But how will the kids cope with moving abroad?
That was my first thought after choosing to uproot them and fly them to the other side of the world. I’d already put them through a difficult divorce, would moving them at such a sensitive time be the final straw? Would it signal a total teenage meltdown?
Luckily for us, after a suitable period of grieving and adjustment, the kids have been great! I’d even go so far as to say that they’ve settled far better than I have, so much so that indeed our eldest is thinking of staying here and continuing to university. But more than that, I feel that the move has definately brought us closer together as a family – myself and the kids – and this closeness has encouraged the development of our family life and strong step-parenting relationships between my Englishman and the Kiwi kids.
It’s almost as if removing us from the distracting comfort of our homeland has helped us stick together, and for that I’m truly grateful.
I sometimes wonder if we were to move again whether this would further cement our marriage and family life – I suspect it would.
Today’s Moving Story comes from Emma an English expat currently living in Bavaria with her two small children. As she says in her story below, she also had concerns about how her family would cope with expat life, and she has been pleasantly surprised.
1) Why did you move from the UK originally?
It was something we had considered doing for a long time. We had outgrown our house in South West London, and needed a lottery win for the next size up, so it seemed like the right time to give it a go! By chance along came an opportunity to move abroad with my husband’s work… Our first move was to Copenhagen for two years.
2) Can you recall the time before you left the UK, and what your concerns about moving were?
I was most concerned about our two small children, and how they would cope with the move, but that part was fine, and I was surprised at how quickly they did adjust. Our daughter started school for the first time in Denmark, and this part didn’t go so smoothly… It was an awful time initially as she hated every minute of it. I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if I had my time again, I would go with my instincts and move her to a better school.
3)What did you think you would miss most about the UK, apart from family?
I imagined I would miss my friends as well as my family, which of course I do. I also thought I would really miss England itself and the things that go with your home country… The ease of life, especially in London where everything is on tap 24/7. I thought I would miss the familiarity of stuff as well – it’s always lovely being able to understand everyone as soon as I get off the plane at Heathrow!
4) Have you been surprised by what you really have missed about UK?
Not really to be honest. I knew exactly how desperately I would miss friends and family at times. I haven’t missed England itself as much as I expected but it’s always lovely to come home, and I have definitely been surprised about how much I miss English supermarkets! You lot don’t know how lucky you are!
5) Do you see your old age in this country or in the UK, and was moving a ‘for life’ decision or ‘for a while’ decision?
It’s hard to tell to be honest. The longer you are away from the UK, the harder it is to envisage where we would live should we go back, and of course what we would do. We don’t think this move (we moved to Munich from Copenhagen last November) is a forever move, but time will tell…
6) What positives about life in Munich can you tell us about and were the challenges the same as you envisaged or not?
The Munich move was a lot easier than the Copenhagen move, as by then we had been there, done that, and knew exactly what we were looking for when it came to houses and schools etc.
I have been surprised at how friendly and humorous the Bavarian’s are (so far!)… And they don’t all wear socks with sandals you know! They are very proud of their heritage, and it’s lovely to witness all the Bavarian traditions and costumes etc. – and they encourage you to take part! I have a dirndl and I’m not afraid to wear it (any more!)!
7) What surprises have you had – good and bad – setting up your new home?
I was surprised about how formal the whole house moving process is in Germany. When looking for properties, I came across a few where I was kind of interviewed by the prospective landlord and his estate agent! Coming from a land where we don’t tend to respect estate agents very much and have little to do with landlords, it was quite odd!
Personally the thing I have been surprised about the most though is how a few friends (and some family members!) have expected the onus to be on us to keep in touch, as we are the ones that have moved away. It annoys me slightly when I hear that old chestnut “we haven’t heard from you in a while”…! No, they might not have done, but last time I checked, they also had a computer and a telephone!!!
If you experienced conflict between you and your spouse about moving, or aspects of resettling, how easy did you find it to resolve them?
Strangely enough it’s actually brought us much closer as a family unit. The only disagreements we have had have been about future prospective countries that I am not happy about moving to! But Mr R. knows from experience that all the family need to be happy for a move to be successful, so I am not too worried about that!
9) When you think of home, which country comes to mind now?
England, always England. Where my family, and the vast majority of our friends are will always be home to me.
10) In what ways do you think your family life, and your relationship/marriage, has become stronger after undertaking this adventure?
We became more of a team when we moved… You have to support each other and overcome all the small (and quite often large) challenges you face as expats. After some of the more challenging stuff we did face, especially in the first couple of years away from the UK, it will take a lot to shake the foundations of our marriage, and I am proud of that!
I love what Emma has to say about the expat life making her marriage stronger, isn’t it inspiring! Emma writes about her family’s adventures at her blog – A Bavarian Sojourn and recently contributed a fab blog post on the BritMums expat blog round up – Moving Abroad