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To go back to the UK or not go back to the UK.. that is the question.

(29 Posts)
FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 13:15:51

Would you go back to the UK?

For the first time ever I am considering it after 14 years away. Since separating with ex DH I find I am struggling financially here big time. I work for a company teaching english to adults but the hours are very irregular and I don't have a stable income. I love my job and love my life here. It is all DD's have ever known and they are happy and its normal life for them. But my work prospects are so restricted since my written french is appalling and I don't have the right french diplomas.

Seriously considering going back. The pros are to be nearer family, my parents are getting on so it would be nice to see more of them. (In my current financial situation it is once a year). Also it would be nice to know someone is there to help out if one of the DD's is sick because juggling work and 3 dd's can be difficult. And my choice of job is much more diverse. I have been looking at websites and would like a job in place before, or if, I return and there seems to be more jobs advertised that I can apply for than here.

But feel my life is here and I never envisioned goinging back. But is it just because I am used to it here. The UK seems like the foreign country sometimes. But I am not coping financially. The garderie and cantine bills are crippling me and because my divorce is not final I get no help from the caisse. Some months my parents have had to help me out. If I was in the UK I would have help from family around the corner so childcare costs would diminish and I assume I could claim tax credits. But then that makes me sound like I am going back for benefits!!

Feel if i go back it is all for the wrong reasons and I will regret it later. But it could be the answer to a solution and give me the chance to earn enough to support my dd's

So what would you do? Someone tell me what to do!!!

Zipadeedoodah Tue 10-Dec-13 16:53:53

Problem is after returning "home" after so long is that it is like moving to a foreign country- dont forget to factor in council tax, bills etc as may be more costly than you think.

FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 17:03:31

But I have bills and council tax here too. I suppose I just hope I can earn a better salary in the UK to cover these thing. My job is not badly bad and certainly not min wage but not enough hours. Some months are better than others but how many hours work I get a month is oustide of my control.

KingRollo Tue 10-Dec-13 17:09:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 17:19:10

Ex DH has already said he is not opposed to me returning to the UK. He is not French or English and I doubt if he will stay in France but can move countries with his job fairly easily. I am fairly certain he won't stay here so I am not obliged to here.

FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 17:34:42

Where are you Kingrollo?

KingRollo Tue 10-Dec-13 17:56:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 18:36:27

Well nothing in writing but I could get a text with confirmation. So what do you think you will do? Will you have problems from your exH if you return with DC? Do you really want to go back?

KingRollo Tue 10-Dec-13 19:00:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mamafridi Tue 10-Dec-13 20:05:57

I returned to uk a year and a half ago after living 17 years abroad. It's hard and I do miss the life I had. Ironic really as the last few years of living in Italy had me constantly complaining about the country. Grass greener syndrome so be aware of this.
Make sure that your parents are really going to be as helpful as you hope they will be. My mum has helped with some childcare, but only when it suits her, which is a lot more than I ever had in Italy but I can't count on it all the time.
Jobs are abundant but again the pay is not nearly as great as I had been led to believe when researching jobs online and the cost of living is very high here.
I don't know how old your dds are but how do they feel? Luckily my daughter was small so didn't have to contend with her losing touch with friends etc.
there are a lot of opportunities in the uk but you really have to be certain that you Want to move here and for the right reasons.
Good luck with your decision!

FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 21:38:24

KRollo it sounds like you might have a fight on your hands with your exH. Good luck next week with the lawyer. You are right about family links. My parents and sister would be delighted to have me living closer to home and I think it would be good for my DDs. We have no family here in France but some friends who have become like family over the years. Does your DD have a good relationship with her german grandparents? If you have a good job and are generally happy it can be difficult to make a leap into the unknown.

Thanks mama for your words of experience. my dd's are old enough to miss friends and will find the move very difficult. They are used to French schools and think my oldest at 13 will loathe the idea of school uniform! And although they speak English their reading and writing in English will not be up to the standard of other english kids. Although they will be top of the class in french!

Cost of living here is pretty high but housing is less and that is an enormous factor. But unless I double my working hours as only on 12 and half a week and am supposed to have 25 hours the pay is not enough to stay. France is still in a crisis so I am lucky to have a job at all even if not enough hours. I can try to find some private work but again this is unstable and often cancelled at the last moment so is not reliable.

I think my DM would happily help out and has volunteered to pick up DD 2 and 3 (who are 6 and 8) after school but aware she is getting older and don't want to ask too much.

Why did you go back after 17 years? i am not certain that I am considering going back for the right reasons hence my hesitation.

ICameOnTheJitney Tue 10-Dec-13 21:42:10

Go home. The girls are young still. They will still adjust easily but leave it another 4 years or so and it's much harder.

Beastofburden Tue 10-Dec-13 21:50:22

Far, what about your medium term security? Pensions? Owning your home? Have you compared the two for that?

Your DC could of go to an international school in the UK, be taught in the French stream, and do IB, I think?

FarFarAway Tue 10-Dec-13 22:11:48

Well the house if for sale here and has been for over for a year. The housing market has completely crashed. I will probably finish with very little and be renting after. But house prices are lower so there is a remote chance here I could buy again in the future. I think my chances are zero in the UK.

Not sure on pensions to be honest. I pay my NI (french equivilent) contributions here but not sure if better in the UK or here.

International schools out of the question. Will be too expensive.

I think my main worry is getting through the next few months. I keep thinking France will recover economically and my hours will recover but I will never be a high earner here. But after 14 years away from my previous work I won't be a high earner in the UK either.

So I think I go back and look for work and have my family around to help out. Or I do anything I can to make money on the side until my work picks up which could take a long time. If I had my 25 hours a week I can just do it and as the girls get older my afterschool and holidaycare costs should go down. And I do like living here. It is my home now.

But on the other hand my family are all elsewhere and i do think it would be nice to have my DM up the road and be able to jump in the car to see my DS. And I am sure it would be good for the girls and give them a little more stability. It is six of one and half a dozen of the other..

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 11-Dec-13 05:37:12

We moved to the UK about four months ago after 13 years overseas.
DD had lived in six different countries and gone to six schools. She was fortunate inasmuch International schools tend to have a more 'fluid' student body.
She is the happiest I've ever seen her. She has good friends and, my parents are about two miles away.
Best thing we've ever done.

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 11-Dec-13 05:38:13

The point about the schools being transient was that she'd never really been bothered about having a BFF. She was aware that they could all move away at any time unlike your situation.

FarFarAway Wed 11-Dec-13 07:42:24

But why did you go back KLupstairs? Was it for work reasons? Glad it has all worked out and the best thing you have ever done. Do you feel more stable? Like you will not move abroad again?
DD's are very settled in their schools but they haven't known any different. In a way English education can be less rigid than french which is an advantage in some ways.

I am a bit worried they will be too different at school. My youngest DD still mixes the two languages a lot because her vocabulary in english is not great. She usually knows the french word for what she wants to say but not always the english hence this week 'mummy why is is not neige-ing?'. But I assume she would pick up more vocab quickly in a 100% english environment.

I am still looking at jobs and have applied for one but no response. I suppose I should look at the long term effects and differences and do up a pros and cons list

MrsUptight Wed 11-Dec-13 09:40:10

Far my DD is 5 and has two friend who are bilingual....they mix words too....rather than thinking this odd, most of the class think it impressive. The two bilingual girls have different mother tongues to one another and have made up their own hybrid language! They speak together in a mix of French and Turkish which nobody but they can undestand! It causes much admiration from the kids.

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 11-Dec-13 11:27:09

We came back for health and work reasons.
I have made my feelings quite clear about the liklihood of us ever living abroad again. Not while I've got breath in my body. TBF, DH isn't keen either.

Beastofburden Wed 11-Dec-13 12:28:51

Far, in your shoes I might be thinking about what is on offer to me aged 50-65 in each country. In many ways, though you are thinking about your DC, this is an issue we all have when we go back t work- how can we best protect our own independence in the 30 something years we have left to retirement?

I don't know what your position would be on healthcare and pensions in France, I guess that might depend on whether you choose to apply for French citizenship.

I also don't know what the benefits systems are like and whether you would have greater protection in the UK or in France.

And I don't know where you have the best opportunity to rebuild your career. From what you say, that might be the UK. Employers here do value fluency in foreign languages. So whether you stay or go, it might be a plan to do something to improve your written French, because it will be saleable in either country.

But those are the three factors I would evaluate in your shoes. Not so much your DCs feelings, because they will change, and there will be stress and whathaveyou either way, that just goes with the teen territory anyway.

As for being different at school, not where I live. The schools are full of kids who speak another language at home and have imperfect English to start with. Many of them have started their schooling in another country. The UK has become a lot more international while you were away. Unless you are planning to move to a very unchanged corner of the country, I'd be surprised if you present the school with anything it hasn't seen before. And lots don't require a school uniform! The French school system is rigid I know. I hope you have a good state school where you are thinking of moving, because otherwise the education might still be better in France. That might be a factor.

FarFarAway Wed 11-Dec-13 13:20:15

Thanks for your replies. Some very good points.

healthcare is free in the UK and not here. Social security covers a minimum but not all. DD's are covered by exH insurance but I don't have one so I am not allowed to be really ill or hospitalised! I think in the UK we would all be allowed to use the NHS as all have British passports etc. But my experience of healthcare here has been very positive and all I hear about from the UK is horror stories in the Daily Mail!

Pension. I have only been back at work a year so have a years worth of contributions in France and no private pension. I have maybe 12 years already paid in the UK so I assume I would add to that if I returned. State pensions pretty dismal here like the UK. So may be better in the UK on that front.

And my choice of work is more open in the UK. I can work on my written but I have not managed to improve it so far. I find written french is very difficult - it is grounded into children here at school.

So on those 3 factors a return to the UK looks more viable for a long term stable future. But I love so many things about being here but I have lots of friends to return to visit I suppose. it is not that far really!

As for schools I can stay with my mother until settled. She lives in Gloucestershire and the local kids where she lives seem ok. Girls across the road went to local schools and on to university which is a good sign.

And just had news that cantine has increased to 5 euro per child per meal. That is 240 euro a month (£200 approx) for my 3. packed lunches do not exist here and I am sure as a single parent in the UK they would be entitled to free school dinners. (again does not exist here, you pay or pick up for lunch which is not possible with my work).

hmmm Will think some more.

AndiMac Wed 11-Dec-13 14:39:38

Could you not increase your teaching hours by getting some more freelance teaching work? Being dependant on one company for work is not ideal for income.

FarFarAway Wed 11-Dec-13 16:13:30

I still do that a bit working for Captial and Laureat and I did that full time for a year last year. The problem is cancellations.

Lots and lots of people cancel at the last minute or go off on a business trip. So i reserve the time and don't always work. I only get paid if i see them and get a signiture and a ref no. Working full time as this has potential but during July and August I had nobody and no income. As a single parent of 3 I decided I needed something more stable.

Hence my decision to get a contract with one company but kept 2 mornings free for work like that. But my CDII contract has the same problem with irregular work. Admittedly if someone cancels at the last minute with my contract I am still paid but if they tell me next week they are not here I am not paid and I can't fill a couple 2 hours slots alone. formations are for between 20 and 80 hours. If this happens a few times over a month it reduces my monthly revenue

Londonlady48 Wed 11-Dec-13 21:10:44

Hi firstly I really admire someone like you who is bringing children up abroad and on her own. It sounds like you are doing a really good job and you obviously have more guts than I have. Your DCs will be benefitting from being bilingual and also the better educational and social provision in France.

I am a single mother bringing up two DCs in London and find it really hard going. Life is very far from being perfect in the UK these days. Good education provision is very patchy (as confirmed by OFSTED today) and I have found that you are expected to be very involved which is difficult if you have to work full time like me. Don't believe anything you may hear about the economy improving. Things are just as bad in the UK as in France and if anything seem to be getting worse. Most of my friends are struggling financially so at least we are all the same boat!! There is lots of work around but mostly very badly paid and by the time you have paid bills and paid for a few things for the children there is nothing left at the end of the month. Wages are definitely not keeping up with inflation. I am lucky that I bought a property before prices went crazy and I see you are thinking of Gloucestershire rather than London. Even so you may find reasonably priced accomodation very hard to find. I also recommend that you check out what you will be entitled to having been out of the UK for so long. You may be unpleasantly surprised.

Obviously you may want to come back to be with family but you may find that they are not as much help as you hoped. With the best will in the world lots of us are incredibly busy and barely have time to sort out our families and homes. I wish I could say things were different but I would recommend that you think long and hard before moving away from France.

Travelledtheworld Thu 12-Dec-13 06:19:09

Many issues to consider. I came back to the UK after 7 years in the USA.
Wanted to be back with family and old friends.
Found it very, very difficult and still am not convinced I made the right decision.

Children's were 9 and 11 at the time. They coped well. Kids are more flexible then people realise.

I am in Gloucestershire. If you want to send me a private message please do.

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