My husband and I have been living abroad in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 6 months now, and I consider it to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (next to saying “I Do” of course *wink*). We both took on teaching jobs here and, thankfully, my mom came abroad to take care of our now 19-month-old-twins while we went to work.
Even though I LOVE the decision to move here, making the decisions was FAR from easy. Here are the four things we considered before moving abroad that helped guide us in our decision.
1. Deciding On the Right Place
I’ll never forget the day that the idea came across my Facebook timeline. A single mom of three was teaching in the UAE and was enjoying every second of it. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and was preparing myself to get back to teaching the following year. As I read her article, I realized that this was possible for my family.
Using job placement agencies, message boards, and Facebook pages as your guide, you will come across many different jobs in different places. Paris, Italy, and a lot of other dream places seem great, but financially it may not be the best place. You want to find places that are family-friendly and budget-friendly. Paris and Italy may not be the place until after your kids are in college.
2. What to Look for in Job Packages
Securing the job is one thing, but moving abroad is so much more than that. You want to find jobs that offer plenty of benefits to get you started in a new city. For many professions, including teaching, you receive some type of package, including housing, health insurance, and sometimes airfare once a year round-trip to your home country. Some job offers even come with schooling expenses covered for your children. You want to find the right package for you and your family.
Wherever you go, be sure to check the exchange rate and how much you will lose or gain when you send money home. Some of my South African colleagues send money home and because of the exchange rate, they receive 3x more. My husband and I, on the other hand, lose money sending it back to the US, but the amount we make is still more than what we made teaching in the US, considering that housing and health insurance are covered.
3. Childcare Options Available
One of the things we researched was childcare options. In the UAE, there are a variety of options, all of which made me uncomfortable since I was going from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom (a balance I’m still learning). Depending on what you’re willing to pay, the daycare centers have a variety of curriculums from the US and the UK.
Another popular option that many of the local and expat residents use are nannies. I know of many families that have nannies to care for their children and their homes. Some parents homeschool their children, so the nanny is there to monitor them throughout the day. The nanny feeds the children, washes clothing, and cleans the home as well.
Lucky for us, my mom was able to come abroad and live with us and take care of our girls. We pay her every month, but the comfort she provides and the level of care she gives every day is priceless.
4. Being A Long Way from Family and Friends
I can admit that this part of the decision didn’t really affect the majority of my decision making. My mom is here with me and my younger sister doesn’t mind traveling. Since college, I’ve lived away from home and haven’t gone back, so being on my own and finding my “tribe” in whatever place I was in at the time has been my go-to for a while now.
My husband is different. He grew up very close to his family from his parents to his second cousins. He loves being around for birthdays, graduations, and family reunions (something I never had until I married him). But he had also been away from his family since college as well, traveling to South Africa and Morocco to study abroad. One of his dreams was to live in another country, but it was still a hard decision to make.
For some of you reading this, your local family members may be everything to you. You see them every weekend, they watch your multiples when you need a date night or a drink, and they support you mentally, physically, financially, emotionally, and all the other “-llys” I might have missed. They are your rocks and you couldn’t imagine any place without them being more than 20 minutes away. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I can admit that I’m not familiar with that experience, so I don’t know what that feels like.
I do know what it feels like to go to a new place feeling alone, wishing I could go home to my place of familiarity and comfort. But something wonderful has always happened wherever I went.
I met people who became family.
I’ve been blessed with “family” in each new place I have been. A group of people who love and care for me and for my family. When times got hard and I couldn’t go home 6 hours away, I could go 20 minutes away to see someone who may not have been my blood relative, but someone who I chose to be a part of my family.
I hope that if you’re considering moving abroad with multiples that this article helped start that decision-making process. To follow our journey here in the beautiful United Arab Emirates, follow me on Instagram @ChroniclesofAlly.
Allyson Robinson had no idea she had twins in her genes, until Kayla and Kamilah showed up and changed her life for the better. She and her husband, Quincy, are expat teachers in the UAE. She is the author of “Where Are My Panties? The Truth About the Morning After”, a book on sexual purity. You can follow her adventures on allysonarobinson.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.