Deciding to move country with small children

Deciding to move country with small children

Two years ago an amazing opportunity presented itself to our family based in Melbourne, Australia. My husband was offered a job in London. I’m quite sure there are a lot of people who would think we were crazy to move half way around the world with 10 month old twins but for us it was an easy decision to make.  Here are the considerations we weighed up and the reasons why we decided to move, including some I only discovered recently.

deciding to move country with young children

Opportunity to travel

Living in Australia is amazing and I highly recommend that you try it sometime. The challenge with my beautiful country is that to go anywhere else you have to commit yourself to very long and expensive flights. This means family trips have to be planned out a long time in advance and you can be limited on the time spent away.  Living in London means we can make the most of being on Europe’s doorstep and we have done just that.

I’ll never regret our trips for a moment even though there have been scary events that meant we stopped to think about whether we were doing the right thing.  You can read all about our travel adventures on this blog.

Meet interesting people and make new friends

You never know who you could meet grabbing a coffee in the local cafe or park or via other friends. I’ve been lucky to make some great new friends, clients and acquaintances in our 18 months here in London. We have even met some Italian relatives we had only spoken to on the phone. All our lives are the richer for that as we get different perspectives on all aspects of life. We’ve been invited to weddings, birthday parties and all sorts of other celebrations and I know many of these people will be friends for life.

deciding to move country with young children

Try all the food

As a family with a strong foodie and Italian heritage I can tell you that being able to visit Italy, France, Spain and beyond to get a taste of the local cuisine was a considerable factor in choosing to move. As amazing as the Melbourne food scene is, there is nothing quite like tasting the local pasta varieties in Italy or the regional french cheeses.

Related  The missing bite .. a discovery of tastes in Italy

Experience art and delve into history

Europe’s history is rich with art and culture. You can barely move for standing on the soil of a significant event. As a student of history and someone who loves art and visiting galleries and museums there is no better place to be than London and on Europe’s doorstep. We are soaking it up and hopefully the kids are too.

Related  11 London galleries for art lovers

Different career opportunities

Honestly I was a bit confused on the path I wanted to take with my career after our children were born. I knew that if possible I did not want to go back to full time employment straight away. But I had no idea of what shape my life would take. Moving put those decisions on hold for a bit and I’m grateful for the pause. I’m now freelancing, blogging and looking after the children. I have some amazing clients and am enjoying the varied life I lead. I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to do that had we stayed in Melbourne.

deciding to move country with young children

Visitors

We have absolutely loved having our friends and family come to stay and share our London life. We have been able to show them different experiences than they would have had if they had stayed elsewhere. Most importantly to me, we are able to forge stronger bonds with them as we share meals and wine at a slower pace than our often hurried catch ups at home. We have each others undivided attention and that’s a special benefit I did not expect when we made the decision to move.

Related  How to be a wonderful guest

The challenges…

Getting used to a new culture and language can be trying even if you speak English as your first language. Some phrases I use and the way I talk are completely lost in our new home. I can only imagine how incredibly frustrating it is when English is not your first language.

Wherever you go administration and bureaucracy need to be dealt with – from paying taxes to organising healthcare and figuring out how to recycle your household waste. I underestimated this. It took us ages to get our internet sorted out and it drove me completely nuts. I am in awe of people who move to countries where their first language is not the main language spoken.

But of course the most difficult thing is missing the support of family and your oldest friends close at hand. It’s the thing I grapple with the most to this day.  And great as they are for helping us stay in touch with everyone at home, Skype and Facebook can’t replace a big hug and a debrief over coffee or wine.


Our move to London was driven by a career opportunity but our decision to go was based on much more than that. Despite some reservations about missing our family and friends we realised and still believe that in many ways there was really no better time in the children’s lives to take this opportunity. The kids are little but they are also not locked into a school routine so we are able to travel out of peak times easily. We are loving living our expat life in London and making the most of this amazing opportunity. If you have a similar choice and are uncertain the path to take I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.

deciding to move country with young children

Read more posts about expat living in London with young children

How to decide where to live – click here
Building your network – click here
Accessing healthcare – click here
How to enjoy living in London in winter – click here
Day trips from London – click here
London experiences – click here

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31 Comments

  1. 15th April 2016 / 1:39 AM

    I can understand a lot of what you talk about. Having moved to Australia with a 6 month old it wasn’t easy. Making new friends and making a life but here we are 5 years on! I still say Irish phrases that make people tilt their head and question. Having moved from Ireland I definitely miss the closeness to Europe and the varied culture, languages and food that it offers!! Good on you for giving it a go, especially with 2 little ones

    • 15th April 2016 / 9:50 PM

      Thanks Ciara ? We had a few lost in translation moments together in Melb as I recall (hee!) but it all turned out ‘grand’ in the end ? I really feel a lot stronger and able to go with the flow a lot more because of this experience. So hopefully that makes me a nicer mummy! x

  2. 11th May 2016 / 9:04 AM

    I agree that it’s so much easier to move when kids are young. Now that my daughter is in secondary I’m reluctant to move now that she’s in an upper school groove. We are always on the lookout for new adventures but at this point I think those will likely wait until she’s going to university. Great post.

  3. 13th May 2016 / 8:04 PM

    This was a great read! We moved last summer from the United States to France with two little ones and it has been quite the adventure! We’re enjoying our time here though and it’s nice to see someone who feels similar about moving abroad. 🙂

    • 15th May 2016 / 12:39 PM

      Thanks so much Ashley. This experience is full of highs and lows but I think getting out there and experiencing the world is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children

      • 17th May 2016 / 12:17 PM

        I completely agree! Your blog is so great, I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

  4. 20th May 2016 / 12:30 AM

    My respects to you, as I know first hand how brave you need to be in order to move country with small children. When my sisters and I were little, my parents moved the family from Mexico to the USA, and I had the opportunity to live in a foreign country and learn the language and culture. It was difficult, to be sure, and my parents worried about how we would adapt. Fortunately, everything went fine, and my sisters and I gained very valuable experiences thanks to that. Congrats for taking the chance!

    Coming over from My Expat Family Link Up

    • 20th May 2016 / 5:26 AM

      Thanks for your lovely comment Fabiola. As parents you always worry if you’ve done the right thing. So glad you see the move your family made as a positive experience

  5. 20th May 2016 / 4:52 AM

    This is a great post, there are definitely more ups than downs to moving abroad. We haven’t moved with kids yet, but have had both our two while living in the states. We might decide to move back to the UK at some point though, so we’ll have all that to come!
    You are right it’s a good time to do it while they are still young. Our oldest is still only 3, but I am worried that I don’t want to mess him about with his schooling, so we’ll have some decisions to make at some point. Happy to find your blog through #myexpatfamily x

    • 20th May 2016 / 5:30 AM

      Good luck with that Rosie. Making those big family decisions always takes a lot of consideration but I guess in the end the main thing is that you are together

  6. 20th May 2016 / 11:58 AM

    I liked the bit about “some phrases I use and the way I talk are completely lost in our new home”. When I lived in Australia for a little bit as a child (originally from UK) I found so much of what I thought was just English wasn’t understood! 🙂 I also picked up a few Aussie phrases and still refer to swimming kit as “togs”. I’m now an expat mum living in Zambia where officially the language is English but it is not most peoples first language!

    • 24th May 2016 / 8:49 AM

      Ahh so many lost in translation moments! I think it’s a good thing that we are forced to think about how we say things sometimes. I have definitely learnt a lot about tempering by directness by being in Britain. Hope you are enjoying life in Zambia!

  7. 20th May 2016 / 1:16 PM

    I think it can be very hard for people who have never moved countries to understand why you would, but you’ve explained it very well! I’ve never actually sat down to think properly about all our reasons, apart from the obvious work one. I do agree with you on all of this though, especially the unexpected ones likes forging more intense relationships with visitors.

    • 24th May 2016 / 8:47 AM

      Thanks so much for your comment Eline. I’m just about to say farewell to a dear friend who has been spending a few weeks with us. I will really miss her but we have a lot of shared memories built over the past weeks to reflect on until the next time we see each other. It’s so bittersweet

  8. 20th May 2016 / 6:33 PM

    We moved when our kids were 1 and 3 and it was a really smooth transition for them. We moved from London to SW France where Europe really is on our doorstep. France always used to be our summer holiday before moving so we’re really taking advantage of all the countries right on our doorstep. We’re also lucky in that we’re not too far from family in the UK. Sounds like you made a good move!

    • 20th May 2016 / 7:01 PM

      lucky you moving to the south of France! I’m sure it has its challenges though. Our ideal lifestyle is 6 months in Australia and 6 months in Italy. I think that will have to wait until after school. thanks for stopping by x

  9. 21st May 2016 / 7:09 AM

    I hope you’re enjoying life in the UK. It certainly takes time to get used to – I’ve been here for 18 years. Most days I’m OK. Some days I love it and other days I really wonder why in the hell I’m still living here! It’s really nice that your friends and family come to visit you. That’s so great and something I’d like more of myself. So far, only my parents have come to visit. Good luck and have fun! #myexpatfamily

    • 23rd May 2016 / 3:55 PM

      Thanks so much for for you lovely comment. It is so lovely to have visitors. One of my best friends is here at the moment and we are having such a great time spending quality time together. I think the way you think about your new home can change by the day and by the hour. Hope you have some more visitors soon so you can show them your life here

  10. 21st May 2016 / 11:21 AM

    London is such a vibrant city and it sounds like you are really enjoying your time there. We never lived there with children (young, free and no longer single was our experience) but enjoyed every minute of our time there and the children love going to visit.

    It sounds like your little babies have a wonderful lifestyle and are enjoying the expat experience and all that Europe as well as the UK has to offer. That lack of easy access to other countries was one of the things we missed when we left Europe.

    • 22nd May 2016 / 6:58 PM

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m a naturally positive person and hope we are grabbing this opportunity with both hands before we return home in a few years

  11. 22nd May 2016 / 10:46 AM

    Good on you! Hailing from the land down under, I totally understand how great it is to be a “stone’s throw” from those fabulous countries like Italy and France. Glad you are stepping outside your comfort zone and freelancing…. I was the same….did things I probably never would have done back home. Love the ability for reinvention that goes with expat life. Cheers, Nicole

    • 22nd May 2016 / 6:53 PM

      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement Nicole. I really appreciate it ?

  12. 25th May 2016 / 11:45 AM

    I do think you’re brave to move with 10 month old twins! We had our daughter abroad, and I think the decision to move would have been much harder if we’d had her when we made it. But, now that I see how good the experience of expat life is for our whole family, I wouldn’t change it. The first step is the hardest!

    • 25th May 2016 / 4:49 PM

      Probably a little brave and a little crazy at the same time but it has worked out brilliantly ?

  13. 26th May 2016 / 10:09 AM

    Fun to read about London from your (lovely and positive) point of view. You didn’t even mention the weather (let alone the difficulties of having young twins in tow)! We moved to East Africa pre-kids and now have 3 children (2 are teenagers!). At that point, way back when, we thought it would be a 3 year posting. I love living in Nairobi but am also beginning to yearn for being back in UK with family, old friends and exciting places in Europe to visit (with the kids) right on the doorstep but I fear that if I was there, I would get caught up in the day-to-day and would probably let those opportunities pass me by. I guess that, wherever you are, if you stay in one place for too long, then the fabulous expat ‘can do’ attitude is liable to fade.

    • 26th May 2016 / 12:48 PM

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Frances. Looks like you are well and truly settled in Africa but I can understand the yearning for Europe. We are so busy trying to make the most of things while we are here. My husband is worried we will be a little bored when we return to Australia in a few years but I am already plotting our Asian adventures. By the sounds of it, I am sure you would find adventures wherever you are. Take care

  14. 30th May 2016 / 7:48 AM

    I really enjoyed reading this! I love that you found moving abroad gave you the confidence you needed to make the career choice you wanted to! I think moving abroad definitely forces your confidence to grow!!
    Thanks for joining in with #myexpatfamily hope you enjoyed the other posts linked up too!

  15. 23rd January 2017 / 9:01 AM

    I agree with this post a lot. We are constantly in debate as to whether we’d move home to Sydney and if so when. The Husband is keen to indulge our daughter in the culture that is on offer in Europe and also want to see more of this continent whilst we are here. I am missing my friends back home and so worried that when we move back if we’ve left it too long, they’d all have moved on and have other groups that I can’t fit into. Still good to read your thoughts on the decision and see I am not alone for wanting to stay on in London a little longer.

    • 23rd January 2017 / 9:44 AM

      It’s such a tough one isn’t it? We’ve just got back from a Christmas break with family in Melbourne and Adelaide and I am struggling with this cold weather. One thing I have learnt from this experience is that your true friends will be there for you no matter what. Everyone goes through different phases in life and picks up new friends along the way whether they are abroad or not. The way I see it is that we are so lucky to have this adventure AND have the option to go home for the beautiful sunny lifestyle. Thanks for stopping by

  16. 1st February 2017 / 9:06 AM

    Hi Katy, It was nice to read your piece of mind about moving country. I understand you fully and I felt your feelings about moving from one massive continent to Britain which is a very small place compared to Australia. I have been in your shoes. I left my island country 17 years ago, one of the most beautiful tropical island in the world, my daughter was just 5 years old, and it was my marriage that took me to Britain. I left my good job which I had been doing for many years and I had been in the tourism industry all my life and I was well known to everyone on the island. Though I have been in Britain I have worked and been professional and I grew up my daughter who is now 21 years old. My daughter spent her childhood days in the Choir at church and they were a big family of kids who loved to sing. she even had a chance to learn music and she sat for two exams and awarded her music certificates. I am a proud mum since she has now graduated from university. My daughter had a lovely life with plenty of friends and a wonderful social life. I had friends from work, fantastic people, but to say the truth, I have never felt settled here in Britain. Some people say they settle well, I just imagine how. Well I have done my time in Britain and am leaving, not long before I say bye to the 17 years of lots of experiences of life. Another great new opportunity to move country have come up that I cannot let it pass me by as I love France so much and now that my girl has finished her studies, the time is now to move. I wish you good luck in Britain and hope you will keep loving your days greatly. Enjoy Britain as much as you can! Juli

    • 1st February 2017 / 9:28 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful message Juli. Expat living is certainly an up and down experience but I don’t regret our decision. Congratulations on raising your daughter who I am sure is a beautiful and confident young woman. I am very much looking forward to reading about your adventures in France

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