If you’re a mum and you’re moving to another country, you’ve probably started panicking by now. I am not kidding, this whole adventure can be super stressful, especially when you have kids to consider.
To ease this transition which I have experienced myself a few years ago, I have come up with a list of essential things to consider before packing your things.
1. FINANCES FIRST
I hate to be the one to ruin the party, but before you even start to consider moving to another country, you should ask yourself the big questions: „Am I able to financially support such a decision?”. You and your partner should first come up with a financial plan. Carefully think over all your possible expense, because, except for when one of you already has a job secured before moving out, you’re going to spend more than you earn to begin with.
Check on the real estate market and get a clear picture on how much your new home will cost. I used rightmove.co.uk and zoopla.co.uk when I moved to the UK with my family, but there are other websites depending on your chosen country. I also leveraged the power of Facebook groups a loooot and I made myself a member to many relevant groups I knew I would benefit from. This is an excellent idea when you’re just starting out and you don’t want to spend a lot on furniture and appliances. You can get the essentials on a very low or even zero price.
Another great way to make a prediction on your finances before moving to another country is to work on a personal budget. You’ll want to include here money coming in and out. Make sure you note down each and every one of the expenses you’re expecting to make, such as rent, car insurance, bills, car maintenance, bus tickets, council tax, future trips, kids & co. and so on. Now note down the money coming in. What is the difference between these two?
If it’s close to zero or even minus, I would wait a little longer, until your income improves. One of the toughest experiences I have ever lived since we moved to the UK, was to not have a place to live – trust me, you don’t want to end up with your child on the streets. That’s when your savings or your earnings come in super useful!
2. SCHOOLS FOR YOUR KIDS
Ilinca, my little daughter, was only a little over 1-year-old when we switched countries. So, it’s fair to say that I wasn’t compelled to search for schools back then – childcare was merely a dream. BUT I knew my child won’t stay little forever.
So, I did my research before making the decision.
I found out that nurseries and primary schools were great in terms of caring for children. I loved the fact that the British educational system allowed the little ones to learn through play – this was pretty big deal for me, personally, because schools in Romania are more demanding and I certainly didn’t want that for Ilinca.
HOWEVER, secondary schools are a whole different thing. And, as I soon was to experience at first hand, it turns out to be the whole cultural system involved. It’s not just the schools, it’s the society. I am quite disappointed and I’m actually questioning our decision to live here until we get grey and old, because I am concerned for Ilinca’s future. I love England, but I don’t like the way adolescents behave in here.
Obviously, it will always revolve around cultural differences – I come from a much more conservatory environment, so please take this as my own personal observation, not some general rule to follow. This is a whole different conversation, but my point is that you need to do this research before moving to another country.
Take some time to reflect on your children’s future: who do you want them to be as grownups, what setbacks are you willing to face to see them become the adults you wish them to be?
Big transitions are quite hard to grasp by children and it’s easy to forget that their little minds can only process a part of the information. When you tell them “we are moving to another country and we’re going to see granny and grandad two-three times/year, and you’re going to make new friends and we’re going to search for a new house…”, what they really understand is that “mum and dad are taking me away from the things I love most.”
Because it’s only natural. I am actually specialised in therapeutic stories, so I know that concepts and transitions such as moving abroad, are easier to understand and accept when you’re talking so that they can listen. If, even though you’ve talked through the new order of things for a while now, but it looks like they’re behaving like children… it’s because they ARE children.
Their neuronal capacity is that of their age, this transition might be too much for their knowledge.
Which is when “familiarity” kicks in.
It is extremely important that children know they are still going to be loved and supported even though they’re moving away. When they’re older, it’s even harder – because they’ve already built friendships and their families are there. Personally, I believe there is a misconception around the topic. I hear people say all the time, “oh, they’re kids, they adapt easily.” True, to some extent. What’s happening beneath the surface, beneath the initial excitement, might not have immediate consequences. But you’ll see it in time.
This phenomenon is actually known by the name “Expat Child Syndrome” (ECT) and can impact some children more than others. To make things easier for them, make sure you create a familiar environment in your new host country. Here are a couple of ideas on how you can do that:
- Firstly, discuss in advance. Let them know in detail what moving abroad actually calls for.
- Make them a part of the everyday decisions – from the car you’re going to buy, to the house you’re going to stay in so that they feel this is a common decision.
- Print out photos with their dear ones and create a photo album together. You’ll be able to browse it whenever your children miss their loved ones.
- Bring out familiar toys and books in their mother tongue.
- Pick the design of their future room together, to make them excited
- Depending on their age, start learning new words in their soon-to-be second language. If possible, engage in conversations in your new language, so that it won’t be a total shock when you move out.
- Make a schedule for their virtual meetings with family and friends and talk through the ways you’re going to keep in touch with your dearest ones from back home.
- Make a groceries list even before you pack your bags and make sure you include ingredients for their favourite traditional dishes. Oh, I can’t tell you how hard it was to adapt to the way people eat in the UK because back in Romania I grew up with such a different culinary experience! Don’t underestimate the power of food.
When moving to another country, you have at least two options to consider.
- You have friends/relatives abroad already
- You’re starting from scratch
- Both 1 and 2
Seriously now, the future might look entirely different depending on the options you have. Knowing that you already have family members or friends in the country you’re planning to move in means that change will not be as impacting as if you were to set a precedent.
I remember when I was little, maybe 6 or 7 years-old, one of my mum’s brothers moved to Italy. It was a strange thing back then to travel abroad because Romania has recently escaped communism, so the borders to the EU were still standing on rubbery legs.
As time went by, he gradually called on other brothers to live with him. My mum included. She now lives in Italy for over 16 years and I just can’t remember how it used to be when she was home. We often had conversations on the topic and she always told me that things were infinitely better and easier because her brother was already settled in.
So she had a place to live, a secured job and family members waiting for her.
My story, on the other hand, falls into 3, no doubt about it.
We had both friends and family in the UK when we moved in, but we decided to go on our own and start from scratch.
The thing we loved the most at England was (not the weather, for sure, haha) that it’s a native English-speaking country and it’s a language both me and my husband were familiar with.
HOWEVER, we did think about proximity as a decisive factor. Because Canada and the USA are both native English-speaking countries too. But they’re an ocean away. And they require visas.
You need to consider things like:
– how many trips to your home country/year you plan to have?
– do your relatives/family members plan to visit you quite often?
– are there any people you care about sick or in need of help so you might need to travel more often?
– how well do you deal with homesickness?
It might not seem to matter that much at first glance, but, trust me, these are aspects to consider! I have some Romanian friends who have moved from the UK to America after waiting for a visa for 11 years. But they never had any doubts because there was nothing holding them back.
So always put in balance the emotional aspects too because, especially when you have kids to consider, they are of extreme importance.
I hope that, whatever you decide and wherever you plan to move, you’ll be just fine.
If you’re already living in a foreign country, how is like? Where are you reading this from? I’d like to know!
Leave a comment and let’s share our news x
Until next time,
P.S.: you can always find me writing personalised books and therapeutic stories at The Story Store, so let’s connect there too!