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Moving from London to Munich?

(47 Posts)
Blackf0restgateau Thu 16-Jul-15 14:00:15

I'm completely happy in London, we have a good quality of life though work hard. We have 2 kids, 5 and 3.

Would you swap London for Munich?

Is it easy to get childcare at home there (e.g.: au pair/nanny/wrap around for school pick up and drop off)?

What is living in Munich like? Would I be swapping a house for an apartment?

All thoughts much appreciated.

SocietyClowns Thu 16-Jul-15 14:14:35

Watching with interest and bumping for you. Munich is expensive (but then you are in London so shouldn't be too much of a shock). As for quality of life, you can't beat Munich. Proper seasons, with watersports in summer and skiing in winter on your doorstep.

mrsmortis Thu 16-Jul-15 14:49:58

Oh, you are lucky. I love Munich, I lived there for 5 years! It's a small but cosmopolitan city and as far as I am concerned the only thing that you miss there is the sea (lakes just aren't the same).

If you were living in the city centre then it would probably be in an apartment. But there are some lovely suburbs where you could have a house (and be much closer to the city than you would be in London) Be careful when you are looking because ads give you the number of rooms not the number of bedrooms. Germany is also full of long term renters so deposits and agent fees are large.

Why are you moving to Munich? Do you or your partner have a job offer? If so I'd ask they what sort of relocation help they can offer you.

Blackf0restgateau Thu 16-Jul-15 15:05:40

DP is likely to be offered a job there - it's a promotion. I imagine the company will offer a relocation package. The package will be really good so I'm not too worried by the cost of property, just about finding the right home in the right location.

We currently have a 5 bed house with 2500 sq ft and a 30ft garden in zone 3. Eldest goes to independent school, we'd be looking at International school for her.

Is it more normal to live in the city or suburbs with kids?

I work PT (3 days) and could probably move my job there (work for a multinational with offices in over 50 countries). My concern is finding childcare to fit with my job. We were about to get an au pair in London to make my life easier.

I love skiing but I'm not really a sporty person otherwise. More arts and creative stuff though I'd like the kids to be fit and active.

None of us speak German. I did live abroad once before (Brussels) but it was for 6 months and I was a young free and single 20-something then!

SocietyClowns Thu 16-Jul-15 21:57:31

If my dh got offered a post in Munich I'd be busy packing now ready to fly out tomorrow. grin

How long would you likely be in Munich? If more than a year or two I'd absolutely go for a local German primary. Your dc would be blingual and get the same standard of education you would get at your London independent! For free.

I'd opt for a nice new built house in the suburbs.... And I can't see a difference between getting an au pair in London or Munich, so why not keep this plan.

If you go for it I'd also recommend trying to learn the language yourself.

fruitscone Fri 17-Jul-15 09:06:56

OK don't read my post on the Trondheim thread because I was having a right whinge about being a foreigner in Germany and believe it or not I'm here to say an unequivocal yes to going to Munich.

Munich is fantastic. Expensive but fabulous. It has the city feel (even though people from other German cities e.g. Berlin are a bit sniffy about how parochial it is) but you have scope for a great outdoors / nature filled quality of life.

There's the skiing an hour away in the winter and in the summer, it is generally warm and sunny with lots of scope for bathing in lakes, cycle runs on family friendly cycle paths, Alpine walking for all age groups, beer gardens, better fruit and veg than the UK (closer to source, lots of farmers' markets etc), better butchers, better bread.

For holidays you are only a six hour drive from northern Italy, within driving distance of Croatia, on Austria's doorstep, five hours from Prague - there is scope to see so much from Munich.

For kids there is great scope for being fit and active - most towns have a sports club where all kinds of sporting activities for all levels and age groups are offered, be it aerobics / fitness, judo, athletics, swimming, football, inline skating, unicycling (!) (just some of what's on offer in my small town).

You say you are into crafts and artsy things - Germany is the country for you. Crafts here are very big. The stuff my DD does in school e.g. for mother's day is just wow. This year she made me a pottery mirror and glazed it and it's lovely and somewhat puts my bogroll holder / cotton wool snowman from the same age to shame!

Wherever you live there is scope for crafts courses through the Volkshochschule (evening class) e.g. my local one had lots of knitting / sewing / felting etc on offer this year.

if you want to live in a house, you will probably be further out from the centre. And it will be expensive. But then so is London.

I used to live in London and came over to Munich to visit a friend. When I got back to London after a lovely outdoorsy holiday and fab weather and stood on the Finchley Road in the pissing rain waiting for my bus, my heart was aching for the quality of life I had seen in Munich. Now I am back in Bavaria (alas not in Munich - I am slightly jealous) and I know where I would rather be!

Re au pair - yes I know of people with au pairs here, very doable. Also if you DD goes to local school, there will be provision for wrap around care ('Hort') after school and it will also operate in the holidays. For reference purposes, the Hort here costs 160 Euros per month (yes you read that amount right - childcare is much cheaper here!) and kids can stay on in school with supervised homework and other activities until 5pm).

(OK thank you for your thread. I have just talked myself into a better frame of mind after being grumpy about Germany at the start of the week!!)


Twistedheartache Fri 17-Jul-15 09:14:05

Another vote for I'd move there in an instant. Can't help with the schools/family stuff as I lived there in my early 20's but all the Germans I work with (German company) have amazing education, very balanced & healthy outdoorsy lives & crafts and baking are incredibly popular.
Toytown Munich used to be a good ex pat site if you want more info.

Blackf0restgateau Sat 18-Jul-15 15:02:34

Thanks for the responses so far.

I'm wondering how practical this move would be for me:

1. I wanted to move my job so I'd be working minimum 3 days per week and DH full time++.
2. I do not drive (Have never passed my test).
3. At the moment I'm responsible for all laundry and all meal planning and food shopping.

Does anyone have experience of 2 working parents in Munich?

I usually spend most of my days of with DD2 who is 3, doing laundry and other domestic stuff (bill paying etc).

I've just read I will not be able to do an online food shop at all nor a supermarket shop on a Sunday. As much as the markets and delis all sound delightful I have 1 hour to 1.5 max. to do my weekly shop at the moment (plus a couple of 20 min top ups). I've also read that there isn't much convenience food. So how on earth will I have time to do old-fashioned shopping and cooking? Or do I need to find an au pair to do all of this (assuming I have time to do the meal plans and shopping lists)?

SocietyClowns Sat 18-Jul-15 16:15:23

I think you may need to find out a bit more about life in Germany and Bavaria in particular. It's all the things pp have said in terms of quality of life etc but it is not London. Bavaria is also very ... um, old-fashioned, although Munich less so.

It's also still very religious. There will be few or no shops open on Sundays. Most shops close at lunchtime on Saturdays. Some shops are closed for long lunch breaks and may be closed on Wednesday afternoons. Few grocery shops do home deliveries, and many people are happy to use the local markets for fresh, in season food. Oddly this seems to suit most people as it is what they are used to. The bakeries are out of this world. I'd move to Munich just for the bread and cakes if I could.

All this means that if you turn up with a London mindset and speaking no German at all you may not make many friends! If you value your London lifestyle maybe the move isn't for you. flowers

How about going for a long weekend to see how you like the city first?

Blackf0restgateau Sat 18-Jul-15 19:04:05

Thanks Society, I would definitely visit for a weekend but I'm sure I'd love it - from a very touristy and first-impression perspective. I'm asking questions here in tandem with reading Toytown/ searching other blogs etc. to try to find out about life in Bavaria.

I'm now thinking more practically about my week, day to day, hence the questions above. I'm not trying to move to another London, I'm trying to work out how/if I could manage this.

- do most people like the old-fashioned shopping and markets as they have one non-working parent who can spend hours doing the shopping and cooking?
- Or is it because they have two driving parents so the process can be speeded up?
[obviously this simply won't apply to us]
-Or is it manageable? How?

I haven't said I'm not willing to learn German but the facts are we could manage to order a beer and ask for directions to the town hall but not much else at the moment!

I'm an atheist and my children have no faith so Sundays would not be spent in worship we'd have family time then. Weekends away skiing in winter and hiking/exploring at other times are an attraction for sure.

SocietyClowns Sat 18-Jul-15 20:37:58

I think it would be an astonishing opportunity for you, especially your dc, to experience a different culture smile. With your dc still young I think you can't lose! But I can see that the logistics would need to work for you (missed the bit about you not driving).

fruitscone Sat 18-Jul-15 21:14:19

I think a lot of rural Bavaria it is quite the norm to have one parent working but in Munich, the people I know, most families have both parents working with one perhaps part-time because it is so expensive to rent / buy in Munich.

Friends of ours share a 'Tagesmutter' - childminder in Munich as both mothers work part-time and this arrangement works well for them.

Re the shopping - no there really is no internet shopping but I find the shopping quite convenient here i.e. you won't have to travel miles to find a real butchers shop or a fruitmarket. Everything is in the same area or same small suburb of Munich. I do not miss Sunday opening at all - in fact I like the chilledness of Sunday and the fact you are forced to have some fun family time and not get bogged down in the chore-ishness of shopping etc. Where I live the neighbours get pissed off if I mow the lawn on a Sunday (so now I don't!) and are even vaguely sniffy about having washing out on a Sunday!

The supermarkets are different here - none of the Asda aisles and aisles of crisps and crap and ready meals. But you just get used to it. You will probably find your DH will eat his main meal in the canteen at work (and it will be of a very good standard). You may too and your kids may be catered for in childcare. So suddenly you don't have such a need to worry about cooking for the whole family in the evening. Most Germans eat their main meal at lunchtime and just have 'Brotzeit' at nighttime - rolls, bread, meat and cheese etc.

I shop once a week at fruit market, bakers most days for a loaf and get bits and pieces at the supermarket most mornings as it's near nursery. And the supermarket is 1/4 of the size of Asda at home - and there's not much here I am missing from home. Then I cycle the lot home. I wouldn't swap anyone on this earth for the hell that is the weekly shop in Asda / Tesco. It's just simpler here.

I don't think driving is important if you live in Munich. You will become the bike / trailer family. We are a one-car family in the sticks. In Munich there is great public transport plus great cycle routes.

German is very learnable - in Munich there will be great scope for learning the lingo and you will find Germans are keen to speak English with you. I have an American friend here who has learned German to a really excellent level in three years.

I heard an anecdote recently. There is a local company near me which has offshoots in America and so there are always expat Americans over here for a few years at the mother ship. Apparently they normally lose weight here because they get into the Bavarian active way of life - walking, cycling, Alps PLUS better, healthier eating.

When I am having one of my periodic grumps about annoying things in Germany I have to remind myself the quality of life and the outdoorsyness of Bavaria is streets ahead of the UK.

HRH008isback Sun 19-Jul-15 08:49:16

Hi, we've lived in Munich for 11 years. We both work, (me, 4 days per week) have 2 dcs aged 6 and 8.
We manage by...
Living close to kiga (kindergarten) and school. The eldest walks to school with her friends, all the kids do.
After school, the eldest goes to a "hort" until 3pm. There she does her homework, has lunch, and is supervised.
Kiga runs until 5pm, but the youngest stays until 3.
Both are then picked up by our "leih oma" - rentagranny, who looks after them until we get home. She takes them through the englischer garten, paddling in the river.... to hiphop classes, on bike rides etc
You can shop online and have food delivered, see "rewe" and "tenglemann" supermarkets.
Sundays take some getting used to, but restaurants, bakeries and leisure time stuff is all open, you just can't "shop".. It's actually lovely!
I used to live in London, and Singapore, all over the place really... And i LOVE Munich.

HRH008isback Sun 19-Jul-15 08:59:50é/

This is where we are going for brunch today... smile on our bikes...

Both kids went skiing regularly through our kindergarten...

We drive to Italy, Austria, Switzerland...

And the kids are totally bilingual, through going to regular german education.

Love it here

HRH008isback Sun 19-Jul-15 17:43:51

Some random thoughts...

Things that are v irritating....
Bureaucracy, so many forms, waiting in line etc.
Hausmeister, or building caretakers, and their "rules"
Post office workers are the grumpiest in the world, ever.
People are very straightforward, which can be a shock!

Basically, Munich is a nice place because the people who live here like things organised and well kept and will tell you to your face if you are littering, being loud etc. you do get ridiculous arguments occasionally.. I remember being told off because my child was screaming... Luckily, i remembered my (german) husband's advice and replied just as angrily in English...

Ah, being a native English speaker is a plus point, and lots of people like to practice their English, which really helps when you get stuck.

Radio here seems to be stuck in the 70's... I heard BonnieTyler this morning! Actually, life here is old fashioned, and slow... And it really grows on you.

Lots of highbrow culture but little in the way of comedy clubs and decent modern theatre. Good music venues though.

The other thing i realised, is that all our friends are mixed... german and something else, or they have lived abroad for a long time.

And it's 36 degrees today, so we have been out at our local outdoor pool all day... And it was busy, but not London busy.

I do miss London, but Although I love going back for a fix, I couldn't live there any more. huh, as I write that i realise that i really mean it...

suenan Sun 19-Jul-15 19:29:37

I live in Vienna, but have spent time in Munich and dh lived there for a while. I love it, even though all places have their annoying sides (and citizens!) I could put up with the negatives, if that meant enjoying the high quality of life Munich can offer.

When I lived in the UK, commuted to full-time work and had small dc ( we left Uk when dc3 was 1 year old) I couldn`t imagine living without online shopping. Then I moved to Scandinavian suburb and had to drive to huge supermarket (no local shops, no online shopping). I hated the time and effort that took up - even though I was mostly a SAHM. We now live in Vienna city centre and I do the local shops, and this suits me really well (in spite of working 34 hour week). The supermarkets are small so much easier to get the stuff you need, it`s all close by. Every now and then I go to special markets, visit specialist shops and just yesterday I was in a huge, UK-style supermarket. I was amazed at the choice, but also glad that I don`t have to shop there on a weekly basis. Nice to go sometimes, but not to get weekly essentials. There is also online shopping here, but no longer attractive because going to shops is so easy. Just to state the obvious: I would have a look at shopping options when choosing where to live, and make them work for your life style.

I found quite a lot of convenience food in Munich - depends what you mean by it. There is lots of fresh pasta and sauces that are quickly ready. Or bread and cold meats is another popular, easy meal. Shops sometimes have a deil section, with ready- made (and high quality) dishes.

SnowBells Mon 20-Jul-15 00:24:07

I have a friend in Munich. Her Facebook updates make me jealous with all the trips she does to Italy, etc. envy

I don't like all of Germany, but for Munich I might make an exception...

SnowBells Mon 20-Jul-15 00:25:56

... by the way, my friend works FT and her DP, too. They manage just fine. However, their workdays seem a lot less stressful (and less long) than ours!

I live 50 km outside Munich and I know my experience is mostly not relevant but did think it worth mentioning that if you don't speak German at home you cannot technically have an Au Pair (because an Au Pair is a cultural exchange not cheap child care in theory, only families where German is one of the main home languages are eligible for formal Au Pair schemes). In practice there are ways around it if you use an EU Aupair (because there is no work visa issue) but it's a grey area.

Blackf0restgateau Mon 20-Jul-15 08:53:24

I was assuming that I could get an au pair who wanted to improve both English and German? Although that would be beyond the skills of many, certainly young people from Scandinavia would have the potential to fit that bill.

I really wouldn't be expecting much in the way of childcare (assuming nursery/kindergarten plus after school club in the same way I have in London) but more help around the home with tidying/laundry/shopping.

That said, if it's not permitted it's not permitted. I'm not prepared to run the home and do all the kids stuff on my own so we'd need to see what could be done in that regard.

I'm fortunate in that I do have a good quality of life in London so I need to weigh up what I'm losing as well as what I'd be gaining.

Hope that link works on the subject of Aupair.

There are work arounds but an actual Aupair has special status and the employer has exemption from lotsof the responsibilities of employing a nanny etc. of course, and I am fairly sure you have to speak German at home to be allowed the aupair category.

Blackf0restgateau Mon 20-Jul-15 18:00:40

That simply will not apply to us then. There's no way that the 2 years of German that I did from 1989-1991 are going to result in anyone speaking German at home for a LONG time! I can barely remember how to introduce myself.

Does anyone know about hiring 'home helps' then? I really don't think a nanny would be interested in spending most of the day without actually looking after any children. I'm after someone to help with household chores who can pick up the kids and bring them home I think. It would also be nice to have some babysitting but that doesn't need to be done by the same person. What would this role be called in Germany? Or would I need to look for multiple different people?

I'm sorry Blackf0rest I can't help much there - we live rurally and it's a different world to Munich, I've never heard of anything like that out our way, but I also don't know of any families at all with two full time working parents (out here people generally stay at home at least 3 years and then eventually go back part time when their youngest is at Kindergarten or even later if they don't have family help, but I know it's a whole different thing in Munich).

The rent a grannies somebody mentioned plus a cleaner would seem the most likely combination.

mrsmortis Mon 20-Jul-15 18:52:14

BlackfOrest - the aupair rules being discussed only apply to young people coming in from outside the EU. The article is about the rules you need to follow to get a visa as an aupair. You should be fine as long as you employ one who is an eu citizen.

Blackf0restgateau Mon 20-Jul-15 19:07:59

Thank you so much for everyones input so far - it's really, really helpful.

Just to clarify I'll be working 3 days per week though will check my emails and may do the odd call etc on the other 2 days (potentially more likely as I shift a further hour away from the US). I'll be working from home mostly though may do some time in the office which I think is somewhere near Munich airport.

I'd been looking into getting an au pair in London as my 2 days off are spent doing lots of chores and I wanted to free up some time to spend with DD2 and maybe even relax a bit. DH works long hours here in London so leaves the house before us in the morning and is usually not back until kids are already in bed. Everything kids and home related is my job (we do have a cleaner though!).

I'm not sure how much DH's hours would change as the new job is more important and may involve some travel so this move will not mean a more equal share of the domestic and childcare roles for us, hence being able to employ a person or people to help is really going to be key to me.

I'll re-read the article and do a bit more research on the au pair thing.

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