When we announced that we were moving to Spain most people’s first questions revolved around Brexit and Little H. At the time no one knew what was going to happen with Brexit so we just kept up to date with the latest news and got on with our plans. How to move without too much stress to our daughter was obviously more of a concern but we were firm believers that living abroad is good for kids.
People wanted to know what we were going to do about school (we put her in a Spanish state school), how we were going to cope with the language barrier (lots of extra lessons), what we’d do about moving her away from her friends (video calls to the UK and helping her make new friends in Spain), and lots of other questions.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy moving abroad with an 8 year old but we were confident that we were doing the right thing for all of us and despite a few struggles with new school, language, friends, etc we are still really happy with the decision we made.
Some people probably thought we were crazy, and possibly still to, to make such a major life decision as a family, but here are a few reasons why we think that living abroad is good for kids…
Six reasons why living abroad is good for kids
1. Learning another language
This has got to be the number one benefit for anyone moving to a non- native English speaking country. Whilst she has been thrown in at the deep end initially, Little H will be fluent in two of the most widely spoken languages in the world before she has even turned 10 years old. In England you learn French at school but, lets be honest, by the time you leave school at 16 you’re nowhere near fluent and would have to have a lot of extra lessons to get there.
It’s also something you can (and need!) to do as a family, and there are lots of fun ways to learn a new language together.
We hope that being fluent in Spanish (and Valencian!) as well as English will bring Little H lots of opportunities when she is older, for both jobs and travelling, and also make it easier to learn more languages in the future.
2. Experiencing another culture
Living in another country opens your eyes to new ways of living, celebrating, and growing up. In the 9 months we’ve lived in Spain so far we’ve been introduced to lots of fiestas, traditions, and holidays, learning about things we’d never heard of before. There are plenty of customs here that have been a bit strange to us at first, and even some aspects of general day to day life are different to the UK.
It’s great to show kids from a young age that people around the world live in different ways, believe in different things, and that some of these are better than what you might have been used to.
3. Making friends from around the world
The part of the UK we lived in was very ‘white’ and other than two children who’s parents were Polish, Little H didn’t have any school friends who weren’t born and bred in the same town as she was.
She now has classmates from 7 different countries (England, Spain, France, Russia, Belgium, Norway and Netherlands) and is learning more about them and where they’re from every day. She even wants to learn to speak Russian next!
4. New places and experiences
One of the best parts about moving to a new country is all of the new places to explore. A two week holiday abroad every so often is great, but being able to drive a few hours at the weekend and explore somewhere new that most people only see on holiday is an opportunity that not many kids get.
We have visited lots of towns and cities within a few hours of where we live and have so many trips planned this year that I think Little H will soon have seen more of Spain than many Spanish people!
We’ve also got to do things we wouldn’t have done in the UK including getting a cable car to the top of a snowy mountain, swimming in waterfalls, visiting a pink salt lake full of flamingos, and picking oranges and lemons on a bike ride.
And for the future we are nearer to other European countries than we were before, and with the UK leaving the EU we will still be able to visit these places easily as Spanish residents.
5. Trying new things
Getting kids to try new things can be tough, they’re not always very willing to give new things a go. Being in another country for a long period of time means that sometimes they don’t have much choice about it!
We have been to plenty of restaurants where there isn’t a kids menu so she has had to find something to eat other than chicken nuggets. She’s been to birthday parties and friends’ houses where they eat different foods and do things differently to what we have been used to. While she can still be a bit nervous about trying new things, hopefully in the long run this will make her much more adventurous.
6. A slower pace of living
This might not be true for all countries, but moving from the UK to Spain has definitely introduced us to a much slower and more relaxed way of life. The school run isn’t as hectic as they start a bit later and there isn’t rush hour traffic in the morning, we can also park right outside no matter what time we get there.
They finish school at 2pm (1pm in the hotter months!) so the afternoons are much longer with more time to get out and about, play with friends, and just relax.
And while the Spanish attitude of ‘Mañana’ can take a bit of getting used to it does mean that no one really feels the need to rush to do anything which I felt like we were always doing as a family before.
I’m sure there are lots more reasons why living abroad is good for kids, and we will probably find more and more the longer we live in Spain. If you’re thinking that a move abroad with kids isn’t possible, or is a crazy idea, hopefully some of these have given you a different perspective.
If you have moved abroad with kids, what do you think the most positive reasons for making the move have been?