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post #81 of 94
I left the US in 1994 after becoming disillusioned with the US, its government, and its policies (foreign and domestic). I studied in Paris, France, worked there for a few years, lived and worked in the UK for one year, then went to Germany where I lived for 10 years (met dh there and my two kids were born there).
I do believe the grass is truly greener on the other side. It's easier to see the benefits of another country when you're not living in it. When we do live in a country we tend to see a lot of the disadvantages.
France and Germany have decent health care and educational systems, but their social mobility and access to real estate it impossible. In Germany dh made a higher than average salary, and we were very frugal with our money. But we still would have had to wait years before buying a house (and paying through the nose). In France it's the same. In Europe we were living in tiny apartments, with not too many extras. As the cost of health care rises and the level of education sinks in these countries, we really asked ourselves what as important to us.
Our conclusion: education, access to education, and buying our own house (as a sort of social security in our old age). After doing much research into various European (we both have European passports so could have moved to any other EU country) and 'Western' countries (the ones who have immigration policies - US, Canada, Australia and NZ) we decided our top two were NZ and Canada. In the end Canada won out because a) dh is European and flights between Canada and Europe are less expensive b) Canada (Quebec) is multilingual - like our family c) it was easier for us to become permanent residents there because of our French nationality
We have only been here for six months, and it has been a very difficult six months. We left behind all of our close friends, family, sold our furniture, and embarked on a Canadian adventure. The winters is pretty cold, the banks disorganised (compared to Germany) and often we are so homesick for Germany/France. We are very slowly starting to call this place home, and we hope that within the next year we will be able to buy a place of our own.
One of the lessons I have learned these past 6 months is that sometimes you are so focused on going somewhere else and leaving, that you don't focus on the good things (and those good things are what you miss the most when you do leave).
After living in 5 countries, I can only say there are always benefits and drawbacks to every country. You don't have to move somewhere indefinitely to be able to enjoy a country or region. A vacation, a 3 month or 6 month stint doing something (like learning a language) can help you appreciate your home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoliMum View Post
No, it wasn't about leaving in protest originally. The conversation just went onto that tangent.

I am really enjoying this discussion, and I'm learning a lot.

Those of you who have left the States for similar reasons to mine, where are you living and why?

Any suggestions for countries I should research?
post #82 of 94
I agree with Hollycrand above. I have lived in Scotland, Japan, Korea, Hawaii (not a foreign country, but in some ways like one)...we just moved to Japan again with our 3-month old son last November. This is my fifth year living here, off and on, and I love it. That said, it is a totally different experience with a baby. I feel the isolation acutely. People run up to my son and touch him because he is so exotic looking to them. I speak the language, but it is not the same as speaking my mother tongue. Customs are different; people assume (rightly) that we are different...it can be hard to break the ice (though the baby does help a lot). Living abroad is something I'd recommend to everyone for so many reasons. But now that I have a child, I am more homesick than I've ever been. I have to figure out how to raise a baby in a place where I am unfamiliar with the baby-related resources, which is fun and interesting, but also time-consuming and difficult. I want to hang out with other mothers with my cultural background as well as Japanese mothers. I want to show my child my world, but I am not in my (native) world. (Perhaps it doesn't exist anymore, anyway. Nostalgia is a funny thing.) I want my child to play with both western and Japanese kids, but it is hard to find western children where we are. I don't want him to be an outsider if he doesn't need to be. I don't want him to observe me as I navigate this society culturally and linguistically incompetent (relatively speaking). I want him to learn how to be in the world without observing my uncertainties about being in this world, which one will always have as a foreigner. His father is European, so we already have two languages at home. The ambient language (Japanese) is a third. I want his dominant languages to me mine and my husband's...it is how we understand and organize our world and worldview. Granted, in a very cosmopolitan city, we could find a great international community, which would make these challenges moot, but Kyoto, as UNESCO-wonderful as it is, is not so cosmopolitan. Tokyo or Osaka would be better in that regard, though Kyoto has more nature. It is a great experience being here--I am soaking up every minute because we are also not here permanently. I know this opportunity, while irrelevant to our son a this point (except perhaps the fish soup they make for babies and he, surprisingly loves--they say breast milk has the same savoriness as Japanese fish soup stock, perhaps that's why--the things you learn!), would enrich his life if we were to stay for several years. But there is always a price, and I'm very aware that his babyhood is just once, and short. Anyway, I could write a book on my thoughts and feelings about this. I am just pointing out some of the challenges I have already encountered moving abroad with a child. Anyway, in short, it sounds as if you might be looking for kindred spirits, and you don't necessarily need to move abroad to find them.
post #83 of 94
Thread Starter 
jessie_bird and Hollycrand, thank you for your wonderful insight.

jessie_bird, I found this great blog about an American family living in Japan. I could sit and read about it for hours...
post #84 of 94
I posted a while back about being in Qatar and living the life you want to leave! We have now left!! Yay.

Just went through this thread again and you mentioned that you are a teacher or studying to be a teacher. There are a ton of opportunities for teachers abroad from English language to international schools. You may be surprised what's out there as you research. You can choose a school/society that you want to live in for a spell.

This thread has been an interesting read for me. I've basically been living abroad since 97--Japan, Kuwait, Algeria, Vietnam, Qatar, and intermittently France, where my DH is from. Plus I spent the bulk of my early childhood in Japan.

My two favourite countries are Japan and France because I can walk everywhere, at least where I lived/stayed. You do not need a car. Just being able to walk (or take public transit easily), I feel like my lifestyle is just so much healthier as a result. Not just physically, but mentally too. I love all the local shops, the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers.That's just my opinion, of course, but it's one of the main reasons I've loved living abroad and while I love Canada too, in most places, you really do need a car. Sadly.

Unless you live in Toronto.

(Vietnam is pretty amazing too. The food alone.)
post #85 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dongurigal View Post
I posted a while back about being in Qatar and living the life you want to leave! We have now left!! Yay.

Just went through this thread again and you mentioned that you are a teacher or studying to be a teacher. There are a ton of opportunities for teachers abroad from English language to international schools. You may be surprised what's out there as you research. You can choose a school/society that you want to live in for a spell.

This thread has been an interesting read for me. I've basically been living abroad since 97--Japan, Kuwait, Algeria, Vietnam, Qatar, and intermittently France, where my DH is from. Plus I spent the bulk of my early childhood in Japan.

My two favourite countries are Japan and France because I can walk everywhere, at least where I lived/stayed. You do not need a car. Just being able to walk (or take public transit easily), I feel like my lifestyle is just so much healthier as a result. Not just physically, but mentally too. I love all the local shops, the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers.That's just my opinion, of course, but it's one of the main reasons I've loved living abroad and while I love Canada too, in most places, you really do need a car. Sadly.

Unless you live in Toronto.

(Vietnam is pretty amazing too. The food alone.)
I read your blog and saw the pictures of Doha. I am so happy for you that you got to leave the depressing place!! So happy for your baby that she can grow up somewhere else! :

A friend of mine lived in Italy for a month to study abroad, and she said they walked everywhere and it was amazing. She said she could feel her legs strengthening day by day, and she loved being outside so much. She was living in Firenze.

My DP mentioned moving to Denton, TX, about an hour north of DFW where we are currently. It's a somewhat liberal college town. Hey, baby steps right??
post #86 of 94

very interesting thread

Well, I will share some of my thoughts on this topic.
I'll start describing my daily normal life in Germany to you:

I live in southern Germany in a relatively small city 110.000 inhabitants. There is a university a few hospitals a mayor train station and direct access to the motorway.
Working 40 hours a week + extra hours in an office job I leave the house at 7.20 to be in work around 8.10 am. 5 min walk to the bus stop, changing to a tram then bus again.
The monthly ticket costs about 40 Euros.
Leaving work around 5 p.m I take the bus back to the city center where I can shop in several supermarkets (some cheaper than others) or pass by the bakery or butchers. Sometimes I stop to go to the library, it is open until 6.30 pm.

I live in a rented flat with my husband (2 bedrooms, one livingroom, bathroom, separate toilet plus kitchen) The rent is about 750 Euro including some payment for administration, gardener, waste etc.
The building has some room below the roof to line dry your clothes.
We need to separate all our waste: glass and paper go into containers which you would find at some street corners. Biological waste goes into special bins plastic into plastic bags which are collected once every two weeks.

There is one drive through fast food restaurant that I know of.
There are some italian restaurants, greece and turkish ones too, plus the "German" restaurants offering local cuisine. (google for pictures of "bayerisches essen" or "schwäbisches essen")

There is an adult education centre where you can take language courses or computer courses for a relatively low price. (I took one last year)

There are a lot of kindergartens around, but they are pricy. The price depends on your income. My household income is above average and I would need to pay roughly 500 Euro a month for full-time child care for a child younger than 3 years.

Health insurance costs also depend on your income. A percentage of your wage is deducted and automatically transferred to your health insurance. If you are employed you need to have health insurance. You can not opt out.
If you are unemployed your health insurance cost is covered by your unemployement benefits. You are entitled to those if you have been working for a certain amount of time (cant remember how many months).
Your unemployment benefit is roughly 60 % of your former net income per month.

If you have given birth to a child, you are entitled to state benefits for the first year. This is up to 1.800 E or 60 something % of your net income per month.

It is rather difficult to find child care if your child is very young. Even if older it is difficult to find places in Kindergartens. Long waiting lists!

I prefer to buy DVDs instead of going to the cinema, because the city is too small there are no original language showings unless it is some kind of special showing of a particular movie, maybe once every 3 months.

It is compulsary to send your child to school. School begins at the age of 6 or 5 and goes on until 19; 12 or 13 years of schooling in total -there have been changes and I am not up to date with them.
When wanting to be able to go to university a pupil has to finish these 12 or 13 years. Two foreign languages studied are compulsory too at least for some years.
University is generally free of fees, but some fees have been introduced as costs are high and the state wants to fill the gap.

We dont have a car. In fact I dont even hold a drivers licence - I have never needed it in my life. (It would have been nice some times, but it was never vital)
I take the train whenever I need to go somewhere in Germany, but also took the train to go to Paris.
Going to Spain I take the plane and the train to get to the airport.

My husband is Spanish and works with an international company here. He does not need to speak German in work, outside his work place most people speak to him in German and he understands some and also speaks some.
This is not a problem, I help him with phonecalls to the doctor or insurance companies, tax authority ...

We live in Germany because at this time in life it suits us most. My family does not live close by. If he were in Spain he would most likely live far away from his family because in their region there are no jobs for people like him.
He gets paid a lot better in Germany and I get paid better here too.

Regarding property, your own house or flat (which is more frequent in Spain) yes prices are high in Germany, as already mentioned, but financial experts have been pointing out that prices for flats in Germany are not overpriced as they are in other countries. It is not cheap to buy, but there is always the option to rent. A lot of people do it and there is a great supply of nice, high quality houses and flats for rent (www.immoscout24.de)
You are not being looked at as strange or weird if you rent the same place for lets say 10 years or longer.
For people who are not so fortunate to have a good job or who are unemployed this does not look all so nice. But this is the same in every country or place.

There is an open air food market every wednesday and saturday: fruit, vegetables, honey, bread, meat, cheese, flowers, some local product others imported (the oranges for example are of course imported)
I go there nearly every saturday. Opening times of shops: Monday to Friday: 7.30 - 10.00 pm or an earlier closing time. Backeries or butchers close around 6-7 pm.
Saturday: 10 - 18 for shopping centers and pharmacies for example.
Sunday: everything is closed, execept some backers and restaurants
Something interesting perhaps, contraception is free for all girls below the age of 18. They need health insurance too though, which they normally have trough their working parents at no extra cost.
For example on working parent pays x Euros which depends on his or her income, a stay-at-home spouse is insured and their children too at no extra cost. Dental care is included.
(If you want something special done, like bleaching or special cleaning of teeth you pay yourself)

It is very quiet here and I feel very safe. It is very very uncommon that men would shout or say something to a woman on the street. (If dressed normally I would like to add...)

Friendliness of shop assistants varies greatly. Some are very helpful other not at all. Service is not always the best nor do people expect it to be.

If you want to move abroad do your homework, do a lot of research to find out if this place is the best for you at this point in your life.

I have been living in Germany where I was born and raised, I also spent a year in France as a teenager and spent more than 4 years in Ireland. I also spent a year in Spain.
The most important thing I found was the language. Once you know how to communicate you will understand and start relating to the "new" place. Another important thing is not to be to judgemental; try to focus on the diffences withouth saying this is better or worse.
Enjoy yourself, try new things and if you want to stick to your ways of doing it, do it like that. There is no obligation to completely assimilate, nor do people expect you to do it. (Well, at least they should not!)

Regarding the comment on immigration and "they will never see you as a Turk, German or Dutch" I guess this is true, but do you really want to become a Turk, German or Dutch?
Do you not prefer to be the American who (permanently) lives in Turkey, Germany or the Netherlands? - - Just a question.
I just wanted to say that because, having lived abroad I have found it difficult not to be allowed to vote and to participate fully in politics. But I have not experienced a certain you-do-not-belong-to-us attitude. I found people to be rather charming and interested in me because I was foreign. But again I think the language skills help a lot here.

If you have the possibility to make your dream true, then do it. Any decision does not need to be forever, you can always go back. Plus you have funny stories about wacky foreigners...

I found all the postings in this thread very interesting, a lot of insights into other peoples culture!
post #87 of 94
but alas. i have to live here so that she is not away from her dad with whom i share joint custody.

This is my situation exactly. My dh is Swiss and we both long to live in Europe again (did once - me part time - for six months in France) or Hawaii! The town I live is pretty great and there are plenty of French speakers here, but it's just not the same when you feel trapped because you don't have a choice.

Oh, and I just don't think so, I *know* the US isn't the "greatest country in the world". Anyway, the title is way too subjective!
post #88 of 94
I am so ready to move to Lebanon.

I went there for 1 month back in april, and well it was soo different and I had to think can I live with noo power for 6 hrs a day, No water pressure, and No A/C when hot out side and noo HEAT when cold outside, line drying clothes.

Then I walked outside on my MIL padio while drinking hot tea and saw the view of the sea and bright blue sky the kids in the street playing soccor hitting cars with soccor balls and laughing, the moms yelling from the windows at the kids, and the taxi drivers honking every 5 secs just cause you are walking and they think you need a ride lol and also the masjid calling you to prayer at every prayer and how loving and peaceful it is. sitting outside was like time has stopped slowed down and made you really think about things.

Having family and friends over everyday was great I never sat at home by my self their was always someone to talk to, someone for my son to play with.

The best was life was slower, noo rushing tiring to get out the door or being late to something.

So yeah I am ready to move to Lebanon I want to be with family, I want to live a slower way of life, I want to sit on my MIL padio was drinking coffee and reading a book while looking at the sea and all of Saida(the city they live in).

In America I sit at home all day by myself with my kids, no one to talk to, I call my husband all the time waiting for him to come home from work so I can talk to him. He is also ready to move back to be with his family.
post #89 of 94

Been There, Done That...

This is my first post ever on this forum and wanted to share my experience...

I moved to Belize when I was 19, fell in love, and got married...I lived in Belize on and off until my husband's visa got through, at which point we moved to San Francisco. We've now been living in San Francisco for nearly 3 years and are expecting our first baby, a boy, in June...

We had ALWAYS planned to move back to Belize and wanted to have a child in the US before we moved...everything was going according to our "plan", our "dream", of building this huge eco-center/farm in Belize and "living off the land"...well, unless you have a massive trust fund, all of that requires MONEY, hence the move to the US...fast forward to 2009...our most recent trip to Belize was just over a month ago...i typically love everything about belize and just get swept up in the beauty, even though I have LIVED there and seen the darker side of paradise...this time, however, perhaps just by being pregnant, things were different and my little plot of escape as an ex-pat came crumbling down... reality set in... beautiful belize is one thing, then there is the alcoholism, the violence (6 people we personally knew were murdered in 2008 alone and the murder rate has surpassed that of oakland, california), the abuse of women and male domination, the lack of opportunity, the corruption, getting robbed at 1am in our hotel room...i suddenly had this looming feeling that if my baby was a boy, he would grow up with majority bad influenced and a negative perception of how to treat women and if my baby was a girl, she would grow up and have slim pickings to choose from, in terms of Belizean men...this is REALITY...at least in the US it's the upper government and corportations that are corrupt, but in places like these, anyone in any position of power (judges, police officers, etc.) or even the average citizen, can be paid off and things can get swept under the rug...after these 5 years back and forth to belize i have really come to appreciate the United States and to those who feel so un-free, I really do encourage you to LIVE in a third-world country, not just go on a vacation there...I feel so lucky reality set in for me before we packed our bags and made the permanent move... it has been really hard for my husband to deal with my decision, as I am "the one" who ruined our dreams in belize (lol), I'm the controlling one I suppose, but he is slowly getting used to the idea of living permanently in the US... I've already told him that we can still do our eco-center idea, it's just that we need to move out-of-state, like to texas or oregon if we want to buy land (forget california).

I really hope my experiences provide some perspective...and life does not have to be the everyday boring grind, as you speak of...just because you are settled, with a home, doesn't mean you cannot travel or get creative with your choices of jobs that allow for maximum flexibility...by age 10 I had been to so many countries around the world, but was never spoiled with material crap. Trust me, I am a wild one, being a DJ by age 14, finding myself at burning man every year by age 15 and roaming the world...somewhere in there I completed a Bachelor's degree and got married and am having a baby...there have been times where my life seems SOOOO damn "Settled" compared to my crazy days, but then I realize that I can create my own craziness within my settled life, even if it means taking a hike 10 minutes away instead of taking a 4 hour drive north and camping our...or even if it means writing in my journal and drawing the passion and creativity out of myself without those outside inspirations...i hope this makes sense...
post #90 of 94
After nearly 15 years in Europe I dream of living in the States (it's a feeling that's been growing steadily the past couple of years).
There are always going to be trade-offs wherever you live and I, too, spend more time than I'd like on household chores--that's the same everywhere I would think. Kids get corralled and worse at schools here too. My DS has never been to school, it's not like the schools are so much better here.

edited after rereading: I hope your DP will at least agree to some travelling. It sounds like you could use a change of scenery.
post #91 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamato3wild ponnie View Post
We left the states about a year ago...my DP was forced to leave.. d/t immigration laws in the US. We are living in MX..his home country..it's far from exotic and wonderful. You've really got to work hard to make a living here. We would like to go to Europe to give our children a better life then here in MX. It's not that bad in MX...it's just very very different than the states. Tons of poverty every where you look. The way of life is about 40 years behind the states. We buy everything we need in the states..except food of course. You just cant find what you need, at least not in this city. The infrastructure is horrible. A 45 min drive will take about 2 hours..here the roads are not kept up...pot holes everywhere...speed bumps for speed control. It's a different world here. No noise ordiance...people are so loud with there stereo's and the tortilla car that come by at 5:30 am yelling ahyyy..tortillaaaaaa. OMG it's taken awhile for me to get used to life here.
OK enough complaining...just my 2 cents on the idea.
sounds pretty much like india, but replace tortillaaaaa w/sari....Alot of other countries have it way harder than the US, after visiting india, I know that this is My home...Just like we in the usa fantasize about "exotic" places, there are plenty that would trade places with us. There are many things i would like to see different here, but that doesn't change the fact that this is where i belong...
post #92 of 94
i'm not sure if my post belongs here or not.

my husband and i are considering moving to NZ--for both our careers and our family life to improve (well, the three of us anyway, as we would be leaving extended family behind).

this is not because we do not love the US. there are many great things about the US that we love. and, we found that many of those things exist in NZ too, as well as things that would be better for our careers.

we visited NZ two years ago. we really enjoyed it and made a lot of friends (with whom we are still in contact nearly every day!).

in order for our careers to move forward, we feel lthat we have two options: NZ or Los Angeles. for whatever reason, we "feel" that NZ would be better for us because there are more career opportunities and the lifestyle in NZ is similar to ours--we just feel we would have a better quality of life there than in LA.

but, it is a BIG move. has anyone just decided that another place would be right for them and moved? how did you come to the ultimate decision to do it? how did it work out?

thanks!
post #93 of 94
zoebird,

We did! Dh is European, and I had been living in Europe for 15 years, but we felt as if we had hit a brick wall. We did a lot of research into immigration to other countries - NZ was our first choice but we couldn't afford to travel there from Germany - 4000 EUR just for plane fare for all four of us was too much. Without a job offer, it was a toss up as to whether we would have qualified for a working visa, so we decided to go to Canada (closer to both families, dh has a sister living in NY, we both have French nationality). Québec, to be more specific.
All of our moving preparations, finding accomodations (we got really lucky), and reading as much material we could get our hands on before leaving, did not prepare us for the emotional challenges we faced the first few months being here. We have now been here about 7 months and are starting to grow tiny roots. I don't want to hijack this thread, but please feel free to PM me and I can tell you more about our adventures. We've had some fabulous experiences as well, and we are pretty satisfied with our big decision.
post #94 of 94
Zoe, I think you might want to post separately and also in Finding Your Tribe because you would be more interested in NZ-specific advice...
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