Moving back to the UK - what kind of salary will give a reasonable lifestyle?

(29 Posts)
WillowTrees Fri 15-Mar-13 02:26:49

The title says it all really.
What sort of combined salary will give a decent lifestyle in London/East Anglia? It's hard to make the decision to move without knowing what to expect as I have been away since 2001, pre children and all their extra associated costs! Am after 3 bed house, running a fuel efficient car, state school, daycare for one child (3 kids) don't live an extravagant lifestyle, but would like not to struggle.
We are in Sydney's eastern suburbs now, $120K combined wage, 2 bed flat, one car, daycare for one child and have nothing left at the end of the month, would love to have some money left to save!

Erebus Tue 02-Apr-13 14:10:01

When were you last in Norway?

I only ask because I left Aus 10 years ago, and was quite pleased to leave, after about 15 years or so there, getting married and having DCs. I left with rather mixed feelings about the place and was hugely relieved that DH, though an Aussie, wasn't stereotypical at all. He was keen to come and spend 'a year or 2' in the UK (his grandad was British though left here at 19, and DH and I have spent a reasonable amount of time visiting the UK over the years) but as it happened, we stayed. DH has a good job, likes country pubs, real ale, walking, not having to avoid the midday sun, twilight etc...

Anyway, we decided it was only fair we made A Family Visit back so went 2 years ago when the DSs were 10 and 12. I really wasn't sure how I'd feel about it all, actually- I was fear and trepidation, but in fact, we had a really good time and I would now say that I could imagine living there again if need be. Prior to that I think I may have cried at being 'forced' to go back. So maybe, just maybe Norway won't be the place you remember?

It bothers me a bit that your DH isn't responding to your real distress at the return to Norway. There's no way DH or I would have 'made' the other one move had we been so upset at the prospect. I spent the first 5 odd years here checking with DH, once a year or so, that he was happy to stay put here and he was always 'Yeah, things are going well, I'm not feeling any strong desire to go back, so no problem'.

WillowTrees Tue 02-Apr-13 10:37:28

DHs dad (an English teacher) is British so his English is better than mine! England, as Australia, is very multicultural, and whilst there is an anti-foreigner sentiment portrayed in the media, when it comes down to it, there has been immigration for enough years that it would be hard to identify a typical British person. (I am mixed race, and have never experienced racism in UK or Australia), but it could be down to language, as opposed to appearance, I speak perfect English, I don't speak perfect Norwegian so am easily identified as non-Norwegian. Anyway, one of the deals I made with myself if we moved to Norway, was not to be so sensitive about it as it made me quite cross on a daily basis of the 7 years I lived there previously.
I've actually been given a reprieve, we will not move (still Norway) until December and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders! 1 April was the deadline we had given ourselves to decide (to move in time for Norway school year) and I've been in tears for days, literally whenever anyone mentioned it! The kids are so settled here, they have great school classes and friends and I didn't want to remove them from that. The Aussie school year ends in December, so there is a real finality about the end of the year, coinciding with all the school/preschool/ballet end of year concerts. It took me howling in the shower for DH to suggest end of year instead. I'm hoping this will make the break easier when the time comes, that at least they completed the year with their friends. OTOH is could be that I really don't want to move to Norway, and will feel the same panic when December rolls around ...

Erebus Tue 02-Apr-13 09:42:43

Q: " I want to belong and be accepted and understand a culture, and that by moving to Norway, being an foreigner in a country that doesn't like foreigners and loosing my mother tongue I loose a part of myself

Wouldn't it be exactly like that for your DH in England though?"

I'd say no, because for a start, I'd guess there's far less 'anti-forriner' bias in the UK than in many more homogenous societies like Norway's. I mean, we all know non-British peopel, often in among our close friendship group here in teh UK, don't we? We work with them our DC go to school with them, whereas I could imagine that, outside one or 2 bigger cities, there are far fewer non-Norwegians in Norway.

Secondly, English is very accessible. The DH presumably speaks it every day in Australia. It's not that hard to immerse yourself in English, whereas I imagine it's quite difficult to do that in Norway, especially as Norwegian is surely a language that comes totally bundled up with the culture that spawned it; whereas English is a language that is a universal tool of communication, which allows an 'educated' Indian to speak effectively to an 'educated' Hong Kong Chinese, iyswim, with no cultural 'baggage' on board, and so forth.

I am not suggesting that the DH will find a move to England easy but I'd bet he'd find it a sight easier than the poster's move to Norway!

scottswede Tue 26-Mar-13 14:14:58

Spring is "hopefully" on it's way. 5 whole months of winter. The only piece of advice I can offer is to stay in a neutral country if you can, until you both agree on a decision, at least that way neither of you will feel pressured or resentful of a move.
Sweden is also regarded as one of the safest, best places to live in the world. Just because a countries 'statistics' look good on paper,it doesn't give you the full picture. All I'm saying is research your options more before making a huge move. Unfortunately if your dh is unwilling to even consider the UK, then stay where you are until you can agree.

twilight3 Tue 26-Mar-13 13:03:00

I want to belong and be accepted and understand a culture, and that by moving to Norway, being an foreigner in a country that doesn't like foreigners and loosing my mother tongue I loose a part of myself

Wouldn't it be exactly like that for your DH in England though?
It's a difficult position you're in, I understand. But I wonder if he would soften a bit and be more open to conversation if you showed some sympathy over the challenges that he, as a foreigner, would face in England...

WillowTrees Tue 26-Mar-13 09:38:53

Thanks scottswede, you will completely understand what it's like as you have been in Sweden, the good and the bad! I think Scandinavia is great if you are from there, but less so if you don't come from there and face all the barriers that seem to be in the way. It's so hard to argue to my DH, when he just refers to the fact that Norway is UN no. one place to live, year after year and wages are high. When I'm standing in the queue for 6 hours to renew my residency, then get spoken to by someone rude, and they take 8 months to process my application, only for the process to happen again a few months later I have no happy thoughts about Norway. Ditto after 6 months of winter and minus temperatures!

scottswede Tue 26-Mar-13 07:53:26

I completely understand what your going through WT. Dh and met and lived in the US for 7yrs, moved to UK, my home, had 2 kids. Moved to Sweden, dh's home. Now in the process of returning to UK. Yes Sweden and Norway have fantastic things going for them, BUT there is also a lot of POO basically.
We moved to Sweden for the kids benefit, but realized that age old saying." If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". Not just me but dh too. The Brits/Americans are sooooooo different to the Scandinavians. You have lived in Norway so you already know what your compromises will be. I don't envy you your predicament, but good luck with the decision making.

WillowTrees Mon 25-Mar-13 01:24:17

Thanks Mutley smile
So hard with all these decisions now we are grown up! Amazing location that I love versus grandparents and cousins for children in a country I don't love.

DH thinks it is 'nostalgia' that I want to try and live in England, can't seem to make him understand that it is something much deeper than that, that I want to belong and be accepted and understand a culture, and that by moving to Norway, being an foreigner in a country that doesn't like foreigners and loosing my mother tongue I loose a part of myself.

Then I try and put it in perspective and remind myself that other people are facing much tougher decisions and challenges ...

lookingforhome Sun 24-Mar-13 14:25:34

Mutley77 all very interesting but why did you move then?

Mutley77 Fri 22-Mar-13 04:37:26

So sorry, it is horrible making these decisions. (D!)H and I argued pretty much non-stop from October to December about whether we were moving from UK to Australia and we are now in Australia! - as soon as the decision was made it was 100% better - although obviously the decision to move brought it's own stress....

I think you would be fine in the UK FWIW. We lived in Berkshire (not quite as expensive as Surrey) and we owned a fairly big 4 bed semi, really great catchment for primary, nice area, 2 cars, cleaner, and generally nice lifestyle!! We managed that on £70K joint income and we had one child in P/T childcare and the other in after-school care 2 days per week. It was probably slightly easier to manage as we owned rather than renting, we have subsequently rented our house out for a lot more than the interest only mortgage (I know there are downsides of interest only but we made the decision we would do it until both kids in school).

Here in Australia we live in Perth (sounds similar priced to Sydney although we are going to rent a 4 bed house for $750 pwk - perhaps further out of city than where you are). Our lifestyle won't be as good even though my husband is earning $130K - on his own as I am not going to work for a while to start with. Obviously we are renting here as well which makes our accommodation costs higher. We will only have one car, no cleaner but will still be in a really nice area. I hope the pros of the outdoor life will make up a little for what we can't afford but I do think the UK is quite a lot cheaper than Australia so salaries can be less to afford the same - sorry sounds like my info is too late but good luck.

WillowTrees Thu 21-Mar-13 06:41:50

Thanks Shells smile

Shells Thu 21-Mar-13 06:08:47

You poor thing. I feel for you. It is crap being a parent sometimes isn't it. And really crap to be with someone from another country (I am too and have had to make big compromises).
Hope you can find some peace.

WillowTrees Thu 21-Mar-13 00:02:26

Looks like we are going to Norway.
We've been having the conversation of where to go for years, but now we have to decide by 1 April. I want to go to England, but DH is not prepared to go down in wage, his Norwegian wage will be double what he can get in England, but things cost twice as much in Norway, and I can't get him to see its all relative. Been in tears for 2 days! I'm more upset that I worked to hard to get my education recognised in Norway, which took 4 years, faced so many brick walls and yet he has done no research to see what prospects he has in the UK.

Shells Wed 20-Mar-13 10:24:27

Hi Willowtrees, we have done similar, except moved from NZ back to UK last year. We have decided on Cambridge and moved three school age kids. Its been up and down so far but I think a good decision to be here. Happy to talk more figures if you'd like to pm me.

Mosman Mon 18-Mar-13 23:08:26

I came back for family pressure in 2000, am now back in perth you and maybe even they in their own minds envisage popping around to see grand kids and cousins all the lovely Sunday lunches you'll have. The reality is everyone had their own lives and the novelty of you wears off. And them you'll be in Norwich and no better off.

lljkk Sun 17-Mar-13 11:01:28

Supporting family on a single adult nurse salary in Norwich sounds tough to me. Not impossible, but have to count pennies. Depends how senior a nurse you are, too.

Check salaries here, maybe.

sleepdodger Sun 17-Mar-13 08:02:18

Just to say if dh had good job opportunities in London, and thus London salary would he consider commute by train? In less than 1hr there are express trains to Leamington spa, market harborough, Coventry, rugby etc- houses MUCH cheaper than home counties and some beautiful spots- alot of people catch a train at say 7 and are sat at desk by815 ahead of London colleagues who have tubed accross the city

WillowTrees Sun 17-Mar-13 04:06:05

Very helpful replies to an almost impossible decision!
Dikkertjedap we can't really stay where we are at the moment, as we feel in limbo with family pressure to go back. The one year thing in England was more for my peace of mind, as I have always said I wanted to try and live in England (left for Norway when I was 24). I actually think the kids will be ok as we try and figure the best place to call home, they have connections to all 3 countries and they understand that, whilst it is amazing where we are, the downside is that we never see family and we live in a tiny flat. I will do my best to buffer the impact of moving on them and try and make them see the positives. Ultimately Norway is better for them, but I've realised it's not for me. I'm nearly 40, and with 3 kids I've come to realise that the decisions we make now have so much more impact then when we were young and carefree 10 years ago! Is it ok to compromise myself and be sad, or better for everyone with a happy mum?
We have actually enrolled the kids in Norwegian school/preschool, so if we do make the move to Norway, they can speak English at school and learn the language gently through family and activities and TV, and join the local school a year later.
lljkk thank you! I'm from Norwich, but no idea about areas! Would like to be close to the city smile The problem with Norwich is if DH could get a job, the biggest hurdle with that is that I don't think he really think he wants to, so a pretty big hurdle ...
Sleepdodger thanks so much for the figures. Sydney has high wages, as does Norway, so we wouldn't be on a comparative figure, more like $55-60K, I guess I need to know if we could manage on that smile
Twilight I actually studied in Guildford, and it would be my perfect place to live, but had discounted Surrey as I presumed it was too expensive for us. Oh how envious I am of friends who had houses student houses bought for them in 1996!! I'm a research nurse so probably even less funding for the likes of me, you're right about better prospects in Surrey.
Thank you all for helpful comments smile

twilight3 Sat 16-Mar-13 19:46:09

We're in Surrey, 3 beds start at £300,000 upwards (that would be terraced and in need of TLC). Council tax is just over £150 pcm. PILs in Norwich have an awesome 5 bed detached, it's value at the moment is £250,000. Down here childcare full time is around a grand a month, until they're 3 and you get a discount for their 15 hours a week. Breakfast and afterschool clubs or Childminder is about £50 a week per child (and then there are the school holidays -thankfully there are plenty of holiday clubs, these are between £40-£80 a week per child).

Renting down here for a decent three bedroom would be around £1500 (you can find cheaper with a bit or reasearch, I'm sure).

Family of four we spend £350 a month on groceries including cleaning products. We could easily do it cheaper though.
Utilities+high speed broadband = £200

Petrol is very expensive in the UK at the moment.

Surrey might be expensive but very easy trip into London for your husband's job. Probably better prospects fro you as well. I have no idea how it is for nurses in London, but my BIL is a cardiologist in Norwich and he says how frustrated they all are as budget cuts means less nurses =everyone's job is more difficult and the patients suffer the consequences. I'm not saying you couldn't get a job there, only repeating what I heard.

Hope you guys find somewhere you're all happy :-)

sleepdodger Sat 16-Mar-13 14:03:35

Ok London will be more but child care elsewfere at a nursery will be c..£50/day or less,£40 or less at cm
Rent - 3 bed semi with garden c. £500-900 depending on areas etc
Council tax say £150-200 month
Water gas electric say £300 month
Car? Fuel is expensive here...
Based on $120k being about £70k at the mo you'd be clearing about £4k month so no probs!

lljkk Sat 16-Mar-13 13:24:40

Sorry, childcare, depends on age of your LO, but I would plan on £50/day if under 3yo. If you worked at the N&N there's a nursery onsite that probably takes salary before tax.

lljkk Sat 16-Mar-13 13:19:52

I don't know what Aussie $ are worth, so can't compare. I have heard that all costs are very high in Aus & NZ.

Cambridge is expensive, think London salaries & prices.

Norwich is, er, contrasting!! Depends where you live.

Let's say you rent a house in Dussingdale (east Norwich) for £800/month. Other living costs would be minimum another £800 I'd think (council tax utilities food, clothes, few small luxuries, etc.)

You'll likely send your child to Dussingdale school ( ks2 results a bit low but not horrendous).

More expensive in a DesRes part of the city.
Cheaper again to live in the villages (although transport costs can be high).

dikkertjedap Sat 16-Mar-13 12:14:42

Not sure about the idea of giving it a go, potentially for just one year. That may be fine for you and your Dh but massively unsettling for your kids, especially the one at primary school.

Personally, I would focus more on the impact on the kids and preparing a smooth transition/well thought plan for their future. (I am a teacher, so may be bound to say this ...)

Maybe stay put where you are and explore options through longer but less frequent Holidays until you have all come to an agreement on the best way forward???

Also, if you consider moving to Norway, do your kids speak Norwegian? If not, and if you do seriously consider moving there, I would start teaching them Norwegian, even just basics, so they have some foundation to build on and they won't feel totally excluded.

WillowTrees Fri 15-Mar-13 22:34:34

Ginger a very good question and one we ask ourselves often! But no family here and none of them visit, so feel duty bound to head back closer to them. We're in a 2 bed flat here, so should probably move anyway, even if we were to stay in Sydney.
Thanks for replies everyone, DH could get a job in London, but I don't want to live in London, too expensive and getting a school place sounds like a nightmare! Other places I'd like to try are Cambridge/Norwich, but as I said I'm not sure about real costs. We would be renting initially, childcare (guessing 3 days) for one, primary school for 2 (with after school care). I could get a job in these places (nurse) but not sure about DH (again, I'm presuming I could get a job, I realise things have changed though since I left, even for nurses)
Our comparisons are with Sydney, $120K wage, $650/wk rent, $250/wk groceries, $92/day childcare, need to know if we could make it work or if it would be a big mistake.
The other option is to move to Norway, where DH is from, and where he thinks we should go, but I lived there for 7 years and didn't like it much, this is my one chance to try and live in England, even if it's just to try for a year. If we make the move to Norway now I fear I will get stuck there as his family are there and it will become the children's home, mentally and with the associated legal agreements.

Gingerodgers Fri 15-Mar-13 19:10:10

Er, why would you leave Sydney's eastern subs? Just about the most fantastic city on earth.

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