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Moving near London from the US

(53 Posts)
ecemom Mon 11-Feb-13 13:07:43

My husband has just taken a two year expat role near West Thurrock/ Grays. We are from Ohio and have never even been to London or the UK, so I need lots of help/ suggestions. We will be bringing along our 6, 4, and 3 year old children early this summer. My husband's company is paying for moving expenses, some of our housing, and the kids schooling. We know not to live near his plant, but does anyone have suggestions for towns within a 35 minute (?) commute. We need to have access to a good primary school. Since the company will pay, tuition isn't a problem. We are also Catholic, so a Catholic school would be fine. I think commute, safety, and schooling are our biggest issues. We would love to find a nice little town with parks, shops, and restaurants nearby. Again, any suggestions or places to avoid would be much appreciated.

ecemom Tue 12-Feb-13 13:51:50

Well you have all given me lots to think about. I think I need to just wait and see the exact numbers (as far as what will be paid for) before I make any decisions. We also need to know what schools the kids can even get into. I really appreciate all the help. I will let you all know what we decide. I am sure I will have lots more questions about all kinds of things in the next few months.

legalalien Tue 12-Feb-13 10:05:57

I'd go for London as it tends (I think) to have a more transient population, making it easier to make friends more quickly (lots of people out there looking for new friends if that makes sense). But whether that's viable really depends on cost. Accommodation in london is likely to be more expensive.

sashh Tue 12-Feb-13 09:20:51


I know your children's school fees will be paid but there are a lot of state RC schools in the UK, you might want to have a look.

I know nothing about the area you are moving to so can't help, but welcome to the UK.

Are you going to be working too? If not, and if you don't want to drive then maybe find somewhere in spitting distance of a station for trips to London both with and without children.

mumzy Tue 12-Feb-13 09:09:58

You could live in Limehouse/ wapping and your dh could drive to Grays straight down the A13 and the advantage is he'll be going the opposite direction to everyone else and much less likely to be in traffic jams probrably takes 30 minutes on a straight run a better commute than on public transport imo and similar costs also gets over the problem of not being near a station at the other end. I would urge OP to live in London if expenses allow rather than a commuter town as its a totally different experience especially if school fees are paid for. The following are private primary schools in the local area: and there is also a good state catholic school locally HTH

MonkeySea Mon 11-Feb-13 23:48:41

This looks nice, if a bit 'Essex':

Please note: it does NOT look like that for more than six or seven days a year in this country.

A lot of house for the money though.

grovel Mon 11-Feb-13 23:34:11

ecemom, I think you're right (and realistic). You can live in Central London when your kids are at College and your husband is President of P&G's International Division.

KumquatMae Mon 11-Feb-13 23:22:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ecemom Mon 11-Feb-13 23:07:08

I live in total mid-west suburbia here and have never really lived in a city. We are so far away from any cities that would rival London in size. I live in nice community here where the houses are a bit older but the schools are fantastic. Although I would love the idea of living "in" London, I would need a push. And, my husband's work isn't within walking distance of any stations (bus included).

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Mon 11-Feb-13 22:56:45

Mumzy, was also thinking that until she said work wasn't near station. It depends what situation you are in at the moment, city or suburbia? Much more exciting to live in London 'proper' for a short while. Plenty of green spaces. 3 children under 6 might be 'interesting' in a London pad though......

mummytime Mon 11-Feb-13 22:55:32

Saffron Walden is lovely, but a bit of a commute. There are nice villages near Brentwood, and some of the houses that way might appeal to an American.
Grays is a dump!

Good luck!

difficultpickle Mon 11-Feb-13 22:53:14

If I were coming to London for a short time I'd definitely live in London and commute out to Grays rather than living in a commuter town.

grovel Mon 11-Feb-13 22:42:44

mumzy, I thought about suggesting that. It's certainly an option.

Poor OP. Such a lot to think about but I think she's got a great attitude and will make it work.

mumzy Mon 11-Feb-13 22:27:42

The other option is to live in London proper and your dh commute to Grays. This could work out well as he would be going the opposite direction to the commuting masses. The C2C from Fenchurch street goes to Grays depending on your budget I'd suggest the Barbican in the city of London, Spitalfields or by the river at Limehouse, Wapping as possibilities. All these areas have both state and private school options and they are all fantastic central locations for exploring London.

ecemom Mon 11-Feb-13 22:12:21

I was the one that actually encouraged my husband to go after the role in London. The other options for expat roles are mostly in Asia and the long flights over there and my utter lack of knowledge in languages outside of English, made London seem like a great location. We figured any chance for our young kids to get outside the US and experience another culture (before they are old enough to hate us for it!) would be an opportunity we couldn't turn down.

I will take any British "friends" I can get. I literally know nobody that lives there. I am feeling a bit better about my nerves seeing how many people have already posted helpful suggestions.

sittinginthesun Mon 11-Feb-13 22:01:30

Yes, we can be your first proper UK friends (following your thread, even though I have no knowledge of Essex!).grin

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Mon 11-Feb-13 21:56:44

Just spoken to a relative by coinsidence that lives in that area. She said all of those private schools are well regarded, Brentwood is a proper town whereas as the other two are villages. It's all very exciting, if a bit daunting. Don't know how I would feel if other half said we were off to US for a while wine
You should keep posting, even when you choose, just to give you an idea what we Brits are like (reserved but nosy mostly)

namechangecity Mon 11-Feb-13 21:04:38

I was going to say brentwood too - really nice place. You could look for houses on clements park development - lots of nice big houses to rent there.

grovel Mon 11-Feb-13 20:58:35

Most people over here learn on stick shifts so the instructors did the lessons in the (generally automatic) cars rented by the expats.

ecemom Mon 11-Feb-13 20:50:27

I will check the expat package for that, but I don't remember seeing anything in the generic one my husband has so far. That would be great.

grovel Mon 11-Feb-13 20:48:03

When my DH worked for Texas Instruments the expats (and partners) coming here were given 3 driving lessons by professional instructors.

nowwearefour Mon 11-Feb-13 20:34:55

New hall school nr Chelmsford is catholic and well regarded

NorthernNumpty Mon 11-Feb-13 20:29:39

Oh and you could repost in chat for more traffic?

NorthernNumpty Mon 11-Feb-13 20:29:07

If you have a budget for the house m'netters are fabulous at finding you a selection of properties, we love a bit of house hunting by proxy

ecemom Mon 11-Feb-13 20:11:38

I am guessing Essex is the most logical choice. I am not sure my husband is willing to make the commute up north as far as some have suggested, but Chelmsford area and south seem like they would work. Any other input into the schools mentioned or places I have to check out during our house hunting/ school trip next month would still be appreciated.

It seems like most of you think I will get used to the idea of driving on the other side of the road relatively quickly. I am willing to give it a try, but I can't promise I won't be the crazy lady in the round-about that can't find her way. (For the record- we have maybe 2 in my whole large city here in Ohio!)

Thanks again for all the input and "welcomes". I am glad I stumbled upon this site!

Umlauf Mon 11-Feb-13 19:13:26

Hi! I don't know Essex but just wanted to say don't panic about the other side of the road thing. I've just had to do it in Spain and it was terrifying for all of half an hour. You get used to it so quickly its ridiculous! And welcome!

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