Moving from Oz back to UK..... Where to live?

(15 Posts)
choklit Tue 03-Dec-13 01:45:38

We are thinking about returning to the UK from Oz after 7 years here.

We have 3 DC's, the older two are currently in grade 1 & 3 here.

Our family and friends are predominantly in the south east (kent, essex, herts)

I just don't know where to locate ourselves. We have no firm base over there but ideally would want to be a commutable distance from London for work, good state schools etc, affordable housing. I am not sure this actually exists!? This was our stumbling block before we left and again whenever we consider returning.

(Am I right in thinking that you can't apply for school places until you have an address there?)


2Retts Tue 03-Dec-13 01:57:57

Hi choklit

Have you considered Canterbury or thereabouts? We were there for a while and the schools are great and it's less than an hour into (London) town by train on HS1.

The housing is affordable (all relative though) and it's perfectly feasible to live in Whitstable or Chartham (just examples) if you're driving, which is cheaper than Canterbury centre.

It might be a nice gentle introduction back to the UK and is not too far from your family and friends.

All the best, wherever life takes you.

2Retts Tue 03-Dec-13 02:00:56

PS Applying for school places is tricky until you have an address because of the emphasis placed upon catchment areas; they need to know you will have priority to justify offering you places as the best schools are often over-subscribed.

Come to Essex <does weird tempting dance>

2Retts Tue 03-Dec-13 02:37:06

grin @ <does weird tempting dance> MrsCakes

There are so many great areas within spitting distance of London...the opportunities are endless

choklit Tue 03-Dec-13 02:51:59

Thanks everyone

I guess we have no option but to choose somewhere with good schools and hope for the best, given we can't apply without an address. I find that side of it quite overwhelming!

I am not opposed to Essex. Born and bred there myself!

2Retts Tue 03-Dec-13 03:00:59

Don't feel too overwhelmed, just pick an area with more great schools than bad, and trust yourselves as parents.

pupsiecola Tue 03-Dec-13 08:47:48

You don't need a UK address to apply for an in year place. We did this last year whilst living in SE Asia. If offered a place you then have 10 days to accept, and the children have to be at school within 4 weeks.

ifink Tue 03-Dec-13 10:38:22

I'm originally from the N Herts area (letchworth, baldock, hitchin etc) where loads of people commute into London - seems like a good choice still for schools, affordable (ish) house prices . My DH is from Essex and again seems like some places (Saffron Walden/Bishops Stortford etc) can offer you all those kind of school/house prices not too crazy things. Friends who live in Surrey - Esher/Thames Ditton etc love it - though I don't think affordable is a word you could choose for housing!
We were in the same boat when we lived in NW London - where would we go after we grew out of our tiny house? We moved to Oz too and are still here and so too would struggle if we returned as to where to go but think Herts would probably win. Can I be nosy I ask why you're returning?

choklit Tue 03-Dec-13 14:22:00

Thanks for that pupsiecola. Potentially by then we would have 2 in school and depending on timings 1 starting in reception.

Ifink - We would be returning for the people and places and familiarity. I can't decide if that is a good enough reason to go and if it is a case of rose tinted glasses. Although it feels like a whole new start after 7 years especially as we have nowhere to go back to. So that side of it feels quite scary. This is where I struggle as our dc's have a nice life out here. I personally find it hard to envisage my long term future here. After all this time it still doesn't feel like 'home' for me. I do feel the distance and yearn for my history etc etc.

I am also concerned that here is home for the DC's and whether it would be the right thing for them.

Lots of questions floating around in my head! I find it isolating here even though we are relatively settled etc. Other days I think we, or rather I, should appreciate what we have here and stop looking back.I don't know the answers. I just don't know that I can stay here in Oz forever. Neither can we afford to ping pong back and forth to see if being back in the UK suits everyone, so the decison to go needs to be well thought out and hopefully the right one if we do.

idlevice Wed 04-Dec-13 13:36:00

We moved back last year after 5.5yrs. Oldest DS was 4 & it was a wrench taking him from his pre-school & friends, but over here he settled into a lovely village primary school & enjoyed being able to access relatives so much more easily. As a family we have really enjoyed being able to go for walks/cycling outside much more, the history/heritage side of living back in the UK, the more obvious change in seasons & seasonally-appropriate events. Plus I am happier as the SAHP which is better for everyone overall. So I think if you have a hankering to move back & rest of the family is supportive, best try to do it sooner rather than later.

We had a location to move to via DP's work so that was no issue for us. Is there a location where you can be about an hour (or nearer if you are very family-orientated) from some close relatives? We are about an hour from two sets of relatives & it works well for visits.

I see Canterbury/Whitstable was recommended above - I grew up there & we stayed there with my parents for the first three months after returning from Oz. It is lovely & so much for kids in the area, plus easy to nip across to mainland Europe via the channel tunnel without needing an overnight stay. DP & I lived in Berkshire before moving & it is a great area, particularly the villages around Maidenhead/Reading area, but v expensive.

We found we had to have a UK address before getting a place for DS1 at school, but this was for starting school so may not be the same if DC already of school age. Have you seen the returning home section of the BritishExpats website? Might be of some help. I do sympathise with you regarding all the worries! One day hopefully they will all be a distant memory!

choklit Thu 05-Dec-13 03:04:48

Thanks idlevice. It is an awful lot to try and get our heads around! Mostly the unknown of not knowing if it is the right thing to do but we have to do it to find out. And at such great expense financially and emotionally.

I am currently looking into the Tonbridge/Sevenoaks area. I think access into London is good for work and schools are apparently good around there.

How did you cope with returning to the English weather? Seems so superficial to say that but that concerns me. My dc's have a lot of outside time here and I wonder how it is being back in the UK when it's dark and cold for many months of the year. Or is it just something you get used to along with everything else?

scottswede Sat 07-Dec-13 13:53:23

We are having that discussion now. Dh and I lived in the UK for 5 years together before moving here. We are hoping to move back within the next year and are deciding whether to return to the same place or try somewhere new.
The advantages of going 'home' are an established support system, knowing where everything is etc.
A new place brings a fresh start, experiences, and challenges.
The problem with somewhere new is WHERE.......
I think schools are going to be our main criteria for a move. confused

choklit Sat 07-Dec-13 22:18:46

It's the schools that throws me too. We are thinking of the Sevenoaks area but the schools are popular and oversubscribed.
Presumably we'd rent somewhere but then not get into a local school. I am envisaging being allocated a school miles away. I am also concerned about whether all 3 dc's would be kept together? Or simply allocated separate schools that can accommodate their particular year (reception, 2 and 3)??

idlevice Tue 10-Dec-13 22:33:17

I was a bit concerned about the weather aspect even though I also thought it was a bit shallow. I was looking forward to not having the heat as I didn't get on with it, which was a surprise as pre-DC we went on hiking holidays to places like Death Valley, & I was looking forward to being warm & cosy inside in the winter which we weren't in our Aussie house due to no insulation. Those two things have worked out luckily & I am still thankful for them!

We moved back late Spring time, which I would recommend if possible (or at least in the summer), as you can settle in without being distracted by needing to get used to colder & wetter weather. Also good for kids as they would have the summer holiday to settle in before starting school. I decided to adopt the mantra "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing" & set about getting the kids things like waterproof over-trousers, decent coats, warm waterproof winter boots, insulated gloves, thermal under-layers, etc I got it all on ebay as these things can be expensive new when they only get worn for one season before they are outgrown, & I'm not fussy about having certain brands or looking a certain way. We haven't used all of the stuff as yet but will see what this winter brings!

It takes a bit of getting used to managing all the gear for going out, not just for kids but for me too I found. I used to just chuck on thongs, shorts & a vest top for most things - I am still trying to build up a decent range of all-year clothing. I do appreciate being more covered up over here as I'm getting on a bit! Make sure you have space for an organised hallway in your property for all the gear. I also was convinced we should get an internal garage so we wouldn't have to bother about de-icing cars but we ended up with a period property and have just got a windscreen cover for the cars at night. New cars are quick to heat up & de-frost too.

Even though I've never been a beach person I have missed the beach as an easy option for an outing for the kids as I got used to it (we lived 20mins from the beach). But I still prefer the variety of things to do over here. All year round there are far more outdoor events on than there used to be when I was a kid, tonnes of festivals & in the autumn/winter there are loads of Halloween events, then Bonfire night, then all sorts of Christmas stuff - illuminated nature parks, temporary ice-rinks, winter parades, xmas markets, etc If you have the right clothing & the weather is not extremely bad then it's good to get out to these things with the kids. There are quite a few indoor things on at the weekends we've found: museum club, indoor climbing centre, family yoga, kids cookery club, gardening club at garden centes, art & craft clubs & the usual sports/swimming/dance things. We don't do anything regular with the kids at the weekends as we don't want to "hot-house" them & there are plenty of casual/drop-in arrangements where you don't have to commit long-term.

There have only been two times I can think of when our plans got scuppered due to bad weather & both times we "resorted" to an indoor play centre. We've probably got better at planning things now.

Another thing I have enjoyed here which you might also find is remembering things from my childhood which I don't think I would have remembered otherwise as they've been triggered by doing things with the kids. it's quite nice to recall things which otherwise would have been buried for ever! Soppy but true!

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