We moved to Germany from Israel when our baby was four months old. When I was searching for any information, everything I’ve found was “do your homework, join the local Facebook groups, ask questions”. In spite the homework I did and information we received from our relocation agents, there still were a lot of white spots and a lot of question. After living here for nine months things became more clear and I want to come up with a particular checklist of what you should know and what you should check when you planning to move overseas with a new baby.
Make an appointment with a pediatrician as soon as your medical insurance is activated, even if your baby is perfectly fine. There are several checkups during the year and in Germany, it takes at least one month before you will see the doctor. So do not wait.
Check the vaccination plan and vaccination law. Each country has its vaccination plan, German you can see here. It is similar to one we have in Israel. Regarding the law: vaccination is recommended, but not mandatory. If you started vaccination in your home country, take with you your baby’s vaccination list. If you do not plan to vaccinate your baby or you plan partial vaccination, it is worth to look for a pediatrician who supports your decision to avoid additional stress.
If your child needs special treatment or medications, especially if he or she has any type of allergy, it is better to check in advance what analogs are used in a country you are relocation to and how can you purchase them. Most of the medications in Europe require doctors prescription. If you have something your baby needs on a regular basis. take it with your till you get to the pediatrician.
We moved with no intention to hire a nanny or to send our child to kindergarten. However. Even if you are not planning to hire one, check if you theoretically will be able to. You will move to a new place, no family or friends who probably could babysit your child when you have to make some arrangements, even when you have to visit a doctor, I am not even speaking about going out with your husband… It is always good to have this option.
If you want to send your child to the kindergarten, apply to several of them immediately when you arrive. It takes time and the waiting list can be very long, especially to English-speaking kindergarten.
In Germany there is an alternative to kindergarten and nanny – it is called Tagesmutter. Usually, it is a mom with her own child who also takes care of several other children at her place and she paid partially by you and partially by local government.
Check if you are entitled to child benefit. For example, in Germany, taxpaying expats who have children are entitled to children allowance called Kidergeld. The amount is 192 -223 € paid monthly until the children turn 18.
Check if there is any parenting allowance you are entitled to, even if you do not work or did not work in a destination country.
There is such allowance in Germany is Elterngeld. The amount is calculated depends on the after taxes income of the parent who takes care of the newborn and is, actually, a limited income subsidy. This idea behind it is to allow both parents to execute their right to maternity or paternity leave and to receive support from the government – Elterngeld during first 12-14 months. Since it depends on the income, the amount varies between 300 € to 1,800 € per month. This idea was adopted from the Scandinavian system, so there is a high chance other European countries may have this allowance as well.
In Bavaria, such allowance is granted to parents who take care of their child by themselves and is paid until the child is 3 years old. The benefit of 150 € is paid monthly irrespective of income. This benefit also paid in a case if your relatives, for example, grandma is staying home with a child while parents are at work.
Dealing with isolation
The isolation and absence of family and friends is probably the hardest issue when you are moving abroad. So to help it I would suggest finding some local playgroup or coffee group before you relocating or as soon as you arrive. If you can not find anybody, try to put the note on a kindergarten desk in your neighborhood or at a grocery shop. A Facebook local group may be a great place to find new friends as well. It worked well for me, even in our remote place I have found three amazing friends.