Tell us about your family! – We are five at the moment and are expecting a new family member in September. There is Eric (hubby), who is French and works for IKEA and Peggy (me) who is German and a professional blogger (Paul and Paula) and traveller at heart. Our three children: Romy, nearly 8, Antoine, 5 and Leonor 2, 1/2 years old.
How hard (and exciting) is it to pick up and move your whole life and move to a different country?. How will the kids cope and how do you prepare for all the changes as a family? Meet Peggy and her family of five (soon to be six), they moved from Amsterdam to Malmö in the South of Sweden and this is their story!
Where do you live and where did you move from? – Right now we live in the South of Sweden, in Malmö, and we moved here in the summer of 2013 from Amsterdam in The Netherlands.
Is this the first time you move abroad? No, not at all. When I finished my A-levels in Berlin I moved to Paris for a year, went back to Germany (Hamburg) to do some studying and went back to Paris after that. Since then I have lived with my husband. He is from Paris but after around Three years I had enough and wanted to see something else. We moved to London, we stayed three years and our first child was born there. Next stop was Amsterdam. For nearly six years and two more children. Baby number four will then be born here. That makes 3 different countries and maybe I should write a book about giving birth around Europe, haha!
How did you prepare the move as a family? It is really the last one that was the first move as a family, Romy was a baby when she moved for the first time. We went to Malmö for a week a couple of months before the actual move. We visited the city, schools, researched housing etc. Around that time we also started to talk more and more about it, to prepare them. At that time Leonor was around 7 months so too small to understand. Antoine just turned 3 and Romy was 6. Romy was pretty excited straight from the beginning and Antoine only realized what was going on when we really moved. We started to talked about the move the moment we knew for sure it is going to happen. We talked about Sweden and things we could do there, about the new kids rooms and bigger apartment. We chose a few new things for the new house, made a list of things we wanted to do in Amsterdam before leaving and so on. Kids are very different and I was also a little surprised that our eldest took it so well and was just like - oh cool, we are moving! It probably helps that they attend an International school. They see children coming and going. Friends moving away. Making new friends. I am not saying it is always easy but it helps when it is your turn! We also travel a lot, so they are pretty used to see new places, cultures etc.
How did you go about finding a good school/daycare/work? We moved with my husbands company and being a blogger, I can do that from anywhere!. Through my husbands company we have relocation agencies helping us with these important things. They are based in the city you move to and know the system, the schools and arrange appointments, paperwork etc. It is a big help and leaves you time for other things. Especially as a family you have more time to locate the good playgrounds, parks and the best ice cream shop. It sounds silly but believe me it helps to settle in... For schools and daycare I can only say that I think it is worth to go and visit all options. Get a feeling for the school, teachers, atmosphere and of course what and how they teach. You know you children best.
What has been your biggest challenge? Two things. Registering my company and getting through the tax rules jungle. Luckily here in Sweden they are rather helpful and also speak English with you, in Amsterdam for example they were not allowed. Finding friends and like minded people has also been a challenge. I am running my own business and it is not always easy. I like to share ideas with others, get feedback, help each other etc., creating a network takes time.
How did you settle in? Very well, the kids enjoyed their new school from the beginning and made friends from day one. So happy about that!. We found a super apartment during our trip in May which also makes a huge difference and helps tremendously when settling in. We also moved during the summer, definitely the best period here in Sweden. We had nice weather until the End of Autumn and could enjoy the new environment.
Tell us one thing you love with your new city/country….and one thing you can't stand. Love: All the farms, castles, forests in the area. Every weekend we are in the countryside exploring new things. Can't stand: Winters are tough and not because it is so cold, but a lot of things are closed and the Swedes are all hiding in their homes. There is just not much going on and being a city person it can be a bit hard... especially since we are not talking about one or two months, it can be nearly six.
Do you ever get homesick? I left Berlin when I was 19. Now I am 36. And I left because I wanted to see something else. I have never been homesick, but I do miss people.
Peggy runs the very popular kids lifestyle blog, Paul & Paula, see her universe here.