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Cichlidae
Aug 12, 2005

ME LOVE
MAKE RED LIGHT


Personal Earpiece

The boring stuff first: I'm 33, making $110k/year as a civil engineer in the US. I've got a BS in civil engineering and BAs in French and German. My wife's 34, unemployed with a master in environmental science and management. More detailed financial information is at the bottom of the post.

I graduated in 2008 and started working immediately, and we've had a continuous improvement in quality of life since, but I've always wanted to continue my education and this field is looking pretty hopeless with the way the US treats its infrastructure. My primary goal is to get a master's degree and move to the EU. My wife's is to get a job and also move to the EU. We've both lived and studied in France before. I speak French fluently, and she knows enough to get by. I also had an internship there. In addition, I've got some moderate chronic health issues that cause me to spend ~$3000/year, not including the premium.

The French government recently adopted a program to attract American engineers and scientists, and they approached us to apply to grad school there. We found grad programs in Nantes taught in English (mine in structural engineering, 2 years, hers in bioprocess engineering, 1 year) and applied. I just found out that I've been accepted with a 3000 euro scholarship. She has been pre-admitted, and is awaiting the final word. We've also applied for a grant that covers the flight over, insurance, and gives a thousand-euro stipend each month. I am unlikely to get it since it's aimed mainly at environmental scientists. She has a strong case for getting it, but I am not going to count on it. I need to confirm my acceptance and pay the remaining 9000 euro tuition by the end of May. I can put down a deposit and I'd just lose ~$2000 if I decide to back out. The semester begins in early September so we'd move in late August. We live in an apartment and the lease expires in October.

All the values below are in USD. Where they would be in euro (tuition), I've converted at the rate of 1.25:1 for assets and 1.3:1 for debts. There are still unknowns - I don't know if I'll be charged some kind of tax on transferring money there, I don't have a good grasp on additional education expenses (they were minor last time I was there), and of course we don't know whether we'll be able to get jobs afterwards. I'm told the job market for engineers, even non-EU citizens, is good in France and her program includes an internship - no word on whether it's paid, but her tuition is said to include the internship so consider it part of that line item.

Now for the juicy stuff!

quote:

Assets:
Bank accounts: $69k in checking and savings, $7.5k in a bank account in France, $16k in a CD that's nearing maturity, $3k in bonds that are nearing maturity.
Additional savings between now and late August: I can save about $11k between now and then, plus cash in another $3k in vacation hours.
Cars: 2010 Honda Fit, 2005 Nissan Altima (salvage), probably could sell them for $5k.
Other assorted sales between now and then: $500 for furniture and appliances via Craigslist or similar.
TOTAL assets by September: $120k

Debts:
Finishing out the lease, worst case, will be $3000.
No other debt.

Expenses for 2 years of study:

One-time:
Airfare: $2k
Shipping: $3k
Purchases for trip (adapters, minor appliances, clothing): $1k
Potential rent deposit in France: $900

Yearly:
Tuition: $21,450
Insurance: $500

Monthly:
Rent: $900
Transportation: $100
Utilities / internet / phone: $150
Storage unit in the US: $50
Medical: $50
Other: $100

Weekly:
Food @ $4/meal/person: $168
Other: $50

That comes out to just over $109k for the two years.

Retirement savings:
~$180k in a combination of 457, 401(k), and Roth. I wouldn't be touching these unless absolutely necessary.

So in theory, I can make this work, and I'm being mildly pessimistic by assuming no further scholarships or work during study. I was an excellent student and made more money in scholarships and grants than I spent on school. I'm open to taking out student loans if needed. And yes, there's an enormous opportunity cost, and I would likely be making a lot less money long-term, but I am willing to take that hit to get over there and get my master. Is this a solid plan, or am I setting myself up for trouble?

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John Smith
Feb 26, 2015
Just to clarify, I 100% believe in victim blaming for rape (and sky diving as well). Not joking.


Before I clicked on your post, I immediately thought of Germany merely from the thread title. Why not Germany instead of France? For the obvious reasons. You don't have to be influenced by their invitation, and should consider all your options thoroughly.

Veskit
Mar 2, 2005




This was a lot of how you can do it but I have no idea why you want to

KYOON GRIFFEY JR
Apr 12, 2010



Veskit posted:

This was a lot of how you can do it but I have no idea why you want to

yeah this

Keep in mind that unless you plan to stay in the EU fairly permanently your degree may not be as highly valued in the US. Make sure you get a clean handle on where you want to be and how employers are going to view your degree.

France is much better than Germany so you are making the right move there, but have you been to Brittany in general and Nantes in particular? I would be absolutely sure you're down with the Bretons and 2nd tier Frenchish cities before signing up to move there for two years.

Cichlidae
Aug 12, 2005

ME LOVE
MAKE RED LIGHT


Personal Earpiece

First off, why not Germany? I speak French much better, have worked and studied there before, and frankly I find the German attitudes towards nuclear power and bioprocess GMOs to be backwards, and since those are the fields we'd be working in, it's pretty important to me to go somewhere that's not ideologically opposed to the stuff we're trying to do. The cultural attitudes there aren't so much my thing, either. I will admit that Germany has MUCH better coffee, though, and engineers have more work there.

I do intend to live in the EU permanently - I don't have any interest in returning to the US, but of course I can fall back to working here and my former salary if I decide I don't like things there.

I don't know how the tiers of French cities go, but our schools are both in the suburbs north of Nantes, and we've previously lived in Compiegne, Orleans, and a few little rural towns.

Veskit
Mar 2, 2005




Wouldn't it be easier to go to grad school here and then emigrate to the country you want to live in? I'm still not seeing the reasoning of going to grad school. I'm not saying there aren't a lot but again you're making it sound like you want to because of money and... the chance to live overseas? Is that even the reason?

Cichlidae
Aug 12, 2005

ME LOVE
MAKE RED LIGHT


Personal Earpiece

I guess I focused too much on the details and not enough on the motivation in the OP. There are an awful lot of different factors coming together and I'm not the best at putting these things into coherent paragraphs.

It's been a lifelong goal of my wife's and mine to move back to France for good. We have political and social reasons for wanting to do so. We also have career reasons, as the US is not interested in investing in its own infrastructure and the environmental field is in dire straits. This is an endemic problem, not a recent change. My current engineering degree and experience are not valuable outside the US because civil engineering (and especially my sub-field) are incredibly provincial. But that's ok, because I hate my job anyway and don't want to keep doing it. To enter another field in another country, more education is required. As an example, all of the asphalt, concrete, and steel design I've learned is based on US code, using imperial units, and again, very provincial. I've always wanted to go to grad school, and it eats at me that I haven't. My wife's degree isn't particularly useful and she wants something that's more focused on application than regulation. This wouldn't even have been a possibility previously, but the French government instituted a program to help people like us move, study, and work there. My father-in-law already has a house in France and has EU citizenship.

My rationale for making the thread was more "am I missing something critical?" and less "is this an ideal direction to take my life?" I do appreciate the advice, and I am poring over my other options (like straight-up applying for jobs overseas), but ultimately this is based more on personal goals than because I'm looking for a better job.

KYOON GRIFFEY JR
Apr 12, 2010



You're not really including any sort of travel costs to return to the US to see friends and family. You may actively plan not to return, which is fine. You also don't seem to have much of a transport/vacation/fun stuff budget. As currently stands you are planning in your budget to park your rear end in Nantes for two years and never leave. I'm not sure how realistic you find this; I don't think it's very realistic at all.

Living expenses seem light to me. How do your estimates compare to current expenses especially in discretionary categories? You are planning to spend $2,222 a month all-in. Does this seem realistic to you? I don't know your current habits but if you're planning to scale back your lifestyle from spending $4,000/mo to $2,222/mo that is going to be a big reach. If you're planning to scale back from $2,500 to $2,222 a month, that's probably realistic.

Cichlidae
Aug 12, 2005

ME LOVE
MAKE RED LIGHT


Personal Earpiece

Alright, thank you for the advice. My current lifestyle, including rent, is something like $4,000 per month, yeah. We'd have to go back to broke college student levels of living. And you're right, there's no guarantee that we'd find it to be an improvement over what we're doing now. She got her acceptance letter today, but we're going to politely decline for financial reasons (unless you think there's a more diplomatic way to do it). We can apply again next year, and have more time to plan and save in the meantime. I will also be actively looking for entry- and mid-level jobs that don't require too much experience - prospects aren't fantastic, but at least I'd have a better outlook with a solid income to back things up.

I've also advised my wife to check around the forums for more advice on getting her resume checked and looking for jobs. If you have any resources to share, I'd appreciate it.

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KYOON GRIFFEY JR
Apr 12, 2010



within this very forum there is a thread on resumes, a thread on negotiating offers, and a thread on job openings

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