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Would my children have a better future in the UK or in Germany?

(73 Posts)
loewenzahn Fri 05-Jun-15 16:09:57

The looming EU referendum has made me reconsider our options lately.
Our current situation is this:
I'm German, have been in UK 20 years, I'm a nurse and have never worked in Germany. DH also EU citizen , 2 DC, one in reception one younger. No other family in UK.
Currently in London in tiny flat, can't afford bigger, will have to leave London in next 2 years for better accommodation or sleep on a sofa bed til the end of my days.
Plan was to move up north/ Leeds/Sheffield way or Scotland. Pretty sure I would find a job, not sure about DH but would find something eventually. Worried about schools, paying for Uni when kids are older, general state of the NHS etc.
My brother thinks we should move back to Germany. He is in Leipzig. We like it there on holiday. Apparently Germany has a nursing shortage but I rarely see vacancies for general nurses on the hospital websites. Brother thinks provided I found a job we could afford to live there. DH does not speak German at the moment but is good with languages so could pick it up.But much more difficult for him to find work than in the UK I think.
Flats are nice and cheap. Schools are pretty 'old school' I think, but not so much drama about getting into one. University at the moment pretty much free.

Added complication: we are a mixed race/ dual heritage(or whatever is politically correct these days) family, so I worry about racism in that part of Germany. But then the UK is not exactly a racism free utopia either, I guess.

And obviously if UK leaves the EU we are stuffed anyway.

Would be most grateful if anyone had any thoughts in this conundrum. smile

KleineDracheKokosnuss Fri 05-Jun-15 16:15:05

Don't know but I'm interested in the answer too...

BikeRunSki Fri 05-Jun-15 16:16:21

I read in the news this week that Berlin is planning to cap rents and do something about property costs, do avoid becoming unaffordable to most people like London or Paris. That might be worth looking into.

BikeRunSki Fri 05-Jun-15 16:17:42

here,Berlin rent cap

expatinscotland Fri 05-Jun-15 16:18:09

You wouldn't see me for dust. I'd go.

loewenzahn Fri 05-Jun-15 16:21:31

Well, that was fast!
Berlin would be the other option, but I like Leipzig and for 500euros we could have a lovely 2-3 bed flat.And 180 euros child benefit per child! Apparently.

GlowWine Fri 05-Jun-15 16:32:02

What about your qualification, or your husband's? Is it readily recognised? I would struggle to get a equivalent job in Germany despite my nationality just because my working history does not tick the right boxes.
I'd move in a flash for housing and schooling, health care but as you say there is a lot more to it. My DH does not speak the lingo, would struggle to pick it up and would not find an equivalent job.
And yes society and attitudes are another. Have you got the option to try an extended stay /work placement to get the feel for the place?

loewenzahn Fri 05-Jun-15 16:39:36

While we are still in the EU my qualifications would be recognized.It would be less money in Germany but cost of living would be cheaper too. DH doesn't have much in the way of qualifications, so finding a job for him would be more difficult.

SunnyBaudelaire Fri 05-Jun-15 16:43:49

do you know any other 'mixed' families who live there? and what their experiences have been?
I would worry about racism in that part of Germany.
Surely Berlin would be a better bet?
I would go if I had the chance, it is getting impossible here.

loewenzahn Fri 05-Jun-15 17:15:58

No unfortunately don't know any other 'mixed' families. My brother thinks it's not a problem in Leipzig itself. I don't know how other areas in the UK would be.

ltk Fri 05-Jun-15 17:27:03

Most places are going to look less enlightened about race after London. I think the key is how the children would be treated at school and by other adults out and about. Have you experienced staring or hostility? Attitudes can be hard to judge but if people have been acting racist, it is probably pretty widespread.

Pippidoeswhatshewants Fri 05-Jun-15 17:29:22

I would be worried about racism in Leipzig (and the whole of the East, excluding Berlin), tbh.

You also need to be absolutely sure that your nursing qualification will be accepted.

Unemployment rates in the East are high, it might actually better to find work for your dh first, although I think him not speaking German might be a problem. If there really is a nurse shortage, then it should be easy for you to find work in the same place.

With a nursing qualification it should be very easy for you to find a job once you decide to leave London, and you will be able to afford a decent house anywhere else.

I still think children have a lot more freedom in Germany, I am very much in favour of the later start and less hours.

I'll stop rambling now... it's a big decision, you need to be really sure of your priorities. And Leipzig is a lot more provincial than London...

Threeplus1 Fri 05-Jun-15 17:31:48

Would you consider other areas of Germany? I've lived/worked/study in Frankfurt and Bremen and never had any issues as a mixed race person myself.... I've considered Germany as a place to move to so I could afford to return to university and pay for my kids to go when the time comes. I speak German but neither my DH nor the children do. Unfortunately DH isn't keen so there goes my idea sad

antimatter Fri 05-Jun-15 17:34:37

I would consider university town in Germany for the mix of people and what they generally offer.
(this is from knowing what my non German friends who live there say)

vitaminC Fri 05-Jun-15 17:35:17

What about your dh's country? Would he find work there more easily? Do you know the language well enough to work?
I'm pretty sure nurses are highly employable almost everywhere in Europe right now.

loewenzahn Fri 05-Jun-15 20:56:11

DH has an Eu passport through naturalisation( I think, related to his dads birthplace) but is actually from a 'developing' country and neither of us speak the language of the country he has a passport for. So that's out.

Leipzig is a university town, probably the biggest in the East after Berlin but still not the most liberal place.In theory we could go anywhere but I'm from the 'East' and kind of want to go 'home'. That's just silly nostalgia though.

I guess in terms of work it would be more difficult for both myself(start from the bottom, learn a new system, less money) and DH(learn a new language, get any job at all) but I have this idea in my head that the children would have a better education there. And better chances at Uni.

I'm pretty worried about what will happen to the education system and the NHS over the next 5 years anyway, without even considering a possible exit from the EU.

Pippidoeswhatshewants Fri 05-Jun-15 22:00:51

In case of a Brexit, there will be a similar arrangement with the EU as Switzerland has. The UK will not suddenly kick out all EU nationals, because then the whole financial sector would collapse.
There are also an awful lot of Brits living across the EU, and they won't be sent back home, either. I really wouldn't worry about that scenario too much.

SolasEile Fri 05-Jun-15 22:08:41

Berlin sounds like a better bet to me. Leipzig has a university at least which might provide some diversity but as a dual heritage family, if racism is a concern for you, Berlin would be far better. Surely a better choice of jobs too with all the big hospitals? I know Berlin is getting more expensive but it's mainly the trendy parts like Prenzlauer Berg. I'd imagine outlying suburbs are still pretty affordable.

If you're moving from London, Leipzig would be a massive adjustment for you all and that would be harder to manage than the UK / Germany transition. Also your DH might have a chance of getting a job teaching English or his other language/s in Berlin.

SolasEile Fri 05-Jun-15 22:10:11

And to add that overall I think your children would definitely have a higher quality of life wrt education, healthcare etc in Germany than in the UK, especially with the Tories in power.

Archfarchnad Fri 05-Jun-15 22:25:14

I've lived in Berlin for virtually my entire adult life, as has DH, and our DC were born here, logically enough. In terms of quality of life, I would absolutely recommend Germany over the UK. Costs are much lower we find, more culture and childcare is subsidised, there's less obsession with the free market at the expense of people. There are still no or only low university fees. In Berlin there are a number of state schools which offer German-English education. In short, our standard of living is much higher here than it would be in the UK, for the kind of things we find important.

In the East you'd have most chance of finding somewhere as a HCP out in the countryside, because there's is so much depopulation (are there any doctors left in Meck-Pom?) - and that's your problem, because if my family were mixed race it would be a cold day in hell before I'd go to live in certain parts of the East. Leipzig, hmm, I don't know. DD1 was in Rostock last weekend with her school on a trip, all of them were 15 to 17 years old, and they were attacked at a tram stop by a drunken racist who kicked the non-white people in the group (and it's an international school so ethnically very diverse) - the police were called, all very unpleasant. I was attacked by neo-Nazis in 1993 with friends in eastern Berlin, just for speaking English - things are very different there now, of course, but at the time I was worried enough when I got pregnant to move to the West part of the city. You'd be safe enough in Prenzlauer Berg now - perhaps that would be the best way of combining staying in the East with a safe environment for your DC. But the education in P berg is not the best, and there are no state Ger-Eng schools there, only private ones. Rents in P Berg have gone up massively recently due to gentrification (hence the need for a rent cap). You could get this:

in P Berg near Schönhauser Allee for 810.30 euro cold, 105 sq. m., Altbau

or this for 381.20 but it's a smaller Neubau:

We all got German citizenship last year, also partly because of worries about a potential Brexit (yes, Pippi, I'm sure in practice a solution would be found so we wouldn't get kicked out, but there are plenty of things which are more difficult for Swiss people living in Germany than for EU citizens), but mainly so we could vote and the kids would have all jobs open to them.

Child benefit is 184 euros per child! Yay! It's still not persuading people to have any more children. Another reason to live in Germany - lots of employment opportunities for your kids in years to come.

SunshineAndShadows Fri 05-Jun-15 22:31:17

Think about Scotland - if you move here there are currently no tuition fees for Scottish Uni students in Scottish universities, SNP are against privatisation of NHS, and pro European (all broadly speaking). Def cheaper than England

loewenzahn Sat 06-Jun-15 10:27:58

Thank you for the great advice everyone!
Archfarchnad So sorry that happened to your daughter and her class. It's aweful that still happens but confirms my worries. I would only consider Berlin(any part really) for our family or Leipzig possibly, not the rest of the former East. Such a shame as the country is so beautiful (and the houses are dirt cheap.)
Which parts of Berlin(East or West) would you say have good schools? Doesn't have to be bilingual but would be a nice option I guess. Is there anything like Ofsted where I could get a general idea of the quality of the schools?

SunshineandShadows Scotland is on our list of possibilities. How would you say a mixed family coming up from England would be received there?I'm guessing Glasgow would be the most diverse place? It's so difficult to judge what a place would be like just from visiting.

specialsubject Sat 06-Jun-15 13:42:52

be aware that rent caps mean unmaintained properties and a property shortage, although the latter is obviously defined by demand. I don't think Germany is as overcrowded as the UK and also the Germans seem to have more sense than to all want to live in the same city.

but do read this for another viewpoint and some more facts:

also be aware of energy supply security, currently going tits up in Germany thanks to green policies. UK also at risk.

but there are many other issues.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sat 06-Jun-15 13:51:55

I know a family who were in a similar situation, not sure which part of Germany though and also all white. Anyway, they went out and then came back again very quickly. The parent who had grown up there, the reality for the children now was not how she remembered growing up, apparently the children had real trouble settling into the new school, they didn't feel very welcome and there was loads of beaurocracy around everything that did their heads in a bit.

My friend who has been living out there for 2 years is coming back as well, he struggled with the cultural aspects, he's in Munich.

Having said all that I think I'd seriously consider it if offered!

I don't know if any of that helps, just that I saw your post and immediately thought of the family I know and their experience was not positive.

Archfarchnad Sun 07-Jun-15 13:23:35

löwenzahn, in all honesty educational policy in Berlin as a bit of a disaster area - it's a real disadvantage here. They keep on introducing reforms to supposedly make things socially fairer and above all, increase the placings in PISA texts, but most of them don't work and end up being revoked after X number of years.

One good thing is that Berlin has a 6-year Grundschule (although there are a few Gymnasien that start in year 5) - but it also forces kids to start school at 5.7 if they're unlucky with their birthday. I wouldn't want my child starting as the youngest in the class with teachers who have failed to realise that younger children are obviously less well developed and just whinge about falling standards.

There is an OFSTED equivalent, called the Schulinspektion, done I believe every 5 years in each school. There's an overview here. You can find the inspection either on each school's own website or under Schulporträt. Having been through two inspections at junior level and one of a Gymnasium (there are always parent surveys to fill out), I'm not sure how worthwhile they are in giving an accurate impression. The best thing you could do, as always, is talk to some families with kids already there and find out the word on the street. Of course there are going to be 'good' schools in otherwise 'bad' districts and vice versa. DD1 is now in Year 11 and half way through Abitur (but bilingual in a state school), and we took DD2 out of state education recently and put her in a private bilingual school, but one that has subsidised fees according to income so it's socially a very different kettle of fish to independent in the UK.

You say you'd be happy in any part of Berlin - really, Marzahn? I suppose it's got some nice corners away from the Plattenbauten. I still think though that the teachers in districts like that would have very little experience of dealing with kids who have grown up in the UK speaking English, and would simply penalise your DC for any perceived deficiencies in German.

"be aware that rent caps mean unmaintained properties and a property shortage". No shit Sherlock hmm. But in Berlin flats people are often free to do a lot more in the way of minor improvements themselves to offset the low rent. When I moved into my first flat in Prenzlauer Berg in the early 90s it had no shower and Ofenheizung (these huge tiled coal ovens for heat), so I had to carry coal up four flights of stairs. There was no phone connection, no buzzer system. And it was damn cheap, which might be more important to löwenzahn right now. My experience is that people who grew up in the East are a lot more pragmatic and accepting of such things. And in London and other cities, there are any number of poorly maintained properties which are snapped up instantly because of the demand - I don't see an absence of rent cap doing people any favours there. Generally speaking, the rent cap is going to work in people's interests in Berlin.

"be aware of energy supply security, currently going tits up in Germany thanks to green policies" Eh? Maybe people in Germany want green policies that don't pollute the environment so much - we've gone out of our way to choose an energy provider that only uses green energy sources. I'd be more worried about living in the UK with its rabid consumerism and 'screw you' attitude to the poor and vulnerable.

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