Possibly moving to America - how best to prepare

(11 Posts)
BettySuarez Mon 28-Nov-11 16:08:28

Nothing concrete yet - but a move may be on the cards next year at some point.

The location will depend on DH's job but the likelihood is that it will be San Francisco area or Illinois (outskirts of Chicago).

Already have a little experience of Naperville Illinois as we spent a few months there when our daughters were tiny.

If we do go, then our DC's will be 16, 16, 13 and 11

I am half excited/half bricking it to be frank smile

Can anyone who has made the move highlight some of the main changes that we need to be braced for?

Not sure whether we should rent out our UK house and just rent in the US or whether to buy?

The cost of living is generally lower in the US but is it low enough to make a difference to quality of life? I do rememeber being stunned at how cheap things were when we were there before (pertrol and groceries etc) but is this still the case. Will our dollar go further in the Stares then our pound does in the UK?

Schools - a big factor to consider for us as our twins (aged 16) will be taking their A Levels next year - what is the USA equivalent?

Then the younger two (aged 13 and 11) - what 'school' will they go to - I haven't the faintest idea! Is it Junior High?

Best tips for choosing 'decent' schools?

Also, for those of you who have already made the move with DC's of a similar age - how did they find it? Did they settle relatively easily? What did they particularly like/dislike?

Sorry for so many questions - it's the DC's I worry about the most sad

OP’s posts: |
NatashaBee Mon 28-Nov-11 16:19:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NatashaBee Mon 28-Nov-11 16:23:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BettySuarez Tue 29-Nov-11 13:24:02

Thank you for your help Natasha.

I do find the school system confusing - have only just got my head around SATS and Key Stages :D

Regarding being held back a year - is this normal? Is it because the English standards of education are considered to be behind that of the US or just because it's a new system?

Both daughters are expected to do well with their GCSE's and are considered to be 'above average' with their current grades - although we appreciate it might not make a difference when it comes to adopting a new system.

Thanks again x

OP’s posts: |
NatashaBee Tue 29-Nov-11 13:52:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Want2bSupermum Thu 01-Dec-11 21:34:12

Here in NJ a lot of the high schools are now offering the IB as well as AP classes (advanced placement). It might be an idea to see if there are any school districts which offer the IB in San Fran and Chicago. Call up the schools which you like the sounds of and ask how you go about getting your children in.

I know here in New Jersey the schools that offer the IB tend to be in more expensive areas. Your DH will need to make sure his package is high enough to enable you to live in such an area. The property taxes in NJ are horrible. Don't know what other states are like but there is a link between good school districts and high property taxes in NJ.

GoingRodeoBaby Fri 02-Dec-11 03:47:41

I would second finding out in detail about health and dental insurance, it can be a major expense. One major thing we were not warned about is credit ratings. We did not have any US credit cards and therefore had no credit history and were unable to get a mortgage. Of course unless you use credit you cannot get a good credit rating (duh). So make sure you get credit cards and pay them off each month to build up your credit rating.

I cannot comment about school as mine are only in Kindergarten but I would say the extra curricular activities and opportunties are fantastic. Cost of living is cheaper, certainly where we are (Missouri) - gas, clothing, food and eating out although energy bills are higher as the weather is so extreme for 6 months of the year. This may not be the case though where you are looking to move.

TV is dreadful at the first pass but persevere and it grows on you. There are ways to get the BBC.

Slip on shoes, shin high white socks and shorts are often the norm (!)

Good luck, we think this is a fantastic place to live with great opportunities for the children and we love living here.

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Earlybird Fri 02-Dec-11 03:58:06

Would strongly advise you to rent a house for a year initially. Also far better to wait and buy after you have established your routine.

Many of the families i know who bought quickly now wish they had waited until they got to know the area a bit better. Renting will give you a chance to choose wisely, rather than buying the house no one else wants simply because you don't know any better.

LAbaby Fri 02-Dec-11 03:59:36

I live in California and I find it more expensive than London (where I lived in fulham). Groceries, clothes, cable, mobile phone are all more expensive. Car insurance is also higher, although gas is cheaper. But we are in Santa Monica which is an expensive area, although very nice.
I also agree with the importance of good health care. The bills for the birth of my baby came to more than $39000, for a straight forward vaginal birth. My insurance covered all of that as I have a very good policy, paid for by my British employers.
I love living here though. And San Fran is wonderful.

LAbaby Fri 02-Dec-11 04:00:18

Also we rent, and our rent in Santa Monica is comparable to what we paid in London. Gas and electric is much cheaper here.

TinyArmy Fri 02-Dec-11 17:34:45

The education system was the biggest shock for me, personally. I have a mate who's a highschool history teacher and I am convinced that when it is approaching O level time we are going straight back to the UK or taking them privately. The standards in American highschools seem to be simply apalling. You'd be amazed at the stories my mate tells about being a teacher.

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