staying in london post dc - experiences please?

(92 Posts)
tricot39 Mon 19-Nov-12 19:38:06

We are in a quandary. We were looking to move near to dps, to a city with a good job for me, 15/20min walk to work and great state comps. Unfortunately the economy looks like it will put a spanner in the works. We get the above, but with a 20% pay cut and probably scant job security. Staying put looks sensible but with the avalanche of families/friends leaving london we wonder if we are making a mistake by considering staying. We dont need to move for space. We live in a fairly deprived/up & coming part of london and the schools are improving but not great. Neighbours' kids all seem bright sensible types who went to.cambridge or are heading that way. Am i fooling myself that things could be as good for our kids? (or at their equivalent level). Any advice? What did you.do?

lalalonglegs Mon 19-Nov-12 20:20:19

tricot - please don't buy into the idea that staying in London is some form of child abuse. I have three young children, they have an amazing life in London, there is so much to do on their doorstep, they will have fantastic opportunities as they grow older in a fantastic city and they will have a great state education because, despite what everyone tells you, there are tons of good schools here and, as importantly, tons of neurotic concerned parents who will make sure as far as they can that the schools serve their children as best they can. If space isn't an issue, stay put. You can't beat London (unless you're planning to go to Newcastle - I visited in half term and am a bit smitten grin).

tricot39 Mon 19-Nov-12 22:03:46

Thanks lala!
With our plans to move (edinburgh is pretty special and is a lovely place to live) looking shaky we have come to the conclusion that it not be a disaster if we ended up staying. Trouble is in our area of east london the schools are not great. There can be no getting away from it. I went to an ok comp but dealing with those uninterested in school with low expectations was a bit grim. I was hoping to avoid putting the dc through the same. There are lots of interested/engaged parents but 75% not speaking english as a first language, 20% sen and 50% free school meals is difficult to feel calm about. Sure if the dcs are bright they will do ok. But i dont know if they are bright yet.......

lalalonglegs Mon 19-Nov-12 22:14:58

I went to a rubbish London school too (this was the 80s before league tables and things) but still ended up getting a First from a Russell Group university and working as a journalist on national papers for almost 20 years... I don't know which part of east London you are in or how old your children are but there are choices there and schools that improve start to attract a new cohort (the local sink school to us which I have always thought "over my dead body" is now doing really well and we went to look around it and were really impressed).

Still, Edinburgh. I would be tempted to move for Edinburgh. If you do move, I will happily house swap with you during the holidays so that I can spend much longer than I should at the Festival you can get regular summer fixes of London wink.

Blu Tue 20-Nov-12 09:44:52

How old are your children?

sparklechops Tue 20-Nov-12 11:05:58

Watching with interest as we are in the same quandry!

littlebirdy Tue 20-Nov-12 13:56:22

I have raised DS in London and most of my family still live here. There are all sorts of advantages - lots of free world-class museums, different clubs and activities which are easy to get to by tube, different cultures (important for us as DS is mixed heritage). I think we're lucky in particular because my siblings, parents and aunts live here - so we have lots of childcare available, nephews and nieces to visit, and it's easy to visit everyone.

We're also in an up and coming area. Crime is high, gangs are a reality, although there's also a mix of more educated types who are happy to live in ex-council flats for the convenience of central London life.

The schools and health authority were my biggest worry. Schools aren't a problem any more, since DS has SN and now goes to a private special school. Before that he went to a mainstream primary which was pretty poor, plus the demands on their budget meant they struggled to meet DS's SEN needs. (Though peversely that gave us the advantage in the end, because it was easier to prove DS a private school to be funded).

I am not sure I would do it all again. For me personally, it was very important to live in a vibrant, cultural area, and I think something inside me would die if I ever moved out to the provinces. I think if I had another dc, I would probably insist on moving to a good catchment within London, but then the cost of that would be very high, and those areas also tend to be a bit sleepier than my current dodgy gritty neighbourhood.

Blu Tue 20-Nov-12 14:55:39

London has worked and is working very well for us, and anyway it has to - we can't both get jobs anywhere lese and I don't want to spend time and money on the commuter schlepp when we both work.

We live in a relatively cheap gritty area, 'Outstanding' primary which was a really happy experience, a lovely friendly school, and exellent comp on our doorstep, great sense of community (we have a street party, I just took part in a 'yard sale' at the church and about 30 people said hello to me by name, people look out for each others children, great local park.

And we have easy access to a top NHS Foundation teaching hospital.

We do use the cultural offer in London and would miss that if we moved away.

I couldn't live in suburbia or commuterland.

We live in south London with DSs 6 and 8 attending local state primary. There are 3 reasonable comps nearby - private is unlikely to be an option. We are all very happy and have no plans to move out. I agree with others that London has a lot to offer. My relations in the country tend to drive far more than we do (realised recently that the car hadn't moved for 3 weeks!) so am not sure that the country is that much more healthy! All the boys activities are a bike ride away - whereas my SIL in the country drives up to 30 miles taking her kids to clubs and lessons etc after school. We don't have any family nearby.

Not many people in our circle are considering moving out, although clearly a lot have considered it at one stage or another.

HappyHippie Tue 20-Nov-12 17:28:28

IMHO the worst thing about London are not the schools... it's the distances, the crime, the public transport, the self-obsessed twenty somethings, the self-obsessed 30 somethings and 40 somethings, the adultification of children, and yes, of course, those tiny flats (unless you're rich), the pollution, the traffic, the crazy people, the exhausted workaholics (oh look, that's you! how else are you going to pay for anything bigger than a 1 bed flat?). And yes, then you got Dippy too, and Santa's Grotto and lots of things going on! But IMHO children don't need that. They need other children to play with, open spaces and they need time. Londoners don't seem to have much time for their kids. I hate this city (a little bit) but am scared of moving out. Apparently the rest of Britain is full of English people.

Signed: a (possibly, slightly) self-obsessed 30 something who's also a bit of a workaholic

tricot39 Tue 20-Nov-12 18:04:46

Ha ha there is a lot that i recognise in all your posts.

We are not near family. It is a pain. Crime and schooling are not great in our local area. Our area is terribly diverse but studies show that people are happiest when surrounded by people like them! We are well embedded in our local area and know lots of people after 12 years here.

Part of the attraction of staying here is that we can work part time and are not motgage slaves (not much anyway!) without time for the kids. Trouble is to move to a good catchment we would lose that flexibility. I would rather leave london altogether - it may not be our choice tho! - and i certainly do not want to spend ages commuting.

It would be good to hear from those who are at the secondary stage or past.it tho. Also those who just went to the local comp which was average or worse.

irisjohnson Tue 20-Nov-12 18:13:41

The worst thing about staying in London is that when your children are in about yr 2 or 3 loads of their friends leave. But it's OK because most of those who are still around by secondary age are the hard core stayers.

Everything else about having children in London is great.

getagoldtoof Tue 20-Nov-12 19:34:35

Never realised there would be an 'avalanche' of people leaving London. If so i think they're mad. I grew up in London, and have had a great state education, have a masters and am in a professional job. The same goes for the majority of my friends from school, most of whom i still see often.

I live in south london, and would never move (except to the Caribbean, but that is a long way off). No other city can match my London. I hope your children love it as much as i do if you decide to stay.

I simply cannot see the positives of moving away. A bigger house provides space, but why do we all need so much space? We don't need to collect as many belongings as we do, and we can
learn to share space well. And as for spending time outdoors, i watch the seasons change as much as anyone else. I can access woods, parks and even the beach easily from my home on cheap and reliable public transport.

tricot39 Tue 20-Nov-12 20:28:00

getagold - i dont think that people who move are mad. They mostly didnt grow up in london and so have family and friends from all over. Without those roots there is a lot less reason to stay and is the way london has been in post industrial times - a good 100 years or so at least. You are lucky that the choice is easy for you.

I have been in london a long time. I know the good and the bad. I dont need to be convinced to stay. But i dont know about the state secondary schools. You turned out ok but how was the ride? How did you get on with fellow pupils? Were you scared of them? (i didnt. I was. I worked to get away. I also have a masters. I would prefer the dc to be able to work without the hassle of low achievers/expectations as that was a real drag.for me). Do you keep in touch with many school friends? How was that side of things?

BsshBossh Tue 20-Nov-12 22:01:07

We're happily raising our daughter in London despite DH and I being raised rurally. Very few of our friends here with DC in DD's primary want to move either but this is because the school is outstanding. We're Catholic so have a good choice of outstanding secondaries too later on. This has helped solidify our decision to stay.

getagoldtoof Tue 20-Nov-12 23:19:46

Yes, you're completely right. If my family weren't here, life would be much more difficult for me and my dh.

It is really hard for us to say how we would have experienced our childhoods in another setting, isn't it? So I went to a same-sex school and was scared of some of the girls. I moved schools within the borough and was a lot happier in a mixed setting (probably because it was a better school, too).

I keep in touch with many friends from the second school and some from the first. The ones who were in school on time, who were encouraged by their parents to work hard, who had support at home are genuinely doing well. One is a set designer for hollywood films, and one is a bar manager (and everything inbetween from nurse to artist.) Some others have struggled, although now in our mid-20s, most are sorted.

One of the main benefits to being brought up in London for me has been the ingrained ability to rub along with different people. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything, and often do. A lot of people i met while away at university did not have that skill so innate to all my pals from home. Looking back now, nothing shocked me. I think that cultural acceptance is a part of emotional intelligence.

I apologise for being hasty and not considering your situation, but the thought of anyone feeling a London upbringing is a second rate experience (i'm not saying you were saying this!) makes me sad. I struggled at times growing up, but that wasn't because of where I was. I am really happy being here now, and hope that if you do decide to stay, you feel happy and at peace with your decision.

For what it's worth, i have had this discussion with dh. He got involved with crime as a teen. We don't want the same for our son. But on the other hand, we don't feel anywhere can offer us what london does. We feel it is down to us, not our environment to safeguard him from making poor choices.

Good luck with making the decision/coming to terms with your decision. Its bloody hard work being a parent anywhere, thats for sure!

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 15:14:28

We are leaving London because our house is too small (we can't afford a 4 bed here and we have 3 children). I crave space and really do think my family would benefit from a bigger house.

My children go to a fab primary here but the secondary options are very limited (wandsworth) and I just can't face the scramble for spaces, the assessments, the tramping round the open days etc. It's possible my three children could end up at three different schools, all miles away. I went to a rough state comp (in the north-east) and it was fine and i achieved well academically - we were all streamed etc but there wasn't the problem with truancy that our local schools here have (as local kids tend to go private so the comps take children from miles away, hence the poor attendance).

I think London is great for children in many ways but there are disadvantages and advantages to every place. The schools plus property prices means we will go. There has also been a flood of local families leaving in DD's year (year 4).

tricot39 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:03:22

This thread is doing nothing to shift the idea that there are probably not that many parents who just opt for the local comp if they think it is average or worse? Or is that just me?

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 19:21:13

I'm not worried about a school that isn't great academically. But I don't want my children attending a school that is falling down, has no playing fields, is massively undersubscribed and has very high truancy rates. I also prefer a non-church school that is mixed, which rules out many of our local state schools.

Also, the kids in DD's class will be going to all different schools, for various reasons, so there's no link between her primary and the local secondary.

If it was just a question of schools, we would stay, but as we also can't afford a big enough house plus we want to move closer to family, these are strong inducements to go. But I do love London and think it's great for children in many ways!

lalalonglegs Wed 21-Nov-12 20:15:50

I think that might be the demographic on MN rather than a London thing, tricot.

Graven, I am in Wandsworth too - it's a big borough but I am over the Clapham Common end and I'm feeling quite confident about schools. I'm trying to work out where you are.

Blu Wed 21-Nov-12 20:58:13

Average comp fine by me. Better schools in my area of Lambeth than my brother can choose from in idyllic outdoor low-crime Norfolk. I'm not convinced that the choice of schools outside London is any less of a postcode lottery than it is in.

To be clear I think DS's school is probably a 'good comp', but we were happy to have 2 others on our list that were more average - to - good.

I don't live in a leafy expensive area, either.

Blu Wed 21-Nov-12 21:00:22

Ah - no playing fields at any of the schools on our list. But DS isn't a footballer, there are 3 games periods a week, he can do fencing, capoeira, boys dance, and a host of other sports, and enjoy some massive local parks after school and at weekends.

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 22:09:35

Other end to you lala - border with Richmond (our closest school is in Richmond). Most people go private here which we won't ( and couldn't anyway).

True Blu - relatives also in local Norfolk and their local comp is not up to much but at least all the local children do go there so all the kids from primary go up together

tricot39 Wed 21-Nov-12 23:00:29

I'm not convinced that the choice of schools outside London is any less of a postcode lottery than it is in. Here. Here. Well apart from selected/expensive middle class ghettos where the balance is not upset by high enough incomes to go private, areas of deprivation or state grammars. Hhmm that doesnt leave many places to choose from!

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 23:09:35

Though where we're moving too (small town) there is only one local high school. Likeise for where my sister and brother live - also small towns. Though perhaps that is unusual these days. Where we live, about 80% of parental chat seems to revolve around school places, private and state - another reason why we're leaving London.

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