Should we stay or should we go? Make a big international move as a pregnant couple or with a tiny baby? Lots of (possibly) relevant details inside.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
First off, thank you for reading. I’m trying to keep it short! Any and all relevant personal experience or professional tips (I know YANML) appreciated. I feel bad asking about something so involved anonymously, but I’m a fairly regular poster who talks about my work a lot, and I’m not in a position yet to be “out” about my pregnancy or move. I will provide any missing details asap.
I’m a gay woman, living with my wife of going on ten years in a major US city. I’m super happy to be three months pregnant with our first, and just starting to emerge from morning sickness hell. My wife and I plan to move to London to live our lives as a family, we feel too insecure raising a child here for a bunch of reasons, and our only real family is in London (and they are awesome.) I am a dual US/UK national, the UK’s decent policy on domestic partner immigration mean I can get my wife a visa. However, we do love where we live now, and moving is a little bit bittersweet, although increasingly exciting.
We had been planning to move next spring when we hope we’ll have a three month old, and the barest handle on parenthood, but now we’re wondering if we should just push it and try to jump this summer. There will be a solid chunk of time between the two options where I am too pregnant to move, and our baby is too young/our sleep too disrupted to. The move is a big deal, we have cars to sell and cats to move, although we rent here. I have made two big moves before however, and I’m pretty confident of my coordinating and planning skills. So which do you think is our best option and why?
Financially we are in a strange place. My wife makes about 60k (although she has essentially no health coverage) but I haven’t worked since I got laid off around the holidays. I need to get a job asap (before I start showing!) and there is some hope. If I do find a job in my field I will probably make about the same as my wife, but my job will be much more intense than hers, probably not ideal for a pregnant woman (and my industry is notoriously hostile to pregnant staff, I might just get fired when it gets obvious.) I don’t know what the economy means for my prospects at finding a temp job if a career-type one doesn’t happen soon.
If we move in the next three months, it will be very stressful, but we won’t have a baby to deal with – I suspect doing all this with a new baby is going to be incredibly hard. I could work full time on the move if need be, but then we’d miss my potential income for a few months, and by the time we landed in the UK I would be well past showing. There are also fewer jobs in my field in London than here, so while I’m sure I’ll have one eventually, I’d be temping until the baby came, if anything.
We also have about 100k in the bank, which we haven’t cut into yet, and would rather not burn through because we need assets to show financial means to the UK, and also so we have some hope of owning a home in London. We will have to cut into it for moving costs unless we save more money first, I think we’ve accepted it likely won’t make it to down payment time untouched, but as close as possible would be nice. Of course, some unplanned US medical expenses could wipe it out quick. The exchange rate compounds all this financial business of course, because anything we can earn in GBP is worth much more to us than savings or earnings in USD.
We would live with my parents for our first few weeks in London, and then I guess rent until we could get a mortgage one way or another. I have no idea how long that would be, I have a UK bank account, but essentially no credit, my wife has no financial record in the UK, and she would likely be the only wage earner for a while. We would however, have a solid 20% deposit (unless prices double yet again), and my parents would guarantee or cosign (if that’s a thing that’s possible.) I’m not opposed to renting longer term, except that my perception is that house prices aren’t heading for a fall (or are they?), and London rental stock is expensive and crappy and unwelcoming to babies and cats.
There are some smaller puzzle pieces that go into this too. Although I have (expensive cobra) healthcare here, I want a homebirth, and that means paying out of pocket. I am terrified by US hospital maternity care, and angry that there’s no middle ground. In London I would have a homebirth if we were in an ok living situation, but I would also be happy at a birth center, and if it comes to it I would much rather give birth in a UK hospital than a US one. If we move before the birth, we will also be able to avoid paying thousands to draw up complicated guardianship and estate docs in the US (which we would then have to immediately duplicate in the UK). In the UK my wife (who can keep her US job remotely for a couple of months) could start earning in GBP (although what if she couldn’t find a job…) and I might just be eligible for some kind of benefits instead of just having to quit my job to have the baby and suck up the months of uncompensated unemployment as I recover and care for it.
Also, irrationally, now we’ve decided to move I just kind of want to get on with it instead of hanging out here. Maybe it’s the nesting kicking in, but I feel in limbo and it sucks. However, moving asap could mean going though most of my pregnancy in my parent’s cramped house in a new city instead of our own big place with friends around. We have a good relationship with them, but that’s still a depressing and slightly scary prospect. We have no other friends or support network there. It also means switching healthcare providers and systems. And it means a sudden introduction to a carless lifestyle and the other petty limitations I feel much more subject to in the UK. Of course all this would also be true with a new baby, and I have no clue at all if that’s better or worse.
So which is the craziest option? Hang out here until we have a baby old enough to travel, or try to rush it through now while there are only two of us? Londoners, folks who’ve had babies, folks who’ve made big moves, exchange rate psychics, what am I not thinking of?