moving to the uk (perhaps... maybe... oh how i hope so!)(52 Posts)
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Hi to everybody, I'm new mumsnet and this is my first post.
First of all I'll present myself and later explain why I'm writing: I'm a 30 and something Italian, a very happy father of two (girl 4yo and boy almost 3yo) and married to a fantastic if somewhat tempestous woman ;-) but oh well, aren't we latins all like that? ;-)
The reason I'm writing is the very same I came across the site in the first instance and subscribed later. We currently live in Italy but I might have the possibility to be posted to London for work in the not-so-far future, it's not assured but it is a concrete possibility (and I pray oh how much I pray for it!).
To avoid crashing against aforementioned concrete I'm starting to gather some informations on living there. I'll be honest me and my better half are a bit scared (nothing major, just menial things like... she would have to quit work and start hunting for it when there, we are moving two kids, everything is bound to be different... simple things like that).
The first thing I'd like to ask is a suggestion on where to look to start my search for a house, many other questions will come in time but for the time being I'm just wondering on this.
Just to give you a bit of background my work would be based in two locations, the City (near lloyds) and Crawley, just south of London. We were thinking of a small town in Sussex, for the easy connections, but schooling is a big issue too -so location of good schools is to be taken into about too- and the idea of living in a soulless dormtown isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'd prefer some place with a bit of a historical town centre, not for any night life but... You know... I mean, I live in a very small town with just a small centre but in those roads there is only a couple of buldings that are less than a century old and most are older (I wonder if what I mean to say does come across or if I just sound like another of those complicated and petulant Italians... No please don't answer to this )
Any suggestion? Ideas? Advice? Tricks? Maps to " go get lost " country?
Thanks a lot for any help
Here, there... As I said I'm a rather bookish type (my personal library is somewhere in the excess of a thousand books I think) and tend to read in original language whenever possible.
Top on that the fact that I spend at least a couple of hours a day over the phone with my colleagues in London and presto, there's the reason I can speak an efficient (albeit not that elegant) English.
Reigate is a nice town but very densely populated with fierce competition for school places (although this doesn't mean you wouldn't get a place just that the "good" schools tend to allocate places very locally or to siblings of existing pupils). Train is so-so as it is on a branch line. About 20 mins drive to Crawley and an hour or so into central London.
It is excellent English. Even my very fluent bilingual friends don't write as well as that. Not to mention the spelling and use of grammar!
I do think you need to be really clear whether you are going to be able to afford/go for independent or going for state. In some of the areas mentioned there may not be state schools you like, and you should at least be aware that primary schools locally may be fine, but secondary choices not what you are looking for.
The other issues to consider with regard to education would be: Are your potential secondary schools selective (how will your children fare at doing/knuckling down for exams?), or choosy (religion criteria etc), and do they offer Italian in some way to strengthen your children's fluency/grammar etc in later years.
Hello, try looking at our local sites for more information on local areas. You could have a browse on our map here: local.mumsnet.com/find-a-local-site
or try these suggestions for the kind of commuter area you are looking for:
Surrey (including Guildford, a popular commuter town with good train connection for the City and Crawley): local.mumsnet.com/surrey
West Sussex (with Horsham a popular commuter town and close to Crawley) local.mumsnet.com/west-sussex
If your job will be spilt between The City and Crawley then I would most definitely be looking at living very close to one of them and seeing you are not a big town boy, then that obviously leaves Crawley. Therefore I would suggest somewhere like Crawley Down (not at all like Crawley itself but very easily accessible from it) or Turners Hill. You would have East Grinstead nearby which is a really lovely town and in my opinion as nice as somewhere like Reigate or Dorking, or Crawley itself for Department Stores etc
Commuting up to London would be from Three Bridges (10 mins drive with plenty of parking from somewhere like Crawley Down)
Primary schools are pretty good as far as I know.
East Grinstead is lovely - one of the longest unbroken lines of timber framed fourteenth century houses in the country along its high street, the end of the line to London so you always get a seat in the morning (just under an hour to London Bridge or Victoria), near fabulous countryside and villages, close to Crawley in one direction and Tunbridge Wells in the other. One of its comprehensives had a blip in GCSE exam results last year but seems to be on track again this year, already, and plenty of private schooling options nearby. I think it's also cheaper than Horsham. Horsham is very nice, though.
Three hours ago I decided "Horsham, I like it" wanted to inform all of you but the oven pinged, dinner was ready, postponed...
Two hours ago I was about to write "ok, no indecisions anymore, London it is" then DD fell down and I had to run to her rescue
One hour ago "wow, Grinstead? Never heard of it..." then DS declared war to his sister's most beloved plush
Everyone is asleep, my head's spinning, I have discovered what a property chain is, how poa can be gauged anyway and fell in love with tower bridge. I can't afford it but still there are some lovely flats there.
Oh and I am lost in the mist re. Schools.
As I said earlier, just like a roller coaster, exhilarating, terrifying, dizzying... And I still don't know whether it will come to something
There are times when one can't but laugh at oneself
It's that or pills and laughter doesn't require prescription...
Oh by the way, am I completely off the mark in my conviction that there is a sort of list with all the schools and the marks they received from Ofsted?
Or is it just wishful thinking?
I don't think there is a directory from Ofsted. There is a Good Schools Guide (for which you pay) but remember such things are only useful on the day the inspection takes place or the article written. Several schools in our area are between or have new heads this term which can change the picture short and long term. Every area has relatively better/worse schools and you probably need to decide where you should live before specific schools.
Would you get a visit/s over and a relocation agent paid for (who can often do a schools search too) ? I would say EG isn't great in terms of commuting by train to London tbh but property more affordable than on the London - Brighton or Horsham line. Lingfield might be worth a look too and there is a relatively inexpensive private school there, also Felbridge primary between EG and Crawley Down.
Not sure I understand why Lingfield, which is on the East Grinstead train line and in spitting distance of East Grinstead, would be that much better for commuting to London than East Grinstead? The journey from East Grinstead also gets you to London quicker than the journey from Horsham. Lingfield is under the Gatwick flight path, so a bit "noisier" than East Grinstead. Basically, though, you have to visit the places to get a feel for them - it's not all about practicality, after all.
Agree with you re. EG trains but Lingfield is nearer to drive to say Horley (15 mins) from where you can catch the faster London - Brighton trains and a much smaller town. You tend to find villages to the west of Gatwick (Charlwood, Capel etc) noisier than to east due to usual take off direction being to west - of course any future plans for a second runway could change this.
I guess if there's a problem with the East Grinstead line, it's nice to be near another one, but otherwise, tbh, I don't think what is more like a 20 minute drive to Horley would save time over getting the East Grinstead train - there really isn't that much time difference in the journeys into London. Horley is on the Horsham line, not the Brighton one. Also, you are guaranteed a seat in the morning if you start your journey in East Grinstead, being the first stop!
Redhill is on the Brighton line, but it is an exceptionally ugly town!!... (ducks to avoid anyone living there). Ashurst Wood, the other side of East Grinstead to Felbridge, seems quite nice. Living the Ashurst Wood side of East Grinstead gives you easy walking access to some rather lovely countryside for walking and cycling, too - along the Forest Way, where you can walk from East Grinstead to Groombridge, to Ashdown Forest, the Weald, the Sussex Border Path etc, etc.
Think it really depends on how often op is required to be based where as to which location is more time/cost effective. Also we are assuming use of a car is an option.
The issues to decide first are:
1. Will you pay school fees or not.
2. Where will your wife work and if she earns more than you do then it would be sensible to be near her work/children's nurseries etc.
3. Money - living in London or Wimbledon is expensive, more than the cost of commuting tom Crawley to London on the days you are in London.
4. Church, Italian culture etc - you might find more of that in Central London, Kensington etc and private fee paying international schools which might help the children keep up their Italian and be ready to move countries again
Living outside of London certainly favours car ownership, that's true. Having to work some of the time in Crawley also favours car ownership! There are buses between places like Lingfield, East Grinstead, Crawley Down and Crawley, though, and I also do know some people who cycle into Crawley from East Grinstead - Lord Beeching of East Grinstead very kindly created a lot of nice cycle ways when he closed down lots of railway lines in the 1960s - hence the Worth Way linking East Grinstead to Crawley, via Crawley Down (which I think others have suggested as a possibility), and the Forest Way linking East Grinstead to Forest Row, Hartfield, Groombridge, etc. Cyclist's heaven... The A264 between East Grinstead and Crawley, however, can be a bit slow at rush hour, as can the A22. There are lots of rat run routes to avoid sections of these, particularly when there are roadworks.
Ok, so, answering in a rigorously random order...
1. Working days should be spent roughly 60% in London and 40% in Crawley
2. Don't have the slightest idea on whether schooling fees, housing allowance, relocation agent shall be part of the proposal or not, I obviously hope so, cross my finger and all of that but we'll have to wait and see
3. Car, I don't have one, not an English one, but in time it could come if needed
4. My wife would have to leave work and start searching for one there, so no place can obviously be nearer to something that has yet to be found
5. London has a more vibrant life while Towns would be more "livable" (yes I have earned a major degree in Staying The Obvious with this I know )
I think if you pick somewhere like Wimbledon outer London suburbs between London and Crawley ideally on the London underground that will suit everyone better and give better choice of schools (fee paying - 8% of parents pay school fees in the UK, or state schools) and make it easier for your wife to find work too.
However like most things it will probably come down to money - rent costs etc in the various places.
Ladies, gents, I do thank you all for your advice and the kind words that came with it. You have given me food for thought and a couple of very important points to keep in mind. Now I will retire back to do my homework and study so that I can have a bit more confidence when it comes to the final encounters.
(noooo I'm not fretting... Not at all... What on earth could ever have given you such an impression I can't really fathom...)
Let's hope the next time I'll come back here it will be with the best of news, until then good winds and safe nights to all of you.
If you have negotiation room do ask about: help with accommodation, help with finding schools, help with school fees, do they give any spousal support, will they provide acompany car/car allowance (still pretty common here)?
Also find out how permantant the move is/will be, these will all help with further decision making.
all Londoners have their preferences. Battersea (where my bro used to live) is full of young families now, however there is a bit of opportunistic car crime i noticed recently (he had his satnav pinched after not locking car within a day of being up from the country) and he had more burglaries than i ever had in west London.
its a gamble. Stoke Newington used to have the highest murder rate in London (anyway its north London so no use to you)
Being a city the roads change change from nice to not nice, very quickly.
As ever it depends on your budget for the rent. IMHO Wimbledon is one of the nicest parts of London, check out the commute to City and in the opposite direction, Crawley, though.
ps If you like Tower Bridge, try Wapping.
though am not sure how you get to Crawley from there -maybe London Bridge?
Wapping,its quiet.. great childcare services, many international families, my DD went to an excellent State catholic primary in Aldgate east
DD taxi'ed to work and walked home from City. I drove to North London for work (not crossing congestion zone)
there is also a (fairly new) overland train which links south/north London and goes through Wapping.
in the high street theres a pharmacy,supermarket,butcher,cafe,etc, theres a playground (recently improved) churches - quite a little community. also near tube to go elsewhere pretty quickly.
Walking distance to Victoria and then less than an hour to Crawley. Some good state primaries, especially if your child is baptised. (St Peter's Eaton Sq which is really sought after and takes baptised Catholics as well as Anglicans and there are a couple of good Catholic Primaries) Surprisingly quiet at weekends with a good community feel (street market etc), within striking distance of Battersea and St James Parks, and close to the really good Queen Mother Leisure Centre.
If you are going to live in London you might as well live in the centre. It is really fun to be able to walk to museums, or along the South Bank. Depending on your budget you almost certainly wont get a house or garden, but it is one of the more affordable bits of central London, and is quiet and safe and would be a chance to try a different sort of living.
(Post code is SW1V xxx if you want to look at rental prices.)
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