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Weekly commute UK to Europe, or relocate?

(19 Posts)
MrsVelux Tue 07-Feb-17 10:37:31

Hi all, not sure if this is the right board, but I'm looking for advice from people who've been there and done it!

My DH is in a senior position in a global company based in the UK, and is being asked to take a role that covers a European region. Offices are based in France and Holland and he'd be expected to be present in one or the other weekly. The company would support either a weekly commute or a relocation, it's really up to him to propose how he'd make it work.

We have two small children, with a third on the way. I can't decide what is the preferable option, to move the whole family so we can be together and my husband is around for the newborn phase, or to effectively be on my own three or four days/two or three nights a week with a newborn and two other demanding children who don't sleep well.

I have a lovely support network of friends and family in the UK who I know would help however they could (although no night time help), my eldest is settled in Yr1 in school and happier than she's ever been. My youngest is still in nursery but due to start school next year. We would know no one in either of the proposed relocation cities, and although I am an experienced traveller myself and good at making friends, I'm really worried about being isolated in a new place, with a new baby, and two children to settle into either a foreign language school or an international school/nursery.

I'm also aware that we don't know how long this role will last, it could be a year or it could be five, so concerned about jumping in with both feet, losing the kids' school places, and having a world of pain getting them back in...

Any advice based on experience of similar would be hugely welcome!

frenchfancy Tue 07-Feb-17 12:33:18

If the role is temporary I would be tempted to stay where you are with your existing support network. I think it takes about 5 years to become established in a different country, by which time you would likely be moving back.

OTH I would also be tempted to refuse the position. Either choice is going to impact your family greatly and if you could afford for you DH to refuse that would be my option.

MrsVelux Tue 07-Feb-17 12:54:22

Thanks frenchfancy, I think refusal would be the preferred option for both of us, although it might have a negative impact on his career if he doesn't take it, so we have to tread carefully on that one. The balance of probability is that he'll end up in a position of having to give it a go...

beresh Tue 07-Feb-17 13:23:27

How much travelling will your DH be doing to the other european locations? If you relocate and find he is away a lot of time, it sounds like that would be difficult for you.
It can be a fun family adventure to live overseas for a few years, most young children settle quite quickly and making friends for you with babies and young children is probably easier than with older children.
I refused to relocate with a newborn, but was much happier to go with a 2 year old. Could you go later if the job works out?

MrsVelux Tue 07-Feb-17 13:26:00

I'm also wondering if we stay put and he ends up commuting for years, what impact that'll have on our marriage and family life...

MrsVelux Tue 07-Feb-17 13:30:05

Sorry, cross post beresh. That's a good question, there'd probably be travel to other locations every couple of weeks even if we relocated, so a chance I'd be alone a few days a week anyway. I wonder if a commute for the first year is the best idea, and I'll just have to suck up doing a lot of the newborn evenings and nights on my own (and feed the older ones a lot of fish fingers...). If it looks like a long term posting then we could move when the baby is over one. Hard though, as neither of my children have been easy newborns at all, and I am fully expecting number 3 to be the same!

ChilliMum Tue 07-Feb-17 14:31:35

Hi, I have done both.

I stayed in the UK with the kids (yr 1 and toddler) and dh commuted to europe coming home every other weekend / us going out 1 a month ish / and 1 weekend he had free for 6 months.

I didn't want to move the kids if it wasn't going to be permanent but dh loved his job so we made the move.

Tbh it was fine on my own with the kids. We got into a good routine and we were happy (I could have done it permenantly but we missed dh). The one thing though is I couldn't have done it without my awesome friends who did mad nappy runs at 11pm for me when ds had diarrhoea and lots of less dramatic favours grin

Same for relocating. We treated it like a big adventure and spent pretty much every weekend for the first year visiting in our new country. Without really trying we made friends, settled in etc and we are just as happy here smile

Good luck with whatever you decide or try them both! Kids are still young enough.

Ancienchateau Tue 07-Feb-17 16:26:53

I think it depends where in Holland or France. If it's Amsterdam (although I know nothing about living in Holland) or Paris it could be a great experience.

We relocated 4 years ago to be with DH in France (not Paris) and have regretted it ever since.

scaryteacher Tue 07-Feb-17 17:10:35

I've done both, but ds was older, and I was working. We did 2 years six weeking it, (ie seeing each other every six weeks)as dh was in Brussels, and home was in Cornwall. Having done 4 years back to back weekending, which was doable, as it was UK based, I thought I could cope, but when dh got offered another job in Brussels, which would have meant 5 years in total of six weeking, I moved. That was in 2006, and we are still in Belgium.

It also depends on what is being offered. International school fees are hefty, and rent can be as well. Are these, along with private health insurance covered for you by the employer? What will happen in 2019 when the UK Brexits? Do you want to rent out your current home, or come off the UK housing ladder? Lots of food for thought.

Ancienchateau Tue 07-Feb-17 17:25:24

Also did the commute thing for 18 months prior to moving here. It wasn't ideal but it was sooo much better than our current situation.

ElsieBobo Tue 07-Feb-17 17:34:03

Aside from the travelling, would you expect DH to be home in time for bath time/ bedtime stories etc on weekdays? If not then there's not a huge benefit to you all being over there. My DH is away a lot leaving me with a 2yo and baby and I find it very tough, but as others have said at least I have a bit of a network here. If I was still on my own a lot in the new location it could be v lonely. But if you go for long enough to meet other mums etc it could be fantastic.

SorrelSoup Tue 07-Feb-17 17:34:50

I'd stay in the UK and see how the job pans out first.

MrsVelux Tue 07-Feb-17 21:39:50

Thanks all for the replies! Sorry for the delay, I had to go out for the day.

It's good to hear that the commuting can work, although it sounds like there is a time limit on how long it's feasible. We could probably get away with him being away for four days, back for three. I think in the short term we'll try that, then see how the job goes and what living in Holland would be like (in terms of getting by without being fluent in the local language, culture and settling, from my own and others' experience I'd prefer Holland to France).

Nothing has been discussed in terms of relocation costs and school fees, and it'd have to be attractive to make it worthwhile financially longer term. No way would I leave the housing ladder, so house would be rented so we could come back.

Ancienchateau, sorry to hear that you regret your move to France, that must be tough. I'm not a particular fan of Paris if I'm entirely honest, but at least there are a lot of other expats to cling to! I know that expat friends of mine have really struggled to make even the smallest in-roads into their communities after years of trying when they have moved to other cities, and it has seriously put me off when opportunities to move to France have arisen in the past. Has that been your experience?

Ancienchateau Wed 08-Feb-17 06:34:38

Pretty much MrsVelux. Personally I think you're wise to opt for Holland if you do move. I hear so many good things about life there. In the meantime, I really do think trying out the commute is a good idea. There's nothing worse than being stuck in some European outpost with a baby.

BoboChic Wed 08-Feb-17 08:27:13

I would stay put for the time being. I know plenty of people who ave been in a similar position with very young and a commuting DH and, while it isn't ideal, it's a lot better than being in a foreign country with no friends or family and a DH who still travels a lot.

BoboChic Wed 08-Feb-17 08:29:25

FWIW I live in Paris and my sister lives in Amsterdam and I would choose Paris over Amsterdam any day but my sister much prefers Amsterdam! I think you get used to what you know and where your friends are.

Lohengrin Wed 08-Feb-17 13:58:36

We did this for years - two jobs plus DC. It is expensive and stressful and could get a lot worse post Brexit if Uk passport holders have to go through the non EU immigration control.
Much depends on where you live. Brussels or Paris to Central London by Eurostar on a Friday afternoon/Monday morning can be OK. So can flights from most of Europe into London City (provided there is no fog). If you live in Kent say Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam are also driveable.
But when it goes wrong it tends to go spectacularly wrong. Think weather, strikes, security alerts. And if you do not have Business Class tickets rebooking is expensive.
At its best it is 10 hours out of your weekend.

Manijo Wed 08-Feb-17 15:24:57

DH also works with global company and we have done 5 countries in 16 years. Settling in is more like 6 months rather than 5 years! Way easier to do with small children. If you're in big enough city, then there is usually a good expat support network and if you're in a small place and make a bit of an effort to learn the lingo the locals will also be supportive. We decided that we would do all our moves together rather than splitting up the family.

LillianGish Thu 09-Feb-17 17:49:14

My DH works for an international company based in Paris so we have moved around. I think when children are young it can be fun and an adventure - I've loved all our moves and we and the kids have made great friends. That said we've always had good conditions - a good housing allowance, schools paid for etc. I never wanted us to be apart as a family especially when the children were young - it wouldn't have occurred to me to live apart. I've seen lots of couples at DH's company split up over this and I think however strong the relationship it is difficult if you are living totally different lives - you at home, looking after the children; him off having an adventure in a foreign country to all intents and purposes a single person. He comes home ready for a break from work (possibly after a long journey), but it's not a break for you - it's business as usual. I would say living abroad and moving around has brought us closer together as a family because we are very much a unit sharing in the adventure, facing the same challenges, in the same boat. Your kids are a good age to move - not yet in a vital stage of schooling, young enough to learn another language if you choose to put them in a local school. You don't say whether you work because that is also another consideration - on the other hand with a third baby on the way you may be thinking of a career break anyway. There are many variables - everyone's case is different. It was definitely the best thing for us - I'm glad we took the plunge.

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