Reader Case Examine: Screenwriter + Software program Engineer + Child in Munich, Germany

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Jane and her husband Kurt stay in Munich, Germany with their six-month-old son, Oskar. Jane works as a software program engineer and Kurt is a screenwriter for a well-liked German tv sequence. The couple love dwelling in Munich, save one reality: Jane is American and her household all stay throughout the pond. Thus, they’re considering a transfer to the Northeastern United States as a way to be nearer to Jane’s household, specifically, her mother and father with whom she and Kurt are each very shut. Let’s jump over to Germany at the moment to assist Jane and Kurt analyze this determination!

What’s a Reader Case Examine?

Case Research tackle monetary and life dilemmas that readers of Frugalwoods ship in requesting recommendation. Then, we (that’d be me and YOU, expensive reader) learn by way of their state of affairs and supply recommendation, encouragement, perception and suggestions within the feedback part.

For an instance, try the final case examine. Case Research are up to date by contributors (on the finish of the submit) a number of months after the Case is featured. Go to this web page for hyperlinks to all up to date Case Research.

The Objective Of Reader Case Research

Reader Case Research intend to spotlight a various vary of economic conditions, ages, ethnicities, places, targets, careers, incomes, household compositions and extra!

The Case Examine sequence started in 2016 and, so far, there’ve been 72 Case Research. I’ve featured of us with annual incomes starting from $17k to $200k+ and internet worths starting from -$300k to $2.9M+.

I’ve featured single, married, partnered, divorced, child-filled and child-free households. I’ve featured homosexual, straight, queer, bisexual and polyamorous individuals. I’ve featured girls, non-binary of us and males. I’ve featured transgender and cisgender individuals. I’ve had cat individuals and canine individuals. I’ve featured of us from the US, Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, Spain, Finland, Germany and France.

I’ve featured individuals with PhDs and folks with highschool diplomas. I’ve featured individuals of their early 20’s and folks of their late 60’s. I’ve featured of us who stay on farms and people who stay in New York Metropolis.

The purpose is variety and solely YOU can assist me obtain that by emailing me your story! When you haven’t seen your circumstances mirrored in a Case Examine, I encourage you to use to be a Case Examine participant by emailing

Reader Case Examine Pointers

I most likely don’t have to say the next since you of us are the kindest, most well mannered commenters on the web, however please be aware that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone the place we endeavor to assist each other, not condemn.

There’s no room for rudeness right here. The purpose is to create a supportive atmosphere the place all of us acknowledge we’re human, we’re flawed, however we select to be right here collectively, workshopping our cash and our lives with constructive, proactive strategies and concepts.

A disclaimer that I’m not a educated monetary skilled and I encourage individuals to not make severe monetary selections based mostly solely on what one particular person on the web advises. 

I encourage everybody to do their very own analysis to find out the very best plan of action for his or her funds. I’m not a monetary advisor and I’m not your monetary advisor.

With that I’ll let Jane, at the moment’s Case Examine topic, take it from right here!

Jane’s Story

Jane and Kurt’s wedding ceremony

Hello Frugalwoods! My identify is Jane, I’m a 29-year-old American, my German husband Kurt is 30, and collectively we’ve a son, Oskar, who is nearly six months outdated. We stay in Munich, Germany the place Kurt is a screenwriter for a well-liked tv program and I’m a software program engineer for a small e-commerce firm. We’re additionally each pursuing grasp’s levels, fully-remote and part-time, at current: laptop science for me and political science for Kurt.

I’m at the moment on maternity go away with Oskar till subsequent fall! Kurt and I’ve been collectively for six years and obtained married in 2019. I’ve been admiring the Frugalwoods from afar for a number of years now and am honored to have the chance to obtain recommendation from Mrs. Frugalwoods and her readers as my husband and I plan a transfer to the U.S.!        

Jane’s Upbringing

Though I’ve been dwelling in Germany since I graduated from faculty, I grew up in a suburban city on the southern shore of Lengthy Island the place I had a beautiful childhood. My mother and father had been each academics, and owing to our an identical college schedules, my siblings and I loved a substantial quantity of high quality time along with them after we had been rising up. Within the summers, we might enterprise out on my mother and father’ boat for weeks at a time, and we regularly spent our winter holidays snowboarding in snowy Vermont. I went to school in Boston the place I studied laptop science. On a whim one semester, I took an introductory German course, and I loved studying the language a lot that I spent a summer time, in addition to a examine overseas semester, in Munich. After graduating from faculty, I made a decision to take a job as a software program engineer in Munich, hoping to spend a yr or two exploring Europe some extra earlier than returning to the States. These plans modified quickly after I met and fell in love with Kurt!

Jane & Kurt’s Life in Munich

A Christmas market in a city close to Kurt’s residence village

Whereas neither Kurt nor I might outline ourselves as “metropolis individuals,” we love dwelling in Munich and discover that it matches our way of life fairly nicely. It’s stated that “Munich is the biggest village in Germany”–the entire buildings within the metropolis have to be constructed decrease than the Frauenkirche (the cathedral within the metropolis middle)–and the normal Bavarian tradition programs by way of the town.

When you had been to be randomly dropped someplace in Munich, it’s probably you wouldn’t know that you simply had been in one of many largest metropolises in Europe! Though we stay solely a twenty-minute stroll from the town middle, our historic outdated neighborhood is quiet and clear, and we’re solely a pair hundred yards away from a park and the refreshing, sea-green Isar river. Simply minutes away from our condominium we’ve entry to a fantastic path for operating, biking, and cross-country snowboarding.

We love Munich’s proximity to the Alps too. The mountains right here significantly fulfill all of my childhood Sound of Music goals! Pre-pandemic, we might simply purchase an inexpensive accomplice day-ticket for the trains and journey an hour south to go for a hike or path run or cross-country ski. That is one thing we’ve missed the previous two years as the price of a rental automobile makes these actions prohibitively costly to do on the frequency we did them earlier than.

Jane & Kurt’s Hobbies

Apart from the aforementioned out of doors actions, a few of my different hobbies embody studying, movie pictures, knitting, cooking, baking bread, and listening to and taking part in classical music. Kurt’s favourite pastime is studying in numerous kinds–newspapers, magazines, literature, and non-fiction–and he additionally watches a number of soccer, baseball, and winter sports activities. He’s additionally an avid language learner; along with his native German, he speaks English and Dutch, and is starting to study French. We each get pleasure from spending time with our buddies right here–taking part in board video games, watching movies collectively, and visiting beer gardens on balmy summer time days. Pre-pandemic, my mother and father–now retired and whom we’re very shut with–would spend a pair months a yr with us, and we regularly traveled with them fairly a bit all through Europe.

Child Oskar!

Jane and Oskar picnicking at a close-by park on a heat winter day

This previous summer time, we joyously welcomed our son, Oskar, into the world. It’s a delight for us to observe him develop and observe how he’s starting to work together with, and find out about, the world round him. The quiet moments are those we cherish most proper now–cuddling with him in mattress within the morning, discovering new methods to make him chortle, and suppressing our personal laughter when he provides us an lovable pouty lip!

The primary couple months of his life weren’t with out challenges although. Shortly after he was born, our midwife found that he had a cleft of the taste bud, and he was whisked away from us and transported to a distinct hospital with had a NICU. We had been so overcome with feelings–pleasure over his arrival, misery concerning the sudden separation, and excessive concern about this situation we knew so little about. As we quickly discovered although, a cleft palate makes it tough for Oskar to eat correctly; it will be type of like if one needed to drink from a straw with holes in it.

The situation is routinely managed and comparatively widespread (about 1 in 700 infants are affected with cleft lip and/or palate); nevertheless, we weren’t with out many, many conflicting opinions firstly (“He can solely eat from a bottle!” / “There isn’t a child that can’t study to breastfeed!”/ “He wants a feeding plate for his palate!” / “A feeding plate gained’t assist in any respect!”). It took us a while to determine how one can feed him, however basically, he wants a particular wants feeder, and I’ve to pump all of his milk. He might want to have surgical procedure within the spring to shut his palate, and within the subsequent a number of years, we are going to probably have to work with a multidisciplinary staff of well being care professionals to observe his diet, listening to talents, and speech. 

What feels most urgent proper now? What brings you to submit a Case Examine?

We really feel so grateful for the life we’ve right here in Munich.  There’s, nevertheless, one large piece lacking for us: proximity to my household. Whereas some may perceive this as relocation out of obligation to getting older mother and father, that is solely a small a part of it. Most significantly, we actually take into account my mother and father to be amongst our greatest buddies. Actually! Nobody appears to consider me after I say this, however one of many issues I really like most about my husband is the connection he has nurtured with my mother and father.

Climbing with Jane’s mother and father in Bavaria

It’s because of this that we’ve skilled determination fatigue for years now about whether or not we must always relocate to the U.S. to be nearer to my mother and father. Previous to the pandemic, it wasn’t so urgent–my mother and father had the wherewithal post-retirement to journey usually to Europe and go to us for prolonged stays. Through the top of the pandemic, we felt a substantial amount of unhappiness about being separated from them and likewise nervousness (particularly earlier than they had been vaccinated) about them changing into significantly ailing from Covid-19 and us not with the ability to be there on the drop of a hat. I personally skilled a number of emotions of guilt over the selection to stay so distant from them.

There are a number of different the reason why we really feel that now is perhaps the best time to check out dwelling within the States. Whereas we don’t plan to saddle my mother and father with childcare duties, now that Oskar is right here, we might respect having extra assist with him after we often really want it (and Kurt and I might like to have a date night time one in all nowadays!). We’d additionally merely like to provide them the chance to spend extra spontaneous and casual time with their grandson.

We’re additionally experiencing some rising pains with our present condominium, so a transfer is probably going on the horizon in any case. Our tiny 645 sq. ft. two-bedroom condominium has a reasonably unbeatable hire for its location in Munich, and it’s good in some ways; nevertheless, as soon as Oskar is moved into the second bed room, we gained’t have room for my mother and father to stick with us after they go to. This could make it very costly for them to go to for prolonged durations of time, plus we get pleasure from after they can keep proper with us in our condominium. Ideally, we’d need yet another bed room, however this might probably imply we’d need to search for a spot additional outdoors the town and pay greater hire by a number of hundred euros.

Lastly, transferring now (we predict) could be simpler earlier than Oskar is at school at which era we might be much less versatile to do such a transfer. We see this transfer not essentially as a everlasting determination, however as a possibility to check out what our life would appear to be within the States and to spend extra high quality time with my mother and father and my siblings’ households.

Jane and Kurt making do-it-yourself perogies

For a very long time, we thought we’d like to maneuver to my hometown, however after we visited this previous fall for a number of weeks, we actually tried to see it by way of the lens of what our life is perhaps like dwelling there. Lengthy story quick, though I liked rising up there, we don’t suppose the suburban way of life is for us, and we don’t have the spectacular nautical expertise my mother and father need to allow the memorable excursions of my childhood. Apart from that, we discover the costs of properties to be merely exorbitant. We wish to transfer someplace that might be cheaper and would higher match our way of life whereas nonetheless being inside cheap driving distance (let’s say, lower than seven hours).

Proper now, we’re most considering rural (however not distant) places in Vermont, western Massachusetts, and presumably New Hampshire and upstate New York (the latter two appear to me to have a decrease price of dwelling). My mother and father have a trip property in northern Vermont, so we’ve some familiarity with this a part of New England, and we predict it may very well be a superb match–it’s forested and mountainous, has 4 seasons, is liberal, and the individuals appear sort and down-to-earth. I additionally love so many Vermont merchandise! Cabot cheese, Ben & Jerry’s, maple syrup, King Arthur flour, Inexperienced Mountain diapers, Darn Robust socks, did I point out maple syrup? And as any good residents of Germany, we love beer. Judging from Mrs. Frugalwoods’ weblog, it looks like we’d discover a number of good beer in Vermont.

We utilized for Kurt’s Inexperienced Card this previous fall, however we count on it might take until 2023, no less than, till it’s finalized. Due to this fact, we wish to use the following yr to suppose completely by way of the transfer from all angles, particularly the monetary points, which is what brings me to submit this Case Examine! I’ve by no means lived and labored within the U.S. as an grownup (past faculty, that’s), so it’s not totally clear to me how our finances would translate throughout the pond. It’s essential for us to be pretty sure that we will keep our monetary well being and targets after transferring prices and life within the States.

What’s the very best a part of your present way of life/routine?

Many issues:

  • A cake to have fun Jane and Kurt’s second wedding ceremony anniversary

    High quality time at residence. We each labored primarily from residence throughout the pandemic and, though there have been some social drawbacks, we skilled a number of advantages to this type of labor. We’re introverted homebodies, preferring cozy time at residence with ourselves or with shut buddies moderately than going out to noisy eating places and bars or socializing with giant teams of individuals.

  • Nice work-life steadiness. We’ve got six weeks of trip and we hardly ever, if ever, work extra time. I respect that folks’s lives don’t revolve round their jobs right here.
  • Out of doors way of life. We love recreating outdoors in all 4 seasons!
  • Walkability, cyclability and wonderful public transportation. We will simply stroll or cycle (now additionally with a child in tow!) to most locations inside Munich, and there’s nice public transportation after we want it. Neither of us enjoys driving, so this is without doubt one of the issues we will certainly miss most if we now not stay in a metropolis.
  • A society valuing (largely) free childcare, beneficiant parental go away insurance policies, (largely) free healthcare, immigration, and cheap working and dwelling situations. Okay, this can be a generalization, in fact, and Germany definitely has its personal challenges, however in broad strokes, I discover it to be true.

What’s the worst a part of your present way of life/routine?

  • No household shut by. As talked about, my household all stay within the U.S., and Kurt’s mother and father stay about seven hours away by automobile or prepare and are nonetheless working, so we can’t simply name upon them for assist.
  • Jane on the primary stage of a biking journey to Italy

    Feeling like we will’t calm down. Within the flats we’ve lived in, we’ve all the time had the sensation that it’s not going to be the one we stay in in 5 years’ time. We’d actually love to provide our youngsters the secure feeling of “residence” we each loved rising up. However maybe that is the tradeoff for letting our youngsters intimately expertise each cultures. We hope by doing this experimental U.S. transfer that we’d have a greater concept of the place we’d wish to base ourselves.

  • Residing within the metropolis. I do know I’ve simply sung Munich’s praises at size, however Kurt and I wish to stay in a extra rural setting. Quite a lot of the appeals of the town–nightlife and plentiful retailers, bars, and eating places–will not be a serious draw for us, and whereas we benefit from the cultural points of interest–museums and live shows–these gained’t be excessive on our agenda whereas Oskar continues to be younger. Kurt grew up in a rural village ensconced in woodland magnificence, and we additionally think about our youngsters rising up surrounded by nature moderately than giant buildings and busy streets.
  • Lack of neighborhood. We’ve got some actually expensive buddies and type older neighbors right here in Munich, however we regularly really feel like we’re missing a bigger neighborhood. It’s simple to really feel nameless in a metropolis, and my feeling is that it’s harder to interrupt into established social circles right here in Germany.
  • Not having many buddies with children. I’ve just one buddy with a child, and we’d like to have extra alternatives for trade with different younger mother and father. The present lack of Covid-19 vaccination entry for younger youngsters has made this understandably harder.

The place Jane & Kurt Need to be in 10 Years:

  • Funds:
    • We’d wish to maintain saving at a price of no less than 40% of our internet revenue (throughout occasions we aren’t on parental go away) and ideally extra. This felt very doable for the previous a number of years with none emotions of deprivation. What this whole quantity of financial savings will appear to be will probably depend upon the place we’re dwelling.
    • We wish to have the choice to take probably unpaid parental go away for the primary yr of our potential future youngsters’s lives.
    • We’d wish to be financially unbiased by age 50.
  • Life-style:
    • Jane’s frugal breakfast–do-it-yourself Bircher Müsli!

      We’d wish to attempt to have one or two extra youngsters. I might additionally like to have a canine and Kurt would really like a cat named Sebald. I’ve so loved following the adventures of the Frugalwoods household’s chickens, so perhaps we’d wish to have some chickens too!

    • Kurt and I would really like for our youngsters to spend a major period of time in each the U.S. and Germany. It’s essential for us that they spend time with each side of our households, really feel they belong to each cultures, and are assured in each languages.
    • We wish to stay in a location that offers us rapid entry to nature. We don’t wish to need to get within the automobile as a way to go for a stroll or run in nature. We’d like our youngsters to have the ability to go outdoors for hours for secure, unstructured, unbiased play.
    • I’d like to have time for my present hobbies, however I might additionally think about them evolving relying on our location and our youngsters’s pursuits. Actions like gardening, tenting, crusing, stitching, pottery, portray, studying new devices, woodworking, fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching are all interesting to me. A dream of mine could be to play in a neighborhood orchestra once more at some point!
    • We’d like to spend so much of time with our households and buddies, and we’d like to be lively in a bigger neighborhood by way of our neighbors, our childrens’ faculties, golf equipment, and volunteer work.
    • We wish to proceed touring domestically and internationally.
  • Careers:
    • An try at recreating NY-style the whole lot bagels from scratch

      Jane: With the intention to transfer to a extra rural location and keep away from an disagreeable commute, I’ll have to discover a absolutely distant job, which shouldn’t be too tough in my discipline. There are, nevertheless, different guidelines objects for my dream job. The perfect a part of my present job is hands-down my sort, quirky, sensible, and unpretentious colleagues. An enormous unfavorable for me, nevertheless, is that I don’t really feel linked to the work the corporate does. I’d like to be working for a corporation in an business extra carefully associated to my hobbies or performing some form of constructive work in society–well being care or schooling, for instance. Moreover, it will be preferrred if I might work from each Germany and the U.S. to provide us some location flexibility even when it means simply spending the children’ summer time trip within the different nation. Lastly, it will be superb if my job would have choices for parental go away and part-time work. Sigh, that is most likely an excessive amount of to hope for, proper?

    • Kurt: Earlier than Kurt was a screenwriter, he was a sports activities journalist and podcast host for a number of years, largely protecting soccer, for a big newspaper. He discovered the work disturbing because of the erratic hours and fast deadlines, and as he was considering resigning, the newspaper serendipitously supplied a buyout to all workers as they downsized their workforce. He then studied for a semester full-time for his grasp’s in political science (he’ll graduate in 2022) earlier than taking the screenwriting job this previous fall. He enjoys the artistic writing and predictability on this job. What he’ll do for work within the U.S. continues to be a giant open query for us as discovering a distant job along with his skillset won’t be fairly as simple. Whereas he’d like to nonetheless be writing and goals of writing novels at some point, he’s fairly open to totally different varieties of labor within the meantime and has even flirted with the concept of changing into a historical past college instructor within the U.S..

Jane & Kurt’s Funds


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Kurt’s internet revenue $3,314 Kurt’s internet wage minus taxes in addition to obligatory insurances for pension, unemployment, long-term care, and well being care. He’s incomes (internet) about 1.5x as a lot on this new job in comparison with his former one!
Jane’s parental go away allowance $2,032 The federal tax system pays 67% (capped at $2,032) of 1 dad or mum’s prior internet wage for 12 months. My earlier internet wage was $3,795, and after I return subsequent September to work at probably 80%, I’ll earn $3,121.
Youngster allowance $248 The kid allowance is given to all mother and father in Germany, no matter their revenue.
Tax refund $170 That is what we’ve averaged the previous few years with our yearly tax refund.
Month-to-month reward from Kurt’s grandparents $90 Kurt’s grandparents generously give us cash every month.
Month-to-month subtotal: $5,854
Annual whole: $70,248

Money owed: None

Mortgage: None

Automobiles: None


Merchandise Quantity Notes Curiosity/sort of securities held/Inventory ticker Identify of financial institution/brokerage Expense Ratio
Brokerage Account $84,202 All funding revenue (capital beneficial properties and dividends) over $1,808 in a given yr are taxed at a price of 28%. Deutsche Kredit Financial institution prices us $1.70 per execution (we at the moment make investments about $1,700 per thirty days, each month). FTSE All-World UCITS ETF – Distributing Deutsche Kredit Financial institution 0.22%
Roth IRA $40,820 As a nonresident with a nonresident alien partner, I take the International Tax Credit score, file my taxes with the standing married submitting individually, and use the Backdoor Roth IRA choice. I’ve made max contributions yearly since 2017. VFFVX (Vanguard Goal Retirement 2055 Fund). It’s at the moment at 90% shares and 10% bonds. Vanguard 0.15%
Kurt’s Checking Account $31,316 Kurt accepted a buyout final yr which is why this account is so excessive. With the arrival of the infant and a few open questions on our portfolio, we had delay investing this cash. $11 charge per thirty days Stadtsparkasse N/A
Financial savings Account $20,363 This account is a German financial savings car known as a “Sparbuch” which German mother and father historically open for his or her youngsters when they’re born and contribute to usually thereafter. We notice it’s on the upper facet, however because it’s primarily a present from Kurt’s mother and father and they’re considerably skeptical of the inventory market, we merely take into account this cash to be our emergency fund. Earns 0.03% curiosity Stadtsparkasse N/A
Non-public Pension Fund $12,823 Our employers match (mine at 10% and Kurt’s former employer at 100%) our month-to-month pre-tax contributions (capped at $276) to this pension plan supplied by a personal German firm. The plan is considerably difficult, however mainly every month’s return (constructive returns capped at a measly 2.7%) are added collectively to find out the yearly return. EURO STOXX 50 Allianz I’m truthfully unsure about this, so I’m asking Allianz straightaway!
Jane’s Checking Accounts $8,304 No charges, no curiosity ING, Deutsche Kredit Financial institution, Lecturers Federal Credit score Union of Lengthy Island N/A
Jane and Kurt’s Joint Checking Account $6,585 No charges, no curiosity ING N/A
Excessive-Yield Financial savings Account $3,902 I opened this account to “park” my Roth IRA financial savings for the following yr and acquire some curiosity. It used to supply an amazing price, one thing like 2.20%, however the price has dropped precipitously the previous few years. Earns 0.50% curiosity Ally N/A
Complete: $208,315


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Hire $1,308 Consists of heating and utilities.
Groceries $500 Consists of family provides. This elevated fairly a bit because the begin of the pandemic as we’ve handled ourselves to extra delicacies.
Child $375 This was very excessive attributable to some big-ticket one-off bills like delivery prep lessons and material diapers but in addition as a result of we naturally didn’t hesitate for a minute about spending cash after Oskar was born determining how one can feed him and maintain him secure, e.g. breastfeeding instruments, lactation consultants, pumps, a blood-oxygen monitor, each bottle on the German market.

Oskar’s well being is our primary precedence, so we’re so grateful we didn’t need to be involved about spending this cash! These bills ought to go down significantly within the subsequent yr as we don’t anticipate many ongoing bills in addition to garments (which we purchase secondhand) and meals.

Flights to the U.S. $125 Previous to the pandemic, we travelled to the U.S. twice per yr. We solely went as soon as final yr, however I think about we are going to return to twice per yr (likewise for touring to Germany ought to we stay within the U.S.).

We fly Lufthansa largely and are horrible about collaborating in any type of miles program–though we do get rewards with our Chase Sapphire card–so if anybody has recommendation about maximizing journey advantages, we’re all ears! (affiliate hyperlink).

Automotive rental (native transport) $125 This was very low pre-pandemic, however we opted to get across the metropolis by automobile final yr after I was pregnant attributable to Covid-19 and my ineligibility for a vaccination at the moment.
Journey $115 Consists of automobile leases for journey we did to recreate within the Alps final yr. That is usually double to triple in years with out a pandemic, being pregnant, and new child.
Residence furnishings and repairs $103 Consists of issues like kitchen instruments, new sheets, furnishings, and decorations. I’d like to cut back right here subsequent yr.
Subscriptions $88 Consists of yearly bills (prorated month-to-month) like a frequent traveler low cost card for the Deutsche Bahn prepare system ($9), a car-sharing service ($13), MLB TV ($10), Spotify ($11), Down Canine Yoga ($1), Board Recreation Enviornment ($2), Google Photographs ($2), HP Instank Ink ($4), The New York Occasions ($15), The Wall Avenue Journal ($11), The Washington Put up ($2) and You Want a Funds ($8).
Clothes, footwear, and equipment $85 This might most likely go down since I purchased fairly a little bit of maternity put on final yr, and Kurt purchased just a few nicer outfits for his new job.
Insurances, advising, and different charges $84 Consists of yearly bills (prorated month-to-month) like a tenant affiliation ($10), tax advising ($33), journey medical health insurance ($2), dental insurance coverage ($11), private legal responsibility insurance coverage ($7), and a obligatory public broadcasting charge ($21). 
Bicycle trailer for Oskar $79 This was a giant expense, however we will safely transport Oskar by bike with this trailer. Plus, we will use it for jogging, mountaineering, and cross-country snowboarding too.
Christmas, birthday, and special day items $75 Kurt and I don’t trade Christmas items and birthday items are stored small. We’d wish to pare down some on Christmas items that we purchase for my many relations.
Miscellaneous discretionary $75 All the opposite little issues we deal with ourselves to.
Visa and bureaucratic $74 Consists of my passport renewal, Oskar’s passport and Consular Report of Beginning Overseas, and the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (step one of Kurt’s Inexperienced Card course of). This may probably stay the identical subsequent yr with the remaining steps of the Inexperienced Card software. 
Eating out $64 We don’t usually go to eating places, however we do love visiting beer gardens in summer time, indulging in espresso and baked items at cafés, and infrequently ordering takeout.
Prepare prices to Kurt’s mother and father’ residence $56 We go to about 3 times per yr.
Medical bills $56 That is usually low (Oskar’s delivery, e.g., price solely $34 whole), however we opted for some providers not lined beneath insurance coverage right here like prenatal testing, an IUD for contraception, and a few journey vaccinations for Oskar. This ought to be round $20 in a standard yr.
Web $34
Trainers $28 With the intention to protect our knees, Kurt and I purchase new high-quality trainers twice a yr.
Tuition $28 The price of tuition for Kurt’s distant grasp’s program in political science. He solely has half a yr left in this system.
Books and periodicals $25 We’ve got a tough time resisting shopping for new books, and Kurt loves to choose up an old-fashioned print newspaper on the weekends. Sadly, the library system right here doesn’t provide a lot choice for books in English.
Telephone $20 For information and calling on each of our cell telephones.
Bicycle upkeep $20 That is our principal mode of transportation!
Grownup schooling lessons $18 Kurt took lessons final yr in Dutch, French, and Croatian at our native grownup schooling middle.
Knitting $18 I like to knit! Realistically, I’ll have much less time for this within the new yr, and I’ve promised myself to not purchase extra yarn till I’m performed with Oskar’s child blanket.
Playing cards and stamps $14 We like sending out birthday, Christmas, thanks, and so forth. playing cards.
Haircuts $11 I get a haircut twice a yr, and Kurt’s hair is minimize by me each six weeks!
Financial institution charges $11 Kurt has a checking account which prices a charge per quarter. It kills me to throw this cash away! He prefers going to a bodily department to deal with his banking issues, however I’d actually like to shut this account and solely use free on-line banks.
Donations $8 I donate small quantities to my alma mater and my hometown library annually. I might additionally like to start out donating to a cleft palate group, so if anybody is aware of of 1 that’s respected, please let me know!
Public transportation $7 This may probably be greater in 2022 now that we really feel safer taking public transport.
Youngster care $0 I’m simply including this in right here as a result of we can have day care prices beginning subsequent September, most likely round $184 per thirty days for as much as 9 hours per day of day care. We’re conscious this will likely be a lot greater within the U.S.!
Month-to-month subtotal: $3,629
Annual whole: $43,548

Credit score Card Technique

Jane’s Questions for You: 

  1. How may our finances translate if we had been to stay within the U.S.?
    • There are some further bills we’re anticipating like fuel, youngster care, and medical, however I’m unsure what these quantities may appear to be. Moreover, can we economize on any of our present bills? Whereas I’m pondering that our bills will probably be greater within the U.S., I additionally suppose my incomes potential as a software program engineer will likely be greater; then again, it’s totally potential I is perhaps the only real breadwinner for our household for a while.
  2. A standard log reducing ceremony at Jane and Kurt’s German wedding ceremony celebration

    We think about our good residence being 3-bedrooms, 2-baths, surrounded by nature, however inside a 30-minute (ideally much less) driving distance to grocery shops and medical providers.

    • We notice the housing market isn’t favorable for consumers proper now, and if there’s a chance we’d transfer once more after, say, 5 years, we wonder if renting moderately than shopping for a house would make extra monetary sense.
    • Then again, residence possession has its appeals for us, and we’re questioning what an inexpensive higher finances for our residence search is perhaps. What are your ideas on us shopping for a house with the potential of it changing into an funding property if we moved again to Germany?
    • One consideration we had was on the lookout for properties close to faculty cities in order that there could be a steadier marketplace for renting out our property.
  3. Ought to we put money into a 529 plan?
    • If Oskar desires to check at a college in Germany, he would give you the option to take action for (mainly) free; nevertheless, if he doesn’t attend highschool in Germany and/or if he prefers to check within the U.S., then Kurt and I have to consider saving for his faculty bills. 
  4. After we transfer to the U.S., I feel we’d need (and presumably want?) to switch our German brokerage account to the U.S.?
    • Each time I look into the authorized and tax points of transferring or protecting an funding account within the nation we might not be residing in, I really feel like I’m going down a rabbit gap.
    • If anybody has any insights right here about having a international brokerage account whereas dwelling within the U.S. or vice-versa, I’d be so appreciative!
  5. The whole sum of money in our checking accounts is on the excessive facet.
    • Have been we to remain in Germany, we’d most likely make investments most of this cash within the inventory market; it is because we’re not so risk-averse dwelling right here because of a number of social security nets and a moderately giant emergency fund.
    • Ought to we make investments this cash now and proceed to speculate our month-to-month financial savings? If we maintain investing right here, ought to we add extra bonds to our portfolio? Or ought to we as an alternative maintain a lot of the cash in money?
    • We’re fairly certain my mother and father will be capable of give us a no-interest mortgage ought to we wish to make a down-payment on a home within the U.S..
    • Otherwise, we’ll positively maintain sufficient in money for transferring prices plus some for getting a automobile within the States.
  6. We’d love to listen to your ideas on how we’d go concerning the seek for our subsequent residence since there are definitely some overlaps between our search and the Frugalwoods’ homestead search!
    • We are going to probably begin out dwelling with my mother and father for an indefinite time frame whereas we seek for a spot of our personal.

Liz Frugalwoods’ Suggestions

Jane cross nation snowboarding as much as the Gramai Alm in Austria

Technique to go, Jane and Kurt! With no debt and sizable investments, they’re in a incredible place at a younger age. I do know this transfer query feels overwhelming to them, however they need to take consolation in the truth that they’re making the choice from a place of economic power.

By constantly saving, investing and dwelling beneath their means, Jane and Kurt are capable of strategy this alternative with their way of life wishes prime of thoughts–not their monetary imperatives. It is a nice instance of how frugality provides you choices.

Jane and Kurt don’t know exactly what they need their lives to appear to be, however they’ve given themselves the monetary skill to have choices as a result of they’re not backed right into a nook by debt or overspending. Kudos!

Prime Line Reactions and Questions

Earlier than diving into Jane’s particular questions, I wish to suggest that she and Kurt do a bit extra imagining round their lives.

As I learn Jane’s story, the rapid response that popped into my thoughts was:

Would Jane’s mother and father be considering transferring to Munich?

If I’m understanding Jane & Kurt’s wishes appropriately, it appears they have already got their preferrred way of life in some ways, minus Jane’s mother and father. Since Jane talked about that her mother and father are retired, wholesome and revel in touring, I ponder if that is one thing they’ve mentioned? Or, if they may take into account dwelling in Munich for half of the yr? Maybe renting an condominium or AirBnB in Jane & Kurt’s neighborhood? I notice this can be a complete non-starter, nevertheless it struck me as one potential avenue to discover.

The opposite two causes for a transfer that got here throughout to me had been:

  1. A want to stay in the US
  2. A want to stay rurally

I encourage Jane and Kurt to look at these three causes to see if there’s one which’s driving their decision-making course of essentially the most. I encourage this as a result of they may, probably, stay rurally in Germany with Jane’s mother and father, for instance. Simply an invite to think about broadly right here!

Germany = The Excellent Place to Beginning Kids?

In gentle of the truth that Jane and Kurt have a child and plan to have extra youngsters, I wish to spotlight the completely unbelievable household advantages of life in Germany: 

  1. A romper Jane knitted for Oskar

    A protracted, PAID maternity go away!!!!!!!

    • That is exceptional within the US. One could be VERY fortunate to obtain 12 weeks at both partial or no pay.
  2. A beneficiant month-to-month youngster allowance!
  3. Free (or low-cost) healthcare!!!
  4. Very, very, very cheap childcare!
    • Jane famous they’ll pay circa $184 per thirty days for full-time daycare for Oskar.
    • For full-time care within the US, you’re taking a look at one thing within the neighborhood of $2,000 to $3,000. Per thirty days. Per youngster. Extra if the kid is an toddler, which if Jane and Kurt have a second child within the US, would be the case except one in all them turns into a stay-at-home dad or mum (see be aware above on the US’s abysmal parental go away insurance policies/whole lack of regard for folks).

I’ve chatted with a number of mother and father since changing into a dad or mum myself six years in the past and each single dad or mum I do know would give their left hand for a protracted, paid parental go away and reasonably priced childcare for youths beneath age 5. I don’t imply to hit the nail on the top too arduous right here, however these advantages are excellent and Jane and Kurt won’t expertise something even shut to this within the US.

Therefore, one other query for Jane and Kurt is that if they’ve thought-about birthing all of their children in Germany after which transferring to the US? Granted, this may very well be harder from a education perspective–if Oskar is in elementary college, for instance–nevertheless it’s one thing price mulling over.

Jane’s Profession

One other salient issue is Jane’s incomes potential. Within the US, it’s a software program engineering gold rush proper now. If Jane’s superb at her job (and I assume she is), she may be capable of land a US job at circa $150k-200k/yr. This stage of revenue might allow Kurt to be a stay-at-home dad or mum, which might negate the necessity for the excellent German child advantages mentioned above. However that is additionally a query of way of life, not simply of revenue. Would Jane be pleased working longer hours for a better wage? Would Kurt be pleased as a stay-at-home dad or mum in a brand new nation? There’s no proper or incorrect reply, simply many alternative concerns and choices.

I polled my husband (a former software program engineer and hiring supervisor) and he suggested that, to extend her possibilities of commanding a excessive wage, Jane ought to:

  1. Observe code interviews (you are able to do so at LeetCode).
  2. Be taught applied sciences which are usually used for contemporary, distant software program corporations, i.e. React on the front-end, Python/Ruby on the back-end.
  3. Develop a stage of consolation with Cloud Ops.

In his opinion, if Jane can do these three issues, she’ll improve her chance of getting a high-paying job at a US firm. Since Jane and Kurt will not be prepared to maneuver but, I recommend Jane use this time to stage up her expertise and discover a greater paying place as she’s employed in probably the most extremely remunerative positions on the globe. From an earnings perspective, it is smart for them to concentrate on her profession potential.

The opposite be aware right here is that enormous tech corporations within the US provide a few of the finest parental go away insurance policies within the US (though they nonetheless most likely gained’t be pretty much as good as Germany’s).

Transferring From City to Rural

I hear that metropolis life isn’t Jane & Kurt’s preferrred, however I’ll level out that they worth a number of city facilities that almost all US cities–and significantly something rural or suburban–lack: wonderful public transport, walkability, cycleability, quick access by prepare to different areas/elements of the nation, quaint beer gardens, and so forth. To not say that they wouldn’t love rural dwelling, only a be aware that it’s a drastically totally different way of life.

Jane on a path run between Lake Schliersee and Lake Tegernsee in Bavaria

My husband and I made the city to rural transfer six years in the past and I’ve just a few posts reflecting on the monumental variations between the 2 existence:

By way of location, I’m questioning how they envision seeing Jane’s mother and father with frequency in the event that they’re not dwelling in the identical city/space? Jane famous they’d wish to be inside seven hours of driving, which continues to be a hefty distance in the event that they’re hoping to have her mother and father obtainable for date-night babysitting and frequent interplay with Oskar. One thing to mull over is the truth that they said that neither of them likes to drive, however this might essentially enshrine fairly a little bit of driving into their lives.

To be clear, I’m not down on this concept and it’s true {that a} seven-hour drive is a world nearer than a world flight. However, it’s not fairly the identical as with the ability to ask your mother and father to choose your child up from college as a result of you want to keep late at work. Simply an encouragement to suppose by way of how the logistics would play out in apply.

It additionally looks like it’d be an amazing concept for Jane and Kurt to hire of their desired space prior to purchasing. This could give them the prospect to find out if it’s the best spot for them, in the event that they like rural dwelling, in the event that they like dwelling within the US. Renting = most flexibility.

Home Looking From Afar

Since Jane and Kurt are fairly clear on what they’re on the lookout for in a great location, one strategy they may take is to slender their search down by map. Earlier than taking a look at any properties, Jane and Kurt might mix the next:

  • A map of schools in New England
  • A map of voting within the 2020 Presidential Election 
  • A map of relative housing costs
  • A housing density map

…after which crosscheck it with areas which have high-speed web entry.

This could most likely give Jane and Kurt an excellent sense of particular areas/cities they may wish to discover. I’ve a sequence on the method of trying to find our Vermont homestead that is perhaps useful: The Frugal Homestead Sequence Half 1: Why The Woods?

Let me attempt to reply just a few extra of Jane’s questions:

1) US Funds versus German Funds?

Jane and Kurt crusing with Jane’s father on the Nice South Bay

Jane is spot on that they need to anticipate including childcare and automobile bills (buy of a automobile, registration, upkeep, taxes, insurance coverage, repairs, fuel, tires, and so forth). Past that, it’s powerful to say with out realizing the place they’ll be dwelling. I think about their grocery prices will improve as soon as their youngster(ren) grow to be full consuming members of the family (I do know ours did), however that’ll occur no matter location. And I agree with Jane that as famous above, she probably can command a better wage within the US.

2) Hire versus Purchase?

That is one other powerful one to reply with out specifics. In lots of rural areas, the rental market is fairly slim, however, if Jane and Kurt don’t suppose they’ll be dwelling there for greater than 5 years, it may very well be actually powerful financially to purchase a spot and promote it once more briefly order. Maybe the house may very well be was a rental, however once more, in the event that they’re actually taking a look at rural properties, these are sometimes not sizzling rental markets. Moreover, if the house is on a septic system and has a nicely and a protracted driveway, that’s much more maintenance and upkeep than a metropolis rental.

Jane’s concept of situating in a small New England faculty city might present an amazing rental market–each for them to hire in and to probably at some point grow to be landlords. That will be a much less rural choice, however is perhaps extra tenable for renting. It’s arduous to say what housing costs will do post-pandemic, however they’re definitely not favorable for consumers proper now. 

3) 529 Plan?

Once more, I don’t really feel like I can reply this adequately at this stage. 529 plans are administered by every particular person state and a few states provide a tax profit whereas others don’t. For extra element on how 529 plans work, examine this out: How We Use 529 Plans To Save For Faculty.

4) German brokerage switch?

I recommend Jane discover an ex-pat on-line discussion board to steer her in the best route on this one. I like to recommend beginning with the Mr. Cash Mustache discussion board and going from there. That is a type of issues that’ll be finest suggested by of us who’ve performed it just lately.

5) Masses of cash in checking account?

Fairytale mushrooms noticed on a forest path close to Kurt’s residence village

Between their numerous checking and financial savings accounts, Jane and Kurt have $70,470, which I agree, is hefty. In the event that they wished to suppose by way of an emergency fund, they’d multiply their month-to-month bills ($3,629) by three, which might be a three-month emergency fund, at a complete of $10,887. After which by six for a extra strong, six-month fund: $21,774.

By that metric alone, sure, they’re overbalanced on money, which suggests they’re probably lacking out on leveraging that money in an funding (it’s a possibility price to carry a lot money). Nonetheless, since Jane and Kurt are at a pivotal second and on the precipice of change, I feel holding money is smart. Anytime you’re planning a serious life occasion–a transfer, a brand new child, a wedding, a retirement, a profession change, and so forth–having further money readily available is an efficient factor.

Jane and Kurt’s unknowns and potentialities embody:

  • Transferring nations
  • Buying a house
  • Taking place to Jane’s revenue solely
  • Needing to pay for childcare
  • Needing to purchase a automobile
  • Having extra youngsters

All of those variables are thrilling and new and can price cash. At this stage, I feel it is smart for Jane and Kurt to get pleasure from this further money cushion. As soon as issues settle out by way of their potential transfer, profession modifications, a change of their month-to-month spending, a brand new automobile, a brand new child, and so forth, then they will take into account a extra mathematically advantageous outlet for his or her money. Jane is appropriate that their money isn’t doing something for them by sitting there, however I feel that’s an issue for a future yr. Once they’re prepared to start out investing, I like to recommend the excellent e book, The Easy Path to Wealth: Your Highway Map to Monetary Independence And a Wealthy, Free Life, by: JL Collins (affiliate hyperlink). I really like that e book.

Credit score Card Technique

Jane talked about that they aren’t utilizing many journey factors, however they do have the most effective journey playing cards obtainable, the Chase Sapphire Most popular. I agree together with her that in the event that they’re going to proceed touring internationally yearly (which I assume they are going to), it’s going to make sense for them to have a classy journey rewards strategy. They’ll wish to dig into the very best factors worth playing cards for the kind of journey they do and presumably open one other card along with the Chase Sapphire. For this analysis, I like to recommend the web site Card Scores as a result of they make it simple to look and examine a ton of various playing cards (these are affiliate hyperlinks).


My abstract at the moment is a bit totally different as a result of a lot of the subsequent steps–as I see them–are questions for Jane and Kurt to debate. There’s not likely a monetary “proper” or “incorrect” for them to comply with, extra of a discernment course of to stroll by way of collectively.

  1. Is the lacking hyperlink Jane’s mother and father? In that case, is it potential to debate having them transfer to Munich?
  2. Or, is the lacking hyperlink dwelling within the US? Or rural life?
  3. These are three totally different potential causes for the transfer and I encourage Jane and Kurt to discern which one is driving their determination making.
  4. Wouldn’t it make sense to stay in Germany for the baby-having years to benefit from the nation’s incredible child and dad or mum advantages?
  5. Or, is Jane considering pursuing a higher-paying place within the US, which might allow them to pay for childcare and a automobile, and and so forth?
  6. How does Kurt really feel about the potential of being a stay-at-home dad or mum within the US? Might this strategy be used to offset the lack of the German child advantages?
  7. How usually will they realistically be capable of see Jane’s mother and father in the event that they stay a seven-hour drive away? Will this truly allow extra frequent interactions with Oskar/future youngsters? 
  8. Jane and Kurt, go forth to debate and know that you simply’re in a beautiful place. You’ve been cautious along with your cash and now you’re capable of decide since you need to, not since you have to. I want you luck and I can’t wait to listen to what you determine to do!

Okay Frugalwoods nation, what recommendation would you give to Jane? We’ll each reply to feedback, so please be happy to ask questions!

Would you want your individual case examine to seem right here on Frugalwoods? E mail me ( your temporary story and we’ll speak.

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