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Moving abroad with small children - advice please

(17 Posts)
bettyspaghetti33 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:06:28

DH and I are due to move abroad to a non-English speaking country soon with DD (at the moment 6 months old). We are fortunate enough to be able to have some leniency as to when to make our move although it will need to be within about 3 years max. I'd like to ask if anyone who has made a similar move with small children could offer any advice, particularly on the best age for DC to move and settle in? Did you come across any pitfalls? Any pearls of wisdom to share would be most appreciated!

MmeBlueberry Fri 10-Jun-11 22:07:58

The challenges you face are much bigger than moving a baby, tbh.

ihatecbeebies Sat 11-Jun-11 13:47:32

I've no advice to give you sorry but we would also like to move abroad in the next few years and I have a 4 year old DS so I'll keep an eye on your thread for advice too.

MovingAndScared Sat 11-Jun-11 14:02:00

I would say go earlier the better- how long would you stay? As it is the move back to be considered as well Just moved a 5 year old in the UK - he wasn't impressed at leaving his school - only downside might be if you were thinking of another child and you were not sure about the healthcare of that country

bettyspaghetti33 Sat 11-Jun-11 20:30:36

Hmm good point MovingAndScared about healthcare although they have a pretty good reputation for family care over there, just the docs won't be speaking any English which would be a pain especially when you're in labour!!

skybluepearl Sat 11-Jun-11 21:49:07

Do it ASAP. My boy moved at 2.5 and was heart broken to leave their close baby/todler friends. infact months after starting at a new nursery he told me how he didn't know anyone and they didn't know him still. he was sad and isloated for a while. it took about 1 and a half years to fully settle for all of us. some people say that kids are very adaptable but it depends very much on what your child is like. my boy had so many meaningful close relationships and felt their loss deeply. hes very settled now of course and has yet another set of good friends.

trailingspouse Sun 12-Jun-11 04:55:36

I think your experience will vary hugely depending on where you are moving to, and what kind of "deal" you have. Will there be lots of other expats where you are going? Will the company pay for school for your child?

We left the UK 7 years ago with a 3 year old and 1 year old, and have moved countries another 3 times since then. The first place we went I had to learn the language, but it was a very civilised place so was able to have dc3 there no problem as the healthcare was very good. The 3 places we lived since then, you can't rely on local healthcare so would have to fly out for anything significant medically. However, the other side of it is that we live more in an expat "bubble" which makes things easier in a lot of ways. The first place we went to, although easier as not so different from UK, we had to fit in more to the local life and therefore it took longer to settle in.

Having said that, we've had mostly great experiences. It's really no problem to move little ones. The last move was the first time dd1 was a bit unsettled for a while, but she's fine now. When children grow up in international schools they become used to people coming and going. They are very flexible and confident, and I'm sure all the new situations they have been exposed to must play a role in that. Sometimes they say they want to go "home" and do normal things like walking to their friends' houses and having all the foods and tv they miss, but they can also see that they wouldn't have had all the experiences they've enjoyed by living overseas.

Aside from all that, we are way more secure financially than we would have been had we stayed in the UK. I know that's not the most important consideration, but it can make a big difference to the future.

I would say do it, and do it soon while your little one is young and you don't have to consider differences in school systems etc which can make it a bit more complicated. I'd be happy to answer any more questions you have, if I can.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Sun 12-Jun-11 05:49:32

We moved DD1 when she was 8 months and again at just 3.
1st time nothing matter the most important thing in the world is you, her mum, she couldn't careless of where she was as long as you don't change her "routine" (loose sense of the word) too much.

At 3, she did missed her friends (yes, she had meaningful relationships), and was angry not to be able to talk to children in the park which made us chose a local school instead of an international one. She is very outgoing though and make friends easily, the 1st few months were touch but it got better with the new year in september as new children had arrived too.
If you can move during summer holidays and be there for the start of the school year it will help older children.

We moved her whole bedroom so she could feel at home. I think it helped seeing other parents who only took a suitcase/kids. We had far less tantrums at home because she could retire in her own world. (but we are pretty minimal and she doesn't have many toys compared with most of her UK friends).

If you want another kid you have to consider what happen if you want/have to go back to the UK to have the new baby (do you have a place to go back to?, DH will probably miss the birth, DC1 out of school for a few months....)

But as TL said it all depends where and the setting you will have once there.

Don't take your children as an excuse not to do it though, they are adaptable, if they weren't they wouldn't grow up, and it is a good life experience for them.
The adults are usually the less adaptable and problematic part of the family IMHO and IME, and the children might pick on that or copy it.

Good luck. And feel free to ask more questions.

Isthreetoomany Sun 12-Jun-11 10:23:41

I lived abroad as a child. I remember being left in a primary school with no one around me speaking a word of English. I missed all my friends and it was very scary, didn't sleep a wink the night before my first day. But then I settled in really quickly, the language barrier isn't really a barrier for children of that age, and I picked up a second language really quickly. I think it was a fantastic experience and I would love to be able to it with my children.

How long would you stay? We were back in the UK well before I started seconday school, which I am glad of.

Bucharest Sun 12-Jun-11 10:25:19

Depends where you're going.

Heck of a difference between Costa del Sol and Tehran for example....

trailingspouse Sun 12-Jun-11 14:15:22

Tehran could be easier! (have friends who had a great experience there incidentally). In my experience, the more different the place is from home, the less you can integrate and tend to make friends very quickly with other expats. In places where you can integrate as much as you like, it tends to take longer to meet people, and there might not be as many groups etc aimed at helping you to settle in.

ZZZenAgain Sun 12-Jun-11 14:21:22

is your dd going to have to acquire the local language for schooling (not a language spoken in your family)? If so, the sooner the better

How do you think you will cope with a toddler and a baby in this particular non-English speaking environment? As I understand your second post, you are pregnant or planning on having another baby soon.

bettyspaghetti33 Mon 13-Jun-11 08:58:56

Hi all and thanks for your messages, they certainly have given me some food for thought.

In answer to your questions the language spoken there is one which DD is familiar with at home, her dad speaks it, so it looks like it will only be me with the language issues and I do agree that if we move while she is still very young the difference she might feel in that respect would be minimal.

The country itself and way of life is a world away from what the UK is like. We will however be amongst many family members and close friends, a far more supportive environment to family life than we have at present with just me and DH and virtually no local support.

I would be interested to know if any of you had any experiences or issues with keeping up with family back in the UK? Our move potentially could see us living there permanently and being fairly far away would involve fairly infrequent visits back home to see family and even then we would have probs finding a place to stay as family can't accommodate us very well and we do not own any property here.

Bucharest Mon 13-Jun-11 09:05:31

I am "permanently" (as much as one can ever be) in Italy. I am shipping out back to the UK for 10weeks though, this coming Saturday. I also spend every Christmas in the UK. Part of the deal with dp. I live here for 9mths, I get 3 mths of sanity in the UK!

Bucharest Mon 13-Jun-11 09:07:42

PS, I appreciate you don't want to out yourself, but you'd get much more concrete advice if you could tell us the name of the country! There's bound to be some MNrs there who can scare thebejaysus-- give you some practical info of what life as a furriner is like. It's all very well dh/dp having family there, but that's not really going to answer a lot of your questions IYSWIM?

trailingspouse Mon 13-Jun-11 10:37:39

It sounds like you are more likely to integrate than your average expat.

How far away from UK will you be?

We go "home" in summer only, for about 6 weeks. So I see my parents once a year, unless they are prepared to come and visit us, which they haven't been too keen on. I think you're right to consider where you will stay when you go home - we stay with my parents for 2-3 weeks each summer, which is less than ideal but not too bad. For the 3 weeks or so when DH joins us in summer we rent a house/flat. You will need to be ok with flying alone with children - it takes us 3 flights and 24 hours to get home. We decided against keeping a property in UK, partly because of the expense of keeping it empty for most of the year, and partly because I do not enjoy being alone with 3 children for long periods of time. A lot of people I know do this however and it can work well.

MCos Mon 13-Jun-11 16:58:51

We moved when DD1 was 3 and DD2 was 12 months. We moved back to my country, but not to same part as to where my family lived.
I travel a lot with business. Once we moved, DD2 found that very hard, even though we had a lovely nanny, and DH was at home in the evenings).
If they are little, so long you will be around, they shouldn't feel much impact. Once they get to school age, you will be faced with them missing their friends, etc.

Also, if your DH is moving through work, can he get a 'come home on holidays' clause built into his contract, to cover fights and hotel? Even just for first year or so?
Please do figure out how often you will get home to see your family, and where you would stay, etc. We used to get home every 12-18 months, and I used to look forward to those trips very much. We made good use of frequent flier miles from my business travel!

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