I lived abroad for four years, came home for a couple, and am now abroad again. Granted, I didn’t have children when I left, although I have one on the way now, but I still think it’s completely feasible to move abroad with a family.
I researched recruitment companies for my field (social work) shortly after grad school and submitted my information to a company that hired social workers in Ireland. I didn’t hear from them right away so I got a job in the States and didn’t think much about it. A year later, I got a call from them saying they had a client in London who was interested in me and would I be interested in London? Well duh, of course I would be! It was a lengthy interview process followed by an even longer immigration process, but five months later, I was on my way to London.
The company sponsored me and paid for all of my visa paperwork. I had to complete the paperwork but it wasn’t too complicated. They also paid for all of my relocation expenses including flights and initial accommodation. I already had a friend in London so I didn’t need any help with sorting long term accommodation but they helped others with that as well.
Work sponsorship was good indefinitely, so long as I stayed with the same company and after four years, I would have been eligible for permanent residency, which then leads to citizenship.
After 3 years in London, I decided I wanted a change and looked into moving to Australia. I researched available visas for Australia and found one for Americans who wanted to work and live in Australia for 12 months. It was a very simple application process and the visa was granted quite quickly; the only issue was that Australia has regulatory bodies for almost every profession. In order to be a social worker here, I had to go through a lengthy application process proving that my qualifications were equal to their social work qualifications – that was a bit expensive and lengthy but obviously all worked out fine. I had to pay my own way to Australia but there was enough work here that I had a job within 4 days of stepping off the airplane.
Of course I then met and fell in love with an Aussie on my final trip en route back to the States permanently (in China no less!) and am now living in Australia again on a spousal visa, which has been a whole different lengthy and expensive process!
So moral of the story, these are the things I would do:
1. Look into the different types of visas available for the country you want to live in, see which ones would be best suited for you and check out what the process is (for a lot of places, work sponsorship may be your best option).
2. Research recruitment companies for where you might want to be and submit your information. It might take a long while for something to come through, especially if the economy is suffering in the place you want to be, but you never know what professions are in demand.
3. That reminds me – check out the government’s website as most places usually have a list of professions that are extremely in demand, meaning that it is much easier to get a highly skilled work visa if you work in one of those professions.
4. Check out any registrations you might need to undertake in order to work in your selected field in the country in which you live. This process can sometimes be lengthy and is nearly always a huge pain in the arse!
5. Whilst I love Germany and agree it would be an awesome place to live, check out the possibility of obtaining a job there if you don’t speak fluent German. If it’s going to be difficult, you might want to look at English speaking countries (I know, that sounds horribly ethnocentric) but it would possibly make things a bit easier. Living in the UK makes it extremely easy to travel all around Europe, and the world for that matter. Just a thought…
6. Look into the possibility of a work transfer. A lot of companies are multinational now and depending on where you or your Darling Husband work, there might be an opportunity to go abroad with work, which would alleviate all of the necessary moving costs and make things a thousand times easier!
I hope this all works out for you – there is nothing better than living abroad. Those four years were the best years of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing about them for the world. Darling Husband and I are trying to decide where we want to live after our baby is born in June so we’re going through a similar process now. I’m American so that’s a possibility, but we would need to get his visa sorted. He’s Australian and British, hence why we’re in Australia now, but England is another possibility for us through his work, which would require another visa for me. And we’re also looking at a few other random places as well – it’s difficult but so, so worth it! Good luck and feel free to PM me if you have any questions!