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Family of 4 considering living abroad for 1 or 2 years. Advice?

Family of 4 considering living abroad for 1 or 2 years. Advice?

Old Sep 11th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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Re your budget.... There was article in an Australian newspaper recently looking at Australians retiring abroad to make their fixed incomes stretch further. By and large, Asia was seen as the economical destination, but Barcelona and Marseille were the 2 cities discussed in Europe. Both European cities were considerably more expensive than the Asian options. Unfortunately I cannot find a link to the article, but the following article is along the same lines and gives some accommodation costs in Asia. You may find it interesting reading even though you are far from being retirees. http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/carr...818-3dv6x.html
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 04:42 PM
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I think to start with you hae to do a lot more owrk on two issues:

Obtaining permission to live in europe. You don;t need a visa as a tourist for less than 90 days (6 months for UK) and getting student visas is easy. Some countries have made "retirement" visas fairly routine (but the applicants must prove they have income to live on without working in europe as well as that they have full health coverage). But for a working family to get permission to move to europe and work there is extremely difficult. I won;t say impossible - but it's close. And getting around the "working there" can be very difficult due to different banking laws that will track the source of your income.

Frankly I'm not sure where you got the idea that living in europe is cheaper than the US. It can be - in some countries, especially in central europe - but in most places it costs more than the US - a lot more than in a small town. I think you are very seriously underestimating the costs in europe. A family apartment for $500 per month would likely be in the back of beyond (not sure where you live in the US - but here is NYC $500 a month pays only for a garage - and major cities in europe won;t be different). You would have to assume cost at least 1/3 higher than in the US and a standard of living that is very different - smaller houses, smaller cars, public transit versus cars - and buying your own health insurance (which for a family would be quite expensive). I know you say public transit - but again, that is cities. Out in the boonies getting around without a car can be difficult and time consuming. Also - have you thought about the cost of schooling (are you just going to dump kids in a school run in another language - or pay for very expensive private schools in English?)

As for languages - tourists can get by with little but English, But to live in another ocuntry - esp not in the major tourist area (which would be very expensive) you will need at least a working knowledge of whatever to start with.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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Not the same situation that you are in, but I worked for a large international company and they gave me a 30% cost-of-living salary increase and many other perks to take a 2 year assignment in the UK. It was a great personal experience.

For your situation I would recommend Zagreb. I have only visited there, but it struck me as a nice place to live.I have family there so I know more about Croatia than the average tourist. It is EU but not Schengen.

The following videos pretty much describe the place.

Overview, Language, Housing, Public Transportation, International Schools, Safety, Medical Centers, The Croatian Language, Shopping, and A Family Moves To Croatia.










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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 05:43 PM
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Tom the Tank...my suggestion is to re-think the entire idea from scratch and then re-think again and again. I have met dozens of expats in my rather comprehensive travel. I can only think of the several families where on their back burner, America sits there beckoning. Maybe do some 30-day stays for the better part of a year to get the feel. The suggestions you receive on this forum are well thought out and come from broad experiences.

On the other hand, going ahead without any serious further heavy planning will have you singing God Bless America three times a day on some park bench in Athens.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 06:45 PM
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Anxious to see the replies. my wife and I have similar aspirations.

I had set a $3000 a month budget and thought it was low (for 2 of us).

Great post!
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 06:51 PM
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I would consider Croatia as a good opportunity. Dugi has given you a great start.

We considered moving to France a couple years ago, and fell in love with Languedoc-Roussillon. We spent the month of November there, because it was NOT tourist season, and we spent a good deal of time checking out different cities and towns for long-term. One of the reasons we liked the area was that there were a lot of young families and life looked quite appealing beyond just the charming tourist pictures you get on vacations. That would mean Schengen mastery, but it could be worth it.

Toulouse is a nice sized city, with a lot to offer. Beziers, Montpellier, and Perpignan are also lovely cities. For the region in general, http://www.golanguedoc.com can give you an idea of rental costs for "long term" lets. Through those, you can find language classes or tutors for adults. If a town had an English language bookstore, it usually meant you could find other English language speakers. Children seem to be able to pick up language very quickly.

You can get to a lot of places from this area via trains and buses, which is super. We felt that we would need a car in order to really enjoy it, but then if you are there long term, you can always just rent a car to take off for a week, if you want to do something that requires a car. If you want to live without a car, you might want to be near a larger city, although there are buses between towns.

This looks like a decent place to start research for France: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/lis...n_france.shtml
Have fun with your research!
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 07:00 PM
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Do you work from home now? How much space do you currently have? You mentioned 3-4 rooms and you need only a laptop for work. Bedrooms tend to be small and if you are working 4-5 days a week with at least one little one around, you need some place for a bit of privacy, so I could not see less than two bedrooms, one for the kids and one for privacy for work.

Do you have a house now? Perhaps rent it out furnished to save cost of storing of stuff.

If your cost of living is $5000 a month now, try living on half of that for awhile here in the states. See how it works for you.

As others have said, a small cheaper village would require a car. Places with good public transport will be more costly.

Look online at some rentals to get a grip on housing costs.

When renting a tiny place you will acquire less stuff, but with two very little kids, you will want to have parks and play areas for the kids within walking distance for your wife. You might need to hire sitters once in a while because without much outside support or interaction, things can get tiresome for your wife.

Will you really need AC and the associated costs? Depends on where you go. If you need a car, will you do a lease, buy back? Will you pay more and stick with places that have easy public transport?

Strongly advise you consider a short term (even just 1-2 months) rental someplace to get a taste of such a move.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 09:08 PM
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Folks, I think you can let up now on your barrage of facts and grim realities. I bellieve that Thomas the Tank Engine has choo-chooed back to the roundhouse and will not return.
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 11:51 PM
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If you can invest in property it will be easier to obtain a visa.

If your children are small, they can attend the local schools, even if they don't know the language yet. Do get them started on learning that language now, so that they will not be completely at a loss.

Talking about Belgium; I know plenty of expats who have not learned to speak French or Flemish. But of course it is better to learn the language. International Schools in Belgium will set you back 15.000 euros or more per year. Local schools are almost free (a few hundred euros/year in costs) and have an excellent standards. Children from 2,5 years can attend preschool, and it costs next to nothing - but you will have to be registered as living in Belgium. And pay taxes in Belgium if you have any income.

Belgium has good transportation links, even in smaller villages there will be a bus service. It's safe, as is anywhere in Europe. Probably safer than where you are living right now.

If you can do this, and manage to sort out a long stay visa, then go for it. It would be a great experience for the kids and you.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 12:45 AM
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I'd look at central/southern Europe, ie Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia (which has a reasonable standard of living). Also study corruption indecis before you jump.

I'd also check out your history, are you by any chance a decendant of people from these countries as that might help with the visa requirement.

A small number of UK citizens have moved to these countries and found that with hardwork they could fit in.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 01:13 AM
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As an expat living in Germany, I think everyone here touched on the points that I would have mentioned.

That being said, I still want to highlight a few points:

Although I cannot stress enough the school issue. International schools are expensive (18k Euro per year per kid in my area) and local schools will require fluency. I have coworkers who are native English speakers who put their young children into school and to say that they struggled and had issues would be an understatement.

While living and working in Europe you will have to pay taxes in the country you are living in and to the U.S. There really is no way around this. Fortunately, most European countries have a reciprocity with the U.S. when it comes to taxes so that you don't "pay twice" on your taxes. You will want to talk to a company like Ernst & Young or PWC that has experience in doing taxes for expats. I can tell you that it won't be pretty.

Health insurance. You're gonna need it. Be prepared to be bent over the barrel for coverage that will actually be decent.

I'd seriously rethink your budget. Is that $500/month figure cold rent or does it factor in utilities?

<i>Neither of us speak any other languages, and it could give us a good taste of other cultures before trying something a little more "adventurous."</i>

If you don't speak anything other than English, living in the "cheaper" places in Europe is definitely going to be "adventurous".
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 09:28 AM
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I think that budget is extremely unrealisitic and many things in Europe cost more than the US. SO if one is spending so much in the US, I don't see how one could suddenly become so frugal.

All I know is on HGTV House Hunters Internatl, apts are almost always more expensive than in the US, even in cities that are not as big and expensive as Paris.

So if you stayed in a real cheap place like Croatia, maybe it would work. I don't know Croatia prices, but if you don't speak any language, might as well go to a place where foreigners usually don't speak it, I guess. But this just doesn't make sense to me, most people who move to Europe and know nothing about it go to a country they've visited and just loved and they have a reason to go there (cultural, family whatever). I can't see going someplace just because it is cheap.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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The first thing you have to settle is the visa issue. The second, your unrealistic budget.

Concerning your alternative idea of "hopping around" in and out of Schengen zone - how do you intend to deal with the school issue? A new school and new language for your child every 3 months? This will not work.

Not sure what you mean by "preschool" age. But take into account that homeschooling is not legal in many European states, in case you considered doing that.

As soon as you have selected a destination, start learning the language - all of you. You will need it.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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You also need to consider health insurance. With young children you will need insurance of some sort. You may not qualify for the local healthcare scheme, and travel insurance doesn't cover such a long period away.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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Here's a crazy question: if you don't speak the language, how do you expect to find affordable housing in Central Europe? If you find English speakers with property for rent, chances are very good that they are going to see you as being loaded and charge more than the usual going rate.

In Germany practically all rental properties are rented via an agent (Mackler) and their standard fee is 2 months cold rent plus 19% VAT. So be sure to consider "hidden" expenses when looking for a place to live.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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That is assuming you head for Central Europe, but I think the point is valid for all the countries in Europe except the UK and Ireland.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 11:04 AM
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Be sure to remember you are going to probably owe Federal US taxes, too.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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At least France and the US have a bilateral tax agreement, exempting you from income tax in France when you pay in the US.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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I think the OP should rent an apartment in Paris for 3 months, load up the wife and kids, and just get over here.

I'm reasonably certain that by the end of this period, he would be cured of this insane idea and would move on to making a sound investment in his family's future - instead of fantasizing about some Disney-fied version of real life in a foreign country.
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Old Sep 12th, 2014, 11:59 AM
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If you live overseas, you don't pay Federal taxes on the first $95-98k you make. But you're still obligated to file even if you only made $30k.
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