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Moving the whole family to Germany, what questions do I need to ask?

(17 Posts)
StuntNun Wed 21-Jan-15 16:56:42

My DH is being made redundant or he can transfer to another site within the company that it is in Germany. We have three children aged 12, 8 and 2 and another due in April. We are homeowners and have both been resident in the UK since birth. DH speaks some German but the kids and I don't know any.

I'm wondering what questions I need to be asking about (1) whether we are going to move or not, and (2) about the logistics of the move. I want to find out about international schools but I'm pretty clueless about things like freezing pensions, maintaining national insurance payments, etc.

Obviously I will be starting my own research but I would love it if any more experiences Mumsnetters could give me some tips on where to start and on anything I might not think of straight away such as how healthcare works in Germany. TIA.

GwenaelleLaGourmande Wed 21-Jan-15 17:06:17

I have heard some of the people on here can be a bit hard work but this is a forum I have used for some German related conversations:

GwenaelleLaGourmande Wed 21-Jan-15 17:07:56

I mean some of the posters on that forum I linked to, not on MN smile

pupsiecola Wed 21-Jan-15 17:10:30

Do you know whereabouts in Germany? Some MNers are being very complimentary about life in Berlin in the post about NY...

I guess initially you need to know about the package on offer. Are school fees covered (I didn't think they had private schools in Germany but perhaps I am wrong?).

Then find a property website for the area, decide on acceptable commute and see what you can get for your money. Perhaps put together a spreadsheet with all of your living expenses, including flights home, holidays, food etc. That way you can tally up whether it makes financial sense.

How do you think your older DCs would feel about leaving their schools and starting afresh elsewhere? Do you have lots of family and friends nearby ie would it be a real wrench for you all to leave? On the plus side, Germany is very accessible from friends. I have friends in Prague and ppl are always going out to visit because of the proximity and low cost flights etc.

If you don't go, what are DH's chances of getting a similar job without you having to move area in the UK? Ie is he quite niche? Do you fancy living abroad or are you trying to make it fit because of this job situation?

I have spent quite a lot of time in Germany. My BF married a German many years ago and my ex-DH and I holidayed there a lot. They were a lovely warm, friendly bunch - very welcoming to us even in their rural village near Hannover. My experience of Germany is that it is very clean and super efficient. I would definitely consider it...

StuntNun Wed 21-Jan-15 17:20:00

Pupsie it would be near the border with Luxembourg so Frankfurt or Cologne would be the nearest big cities. There are international schools in Luxembourg so that might be an option depending on the distance. I think it would be necessary for DS1 at least as he is 12 and I don't know how well he would manage academically at a German school particularly as he has ADHD and Aspergers. I wouldn't be so worried about the others going to a local German school as they would have time to learn the language fluently before they reached a critical point in their education although DS2 is dyslexic which may mean he would also benefit from an education in English.

MmeLindor Wed 21-Jan-15 17:25:52

Do it! You could just about live off the family allowance, with 4 kids [joke]

Seriously though, I work that out as EU 773/month for your family. From here

das 1. und 2. Kind: jeweils 184 €
das 3. Kind: 190 €
ab dem 4. Kind: jeweils 215 €

If you don't work, then your DH would be in a very favourable tax bracket, and wouldn't pay much tax, so make sure you check what his nettogehalt would be.

You'd be best to rent your house in UK and rent a flat in Germany. Rental accommodation is generally very good.

School - there are international schools in some of the larger cities, which I assume you'd be heading for. Your 2 yr old could probably get a Kindergarten place - at the latest at 3yrs, but some areas offer for younger kids. Childcare is very cheap - we paid EU150 for full-time kindergarten (was a few years ago, but don't think it will be much dearer.

If you need more advice, feel free to PM me with the area you would be moving to. We've lived in several cities in Germany, so might be able to offer more specific info.

MmeLindor Wed 21-Jan-15 17:27:17

XP with you there! I know someone in that area - will give her a shout.

Would you be looking for your DH to commute? I don't know if that is really possible from Frankfurt or Cologne tbh.

pupsiecola Wed 21-Jan-15 17:59:34

Do look carefully at schooling. I don't think (from reading threads on here) that all European countries cater well for SEN in their state schools - certainly France doesn't appear to. Ditto international schools can be pretty useless in their offerings of support, or they expect you to pay extra fees for it. I would look into these things as a matter of urgency as they could be a deal breaker. I don't think either will offer the type of learning support that UK state schools do...

GwenaelleLaGourmande Wed 21-Jan-15 18:06:43

France can be very good once diagnosis happens, no idea re Germany. I assume you can get copies of medical records and get them translated into German which would be a headstart on arrival.

doradoo Wed 21-Jan-15 18:07:12

Hi there - I'm in Essen (about an hour from Cologne) - 3DCs.

Housing - can be expensive especially in the two cities you mentioned - most houses/flats are listed here: Immoscout - mieten is renting kaufen is buying - have a look at sizes/areas etc to give you an idea.

School - we had two at an Int'l school - 3,500eur per child per term - plus extras like uniform/music/lunches etc. Kindergarten where I am is on a sliding scale according to income with a max of 275eur a month.

Toytown is very helpful - but search the site first as they're not very sympathetic to those who just ask the same questions again....

We've been here 7yrs now - and don't have any ties to the UK - don't pay NI or UK tax - but it's effectively all covered here as we're all EU residents. So Child Benefit (Kindergeld) very nice thank you - way more than the UK and can be backdated if you don't get round to applying quickly.

You'll need adequate health insurance - this should be all done through your DH's work though if you wont be working.

There's probably lots more you want to ask so feel free if there are any specifics. We love it here - have bought a house and are in it for the long term now smile

WoollyHooligan Wed 21-Jan-15 18:08:39

Pop over to the living in Germany thread! I can't link as I'm on my mobile but I'll find the exact name & post in a mo. We're a friendly bunch & can probably help with most questions hopefully

WoollyHooligan Wed 21-Jan-15 18:11:09

'Wind, Obst, Wein und Spass' is the name of the thread - it's in Living Overseas smile

MmeLindor Wed 21-Jan-15 18:13:14

SN provision depends on the city/school and the severity of SN.

There are Sonderschule for kids with SN, but my SIL had bad experiences with one (in a different area of Germany). Her kids went to a Montessori school - which isn't as expensive as International Schools. You'd still have the language barrier though.

GalensOyster Thu 22-Jan-15 19:40:15

I've heard a rumour that the ISL in Luxembourg is nearing capacity. It is also expensive. European Schools are good but don't always have space for kids of non EU institution parents.

spockaroundtheclock Mon 26-Jan-15 16:34:16

You need to consider, education, banking, moving costs (shipping, freight), healthcare, foreign exchange, pensions, tax, property and visas. If you're a homeowner and you want to sell your UK property and buy abroad, you want to be looking at a forex broker than can offer you a forward contract. If you don't and the exchange rate moves, you can lose loads of money.

StuntNun Mon 26-Jan-15 19:16:02

It's an awful lot to think about. We only bought our house about a year ago so we would probably look at renting it out for a few years until we're out of our fixed rate tie-in period.

GwenaelleLaGourmande Mon 26-Jan-15 22:28:30

It is a lot. Moving country is a big deal. But there is a lot of support out there x

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