Deciding to move as the adult of the family is the easy part. The hard part comes when you plan to move the kids:
- How can you make sure they get the quality education they need in your new home country?
- What happens if they fall behind in class because they struggle with the language?
- Will this affect their university options?
Know Your Early Childcare OptionsIn most countries, parents with children too young for school face three options:
- dropping them off at a local daycare,
- hiring an au pair,
- or staying at home with them.
Local Daycare Cost Varies by CountryThe most common early childhood education option for European parents is a local daycare. Not only does this let both parents return to work, but placing their children in the care of professionals removes any worry about their child’s development and social skills. After all, a child’s brain develops more during the first five years than any other part of his or her life, says the team at Busy Bees, a child care facility based in Staffordshire, England. They believe childcare options help children develop the necessary social skills they’ll need throughout their lives, and offer specialist knowledge to make sure your child hits all the appropriate milestones for their age. Unfortunately, cost and availability for daycare varies significantly by country. Natasha Bita did a side-by-side comparison of popular expat destinations for The Australian. She found that the average childcare and student education costs exceeded 14,000 AUD for each baby or toddler enrolled in daycare there. Scandinavian countries are even more expensive: childcare costs there exceed 16,000 AUD annually on average. Japan and South Korea were the cheapest, at around 8,000 AUD. If you have a large family of infant and toddler-age kids, these figures add up quickly.
Nanny or Au Pair vs. Nursery SchoolWhen expat parents start adding up the cost of local preschools, the idea of hiring a nanny becomes more appealing. After all, a highly-trained professional can make sure your son or daughter is hitting their developmental milestones while taking them to playgroups or the park to socialize with kids their age. The InterNations annual survey on Childcare for Expat Kids found that most expats preferred local daycare in Nordic countries, and also reported high satisfaction with the available options. However, an average of 33% of expat parents prefer hiring a nanny or au pair in Southeastern Asian destinations such as Singapore or Hong Kong. In many Asian countries, the cost of a nanny is roughly the same as daycare, but is significantly more expensive in cosmopolitan European cities such as London or Berlin. In the past few years, nanny sharing has become a popular alternative. In nanny sharing, two families split the time of one nanny throughout the day. Kate Hilpern explains in the Huffington Post three keys to nanny sharing:
- Sign a contract beforehand detailing hours, expectations, and taxes.
- Set up weekly or monthly catchups to review any issues or ideas.
- Make sure the nanny has one point of contact, instead of getting calls from all members of both families.