

Despite my name I don't live in Shanghai!

One of the reasons it get harder when the children are older is because of the education issue. My dd is not 7 so not an problem. DS is 13 and if we were in the UK would be choosing options for GCSE subjects, going on to A levels and then university. In China we have to choose which school, which curriculum, which exams at 16 vs no exams at 16, which foreign languages (in addition to mandarin) etc.

Shanghaidiva Mon 14-Oct-13 09:31:36

So many typos!
DD is only 7 so education is not an issue at the moment.

dreamingbohemian Mon 14-Oct-13 09:45:27

We're going through this now -- currently live near family in France but about to move to Germany as DH got a great new job (unfortunately opposite ends of France and Germany so a good distance away). I am a little nervous about leaving family support but DS is 3.5 now and life is much easier, so hoping for the best.

I agree with doing it while kids are young. My DH moved around quite a bit when he was growing up and it got harder as he got older. Leaving friends is harder. Switching to different kinds of schools gets more stressful. We have moved around a lot but have vowed to settle somewhere by the time DS is 10 and stay there til he goes to uni, hopefully.

I'm originally from the US and I would say not to go unless you will really make quite a bit of money, as the work culture is really not family friendly (eg only 2 weeks holiday, which you have to use for everything), little sick leave, you may have to pay a lot for healthcare, etc.

KLdragon Mon 14-Oct-13 10:25:24

I'm living in KL at the moment . This is our second overseas posting. I don't work but previous to this I had quite a high paid job . I do miss work but have kept myself busy by learning Bahasa, volunteering at an orphanage and other activities. It's great to experience a different country and see new places And SE Asia is a great base for this The children have definately benefitted by living overseas and going to an international school as has our bank balance . In saying that we ha e been away almost 7 years now and the urge to return home is definately growing strong but I would never regret our time overseas I say go for it!

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Mon 14-Oct-13 14:32:11

You don't say what you do for a living, so I cant say how easy it would be to find work, but in HK the expat base is definitely moving away from the stereotype and there are lots of trailing spouses who work FT, with the majority of longer-term families on local packages. As a working mother, you would still be a minority, but a large one, IYSWIM. There are a few people who still waft around between the club and the spa, unencumbered by daily life, but most are either bona fide SAHMs or work.

Saltedcaramellavacake Mon 14-Oct-13 17:13:00

Just my two cents worth. You are used to loving, family care for your kids while you work. In KL you will likely find well-meaning, kind, cheap but unqualified care. This woman will be poor, from another country, probably not terribly well educated and she will live with you and be responsible for your domestic drudgery as well as raising your kids for the majority of the day (or you will use full day care, which is culturally quite different from that in Australia). I live in Singapore and although I love our helper and she is very loving with our young kids, I would not want to leave them with her full-time. She can't do phonics homework with my six year old, thinks she's made a mistake if she lets my two year old get dirty (no matter how many times I say I love them to do messy play) and struggles to let them cook, help etc because it is her "job". She is wonderful, but not what I was used to when I worked in the UK and had a nanny.
Please don't take this as working v stay at home mum issue - I'm just trying to share that in some of these countries it is hard/impossible to find the sort of qualified care options you might use in Australia or the UK (let alone family!), and you have to be comfortable with that.

emmyloo2 Mon 14-Oct-13 23:22:36

Thanks salted. It's a very good point and one that did cross my mind. Our nanny here who has been with us for three years is wonderful and qualified. Our son is also in day care 3 days a week and it's absolutely fantastic. I wonder if North American would be different in that you could probably get care equivalent to here...

I am a lawyer. We would only move if I got a transfer with my company or a position with DH's company at a similar level to what I am at now - reasonably senior but not super senior.

You just don't want to make the wrong decision and get stuck because it's hard to come home once you have gone.

FatOwl Thu 17-Oct-13 02:23:02

I live in KL
We moved when my kids were 9,6 and 2.
We've been here a good while now (my youngest is now in secondary and the eldest is back in the uk at uni)
You've had some great general advice here, but if you decide to go for it, I'm happy to offer any KL specific advice, as I'm sure KLdragon will as well.
I'm not a tennis/lunch expat either!

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