What screams I live in Boise ID

Living abroad with children: Ulli and her 3 girls live in Idaho "much better!"

"The World is a Book. Those who do not travel read only the first page. ”- Saint Augustine

I like to wander into the distance. Mentally and, whenever time and money allow, with body and soul. Sometimes the thirst for adventure is so great that I think about a life abroad, an expat life, with my small family.

What is life like in other parts of the world? And even more: how is it with children to live abroad?

The series "Expat Mamas: Home away from Home" is very important to me. It inspires and gives me wings, shows new ways. And it actually informs you if you should also be toying with the idea of ​​maybe - at least temporarily - leaving your homeland behind.

I am very happy to be starting this new series on the blog with triple mom Ulli. Thank you for taking part! ♥

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments at any time!


Living Abroad with Children: Boise, Idaho, USA

Hello, my name is Ulli, I am 35 years old, the mother of three wonderful girls and I originally come from Steyr in Upper Austria. I've been living with my family in Boise, Idaho for 6 years now - and if you have to look where it is now, it was no different for us back then ... Boise is in the northwestern United States and in a desert-like area: where there is no irrigation, it grows nothing more from mid-May. We have 300 days of sunshine a year, but still get snow in winter - pretty awesome, we think.

I started my own business as a photographer last autumn, actually I'm an industrial engineer, but the working hours (and especially the few vacations here in the USA) and three children are not so easy to combine, I think. With my photo business, I can now organize myself which jobs I accept and at what times I work. I like that very much and it fits in with our current life situation.

How did you end up in the USA?

Actually, I was never particularly interested in North America, it was one of the continents that I never really wanted to go to on vacation. On our honeymoon in 2008 we did a little tour of America (New York, San Francisco, Hawaii), I liked it and when our employer went bankrupt in 2010 and my husband had a job offer here, we accepted it without really having to do it beforehand Having seen the city.

I was on parental leave at the time and would definitely have planned to go back to work quickly in Germany, but it is not so easy to get a work permit here and so I was at home with the children for six years.

How is life in the USA compared to that in Austria? And for children?

Our first daughter was one year old when we moved, we had lived in Munich the 5 years before (that's where my husband comes from) and moving to Boise was a big change - at the beginning I was often homesick, missing friends and family, the food at home didn't get along very well with the foreign culture. But that was maybe the first year, after that we quickly got used to it, made a lot of new friends, children 2 and 3 were born here and therefore American women.

Lately we've been thinking about going back and weighing the pros and cons. Our original plan was to move again when the grown-ups start school. Now she has finished first grade and if you disregard the distance to family and friends, life is much better here.

The people here are very friendly and open - now some are probably thinking of “the superficial Americans”, but to be honest, I have nothing against friendly superficiality, it is nice when the cashier in the supermarket smiles at you and asks how you are. I am often approached at the playground because people are curious about which language we speak and we have already met many families. It is much easier to make contacts here, you quickly get to know someone and start a conversation.

Everything is very child-friendly: children's menus and coloring sheets with wax crayons are available in almost all restaurants, sufficient high chairs and changing tables are also part of the standard program, and there is childcare in the gym and when shopping. You can easily put 2-3 children in the shopping carts in the shops, my girlfriend with twins at home was always jealous of that - just to name a few examples.

Everyday life is so much more comfortable and easier to cope with, especially if you have small children: there is enough parking space everywhere, many wonderful playgrounds, nature right on your doorstep. The drop-off lines at the bank, pharmacy or cleaning service are also very convenient - you don't even have to get out of the car, which is very practical if you have children in the back seat and are otherwise constantly strapping on and off. There is also a drop-off line at school.

America is a service society, the customer is king and with a secure job and good income it is wonderful to live here.

What should families (or young women) planning to immigrate to the United States know?

I would advise anyone planning to emigrate to the US to find a job beforehand. Work permits are not easy to get, it is a lengthy and expensive process - we now have the green card and I can work again, but it took five years.

There is sufficient childcare, everyone who wants to get a childcare place for their child - however, nothing is state subsidized until they start school (at the age of five) and the parents have to pay for it themselves. If you have several children, this adds up to a lot of costs.

It is also important to remember that you are largely on your own - we have no grandparents or other families around. That was very exhausting for me, especially when the children were younger and my husband traveled a lot for work (there were years when he was on the road for one week a month). With the few vacation days that you get here, you have to cover vacation, sick leave or care days when the children are sick. That can be problematic without any support.

Schools can be very expensive if you want to send the children to a private school or plan to send them to university later. That should definitely be taken into account - we still have to go back before the children can do that. The public schools in Germany and Austria are better and, above all, free.

What do you think is the absolute most wonderful thing about life in the USA?

Probably the simplicity / comfort of life here, the attitude of the people and for us as a family it is of course wonderful that the children grow up bilingual. There are many families with several children, with our three girls we are quite the average here, while in Munich we stand out quite a bit when we walk through the city.

What would you rather do without?

Compared to Germany and Austria, employees here have very little vacation and have to get by on 15 days a year, and there aren't as many public holidays as at home. It would be nice if my husband had a little more vacation and could spend time with us. Nevertheless, I have to say that family life is not neglected because the office ends at five (I still remember long evenings when I was in Munich, something like that doesn't really happen here) and we, like Americans, enjoy our few vacation days use and often drive away.

Another thing that still bothers me is that you can't do anything on foot. Now we live in a small town, but I still can't walk to the bakery, to the post office or to go shopping, especially not with the children. In the meantime I've gotten used to it and have incorporated the errands into our daily routine. We also drive to kindergarten and school by car and then I go shopping on the way back. Sometimes I would like to be able to go shopping quickly on foot, as I am used to at home.

What can Austria learn from the USA in terms of life as a family or with children? And vice versa?

D.he children here started school every day until three in the afternoon, from the first grade. That might sound like a long time, but on the other hand, it's a lot easier to combine work and family. At home, I would have to fetch our older ones from school at noon and the little ones would probably look for other care from kindergarten or myself shortly afterwards, that would all be more tedious. During the summer holidays there are numerous camps to which the parents register the children (otherwise you cannot bridge the 3 months of summer holidays if both parents are working) and there are also many other activities for children (my girls have so far been doing gymnastics, Tried ballet, drawing and swimming, there are endless other possibilities).

As child-friendly as America is, there is still a lot to be learned from Europe when it comes to welfare for families and mothers: there is no child benefit, maternity leave or parental leave here. The mothers are happy when they get three months of unpaid leave after the birth (and work is usually done up to the delivery) - you can't even imagine anything like that at home.

And what Americans generally still have to learn is comfort: sitting together longer while eating, swimming pools where you can spend the whole day, garden parties that last all day - none of that is available here. Eating out is limited to an hour (which is not so bad with children, they don't sit still much longer anyway), you go to the swimming pool to swim and not to sit around (what was my first surprise when I went to the pool found no shadow), game times are indicated on the invitations with “from-to” and as soon as the end time is reached, all party guests are gone.

Did you find it difficult to get into the job market?

As I said, the hardest part is getting a work permit - as soon as you have one, everything is open to you, especially starting your own company is very easy and only involves low costs. I could also work here as a hairdresser, for example, and don't have to provide any evidence of my ability. On the one hand, perhaps not that transparent for customers, on the other hand, word gets around about bad and good services and so a wide variety of areas are open to you in which you might not be able to gain a foothold at home. As soon as the topic of childcare was clarified (our youngest has been going to kindergarten three days a week since September) I was able to start working and after almost seven years “only” with the children I was really looking forward to a change.

How would you rate the job opportunities for foreigners in general?

I don't think that foreigners are generally disadvantaged - my husband works for an international company with a large number of foreign employees, and the opportunities for advancement are based more on performance or length of service than on where they come from. Of course, you have to master the language and be good in your field, but nothing works at home without this prior knowledge.

In my photo business I don't notice that people dislike me because of my origins - most of them are more interested because they hear an accent, ask where I come from and are interested in Europe.

Are you planning to move back to Austria with your family and would you do it again?

We want to go back to Austria or Germany to be closer to our family - although we are not actively looking for jobs at home because we think that now is not the right time for them. The children should get a little more confident in the English language before we go back and otherwise we like it a lot here, so that we don't have any pressure to go back. Let's see when and if we can move back. No matter when, saying goodbye will be really difficult for us.

The decision to go to America was the right one for us as a family. We get a lot of visitors from our relatives, we skype a lot and drive home once a year, so the distance is not that bad.

I would definitely do it again.


She gives more insights into Ulli's life in Boise almost every day on Instagram - such a nice account!

Do you live abroad with your family and would you like to be part of the interview series? Write me an email at [email protected], I'm looking forward to seeing you!

Do you have any questions for Ulli?

Would a life abroad (specifically: in the USA) be conceivable for you?

I'm looking forward to your opinions, also about the new series in general!

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Photo © Ulrike S.

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