I Am Considering Living Abroad with the Family for a Year.

Updated on December 15, 2008
M.A. asks from Healdsburg, CA
16 answers

I am looking for any helpful guidance that you moms may have about living abroad with your family. Whether you have done it yourself, or you know someone who has, I would love to know about it. I am looking for helpful books and websites, as well as companies or groups.
My family is in the situation where we will be in a big transition. We will not have our house to worry about as we will be relocating. Our future location is uncertain. I am a teacher and I can teach almost anywhere. My husband's job is also relatively portable. My kids are young and adjust to new situations easily. It seems like the best time to follow a dream and live abroad for a year. I can more than likely teach english as my profession while living abroad. My husband can probably do his current job from where ever we are. We won't be creating wealth, but we should have a great experience. I very much want for us all to learn a foreign language and become familiar with a different culture. We also hope to make life-long international friends. I have found two books on the subject, but I know there is a lot to learn and consider. I need to do a lot of research because while my husband is willing to consider this, he is very much afraid of something so foreign to him. I will need to provide him with a lot of information to calm his worries and fears. Plus we will want to take every possible precaution to make sure our kids are safe and happy.
Thanks for your help!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your encouragement and advice. Please keep your thoughts coming! Just so you all know, the country I am most interested in living in right now is Spain. It has a similar climate to California, so that will make the transition easier. I am also desperate to learn more Spanish because it will benefit me the rest of my life here in California. My girls will also benefit forever from learning to speak another language. I have heard wonderful things about Spain and I know there is supposed to be a lot of ex-pats there, so many friends to be made!
Thanks again!

Featured Answers



answers from Sacramento on

My husband and I lived in Israel for two years while studying and it was a lovely experience in many ways. After I gained a profound respect for immigrants. It takes a lot of guts to go somewhere without knowing how you'll make it and being away from everything familiar.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

I lived in Mexico from the ages of 11-16. It was the best thing that ever happened to me as a child. Go for it!!!!

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi M.,

I'm living in Poland with my husband and kids. My family is Polish, so it's a bit easier for me, but I just wanted to let you know what a great idea you have! At least in this part of the world (middle Europe) there are tons and tons of foreign people that you can meet and spend time with - from the United STates, Britain, Canada, Germany. The situation holds true for many other countries I've been to -I've met a community of Americans / British on the Greek island of Rhodos, there is even a group of foreigners in Egypt on the Sinai. Here in Poland there are no problems with medical care (in English) and there is even a social group for moms and babies (Mums and Tots). I think if you pick a country and try a www search for groups/ organizations you'de be pleasantly surprised how many people you can meet. Whereever you choose, just keep in mind the climate (i.e. it's freezing here!!) Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Our family has lived abroad for the past 18 months. We moved from the SF Bay Area to Singapore with my husband's job. We have 3 daughters who were 13 months, 13 months and 3 years old when we moved. So far its been a wonderful experience for us. The kids are in a local preschool where they learn in both English and Mandarin. They enjoy the food here and have great friends from all over the world. My husband and I haven't picked up Mandarin but have enjoyed making new friends, trying new foods and traveling the region. There are many things that I miss about the US. But, with the internet, I can get almost anything shipped here and that helps. I always wanted to live abroad and so far, so good. You really have to have an open mind and be flexible in your outlook. I don't know when we'll move home but right now I'm in no particular rush. I do know that I do want to return home someday so that my girls know what it means to be "American." But given how young they are, we still have a few years.

Good luck in your decision....



answers from San Francisco on

Hi there,

We live in Rome, Italy. I moved here 5 1/2 years ago just for an adventure, and my husband did, too (we met here). Our daughter was born here, so I can't help with advice about moving with children. But it is really wonderful to live in a foreign country to get a different perspective on the world. Go for it! If you like it you just might stay, like we did! Especially if you stay for just a few years you will probably love it. After 3 years some of the charm wore off for us and things can be frustrating, but we still enjoy living here.

Let me know if you have any specific questions or if you decide to move to Rome!




answers from San Francisco on

M., I spent my entire childhood living "abroad" from my home territory - and now, as an adult, I am living "abroad" in America :) Can you advise where you are planning on moving to? What made things so much easier for my parents (who moved with 3 young kids) was that they settled us into an International School so we didn't have a language barrier - BUT these schools are REALLY expensive. If you don't have a company funding the tuition it really isn't feasible...have you considered applying to an International School abroad where you can teach? If you teach there you normally get reduced or free tuition for your kids. This allowed my family to truly enjoy a different culture while not having a really aggressive transition....my parents were also able to make friends and settle in more quickly as well. You will have the choice to make friends with ex-pats or "do your own thing".

The other benefit of the school I attended was that there were only 500 students from K-12 grade and there were 36 nationalities represented amongst those students - I didn't know what racism was until we moved from that environment - I had no idea that people judged each other based on their culture, background, etc. I can't explain how much I benefited from the school I attended.

As I said, it is difficult to advise when I don't know where you will be going. A move like this is something that you really can't prepare for 100% - some people love the culture shock, some people can't handle it. I remember a lot of the Americans shipping containers full of everything from their favorite foods to their cars (because a lot of people couldn't drive manual, stick shift cars) to where we lived to deal with not being at "home"! However if you have mentality that you want this to be a wonderful experience and approach it with that mentality it should be just that! Feel free to contact me for more help/info...there is too much to say on here!!

Good luck!



answers from Chico on

My husband and I taught overseas for two and a half years before we had a family, so I can't offer advice there about living with the family. Our first contract was in Egypt and ended up being a very poor experience as the school was run mostly for profit as opposed to really having education as a focus. Our second contract, which we had for two years, was in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was super! We found our jobs through a recruiting program called Search Associates: http://www.search-associates.com/associates/fair_info.cfm
The schools fill out information on whether they hire teaching couples and if children are allowed (sometimes they are not if the school provides your housing as part of the contract). A lot of the schools served by Search Associates are American or British style schools who serve the local population with an English Curriculum (at least that's how it was in 1999-2000 when we went to the job fairs).

Another recruiting agency is International School Services: http://www.iss.edu/index.asp, or you can try teaching through the Department of Defense: http://www.dodea.edu/home/index.cfm

My husband got some info through a British Company called "Protocol Teachers" (http://www.protocol-education.com/) for teaching in the UK (you might have an adventure in accents, but not so much a foreign language:))

Another option is to search for "International School" and your preferred destination and contact the school directly.

Some little bits of advice: most of the schools do their hiring in February-March (when the big fairs are); most contracts are for two years; you will probably have to pay a recruiting/placement fee and document fees to have things notarized and mailed, so be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars to get your job.

Be aware that the State Department Fact Sheets are often VERY cautious/ alarming and your best bet for information is to ask another teacher at your potential location about safety. A lot of "English Schools" in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China are scams: be careful!!

Good luck :)



answers from Salinas on

M. I live in Budapest Hungary and have for about sixteen years. One year is such a short time to learn a foreign language and culture. Do you know where you would consider going for that year?

I do have friends who came with four kids for a few years, different circumstances but they had a lot of insight.

Maybe if choose a country and then check the American Embassys website. They are helpful and informative.




answers from San Francisco on

Hello M.,

My brother-in-law and his wife live in China. He has lived in many different countries all over the world. He even lived in South Africa for awhile. He says that it is very difficult to get a job in Europe because they do not give out work visas very easily. Spain, in particular, is very difficult because of the laws about visas. It is a bit easier to get a visa for work in England.

My BIL and his wife work in China at an International school. They love it! They and all of their friends enjoy very comforatable living there, including free housing for the whole family. Each family has a nanny for each of their children and all of the housekeeping is taken care of. They also enjoy amazing shopping and fun vacations. They say they want to come back just to be closer to family, but admit it will be hard to give-up the lifestyle. If you want more ifnormaton about teaching in China, let me know and I can ask him for some concrete information.

As for teaching in other places, have you gone to www.govbenefits.gov? They have some programs where they send teachers to other countries to teach.

There is also a company called K12 that has some international teaching positions and they usually advertise on carrerbuilder.com.

I think it sounds exciting, wish I was going too!

Good luck! (Send me a private message if you want mor info.)



answers from San Francisco on

I guess it just depends on you and your husband. My husband I moved to France for a year with our 3 children for my husband's job. It was quite an adventure! It was fun to be so close to so many countries--we could visit a new country every weekend! But are there are some difficult things to consider. First, there was not an international school near where we were living. The kids went to a private French school. It was great to have them really get in there and get to know some French kids, and learn some french. The problem is, I think it takes at least a year or more to really learn the language. So, the kids learned some french, but in the meantime, got a year behind in school. We had a French tutor that came a few times a week which helped them get homework done, etc.. but it was hard because I couldn't help much with homework. I had a tutor also to help me learn French, but it was hard with everything else I had to do. I also had our 4th child there, which I wouldn't recommend. I had a doctor that spoke English, but was still very French, and the whole medical system there is different. It wasn't a great experience to have a baby there! So I guess I have mixed feelings. I think it takes a year to really get adjusted, and the kids to get adjusted. I think it would have been a better experience if we were there longer. But it was also hard being so far away from family. I do love Spain, and I speak Spanish, so that would probably have been a completely different experience for me. But just imagine having a sick kid, and having to call the doctor's office, and trying to explain what is wrong to someone who doesn't speak much English, and you don't speak much of their language. I felt very helpless. So, it could be a great experience, but be prepared!



answers from San Francisco on

My husband and our two children lived in Vienna, Austria for two months and then traveled Austria and Germany for two months. Our boys were 1 year old and 3 years old at the time. Vienna had an American Womens Association and I think there are a number of them around. I think you have a very good situation as you are a teacher. It should be easy for you to get a job ahead of time. This would probably be best for everyone involved as it will ease the stress of just figuring it out once you have arrived. That is what we did and the timing was not right, so we did not stay...long story. I wish you the best and I think you will not regret it one bit! The United States will always be here and it is so easy to get right back into a grove once you return. Gook luck.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi M.-
I think it is great that you are brave enough to step outside the norm and consider doing something different. Moving to another country is a real adventure. My husband and I along with our 4 boys (18 - 11) moved to Mexico 2 1/2 years ago, then I got pregnant and we now also have a baby girl! We really felt learning Spanish would be beneficial for the kids and a different cultural experience would also enhance their lives. Living here has had its ups and downs, but I would not trade it. I encourage you and your family to go for it. Family and friends may think you are nuts, but you would be surprised at how many Americans actually do live outside of the USA.
Best wishes on your adventure!



answers from Phoenix on

Go for it! Do listen to your husband, really listen to what his concerns and hesistations are - is it living with your family (his inlaws) or living abroad, or living so far from his family, having to make new friends, etc. LISTEN first before offering your thoughtful response.

I've never lived abroad and have no plans to, but would love the adventure. My husband is not really one for adventure and change though.

With the internet, he really need not be out of touch with the familiar. Resources are there.



answers from San Francisco on

I'm here as an ex-pat (husband and I are both British). We've been here for nearly 7 years now - just came for 2. We didn't move here with kids. It is a great experiences, we have lots of friends from all different countries and it does open up opportunities to travel to places that are 'local' to here but not to home.

Apart from the language thing, the simple option is to go somewhere they speak English (maybe NZ or Australia - both fab countries). It doesn't seem such a big deal now we've done it once, to be honest. I'm not sure what else I can tell you, but feel free to send me a message if you have specific questions I can help with




answers from Sacramento on

You and your family might want to take a trip to visit for 3 or 4 weeks to see if this is something you want to commit the family to especially the children. You did not say where you want to move to but in this day and age consider there safety first.
If it was just the two of you, there would probaly be no reason to worry. Personally I would not tell the family your intentions other than to visit until you have made up your mind.

I went to Germany several times. After 3 weeks I wanted to come home. It took me that long to get past the fun and interest of it and see what it was like to live there.

Just a few thoughts. Our economy is unstable, check out the country of your choices economy as well because that will have a direct affect on your intended stay. Sometimes decisions can have both positive and negitive effects, like If you got there and then could not return or could not get work.

Sounds like fun. Good luck.



answers from Sacramento on

Wow, i applaud your adventuresome spirit and resourcefulness. How incredible to follow your dreams to go and live abroad at this point in your lives. My sister, whose oldest child is 7 and youngest is 3 1/2 (TRIPLETT boys, no less) has been considering the same thing. She also teaches (is a theology professor) and her husband is a Therapist. She, also, is the instigator in this idea. You must be married to a very open, secure, and supportive guy to have him consider such a bold move, when it's not his idea. Hats off to you! (sorry I'm not experienced in this, just impressed). --K.

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