Thanks for all the input and great questions! I will continue to think out loud here & share a few more details.
-at this point we are considering a temporary relocation only 1-2 years max, after which would either a) return to our current town or b) move closer to our family in a different town.
-I would be looking to be a SAHP and to continue to build my writing, blogging, freelancing and possibly consulting in my field etc. I doubt very much that there would be other job opportunities in this area, though I could be wrong. But I'm okay with that.
-I can get a leave from my job for up to 5 years that would allow me to return later. In terms of being able to find a job when I return, to be honest, I haven't looked in any serious way for a different job over the last 9 years, mostly because I've been reaping the benefits of mat leave, medical benefits etc. for my family and have only just now been in a position to really want to look around. But I also find it very hard psychologically to make that leap, so I think this would really help--I don't plan to return. Also, there are many opportunities for consulting with my job, and this is something I could do from any location. I am basically looking to make a complete career change, so I don't think this is a bad way to launch that. Also, as we are homeschooling, we plan on having one of us home for a while.
-In terms of special needs, this is something we need to consider. We are all physically healthy, but have recently been looking into counselling for dd1 for anxiety, and speech therapy for dd2, both of which are much more available where we live now, so we would need to think about whether we were willing to put off getting help.
-We will get financial support for moving, professional movers to help us pack & move, shipping for our groceries, and internet is paid for by the employer. Housing is also provided at no cost. The employer would also cover 3 trips home per year to visit family. We do use skype already, though we would want to use it more, I think! So if we were to sell or rent our current home, we would be able to save quite a bit of money each year that we were there.
-We have not visited the community....if we decide to do this in a year or two, we could visit our friends first, which I think would be good for us as well as for our kids to have an idea of what we are thinking about & to get a better sense of what it is we are considering....
-In terms of local politics this is a great question. Also we are a same-sex couple which could potentially present added challenges. Overall my sense is that this is not likely to be a major issue given that we will already be outsiders to the culture etc. According to our friends there is a close-knit network among teachers that come from the South....but hard to know about this really, and it is an excellent point.
-The school board that we are looking into serves 8 different (all very remote) communities. We are leaning heavily towards community N, and here's why: Our neighbours, who are also good friends, and who also have a 5 yo daughter, are heading there this year. The wife of their family would be the VP of a local school. They have told us a lot about community N and what it would be like for kids, what it is like to live in etc. We understand that our kids would be able to attend school part-time for things like First Nations language & culture studies, phys ed. etc. It's a very small school with only 200 pupils in grades K-11. But of course job opportunities are less in this community too. Another community, community W, is the home community of my neighbour's spouse and has many other attractive features as well, so we might consider that as a
2nd option--it is much bigger, but also even further away (though at this point that doesn't seem like it would really matter).
Wow this is a novel! But helpful for me in terms of thinking things through
Another question for us is timing, though we don't have all the details. If something is available for next school year, should we take it? That would mean moving in July...yikes! Or we could wait until the following year which would give us a lot more time to move and deal with stuff before we relocate.
Yes I agree with relocation being easier when kids are young....we would only consider this opportunity while our kids are 10 & under.
Thanks for the help & insightful questions