Reader Case Study: Screenwriter + Software Engineer + Baby in Munich, Germany

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 truth: Jane is American and her household all stay throughout the pond. Thus, they’re considering a transfer to the Northeastern United States so as to be nearer to Jane’s household, particularly, her dad and mom with whom she and Kurt are each very shut. Let’s jump over to Germany in the present day to assist Jane and Kurt analyze this determination!

What’s a Reader Case Research?

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

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

The Aim Of Reader Case Research

Reader Case Research intend to spotlight a various vary of monetary conditions, ages, ethnicities, areas, objectives, careers, incomes, household compositions and extra!

The Case Research sequence started in 2016 and, thus far, there’ve been 72 Case Studies. 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 other people with highschool diplomas. I’ve featured individuals of their early 20’s and other people 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 may help me obtain that by emailing me your story! If you happen to haven’t seen your circumstances mirrored in a Case Research, I encourage you to use to be a Case Research participant by emailing

Reader Case Research Tips

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 observe 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 setting 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 options and concepts.

A disclaimer that I’m not a educated monetary skilled and I encourage individuals to not make critical monetary choices based mostly solely on what one individual on the web advises. 

I encourage everybody to do their very own analysis to find out the perfect 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, in the present day’s Case Research topic, take it from right here!

Jane’s Story

Jane and Kurt’s marriage 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 previous. 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 present on maternity depart 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 school, I grew up in a suburban city on the southern shore of Lengthy Island the place I had a beautiful childhood. My dad and mom have been each lecturers, and owing to our similar college schedules, my siblings and I loved a substantial quantity of high quality time along with them after we have been rising up. Within the summers, we might enterprise out on my dad and mom’ 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 season, in addition to a examine overseas semester, in Munich. After graduating from school, 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 dwelling village

Whereas neither Kurt nor I’d outline ourselves as “metropolis individuals,” we love dwelling in Munich and discover that it matches our way of life fairly properly. It’s stated that “Munich is the most important village in Germany”–the entire buildings within the metropolis must be constructed decrease than the Frauenkirche (the cathedral within the metropolis heart)–and the standard Bavarian tradition programs by the town.

If you happen to have been to be randomly dropped someplace in Munich, it’s possible you wouldn’t know that you simply have been in one of many largest metropolises in Europe! Though we stay solely a twenty-minute stroll from the town heart, our historic previous 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 lovely path for working, biking, and cross-country snowboarding.

We love Munich’s proximity to the Alps too. The mountains right here critically fulfill all of my childhood Sound of Music goals! Pre-pandemic, we might simply purchase an inexpensive companion day-ticket for the trains and experience 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

In addition to the aforementioned out of doors actions, a few of my different hobbies embody studying, movie pictures, knitting, cooking, baking bread, and listening to and enjoying classical music. Kurt’s favourite pastime is studying in numerous varieties–newspapers, magazines, literature, and non-fiction–and he additionally watches quite a lot 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 be taught French. We each take pleasure in spending time with our buddies right here–enjoying board video games, watching movies collectively, and visiting beer gardens on balmy summer season days. Pre-pandemic, my dad and mom–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 season, we joyously welcomed our son, Oskar, into the world. It’s a delight for us to look at him develop and observe how he’s starting to work together with, and study, 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 chuckle, and suppressing our personal laughter when he provides us an lovely 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 unique hospital with had a NICU. We have been so overcome with feelings–pleasure over his arrival, misery in regards to 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); nonetheless, we weren’t with out many, many conflicting opinions in the beginning (“He can solely eat from a bottle!” / “There isn’t a child that can’t be taught to breastfeed!”/ “He wants a feeding plate for his palate!” / “A feeding plate received’t assist in any respect!”). It took us a while to determine the way to feed him, however primarily, 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 possible have to work with a multidisciplinary group of well being care professionals to observe his diet, listening to skills, and speech. 

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

We really feel so grateful for the life we’ve right here in Munich.  There’s, nonetheless, one large piece lacking for us: proximity to my household. Whereas some would possibly perceive this as relocation out of obligation to growing old dad and mom, that is solely a small a part of it. Most significantly, we really contemplate my dad and mom to be amongst our greatest buddies. Actually! Nobody appears to consider me once I say this, however one of many issues I really like most about my husband is the connection he has nurtured with my dad and mom.

Climbing with Jane’s dad and mom in Bavaria

It’s for that reason that we’ve skilled determination fatigue for years now about whether or not we should always relocate to the U.S. to be nearer to my dad and mom. Previous to the pandemic, it wasn’t so urgent–my dad and mom 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 quite a lot of unhappiness about being separated from them and in addition anxiousness (particularly earlier than they have been vaccinated) about them changing into critically ailing from Covid-19 and us not with the ability to be there on the drop of a hat. I personally skilled quite a lot of emotions of guilt over the selection to stay so far-off from them.

There are a number of different explanation why we really feel that now is likely to be the fitting time to check out dwelling within the States. Whereas we don’t plan to saddle my dad and mom with childcare obligations, now that Oskar is right here, we might admire having extra assist with him after we often actually need it (and Kurt and I’d like to have a date night time one among nowadays!). We’d additionally merely like to present 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 fairly unbeatable hire for its location in Munich, and it’s excellent in some ways; nonetheless, as soon as Oskar is moved into the second bed room, we received’t have room for my dad and mom to stick with us once they go to. This may make it very costly for them to go to for prolonged intervals of time, plus we take pleasure in once they can keep proper with us in our condominium. Ideally, we’d need yet one more bed room, however this may possible imply we’d should search for a spot additional exterior the town and pay greater hire by a number of hundred euros.

Lastly, transferring now (we expect) can be simpler earlier than Oskar is in class at which period we might be much less versatile to do such a transfer. We see this transfer not essentially as a everlasting determination, however as a chance to check out what our life would appear to be within the States and to spend extra high quality time with my dad and mom and my siblings’ households.

Jane and Kurt making home made perogies

For a very long time, we thought we would 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 the lens of what our life is likely to be like dwelling there. Lengthy story brief, though I cherished rising up there, we don’t suppose the suburban way of life is for us, and we don’t have the spectacular nautical abilities my dad and mom should allow the memorable excursions of my childhood. In addition to that, we discover the costs of properties to be merely exorbitant. We need to transfer someplace that might be inexpensive and would higher match our way of life whereas nonetheless being inside affordable driving distance (let’s say, lower than seven hours).

Proper now, we’re most interested by rural (however not distant) areas 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 dad and mom have a trip property in northern Vermont, so we’ve some familiarity with this a part of New England, and we expect it could possibly be an excellent match–it’s forested and mountainous, has 4 seasons, is liberal, and the individuals appear variety 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 quite a lot of good beer in Vermont.

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

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

Many issues:

  • A cake to have a good time Jane and Kurt’s second marriage ceremony anniversary

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

  • Nice work-life steadiness. Now we have six weeks of trip and we hardly ever, if ever, work extra time. I admire that individuals’s lives don’t revolve round their jobs right here.
  • Out of doors way of life. We love recreating exterior in all 4 seasons!
  • Walkability, cyclability and wonderful public transportation. We are able to 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 among the issues we will certainly miss most if we now not stay in a metropolis.
  • A society valuing (principally) free childcare, beneficiant parental depart insurance policies, (principally) free healthcare, immigration, and affordable working and dwelling situations. Okay, this can be a generalization, after all, and Germany actually 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 dad and mom stay about seven hours away by automobile or practice 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 residences 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 present our youngsters the steady feeling of “dwelling” 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 would have a greater thought 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 want to stay in a extra rural setting. A whole lot of the appeals of the town–nightlife and plentiful outlets, bars, and eating places–should not a significant draw for us, and whereas we benefit from the cultural sights–museums and concert events–these received’t be excessive on our agenda whereas Oskar remains 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 quite than giant buildings and busy streets.
  • Lack of neighborhood. Now we have some really pricey 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 tougher to interrupt into established social circles right here in Germany.
  • Not having many buddies with youngsters. I’ve just one good friend with a child, and we’d like to have extra alternatives for trade with different younger dad and mom. The present lack of Covid-19 vaccination entry for younger youngsters has made this understandably tougher.

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

  • Funds:
    • We’d wish to hold saving at a charge of not less than 40% of our internet earnings (throughout occasions we aren’t on parental depart) 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 possible depend upon the place we’re dwelling.
    • We need to have the choice to take probably unpaid parental depart for the primary yr of our potential future youngsters’s lives.
    • We’d wish to be financially impartial by age 50.
  • Life-style:
    • Jane’s frugal breakfast–home made Bircher Müsli!

      We’d wish to attempt to have one or two extra youngsters. I’d 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 possibly we’d need to have some chickens too!

    • Kurt and I would really like for our youngsters to spend a big period of time in each the U.S. and Germany. It’s necessary 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 need to stay in a location that offers us instant entry to nature. We don’t need to should get within the automobile so as to go for a stroll or run in nature. We’d like our youngsters to have the ability to go exterior for hours for secure, unstructured, impartial 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 can be to play in a neighborhood orchestra once more sooner or later!
    • 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 our neighbors, our childrens’ colleges, golf equipment, and volunteer work.
    • We need to proceed touring domestically and internationally.
  • Careers:
    • An try at recreating NY-style every part bagels from scratch

      Jane: So as 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, nonetheless, different guidelines gadgets for my dream job. The perfect a part of my present job is hands-down my variety, quirky, sensible, and unpretentious colleagues. An enormous adverse for me, nonetheless, is that I don’t really feel related to the work the corporate does. I’d like to be working for an organization in an trade extra carefully associated to my hobbies or performing some form of constructive work in society–well being care or training, for instance. Moreover, it will be preferrred if I might work from each Germany and the U.S. to present us some location flexibility even when it means simply spending the children’ summer season trip within the different nation. Lastly, it will be superb if my job would have choices for parental depart 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, principally overlaying soccer, for a big newspaper. He discovered the work nerve-racking 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. remains to be an enormous open query for us as discovering a distant job together with his skillset won’t be fairly as simple. Whereas he’d like to nonetheless be writing and goals of writing novels sooner or later, 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 trainer within the U.S..

Jane & Kurt’s Funds


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Kurt’s internet earnings $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 depart allowance $2,032 The federal tax system pays 67% (capped at $2,032) of 1 guardian’s prior internet wage for 12 months. My earlier internet wage was $3,795, and once I return subsequent September to work at possible 80%, I’ll earn $3,121.
Little one allowance $248 The kid allowance is given to all dad and mom in Germany, no matter their earnings.
Tax refund $170 That is what we’ve averaged the previous few years with our yearly tax refund.
Month-to-month present 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

Autos: None


Merchandise Quantity Notes Curiosity/kind of securities held/Inventory ticker Title of financial institution/brokerage Expense Ratio
Brokerage Account $84,202 All funding earnings (capital positive factors and dividends) over $1,808 in a given yr are taxed at a charge of 28%. Deutsche Kredit Financial institution expenses us $1.70 per execution (we at present make investments about $1,700 monthly, 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 Overseas 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 present 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 child and a few open questions on our portfolio, we had postpone investing this cash. $11 payment monthly Stadtsparkasse N/A
Financial savings Account $20,363 This account is a German financial savings car known as a “Sparbuch” which German dad and mom historically open for his or her youngsters when they’re born and contribute to often thereafter. We notice it’s on the upper facet, however because it’s primarily a present from Kurt’s dad and mom and they’re considerably skeptical of the inventory market, we merely contemplate this cash to be our emergency fund. Earns 0.03% curiosity Stadtsparkasse N/A
Personal 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 non-public 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 subsequent yr and achieve some curiosity. It used to supply an important charge, one thing like 2.20%, however the charge has dropped precipitously the previous few years. Earns 0.50% curiosity Ally N/A
Whole: $208,315


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Hire $1,308 Consists of heating and utilities.
Groceries $500 Consists of family provides. This elevated fairly a bit for the reason that 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 courses 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 the way to feed him and hold 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 should 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 principally 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).

Automobile rental (native transport) $125 This was very low pre-pandemic, however we opted to get across the metropolis by automobile final yr once 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 no pandemic, being pregnant, and new child.
House 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 practice system ($9), a car-sharing service ($13), MLB TV ($10), Spotify ($11), Down Canine Yoga ($1), Board Sport Area ($2), Google Pictures ($2), HP Instank Ink ($4), The New York Occasions ($15), The Wall Road Journal ($11), The Washington Put up ($2) and You Want a Price range ($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 a couple of 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 payment ($21). 
Bicycle trailer for Oskar $79 This was an enormous expense, however we will safely transport Oskar by bike with this trailer. Plus, we will use it for jogging, mountain climbing, and cross-country snowboarding too.
Christmas, birthday, and special day presents $75 Kurt and I don’t trade Christmas presents and birthday presents are stored small. We’d wish to pare down some on Christmas presents that we purchase for my many members of the family.
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). It will possible 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 season, indulging in espresso and baked items at cafés, and infrequently ordering takeout.
Prepare prices to Kurt’s dad and mom’ 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 companies not lined below 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 So as 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 Now we have a tough time resisting shopping for new books, and Kurt loves to choose up an old style print newspaper on the weekends. Sadly, the library system right here doesn’t provide a lot choice for books in English.
Cellphone $20 For information and calling on each of our cell telephones.
Bicycle upkeep $20 That is our important mode of transportation!
Grownup training courses $18 Kurt took courses final yr in Dutch, French, and Croatian at our native grownup training heart.
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 achieved with Oskar’s child blanket.
Playing cards and stamps $14 We like sending out birthday, Christmas, thanks, and many others. playing cards.
Haircuts $11 I get a haircut twice a yr, and Kurt’s hair is lower by me each six weeks!
Financial institution charges $11 Kurt has a checking account which expenses a payment 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 completely use free on-line banks.
Donations $8 I donate small quantities to my alma mater and my hometown library every year. I’d 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 It will possible be greater in 2022 now that we really feel safer taking public transport.
Little one care $0 I’m simply including this in right here as a result of we could have day care prices beginning subsequent September, most likely round $184 monthly for as much as 9 hours per day of day care. We’re conscious this shall 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 would possibly our funds translate if we have been to stay within the U.S.?
    • There are some extra bills we’re anticipating like gasoline, little one care, and medical, however I’m unsure what these quantities would possibly appear to be. Moreover, can we economize on any of our present bills? Whereas I’m pondering that our bills will possible be greater within the U.S., I additionally suppose my incomes potential as a software program engineer shall be greater; then again, it’s completely attainable I is likely to be the only real breadwinner for our household for a while.
  2. A conventional log chopping ceremony at Jane and Kurt’s German marriage ceremony celebration

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

    • We notice the housing market just isn’t favorable for consumers proper now, and if there’s a chance we would transfer once more after, say, 5 years, we ponder whether renting quite than shopping for a house would make extra monetary sense.
    • Then again, dwelling possession has its appeals for us, and we’re questioning what an inexpensive higher funds for our dwelling search is likely to be. What are your ideas on us shopping for a house with the potential for it changing into an funding property if we moved again to Germany?
    • One consideration we had was in search of properties close to school cities in order that there can be a steadier marketplace for renting out our property.
  3. Ought to we put money into a 529 plan?
    • If Oskar desires to review at a college in Germany, he would have the ability to take action for (mainly) free; nonetheless, if he doesn’t attend highschool in Germany and/or if he prefers to review within the U.S., then Kurt and I have to consider saving for his school bills. 
  4. Once we transfer to the U.S., I feel we would need (and presumably want?) to switch our German brokerage account to the U.S.?
    • Each time I look into the authorized and tax elements 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 overall amount of cash in our checking accounts is on the excessive facet.
    • Had 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 quite a lot of social security nets and a quite giant emergency fund.
    • Ought to we make investments this cash now and proceed to take a position our month-to-month financial savings? If we hold investing right here, ought to we add extra bonds to our portfolio? Or ought to we as an alternative hold a lot of the cash in money?
    • We’re fairly positive my dad and mom will have the ability to give us a no-interest mortgage ought to we need to make a down-payment on a home within the U.S..
    • Otherwise, we’ll positively hold 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 would go in regards to the seek for our subsequent dwelling since there are actually some overlaps between our search and the Frugalwoods’ homestead search!
    • We are going to possible begin out dwelling with my dad and mom 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

Option to go, Jane and Kurt! With no debt and sizable investments, they’re in a improbable 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 monetary energy.

By constantly saving, investing and dwelling under their means, Jane and Kurt are in a position to method this selection with their way of life wishes prime of thoughts–not their monetary imperatives. It is a nice instance of how frugality gives you options.

Jane and Kurt don’t know exactly what they need their lives to appear to be, however they’ve given themselves the monetary means 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 need to suggest that she and Kurt do a bit extra imagining round their lives.

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

Would Jane’s dad and mom be interested by transferring to Munich?

If I’m understanding Jane & Kurt’s wishes accurately, it appears they have already got their preferrred way of life in some ways, minus Jane’s dad and mom. Since Jane talked about that her dad and mom are retired, wholesome and luxuriate in touring, I ponder if that is one thing they’ve mentioned? Or, if they could contemplate 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, but it surely struck me as one potential avenue to discover.

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

  1. A need to stay in america
  2. A need 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 probably the most. I encourage this as a result of they might, probably, stay rurally in Germany with Jane’s dad and mom, for instance. Simply an invite to think about broadly right here!

Germany = The Splendid Place to Beginning Kids?

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

  1. A romper Jane knitted for Oskar

    An extended, PAID maternity depart!!!!!!!

    • That is extraordinary within the US. One can be VERY fortunate to obtain 12 weeks at both partial or no pay.
  2. A beneficiant month-to-month little one allowance!
  3. Free (or low cost) healthcare!!!
  4. Very, very, very cheap childcare!
    • Jane famous they’ll pay circa $184 monthly 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 30 days. Per little one. 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 among them turns into a stay-at-home guardian (see observe above on the US’s abysmal parental depart insurance policies/whole lack of regard for folks).

I’ve chatted with quite a lot of dad and mom since changing into a guardian myself six years in the past and each single guardian I do know would give their left hand for a protracted, paid parental depart and reasonably priced childcare for youths below age 5. I don’t imply to hit the nail on the top too laborious right here, however these advantages are excellent and Jane and Kurt is not going to 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 youngsters in Germany after which transferring to the US? Granted, this could possibly be tougher from a education perspective–if Oskar is in elementary college, for instance–but it surely’s one thing value 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 excellent at her job (and I assume she is), she would possibly have the ability to land a US job at circa $150k-200k/yr. This stage of earnings might allow Kurt to be a stay-at-home guardian, 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 earnings. Would Jane be joyful working longer hours for the next wage? Would Kurt be joyful as a stay-at-home guardian 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. Apply code interviews (you are able to do so at LeetCode).
  2. Be taught applied sciences which can be 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 enhance her chance of getting a high-paying job at a US firm. Since Jane and Kurt should not prepared to maneuver but, I counsel Jane use this time to stage up her abilities and discover a greater paying place as she’s employed in one of the crucial extremely remunerative positions on the globe. From an earnings perspective, it is smart for them to deal with her profession potential.

The opposite observe right here is that giant tech corporations within the US provide a few of the finest parental depart insurance policies within the US (though they nonetheless most likely received’t be nearly as good as Germany’s).

Transferring From City to Rural

I hear that metropolis life just isn’t Jane & Kurt’s preferrred, however I’ll level out that they worth quite a lot of city facilities that the majority US cities–and significantly something rural or suburban–lack: wonderful public transport, walkability, cycleability, quick access by practice to different areas/elements of the nation, quaint beer gardens, and many others. To not say that they wouldn’t love rural dwelling, only a observe 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 a couple of posts reflecting on the monumental variations between the 2 life:

By way of location, I’m questioning how they envision seeing Jane’s dad and mom 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 remains to be a hefty distance in the event that they’re hoping to have her dad and mom obtainable for date-night babysitting and frequent interplay with Oskar. One thing to mull over is the truth that they acknowledged that neither of them likes to drive, however this may 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 dad and mom to choose your child up from college as a result of it is advisable keep late at work. Simply an encouragement to suppose by how the logistics would play out in apply.

It additionally looks like it’d be an important thought for Jane and Kurt to hire of their desired space prior to purchasing. This may give them the prospect to find out if it’s the fitting 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 Searching From Afar

Since Jane and Kurt are fairly clear on what they’re in search of in a great location, one method they might take is to slim 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 may most likely give Jane and Kurt an excellent sense of particular areas/cities they could need to discover. I’ve a sequence on the method of looking for our Vermont homestead that is likely to be useful: The Frugal Homestead Series Part 1: Why The Woods?

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

1) US Price range versus German Price range?

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, gasoline, tires, and many others). Past that, it’s powerful to say with out figuring out the place they’ll be dwelling. I think about their grocery prices will enhance as soon as their little one(ren) develop into 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 possible can command the next 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 could possibly be actually powerful financially to purchase a spot and promote it once more in brief order. Maybe the house could possibly be became a rental, however once more, in the event that they’re really 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 properly and a protracted driveway, that’s much more maintenance and upkeep than a metropolis rental.

Jane’s thought of situating in a small New England school city might present an important rental market–each for them to hire in and to probably sooner or later develop into landlords. That may be a much less rural choice, however is likely to be extra tenable for renting. It’s laborious to say what housing costs will do post-pandemic, however they’re actually 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 College.

4) German brokerage switch?

I counsel Jane discover an ex-pat on-line discussion board to steer her in the fitting path 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 achieved it lately.

5) Masses of cash in checking account?

Fairytale mushrooms noticed on a forest path close to Kurt’s dwelling 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 needed 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 sturdy, 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 chance price to carry a lot money). Nevertheless, 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 significant life occasion–a transfer, a brand new child, a wedding, a retirement, a profession change, and many others–having additional money available is an efficient factor.

Jane and Kurt’s unknowns and potentialities embody:

  • Transferring international locations
  • Buying a house
  • Happening to Jane’s earnings 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 take pleasure in this additional money cushion. As soon as issues settle out by way of their potential transfer, profession adjustments, a change of their month-to-month spending, a brand new automobile, a brand new child, and many others, then they’ll contemplate 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 ebook, The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence And a Rich, Free Life, by: JL Collins (affiliate hyperlink). I really like that ebook.

Credit score Card Technique

Jane talked about that they aren’t utilizing many journey factors, however they do have probably the greatest journey playing cards obtainable, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I agree along with her that in the event that they’re going to proceed touring internationally yearly (which I assume they may), it’s going to make sense for them to have a classy journey rewards method. They’ll need to dig into the perfect 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 Ratings as a result of they make it simple to go looking and examine a ton of various playing cards (these are affiliate hyperlinks).


My abstract in the present day 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 probably not a monetary “proper” or “incorrect” for them to comply with, extra of a discernment course of to stroll by collectively.

  1. Is the lacking hyperlink Jane’s dad and mom? In that case, is it attainable 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 reap the benefits of the nation’s improbable child and guardian advantages?
  5. Or, is Jane interested by pursuing a higher-paying place within the US, which might allow them to pay for childcare and a automobile, and and many others?
  6. How does Kurt really feel about the potential for being a stay-at-home guardian within the US? Might this method be used to offset the lack of the German child advantages?
  7. How usually will they realistically have the ability to see Jane’s dad and mom 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 in a position to 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 transient story and we’ll discuss.

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