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moving overseas for a term or a year? (France or Spain)

(72 Posts)
Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 11:26:36

so it has long been a dream of mine to pack up and take the kids overseas to live for a while
It looks like we have the opportunity to do so and Im just looking for advice about practicalities

Choices would be Paris, elsewhere in France Barcelona or elsewhere in Spain

Im really looking for advice about practicalities,
I would want the kids to go to school, but I am worried that the schools finish really early in the summer in both countries so that summer term would be pointless.

I am also worried about the practical aspects, do I have to register for tax? or register with the authorities in some way? how do I organise paying bills (and not being liable for them when we move on?)


fraktion Sun 17-Feb-13 15:13:37

The summer term would probably be pointless, plus the children would have to jump straight into schemes of work in a completely foreign language. 6 weeks isn't enough to learn and have a meaningful positive impact on them.

If you want to access state education you will need to effectively live there. Bills isn't much of a problem if you speak the language. You just switch it into your name and give the meter reading and then revere he process when you want to leave. The language competency would be pretty key for me. Tax return you'll file when you leave the country.

Plus remember term dates are different in France to the Uk JS between regions. Our summer term starts the beginning of May and ends beginning of July (not Paris, the May date will be slightly different).

vamosbebe Sun 17-Feb-13 15:18:21

How old are your DC? Do they speak French/Spanish? Do you or DP speak French/Spanish?
Spanish schools (at least up Barcelona-way) finish before 23rd June until first week of September.

fussychica Sun 17-Feb-13 17:53:01

Southern Spain summer hols mid June to mid September. Registering for primary school is April prior to Sept start. Not every school will have vacancies - same as UK. We went in Spring and UK school kindly kept DS place open until Sept in case we didn't settle although as we did we told them we were staying before the UK school closed for summer. We were in Spain 8 years but not sure I'd go now as the education system is under alot of pressure due to the economic crisis there. DS now at UK Uni.

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 18:49:31

thanks guys
do I speak the languages yes but my french is much better, however it was reading something someone else said on here about the Spanish property market that got me thinking about Spain

kids less so, all primary school age

I thought the summer term would not be the best TBH so will think carefully about dates again

frak yes would be state education I would be living there, I have vague ideas about having to register with local mayors office in France but I have no idea where I got that from

fussy sorry if it is a dumb question why would the finincial situation in Spain make you cautious?

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 19:12:01

France has 3 types of school I suppose you could say 1) the state system where indeed you contact the mairie and unless you can get special permission, your children go to the school desginated for where you live 2) the private but state subsidised system, most are Catholic or religious but not all, such as the bilingual ones and ones with international sections so you have fees which are nothing like school fees in the UK and where you are not tied to your address for residence, rather by whether there is actually a school place, finally 3) the private and non subsidised schools where school fees are indeed likely to be more like you'd pay in the UK, no inspection of such schools so beware and do homework there.

I would be planning school places and location a year ahead. I'd also think about the affect on your children's education to spend such a short time in another education system where they are not fluent in the language.

fussychica Sun 17-Feb-13 19:12:53

Lots of cuts in the health and education budgets and tough rules coming in for foreign residents. The cuts mean that hospitals/ schools are being under funded and class sizes rising - not good if your children don't speak the language. On the plus side it does mean that there are quite alot of cheap rentals available as many folks struggle to sell. We sold just before Christmas but took a big hit financially.

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 19:33:20

thanks so much guys

natation I guess school type 2) would be next to impossible to get into?

perhaps a silly question but can I not just turn up then and get a place in school 1? what about spending some time in a nice Normandy village and just going to the local school?

fussy would I be classified as s foreign resident (not a silly question I hope: freedom of mobility rules around the EU, plus if you were Spanish coming here you arent really classified as foreign are you? are you?)

not too worried about the effects on the kids education, they are all bright and seem to be treading water in their state schools here which is one of the factors behind this decision I suppose

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 19:42:35

type 2) not at all, it depends on where you are living.

Well are your children French primary school age? It's age 6 by 31st December of the year you start on or near 1st September, so can be 2 years later than the UK. I certainly wouldn't just turn up in a village thinking you can just get a school place immediately. I'd be researching areas and school in the months before.

You have freedom of movement in the EU as an EU national, you do NOT have the freedom to be considered a resident of another EU country. Some EU countries require you to inform the authorities of your presence, if staying over 90 days, you'd be expected to show a means of income to be accepted as a resident. If you didn't get accepted as a resident, it could mean no access to schooling, health care etc, I'm not saying it will but it could.

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 19:51:34

Yes age wise

wow I am surprised about the second bit I had always assumed freedom of movement included things like healthcare, schooling etc

it does in the UK doesnt it?

(Im obviously not saying you are wrong I am just surprised that there is no reciprocality, as I said I did have something from somewhere in my head about registering with the mayor!!)

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 19:54:34

All the type 2 private "sous contrat" and 3 private and not under state subsisidy and usually not under French curriculum "hors contrat" can be searched for here.

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 19:56:45

thanks again I do appreciate your advice

fraktion Sun 17-Feb-13 21:01:04

It definitely doesn't include healthcare in France.

'Nice Normandy village' school is about to get squeezed. We're losing (I think) 25 classes from our Normandy commune this September. There are no schools in some villages now. There's a maximum permitted travelling time that some areas really make the most of.

heather1 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:13:17

Hi I it also worth thinking about what the French and Spanish schools are like pastoraly and how the children are expected to interact. It may be very different from UK attitudes. Academically its great that your children are doing well but make sure they dont suffer socially - take it from one who knows. We were told "oh they will be fluent in 6 months" but its not always true. I am truly not wanting to put a dampner on your plans but dont just assume the children will slot happily into a whole new education system. I only have he Swiss perspective and there are many things I love about it but it is also quite dull, regimented and restrictive in many aspects of the work. Also dealing with your childrens social and academic issues in something other than your mother tongue it is a massive challange.

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 21:28:18

UK is one of only 3 countries in the 27 of the EU - the others being Denmark and Ireland - that have no internal border controls in the form of use of national identity cards. There is no obligatory registration of EU nationals who intend to settle for more than 90 days. It means the NHS has a rather difficult time in billing EU nationals who SHOULD pay for their non emergency treatment who are on holiday in the UK, as if you try to bill these people, they suddenly claim to be living in the UK. There are many EU nationals that come to the UK for example 39 weeks pregnant, to give birth in the UK, many non EU do this too! It's not to get British citizenship for the baby because they don't qualify on these grounds, it's because they get it for free here and don't have to pay for doing it in their home countries. Then a few days later, many return home.

As for education, no EU nationals cannot just walk into schools in the UK whilst on holiday either, they must be settled here, but in reality, without registration and internal controls, there is nothing to stop an EU national going to school here for a few weeks.

It's the UK's own fault and anyone who voted LibDem or Tory at the last elections that the plans for national IDs and the crackdown on health tourism to the UK as a result were all scrapped with a change of government, despite the millions invested already in the system, they even kept all payments from those who'd applied for the new national ID cards, quite shockingly too and quite immoral to bank that money into the Treasury.

Callthemidlife Sun 17-Feb-13 21:48:36

I know two primary school kids who spent an academic year in Spain and TBH it wasn't a great idea in retrospect. One child was ok academically (very bright boy who subsequently passed the 11+) but very homesick because he couldn't fit in with a any of the 'gangs' - by the time he'd learnt enough of the language to get by, he'd already been ostracised. For the other child it was a disaster. She never picked up the language and the additional support from the school was woeful - she lost a whole academic year, failed 11+ despite being very intelligent and as a direct result of missing all the maths topics for one year she never caught up on the fundamentals, and so has continued to fail at maths (despite being good at maths before she went).

Both children struggled most with the school hours - they were out of school very early in the afternoon (2.00?) but their mum didn't get home from work till 5.00 and the kids didn't have anything to do except hang out in the shopping arcade, being ignored by the cooler kids. There wasn't really 'anything else' to do.

I am sure that with planning and effort all the issues could have been overcome, but it will need some detailed input from parents - can they learn the language in weekend classes before they go? Becoming bilingual can be a huge advantage in future life but can also have a draining effect on other areas of literacy such as grammar and writing progress, so be prepared for this.

To counter all of the above, I do think that life experiences such as these can be really great for the right kids. I know that a certain TV chap decamps with all his children to the Alps every winter and enrols them in the same local schools every lent term before bringing them back every Easter. Sounds like a fab way to raise kids to me.

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 21:53:30

True Heather and Frak
I am to some extent glossing over things like choosing schools, and the social side of things and slightly taking the attitude 'it is only for a short time so it doesnt matter'.
Admittedly that may not be the case at all

I have a good family friend who is French her grandkids have a father who speaks French to them all the time, lived in Paris and attended school for a year and she is very clear that they are far from fluent.

So how do I get healthcare in France then? Just looking for emergency stuff, appendicitis type things

ditto for Spain?

do you think an area of Spain with a lot of English speakers would be good (or really bad?)
where is such an area?

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 21:55:54

thanks call (like your name!!)

I would not be working so that is one thing

Just talking about it is getting me keener but I keep reminding myself that a wet winter in Normandy is pretty 'wet' grin

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 22:03:29

You can have access to the French health system, but you'll have to register yourself as a resident there and contribute to social security there to have more than emergency access or otherwise you pay for all medical bills in full. If you're not going to contribute to the French social security system, I'd be looking at a good private health insurance plan covering France. Can't help you for Spain.

School hours are very long in France too, that puts me off being there more than anything, but in a year we might have to be (to avoid returning to blighty).

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 22:13:31

Blightly aint so bad

(says she posting on the internet about leaving it ha ha!)

so any idea how much social security is?

isw Sun 17-Feb-13 22:19:54

I have spent most of my life in Spain and have seen far far too many British kids dumped into Spanish state schools with little or no language skills. It puts a terrible pressure on the kids, their already over stretched teachers and their peers. Class sizes are getting bigger, our local school had 33 in the 5 year old class with one teacher, in a room for 25. There are massive cuts in education at the momemt.

I would think a term would be very difficult. Not long enough to settle but long enough to be homesick. If you move to an area where there are lots of expats they tend to stick together talking English and doing English things. The average Spanish child goes to bed between 10-12pm school from 8-2 or 3 a couple of hours off then extra activities my 2 year old had Physio at 7pm for example. Swimming at 6.

The Spanish school system is very different from the UK, very "old school" lots of grammar, dictations and sit down learning. Tests every 2 weeks. School books are bought by parents in September for the whole year. It is very very hard to get copies out of season. You also usually need to show vaccination books to register with a school as well as other documents.

In order to have access to schools etc you should be resident as each town gets it funding for the year by the number of residents. Under EU law all under 18s must be given emergency medical care but as residents you need to be paying into the system to get access to routine medical care, saying that private medical care is much cheaper than the UK.

Personally I wouldn't do it, what about going for an extended summer break and putting them into a local summer school. Same language/ cultural exchange but a much less formal environment. Our local area ha summer schools for the 3 month break in schools (about 100 euros a month), sports schools or beach schools.

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 22:42:41


I have spent a long time living in an English town 'invaded' by summer schools and I have a really low opinion of them, kids are just dumped and hang around with others speaking their home languages.
Surely primary school age is too young for Summer school too? I think so for ones like the ones I am thinking about (clumsy sentence sorry)

do you have more appropriate ones for little kids where you are isw?
Are you happy to pm me any info?

to be frank it the intense sun that most worries me about Spain,

ds is a red head grin

Southwest Sun 17-Feb-13 22:43:53

thanks so much guys you have given me lots to think about, I will study all your links again

I must head off to work now!!!
so no replies from me for a while sorry

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 23:08:30

4 to 8 day camps in deepest Belgian countryside from €120 to €250 for 4 to 13 year olds. My 7 year old is going there in a few weeks with her school for 5 days, it's a normal part of school life here from the age of 4 to 12 once a year or once every 2 years, holidays the same places run residential camps.

Here's another one next to the sea, for 3 to 15 year olds. My 7 year old might go here for a week in the Summer, so that I can work for a week.
Prices and dates only in French or Dutch

natation Sun 17-Feb-13 23:14:58

PS there are many day camps too near where we live, from €40 to €200 depending on what you want to do, some accessible to residents only (as subsidised) and some accessible to visitors.

Why not think about doing a Summer somewhere doing Summer schools and just enjoying the culture, if you like it, then do a longer stay.

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