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How to decide where!

(31 Posts)
Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 07:08:45

My DH has been asked to narrow down a list of European countries he would be prepared to move to for work (would include me and DC 6 and 3). We are finding it very hard as we don't know much about living anywhere other than the UK.
Would anyone be able to offer any advice on specific countries - think pretty much all major cities in Europe!
Vienna, Brussels, Prague, Paris, Munich, Athens, Dublin, Milan, Rome, Lisbon, Madrid, Lucerne, Stockholm....

juneau Fri 27-May-16 07:16:59

I'm really surprised you're being given such a free choice. Are they not short of someone with his skills in specific locations? Do you HAVE to choose somewhere? Do you actually WANT to live OS? How long would it be for? Do you speak any foreign languages? If so, I would prioritise those countries whose languages you speak (or ones where English is widely spoken), as it will make your time there a lot easier if you can communicate and make friends. I would also, through personal experience, avoid moving to a small European city as my experience is that they can be very parochial and you may well find it hard to make friends. A bigger city will have more expats, more comfort with expats, and other expats for you to make friends with. My DH spent 12 months living in Basel in his 20s and he still shudders at the memory!

Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 07:26:51

Basically he's on the high flyer scheme and there are more opportunities if we are prepared to be mobile. It's easier for the company to decide where to offer if they have a list from us of where we would and wouldn't consider living. We have always wanted to do it so yes we want to live overseas. I don't speak any languages so would want somewhere where English is spoken.
Tempting to go for somewhere sunny but it seems the quality of life in places like Austria Sweden Switzerland etc is very high

juneau Fri 27-May-16 07:33:36

One other thing - when it comes to picking somewhere to live don't use the same criteria as you would for a holiday or weekend break. Yes, a beautiful and well-known city is lovely to look at and will ensure lots of people want to visit you, but one that is packed with hordes of tourists from Easter to late Oct can be a nightmare to live in.

juneau Fri 27-May-16 07:40:43

Its interesting which countries you're looking at. Austria (or anywhere German speaking), wouldn't be on my list, because German is really hard to learn. Swedish is also hard and the winters there are long and bloody cold! As for Switzerland - the Swiss are quite a serious race and not particularly friendly, but yes, they are very good at languages and their country is stunning.

I would look at: ease of getting there/home, ease of language to learn, friendliness of people, leisure activities nearby (do you ski, surf, hike, etc), weather/climate, and yes, standard of living.

Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 07:49:49

We haven't narrowed it down much at to be honest, we've literally just started looking hence I'm on here for advice! My husband speaks pretty good German so the ease of language doesn't worry me too much. I just want a decent climate, an ex pat community, good facilities for children, good international schools.
The U.S. and Canada are also options but that's a whole other conversation!

Ouch44 Fri 27-May-16 07:56:47

My bother and his family are coming back to the uk after 2 years in Copenhagen. They have loved it. Meets all your criteria. Good international schools. Safe for children. English spoken widely. Climate same as here though! Less working hours!

juneau Fri 27-May-16 08:02:56

If your DH will be working though you'll need to speak the language too. You'll be the one out with the kids, at the school gate, making conversation with the other mums (or not!). Don't discount language - it IS important. Life can be very lonely if you can't communicate.

Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 08:15:01

I'm not discounting language but it's not a decision factor for me as ultimately wherever we go, if it's in Europe, I won't speak the language! Hence I want an ex pat community and international schools!

Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 08:15:35

Thanks Ouch, will look at Copenhagen for sure!

VioletBam Fri 27-May-16 08:16:57

Madrid is rather special but I also love Rome.

Pteranodon Fri 27-May-16 08:24:25

I think German is easy to learn. I think you'd pick up any language if you wanted to, though less likely if there's a big ex pat community.

ShanghaiDiva Fri 27-May-16 08:43:25

Will the company pay for an international school? IME with the ages of your children I would put them in a local school/kindergarten as they have the opportunity to pick up the language. This is where learning the language may become important for you as there is unlikely to be a large expat community at a local school.
Some companies may not pay for international schooling until children are a certain age. I know some where schooling is not paid until child is 5 so language becomes important if your child is at nursery or kindergarten.
My inlaws used to live in Munich which is a fabulous city - great location in Bavaria for holidays and travel to Austria, Italy etc, museums and galleries, pretty friendly imo, weather gorgeous in summer and lovely and crisp and cold in the winter. My sil went to munich international school - it's a lovely location, but expensive - entrance fee and tuition fee.
I have lived in Germany, Switzerland and Austria - but not in any of the cities you mention.

Floggingmolly Fri 27-May-16 08:46:54

so yes, we want to live overseas. Why; when you have no idea where, and "overseas" is effectively the rest of the world?
Have you seriously no idea?

Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 09:34:18

Only on Mumsnet could someone have a pop at you on a thread like this!! Thanks floggingmolly, a big help.

Emptynestx2 Fri 27-May-16 09:37:28

We live in Belgium and have done for the last four years. I think the school issue is important, if the company will pay for a British school then it's easier to fit back into the UK system although with small children local schools will help the children learn another language and fit into the community better (this could be harder for you). If I can help with any advice on Belgium please feel free to PM me.

Our son had his last for years of school at the British school here and he says it's the best thing he's ever done even though he did not want to move!

Paperthinspider Fri 27-May-16 10:00:45

Lisbon has a sizable expat community and two international schools, also most local people speak good English. The weather, food, and surrounding areas are all good. Cheap flights within Europe and further afield.

mrsmortis Fri 27-May-16 10:31:50

I've lived in Munich, Zurich, Cologne and Stuttgart, and Milan. Of them all I think I'd pick Munich and you'd probably find Milan the hardest. They definitely spoke the least English there.

Don't underestimate the impact of not speaking the language. We are in Cologne and the moment. I'm fluent and my DH isn't. I'm the working parent. He's found it really hard to interact with people here, even though the kids are at an international school and I have a large international group of collegues for us to interact with.

guihailin Fri 27-May-16 13:18:30

All the main Euro cities have International schools and "expat" communities (the phrase sounds rather old fashioned). IIWU I'd think together w DH:
1. For his and your career path what is best : does he already have a network at some of the offices, which are considered more dynamic/important ?
2. What do you want for your children : seamless British style education or local or International IB etc? Languages?
3. View the cities - by Low cost flight, Google World, library books... get some knowledge about them
4. Dream if you were a billionnaire / retired what place would you love to live in ?
5. Taxes, inheritance laws, family law, medical emergencies or serious treatment, paperwork - some places have serious downsides
6. What lifestyle do you love - museums, mountains, beaches, snow and ice ... ?

I think you need to tell Mumsnet overseas alot more about your preferences, personalities, hobbies, networks, ambitions for your children, wishes, etc and compare specific places, otherwise you'll just get random "I lived here and loved it" and/or "hated it"

Otherwise run some Mumsnet searches for the specific cities, it may help you and DH as you decide on the way forward. You must be super proud of yourselves !

Skala123 Fri 27-May-16 13:57:03

Ok....I am a fitness fanatic and have recently qualified as a gym instructor and will have done kettles and spin instructor courses in the near future too. I am on a career break from my previous job but don't plan to go back. The fitness thing I am happy to leave as a hobby for a while.
Kids are one boy and one girl and like the usual sporty busy outdoorsy type things (they are 6 and 3)
DH is into all sport, plays football and rugby and golf and lives skiing and it is something he would like me and the DC to get in to.
Together we like socialising, drinking, taking the kids out etc. I find it easy to make friends through the children.
With regards education I want the kids to be able to return to the UK and fit back into the school in system. Work would pay for schooling whilst we are abroad.
They both do lots of extra curricular activities so these are also important.
We don't live near the sea at the moment but it is something I would love to do, be it the sea or a lake/river.

guihailin Fri 27-May-16 14:56:57

Ok then IIWU

Yes : Geneva, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Vienna... (to actually work and live with a young family not too competitive for school places and not knowing the language)

No to : Paris, Rome, Milan, Athens, Madrid, Dublin, Munich...(for various reasons depending on the places - clogged transport, little outdoor sport, v competitive for schooling, language issues....)

Would not be dashing to Brussels, Luxembourg, Prague, Amsterdam, Stockholm but as said above for DH there are always some offices more prestigious, existing network etc and that's important to open up new doors, new places to go, on his career path

jamenhej Fri 27-May-16 18:49:15

Sweden offers a wonderful quality of life for families, and Swedish is easy to learn, compared with eg German. Formal schooling doesn't start until age 7, which is something you may wish to consider. Also bear in mind that it is extremely hard to find rental accommodation, especially in Stockholm, so look into whether your company could provide something. But if you can get past those hurdles, it is an absolutely fantastic country to live in and we feel very lucky to have moved here.

mumhum Fri 27-May-16 21:54:35

Zurich and surrounding area is fabulous imp!

mumhum Fri 27-May-16 21:59:11

Imp not imp, loving Switzerland

Crystaltips68 Sat 28-May-16 07:08:35

We are in Munich. It's fab! Don't be afraid of the language.

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