Originally Posted by NoliMum
Anumaria, where do you live? Can you describe your daily life? What is different about your country vs. the States? I am interested in the view from abroad!
Sure.... I am in Finland.
First, here is why I questioned you:
When a person moves, they first see the beautiful buildings, scenery, interesting people, etc. Everything is fascinating and even the negative things seem exotic and can be overlooked. This lasts for some months and then it becomes everyday life: Work, cooking, cleaning, sleep, etc. Oftentimes after the "honeymoon" of the first couple of monts one notices that the everyday life is actually much worse in the new place because the things that one had taken for granted (knowing what to buy in a grocery store, how to pay for a bus, etc.) take tons of time and even more energy. Also, one may realize he has no idea how the people around really think... things just seem... well... FOREIGN.
If one speaks the local language well, that helps, even though it may make it even clearer that people can share a language and yet, really, speak different languages. Then, on top of everything else, there is no family around and it often takes a long time to make real friends. Thus I never ever recommend to anyone to think that living somewhere else is better. I think a happy person is happy just about anywhere and a restless one will remain restless...
But to answer your question. I have read it here before: I live in paradise... Maternity leave is long, (many stay at home for close to a year or even much longer) the mother gets some money for staying at home with the child until the child turns 2 and a smaller amount until 3. The state pays a large part of the child care, so the poorest families pay nothing, etc. No health insurance is needed and it costs next to nothing to see a doctor (although there is also a private system for those who want it). The school system is supposed to be excellent. So... a very safe place to live in in many ways. I have read here how people think that all this equals a child friendly country and some have even discussed immigrating just because of that. (To Sweden, our neighbor, at least.)
So.. while all that is true, here is the other side: Some things cannot be seen or considered by reading laws... People here are very much "This is how it has always been and anyone thinking differently is crazy and strange." Strangers seldom talk to each other and smiling seems to be forbidden. Children seem to be considered great burdens. While there is a lot of cloth diapering and quite a bit of baby wearing, the idea of being nice to one's child has not reach this country, yet. (I am exaggerating, of course.)
The foreigners I know here are often times not doing well. Partly it is the country and its difficult language, partly I think false expectations. It simply is not easy or simple to move away from what you know to something different, leaving behind friends and family. (And you don't even need to like your extended family to feel this loss of the people who share your history.)
My dh is doing ok here, partly because he is really talented with languages and has lived in many countries. However, he would be the first one to tell North Americans to get a reality check before moving to Europe. There are some for whom it is a great thing but we have met many sad cases. My whole point is to have realistic expectations... I don't think the US is the greatest country on earth. To be honest, I just don't think any country can claim to be such. There are good and bad things everywhere but, in the end, people everywhere live their boring, little everyday lives.
This is the problem...Just an example:
country x (being where the person lives) gets 0 points
country z (imaginary country where the person wants to move) gets:
+ 2 for health care
+ 1 for employment opportunities
+ 2 for culture that seems to value families and children
+1 kids become bilinqual
- 1 for being so far from where the relatives are
- 4 for the foreign language and culture (This may get better or worse for the person as time goes on)
-2 kids may end up not knowing where they want to live in the future and always feel a bit in between two cultures
Of course this is just an example but here the person would be trading 0 for -1. The person would gain a lot of things he values but would have losses he possibly never saw coming. In the end, he would be in a new place, loving some things while hating some, and wondering what to do and why he had put himself in this position to begin with. By the time he might decide to move back, he would be stuck because his retirement money would be coming from the new place and he could not afford to move. (We know a case like this... really sad!)
And so on, and so on... Gain some and lose some.
But... maybe there are people here who disagree with me.
It is one thing to move when young and quite another when there are children involved. It is not all that fun to have a parent (even worse if it is both) who are more or less outsiders in the new culture, somewhat so even after years and years in the new place.
I could go on and on. Just saying that a heavy dose of realism is needed if one ponders such a move. The feelings only last a couple of months. After that, real reasons are needed.
Our family is here in Finland... for now. We are loving having escaped the US medical system (hated our health insurance) and some of the things in the culture (like how everything on tv has to be over the top). BUT... there are also things we miss. Likewise, there are things we really value here and some that make us talk about moving... somewhere...
So, if you find that perfect place, in reality, not just on paper, please let us know.