Post # 1
At the moment we live in a massive city and my whole business is tied to being here (or at least being in a big city with diverse people).
We’re getting to that point where the question of where to raise kids is starting to come up. My SO doesn’t want to raise kids in this city.
We’ve talked about moving to smaller cities, and there’s one in particular (Amsterdam) I could imagine growing my business in AND having kids although we obviously don’t know because we haven’t moved there yet.
So we’ve decided we’ll move, but I’m nervous about what will happen if we go there and it turns out it’s not the right place to be.
My SO is not eager to try out a bazillion towns before settling down (I’d be more OK with that and feel more secure knowing we could always change our minds). I worry we’ll end up moving to a small town that’s 2 hours away from a big city (his ideal) and I end up commuting a few times a week or even spending a few nights a week there.
I do see the appeal of the countryside and often dream of just giving it all up for the fresh air, but ultimately the lack of diversity in these places worries me. Also, what will happen to my career? It’s doable but it makes me feel like there’s now a time limit for me to make my business as location-independent as possible.
I’m curious to hear how others here have handled this!
Post # 2
My husband and I often have this conversation. I grew up in a small town in the country where as he grew up in a selection of major cities (London, Hong Kong and Singapore)
we live in London now and his work is very tied to London (finance) but we are in the suburbs so get a bit of green.
we sometimes talk of moving further out but close enough for him to commute but each time we think seriously about it we feel we’d be giving up so much. His commute is 45-50 mins now if it goes up to 2 hours each way that is way too much and what we’d save on housing we’d spend on a season ticket for the train.
We have friends where we live and family super close to help with childcare. Moving out we’d lose both.
For us the answer is to stay put. We have the best of both worlds really.
i guess for you, you just need to really do your research. I love Amsterdam but I’m not sure I could live there.
Post # 3
I discovered I was a city person by living in the country—briefly. I grew up in a very large city and even at seven, considered myself quite sophisticated and cosmopolitan. At fourteen, we moved to what I considered the boonies and I HATED it.
As an adult, my love of city life conflicted with my love of German Shepherds. So, I bought a house on acreage which was huge fun for a couple of months. I had been so excited about the prospect of nobody bugging me. Peace and quiet.
It didn’t take long for reality to set it. Life was harsh. And I felt alone out there. The GSDs and I ended up back in a city environment.
Now we’re in a city of about 200,000. We’re within ten minutes of absolutely everything. Our downtown is surprisingly urbane. The most delightful surprise was discovering we have an excellent symphony and opera.
So completely over the whole country living thing. It’s beautiful, but too hard for me.
Post # 4
My SO is actually totally OK with living in a 200,000 or so town but that just seems so small to me!
I guess the way you are framing it does seem more doable.
How often do you take a trip to a big city? is it still part of your life at all?
Post # 5
I grew up in a city of around 400,000 and have studied/lived in various other cities/towns of around that size or a bit smaller. My husband grew up in a couple of different villages. We met in the town we currently live in, population around 200,000. We both separately lived in the capital city of the country we live in, population 3 million or so. That was far too many. It is chaos, takes forever to get anywhere, etc. In spite of the much better provision of shopping, restaurants, etc, I couldn’t live there. I generally end up having to go there at least twice a year for work or to travel internationally, and that’s quite enough for me.
We’ve discussed moving to his home village in the future, but for now the town we live in is just right. You have your privacy, we have our friends and he has some family here, we can get all we need for daily life, there are some restaurants, there are some leisure things but not a lot. If we have kids and get them through school, then we’ll think about moving to his village, but in the mean time we’d rather be near better schools.
Post # 6
Both of us don’t want to live in the suburbs so it’s kind of ‘all or nothing’.. Many of my friends are here but I’m far better at making friends so my SO’s reasoning is that it’d be OK if we moved to a smaller town where he knows people and I don’t. But it sounds crummy to me because I really have enjoyed having such an international friend group where I am now. Hence the idea of Amsterdam!
Then again, sometimes I think I’d be happy in a small town if I was mainly focussed on raising children. It does feel like such a waste though to have spent these last 6 years growing a business and to then suddenly stop putting all my energy into it. I know I want kids in the next few years but I don’t know how I’ll fit them into that.
These don’t feel like problems guys usually have to deal with!!
Post # 7
where do you live now? (In terms of population size if you don’t want to say which city). Are we talking about 10 million people a la Paris or London or something around the 1 million mark? There aren’t too many really large cities in Europe as a whole (assuming you live in that area).
I’m in the US and live about 90 minutes from a large city (a little over 2 million) & my husband commutes to the city to work & I commute 40 minutes to work. We live in a tiny rural town (15,000 people) which is a little small for me. Still, we’re close enough to go to events in the city regularly whenever we’d like. In a few years we’ll move closer to the city, once our kids are out of school.
Post # 8
that’s hard if you won’t think about suburbs. It’s a good half way.
Where are you from? If you want kids another deciding factor could be what support / maternity pay you’d get. In the UK if you’re self employed you can claim maternity allowance so you can take some time off.
Post # 9
I grew up experiencing both at different points in my childhood and if I have to be honest, country life is overrated and there are worse influences than citylife. I don’t know anyone in highschool in my city who dropped out or got pregnant at 16. Everyone in the city—in my highschool anyways—was working towards university and had employment which didn’t allow for much time to get into trouble. Upon the advent of Facebook, I was shocked at how many of my former friends from country life had babies and no plans for school.
The one’s who did leave the town for school didn’t venture far and chose small colleges. A few did move to the city but didn’t finish school. I think you need to consider the future of the kids over the picture in your mind of raising them in a small town. What is going to bring them the better opportunities? Will they eventually need to venture out to accomplish their dreams? How big will the culture shock be upon leaving?
Post # 10
This is such a good point, I’ve thought about where would be nicest to raise kids but not how that would actually impact my kids view of the world, and I’d hands down want a more cosmopolitan lifestyle for them. Would love them to grow up speaking different languages and being comfortable with other cultures. My SO agrees too but thinks that I would be able to give that to our kids. I don’t think I can do that on my own. The community they grow up in matters too.
We live in London right now actually — too big for my SO. I’m a bit tired of it too now to be honest and would love a more quiet life but with access to lots of new people and opportunities on a regular basis. That’s why going down to a population even like 1mil seems a bit scary for me but if it’s a hub like Amsterdam at least there will be lots of new people regularly and easy to travel from.
Maternity pay isn’t really an issue here, it’s more about the time I’d have to spend not working (or not being as focussed on working) and how that would impact my business. Ugh!
Post # 11
We’re moving from a large city to Amsterdam actually. I like that Amsterdam has a nice balance of the city feel but also with parks and a more relaxed lifestyle. But it is as far as I could go. I could never live in the country and I need to live in a city.
We want to raise our kids in a cosmopolitan lifestyle exposed to culture and travelling. We feel Europe is great for that.
Post # 12
I love London but it is a huge city. We’ve talked a few times about moving internationally and Germany was always top of the list but I don’t speak German. It’s not as bad now I’m at home with our son but I could get very isolated in a country where I don’t speak the language. Tbh, if you’re going to do it, now is the best time before Brexit happens
heres some things that would come to mind about a move to Amsterdam though, especially if you want to start a business there
1) how’s your Dutch? Could you work in Dutch? English is widely spoken but you’d need a good grounding to deal with all the business bits like tax etc
2) how do small business work there? What do you have to do to register etc
3) what does your partner do and can he get an equal job in Holland without speaking Dutch?
4) not sure where you are in London but property in Amsterdam is expensive and small – would this work for future families?
5) what access can you get to healthcare? Do you have to be a resident for a while first?
ETA; have you considered one of the other big cities in the UK like Birmingham or Manchester. They are smaller and easier to get out of, but have all the city needs you want. I worked in Manchester for a while and it’s awesome.
why won’t you consider the suburbs?
Post # 13
Ohh it’s good to hear from someone else planning on doing it! Do you think you’ll stay in Amsterdam to raise your kids there too? I guess my number one concern is that we’ll move there, one or both of us don’t like it, and then moving back to London won’t be an option anymore because my SO hates it so much and I’ll be stuck in some place like Manchester or Leeds…… (I like both those places but again it just doesn’t feel diverse enough for me)
Post # 14
We’ve considered all of this and met lots of expats in Amsterdam too and know we could a get a good support base going whilst we learn some day-to-day Dutch and figure out how the system works. I guess the concern is would we really want to do that long term. And I don’t know! I’ve moved to different countries multiple times in my life and it is really satisfying to finally feel familiar with how the UK system works. But I do want that experience of living outside the UK with my SO especially since he’s never done it.
Regarding suburbs — I hate the commute, my SO hates the commute, and I find that I just get lazy when I’m more than 30minutes away from the main stuff going on in a city. I end up becoming a hermit in my neighbourhood.
Post # 15
Both my husband and I grew up in very rural areas (no stoplights or gas stations in our town). He went to New York and I went to Boston for college. Then after college we moved to another large city and it wasn’t for us. We have now settled down outside a “metropolitan area” (not a city by your standards) where there are no suburbs- we live half an hour outside the city and our town is less than 10,000. It’s perfect for us as quiet folk who love the outdoors, but we would never raise children there.
I really hated growing up in such a rural area. I was so far from the few kids I Went to school with. I couldn’t just walk to their house. My parents drove an hour each way to work so we had to go to after school care for a long time every day. The schools lacked challenging education and diversity. Kids got into drugs or had lots of sex because there’s nothing to do. It’s a good place for a summer home but not for everyday life
I think it sounds like you guys are truly city folk. After living in cities for 8 years we were worn out by the lack of quiet and privacy. But I know many people who never felt that way, moved to the country because it was supposed to be better, and were horrified by the lack of convenience and the isolation.
Your kids will be fine wherever they grow up, but will be happiest if their parents are happy and around to see them (rather than stressed over long commutes).