Author Topic: Should we move to NYC for a few years?  (Read 2955 times)

Hula Hoop

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #50 on: June 03, 2019, 02:07:15 AM »
havregyn - I like your attitude.  I have NYC friends who are very happy with public school in the Upper West Side and also Chinatown (bilingual Chinese-English elementary school).  I'm sure that there are lots of other great public schools in NYC if you do your research.

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #51 on: June 03, 2019, 02:38:16 AM »
My bigger school concern is that if I put my 6 year old in an American school for 3 years, that is it, the only kind of school that he can ever attend in Europe once we're back is a private English speaking school.
And who knows about the 3 year old...he seems quite good at languages for now so at 6 it may not be too late to send him to the public school but meh...it's tough. The school system here is weird. Most daycares are French speaking, meaning the 3 year old is now fluent in French. When he turns 4 he starts preschool and that is then in Luxembourgish (a language completely unlike French, more like German). They speak Luxembourgish until the kids are about 7 and then they start doing the schooling in German. And then by the time they're 10 they start aggresively reintroducing French and by high school everything is mostly in French.
The big boy is not really taking to this at all and we are fully aware that we may need to move him to a school that is in English. If the little boy follows in his footsteps, we are going to be stuck with paying 30-35000€ per year for school, we're probably going to be better off staying in the US then.
Because that would inflate our Luxembourgish expenses to the point where it would no longer really make sense to be here (especially since I actively dislike everything about it).
The reason we are here now is that we get to save a lot and well, inertia. If the savings factor disappears once we need a larger place and paid schooling for kids, meh, I'm out of here.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #52 on: June 03, 2019, 04:02:01 AM »
Havregryn - three years in an English speaking school will not condemn your oldest to American school forever.  What language do you speak at home? 

When you return to Luxembourg, your oldest will be 9.  My kids go to a heavily immigrant school here in Italy.  Kids arrive all the time from Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, various African countries speaking not a word of Italian and within 6 months or so at age 9 they are completely fluent not only in Italian but also in the local dialect.  A 9 year old should be able to soak up another language like a sponge. 

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #53 on: June 03, 2019, 05:09:02 AM »
Well, now we speak English. I mentioned this before. Our older boy did not respond well to the situation he was born into, where I spoke Croatian to him, father spoke Swedish, husband and I spoke English to each other (I can speak Swedish now but I couldn't when we met, and it was just too difficult to switch....we are both very fluent in English and it takes no particular effort to converse in it whereas making a switch would put quite a cognitive strain on me, had we stayed in Sweden it would have made sense to gradually switch but here in Luxembourg we live in a very English speaking bubble) , the daycare was to be in French and school was to be as described. He was speech delayed and obviously frustrated. He started speaking English (I think between realizing that everyone understands it and Netflix he rightfully concluded that it was the most efficient way to go) and we made the conscious decision to encourage it at the expense of everything else.  Of course being overachieving parents we made sure he got plenty of exposure to native educated English and now three years later he thinks of himself as an English speaker with a strong American ring to it (I guess from Netflix or his best friend). I hired a woman who used to be a primary school teacher in I think Minnesota (in the US anyway) to come once a week and work with him so that he develops literacy (I don't know how to teach someone to read in English) and consistence in his accent.  At this point he has no language delay, if you compare him to an American boy of his age, but whether his reluctance to speak anything else is normal, that is a whole different story. But obviously he is not going to suffer if he finds himself in NYC. Quite to the contrary, I think we may face some serious challenges once we force him to move back. There is definitely something "wrong" with him when it comes to languages. His current school brought in  a specialist to evaluate him and they didn't think he was completely hopeless (he did end up demonstrating some Luxembourgish skills) but there is definitely a major question mark over his ability to thrive in that environment.

The younger boy is acquiring all of the languages at an appropriate speed. Croatian is maybe lacking as it is not often that I am home alone with him, it is usually me and both boys and then English is a must (as the big boy gets very upset otherwise) but he is also fluent in Swedish (we made sure daddy and he have alone time, simply because we think it is way more important for our kids to speak Swedish) and French.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #54 on: June 03, 2019, 06:00:32 AM »
I still don't think your oldest will be condemned to monolingualism.  Immigrants must arrive in Luxembourg all the time not speaking the 3 languages they speak there.  Don't they have "French as a second language" (etc etc) courses in public schools?  It sounds like he's very stubborn about the language issue.  Our kids are biliingual Italian -English (and dialect) and I've had to be very strict about the English at various times since they just didn't see the point in learning it as we live in a totally Italian environment (apart from me).  They have strong Italian accents in English and don't write in English at all but you do what you can do as a parent.

My younger one had a severe speech delay at age 3 and a lot of people (including doctors) told me to stop speaking English at home.  I didn't listen and took her to lots of different doctors.  Turned out that she was deaf.  Three operations later she has 98% hearing and at age 7 speaks both languages just fine.

What do Luxembourgish kids speak on the school playground and when playing amongst themselves?  What do the majority of local people speak at home?  Do your boys play with local friends in your neighborhood?  What language do they speak with their local friends?

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #55 on: June 03, 2019, 10:47:59 AM »
That's the thing. Luxembourg is a very international place and that especially applies to the expensive central areas (the only kind we can live in if I want to maintain my car-free existence) . We live in a fancy suburb full of American expats (as American families want to live in suburban houses...most of Scandinavian people want to live in city center, but the reason we don't is that, believe it or not, it would be less convenint to live there (walkable distance is only to designer fashion stores and various landmarks, there's not much in terms of convenience in the city center + some of it is  kind of sketchy). We live right between the city proper and this überfancy suburb, school wise we belong to the suburb, public transport wise we belong to the city (it's really the best we could find here and I can't imagine moving, which is why I hate the whole set up so much...we will need a larger place and yet moving 500 meters in the wrong direction completely messes up our life). So my son has a group of about 7-8 friends who all speak English and he doesn't really seem to care much for other kids. According to the teacher, the English speaking kids are not acquiring Luxembourgish as effiiciently as kids who speak for example Turkish or something else at home (because there are so many of them and they can make themselves understood), but she did feel that our boy was particularly stubborn. Apparently, it took more than 6  months before he agreed to ask to go to the bathroom in Luxembourgish.

The thing is that, even assuming we stay here, what's gonna happen is that gradually all of the wealthy English speaking parents are going to move their kids to private schools.It happens a lot because by the time they are about 10, inferior French language skills start taking a toll on academic performance and exam results.I think everyone likes the public school at this age as it is really nice and kids go out a lot and they get exposed to a lot of languages, but it gets waay trickier when they're a bit older.
Obviously I am no educational snob but I do have some concerns about how likely it is that a child who is this disinterested in language at this age could be motivated to excel at something like French at age 10. And potential downsides of having him tormented by French as opposed to letting him develop skills in the STEM area are rather obvious.
My solution to this would be to move back to Sweden where he could learn Swedish and where the system is set up in a much more relaxed manner, allowing him to discover and develop his interests and not forcing him to be academically literate in 3-4 languages even if that clearly isn't his cup of tea.
But my husband is having a very in-love-with-capitalism kind of phase so sadly, a move to Sweden is not on the horizon.
This is actually one of the reasons why NYC might work for us even in the long term, he can go all corporate shark and I could probably live some kind of a hipster dream by becoming some kind of a part time psychoanalyst or doing a PhD in literary theory or something else that the 17 year old me would have imagined as height of human existence. Hell, if I was not too far away from being eligible to receive a pension from the EU once I turn 65 I'd be pushing for this with all I've got.
This way I am mildly skeptical. I'd prefer to be a bit more secure in my own position...I am not stupid, I don't think of my husband as "gonna leave my wife in a midlife crisis" kind of guy but I never saw him as someone who 'd wanna be partner in a megacorp so I prefer to remain cautious....things could turn ugly fast if I found myself divorced in 10-15 years. Knowing that I will get this pension when I turn 65 would probably mean that assets from the divorce would make me very FI so then I'd at least have that.

ctuser1

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #56 on: June 08, 2019, 08:02:13 AM »
I believe you should come to NYC in a heartbeat. It is a fantastic place to work and experience. A 2/3 year stint will be a great addition to your spouse's resume, and it will likely be a worth the experience for you.

For all we know you might fall in love with it enough that you may decide to stay here longer! I know I did. I wanted to move to some nice/quiet midwestern city after a few years at NYC. Well, I am here for good now living in a NYC commutable "suburb" and working in NYC for the foreseeable future!!

There are, however, some practical challenges you should keep in mind!!


1. A $150,000 salary will mean a $9500/month after taxes, health insurance etc if you are NOT saving anything for 401k/HSA etc.
2. Given how taxes work, it will be very inefficient for you to NOT save on 401k/HSA etc. If you set them aside to the tax-optimal amounts (NOT max), your paycheck will be $8500/month. If you act Mustachian and max stuff out, you are quickly down to $7000 to $7500 per month.
---- Yes, Taxes in NYC are a lot ----

3. Spending on healthcare is a lot!! I don't know about your healthcare needs. However, with a baby on the way, I figure you will spend between $5k-$10k on deductible and out of pocket max with an average corporate group plan. Most employer provided health plans have deductibles and OOP Max structured that way. Going forward, with a new baby and young kids, figure on spending $5k/year on healthcare.
--- Yes, the Healthcare system is messed up in US. This will likely be a surprise to you coming from EU. O the + side, US healthcare with a corporate plan is certain to be the highest quality possible in the world, something you likely would prefer with a new child on the way. The “messed up” part of the US healthcare is there is zero “middle of the range option”.
— there are wide variations among health plans. Please ask about you corporate plans deductible, copay, coinsurance and pop max. You will likely have multiple options to choose from. In all the different such corporate plan options I have seen in the past 10 years, I’d recommend the High Deductible plan with HSA.

4. Deservedly or not, NYC borough schools have a poor reputation. Some people tell me there are pockets of Queens etc. that are tolerable. Staten Island has many good towns, but that would be a suburban life, and not the city life you desire. Most "rich" people in NYC send kids to private schools - which is $40000 per year per kid.

Given all of these, and many more practical issues that you are guaranteed to encounter, even a $150000 or a $200000 per year salary will require a lot of trade-offs. A trade-off free life in NYC, i.e. a 4-bedroom-2000-sq-ft apartment in Manhattan for 3 kids, kids in private school and expensive summer camps, loads of travel and eating out kind of life will require an income north of $500000 per year.

This is not a discouragement! We (i.e. me and my wife) have seen/faced the same situation as far as financial trade-offs go and come up with our own answers to allow me to work in NYC (live in suburbs, long commute) etc. You will likely face same/similar trade offs and will need to come up with your unique set of solutions to them. I believe it will be a life-changing experience for you to make it in NYC for a few years and live to tell the tale :-D. So you should definitely try to come here for a little while.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2019, 08:50:55 AM by ctuser1 »

Mrs. PoP

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #57 on: June 08, 2019, 12:32:20 PM »
Very curious to see where you end up with the offer, but please don’t get scared by US health insurance.  Wait and see what the offer says, as some corporate plans are quite generous.  I recently had a baby and we paid the $1500 acalendar year out of pocket max on my plan, so all of my care for the rest of the year (in network) is no cost to me.   I expected to get hit for $500 for my son at the hospital as we have a $2000 combined family deductible, but so far insurance has picked up everything for him at no cost to us.  (He’s 2 months now.)

Poundwise

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #58 on: June 09, 2019, 09:59:21 PM »
Hm, I have not read this thread carefully so bear with me. My personal experience was that we lived in NYC on a single $150K/year salary and  found it uncomfortable with only two kids (one a baby).  On this salary, we could afford a 3BR for $3K/month and public school in the Bronx, plus some childcare. Could not afford Manhattan or the tonier Brooklyn neighborhoods.  Parochial school may have been possible. Ended up moving to the burbs when pregnant with #3.

Will list downsides of this life(possible workarounds in parentheses)
- If you want kids to get exercise, you have to take them out, which gets boring and inconvenient (hire help)
- downstairs neighbors may get hostile, even if your kids are relatively quiet  (find a first floor apartment)
- getting around on public transportation with a baby is difficult because not every subway station has a working elevator. Having a small child + baby is unpleasant because you are climbing up and down steep stairs carrying a baby in stroller, but can't hold child's hand. Sometimes kind strangers help. (find apartment near stop with elevator)
- taking bus with small child + baby is unpleasant because you have to keep track of baby, stroller, purse, child, and probably at least one bag or package.  Leaving one on the bus by mistake is horrible. (no solution, stopped taking bus)
- having a car, also horrible. Even if you have your own home parking spot, like we did (maybe Lyft or cabs, but that gets expensive)
- With three children having to go through 3 application processes each to get into "good" public schools, I couldn't take the thought of 9 applications before they even graduated high school (stop fussing about G&Ts, go to your neigborhood school)
- not so many sports as suburban schools
- Elementary and middle schools may not be challenging enough unless your kid tests into citywide G&T... but even if s/he makes the cutoff, there's a lottery for that. Classrooms are crowded & the curriculum tends to be rigid, with lots of homework and worksheets (can look for a "progressive" public school)


Upsides
- We made tremendous numbers of friends of all sorts.  New Yorkers are, believe it or not, friendly and loving if that is what you give out. It's also amazing the small town feel you can get, just in a more concentrated space. Our building was like a vertical neighborhood.
- Want to get real? This is the place! I liked some of my kids' friends in NYC better than their friends in our current community. Our current community has a tendency towards affluenza.  You might still avoid reality if your kids end up in a pricier private school or part of town.
- Kids are so diverse that we didn't see bullying on ethnic grounds
- I became a better person in NYC.  I saw enough human suffering and good hardworking people trying to make do with very little, to break me out of my oblivious bubble.
- Did a lot of fun stuff, though not so much as maybe we would had we lived in Manhattan. 
- schools in Bronx are fine.  Though the middle school options aren't great, we could have stressed less and stayed. Our kids' friends who stayed are fine, and ended up at wonderful specialized high schools
- great if you're a city person,  don't mind crowds and don't need much space
- our oldest son sometimes wishes we hadn't left

Maybe some of this info would be useful for your situation.
   
     

« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 10:09:46 PM by Poundwise »

SemiChemE

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #59 on: June 09, 2019, 11:54:53 PM »
Sounds like you have an incredible opportunity in front of you!  My sister lived in the Bronx for 3 years, while her husband attended medical school at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine.  She loved it.  They came with one child and had two more during their stay.  Carting the kids around was a challenge, but she managed quite well.  I was always amazed by her stories of going into Manhattan to visit the Met and other places.  Given NYC's reputation, you might not expect it, but the kindness of strangers is amazing and everybody loves a baby!  I'm sure their budget was much tighter than yours appears to be and they managed quite well, although they did get a subsidized 3-bedroom apartment from the school.

NYC is an amazing city. In terms of theater, museums, culture and the arts, it is unrivaled in the U.S.  London might give it a run for the money, but I think New York still gets the nod and no place on earth even comes close in terms of density of skyscrapers.  You should come, I think you'll love it.  The selection of restaurants is incredible.  There is so much to see and do.  (FYI, I currently live in upstate New York.  I'm not much of a city person, but I love to visit and see a show or an opera now and again.)

As for the financials, it all depends on your husband's package.  I'm pretty sure medical coverage will be a non-issue, since most companies provide pretty good insurance.  You may want to budget $3-5000 of out-of-pocket expenses for the birth just in case.  Somehow my friends around here have seemed to get hit with some pretty large uncovered expenses for child birth.  But, other non-planned and unexpected medical costs are almost always covered.  As one poster mentioned, many health plans will have an annual maximum somewhere in the $2 to $10k range above which all costs are covered at 100%.  And quite frankly, it's somewhat rare to hit those maximums, unless you have a major issue (eg. heart attack, stroke, complicated child birth, etc...).

Be sure to pay attention to the ex-pat tax conditions.  Usually, there is a huge tax burden associated with an ex-pat assignment.  Many companies will provide tax assistance and gross-ups, where the company actually pays for the additional taxes.  Don't be afraid to ask about it.

Finally, one last thing, if you do come, be sure to engage socially.  On such assignments, it's easy to feel like an outsider and not engage with the local community.  I would suggest looking for a club, church or other social organization to help you make contacts and friends.  That can be your fastest route to getting the local tips and information that can make all the difference between having a fantastic experience and standing on the sidelines.





ctuser1

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #60 on: June 10, 2019, 06:46:06 AM »
OP, I would like to add something here to balance some of the "trade-offs" I and other posters have mentioned.

Most of the replies might give you the impression as if $150k will mean you will literally struggle in NYC. This is probably not the complete picture!!

The reason people (including yours truly) burn through so much money so quickly in NYC is because they try to re-create a suburban lifestyle in a city. That is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole!!

Random thoughts:
1. The worries and costs associated with kids schooling is likely overblown. People live in a city because of a sense of neighborhood/vibe, and lots of different ones within walking distance at that. The idea is to live in your community that will likely include a low-income senior in a rent controlled unit, a million-dollar-a-year banker, a grad student living on almost nothing and everything in between!! In that setting, obsessing over a school choice smacks of elitism that I am not sure comes out better for the kids in the end!! I have known people who have stayed back in those neighborhoods and their kids came out just fine - including several ivy-leaguers. In fact, those kids tend to get much better scholarships than the suburbanites because they came from "disadvantaged" neighborhood schools.

2. A $150k+ income puts you squarely into the top 25% EVEN in manhattan.
https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/income-taxes/hhold_income-numbers.htm
The reason it often feels so little is the last row in the linked data table - the large number of households with a very high income!! When you have ten people in your community earning north of a million dollars, and five of them engages in the one-upmanship that is so typical in US, then you will feel inadequate if you have any keep-up-with-the-joneses tendencies!! Just ignore that and you should be fine.

3. Several things are very inexpensive in NYC! Eating out is spectacularly cheap if you like take-outs from food carts. I often walk to Chinatown to buy fruits from street-side carts that are at least 60% cheaper than my local supermarket. (I can get it 40% cheaper right outside my office building, I still walk to Chinatown because I just like the walk).


Poundwise

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #61 on: June 10, 2019, 08:28:57 AM »
Reading more about what you need from schools, here's what I have experienced. On school choice, safety will not be an issue at 99% of public schools whatever the borough, just read the reviews before you move (and note that commenters usually are skewed towards those with an axe to grind).    If you have the time, volunteer for the school parent-teacher association and you will very quickly have a community. 

Quote
obsessing over a school choice smacks of elitism that I am not sure comes out better for the kids in the end!!

School choice can be an issue, not because of elitism or fear of poor people, but simply because if you are different from other families in the community, you will have different needs.  Some issues we ran into through attending less "choice" public schools were:

- as I mentioned before, rigid curricula that teach to the tests.  Starting in kindergarten, kids sit for a large part of the day doing worksheets. More worksheets to do at home, not well tailored to student levels. Son was bored and unhappy.  After three years, we moved to a progressive school where there was no less/ homework, and they bragged about project based learning... son was happier there.

Well, other parents complained at PTA meetings that there was not enough homework!  Being at work all day and not being favored with a large income and SAHP, they couldn't enrich their kids' learning. They needed the schools to give their kids education after school. So, everyone started getting more homework! If your children's needs are not like their peers, there is limited capability to accommodate them-- which is reasonable!
 
- very crowded classrooms, which is not great when the class population is so heterogeneous in needs

- burnt out teachers/a lot of class time spent just dealing with behavior problems in class

- no playgrounds of their own. Kids had to walk three blocks to a public playground and back, which meant that they had less time to run around. One school we went to had no gym or auditorium either. They used the cafeteria when it was not needed for lunch. But that meant time for movement was limited, so they did stretching and yoga at their desks in order to fulfill state mandates for exercise

- no air conditioning. This doesn't sound so bad but some years the kids are just melting in 90+ degree heat for a month. Teachers do what they can with fans, but not much learning happens in those conditions.

- fewer books on the shelves at the libraries

- when resources are low, people squabble more because the school is the only ticket for their kids out of poverty.  We had a very toxic PTA for a while, because we had to kill ourselves to raise $15K a year, so people fought about what to spend it on.  When we first arrived at the school there were no after school clubs, no book fair, no science fair, not much at all.  We made these things happen and I am proud. But if you will not be volunteering or donating much to the school, then you don't want a fixer upper.

 I feel that my younger kids have happier and less complicated lives in their suburban school. I wouldn't move back to the city at this point, but that's me.  Sounds like you're a city person, and you would thrive on the energy. There is a huge potential for a person like you in the city, since it doesn't look like you are interested in a Disney-like experience of private schools and shopping.   I am glad to have had the experience, we did much and saw much, and possibly one day we will look back and see that it had a positive effect on my oldest son as well.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 10:42:16 AM by Poundwise »

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #62 on: June 10, 2019, 09:39:10 AM »
I really appreciate all the feedback. We are still waiting to hear more because just as this was supposed to be discussed husband ended up rushed off to a business trip to handle something they thought they could do without him and changed their minds in the end.
So not only did we not hear any more, I had a nightmare of a week trying to juggle everything in his sudden absence.

I totally understand both the people who say 150k is plenty and those who say it's nowhere near enough (but also keep in mind it is not a figure anyone has brought to the table, it is just something that Google gave me as the lower end of the range for his exact position in his company's NY office, so I chose to base my guessing on it..it could very well be that he would be given a much more generous deal...or it could be they'd try to haggle this down assuming that just getting to go to NYC is a perk in itself, because to be honest, I think a lot of single young people who get this opportunity feel that way).
I get this because very often people come here to Luxembourg on 100 000€ salaries and ask on social media if that's OK and it's usually a massive shitstorm in the comments with people earning less than that saying that it's a fortune and people earning more than that saying that it's a stretch.
And having been here for 4 years and considering our lifestyle from the point of view of two of us having high incomes and from the point of view of considering staying at home and letting my husband support us with roughly that, I can really see both sides of this.
Reality is, if we only had one 100 000€ pre tax annual salary, we would not starve here but we also wouldn't be able to save anything but a modest emergency fund. I wouldn't want to live like that indefinitely. On the other hand, I may consider it for a brief adventure somewhere fun and different.
So for me this NY option is more of a "slow travel" kind of thing than a family relocation, but that is of course a bit of an issue as my husband and my kids (especially my wannabe American kid) might not see it like that.

But well, at this point it's really just to wait and see what exactly it would be and also, how his business dealings on this side of the pond work out, as I imagine if he wins some of these major clients he won't be going anywhere, as it would be a stupid career move. And it's not him who wants to leave Luxembourg, it's me. But I won't make him leave if he will feel he can achieve so much more. He feels he could make partner in 2-3 years, it would suck to make him walk away from that just because I like Woody Allen movies better than Desperate housewives (or something else meant to evoke the image of living in a fancy suburban hell).

Poundwise

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #63 on: June 10, 2019, 11:05:14 AM »
A couple more thoughts.  Maybe I've been too discouraging.  After going through the education described above plus supplementation at home, my son was able to adjust easily to a highly rated suburban school.  So if you're thinking about a temporary move, there is no worry about the final quality of education.

We know kids who got to see their compositions get performed by the NY Philharmonic (and went on later to performing arts middle schools, an hour commute but apparently worth it). Other kids are now going to top high schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Hunter College High, Lehman. Some are studying to be professional dancers or musicians. They're happy, engaged, and living the dream.  Other kids are still slogging through their neighborhood high schools.  It depends on your children's interests and temperament (and also the extent to which you are able to engage as a parent). 

 There were many many small daily annoyances in this city with its aging infrastructure, but life in NYC was a meaningful life and a social life. 

frugaliknowit

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #64 on: June 11, 2019, 01:57:57 PM »
I agree with much of what was written.. mainly it depends on the package. I have friends in Lux so I know it's Luxemboring especially compared to NYC but as others said it's fast paced, having small children will add to the challenges but I think if the package is amazing (it needs to be, to do the move, IMO) I'd say go for it.

+1

My$.02:  If the package is NOT amazing, don't do it.

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #65 on: June 14, 2019, 02:34:17 AM »
I think we won't be going anywhere as husband's stars really seem to be aligning perfectly over here and he is probably going to make partner in a few years so really, why go anywhere. He likes it here, career gods like him, maybe it is really too unfair to make him move just because I want a change of scenery and the big kid wants to be American.
He also mentioned this casually to his parents and they flipped out completely, they are already resenting us big time for moving here,but at least we visit 2x per year and they come 1x per year.
Apparently my FIL hates flying. I am a little bit surprised to hear that as they travel a lot and it was MIL who said it, but it's true they usually drive to us.

I think they were really utterly shocked because they know I don't like it here and that I've been pushing gently to move back. The thought that move back suddenly turned into move to a different continent hit them hard.

Sometimes I think I should really just suck it up, it's so offensive to the realities of the world to be this miserable to have to live in Luxembourg.
Especially in a situation where we are financially able to do so (I can imagine that a lot of people can rightfully hate this place for being unable to earn a living wage).
But it's really not for me, I am craving a lively city, a thriving cultural scene, opportunities to change careers at any stage of my life (here that is a very abstract notion, unless we're talking turnign into a real estate developer once you somehow come into some land or quitting a day job because you can't manage with the kids and becoming a doula or life coach), I would love it for the kids to have a relationship with their grandparents (so yeah, moving even farther away is maybe not gonna help with that).
I mean, this place, I feel like almost everyone we meet are either people who are here temporarily and have zero desire to stay here permanently or are obnoxious wealthy housewives (am guessing husband meets the high flying husbands, but I just meet the ladies) with the intellectual prowess of an amoeba.

We now have some kind of an unspoken understanding that a huge part of the issue is that I am supposed to work in order to maintain our savings rate and that combining my skepticism of the place with sheer exhaustion from having to hold a job and be a mother in a competitive society such as this one is a major contributor to my dissatisfaction and that once my husband can singlehandedly outearn the living costs of Luxembourg and I can divide my time entirely between my desired intellectual pursuits and my mothering it would be easier.

But it's a few more years before we get there and I am beyond burned out by all this, so I don't know.

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #66 on: June 14, 2019, 03:18:16 AM »
I feel a need to rant about this. It is really frustrating how we seem to want radically different things and that was not so obvious a few years ago when we first got married.

We have a lot of common interests but we come from very different worlds.
My husband grew up in the wider area of Stockholm in Sweden. They had a nice house in a "good" suburb, a summer house in the islands and a boat. His mother was a stay at home mom which was not so common already at that time and it is because of that that my husband GENUINELY believes he grew up in a "modest" situation when it comes to wealth.

I was born in what was still Yugoslavia and then became Croatia in a bloody war while I was in elementary school. I lived in a rural area where most people are barely functionally literate, in a house that was built by my grandfather. I was lucky though in the sense that, regardless what many people here might believe, all the socialist communist crap of the previous times did have a noticeable effect on the ability of my parents to have some kind of decent education so they both had university degrees and public service jobs. That sadly still didn't mean they weren't idiots in many ways so I don't think I owe much more to my parents than the sheer fact that we had books in the home and got a computer and then Internet as soon as it became a thing.
When I was a kid my concept of luxury was to buy a banana or an imported toy, but I am still aware that I was better off than most of the kids around me.

So it is very ironic that my husband seems to subscribe to the theory that everything he accomplished in his life was because he worked hard for it, whereas I believe that I was exceptionally lucky at different points of my life and that I could have worked way harder than I ever did (tbh I was never a work hard type, I am a living example of the fact that you can be born with a high IQ and breeze through the requirements of life even if you are not super dedicated to anything in particular) and still ended up with a very inferior result.

But this discrepancy in how we understand our own life stories leads to some diverging political opinions (my husband is much more conservative, especially economically (it is uncommon for a Swede to be socially conservative) whereas I am a wild raging communist in his eyes (when for example I can't really align with much of the more extreme left here in Europe as I think they're too anti-intellectual for my taste), and, more importantly, to different ideas of how we are to live in the long term.
My husband seems to constantly need recognition for his hard work, he needs to be needed at work, rewarded for his performance, yadda yadda. It's like he has no sense of personal identity outside of being praised for his intellectual superiority.
I really don't need anyone to tell me I am smart. I know I am smart because I am sitting here now talking to you people, being coast FI and sad that I don't get to spend more time doing random intellectual pursuits. After I told you what my background is.
The only thing I absolutely need from someone outside of my own brain is for my kids to grow up feeling I was a warm and supportive parent. Because I didn't have that and I think it scarred me emotionally and I want to make sure my children grow up differently.
So obviously I am drawn to FIRE, whereas husband is drawn to overworking himself in the name of capitalism.

But I am trying to see this as a good thing, because to be honest, as long as we are OK with staying married ( and I think we both love and respect each other and are equally conservative when it comes to not being entirely willing to divorce over philosophical disagreements) , our desired lifestyles can complement each other. Him continuously earning a lot of money makes my FI position stronger (and I have really made my share of all this money so I have earned the right to consider myself FI and not a kept wife)  and me being very dedicated to parenting our kids gives him a bit of street cred with his old school corporate buddies (let's be honest, stay at home wives are a status symbol to these guys).

So yes, I guess the solution for us it to stick it out to a million in net worth, task hubby with covering the cost of living in Luxembourg as a 5 member family and let me divide my time between kids and whatever I want to do.
And if even then I will find living in this little suburban utopia insufferable, well then we will have to have a more serious talk :/ Ironically I think by then the big kid will be old enough to demand to move to the US and maybe we let him be the tie breaker so we may end up there anyway.

former player

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #67 on: June 14, 2019, 03:53:50 AM »
You have my sympathies. 

I do suspect that some of the philosophical differences between your DH and yourself may be a male/female thing as much as a first/second world thing.  Also, part of the problem I think may just be the stage of life you are at: two full time jobs plus pregnancy and 2/3 young kids is just hard, wherever you are in the world.  It will of course pass, as long as you don't keep having more kids after this one!

Luxembourg, right.  I was only ever in and out for overnight trips to the ECJ.  I know Strasbourg a little better as I used to spend several weeks a year there at the CoE.  Any chance of a move to Brussels or is your fonctionnaire status stuck in Luxembourg?  I lived in Brussels for a couple of years and found it fine, but either Strasbourg or Luxembourg would have felt pretty restricted, especially compared to London.   I suppose if I had ended up there I might have tried to move out and go for a rural lifestyle rather than trying to have a city lifestyle in something which is really just an overgrown bourgeois suburb with a little bit of history in the middle.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #68 on: June 14, 2019, 04:32:39 AM »
former player - I don't think it's a male/female thing.  More to do with different values and different experiences of life.  I'm married to a man who is very far to the left politically and anti-capitalist which is kind of ironic as he runs a small business.  I'm further towards the center -a center of the road Democrat in US terms.  I know men and women of all different stripes and all different value systems.


I've dated men like havregyn's husband though, ironically, when I was living in NYC as the place is crawling with them.  Highly ambitious white guys who seemed to have no idea of their privilege in life (gender, race, nationality and, often a nice middle class background with loving parents).  Anyway one of the things I like about my husband is that he grew up poor so he doesn't have that and sympathizes intensely with the underdog.  As someone who grew up middle class but in an extremely unconventional family, I found that his values gelled with mine in ways a middle class guys' (with married parents, mom baking cookies, white picket fence in the suburbs and all that stuff) values just don't.  They were often completely unable to relate to the more "out there" parts of my childhood and were just shocked and uncomprehending.  My husband works extremely hard but sees work as a way to make a living not some kind of definition of who he is, which is pretty much how I am.  Also he's not exactly a feminist but due to his sense of fairness has no problem being the "go to" parent for pretty much everything since he has flexible hours and I don't.  And even though he's a white male, he grew up without a lot of privilege.  Sometimes he shocks me though - there were times when his large family didn't didn't eat very well.


Anyway, havregryn - did your husband share your values when you were first married?  Is there any remnant of his old values left under his corporate exterior?  What does he think of FIRE?  Would be  he willing to give up his career or ramp it down to do something else that he (and you) are more passionate about?  Also as former player asked, can you guys go somewhere else in Europe?  Maybe Brussels? London? I've never been to Luxembourg but I've been to Brussels and was pleasantly surprised.  It seemed like a pretty cosmopolitan place and I liked the bilingual (Flemish and French) thing there, which I guess is similar to Luxembourg.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 04:36:46 AM by Hula Hoop »

reeshau

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #69 on: June 14, 2019, 04:53:23 AM »

My husband seems to constantly need recognition for his hard work, he needs to be needed at work, rewarded for his performance, yadda yadda. It's like he has no sense of personal identity outside of being praised for his intellectual superiority.

...

So obviously I am drawn to FIRE, whereas husband is drawn to overworking himself in the name of capitalism.


It sounds like he would fit really well in the US!

Seriously, given Hula Hoop's comments, too, I might add this as a silver lining:  perhaps it's for the best, as New York would likely just feed these tendencies--tendencies you don't seem to like?  (I'm not sure if you don't like them on their face, or just because they are surfacing now)  Maybe his view will mature once your oldest also matures:  he makes partner, then...doesn't make senior partner?  At whatever point his career plateaus, that might be a point for him to reflect on his values and where he is going.  Of course, this is a common cause of the classic mid-life crisis; I'm sure that's not what you want.  But if you can manage to find a happy (enough) balance for yourself, maybe you can then help him settle down and think about life outside / after career.

Poundwise

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #70 on: June 14, 2019, 05:05:24 AM »
Seriously, given Hula Hoop's comments, too, I might add this as a silver lining:  perhaps it's for the best, as New York would likely just feed these tendencies--tendencies you don't seem to like? 

For sure, NYC would give you both the opportunity to accentuate your tendencies, which could be worse for your relationship.  Because Manhattan is crowded with supercompetitive, materialistic bubble dwellers.

Thoughts... what opportunities for social work are there in Luxembourg? Since I started hanging out with a wonderful group who works with refugees and immigrants, I no longer have complaints about a shallow social group.

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #71 on: June 14, 2019, 05:15:30 AM »
No, I could move to Brussels. I mean, in theory. My CV is still ok (but with every year that I stay not pursuing any kind of ambition and just doing my core job maybe less so lol) so I could probably move around. But the problem is - it is completely unrealistic to even imagine that we can somehow suffer me ending up in a more intense job. I whine about my job being a bit mindnumbing but it is very convenient in the sense that it is something that comes with very little individual responsibility (in the sense that I can at any time be instantly replaced by someone else from the department as we are all doing exactly the same thing, which is very convenient when you need to take time off on a very short notice), zero travel (there is absolutely nothing about my job description thatg could ever require me to travel anywhere) and can easily be done from home (no meetings, no clients, no external stakeholders, just me and my computer).
Any attempt to replace my job with something more exciting might end up in disaster, between my suboptimal health and family obligations.

A huge, huge, massive issue with embracing a more rural lifestyle here is that I don't drive and I am very reluctant to start. It feels counterintuitive to do something I am so anxious about (I had a stroke in 2015 and I have both some remnants of PTSD and weakened attention and reaction times, it feels very counterproductive to attempt to increase my quality of life with something that I am dreading and that may create a danger for me and others and I really feel it should not be that much of an extreme position in the 21st century Europe to say I want to live car-free lol)
It is absolutely impossible to even imagine living in rural Luxembourg without one (it is more likely that if my husband makes partner and we are still here in xy years we will have employed a personal driver to drive the kids around).
But this is another detail of how any long term life in Luxembourg means constantly spending 60-70-80 000€ per year. So once my husband can bring in the kind of income that will cover this + a buffer, well, good for him, I will be ready to talk. But right now me walking away from my own income would leave us living paycheck to paycheck (I mean, on a monthly basis,obviously the savings aren't going anywhere) and whether it's fully rationalto be terrified by that I don't know but so far we both still are.

My husband insists he hadn't changed at all and I sometimes want to punch him. The guy I met was 32 years old, had only finally finished his studies 2 years prior, after he had spent his 20s working part time in a bookstore, collecting books, switching study programs between mathematics, Japanese and computer science. Later on he started a distance course in biochemistry (education is free in Sweden so not hard to go all crazy). At age 30 he got some kind of an IT job that he was doing when I met him. He was earning less than half of what he or I earn now. Living in a nice little apartment in a suburb of Stockholm he had bought a year prior to that.  One room completely full of books. Still working at the bookstore during some of the weekends (something he quit only when our first son was born and they kicked him out lol).
It was him who first found Mr. Money Mustache. We talked about FIRE a lot. The only reason I even pursued this job was that I knew this was the fastest way for me to earn a bucketload of money (I have degrees in psychology, French and comparative literature, employers are not lining up with bags of cash). Between me accepting this offer and us physically relocating (I asked for 6 months because I wanted to be home with what was then just one toddlder)he was constantly talking about all the things he would do now that I would be the primary earner.
Fast forward 6 months, he got offered a job via LinkedIn, they were instantly impressed with his abilities (he is definitely a super capable guy, no doubt about that, it's a fact that the Swedish culture doesn't reward this), he got some super fast promotions, promises of more to come and he was completely enchanted. 4 years later all he can talk about is how he regrets wasting all that time being happy and carefree (this is obviously my sarcasm, he doesn't phrase it like this, he's just sad he hadn't gotten on this career track sooner as he'd had been a millionaire for years now).

I mean, to give you a little glimpse into how Sweden works, when I first started a Swedish course there I was rather good at it (I was fluent in 5 languages already, it's hardly nuclear science to acquire another one, especially one closely related to English and German) , very quickly I was told I would have to tone it down or leave the course as me being so good at it was intimidating to the others.I get it that husband now feels like he is in heaven where everyone likes it that he is smart and wants to give him money for it, but still, I wish he'd keep his eye on the original goal a bit more.

lhamo

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #72 on: June 14, 2019, 08:35:09 AM »
I know one of the reasons you are where you are in terms of housing is that it is ridiculously expensive.  But now that you think you will be staying, and since you have a 3rd kid on the way, could some of what you are currently putting toward savings be put toward housing in a more central area?  I totally understand your frustrations with the social environment where you are -- I had many similar feelings about life in Beijing.  My quality of life improved EXPONENTIALLY when we bought a condo that I loved.  It was more than I had originally wanted to spend (took out a sizable mortgage when originally I had wanted to purchase for cash), but it paid off in the long run -- tripled in value and propelled us to FIRE 6 years down the road.

havregryn

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Re: Should we move to NYC for a few years?
« Reply #73 on: Today at 01:44:31 AM »
I really think it is impossible to move to a better location for us, that is why I am so frustrated (as we will need a larger place and I would love to sell this to take advantage of the enormous capital gains as it has appreciated immensely). Being more central wouldn't really mean anything as we would be marginally closer to our offices but have problems with schools and grocery stores. And really, we would be just marginally closer, it would still not be walkable for both of us, and if we moved closer to husband's work it would become a nightmare for mine and vice versa (as we work on different ends of this little "city" and the geography of Luxembourg is not exactly walk and bike friendly, photo exhibit A: )

This is something that I learned, whenever something appears on the market that appears affordable (if you stretch this word really far) , it almost inevitably means that it is accessed at such an angle that there is no way you are ever going to get to go anywhere in winter when there's ice on the road).
I honestly don't understand how people live in these houses. Son and I went for a playdate in one and it was a major hiking operation.

Really, housing options here are driving me insane. First, everything is insanely expensive. Second, rent vs. buy math is incredibly complicated and very unlikely to ever favor renting, mostly because even as a renter, you are supposed to pay for most of the maintenance and mortgage interest is 1.5%, with generous tax benefits, so more like less than 1% in practice.
But with me wanting to quit work and/or Luxembourg it's not exactly the smartest move to take a seven figure mortgage, even if it is "cheap" to borrow.
So obviously the most rational way to proceed is to live in this place for as long as we can (it's really not an issue to have small kids share a room but once they're preteens, I don't know, I am skeptical, it would be one thing if we had no other option, but come on, we have plenty of options, the most obvious one being moving back to Sweden lol).

Our current thinking is that we  can try to stay here until 2021 and then look for a better solution. For me it feels almost inevitable that "better solution" will involve leaving Luxembourg, but well, I want to be openminded, who knows what can change till then.