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Help! Canadian Mom moving to London

(26 Posts)
madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 05:11:40


I am a 34 year married mom to a beautiful daughter aged 2 this September.

We are moving to London and I am desperately searching the internet for nice family areas that are decently priced. When I say decent I mean we are looking at renting a terrace house for around 1400-1500 pcm.

Whenever I think I have a good area in mind, some blog will come up and people are trashing that area!
I had Kingston Upon Thames ( now too many chavs?), Wimbledon ( other than S Wimbledon it's a bit too pricey), Greenwich ( too pricey unless I ventured into Deptford or Charlton and apparently they are nasty), Richmond & Kew - too expensive!
Is East Dulwich affordable and nice?

Secondly, I have read it is really hard to get your child into a good state school, is this reaaly true? If my dd is 2 yrs old should I register her right away?

Thanks so much! I appreciate any responses!

MrsHappy Tue 21-Jul-09 06:12:50

I don't know much about renting in those areas (am in North London) but most areas of London are kind of a mixed bag, so you get very nice streets close to less pleasant areas. Too many chavs is not something that would put me off, although a very high crime rate might!

As for the schools, the system is not based on when you register. My DD will be 4 next year so will begin school in September 2010 (the September beginning the academic year she turns 5). We can register her with the council in the few months following September 2009. Places at the local school will be allocated on the basis of set priorities: looked after children (e.g. those in foster care) and those with a statement of special educational needs get in first, then siblings of children at the school, and any remaining places are allocated on distance.

It doesn't work exactly like that in some areas (check the relevant council website), but this seems pretty common and what it means is that in some areas you need to live very close to the school to get in. My friends are in Wimbledon within a 5 minute walk of 3 schools and their child has been offered a place at a not-great school some distance away.

So, if you can try to rent as close as you can to a decent school. That's one of the only was to optimise your chances of a place. The alternative is to look at church or catholic schools, but they tend to have relatively strict admission criteria and around here they want proof of church attendence for at least 2 years. Even then there might be people with longer records who end up higher up the list!

Anyway, lots of luck with the move. I'm sure someone who knows the areas you like will be along soon with some advice.

hana Tue 21-Jul-09 08:07:13

the primary schools in Richmond are excellent - check out Teddington and Twickenham as well (not just Richmond and Kew!)
Kingston or Surbiton

these are all w london but that's what I know.

and agree about looking at schools first and then choosing. with some areas places are allocated on a tight block of streets, others have wider areas they draw from.

I'm a cdn mum too, have been in the uk faaaaaaar too long!

good luck with your search

janinlondon Tue 21-Jul-09 08:50:17

MM Yes, E Dulwich is nice. Increasingly expensive but not as expensive as Kew or Richmond. Very easy commute to the city if that is important. But schools are a bit of a lottery.

ButterbeerAndLemon Tue 21-Jul-09 10:29:00

Anywhere affordable is going to have some drawbacks. I wouldn't dismiss Kingston if I were you. Have you looked at Earlsfield?

OhBling Tue 21-Jul-09 10:51:40

East Dulwich and surrounding areas - Herne Hill, Tulse Hill, Forest Hill are all nice and relatively cost effective. If you liked Kingston, it's definitely nice but like someone said, you just need to pick the right bits - commuting can be a bit tedious though. What about Surbiton? near Kingston, but nice and suburban with good train lines into town.

Or Mortlake/Sheen are close to Richmond but without the massive expense.

Putney is nice - but depending on how big a house you want for your money, might be a bit pricey. Earlsfield is nice, assuming you get somewhere with relatively convenient transport links. Ditto, lots of Wandsworth proper can be nice, especially close to Wandsworth Town station towards Clapham Junction.

Sorry it's all South/South West - I don't really know other parts of london.

OhBling Tue 21-Jul-09 10:52:31

my word, how many times did I use the word "nice"?! I'm a saddo!

MovingOutOfBlighty Tue 21-Jul-09 10:54:25

Hi Canadian Mom

Sorry, its a bit of a cheek, but I am moving to Halifac, NS soon and need this kind of info too.
Is there a comparable Canadian website like this?

hana Tue 21-Jul-09 15:43:34

oh how lucky your are blighty! I am from Halifax, what a super little city grin ask away!! not sure about similar websites though

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 16:15:18


Sorry I don't know of any websites like this one. I also don't know a lot about Halifax as I live in calgary - at the other end of the country! All I do know is that it is waaaay cheaper than London!!
It's beautiful and super friendly - so I hear.

Have fun and good luck!

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 16:18:05

To Hana the other Canadian Mom,

May I ask why you say you have been in England waaaay too long? Is it really that bad? I hear so many comments that England is awful but surely it can't be that bad???? or at least I hope it's not!!!!

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 16:20:02

Thanks to everyone for their advice! I will look into some new areas mentioned.

Thanks again!

madwomanintheattic Tue 21-Jul-09 16:22:46

<waves frantically> i am moving to medicine hat!
(but i lived in wimbledon for a while pre-kids, so am not much use - just thought i'd butt in and wave to all the other mners flying backwards and forwards) grin

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 16:29:52

Wow Medicine Hat, That will be a big change for you! Like I mentioned before, you will find people very friendly ( too friendly sometimes~! I hear it's nice small town and a good place to live.

Good luck!

madwomanintheattic Tue 21-Jul-09 16:37:34

(and the sunniest place in canada year round lol - which made me laugh as a random statistic that takes no account of actual temperature...)

good luck in london! grin

hana Tue 21-Jul-09 17:13:21

england isnt awful at all - I have amazing friends, girls are at a cracking primary school, enjoy my job, happy with our lifestyle - but it's not home and never will be. It's hard to vocalise and so few actually 'get it' , I never thought I'd be here that long.

OhBling Tue 21-Jul-09 17:23:38

Mad - you guys made it? You got the issues with DD sorted? When are you moving? How excited are you?!?

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 17:25:34

I get it. I have some Australian friends that love it here and have an excellent life but it still isn't "home" to them either. Thanks though as it's nice to hear something nice about London for a change!

madwomanintheattic Tue 21-Jul-09 17:56:58

ooo, hello!
we fly 3 Aug grin
but just for 2 years with work (have so far managed to agree that - decision only made about a month ago finally)
have been called forward for immigration medicals, and have them booked for 13th in calgary... so i am in a total dither - excited to be going for two years, but in an absolute panic and gathering evidence like crazy for medicals... we'll get referred for specialist advice and then it's waiting for a ruling to see if she is a 'burden' or not lol... so, the earliest we'll know for sure if we can stay is christmas i reckon, but the most recent burden appeal that i know of took 13 months shock so we should know in good time before the two years is up whether we have to plan to come back to uk or not.
we are crazily ditching electricals and making sure that the stuff going into storage can just be shipped in two years's time if necessary grin
it's a bit manic tbh, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?
how's married life treating you?
<oooo, really long hijack, sorry blush>

Julesnobrain Tue 21-Jul-09 19:31:01

Nice areas Wimbledon, Surbiton and Kingston but also areas which are connected by the overground 20-25 mins into central london. Raynes Park, Earlsfield and New Malden. You may have to up your rental amount. Most of these areas have good schools. Children don't start full time school until they are 5. You apply the year before. You apply for a nursery place for your children to start the term after they are 3 years old. Generally schools accept applications 2 times a year for that. So for instance I applied in May to get DD a nursery place in Sept. For both DS and DD I got my first choice of school so don't believe everything you read in the press.

MovingOutOfBlighty Tue 21-Jul-09 19:35:07

Thank you MadisonMom
Hope the move goes well!

I have looked up some other websites, trying 'Canadian Mom' and other such things. But they all look a little bit worthy!!

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 23:28:35

I do have another question that may offend some but without giving away my husband's soon to be salary, can anyone advise what a good income is for London? A good salary while I stay at home with my daughter.

I am finding it hard to compare the cost of living to Canada so I don't know if his salary is going to be good enough in London or not. In Calgary he would need to earn $100,000 or more to live nicely.

So to rent a nice terrace house in Twickenham area and have a nice life, some travel, eating out and you know to just live without major struggles.

Thanks so much!

madisonsmom Tue 21-Jul-09 23:30:20

Thanks Julesnobrain I was worried about finding a school for my dd. Good to hear!

OhBling Wed 22-Jul-09 08:42:49

<hijack again>

That sounds good - at least you're moving and get started rather than the lurking thing about it part?

Married life is good thanks!We;re love's young dream! grin and just happy not to be organising the wedding any more. I do have to finalise the photos still, but otherwise, it's over!

OhBling Wed 22-Jul-09 08:51:59

Madison - sadly, there is no definitive answer to that question. It depends on what you mean by a "nice house" etc. I see you're thinking of paying rent of about £1500 which I would say would get you something very nice in the 2 bedroom but might be a bit harder to find something really good that's three bedrooms in the areas you're looking. I'd say for a "nice" life as you're describing it you probably need £80-100k.

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