Moving to New York from London(58 Posts)
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So it's happening. After months of discussions we are moving to NY. We are yet to determine whether it will be in time for the new school year (Aug) or part way through. I was on here before asking about areas to live etc but now its a reality. Here are the thoughts (any advice appreciated)
Living - 2 sets of thoughts. Live in Conneticut to have a large house, big yard (we have 3 kids 8,5 & 6mths + 1 large dog), safe neighbourhoods. Live in Manhattan (say Upper East Side/West Side) for close to commute to work for husband, but more around place of living.
Schools - will be private given the company will pay. Will need to work out how on earth to get into them and also single sex vs co-ed.
Car - would want one for weekend trips but will need to get used to driving on the other side of road (and I guess a factor for Manhattan vs CT)
Any other thoughts i need to be thinking?
What are you used to at home, urban or suburban?
Do you like having a supermarket, etc., for shopping?
Do you like having your own garden, how do you feel about shovelling snow at dawn several times over the winter, mowing a lawn when it is very hot and very humid?
Do you like noise and bustle and the feeling that you are living in fairly cramped quarters?
Private schools in NY have the reputation of being very hard to get into. Public schools are pretty good in some areas. In CT you might find public school a really good option from the pov of education. However, you have to research public schools before houses or apartments as enforcement of catchment areas is rigid and unbending.
A car would be a nightmare in Manhattan. Rent one for weekend trips. Your life would depend on having one in CT.
Don't underestimate the importance of commuting time when deciding where to live.
Thanks for your replies.
What are you used to at home, urban or suburban? We are currently in London but in a village like feel area. A large park near by.
Do you like having a supermarket, etc., for shopping? Supermarket close by although we have been shopping online for weekly groceries. Having a cafe near by would be nice.
Do you like having your own garden, how do you feel about shovelling snow at dawn several times over the winter, mowing a lawn when it is very hot and very humid? Think it comes with the territory of land. Would obviously prefer not to.
Do you like noise and bustle and the feeling that you are living in fairly cramped quarters? Prefer not to have noise. Don't love the city feel.
Private schools in NY have the reputation of being very hard to get into. Public schools are pretty good in some areas. In CT you might find public school a really good option from the pov of education. However, you have to research public schools before houses or apartments as enforcement of catchment areas is rigid and unbending. I have heard about the toughness of the NY schools.
A car would be a nightmare in Manhattan. Rent one for weekend trips. Your life would depend on having one in CT. Agree.
Don't underestimate the importance of commuting time when deciding where to live. This is the biggest thought process for us. Really don't want to have it long. Its currently 15mins to work.
Hello! I lived on the UWS for five years (Moved from Oxford) and moved out to Hoboken (villagey suburb immediately west of the Empire State Building, across the Hudson in New Jersey. It's a 35 min bus ride to 42nd Port Authority Bus Terminal, 10 minute ferry ride to midtown or Wall St, 25 minute subway ride to wall st. with links to NY subway). I would URGE you to consider Hoboken if you want a 'villagey' feel (still v. expensive, not nearly as expensive as NYC though) because it's a beautiful, friendly place with lots of community stuff going on, there are lots of good schools, people's children walk everywhere and hang out in parks etc. High schools aren't that good and a lot of people go private then (often the children go to one in nyc,commuting). Easy to get 'out' to the green/beachy parts of NJ if you have/hire a car but you don't need one for daily life in Hoboken (or Manhattan), which really helps.
The locals call Hoboken "the mile square" - which is more or less is, and I loved seeing people I knew on the street and chatting with them on the way to buy milk or whatever, but still being able to go to NYC for nightlife/theatres/dinner and get home in time for a babysitter. Closer to manhattan than brooklyn and cheaper.
I dunno about CT. I live about and hour and a half's commute from my work in Manhattan now (further south in NJ, husband's job is near Edison NJ) and to be honest I utterly hate my commute. loathe it. And I miss Hoboken!
Anyway, lots to consider but as few people know about Hoboken/NJ options, it's always worthwhile spreading the word! There are some houses in Hoboken but most people live in flats - often the newer, posher apartment buildings have a built-in gym, parking, children's play room, bar, sometimes pool etc - which is definitely attractive.
Do you want your DC growing up in the suburbs (you WILL need a car and you WILL drive them everywhere all the time. I've moved to the suburbs and we're struggling to manage on 1 car and saving up for another. Bah!) or in a 'walkable'/ metro area? There are a lot of fun, child-friendly areas (not just Hoboken but it's up there as one of my faves!) where you don't get that isolation of the suburbs.
I think my Hoboken obsession comes from growing up in a small village and liking the feel of knowing everyone but also loving having lots of restaurant/cafe/bar options in a walkable distance. Here we have to get in a car if we want to do anything - go buy milk, get a pizza, whatever. In Hoboken it was all right there.
For online shopping the best is www.freshdirect.com. It's not cheap, but it's the best in that kind of service. If you end up living in NYC you'll want to shop at Fairway (only supermarketyy-place in Manhattan!) but it's definitely a steep cost on some stuff. There are lots of 'tesco-metro' type places but no big supermarkets on manhattan. obviously in a suburb that's not an issue, you need a car but you can get whatever.
if you decide an in-between option like hoboken, a lot of my friends there used zipcar.com for weekends away or even just trips to Ikea.
If you google a bit, you'll find train times/commuter options for most towns, which might help. There's also www.hopstop.com which will give you/your DH journey times inside NYC too - so you can work out things like, if your train gets into Grand Central from CT at 8am, how long would it take me to get to the office? The subway is almost always the quickest way around nyc, alas, even if cabs are nicer!
We lived on UWS side at first, then moved out to Westchester for good schools. Best of both worlds as in safe, nice village for DD and easy access to New York with 25 min train to Grand Central. Now in London, but really miss New York. Enjoy!
I'm originally from NYC. I'd second Consort and recommend looking north of the city, in Westchester or Rockland County.
My parents live in Nyack, a very pretty and village-y place right on the Hudson River. To get into the city, they have a very short drive across the TZ bridge to Tarrytown (which is also nice) where they can catch a train to Grand Central, takes 35 minutes.
I would really give a lot of weight to the commute. Americans tend to work longer hours anyway, you don't want 3 hours of daily commute on top of that.
ooh yes, up-north a bit from NYC is lovely. Lots of people move to Westchester for the schools. And seconded, thirded, fourthed - think hard about your commute. It also makes little things like work drinks or a weekend work BBQ really hard, if you're 2 hours away.
Here's a suggestion - have you thought of Brooklyn or Queens?
We're in Queens and commuting in on the lines with express trains (7, E and F) is a breeze. I've got a lovely 4 bed house 10 minutes walk from the subway for the same rent as a 2 bed apartment in the UWS and it's a 45 minute commute, door to door, to my office in Manhattan. There's a good choice of private (UNIS, Kew Forest and Garden School are ones which come to mind) and public schools as well. You can also cope without a car but life might be easier with (we're trying without using zipcars but may get a car when the weather gets colder later in the year).
I think Brooklyn works well for commuting to downtown Manhattan and Queens for midtown, especially the east.
Thanks everyone. Here are the current thoughts without actually going there to view as yet (husband has a choice of work location - Long Island City or Tribeca hence house to choose office):
Greenwich CT - because its lovely, huge houses, very safe but far to commute.
Scarsdale - Same as Greenwich
Irvington - Same as Greenwich
Upper West Side - Good commute to both offices, more around us but "city feel", no backyard or pool possible
Tribeca - Husband could work to office.
Park Slope - Gives the green and park, still ok commute
Brooklyn Heights - As with Park Slope.
Appreciate any thoughts.
I will only talk about the one I know, which is the upper west side. I loved it!
People DO work very very long hours here and I suggest thinking hard about any commute over 45 minutes - does that mean Daddy will never ever get home for bedtime, etc? Is that worth it?
Also, you and your kids may love the city experience - there's an energy to Manhattan (and a convenience, with the subway and buses and lots of things to do) which I've never known in any other place. It was much easier to get DS in and out and around in Manhattan without a car than I expected - really not that hard, and masses of things within walking distance.
If you live in UWS you may well get a building with a pool. So not in your garden exactly, but just up/down in a lift, and also may have some built-in-friends in there already... worth considering. Also, because of the extremely cold winters (-10 during the day sometimes for all of Jan and Feb) and extremely hot summers (and HUMID oh my goodness especially June and July) you actually wouldn't be out in the garden much for 4-5 months of the year. I've got one now and I'm not in it from 10am-4pm because it's too hot for my toddler (even with shade) - I end up driving to indoor play areas or garden centers with aircon, so he can run around! So an indoor gym, children's playroom, or pool that's part of your apartment block is worth considering if you have little ones who get cabin fever. Buildings-with-amenities are really one of the perks of flats, if you've got the $$$$ to live in one.
And you have Riverside park on your doorstep, which isn't a back garden but IS one of the loveliest parks around. Lots of play areas (not sure how old your kids are?) including splash sites and sprinklers in the summer. The UWS is very like park slope in that it's insanely family-full, absolutely chocablock with kids, things for kids, and kid-friendly parks, hairdressers, restaurants, whathaveyou.
I used to live there. Couldn't afford it once I had kids (hah!) but it is a gorgeous place. Less trendy than Park Slope/ Brooklyn heights, but excellent schools nearby. As company is paying for private, you're going to have a LOT of choice. (Wherever you go) which is nice.
blackcurrents that is really really useful. Was certainly leaning toward UWS. Husband currently only takes 20mins to work and back in London so based on his 2 office locations, it would be 30mins door to door. Very acceptable. Does it feel very city in UWS or do the tree line streets have it feeling a little less "manhattan" than other of the main areas etc?
Thanks for the tip on the weather. Didn't even dawn on me. Kids are 8, 6 and 6mths.
Oh I would definitely do UWS myself -- it's grand! But you said you wanted a bit of garden/more green space, which is more Brooklyn.
Definitely some lovely tree-lined streets on the UWS, and you have both Riverside Park and Central Park, the Natural History Museum, Lincoln Center, lots of culture and stuff.
You can use Google Earth to actually see the neighbourhoods for yourself.
I lived in NY for 2yrs before DC. I would definitely choose UWS. The commute for starters is a winner and there is sooo much to do. Parks all over the place cafes galore. It also has the sort of villagey feel you are after.
During my time in Manhattan. I lived in Chelsea and UES. Each area of Manhattan has its own little community. Have you thought about Union Square again brill commute for your DH plus its such a great area. With loads to do.
So very very DH and I would move back there in a heartbeat. If your DH knows of any banks after a technical project manager give me a shout
Oh and I nannied in NY so know loads of child friendly places to go and a vv good friend has a nanny agency based over there if you need childcare.
You mentioned that you lived in a part of London that felt very villagey - there is definitely that feel in the UWS. I'm sure there is in Brooklyn too, but I don't know that. Some parts of Brooklyn are over an hour from manhattan -if you are used to a short commute, then UWS to Tribeca is a dream. I'd go for it in a heartbeat, can you tell?!
I lived on 111th St and Broadway (went to Columbia University, like everyone in a 10 block radius) and from 110th-125th was "Morningside heights". Because (as aging postgrads) we wanted to get away from undergrads in bars, we basically spent all our dining/wining/dancing time in the Upper West side - and it's just a fantastic area (we're talking West side of the park here - like London is split north and south of the river and THEN subdivided, Manhattan is split east/west and then subdivided into sections. this map is good - each area is villagey and commuity-ish
Wherever you are in the UWS, you're no more than 5 blocks from either Central park or Riverside Park - so in terms of getting your 8 and 6 year old to their footie lesson, it's entirely do-able. You've also got the UWS YMCA, which has great kids packages - yeah, you'd be well served here.
I'm glad the weather info was useful. My SIL in Shropshire opens her back door and kicks her kids outside into the garden pretty much any day it's not actually chucking it down - I envy her that lifestyle, but even though my garden is right here I don't use it the same way because it's just too hot/cold outside. At least in NYC the mozzies aren't so bad - over here in NJ we live by a creek and it's a nightmare keeping DS unbitten. Certainly the weather took me by surprise - both the extremes of heat and of cold, and I hadn't expected to spend so much time looking for 'climate controlled' areas for DS to play in. you think "oh, it's not rainy like England, we'll be outside all the time" but in many ways the weather is actually more hostile!
Erm, still great here though!
In terms of the tree lined versus 'city' feelings - i'd pick UES, UWS, the villages, and Inwood as the less 'high-rise-and-concretey' areas of Manhattan. UES and UWS because they were laid out nearly 200 years ago as posh suburbs of the Wall street area, and so have lots of parks and are very tree-lined with broad streets and wide pavements and every crossroad is a pedestrian crossing.
The image of manhattan I had in my head is bascially midtown (42nd street area, where I wouldn't like to live - too busy, too like Oxford St area). By contrast, the UWS is ... well, Notting Hill-ish in feel (though not in look). Buillt deliberately by people who wanted to escape 'the city', and therefore green and lovely even though it's slap bang in the middle of the city now.
I may not be making any sense. I've never lived for a long time in London, but there are my impressions!
(oh, also DH is a teacher at a private school here (in NJ, which is why we live here now) - and he actually cooed over the wonderful private schools on the UWS. So that's hopeful!
I lived in Hoboken, NJ for six years and commuted into NYC for part of that. I have several friends who still there in various parts of NJ and NYC.
If your DH will be working in Tribeca I wouldn't live in CT. He'll be commuting into Grand Central and then having to take the subway to Tribeca and that will be a looong and painful commute. I hate CT though - it has a reputation for being very snobby and it's not a short or convenient commute to NYC unless you work in the area around Grand Central.
Personally, given your list, I would opt for either the UWS (which is a lovely part of Manhattan, kid-friendly, lots of lovely museums, the park, great restaurants), or downtown. I'm not sure that I'd want to live in Tribeca though - I think I'd prefer the Village - which is still very walkable for a job in Tribeca.
Alternatively, there is always Hoboken, which I know you're not currently considering, but the PATH train runs to Christopher St (which is in the Village) and it wouldn't be a bad commute. Plus, NJ taxes are lower, Hoboken is cheaper than NYC, and it's less urban and gritty.
I can't speak about schools really, as my DS1 was only 2 when we left, but friends who are still there have told me about the nightmare of getting into NYC schools. There are good primary level schools in Hoboken and I happen to know one of the teachers at All Saints (which is a private primary).
blackcurrants, you are a star. This is such fabulous information. UWS is certainly feeling the right choice (of course need to go and check it all out). Whilst I will miss the opp to have a nice large house with a yard, the commute just doesn't feel worth it. Having the parks close by is exactly what we have here in London, not really a backyard but a huge park next to us. That map was really useful as well. Getting into private schools in UWS (or any in NY) is scary the crap out of me given we have yet to finalize the details and yet we will want them to start in Sept. We will need to travel over to apply to them and get interviewed etc. I don't even know what to expect on the exam side of things for the kids to get in....
jaminmywellies, I certainly would like the contacts!
The private school admissions is a minefield. Your best bet is to start phoning now before they break up for the summer which is really really soon to see where there are spaces. We have an 8 year old and 5 year old and applied in October to start this September for K and 3rd grade.
You should try the World Class Learning Academy and the British International School - they are both in the East Village but there might be buses. I know that UNIS (also towards the East Village/Murray Hill) does bus children from the UWS. Some of the top UWS private schools I don't think you'll have much luck but worth a chance are Dalton and Trinity. We applied (and were accepted to) Bank Street School which we loved, it's up towards Columbia on the 100s. There may also be religious schools depending on what your religion is.
You do need to do a test which is called the ERB. However, if you ask, most schools will agree to you taking the WPPSI for the 5 year old and the WISC (I think) for the 8 year old, administered by an educational psychologist in the UK. It's probably better to do it that way than have them take the test in New York when you go for interviews as they'll be disoriented and jet-lagged.
You should also know that many public school parents test for gifted and talented classes/schools. I think you may have missed the deadlinie for testing but worth speaking with the NYC DOE to see what provisions are made for families moving in to the area. The popular schools may also have waitlists, especially for K.
Good luck with it all! It's not an easy process...
Elaine i completely forgot about the testing on the kids. They only went through it a year ago when we moved here in London. God love them they didn't know what pound and pence were and we hadn't thought to tell them. Thanks for the heads up. Have 2-3 weeks at a guess to prep them. Is there any major difference between ERB and WPPSI/WISC? I like the idea that they can do it here in UK.
No, it's effectively the same thing which is why the schools are usually happy to accept it as a replacement (not all of them though but I thought that showed a rigid attitude which didn't reflect well on the school). I didn't prep either of mine - didn't really know what to do and they did fine. A good thing is that the British system is ahead of the US in the early years so your kids should find the work easy and when the schools interview, they'll be impressed If I remember correctly, Bank St doesn't require ERB, neither does WCLA or UNIS (for children comign from overseas). Can't remember if BIS does. But most of the regular NYC private schools, especially the ISAAGNY ones, will require it.
I just saw your husband could work in Long Island City...well then I recommend you think about living in Queens! I'm not just saying that because we'll be living there (with a 5 yr old, 8 yr old and large dog as well!). There are some fantastic areas and the rents (and general cost of living eg a preschool for your baby in a couple of years) are much cheaper than Manhattan or the nice parts of Brooklyn.
Some areas to look at are (kind of in order of distance from Manhattan/LIC):
Astoria, Sunnyside Gardens (really nice), Forest Hills and Forest Hills Gardens (very very nice as well), Kew Gardens, Jamaica Estates.
Depending on how close to the subway you are, your husband's commute will be less than half an hour (maybe a bit more from Jamaica Estates), you're not too far from the city for going out, Queens has the most amazing ethnic food (far better and cheaper than Manhattan) and you'll be able to afford a lovely house or fancy apartment for way less than in trendier areas.
I highly recommend it