Picking a Home

It’s been a while, blogland, but there’s a very good reason for it! I’ve been reflecting on my future and learning this new way of life. Honestly, my way of thinking totally changed when Baby O came into my world. I want to have fun and travel the globe has been replaced by- I want to go where Baby O will thrive and prosper, be happy, have more opportunities than I did, doesn’t have to feel the burden of debt, fear of her environment, has space to move around and explore, have adventures and feels comfortable. And hey! We can still have fun and travel (maybe not the globe right now), we just will do it together and change the format of our trips to suit a newbie foodie and milk connoisseur.

That leads to the question- where is that place? Where can all of my desires for Baby O be met? Germany (maybe somewhere Europe eventually) or US? Let’s do a pros and cons list. *****Obviously, this is not intended to offend anyone or their choice to live in either country, this is all my opinion (thus why it’s a blog post and not a research paper or published article). I also tried not to compare things that are impossible to compare like parks, nature, public transportation, and school buildings. It all depends on where you are.

 Raising a Baby Comparison Germany or the US

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Education–  Germany

Germany is better ranked, and BONUS it’s free.  Higher education may be better back home for me (in Boston) BUT those, without scholarships, have extremely high price tags, which as I know from experience, leads to a future loaded with debt and burden. I’m anxious just thinking about it.

 

DiversityUnited States

It’s called the melting pot for a reason. But Germany is getting more and more diverse, so who knows on this one? The biggest thing is, Baby O won’t find as many people who look like her in Germany as opposed to certain areas of the US. I think this one is hard to determine.

 

SafetyGermany

Better gun laws, less crime, less police violence (time sensitive as it were)—- BUT this is a generalization. Some ares in the US might be totally safe with lower crime rates. But in order for me to pick a clear choice, I had to go with the generalization.

 

Health InsuranceGermany HANDS DOWN Unknown

Our public health insurance covers damn- near everything. We don’t even have co-pays. Glasses are less expensive here too (as some of you know, I keep two pairs of glasses in case one breaks {which it will}, and I tend go through them preeeeeety quickly and that is super expensive). Baby O’s hospital stay was completely covered, and the doctors seem alright.  And BONUS, health insurance coverage doesn’t break the bank.

 

FriendlinessUnited States 

People smile, laugh, and give off such a positive energy back in the US. You talk to store clerks, people ask how you are doing, no one pushes you out of the way for crackers in the supermarket, or cuts you in line. They just seem happier, and happier seeming people tend to come off friendlier. I feel like Germans are all about keeping it real, and openly staring because they just want to. I plan on smiling and making up for the sad-faced Germans with Baby O, just so she learns that this is not the general norm.

 

Maternity/Paternity LeaveGermany

Moms and Dads are both entitled to time off and their jobs once their time is over.  Moms get full pay 6 weeks before baby arrives, and 8 weeks after. Then maternity leave of a year +, which they get 65% of their pay. Dads can get 2 months + off (even with Mom off too). You also get Kindergeld (until your child is a working adult) and Elterngeld (for 1 year), money given to the child and parents for having a baby. Ultimately, it’s a pretty good deal.

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BenefitsGermany, again

Work/life balance is important to many a’ German. 30 days of guaranteed vacation, and numerous holidays amass to quite a bit of time off. Add that to cheaper rates for traveling in and around Europe, and you got some fun urlaub times ahead. And from a family point of view, your child now has the opportunity to experience different cultures and lands with her parents for 6 weeks a year.  BONUS-  where we are now, the cost of living is low and the quality of life is high, benefits that matter a lot to a growing family.

 

Mommy & Me ClassesUnited States

In my experience, there aren’t a whole lot of these going on around here. In the US, you can do all kinds of funky things with a baby- social and different, whereas here, you tend to make your own opportunities and rely on mom’s groups and such. I wish we had more baby gyms (for the smaller kids) and art classes, things like that. Yeah, I can do all these things by myself with O, especially baking/cooking/cupcake decorating stuff, but I like the social aspect.

 

Child FriendlinessTOSS 

There were bathrooms both here and back in the US for nursing, children were pretty much accepted both places… no one really complained here nor there. Breastfeeding is not really a thing over here as it may be over there, and while Berlin apparently has child cafés, that’s not to say you can’t just take your kid to a café or biergarten (I’ve seen loads over here). What do you guys think, which one is more child-friendly in your experience?

 

 

I think the pros add up for Germany, and it’s weird for me to agree with it. Honestly. I love back home, especially in it’s fall-Halloween-and-leaves-changing glory. While I’ll miss the smiling faces, and the cool mommy and me classes, I need the other stuff just slightly more. What do all of you think? Where would you pick? Let’s discuss.

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19 thoughts on “Picking a Home

  1. I love living in Germany! I have three kids ranging in ages from 3-16 years old. This is the second time I have lived in Germany, the first time I hated it. Over the years it has grown on me and as a parent I am far more convinced Germany (and most of Europe) provides a healthier and more stable place to raise my kids than the USA. The safety and security outweighs the convenience of the USA. Germans are a stern and picky bunch, but generally their rational is spot on. My kids are safe, secure and benefitting from the German lifestyle. Hands down– Deutschland wins.

    1. Thanks for the comment! It’s hard sometimes to live in a place that is very different than what you are used to and grew up with— but I happen to agree with you– Germany seems to provide many benefits and opportunities that I wouldn’t be able to get back home. And for that reason, my mind was already made up. Do your kids love it here?

      1. My teenager (who was born in Wurzburg, but has lived in the mainland US and Hawaii) is conflicted. He likes the freedom he has here… yes, mostly because he can have beer without it being a big deal, but he misses being an American teenager. He misses the mall (which Germany does have) and going to a big school. My little ones love it here. My six year old loves to travel and is obsessed with Christmas Markts, going to Paris and speaking German and French. We live about only about 45 minutes from the French border. I think it is easier for her because she has never really lived in the US. The oldest loves to travel and the German girls seem to really like him, so that is a plus for him. He speaks pretty good German so he is able to communicate and travel without any worries. I feel a lot better about letting him have more freedom here than I would in the states. He is 16 and enjoys going to the local pubs with his friends, taking the train into Frankfurt and larger cities. He is a pretty responsible kid and I think that has to do with being raised in Germany. His friends in the US are not as mature as he is and it is very evident. He is also getting a far better education than they do. He may not love it here, but I don’t think he would be much happier in the states either. 🙂

  2. Well, you just convinced me that I should move to Germany. I guess Germany wins! I’m glad you are beginning to enjoy it. 🙂

  3. It’s funny, I’ve lived in Germany for a few weeks now and at first was really taken aback by all the stern faced (particularly older) German women. Most of them look like they are going to slap you! But most people have assured me that it’s just a thing and in general I have found almost all Germans very friendly 🙂

    1. They grow on you—- maybe not in Bavaria (is what I’m told) but they begin to smile at you the more they see you. And they LOVE the baby!

  4. Well, here it goes again from the old “wanna-be Berliner”. As you already know, my input is based on experiences from long ago, but after all these years I still have a great affection for “meine zweite Heimat – Berlin”. My reasons for loving it there were based on entirely different experiences than yours, but nevertheless, I am confident that after you are more proficient in the language – and you will be – that that factor in addition to the ones you pointed out will clinch it for you and you really enjoy your life there. Alles gute wuensche ich
    Euch alle. Nochmal, schoen Gruess an Ihren Mann. Jim

    1. Danke!! I know how you feel about Berlin— I think it’s a really cool place. Germany grows on you, and even with its tiny flaws, it still feels like a better place than home right now, at least for the baby! Thanks, Jim!

  5. I think these generalizations are really tough to make (though I do it all the time myself). I’ve lived all over the US and find safety/lack of crime nearly everywhere I’ve gone in Germany (including Cologne, which has the second highest crime rate) so remarkably different here that I decided I had to raise my kid here. No being arrested for letting her play in the park alone or worries about finding a gun at a friend’s house. And those Mommy & Me classes are here in Cologne in abundance (and cheaper than I found in Berkeley… then again, in Berkeley it was more like Nanny & Me classes). Hope things are going well for you and your baby 🙂

    1. I made generalizations that help me make a decision— I think it’s normal and sometimes necessary. You will find good and bad everywhere, but for the purpose of this post, I wanted to show a clear winner in my opinion. I did discuss this at length with fellow expats and the German husband and read numerous articles to help me decide too.

      It’s crazy that you can let your kids walk home by themselves here—- there is just this lack of paranoia that I really appreciate. I love the idea of mommy & me classes, it’s just my German is not nearly good enough, nor is it good enough when I’m exhausted from teething drama. There is just something so social and cool about going to one of those classes and make friends with moms/dads that are down-to-earth and just enjoying doing fun things. I tried a mom’s group out here and it’s totally not for me. I’m hoping I find a way to do something social with baby coming up, know what I mean?

  6. I think a lot of these depend on where in Germany you live. Bavaria is generally not very diverse, I think. In Berlin you would find a lot more diversity.

    1. Yeah, big cities tend to have more diversity, which I meant to write. It’s still not the same as home though, when it comes to meeting other African Americans, but it’s better than a countryside! It really does depend where you are, and Bavaria is just different than a lot of Germany, right?

      1. Bavaria is different and proud of it 😉
        Come to think of it, I don’t know of any African Americans in my area either… just actual Africans!

  7. Hi Allie! After reading your blog I’m wondering if you maybe would be happier in a different part of germany. I’m german and I grew up in franconia about an hour away from nuremberg. I never really connectet with the mentality there. I moved to Berlin 12 years ago and I’m very happy here since. If you have the opportunity to check out other parts of germany do it. German people and mentality differ very much from region to region. The south is very different to the north and the east.

    Also, there are mommy and me classes in nuremberg region. I included some links. Hopefully you find something interesting for you and baby o. Good luck!

    Dannie

    fitness classes with baby
    http://www.kangatraining-nuernberg.de
    http://www.diefamilienbande.de/fit-dank-baby.html
    http://www.wundervoller-start.de/nordicwalking-baby.html

    yoga with baby
    http://www.param-yoga.de/yoga-nuernberg/baby-yoga-nuernberg
    http://www.hebammenameck.de/index.php?option=com_flexicontent&view=items&cid=9&id=24&Itemid=56

    music classes
    http://www.diefamilienbande.de/kinderkurse/musikgarten-fuer-babys-musikgarten-fuer-kinder.html
    http://www.musication.de/kinder.html

    swimm classes
    https://www.wassermaeuse.de/nuernberg.html
    http://www.schwimmschule-baer.de/schwimmen/kurse/babyschwimmen.html
    https://www.post-sv.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=578&Itemid=7

    baby gym classes
    http://www.atv-frankonia-nuernberg.de/index.php?id=555
    http://www.vfl-nuernberg.de/pages/posts/mutter-und-kindturnen-475.php (f. 18m)

    different classes
    http://www.fbs-nuernberg.de/index.php?id=370

    http://www.diefamilienbande.de/kinderkurse/miniclub-krabbelgruppe.html

    http://www.nordbayern.de/essen-trinken/gastro-guide/boutique-cafe-florentine-1.1580759
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kinderwelt-Florentine-Eltern-Kind-Cafe/145942885516820

    1. Hey, thanks for all the links!!! I’m going to do through all of them and find something to do. My German is kind of crappy at the moment, but I’m working on getting back into it—- as soon as baby calms down with her current teething drama. I do think another part of Germany would be a better fit for us, just need to go out and find our place. So that’s our goal over the next year, just check out everything we can. My husband is from the south, so I can only imagine how different people are based on regions! Thanks for your comment and help!

  8. Funny I came across your blog just now. I think your comparison is pretty spot-on! Though I am currently a German expat in the US. We are expecting our first child together and for me the picture is pretty clear, that I do NOT want to send my child to school in the US. Raising a child is hard work everywhere, but here is is expensive (even having it – due to health insurance costs – and child care costs etc.) on top of that. Unfortunately my husband hasn’t picked up much German, even after 7 years of marriage, which I hope our daughter will change. If we can find a way to make a living for both of us there, versus just me working, we’ll be moving for sure! I think for me the deciding point is, that kids learn and have the ability to be more independent being raised in Europe, versus the US, which in turn I think makes them more responsible. I do hope though that she will know enough about both cultures and their ups and downs (which no doubt both have) to make up her own mind, once she is grown and appreciate both. What I miss most is my family though, that’s the biggest part of it for me at 7 months pregnant!

  9. This is very helpful to me, as my husband and I have just decided to begin working towards relocating to Germany (we expect it to take about two years to bring everything together to make it happen). We’re doing it primarily because we don’t want to raise our children in the US, even though we’re both US citizens and have never lived anywhere else (we’re both well-traveled, though). By the time we get there, our son will be 8 and our daughter 6. So thank you for this; you’ve confirmed a lot of our suspicions.

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