Every caring parent wants the best for their children, and perhaps you could give your children a better start in life by moving to another country. It may be that you are dissatisfied with the quality of education, health care and the environment. It may be that you fear for the day-to-day safety of your children, or for their economic future. Or perhaps you want them to grow up somewhere that has more sunshine than rain, where the pace of life is more relaxed. You may wish them to experience another culture, to grow up bilingual, to view themselves as citizens of the world rather than just one country. Whatever your motives for considering a move abroad, one thing is certain: moving with children is far more complex than relocating as a singleton.
Relocating your family will be expensive and there will always be unforeseen expenses. Are you confident that you have a sufficient financial cushion to support your family during the transitional period. Do your research carefully and ensure that you build in a safety margin.
- At what stage is your children’s education?
No matter how much you believe that a move abroad would benefit your children, you must be realistic about the impact that it will have on their education. Children adapt quickly to new situations but disrupting your child’s education before key exams may hinder their progress in the new educational system in which they find themselves. Unless you intend to place your child in an English language school, their education will be in a foreign language. This will give them fluency in a second language but initially it will slow their academic progress.
- Work opportunities
This is going to be of crucial importance in order to secure financial stability for your family. You cannot assume that you will simply ‘pick something up’, neither can you assume that your professional qualifications will be valid in the country to which you are moving. Once again, thorough research is essential. What documentation will you require in order to work? What work is available?
The prospect of having a much better standard of housing may be one of the key drivers which is prompting your move. Browsing the internet will quickly reveal thousands of gorgeous properties which can be bought for a fraction of the price of a small-terraced house in East London. The difficulty, of course, is deciding where you want to live. France is often the first destination which people consider, it’s just across the channel and you’ve been there plenty of times on holiday, so it feels familiar and unthreatening. In excess of 200,000 British citizens live in France and although property on the Cote D’Azur is breathtakingly expensive you can still pick up a dreamy farmhouse in the Charentes for around 100,000 euros. Another increasingly popular European destination is Portugal, home to around 18,000 brits. In Portugal’s most affordable region, Guarda, the average house price is just 118,000 euros, which means that there’s plenty on the market for less than that.
How safe is the area to which you are intending to move? Iceland is rated as the safest country in the world, followed by New Zealand and Portugal.
Living in a place all the year round is quite different from just going there on holiday. Extreme weather conditions can be challenging. Thirty degrees of heat is great when you are lounging by a pool, but when you have to work or go to school, it’s a different matter. Locations with hot summers can also experience breathtakingly cold winters and sub- zero temperatures in double figures. Extreme weather conditions will also have financial implications: air conditioning in summer and heating in winter. Extreme heat or periods of heavy rain will also affect the fabric of your property and it will need regular maintenance.
- Friends and family
You will miss your friends and family and you won’t really know how much until you are parted. We take cheap and convenient travel for granted, but recent events have shown us that the days of easy, inexpensive travel, may be over. If you have an elderly parent, you need to consider how frequently you will, realistically, be able to see them. You will of course make new friends, and they will be one of the bonuses of your new life.
Yes, English is widely spoken but don’t assume that everyone will speak your language. Why should they? If you are moving to another country you should attempt to learn the language; if you don’t you will always be just a tourist.