moving to the uk (perhaps... maybe... oh how i hope so!)

(52 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

Mr78 Wed 11-Sep-13 19:15:22

Hi to everybody, I'm new mumsnet and this is my first post.
First of all I'll present myself and later explain why I'm writing: I'm a 30 and something Italian, a very happy father of two (girl 4yo and boy almost 3yo) and married to a fantastic if somewhat tempestous woman ;-) but oh well, aren't we latins all like that? ;-)

The reason I'm writing is the very same I came across the site in the first instance and subscribed later. We currently live in Italy but I might have the possibility to be posted to London for work in the not-so-far future, it's not assured but it is a concrete possibility (and I pray oh how much I pray for it!).
To avoid crashing against aforementioned concrete I'm starting to gather some informations on living there. I'll be honest me and my better half are a bit scared (nothing major, just menial things like... she would have to quit work and start hunting for it when there, we are moving two kids, everything is bound to be different... simple things like that).

The first thing I'd like to ask is a suggestion on where to look to start my search for a house, many other questions will come in time but for the time being I'm just wondering on this.
Just to give you a bit of background my work would be based in two locations, the City (near lloyds) and Crawley, just south of London. We were thinking of a small town in Sussex, for the easy connections, but schooling is a big issue too -so location of good schools is to be taken into about too- and the idea of living in a soulless dormtown isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'd prefer some place with a bit of a historical town centre, not for any night life but... You know... I mean, I live in a very small town with just a small centre but in those roads there is only a couple of buldings that are less than a century old and most are older (I wonder if what I mean to say does come across or if I just sound like another of those complicated and petulant Italians... No please don't answer to this grin )
Any suggestion? Ideas? Advice? Tricks? Maps to " go get lost " country?
Thanks a lot for any help

lljkk Wed 11-Sep-13 21:42:01

You seriously need to consider the commute time, costs & hassle, too.

Xpatmama88 Wed 11-Sep-13 23:00:26

If this is your first posting as expat, I can imagine the excitement and all the uncertainties that mixed in. London is a great place to be, full of life. I don't think I will choose a small town and commute.
Hopefully, the company you work for will provide you with relocation agent to help you sorting out housing, and schooling, which is quite normal for expatriate. A look and see visit so you have an idea the areas with the housing allowances you are getting, and whether school fee is included, you can then look for independent school for your children.
It is important to let your wife choose the house( she needs to be happy with the choice and supportive of the move) it is not easy for her to be on her own with the children while you are far away, even though an hour plus each way commuting is not ideal.
I have been an expat wife for 17 years, to make this work you need to listen to her. And remember she give up a lot in order for you to persuade you career.

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 07:45:19

seriously need to consider the commute time, costs & hassle, too.

You are absolutely right, even though commuting is nothing new to me (doing it since almost 18 years, 1:30 mins in each direction), still it might be a major hassle for it adds to the time away from family.

One thing I must take into account though is that having two headquarters I am somewhat bound in the choice of places. I mean, Richmond might be the best city neighbourhood but going from there to Crawley takes so long as to make it impracticable.

magicstars Thu 12-Sep-13 07:54:15

Hi, if you don't mind commuting then have a look at Kingston upon Thames, Guildford & tonbridge wells.
All the best if your move goes ahead.

LIZS Thu 12-Sep-13 08:07:57

Bear in mind that Crawley is far from just south of London. It is a good 45-60 minutes away by train (depending which part you need to visit) Horsham is nice as long as you avoid some of the faceless modern estates and about 20 mins from Crawley but an hour and 10 at least from London. The towns on the train line between London and Three Bridges/Crawley are probably not going to meet your criteria in terms of size and style but would be more accessible and there are some nice villages within a 10 to 15 minute drive of the stations. Dorking or Haywards Heath/Lindfield might be possibilities too.

NicholasTeakozy Thu 12-Sep-13 08:10:11

As you're going to be working in London and Crawley I suggest you have a look at Horsham, it has direct trains to 3 London mainline stations and is just a few miles from Creepy. I like Horsham, it's naice

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 11:48:27

If this is your first posting as expat, I can imagine the excitement and all the uncertainties that mixed
You know that sensation you get when your rollercoaster car is nearing the so ever so slowly and you are there all "wow yes!" and "oh my, no please no!"?
That's it. Only heightened wink

London is a great place to be, full of life. I don't think I will choose a small town and commute.
That is one of the things I'm fretting over, I mean "I'm going to London only to bury myself in a small town? Am I that mental?" at the same time though
1. I must take into account commuting anyway (see my post above) so choice of neighbourhoods is limited by an extra factor beyond the usual costs/security equation
2. I'm not a big city boy, I grew up in small cities where i could see the lake (what lake? Ask Mr. Clooney... grin ) and mountains
3. We hear pretty scary stories about crime in London, I know the majority are tall stories or journalists exaggerations but still it seems blades are more common than brollies...
4. Schooling seems a big issue in the city, I've heard (well more read) stories like "they enrolled my boys in two different schools at the opposite corners of London and there wasn't a thing I could do now I'm delirious" "the school I've been assigned is a nightmare but i couldn't refuse it as no other place is free" and other such amenities...

Hopefully, the company you work for will provide you with relocation agent to help you sorting out housing, and schooling, which is quite normal for expatriate. A look and see visit so you have an idea the areas with the housing allowances you are getting, and whether school fee is included, you can then look for independent school for your children.It is important to let your wife choose the house( she needs to be happy with the choice and supportive of the move) it is not easy for her to be on her own with the children while you are far away, even though an hour plus each way commuting is not ideal.I have been an expat wife for 17 years, to make this work you need to listen to her. And remember she give up a lot in order for you to persuade you career.
I know and am grateful to her beyond what words can convey. She's a force of nature but this well be demanding for her and I want to make things as smooth as possible for her.

In all of this, let's hope it will indeed happen or I will feel so incredibly stupid! And that everything will go all right or I will feel so bad! (worry worry worry)

Boopear Thu 12-Sep-13 11:54:20

Horsham-Crawley commute takes about 20 mins (if you drive fast through the back roads wink) Schools great/housing not too expensive/about an hour into London on train. Very pleasant & historical town centre. And, yes, very naice .

JessieMcJessie Thu 12-Sep-13 12:15:33

Mr78 I am intrigued- by the way you write it sounds as if you have lived in the UK before. is that right? if so, where did you live and is there anything you learned from that experience which would influence your choices now?

Mr78, I live in Kingston upon Thames, which is lovely, and it's close to Richmond, which is also lovely, but I think the commute would be too long. There are so many lovely historic towns in the south east that you'll be spoilt for choice. Best of luck to you and your family.

Xpatmama88 Thu 12-Sep-13 13:27:55

The reason I suggest you to stay in London, actually is for your other half. As you mentioned, your job is split between the City, and Crawley, I assume you spend 2 days in one office, and the rest in the other. If you base in London, your wife can hop on the underground, and join you for lunch. And she can go to various places in London, visit museums etc. I have a lots of Italian friends, from what I'd seen, they all enjoy life, have big heart, and absolutely love their food. (I'm also jealous, that they all have beautiful olive skin). There are so many good restaurant and cafe, shopping, cinema, threatre, concerts... etc in London.
I know your concern about commuting, I guess your wife would prefer to know you only commute half the week, and not everyday of the week. And to be honest, I will drive to Crawley on the day you need to be there.
As for school, good thing of being an expat is you may have school fees paid for by the company, that give greater choices. (and you may not restrict only to state school), you can go for independent school or International school. And you children are still young, your 4 years old may start school, but 3 years old may still be in nursery. Great opportunity for them to learn English.
And if your wife is able to find a job, most likely will be based in London, and you can then consider child care, I guess it is easier for her to find a job in London than in a small town.
I know what you means about not a big city boy, I love all the Italian lakes, I lived in Switzerland for 5 years, and drove down to Italy for our summer holidays, the mountain, the lakes and all the fresh air! But with opportunity to explore a big city like London, isn't that exciting too.
London is a pretty safe place. Hopefully, your housing allowance will get you a nice place, get your HR/ relocation agent to provide advice on housing.
I think the chance for your wife to make friends, is also in London. You can register with the Italian ambassy in London. They can introduce other Italian expat in the City. (My Italian neighbour in Japan was linked with the ambassy, and she organised parties for newcomers every now and then)
Good thing is Italy is not too far from London, she can away go home to see family and also family and friends can come and visit.
Anyway, good luck with the move. And ask her where she would prefer to live, she is the one who stay in the house most of the time.

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 18:44:58

So basically two paths ahead:
1. London (advice on boroughs obviously more than welcome, I've read wonderful things on Stoke Newington, Richmond, Highgate, Chelsea, Dulwich and a few other but am a bit clueless myself)
2. Surrey/Sussex (we have votes for Kingston upon Thames, Guildford & tonbridge wells from magicstars, Horsham from Nicholas Teakozy and Boopear and Kingston again from Lyra)

Being the nice little bookworm that I am I ask: do you know of any good book on this issue? Hey, lightbulb moment! I could buy a tourist guide... Hmmm...

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 18:48:53

@ Xpatmama, you are slowly tilting the scales...

Kingston isn't in Surrey wink

LIZS Thu 12-Sep-13 18:51:09

but also you need to know what the financial package is worth and inclusive of , renting in London is very pricey but if you have to fund travel commuting may be more. What happened to my suggestions ... envy?

All those parts of London you list are very expensive.

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 18:57:17

@ JessieMacJessie, unfortunately no, sorry, never lived in UK.
That's the treason I appealed to the community, I'd rather have some first hand advice from residents than making any choice only on the basis of prejudices formed from half a continent away and first impressions after a brief visit (even though I've always believed that guts never lie)

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 19:04:51

Whooops! Sorry LIZS! blush
Point 2.bis. Surrey/Sussex (we have votes for Kingston upon Thames, Guildford & tonbridge wells from magicstars; Horsham from Nicholas Teakozy; Boopear and Kingston again from Lyra; and another vote for Horsham plus Dorking or Haywards Heath/Lindfieldfrom LIZS -to whom I present my apologies)

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 19:07:21

@ Lyra, you see why I need that guide smile
So little I know... confused

magicstars Thu 12-Sep-13 20:57:16

Kingston upon Thames was voted as one of the happiest places to live in and around London. I think the leafier, more family friendly area is around Richmond park. No doubt it is also v.pricey.

magicstars Thu 12-Sep-13 21:03:27

Or if you have a big budget, look at Wimbledon. Plenty of city folk Commute from there, nice for families but very expensive.

SuiGeneris Thu 12-Sep-13 21:42:56

Mr78, listen to a countrywoman who has lived in the UK for almost 15 years, both London and countryside. AVOID the country (Guildford, Dorking, whatever), esp if your wife is giving up her job to follow you. You do not say what she does, but finding decent work in the country when you are a foreigner is more difficult, as is making friends.

Check out Battersea/Clapham Junction/Tooting/Clapham South: convenient for the City, good schools, lots of international families and near Clapham Junction, which has lots of trains for the south.

Dulwich is very pretty but less good for the City, less well-linked to the centre and more expensive.

As others have said, check out your package and bear in mind that nursery and school fees are much, much more expensive than in Italy (15k per year per child is not unusual).

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 21:44:12

Hmmm sadly budget is definitely not a non-problem, the house in Italy can't be sold and i don't know whether there will be a housing allowance

What about Reigate? Any ideas on it?

Oh how i want that guide...

JessieMcJessie Fri 13-Sep-13 05:51:07

So where did you pick up your very colloquial English?

Mr78 Fri 13-Sep-13 07:16:01

Here, there... As I said I'm a rather bookish type (my personal library is somewhere in the excess of a thousand books I think) and tend to read in original language whenever possible.
Top on that the fact that I spend at least a couple of hours a day over the phone with my colleagues in London and presto, there's the reason I can speak an efficient (albeit not that elegant) English.

LIZS Fri 13-Sep-13 07:17:05

Reigate is a nice town but very densely populated with fierce competition for school places (although this doesn't mean you wouldn't get a place just that the "good" schools tend to allocate places very locally or to siblings of existing pupils). Train is so-so as it is on a branch line. About 20 mins drive to Crawley and an hour or so into central London.

TallulahMcFey Fri 13-Sep-13 08:34:51

It is excellent English. Even my very fluent bilingual friends don't write as well as that. Not to mention the spelling and use of grammar!

TheWave Fri 13-Sep-13 10:21:05

I do think you need to be really clear whether you are going to be able to afford/go for independent or going for state. In some of the areas mentioned there may not be state schools you like, and you should at least be aware that primary schools locally may be fine, but secondary choices not what you are looking for.

The other issues to consider with regard to education would be: Are your potential secondary schools selective (how will your children fare at doing/knuckling down for exams?), or choosy (religion criteria etc), and do they offer Italian in some way to strengthen your children's fluency/grammar etc in later years.

IsabellaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 13-Sep-13 10:37:03

Hello, try looking at our local sites for more information on local areas. You could have a browse on our map here:
or try these suggestions for the kind of commuter area you are looking for:
Surrey (including Guildford, a popular commuter town with good train connection for the City and Crawley):
West Sussex (with Horsham a popular commuter town and close to Crawley)

Good luck!

Dahliagirl128 Fri 13-Sep-13 16:39:29

If your job will be spilt between The City and Crawley then I would most definitely be looking at living very close to one of them and seeing you are not a big town boy, then that obviously leaves Crawley. Therefore I would suggest somewhere like Crawley Down (not at all like Crawley itself but very easily accessible from it) or Turners Hill. You would have East Grinstead nearby which is a really lovely town and in my opinion as nice as somewhere like Reigate or Dorking, or Crawley itself for Department Stores etc
Commuting up to London would be from Three Bridges (10 mins drive with plenty of parking from somewhere like Crawley Down)
Primary schools are pretty good as far as I know.

grovel Fri 13-Sep-13 18:18:33



triggerthumb Fri 13-Sep-13 19:52:21

East Grinstead is lovely - one of the longest unbroken lines of timber framed fourteenth century houses in the country along its high street, the end of the line to London so you always get a seat in the morning (just under an hour to London Bridge or Victoria), near fabulous countryside and villages, close to Crawley in one direction and Tunbridge Wells in the other. One of its comprehensives had a blip in GCSE exam results last year but seems to be on track again this year, already, and plenty of private schooling options nearby. I think it's also cheaper than Horsham. Horsham is very nice, though.

Mr78 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:26:01

Three hours ago I decided "Horsham, I like it" wanted to inform all of you but the oven pinged, dinner was ready, postponed...
Two hours ago I was about to write "ok, no indecisions anymore, London it is" then DD fell down and I had to run to her rescue
One hour ago "wow, Grinstead? Never heard of it..." then DS declared war to his sister's most beloved plush
Everyone is asleep, my head's spinning, I have discovered what a property chain is, how poa can be gauged anyway and fell in love with tower bridge. I can't afford it but still there are some lovely flats there.
Oh and I am lost in the mist re. Schools.
As I said earlier, just like a roller coaster, exhilarating, terrifying, dizzying... And I still don't know whether it will come to something
There are times when one can't but laugh at oneself
It's that or pills and laughter doesn't require prescription...

Mr78 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:44:28

Oh by the way, am I completely off the mark in my conviction that there is a sort of list with all the schools and the marks they received from Ofsted?
Or is it just wishful thinking?

LIZS Sat 14-Sep-13 07:43:13

I don't think there is a directory from Ofsted. There is a Good Schools Guide (for which you pay) but remember such things are only useful on the day the inspection takes place or the article written. Several schools in our area are between or have new heads this term which can change the picture short and long term. Every area has relatively better/worse schools and you probably need to decide where you should live before specific schools.

Would you get a visit/s over and a relocation agent paid for (who can often do a schools search too) ? I would say EG isn't great in terms of commuting by train to London tbh but property more affordable than on the London - Brighton or Horsham line. Lingfield might be worth a look too and there is a relatively inexpensive private school there, also Felbridge primary between EG and Crawley Down.

SizzleSazz Sat 14-Sep-13 07:51:36

Brighton, dorking or London.

triggerthumb Sat 14-Sep-13 09:15:04

Not sure I understand why Lingfield, which is on the East Grinstead train line and in spitting distance of East Grinstead, would be that much better for commuting to London than East Grinstead? The journey from East Grinstead also gets you to London quicker than the journey from Horsham. Lingfield is under the Gatwick flight path, so a bit "noisier" than East Grinstead. Basically, though, you have to visit the places to get a feel for them - it's not all about practicality, after all.

LIZS Sat 14-Sep-13 10:27:47

Agree with you re. EG trains but Lingfield is nearer to drive to say Horley (15 mins) from where you can catch the faster London - Brighton trains and a much smaller town. You tend to find villages to the west of Gatwick (Charlwood, Capel etc) noisier than to east due to usual take off direction being to west - of course any future plans for a second runway could change this.

triggerthumb Sat 14-Sep-13 11:12:30

I guess if there's a problem with the East Grinstead line, it's nice to be near another one, but otherwise, tbh, I don't think what is more like a 20 minute drive to Horley would save time over getting the East Grinstead train - there really isn't that much time difference in the journeys into London. Horley is on the Horsham line, not the Brighton one. Also, you are guaranteed a seat in the morning if you start your journey in East Grinstead, being the first stop!

Redhill is on the Brighton line, but it is an exceptionally ugly town!!... (ducks to avoid anyone living there). Ashurst Wood, the other side of East Grinstead to Felbridge, seems quite nice. Living the Ashurst Wood side of East Grinstead gives you easy walking access to some rather lovely countryside for walking and cycling, too - along the Forest Way, where you can walk from East Grinstead to Groombridge, to Ashdown Forest, the Weald, the Sussex Border Path etc, etc.

LIZS Sat 14-Sep-13 11:18:11

Think it really depends on how often op is required to be based where as to which location is more time/cost effective. Also we are assuming use of a car is an option.

78bunion Sat 14-Sep-13 11:39:52

The issues to decide first are:
1. Will you pay school fees or not.
2. Where will your wife work and if she earns more than you do then it would be sensible to be near her work/children's nurseries etc.
3. Money - living in London or Wimbledon is expensive, more than the cost of commuting tom Crawley to London on the days you are in London.
4. Church, Italian culture etc - you might find more of that in Central London, Kensington etc and private fee paying international schools which might help the children keep up their Italian and be ready to move countries again

triggerthumb Sat 14-Sep-13 11:45:41

Living outside of London certainly favours car ownership, that's true. Having to work some of the time in Crawley also favours car ownership! There are buses between places like Lingfield, East Grinstead, Crawley Down and Crawley, though, and I also do know some people who cycle into Crawley from East Grinstead - Lord Beeching of East Grinstead very kindly created a lot of nice cycle ways when he closed down lots of railway lines in the 1960s - hence the Worth Way linking East Grinstead to Crawley, via Crawley Down (which I think others have suggested as a possibility), and the Forest Way linking East Grinstead to Forest Row, Hartfield, Groombridge, etc. Cyclist's heaven... The A264 between East Grinstead and Crawley, however, can be a bit slow at rush hour, as can the A22. There are lots of rat run routes to avoid sections of these, particularly when there are roadworks.

Mr78 Sun 15-Sep-13 15:28:10

Ok, so, answering in a rigorously random order...
1. Working days should be spent roughly 60% in London and 40% in Crawley
2. Don't have the slightest idea on whether schooling fees, housing allowance, relocation agent shall be part of the proposal or not, I obviously hope so, cross my finger and all of that but we'll have to wait and see
3. Car, I don't have one, not an English one, but in time it could come if needed
4. My wife would have to leave work and start searching for one there, so no place can obviously be nearer to something that has yet to be found wink
5. London has a more vibrant life while Towns would be more "livable" (yes I have earned a major degree in Staying The Obvious with this I know smile )

78bunion Mon 16-Sep-13 09:47:28

I think if you pick somewhere like Wimbledon outer London suburbs between London and Crawley ideally on the London underground that will suit everyone better and give better choice of schools (fee paying - 8% of parents pay school fees in the UK, or state schools) and make it easier for your wife to find work too.

However like most things it will probably come down to money - rent costs etc in the various places.

Mr78 Tue 17-Sep-13 06:57:04

Ladies, gents, I do thank you all for your advice and the kind words that came with it. You have given me food for thought and a couple of very important points to keep in mind. Now I will retire back to do my homework and study so that I can have a bit more confidence when it comes to the final encounters.
(noooo I'm not fretting... Not at all... What on earth could ever have given you such an impression I can't really fathom...)
Let's hope the next time I'll come back here it will be with the best of news, until then good winds and safe nights to all of you.

mummytime Tue 17-Sep-13 07:10:12

If you have negotiation room do ask about: help with accommodation, help with finding schools, help with school fees, do they give any spousal support, will they provide acompany car/car allowance (still pretty common here)?
Also find out how permantant the move is/will be, these will all help with further decision making.

duckylou Wed 18-Sep-13 01:24:50


all Londoners have their preferences. Battersea (where my bro used to live) is full of young families now, however there is a bit of opportunistic car crime i noticed recently (he had his satnav pinched after not locking car within a day of being up from the country) and he had more burglaries than i ever had in west London.
its a gamble. Stoke Newington used to have the highest murder rate in London (anyway its north London so no use to you)
Being a city the roads change change from nice to not nice, very quickly.

As ever it depends on your budget for the rent. IMHO Wimbledon is one of the nicest parts of London, check out the commute to City and in the opposite direction, Crawley, though.

duckylou Wed 18-Sep-13 01:37:22

ps If you like Tower Bridge, try Wapping.
though am not sure how you get to Crawley from there -maybe London Bridge?

Wapping,its quiet.. great childcare services, many international families, my DD went to an excellent State catholic primary smile in Aldgate east
DD taxi'ed to work and walked home from City. I drove to North London for work (not crossing congestion zone)
there is also a (fairly new) overland train which links south/north London and goes through Wapping.
in the high street theres a pharmacy,supermarket,butcher,cafe,etc, theres a playground (recently improved) churches smile - quite a little community. also near tube to go elsewhere pretty quickly.

Needmoresleep Wed 18-Sep-13 10:24:35


Walking distance to Victoria and then less than an hour to Crawley. Some good state primaries, especially if your child is baptised. (St Peter's Eaton Sq which is really sought after and takes baptised Catholics as well as Anglicans and there are a couple of good Catholic Primaries) Surprisingly quiet at weekends with a good community feel (street market etc), within striking distance of Battersea and St James Parks, and close to the really good Queen Mother Leisure Centre.

If you are going to live in London you might as well live in the centre. It is really fun to be able to walk to museums, or along the South Bank. Depending on your budget you almost certainly wont get a house or garden, but it is one of the more affordable bits of central London, and is quiet and safe and would be a chance to try a different sort of living.

(Post code is SW1V xxx if you want to look at rental prices.)

CMOTDibbler Wed 18-Sep-13 20:15:00

We used to live in East Grinstead, and I worked in Crawley, DH commuted to London (v near Lloyds as it happens). Loved living there, and it has great advantages of being able to park in the station carpark, being the end of the trainline both ends (so you get a seat), and as the line is slower than the Haywards Heath line, house prices are cheaper. Half the trains go into London Bridge too, which is then a short walk across the bridge into the City.

avolt Thu 19-Sep-13 16:22:59

I used to work near Lloyds. If you can I'd find somewhere with a mainline train into London Bridge - avoiding the tube saves a lot of travelling time. If it were me, I'd go for somewhere like Horsham.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now