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Old 02-24-2015, 12:38 PM   #1
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For those who have moved abroad...

What are some of the pros and cons for moving abroad?
Do you have any regrets?
What kind of things did you take with you (furniture & other belongings)?
Did you put anything in storage (if the move was only for a few years)?
Technicalities that surprised you? I mean, in regards to things like papers you needed moving to a new country, setting up bank accts, etc.

My husband is graduating in August and is interviewing for a few positions now. During his graduate work he kept telling me how great it would be if he could find a position at this Belgian company that his advisor has contact with (they collaborate with them on their software). I thought it was just a pipe dream, but then recently his advisor pulled him aside and asked him if he'd like to accompany him (the advisor) to Paris for a tradeshow. I guess his advisor mentioned DH's interest in working at the company and they wanted to interview him in person, so after the tradeshow he'll be heading to Belgium! Pretty exciting.

I'm mostly worried about distance from family (DH's family has money to travel, but my parents are out of a job), bringing our dog, language barrier, and learning all the technicalities of living in a new place. I feel like I've just figured out how to be an adult in the US, lol.

I did take some french in college (one credit away from a minor) but it's gotten rusty. My husband speaks Italian, and he's generally pretty good at picking up languages, or at least "getting by." DH has cousins/aunts/uncles in a few nearby countries, but we only really know a few of them. I was kind of thinking that if we did move it would have to pay enough for me to fly back once a year, but our decision will be easy if they don't even offer him anything, hah.

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Old 02-24-2015, 12:40 PM   #2
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

Following. Also, I'm so jealous!!!
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:13 PM   #3
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

I have done this to three different countries and have tons of experience - I'm not American, I'm dual citizen Canadian and Irish so the tecnicalities are different but I know what to expect.
I moved with two suitcases. The next move will be different because we actually have adult furniture. I expect we will either sell everything or get a container depending on whether DH's company moves us or not.
In Belgium banks accounts shouldn't be a problem but don't go with a Swiss bank - they refuse to take American nationals at the moment. (Dh just changed banks and had to provide a sworn statement that neither he nor I am American).
What part of Belgium? In Ghent or Antwerp your French is pretty useless as the language is Dutch there - well technically Flemish. Brussels is a fantastic city and bilingual but spendy.
Other things that will surprise you are (this list is just a start - I could go on for a while)
1. You may need to buy a kitchen as many places are rented with only a sink and hookups for appliances.
2. Meat is going to be more spendy than you are used to. Decent wine and beer is cheaper - it evens out.
3. Insurance requirements will be different. Sorry I'm not with it on the Belgian system but here I need third party insurance on things I wouldn't have even thought of.
4. Don't buy euro rail or the like ahead if you intend to travel. Local deals are usually so much better.
5. It will take a long time to make friends with locals. Expect to put in a lot of work or to just hang with ex pats.
6. Homeschooling is not accepted by the vast majority of Europeans. If that is your thing you will need to seriously consider this.
7. Neither is elective non vaccination. You may need to provide international vaccination records for your kids (especially if they are school aged).
Those last two might not apply but thought I'd mention them.

Oh and get about five copies of everyone's birth certificate and your marriage certificate + notarized translation. We are going through these like water this year with dd's birth.
Feel free to pm me. I'm a font of information on the subject.

Last edited by littlewoolybaby; 02-24-2015 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:37 PM   #4
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

Quote:
Originally Posted by littlewoolybaby View Post
I have done this to three different countries and have tons of experience - I'm not American, I'm dual citizen Canadian and Irish so the tecnicalities are different but I know what to expect.
I moved with two suitcases. The next move will be different because we actually have adult furniture. I expect we will either sell everything or get a container depending on whether DH's company moves us or not.
In Belgium banks accounts shouldn't be a problem but don't go with a Swiss bank - they refuse to take American nationals at the moment. (Dh just changed banks and had to provide a sworn statement that neither he nor I am American).
What part of Belgium? In Ghent or Antwerp your French is pretty useless as the language is Dutch there - well technically Flemish. Brussels is a fantastic city and bilingual but spendy.
Other things that will surprise you are (this list is just a start - I could go on for a while)
1. You may need to buy a kitchen as many places are rented with only a sink and hookups for appliances.
2. Meat is going to be more spendy than you are used to. Decent wine and beer is cheaper - it evens out.
3. Insurance requirements will be different. Sorry I'm not with it on the Belgian system but here I need third party insurance on things I wouldn't have even thought of.
4. Don't buy euro rail or the like ahead if you intend to travel. Local deals are usually so much better.
5. It will take a long time to make friends with locals. Expect to put in a lot of work or to just hang with ex pats.
6. Homeschooling is not accepted by the vast majority of Europeans. If that is your thing you will need to seriously consider this.
7. Neither is elective non vaccination. You may need to provide international vaccination records for your kids (especially if they are school aged).
Those last two might not apply but thought I'd mention them.

Oh and get about five copies of everyone's birth certificate and your marriage certificate + notarized translation. We are going through these like water this year with dd's birth.
Feel free to pm me. I'm a font of information on the subject.
Super helpful! The bit about Swiss banks opened my eyes to some things I didn't realize: http://world.time.com/2013/12/20/swi...heir-accounts/
DH is a dual US/Swiss citizen (DS will be soon too), I wonder how these policies would apply to him.
Edit: With a little bit of research, yes it would still apply to him.

Last edited by apeeling; 02-24-2015 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:58 PM   #5
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

We lived in the UK pre- kids for 2 years. It was fabulous fun. But of course language was not an issue.

After about a year I was homesick a bit so I came home for Christmas. After realizing that absolutely nothing had changed at home, and my current adventure was way more fun, I happily went back. After 2yrs it was a bit of a 'do we stay forever or go home' type point and we decided to go home.

It sounds like an excellent adventure!
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:18 PM   #6
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

Quote:
Originally Posted by apeeling View Post
Super helpful! The bit about Swiss banks opened my eyes to some things I didn't realize: http://world.time.com/2013/12/20/swi...heir-accounts/
DH is a dual US/Swiss citizen (DS will be soon too), I wonder how these policies would apply to him.
Edit: With a little bit of research, yes it would still apply to him.
Well your DH's citizenship may be an asset but switzerland's treaties with the EU have come under question since their vote to limit European migration. But if you're planning to move shortly it probably won't be an issue until you are established.

Yup the Swiss (and frankly a lot of other Europeans) are finding the American government to be excessively invasive of late. A little more anti-American sentiment might be lurking. And since you're headed to eu land supreme (most of the eu apparatus is in Brussels) that may be a little tricky. Try not to take it personally.
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Old 02-25-2015, 07:49 AM   #7
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

We moved to thailand for 3 years. We loved it! For us the challenges were a complete culture difference. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia to have never been occupied by a western nation and has had no western difference. And at best it is a second world country. One thing to consider is that it is very expensive for companies to move people abroad. I wouldn't get your hopes up too much over this possible job opportunity in Belgium. They will likely look for a candidate in Europe due to the expense of moving someone from the U.S. from what I have seen, companies rarely hire from outside the company and move them overseas. They mostly move people who already work for them overseas. If you really want to move overseas. It would probably be easier to get hired at an American company that has holdings overseas. All that being said, I would recommend moving to another country to anyone. Especially for Americans as we do not travel outside our country because we are such a large country.
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:46 AM   #8
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

Her dh is Swiss though. That will ease the getting a job thing a lot since Switzerland has bilateral treaties with the eu regarding movement of workers. So they won't have huge immigration problems unless those treaties are overturned because of the Swiss vote on limiting eu migrants.

Now paid relocation is another kettle of fish altogether and much less likely for a new hire. Op you should look at getting a relocation agent or sending your dh over a couple months in advance to find you an apartment. Maybe both of those things. And if you aren't getting relocated, divest yourself of everything that doesn't fit in a couple of suitcases. We have ikea in Europe too.

Last edited by littlewoolybaby; 02-25-2015 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 02-25-2015, 10:09 AM   #9
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

Yeah, we'll see. I just like to have a general idea of what hurdles we'd need to cross if he did get an offer.
I wouldn't think there's much of a chance, but he does have a somewhat strong connection to the company through his advisor. The company has sent one of their employees to his school to do research with his (DH's) advisor and other phd students.

Anyway, the company is located about an hour south of Brussels, it's french speaking. If he does get an offer, a relocation agent sounds like a good idea. I've been looking at apartments there just to get an idea of how much rent would be (and how much we'd need to make for it to be worthwhile).

Even if they aren't interested in him, at least he gets a trip to Paris out of it.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:52 PM   #10
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Re: For those who have moved abroad...

Quote:
Originally Posted by apeeling View Post
Yeah, we'll see. I just like to have a general idea of what hurdles we'd need to cross if he did get an offer.
I wouldn't think there's much of a chance, but he does have a somewhat strong connection to the company through his advisor. The company has sent one of their employees to his school to do research with his (DH's) advisor and other phd students.

Anyway, the company is located about an hour south of Brussels, it's french speaking. If he does get an offer, a relocation agent sounds like a good idea. I've been looking at apartments there just to get an idea of how much rent would be (and how much we'd need to make for it to be worthwhile).

Even if they aren't interested in him, at least he gets a trip to Paris out of it.
Still sounds promising. Anyways when checking out apartments just be aware that they are categorized differently than in North America. I'm pretty sure it's the same in Belgium as in France - a three room apartment is not a three bedroom, every room but the kitchen and bathroom is counted so a three room ( trois pièces - t3) apartment is usually a two bedroom. In Switzerland they count the kitchen as well so a three room apartment is actually a one bedroom. Also do not be alarmed if the apartment doesn't seem to have a toilet. In French speaking places they are usually on their own in a little closet with a tiny sink and usually not pictured in the advertisements.

Oh and be sure to check the sqm of the rooms (these are usually listed). The French are cozy marital sleepers - the typical couple bed is 140cm or about the size of a double and the bedrooms are usually in proportion. Also no closets. We use armoires and they do take a bit of floor space.

Also Liège?

Last edited by littlewoolybaby; 02-25-2015 at 01:19 PM.
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