Moving UK to Seattle(14 Posts)
DH was informed by his company yesterday that they are closing the London office in a few weeks and that he has a choice of redundancy or an all expenses paid move to Seattle (or SF, though we prefer the sound of the former)
Firstly, does anyone have experience of living in the Seattle area? His work would be based in Redmond/Bellevue. I know nothing about the cities, or tbh about USA in general. What sort of questions do we even need to be thinking about?
We have 3 young children, one is undergoing treatment for cancer. That treatment is well underway and the company medical will cover it (to our surprise). How do we even start with working out moving schools etc. Our eldest would be in Kindergarten, our other children are younger.
We both worry about our parents for different reasons. Neither set particularly elderly but not young either, all are in their 60s. None are well travelled and my parents in particular dislike flying. Our children are the only grandchildren on both sides and are likely to remain so. We don't live close to my parents in the UK but see them every 6-8 weeks. They adore the kids and the kids adore them. They would be devastated if we moved to the other side of the world. They have been an enormous help to us, especially through DS cancer treatment and I'd feel terrible taking their grandchildren away. That said, our parents' feelings can't really be the only deciding factor in making us stay.
Where do we start with making the decision? Redundancy wouldn't be a problem for DH. The package is generous enough and he is in an industry where he is unlikely to struggle to find another role in London. We had assumed that DS medical issues would make moving impossible (and tbh almost hoped that they would so we wouldn't have to make a decision)
Although we don't know a lot about the area, DH colleagues suggest that the quality of living could be much greater out there. We've had a turbulent few years and a place with a slower pace of life would be lovely. But that could just be sugar-coating the Unknown.
Does anyone have any thoughts, experience of moving away from the familiar, ideas about the location or anything else we haven't even thought of yet please? My gut reaction is to stay put here, but there's a certain pull to the change that means I don't want to dismiss it out of hand just yet.
First off, is this a temporary or, the sounds of it, a permanent move? What visa are they proposing? That will help people to advise you.
for your DC.
Bump OP. Hope you get some answers, as we are in a similar position...
I grew up in Bellevue! The Seattle area is lovely, very outdoorsy (in spite of the rain).
Schools are pretty good generally - my mother was a teacher in the Bellevue school district for years, before moving up to Everett.
Bellevue is now very expensive, thanks to Microsoft and similar companies, but there are a lot of more affordable places in the area. The trouble is traffic as it can get very bad - there are buses, but most people drive, on their own, and now commutes can be quite long.
For cancer treatments, I believe Swedish Medical Center is quite good, and there is a Seattle Cancer Alliance which I've driven past many times, but don't know much about.
Flights are 9-10 hours and currently there are 3-4 daily nonstop London-Seattle flights - BA always does one daily, and other airlines pick up and drop the route occasionally. It's a long flight but Seattle airport is pretty small and easy to navigate so at least easy on that end! My mother, who sounds reasonably similar to your parents, does it usually twice a year, doesn't like it, but doesn't find it problematic.
Sorry if this is a bit garbled, I'm on my phone and can only read half your post now that I've started typing, and need to rush off in a minute. But hope that helps a bit, and let me know if I can help with any questions!
Thank you for all the responses, things are moving fast here and we are still oscillating on whether to go or stay.
DH works for Microsoft and we gather that that can make things in the area easier in some ways - colleagues have found that deposits on rents/guarantors/credit checks are all easier with MS behind you.
It would be a permanent move in the sense that DH would have a permanent contract with MS, but we would be looking at it as a short-medium term move initially. We would have to pay our relocation costs back to the UK, but otherwise there are few penalties in terminating the contract after the first year there. We are thinking 2-3 years.
We are swinging rapidly from "definitely not, we like London" to "wow, definitely go for the adventure" and don't know which side we'll land on in the end. We haven't got long to make a decision so we'll have to get on with making our minds up.
It is a hard one.
What would your visa status be like? Would you be able to work if you wanted to?
I live in the US. In some ways things are simpler. For example with schools, as a general rule where you rent or buy determines your school. Doesn't matter if you move in the middle of the school year, your child goes to his local school. Schools work hard to be a community too in my experience. People generally pick the best school district they can afford.
I imagine you will have an excellent health care benefit in which case your child will get excellent treatment.
The one thing I would say is that the US seems familiar because of movies/tv/common language but it is still a foreign country and it can be hard to live in a foreign country sometimes - there is a low level culture shock that can be surprising somewhere like the US.
With regard to grandparents, no it can't be the only deciding factor but I know I caused enormous pain to my parents by living so far away from them. They were great about coming over but there is no doubt at all that my children had a different relationship with their grandparents than their cousins did. I also missed every funeral, lots of weddings, events etc over the years.
That said, we love living here and I think Seattle would be a great experience.
Two pieces of advice I got when trying to make a similar decision were
1. With all the competing factors swirling around, there is generally one that is the most important (as in for you it was your child's treatment but that is now not a factor), try to figure out which is the most important to you and decide based on that factor.
2. Imagine your day in the new place - in detail, imagine how you would be living (if you can) and see how you feel about it.
My main worry is childcare - we are currently lucky enough to have a place at a really good nursery - one of the council CC ones - and they are quite educational and look after DC to a really high standard.
I guess it's just fear of the unknown, but I have this vague concern that any old childcare place in the US won't have the same focus on child development or be of the same standard generally.
Anyone know what childcare is like in the US (esp Seattle)? I hope I'm being silly. I know they will vary, but in general is childcare considered educational or just "looking after your kids"?
Early childhood education and child development generally is a huge industry (for want of a better word) in the US. so childcare is like the UK really - it depends entirely on the place you chose.
We had our children in a professional daycare (as in not in someone's home). It was perfectly educational, warm, friendly, safe, developmentally appropriate etc. Met some lovely families and made friends there and several of the women became babysitters for us. But that doesn't mean every place is the same. In general home daycares (woman minding them in her own home) are probably less focused on development but that isn't true of all of them either.
Our next door neighbours have just moved to Kirkland. They have 3 young kids and I have seen photos of the nursery that their 2 year old is attending and it looks amazing. Loads of outdoor areas, animals and lovely 'classrooms'. They seem to have settled in well already. The school definitely seems to be a big part of the community.
I wouldn't worry about the quality of early years stuff, just the price. Most daycares near us (Chicago) start pre-preschool educational programmes at 2. In fact, if anything I think formal "learning" starts earlier here than in the UK even though "school" starts later. i haven't met any 2yr olds in our neighbourhood who aren't in some sort of preschool, some of the week, even those with SAHP or full-time nannies.
That's really helpful everyone! Reassuring.
Sorry OP for hijacking your thread. I feel exactly as you do - we swing from "why would we want to leave?! It's perfect here" and "our reasons for staying are really flimsy and when we look back at 60 we'll kick ourselves for never trying".
I am quite simply terrified of giving up our spot at our local Learning Trust Children's Centre. If we do move, then have more children and eventually move back to the area, they won't benefit from their older sibling's placement.
I know it's a ridiculous thing to worry about - something that may or may not happen years in the future to a child who doesn't even exist yet! But we were so so lucky to get this place and I honestly don't know what I'd do if we didn't get a spot for any future children. All other childcare round here is cripplingly expensive.
Hijack away AChance, you're thinking of things that I hadn't so the answers you're getting are useful to me too.
To answer a couple of previous questions, I understand that DH would have an L1 visa and I would get L2, which I believe would allow me to work. I'm a sahm at the moment though, and would likely continue that at least short term.
I'm an early years teacher, though no idea if my teaching qualification (PGCE + MA in early childhood education) would transfer, but in any case it's good to hear that early years provision is in a good state in the area, both from a professional point of views as well as having my own 3 year old twins.
I'm a bit confused about schools. So if we move house and it crosses a boundary into the catchment for a different school then my kids have to change school? We are likely to have temporary housing provided by Microsoft for a couple of months whilst we get sorted with our own rental, which would likely be in a different area. If we decide to stay longer term we might well then buy, but again may not stay in the catchment of one school. Does each house move mean changing schools?
Also can someone tell me more about nurseries etc. Here the twins are in school nursery, they are eligible from the September after they turn 3 and do half days. Next September they start full time school. So is there public preschool for 3 year olds? Or is it all private? The elementary schools I've looked at (pretty much at random) don't seem to have a pre-K class, but occasionally one does. If the local school doesn't offer pre-K then do they go to a preschool? Or do kids stay at home (or in daycare) until they start kindergarten?
Apologies for all the questions, I thought I knew a fair bit about America, despite never having been, it turns out I know very little!
We are no nearer a decision that when I posted first last week. I'm getting more used to the idea in some ways. DH is moving away from the idea. But we change our minds regularly! I really appreciate all the thoughts that are coming through the thread, so thank you all.
In my experience daycares/private schools will have preschool rooms but public pre-K is rarer and varies by school district (I think). It might just be where we live but most parents pay for private preschool hours. We asked for 15hrs preschool funding to be included in our relocation package (they already offer school fees).
On an L2 visa you need to make sure you apply well in advance for authorisation to work as it can take months. It might vary by state but I know that in some places you can teach in private schools but not public if you have a UK qualification.
I don't think the catchment areas for schools are particularly strict in the Seattle area - I certainly didn't ever go to the school I was meant to! School buses pick kids up from all over. So moving around within a reasonable distance (Bellevue, then over to Redmond, for example) will probably not affect your child's school place.
Pre-K is usually separate, and I don't think it's government-funded. Some pre-Ks also offer kindergarten, then the kids move to an elementary school, but this is less common.
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