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Palooka 02-16-2013 03:50 PM

Help us plan our life as a family
We've been struggling to find a direction, so now I'm putting it to you smart and diverse ladies! (and the occasional dad!). Beware, this is long...

Where we are:
- Both WOH parents. Both relatively new to our respective companies (hubby just hired, me coming up on 2 years), but both invested in our careers (hubby's been in the biz for over 10 years). Hubby does graphic design for TV commercials, I'm a copywriter for an ad agency. Neither of us wants to give up or change our careers, we like what we do and aren't prepared to become english tutors or join the military. You'll see why that matters below.
- We live in a major city and we like it that way.
- Our school debt is our only financial burden. We pay ~1300 a month on school loans, and will continue to pay that until kingdom come. We rent our apartment and our car is paid off. Very minimal credit card debt, which we will pay off in a few months.
- Basically no savings. We wanted to pay off al our credit cards so we've been focusing on that, then we'll start to save.
- One child, 13 months old. Some extended family in the area, but we don't see them more than once every couple months. Our parents and siblings are all several thousand miles away.

What we both imagine 5 years from now:
- We are living in a country that is not the USA, in a city that is no smaller than 2 million people. This is absolute and not negotiable, so please don't suggest another US city. It would be nice to be in a climate that is warm most of the year and gets lots of sunshine, but it's not a deal-breaker.
- We are both working, but I have more flexibility and he is running his own business.
- Another kiddo has joined the team.

What we both imagine 2 years from now:
- Actively creating the above. So moving, starting a new job, etc.

What I like but hubby doesn't:
- Latin America. Many countries have relaxed immigration policies so it seems accessible. I like the language and the culture. He thinks it would be too hard to find good companies in his industry.
- New Zealand. The government seems very open to American immigrants. I like the climate and outdoorsiness. He worries it will be too isolated.
- Toronto. Hubby thinks it's not a good city for his career.

What hubby likes but I don't:
- Japan. He likes the career prospects, but linguistically and culturally it is too different for me.

What we both like:
- Germany. I would LOVE to move to Germany, but it seems very difficult to immigrate there without a company sponsor, and we don't have that. So while I love the idea, it just seems logistically difficult.
- Ireland. Seems only slightly more accessible than Germany. The EU in general looks very difficult even if we were moving for only a short time.

....................So now what? We need a plan. We need to set goals and work toward them. Should we focus on getting hired by an EU company? Or saving up to start a new business? Or travelling to other places to decide which country is right for us? What if we pick a country and never find a sponsor? Should we look for the easiest immigration options, or look only and quality of life and hope we can make it happen?

Thanks in advance!!!

earthflower 02-16-2013 03:57 PM

Re: Help us plan our life as a family
What do you think about Switzerland?

chandni3 02-16-2013 04:13 PM

Re: Help us plan our life as a family
I'd look into countries more. Are there other countries that are options? Australia? B.C. Canada (warmer weather there), Central America? Other European countries. I'd research the countries like crazy and narrow it down to 2 or 3 options. Then I'd work on visiting them. They may not be how you think they are. Especially on the surface. Talk to other Americans who have moved there and find out their experience. Other things to consider:
Can you husband do his work from anywhere? ie online
How are American's treated in that country? Will there be prejudice in jobs, etc.
What is the school system like for your child?
What are living expenses like? (Remember, living expenses may seem low or high, but also consider how do the people actually live, many people live with a lot less than what we've come to expect in North America.
Economic conditions in that country.
Safety and crime rates
How well will you need to know the local language? How hard is the language to learn.

I think you've already done some research. I suggest collecting it into a binder or something. Write down what people tell you about a country so you don't forget. see if you can get english newspapers from that country. Watch their news channels. Research, research, research. Next, plan a visit to your #1 choice. Don't go just to the touristy places, try to get to know locals. See if you can stay with a local family. Eat the food they eat there, etc. You might be able to do it for cheap, maybe you can do an exchange thing where they then come to stay with you.
Once you've collected all the information you can, then you'll be able to make a better choice on how to go about what you want to do. It'll be hard, and there'll be setbacks but you have to be determined and push through.
Also learn about culture shock and what to except and how to deal with it. Even if you love it there you will go through a period of adjustment where you miss home, where you miss American things, where you hate everything about the new place and where you feel like you don't belong. Acknowledging those feelings and working through them will make the change successful. Don't be nieve and think that you'll always love everything about the country and be happy with your choice. There may be days you regret it. But in the long run, I'm sure you'll be happy you pursued your dream.
I think most of your questions will be answered with more research. I wouldn't go by easiest immigration options. It's part of your consideration, but if you want it to work you have to like the place you're going to because a new life in a new country isn't easy. You're adopting that culture, way of life, language, people, you have to love them. That love for that place will help you fight the battle to get there. If you just pick any place that isn't the US you'll be unhappy. You don't realize how much your culture is a part of who you are until you are somewhere where everyone is different than you. It's hard to give up who you are and become something new if you don't like who they are.

Don't fall into the trap of idealizing adventure and anywhere but here is better. A coworker and her husband who had no kids decided that they were going to sell everything and move to B.C. They had nothing holding them here. No kids, they had one job prospect there. They had money. They had lived there in their younger years and had friends there. They were so excited. They lasted a month, less than a month and they were back. The city had changed, they missed their friends here, their car was broken into, they didn't realize the crime rates were higher, things weren't how they imagined. (though I personally think they should have stuck it out longer and it would have gotten better with time)
I'm not saying this will happen to you, I'm saying to be cautious, be pessimistic, weigh everything very carefully. You both have to be completely in agreement. Take it one small step at a time.

NotLad 02-16-2013 04:35 PM

Re: Help us plan our life as a family
What about testing for the foreign service?

You get a new assignment every two-three years, always in a major foreign city (because that's where the embassies are!). Your housing is provided (based on family size) and moving expenses are always covered. You get government paid two week vacations, plus mandatory respite (where they pay for your family to come back to the US for two weeks)

It's a federal job, so the retirement and benefits are killer.

MyLovely 02-16-2013 07:56 PM

Re: Help us plan our life as a family
Have you all considered Australia? Immigration there seems easier then most places, especially if your job list is on the "skilled professionals" list. I know it's also pretty isolated, but being that there are several very large cities and places like Japan, China, India, Thailand, etc. semi-near, it may be more appealing.

I feel your pain though. I fantasize daily about getting out.

jamieism 02-16-2013 11:37 PM

You might look at some of the many international schools out there. Both universities and high schools. I know you said you don't want to be English tutors but teaching in your field might be a good way to go.

I know your dh isn't keen on Latin America but you might look at Argentina. Buenos Aires is pretty European in many ways. Also Turkey is really beautiful and very livable. Close to Europe but not as hard to get into and much cheaper COL. Istanbul could be fun!

jackkant 02-16-2013 11:59 PM

Re: Help us plan our life as a family
I would think about what kind of schooling options you want for your kids; in some countries, like Germany, homeschooling is not an option, and the public school option is pretty rigidly structured.

I think PP's idea of using a binder to organize options is a great idea!

Mommy of 2girls 02-17-2013 12:42 AM

My sister and her family just moved to Germany a few months ago from Arizona. The biggest shock was the public school system there, very different than here. She said culture shock want too bad.

mbleblanc 02-17-2013 05:27 AM

I think you really need to look realistically at what type of life you want to have.

If you want to live closest to the standard you have now, then canada, Australia, or uk would be closest. If you want a complete culture change then Latin America is great.

Personally Latin America will always have my heart :) I would move to Colombia, Bolivia, brazil, or maybe even Guatemala in Central America. But I do recognize the high crime rates and lower standard of living but I'm okay with those things and feel like Latin America is the place the speaks most to me. So! What place speaks most to you!

3 ladybugs 02-17-2013 05:55 AM

Re: Help us plan our life as a family

Originally Posted by earthflower (Post 16296802)
What do you think about Switzerland?

Do you know about the immigration system in Switzerland? We do. We have friends there that work for one of the major companies in Switzerland. They have worked there for years and would love to become Swiss but can't. The hoops are unimaginable! My DH basically says if your not white, northern european and learn swiss german and all these other things you have no hope.

OP I think you should just see where life takes you. I used to think that moving to Europe would be great, and I honestly think it would be. But there are also great things about living in the US too. Be open to life and see where it takes you. You can really only plan so much as I have learned the hard way in my life. :)

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