If you're on a company re-location (rather than emigrating) do you live in a smaller house/flat than you did in the UK ?

(14 Posts)
crochetqueen Sun 13-Jan-13 17:59:37

Just wondering !

We're potentially moving this year - random places - could be Geneva (most likely) or somewhere like Hong Kong...

We live in the South of the UK but not in a very expensive area and in the last couple of years have moved and done up our house which is now a lovely family home.

Although the company will give us some sort of like for like type housing allowance, I suspect that notwithstanding that, that to find a like for like may not be possible for eg we might have to settle for a flat or to live quite far out to get a bigger house with garden (if at all - might be living in cloud cuckoo land ) ...... I suspect if we are trying to settle somewhere for 3 - 4 years it will initially be important for us to build up a life with friends and also will be dependent on schools (kids are primary age) - and I also appreciate that it is quite possible to move house within that period of time.

I'm sort of wondering what we'd do with some of our stuff too (we'd rent our home in the UK ) and also, what do you do about guests (in terms of having them to stay etc etc) ...it feels weird to think we might take a step back for eg in terms of living but also if everyone has to do it, then presumably you get used to it....

I'd appreciate your thoughts on what it was like for you...I'm dreading the moving particularly as finally life in the UK is quite nice and settled here in terms of house, social life and lovely local state primary for DS where DD would start this year too....but hey ho, we have to do what we have to do.

many thanks

nextphase Sun 13-Jan-13 18:09:28

OK, if you end up in HK, you almost certainly will be in a flat, or a LONG way out - think 1hr + on the train in the old farming villages, where they do have houses, but they are TINY compared to UK houses. And very unlikely to get a garden.

Are you sure the company will let you rent out your house, AND pay for your accommodation in the new place? I've generally known it be one or the other. You can either ship all your furniture over, or put it into storage. The best option depends on where your going - ie price and availability of furniture in destination.

Its a fab opportunity when the kids are the age yours are, and usually lucrative due to tax!

gingergaskell Sun 13-Jan-13 18:17:27

I lived in Hong Kong as an expat, no advice on Geneva though I'm sorry, that could be different again!

Housing is very different in HK, so it would be hard to get like for like. Very high rise apartments or smaller town houses and mostly new concrete structures.
We were there before we had children {our eldest was born there though}, so we were happy to be in a high rise in the centre on the island.

With children a lot do choose to live further out on the mainland part of Hong Kong, where it's possible to have a garden, or somewhere like Discovery Bay, which is townhouses and specifically geared towards families.
The thing to weigh up is commuting for work and schools and what facilities you want in an area.
It's not hard to meet people. Expat areas are great for that, people move so often that everyone is very open to welcoming new people and including them, so it's much easier than here say.

For guests, we had a spare room. If you can this is a good idea, as people do tend to stay with you more, as people need to travel to see you, especially family.

We always take all our furniture with us, so it doesn't end up spread out over various countries, but in your case it sounds very much like you'll return to your family home so worthwhile leaving some stuff there. Especially since people tend to rent their houses with some furniture here in the UK, and if you are moving to a smaller place over there, you won't want it all.
Sometimes you can get storage as part of your relocating package too.

crochetqueen Sun 13-Jan-13 18:54:15

thanks....nextphase...sorry I made that sound confusing....you are right in that you rent your house and then pay your rent abroad and then may get a top up if there is a major difference in rental values in the destination country....I do know one family who have rented their house and have accommodation paid abroad...nice if you can get it eh ? !

crochetqueen Sun 13-Jan-13 19:08:06

gingergaskell....thanks for your advice too...From other searches on here it seems that we'd be in a flat or a smaller house further out if it was HK.

MistyB Sun 13-Jan-13 19:37:15

It really depends on what your salary / package is. We rent our house in the Uk but it covers our mortgage, upkeep, agents fees and to be honest, very little else. Rent in Geneva is much more than in Yorkshire!!

Having space to have guests is really nice and something that would be a very nice to have only wish list (it was long btw and we did manage to tick most of our boxes in Geneva) Companies who are moving people and have been doing so for a long time, generally know what they are doing and in my experience are pretty generous here in Geneva.

Feel free to PM me if you have any detailed questions.

crochetqueen Sun 13-Jan-13 19:56:42

thanks for that Misty....I understand that the company are pretty 'good' but regardless I feel a bit sad about leaving our lovely newly done up house which has been so nice to live in as a family.....still it will all be a new experience so that will help ! I may well be pm'ing you in due course ! the next few months will be the time we'll find out.

Shanghaidiva Mon 14-Jan-13 04:31:36

I am in China and have also lived as an expat in Germany and Austria. We don't have a house in the UK and the company paid for us to ship some stuff to China (books, games, toys bedding, clothes, computers, bikes etc) and the remainder is in storage paid for the by the company.
IME the company will ensure you have an allowance which will cover a property suitable for your family size and this has always enabled us to have a guest bedroom. As previous posters have mentioned this may not be so easy in HK.
I have been any expat for 18 years and have never owned by own home. I like not having to do any of the work associated with owning a property and would rather spend my free time travelling. Although I can understand you may be sad to leave a property you have invested a lot of time and money in, living overseas is such fun! (thanks Miranda)

ripsishere Mon 14-Jan-13 05:45:09

We've lived in six countries and own a house in the UK (mortgaged). Four of the schools paid our rent, two haven't.
Three of our places have been bigger than our 3 bed semi in England, one had six bathrooms which was a bit excessive for two of us.
Our current flat is three bedroomed and allegedly fully furnished. We have shipped some stuff out, the rest if distributed between friends and relatives.
Some schools have been much more generous with their shipping allowances than others.
My advice is to make your new place home. IMVHO, home is where your family are.

crochetqueen Mon 14-Jan-13 07:02:08

thanks all....can you tell it's my first move ! I've travelled extensively on my own in the world but it somehow feels different when you've got the kids in tow...although I suspect they'll be fine. We'll let our house unfurnished so I suspect might need to store some and then would like our own things with us as much as possible abroad. It's also a chance for a good sort out !..particularly the kids stuff (need to do that bit whilst they're out the house !)

natation Mon 14-Jan-13 09:09:08

Very wise advice from ripsishere. It doesn't matter how big or small your house is, it matters that it is your home.

There are of course things to think about. Check whether where you're moving to are usually fully, partly or unfurnished. Consider the cost of moving your big furniture, the cost of storing it, who is going to pay to move or store it, whether it is financially better to sell furniture.

If it's likely to be Geneva, then if work is central in Geneva, you might find it much cheaper to live in France where rent and cost of living is less.

Our work (UK government) were very very difficult over the moving process. It was decided that all staff would be required to rent furnished properties and a certain m3 of storage would be paid for, a certain amount of possessions in m3 could be shipped. This decision was and still is insane. Furnished properties where we live are more expensive, you pay for damaged furniture, furnished properties are maybe 1% of family sized housing market meaning staff had great problems finding any, the official storage company charges a bomb, the official moving company (for the small m3 you can bring) charges a bomb, the bills for furniture damage have been enormous. We fought this stupid rule and got the right to take unfurnished housing. The downside was that 1) they refused to pay for any storage, 2) they refused to ship the m3 furniture which would have been stored so we paid for the removal ourselves. We have saved UK tax payers around £15,000 in storage / damages costs, compared to the other families which were sent here by UKG. We got no thanks at all for this cost saving, we paid £2,000 out of our own pocket for the luxury of having a choice of 100s of houses to choose from instead of the single 3 bed furnished house for rent we would have been forced to take otherwise. It's dreadful how tax payers money is wasted and if you try to whistle blow, you risk losing your job. We also saved the UK tax payers £200,000 in international school fees, yet we were refused the request to transfer husband's £200 language lessons grant to the children for extra French lessons to help them with the transition into a new language and education system. EEEHHHHHH, you can tell I'm still angry over how we were treated.

Anyway, think about how you can turn wherever you live into your own home.

Salbertina Mon 14-Jan-13 10:16:31

Pictures can make a home! We brought little but kids esp have pictures up, really helped.
Hk so ridiculous rent-wise that my guests never expected to stay. They tended to find outofseason hotel/flight packages more cheaply than flight only anyway.

Mummysaysno Sun 20-Jan-13 11:42:37

This is our second stint oversea. The first time we chose to be in an apartment in Manhattan, and had we stayed longer, would have moved out to a bigger house than we had in the UK, out in the suburbs.
This time we're in HK - we spent the first year and a bit in an apartment having left a house in the UK that was (for me) perfect (having lived with builders doing various extensions etc for over a year). I really struggled living in a smaller space - we have three children, and they missed the garden, they missed stairs(!). So now we have moved to a house with a back yard, which is not much smaller in size than our house in UK, very old kitchen and bathrooms, and almost four times the rent of our UK house. Sometimes this drives me mad - my nasty old grease-infested gas oven burns everything - I had three beautiful Siemens ovens in London, but other times I remind myself had we not come away who knows, maybe DH wouldn't have had a job any more.
It hurts that I gave up school places that were not easy to secure, but but but.... the other option would have been staying in the same house at the same schools from age 4 to 18... and then what? Where was the adventure?
I also knew I didn't want a 'house' to become a ball and chain, that prevented us from new adventures, and I didn't want to be that focused on the material, even though I know this sounds like I am waffling on about ovens!
You're very sensible and realistic to ask yourself all these questions. Now is the time to do the questioning. Will you get to do a look-see?
There are all the other benefits - I don't know Geneva, but for HK the safety is a huge tick, having domestic help, and I have made amazing friends since I've been here, that I can't imagine not having in my life.
All the best with your decision!

LIZS Sun 20-Jan-13 12:09:56

We lived in CH (not Geneva though) and sq footage was greater in our 3 bed apartment than our 4 bed house in SE. Most complexes had communal gardens and play areas and we had a balcony large enough for outdoor toys and patio tables/bbq. If you get a garden you will be required to maintain and reinstate it.We shipped basics of furniture etc , topped up by Ikea fold up beds and sofa bed for guests courtesy of relocation allowance, and stored rest in UK funded by company. When looking for property (unless you get an agent paid to do so for you) make sure you understand local definitions ie a 3-piece is not necessary the same as 3 bedrooms - they may count living areas and can include/exclude kitchen and bathrooms.

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