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what would you do?

(49 Posts)
MyOneAndOnly Mon 27-Jul-09 19:06:05

My elderly parents who live abroad, both professional, retired people, want to give a great gift for my child, by giving us their life savings so that I can invest it in a property, for my child?s future. Sounds fine but I am extremely stressed out, as there is an immense pressure for me to do the right thing when I cannot see clearly what is the best thing to do, my decision will change our future and I cannot afford to make mistakes.

A-) Whether to buy a property to live in and sending DD to a local school
B-) Whether to buy the property in order to rent out for income so that I can afford private school fees for DD, which in turn, probably will be causing her some problems, ie social exclusion due to where she lives (ie council property), especially since girls tend to be clickey, bullyish etc & maybe more underhanded than boys.

I cannot do both ie buy a house to live in AND at the same time send her to a fee paying school... I have to choose. Sctate shools in our area are just average and there are rough kids as well as average kids.

I am originally from another country, married to an Englishman for almost two decades, recently had a child together and as soon as we had the baby, we are divorced. So I am a single parent although not by intention. I will not be getting any financial help from my child?s dad. He is in a very bad shape financially as well as some other problems on his part. So I have no support system in any shape or form. I am totally alone in life with my only child, my parents abroad, are very old and fragile. I am very well educated, graduate, and working part time in a very demanding / tiring job which I like. Education is extremely important to me and to my family and although I was not privately educated myself, I want to provide private education for my DD. I feel that a good schooling would be the best investment I could give my child as well as the best suppoer system for both of us...

I am 45 years old (feeling too old and most importantly too tired of life to be tied to a mortgage for years and years), I work part time in a good job but at the same time it is very pressured and tiring job.
We live in a council flat in a poor area, before having DD it never bothered me, I was using the flat like a hotel and was living for work and travels. I had a work-based existence. Only now that I have my lovely DD, schools, investing for her future, home for her etc all making me question everything.

Where we live, there are lots of immigrants who formed their own communities which I am NOT part of ( even if they were from my own country I could not find it easy to join any groups and could not fit in, I am a loner and a bit geeky). I used to live for work and travels, now I live for DD and trying to make quality time for my parents. I am running out of time.

I would like to buy whatever small place I can afford outright without mortgage and either move there with my child so we will have a quality housing or we can stay in the flat we have been living and rent the property for income which would hopefully go a long way to pay for my child?s private schooling.

What would you do?

PROS FOR LIVING IN OUR CURRENT SMALL FLAT : In my country, even middle class people in major cities, live in luxury / large flats in nice and exclusive areas so living in a flat is not a scary as English people would feel. I personally feel fine living in a flat. Additionally, although in socio-economic terms, the neighbourhood is poor and underachieving, the area around our flat is really green with large - well kept parks. So I have some sort of access to greenery and nice view out of my windows ? although I do not have my own garden.
Secondy, the area is developing fast. Soon there will be lots more facilities and transport links available. It is bound to go up (when, don?t know).
Thirdly, tenancy is secure and affordable. Therefore if we keep living here cheap, I can afford private school fees with rental income plus my salary.

CONS: It is a tiny flat and it is not ours and it is not in the best area. And children need gardens to be happy, or is it so ??? I honestly don?t know that last one cos I didn?t live in a house with a garden so I don?t really miss one. Gardens seem to be hard work to me. I said I was geeky .
Also if we keep living here and therefore I manage to afford to send DD to a fee paying school, I?m afraid it may cause her some problems in terms of mixing with other kids in her class living in better housing / better areas etc and girls especially tend to be clickey or bitchy ? I am thinking of her not being invited to parties / not being able to organise sleepovers in the tiny flat and getting upset over it. Am I being too sensitive ?

I am learning life with DD in a brand new way and it brings new challenges.

What would you do, kind people?

EldonAve Mon 27-Jul-09 19:15:09

I assume you have done the calcs on buying a rental property, rental income, void periods, maintenance, tax you would need to pay on the income, how much you need for school fees etc?

Personally I would move and buy a place of my own

cocolepew Mon 27-Jul-09 19:18:41

I would pick a new house/flat

paisleyleaf Mon 27-Jul-09 19:21:57

I'm not sure you live in a council flat but own a property?

Bellsa Mon 27-Jul-09 19:24:32

I think I would move and buy, but it depends on a lot of issues. Are you restricted by your job as to where you live? If there's a good state school where you move to then you get the best of both worlds. Also, I rented out my house when I moved abroad and there is so much that can go wrong, I would think hard before I did it again...

paisleyleaf Mon 27-Jul-09 19:27:36

Whoops! .... I'm not sure you can live in a council flat yet own a property

ElkMoose Mon 27-Jul-09 19:31:00

I'd move. Private school may give an advantage, but IMO, the greatest advantage is a supportive parent who is interested in education, which you obviously are. Also, speaking from experience, my parents didn't send me to a local school and that caused real social isolation to me as a child. The school itself was poor. We were actually send to the failing school rather than our local one so that it would stay open. However, the weakness of the school didn't matter as my mum made sure I did my homework and I got into grammar school and then Oxford. However, the lack of local friends was a real drawback and I am determined that my children will go to a local school.

MyOneAndOnly Mon 27-Jul-09 19:33:00

Thannk you all. Paisleyleaf, it is actually a housing association property which we rent privately and we did not get it through coucil waiting list or any other methods of benefits system as we always worked full time, all the time and earned reasonable salaries. We had seen the H.Assoc property advertised on London underground when the H.Assoc was looking for professional-employed private tenants who were looking for cheap accommodation to rent, and as far as we are concerned, it was just like going to any private landlord. We had finance checks, employers references etc etc. So although it is social housing, it is also arranged by my ex husband and myself at the time with our own initiative, in a short time. We were very lucky I suppose.
So in other words, I can keep the flat as far as I know. Besides, if I buy a new property for DD, i would be making it to her name so it would be her property, i think!

EldonAve Mon 27-Jul-09 19:36:04

You need to check your HA rules

iirc minors can't own property in the UK

bigstripeytiger Mon 27-Jul-09 19:38:50

I think if I was in your situation I would move to the nicest area/best school catchment that is affordable for you and practical for your work.

1dilemma Tue 28-Jul-09 08:32:26

what others have said ie can you still live in your place? how old is your daughter? what kind of tenancy do you have? the calculations about owning a property (I think it is virtually impossible to buy now and rent and make a profit there are loads of hidden costs, you would need profit of over £12,000 to pay private school fees round here, plus there will be tax to pay), what will happen to your parents should their circs change if you take this money?

I'm not expecting you to answer all of these just something to think about

however to answer the underlying question I would buy a nice place to suit me and my daughter and move there and live there myself, it would have decent state primary schools and I would use the time to save for private secondary

TwoHot Tue 28-Jul-09 08:49:51

There is a lot of security if you own your own home. No one will ask you to leave the week before your childs exams for example, or you might have to move out of a good catchment area. By the time your child leaves home the property should have increased in value. You can add to it and improve it. You can take in a lodger if times are hard.

Dissadvantages are catchment areas can change, and so can the rules. So make sure you choose a good general area. By the sea side would be nice!

TwoHot Tue 28-Jul-09 08:50:45

Also if you own a property you may be able to help your parents out if things go wrong for them.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 28-Jul-09 08:55:25

Can you buy a property near a good school, then the whole private issue is not so problematic. Many state schools are excellent.

You will also more likely have enough money to do lots of other educational activities, trips, visits to other countries etc if you live in your own house. You will be more likely to have a garden, or some outside space, that is worth a LOT. There will be space for your daughter to have friends around, which is less possible if you live in a flat (and more important if your DD goes to private school).

I would without a doubt buy a house for you both to live in and appreciate.

MyOneAndOnly Tue 28-Jul-09 09:47:47

Thank you all, for your time, I appreciate all the replies.
PavlovtheForgetfulCat is so right in mentioning the extra-curricular activities. They are very important too.
To make the matters more confusing for myself, I even considered to stay in our current flat and try to swap it with another willing-family living in one or two areas that I want to move to. There is a home-swap scheme available to Housng Assoc teenats like myself and apparently it really does work for some people. It is down to lots of luck that someone has to be willing to move at the same time as you, and willing to move to your property. But I read about some people who used this scheme successfully. This would solve the issue of moving out of our area to somewhere new, if I choose the new area well. Although admittedly it is down to luck and i may not have much control over it, time, exact location etc.

Anyway, you all helped a great deal.
Thank you all.

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 28-Jul-09 10:00:10

The problem with swapping, is you are asking someone in an area you consider 'better' and in a bigger place, to move to a 'less good' area and a flat. it is a tall ask.

DH and I have ummed and arred the private vs state education (not too seriously as the decision seems quite obvious to us). We feel that on balance, we would prefer DD to go to a good state school, and for us to boost her education with her extra-curricular activities. If we do private, the expectations of more specific extra-curricular activities will cost a significant amount on top of the cost of school, and we would have to limit those somewhat. We do not want to do that.

We have family abroad, and DD is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend time in various parts of USA, both with us, and as she is older with our family in the holidays, and we feel she will have an enriched education by having a state education and all the other things her life will bring her. More so than private imo.

Also, as we are not 'rich' in our upbringing, I would worry alittle about her not fitting in with the 'haves', and state education will mean she will learn to socialise with children and adults from across the whole spectrum of society, not just the 'haves.

Sorry, long post.

MyOneAndOnly Tue 28-Jul-09 10:57:43

PavlovtheForgetfulCat, thanks again for the insight. Yes, I have much clearer view now. I do appreciate all.

OrphanAnnie Tue 28-Jul-09 13:00:32

Now would be a good time to buy a property and by the time your DD may need private education, in 5/6 years time the market should have recovered somewhat and you may be able to do both.
You're very lucky, enjoy :-)

OnceWasSquiffy Tue 28-Jul-09 14:04:56

I'm going to go against the drift of this thread and advise the opposite.

When it comes to social mix and snobbery there are great private schools and not so great private schools. It really does depend on the school. And I think in London in particular there is a huge variation in housing, and I don't think the type of housing (owned/rented/HAss) is particularly relavent - I have very posh friends living in a crap Clapton street, and very poor friends in Hampstead. Outside of London it would matter a huge deal as your child would be the only one in a certain uniform in the neighbourhood etc - that could be problematic. But in most areas of London it won't set her out as 'odd'

I think before you decide you should visit a couple of possible private schools to get a feel - it is pretty easy to tell which ones are more snobbish if you poke around (and FWIW if I were in your shoes I would come straight out and ask the head if he/she felt that it may be a disadvantage to your daughter to live in a small flat. They will say no probably, but their body language will speak voumes). FWIW in the school my DC attends there are a few snobby families but the rest of us just let them get on with it and we ignore it - the great majority find the school fees a tough struggle, and we don't really care which of our kids parents are surgeons, lawyers, lecturers or whatever. Two of my DC's best friends are children of teachers and live in less prestigious areas, and it matters not a jot. The things that bother us more are parents that let their kids run riot or get away with bad manners. But you really need to check out the schools to see if you can find one where you think your DD will fit in. Gardens matte rnot a jot and if you prefer, most mums would jump with joy if you offered to take their DD to the park/zoo/pool if you would rather not host play dates in your own home.

If it was me I would stay where I was and look to buy in an area with a good reputation for state schools (Redbridge?), rent it out and invest in a private prep education, with a view to maybe moving into the house at age 11/13 and switching to state if you and your DD wished to do so at that point in time (which is when the kids themselves I think might notice the differences more). It is easy to start off with this approach and switch, but if you take the other approach and move you have burnt your bridges (esp if the great state school you bank on turns out to be not so great).

One thing to bear in mind though is that fees only go up, never down, and you may have void periods when renting, so make sure that the numbers stack up before deciding anything.

MyOneAndOnly Wed 29-Jul-09 13:08:35

Thanks again to all... OnceWasSquiffy, I appreciate the suggestion of "not burning the bridges" too, I liked the idea.

So it brings out the question burning in my heart and mind: How do I choose THE BEST school for her? I feel that no school is good enough for my precious girl.

As a non-English person who never paid any attention to schooling in the UK before i had DD, I have this idealised image of a private school in my mind: a private school hopefully is a place where a much smaller number of kids getting more lots more individual (positive) attention, more funding in the school therefore better eqipment and facilities and most importantly availability of broad range of age appropriate activities available in the school, run by proper professionals who are more likely to spot a talent or potential in the pupils... So if DD is talented in, let's say a particular sport, ie fencing or something which I may never notice the talent with my own resources, then idea that I would get to know about that talent (or otherwise) through the school... and can develop it. And also the idealised image in my mind: , that talent may never get noticed in a state school environment because it is never offered in the first place, so the talent get completely lost before even seeing the daylight ??? Is this too idealistic view of private schools ? I have this image that private schools offer a braod range of activities and chances are, you are bound to find something you would excel at.

I am new to Mumsnet and I had a good look at the previous strings for the debate re Private schools vs state schools and I see there are always strong defenders of both ways.

I am very much for the extra-curricular activities and I already do as much as I can with DD and will keep doing things like dancing, sport classes, taking her to shows-theatres, museums etc, foreign holidays in interesting places.. All will be sorted whether she goes to a private school or not, because I love doing such things with her. I intend to provide her with lots and lots of mental and artistic stimulation.
My worry about state schools is that
1-)Crowded classes therefore less attention
2-) Crowded classes and therefore more chance of some unruly / problematic kid taking up all the teachers' time and therefore dragging the whole class down as well as being a bad influence
3-) Teachers not having any time for parents like me who are dying to know what their DC has been doing all day / how they have been doing etc. I would love to have as much individual feedback as possible about all aspects of DD's school life but fat chance of that in a state school. I have this idealised image that in many private schools parents are being given given daily contact books / progress reports etc. So I would like to think that our precious time would not be wasted and if any attention needed in any aspect of her development, I would immediately get to know it in a private school. Is that so?

Would anybody please enlighten me, all these are really alien subjects to me.

I know my own child, she is sensitive, likely to internalise everything and I would like to think she is just like me, who needs a different kind of handling - without joking-. For that reason I may be putting too much emphasis into the schooling. One size would not fit her, it certainly did not fit me when I was a child, I was different in my learning needs, my reasoning etc, I was extra educated after school, on a one to one basis by my own mother who is a beacon-teacher and she tought me lots of new ways - tips and tricks and short cuts that none of my friends learnt. That was what I needed and I became a scientist in the end.
I was lucky for being her daughter, I feel I would waste lots of time and energy if I was someone else's daughter, and would not be what I became. Perhaps, in this day and age, with lots of new teaching methods etc coming along, it might be now easier to spot kids like how I was, and therefore maybe I worry for nothing.

Anybody could comment, please? Thanks in advance.

alardi Wed 29-Jul-09 13:14:52

I have no experience of private schools; my guess is that in a private school the teachers are so busy running the after-school activities that they don't have much time for parents, either.
Dc are in state school, I feel like I have a huge idea what they do all day, because DC tell me, it's easy to grab the teachers for a chat after class, and parents are quite welcome to help out during class (are they generally welcome as helpers in private schools?).

I'm sure you're right that behaviour is better in private schools. I also fear that your ambitions may be too high for any school environment. Have you considered Home-Ed?

in2minds Wed 29-Jul-09 13:18:25

1-)Crowded classes therefore less attention

Well yes private schools normally have around 20 in a class.

2-) Crowded classes and therefore more chance of some unruly / problematic kid taking up all the teachers' time and therefore dragging the whole class down as well as being a bad influence

Yes first hand experience of this myself, the kids learn how to deal with the problem children but you can't make them go away, in private school they can be turfed out.

3-) Teachers not having any time for parents like me who are dying to know what their DC has been doing all day / how they have been doing etc. I would love to have as much individual feedback as possible about all aspects of DD's school life but fat chance of that in a state school. I have this idealised image that in many private schools parents are being given given daily contact books / progress reports etc. So I would like to think that our precious time would not be wasted and if any attention needed in any aspect of her development, I would immediately get to know it in a private school. Is that so?

This is what you pay for in my experience, in state school you see the teachers at parents evening and if there's a major issue. My friends child made no progress at all in year2 and she found out in his sat results, when asked why she was told he was chatty and messing around, when she asked why she wasn't told about it so she could deal with him she was told the school like to deal with these things. And yet clearly they hadn't because he was behind in maths, a whole year wasted

alardi Wed 29-Jul-09 13:18:52

Oh, about the Extra-curric activities: DS1 has tried everything and gets bored almost instantly; hence he only does occasional one-off activity days, nothing regular. My point is that if I made extra-curric options important in my school choice, it would have been a misplaced emphasis, just not that relevant to every child.

in2minds Wed 29-Jul-09 13:21:12

But in private school your DS wouldn't be allowed to get bored and give up, he'd be made to stick at it, progress and then get enjoyment from it.
Nobody picks up a racket and wins wimbledon the next week these things involve work and commitment and that is what they are taught at private school in my experience, none of this well done you tried here's a certificate

MyOneAndOnly Wed 29-Jul-09 13:22:15

Thanks Alardi,
I am at work at school hours and probably will not be able to see the teachers face to face most of the time unless I take time off to see them, so ideally I would want to have written reports, perhaps on a weekly basis. I write my own notes, teachers write their own observations etc. Perhaps???

I do not feel that I have the qualities to teach her myself. In any way, a school is better than a home education, it is more structured. Also as a loner myself, I strogly believe she needs to be within a mix of other kids.

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