To go back to England or not.......?

(22 Posts)
ilovedfatbrian Wed 10-Feb-10 10:04:50

OK. Deep breath. Sorry for long post. My DH and I moved to the South of France 6 years ago, and set up a business. It was v successful for the first 4 years. We then had our DD, now 3, who is at the local maternelle and getting on really well, and starting to speak good French.

But, our business is failing. We have to decide in the next few weeks whether to move back to England (probably Leeds/Nottingham), where DH could get a decent job and I could work part time and have another baby. Or, do we stay here, where we will struggle to find work (as there isn't any), but our DD will be bi-lingual, and we have always enjoyed a lovely life in the sun.

I'm so confused. My absolute main priority is my DD's happiness and education. Is the UK as bad as the media makes out now? Would I regret it forever. We have made some nice friends in France, but my best (and oldest) friends are still in England, and I miss them a lot.

My main question really is, is being bilingual all it's cracked up to be, and should I make more of an effort to stay in France, regardless of money worries etc, to ensure that she gets that fantastic opportunity.

I would be so grateful for any advice from anyone, particularly anyone who has made the return move back to Blighty. Is it really that bad?

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Weta Wed 10-Feb-10 10:16:34

Sorry to hear about your troubles with your business. Where are you in the south? we just spent 4 years in Montpellier...

My children are both bilingual because their father is French, so I guess it's easier for us, but reading your message I really don't think bilingualism would be my overriding concern.

It seems to me that the absolute main priority has to be the well-being of all the family - by all means find out about schooling etc in the UK and decide how that would affect your DD, but bilingualism alone is neither here nor there. It's great if it happens to work out, but I wouldn't sacrifice your financial and mental well-being for it. And your lovely life in the sun may be a lot less lovely if it's overshadowed (and cut back?) by money worries.

Would it be possible to put her in some kind of French/international school in the UK (expensive I imagine)? or if not, maybe you can find some kind of bilingual playgroups or weekly sessions for French-speaking children. There is a bilingualism forum on here - you could ask about possibilities in Leeds/Nottingham. You might be able to holiday in France (and your friends in the sun will be pleased to see you!) to keep up her language too, maybe come over and put her in holiday programmes or something.

The other thing is that lots of Brits find the French education system extremely harsh, rigid and non-child centred, and not much fun for the children. Personally I found the maternelle fantastic, but was very relieved to leave France before my son started primary school.

castille Wed 10-Feb-10 10:22:16

Being bilingual is useful, but not the be-all and end-all. If you stay just for that reason, you might be disappointed - your DD might not be interested in a profession where bilingualism is necessary, for example, and I thinking making such a huge decision for her benefit alone that won't necessarily make you happy is a mistake.

A friend of mine moved back to England from France after 5 years partly because of educational issues. They didn't like the harshness of French education (beyond maternelle) and their oldest DC weren't happy. They are so glad they moved back and couldn't be happier where they now are.

In all cases it boils down to what is best for you as a family.

castille Wed 10-Feb-10 10:24:38

I should also say that we live in France (DH is French) but we opted out of mainstream primary school for our DC because I don't like their methods and approach.

fonduechinoise Wed 10-Feb-10 13:03:15

Where are your kids going to school then Castille? just being curious!
ILFB - i am sorry to read your post. dh and I are having the same dilemna ; ie both of us dont like being in switzerland but it is a great place for dd to grow and her school is fantastic. i am french dh british and spent 18 years in london, a place i call "home".
we want to try and stay here for another 4 years max but i am not so sure we'll manage that....
look out for playgroup etc for your dd to keep her french. if there aren't any set one up )))
ultimately you need to be happy as a family and it looks to me that it means going home
kids thrive in a happy home, wherever home may be and they are very adaptable so it is more up and you and your dh.
oh boy... feeling really low today and wanting to go home now
bonne chance

fonduechinoise Wed 10-Feb-10 13:08:30

there are some good schools in the uk. i am always suspiscious (spelling?) of the media - it is so negative that it fuels extra negativity. i can assure you that there are some bad schools in France too!!
we'll check the ofsted reports before we head home and decide on our new home based on that pretty much! it may help you in your decision to do that? then you know you did your best to give the best to your dd?

castille Wed 10-Feb-10 15:42:22

Fondue - mine are at a Montessori school. There are quite a lot of families there who started their DC off in mainstream schools and left after bad experiences.


fonduechinoise Wed 10-Feb-10 23:17:44

Another Montessori fan ))
My dd did Montessori for 4 years; very very happy with it!

missslc Sat 13-Feb-10 19:27:30

i taught in the most wonderful secondary school in London and the students were just a delight to teach so what i do know is there are good schools in the UK.

Also if you choose a school first you can just rent a house- this enables you to get into the best catchment areas in a city, where often house prices can be 20-25 % higher due to the good school. Then once your kids are in the school you can buy in a mor affordable area out of the cathment area.

ASome of parents of kids at the school I taught in did this and who would blame them.

I think getting good schools is the most important thing for your kids but you must work out what is most important to you. France is definately a more pleasant quality of life but perhaps not if you are struggling financially.

Good luck with it- you will make the right decision!

kreecherlivesupstairs Sun 14-Feb-10 09:24:14

Bi linguality (a real word?) is not the be all and end all. Our dd spent 4 years in Bangkok and was fluent in Thai. We moved to Switzerland and she's doing OK in German but not brilliant. We are moving again to Belgium in July and then, our plan is two years there and back to the UK for her secondary school.
You need to do what makes sense for the family. Like others have said, it's not hard to keep up with a language once you have the basic grounding. Good luck with your decision.

PfftTheMagicDragon Sun 14-Feb-10 09:28:42

If you really want your DD to be bilingual then she can, regardless of where you live.

natsmum100 Sun 21-Feb-10 22:33:16

We returned to UK last summer. I couldn't be more happy with schools my DC attend - local state secondary and primary schools.

lulalullabye Tue 23-Feb-10 14:59:40

Just to sell the moving back to the Uk thing, we have just moved back from Australia to Leeds where we already had a house. We are loving it and are really glad we made the decision to come back. Leeds is a great and vibrant city !

ilovedfatbrian Wed 24-Feb-10 08:51:28

Wow. I'm sorry that I disappeared, I have been in England, checking out places to live!! You were all so positive about making the decision to move back, when we did a pros and cons list, we decided it was a no-brainer in the end.....Thank you for the positive comments about English primary schools, natsmum, what area are you in? Lulla, which bit of Leeds do you recommend? We are also looking at moving to Manchester now, and are also looking at South Manchester/North Cheshire. Any recommendations of towns/schools would be really helpful.

Of course, I appreciate that I'll wake up in Blighty in November, and wish that it was sunny and traffic free, but I have finally realised that there's more to life than sun sometimes......

OP’s posts: |
northernspanishlass Fri 26-Feb-10 12:26:22

Hi ilovedfatbrian

Great to hear that you're feeling more positive about your move back to the UK.

We are in a similar position. We're in Spain and for financial reasons we are moving back. The poor old UK gets a bad press but if you really look at what's available in terms of job prospects and opportunities, it is fantastic.

Good luck with your permenant can be such a huge step but I am sure you will be happy and settled in no time.

I don't know of the areas that you are looking. Hopefully you'll get some good feedback. There is a forum that I find good british expats dot com. There is a section of Moving back to the UK.

lulalullabye Mon 01-Mar-10 14:54:41

We live in Roundhay, which is a great area. Also headingly very nice but a bit studenty. Apparantly Didsbury in Manchester is a pretty nice area to live in.

ilovedfatbrian Wed 03-Mar-10 15:10:52

Thanks so much for all your positive comments, it's really made a huge difference to my state of mind! I can't believe that the decision to move back has been SOOOO much harder than the decision to move to France in the first place! I guess it's coz now I have a little person to think about, whereas we moved to France when it was just the two of us, and nothing really mattered....! northernspanishlass, good luck with your move, you're absolutely right about the bad press that the UK gets. I can't wait to get back there!!!

OP’s posts: |
DebInAustria Wed 03-Mar-10 22:31:25

Good luck with your move, we're in a similar position and currently trying to sell our holiday business in the Austrian Alps to move back to the UK. I really miss the UK, the education system and friends and family are too far away. Sorry to hear your business isn't going well, ours is good but not what I want to do forever!!

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 03-Mar-10 22:32:15

Deb - hello, are you still there, how are all your geogeous boys?

DebInAustria Thu 04-Mar-10 22:10:41

Hi Five - yes we're still here, had a few viewings recently though so things are looking up! How are you? Building work started?

lowrib Thu 04-Mar-10 22:40:59

The UK hasn't changed that much in just 6 years! It's as you remember it.

tb Sun 08-Aug-10 21:45:56

If you haven't moved yet, just thought I would add my thoughts.

We lived in Knutsford and were plagued by airport noise, made even worse after the second runway was opened at Manchester. Also it can take 45 mins to get onto the M56 at Altrincham in the morning and the same home in the evening. Also, Alty has the tram into Manchester while the train service from Knutsford ia appalling and takes for ever to M/Cr.

Also, the same type of typical 3/4 bed house can be about £100k dearer in Alty, poss because of grammar schools. In theory, you can apply for entrance from Knutsford, but in practice it's very difficult to get in.

Apart from other reasons, we didn't want dd to go to school there. Having heard 14yr olds effing and blinding outside Booths, and the pupils being banned from Boots, Martins, Booths, the coop and Martins every so often beccause of shoplifting, it really put us off.

We could not have afforded private secondary school, nor could we have afforded to buy in Alty.

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