03 June 2009

Shall we stay or shall we go?

...Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

This indecisions bugging me...
So, while  I have been recovering from the pneumonia from heck, dealing with some kita problems, and running off to the US for a long weekend to go to BEA (my favorite time... it's a fantasy of free upcoming books, ARCs in all directions...) we have also been dealing with some other items.

One of those leads to the above question. The German has been off to Duesseldorf and to Munich interviewing for another long-term project. This project is being spearheaded by another country and the leads have been looking for a German co-lead for some time. After more interviews, at a faster pace, than seems possible, they made him an offer. They actually wanted him to start last week, but what with me being out of town Thursday through Monday, he actually started in Munich yesterday. So. Shall we stay or shall we go... from Berlin to Munich, that is.

I sent this out to a few fellow expat bloggers and received some feedback but I'm still not certain what to do.

I am very fond of Berlin right now. I have my halal shops, my decent Asian food and markets. We have friends, the children have playdates, my gosh- I have playdates! Today I had my first date to tandem (language) with a mom I met at ballette and we had great fun and then I ran across a neighbor and we had spontaneous coffee and kuchen (she ate the TwD Cinnamon squares, although I need to query her for her opinion...). I really have friends right now, more than I have had in years, and the children do too. We have playdates as often as we like, and at least twice a week. A schoolmate has just moved 4 doors down and another is around the block. The girls have a friend from ballet and her mom (a different one from my tandem partner) is great and reads the same type books that I do. I was asked to be on the board of a women's group. I love my apartment and we could never afford anything like this in Munich (floor to cathedral ceiling windows, roof deck with tomatoes and cukes and a kiddie pool....

The groseltern come in two weeks to give me three days to look at Munich- a city I have never seen. I have appointments with what would be the girls' kita and grundschule, because if I don't like them that will give me an easy answer and then I need to look around and see whether the quality of life (for me and for us) in Munich can be good enough to go against the quality of life here. It's a strong point that here I would be a single mum for 4 days a week, but here I can also drive the girls to school. I can change my mind about which school to send Thing1 to and keep her in the attached grundschule, which would make my life so easy! She loves the environment, both girls love their classmates and teachers, the new school director is absolutely wonderful and has created a real change in the school, with expectations of parental involvement....

In Munich, the schools are in the Altstadt and I understand that there would be no way to drive them in, so then we need to expect weather with pick-up and drop-off and to not be in walking distance. We would need to look for a place on the lines that give us easiest access and then expect to walk, in snow and rain, in dark and cold, to and from subway stops. I have no idea where best to look and what I do know is that housing is about 3x the cost from here to there as well the schools being significantly more pricey and requiring us to be enrolled for Kirchgeld rather than simply paying fees (a very significant amount and one without a cap that we will see, unlike the cap on other income related taxes, payments, and fees).

The school year starts September 14th in Bavaria and September 1st here, so all our decisions need to be made at what Germans would consider the speed of lightning (rather than the normal German housing decision speed, which I would consider the speed of molasses in an Upstate NY winter). We have already had estimates on moving, but we cant really do anything else until we (that is, I) have gotten out there and at least looked around. I would also like to make sure that the German is enjoying the project, because if it were only for 6 months, we definitely wouldn't bother to move. For longer and it becomes vastly more important.

The reason I want to decide rather rapidly is primarily for the sake of the girls: Germans don't move very much. Please, don't tell me you know individuals who do: I married one. But the general German does not move and children know each other from nest through gymnasium. It will be hard enough on the children if I move them and they lose the dear friends they now have (especially Thing1, who still misses her American friends) and their familiar routines and loved activities: what I don't want to do is to move them after the beginning of the school year, so that they are not only the odd ones, the new ones, the ex-pat ones, but also the ones who didn't become part of groupings and cliques that might actually have a bit of lee-way at the beginning of the year.

Any folks have recommendations? We are lokking for a sunny three BR, garden space (to actually plant in), easy commute/walk to Marienplatz/Altstadt, nice area for a family with playgrounds and safe bike/rollerblade areas? Help?


J said...

I obviously can't help. However, I think the two biggest things are to make sure the German is happy with the project and that it's long term (and get a commitment in writing from the employer), and that you're happy being a single mom for 4 days a week (actually, more normal than one would think in Germany).

Really? People have to pay Kirchgeld in Bavaria?

Good luck.

G in Berlin said...

To enroll the children in the school we wish, we would. They are not open simply to fees payers, as the schools here are.
As to being a single parent and the German liking the job, that's what the next few weeks should show us. the firm will move us,and pay kaution and provision, but then there we would be....
I'm sure my blog readers will be listening to more of my whinging over the next few weeks.

S said...

I guess my opinion shouldn't be weighed in at all. My kids are in 3rd and 2nd grade right now in their 3rd elementary school. One of the reasons we put them in the DODDS system was the frequent moves compare to the "Grundschule" as they would have had 3 Bundeslaender in their career so far. For me with a husband who deploys frequently, I don't second to move with him so at least he sleeps in the same house while he's not deployed, so I am moving everytime the Army tells us. Sure, if somebody back in 2005 would have told me that we would have that many moves in short periods and that the man even though he sleeps in the same house still doesn't see the kids, I might have moved into our house at my parents and let the man go and get a small apartment so the kids would have had stability but honestly, every second I can spent with the man, I will, so with us being here right now a year , I know that at the end of this year another move will be in the horizon. That would be move no. 9 in 11 years. (courtesy of the Army)
So what I actually wanted to say is, go and move. Kids adapt better than adults.

G in Berlin said...

Hi S, thanks for stopping by. I would take a look at your experience and see how it's worked for you, but your blog is closed. However, I think we have some differences here. My kids would not be in what I think you are describing as an Armed forces system, where all the kids move all the time (if that's what DODDSS stands for). They would be in German schools, where almost no children ever move. And my husband could be home every Thursday night through Monday morning, as opposed to being on duty. I think there is also a big difference in contemplation of the future if your spouse is in the armed services versus just traveling to a project. And at the end of this project, we could find ourselves on another Berlin project, or he might be off to Finland for five months (another job possibility this month, for example) and we certainly would not move for that and his firm certainly would not support any such move. It's only because they want him so much on this job and expect it to last for such a long time that the firm would support a family move rather than his commuting.
I am really quite conflicted right now.

MsTypo said...

One of hte most important things to remember is not only will everyone be happy in school and work but will you be happy in Berlin. I know that seems silly but the city itself, the communities there, the people, the lifesytle - these will all affect you and your family.

After many, many years of moving around for jobs Hubby has finally figured out that he wants to be somewhere he terms "live-able."

Just my two cents...

G in Berlin said...

CairoTypeO: I am so happy right now. That's what makes this difficult. We are all so happy in Berlin. And if we move, at cost, expense, effort, loss of networks, will we even see the husband/father to the same extent that we would if he commuted ? (At least, I would probably have an hour or three a night, but the kids wuldn't...).

Anonymous said...

Hi G, you're pretty familiar with my thoughts on some of this and having read more about your reasons I can really understand the conflict - especially given that your husband is so often on the road regardless of where you live. The friends and comfort issue is a tough one.