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Moving to Austin Texas

(13 Posts)
bettybud Fri 06-Feb-15 12:08:42

Does anyone have any advice, tips, or knowledge of moving to Austin Texas? We are looking to move there this year with 1 child who would start in kindergarten/grade 1? Any areas you may recommend to start the search for school, house and safe community? Thank you

ProbablyJustGas Fri 06-Feb-15 16:01:02

I have family in Austin. Wells Branch is a good neighborhood within the Austin City limits. Pfleugerville is also a good suburb. Cost of living in those two areas can be pretty steep compared to the rest of Texas, though. It depends on your budget. There's a fun quiz here which might help you get started. move-to-austin.com/austin-tx-neighborhood-quiz.html

There's also a Facebook group called "Free Fun in Austin", which we've used to find things to do when visiting with the kids. You can always use that to get a gauge of what's on in the neighborhoods. The members there might be able to help you out too.

bettybud Fri 06-Feb-15 20:52:21

Thank you so much for a great start! I will try the quiz with hubby. A bit worried about the heat in the summer but I'm sure we will get used to it...

vinegarandbrownpaper Fri 06-Feb-15 20:56:12

It is DAMN HOT in the summer. I went and I wondered why the streets were so quiet then I got out to use a payphone. I only crossed the street and on the phone I could hardly hold it together and crossed back.. I was exhausted! But I wasn't acclimatised. Its an AWESOME city for live music...

vinegarandbrownpaper Fri 06-Feb-15 20:57:30

And everything is aircon and/or big cool interiors so tolerable..

dayslikethis Fri 06-Feb-15 21:05:06

Are you unsure about whether it will be Kinder or 1st grade? Is that the reason for your question mark? To start kinder in Texas, kids have to be 5 by the 1st September, so if your daughter will be 6 before 1st September this year she will go into 1st grade, but if not then Kinder. Does that make sense?

(We're not in Austin - but in Houston)

Don't worry too much about the heat in the summer - you do get used to it, I promise. The difference with home is that you stay indoors a lot more in the summer, and are outdoors more in autumn and spring! Not just because of the heat, but also the mozzies, wasps and other beasties.

bettybud Sat 07-Feb-15 01:40:14

It would be kindergarten but it worries me as he's already in the equivalent here in the UK. I called 1 school out of interest and they did say he could be assessed and possibly be moved up a year but not sure how he would feel in amongst a class of older kids.
Are there really lots of mozzies there? They don't bother me too much but they sure love my husband!

dayslikethis Mon 09-Feb-15 18:20:37

Of our 4 kids, 3 were in the right year groups for going into the equivalent grade here when we moved, but my middle daughter had to move up a grade.

Her birthday is September, so she was just a few weeks past the cut-off date and when we moved here last year she should have gone into kinder but was already half way through P2 at home (home is Scotland - P2 is the equivalent of Y1 in England) and we managed to get the school here to put her into 1st grade instead. They are in a private school so did have to sit the WPPSI test and I suspect if she had struggled with that they may not have been so happy about moving her up a year. She is top of her class, even a year later though so I am so glad we got them to agree. Because her birthday is September she is only a little younger than some of the other kids in the class and it's really not been noticeable. To be honest though - the biggest and most noticeable differences are the cultural things rather than the age and we have found that with both of our older ones - less so with the youngest two who are in Pre-K.

What we have found academically is that the kids start off slower than they do at home in Scotland, so kindergarten is a lower level than P1 would be. (I don't know how Reception compares to P1 in Scotland so can't compare with the English system) There will always be kids here, for instance, who finish kinder not able to read properly (even in a private school) and that's totally OK here - 1st Grade is where it really heats up for them and even then, that is less pushy than P2 at home! We found a big jump between 1st and 2nd grade this year. 1st grade they were expected to learn, but they were still treated very much as wee ones, 2nd grade the level of expectation in terms of work and responsibility, is much higher. My eldest is 4th grade now and I would say the level of work is pretty much on a par with what he would have been doing at home this year, so I think 2nd and 3rd grade are really where they push it.

All of our expat friends have found the same as us (both those in private schools and those in state) - that the literacy stuff is generally behind the UK here, but the maths side of things is pushed further, quicker. My son was top of his class in a very academic state school back home, but was behind in maths when he arrived here. He's caught up now, but he's had to work hard on it because he missed key things that his class learned before he arrived.

The other big difference is the testing - it maybe isn't so bad in kinder, but it definitely hots up in 1st grade - they test for EVERYTHING here and get a grade for everything! Some schools (state and private) give the kids daily conduct grades, and you get some form of report card every 4.5 weeks - a full report card every 9 weeks and a mid-way progress report in between! That is very different to home for us and it's been interesting to see my kids respond to that.

dayslikethis Mon 09-Feb-15 18:21:01

And yes - LOTS of Mozzies!

bettybud Tue 10-Feb-15 13:37:34

Thank you so much for the advice and your school tips. I'm nervous and excited to go out there and have a look around some schools. We will look around both private and state schools which are rated with a 10 but still have some negative reviews. I thought it was stressful here with the whole school selection process, I can only hope the move is a positive experience for my son! Are there a lot of expats out there?

dayslikethis Tue 10-Feb-15 17:09:55

Tons of expats in Houston thanks to oil & gas, but I have no idea about Austin. There are little British bubbles here in Houston and we have friends who live alongside mainly British folk, have their kids in the British school and only really socialise with other expats - it's fairly easy to do that here. It's not what we have chosen to do, and that has made it harder to fit in and make friends I guess, but we didn't want to live in a little bubble while we were here and that was the trade-off. The good thing is that it is fairly easy to get food from home here. All the grocery stores have international aisles with a British section and you can get some good basics. (I'm not sure I could live without Robinsons so it's a good thing too!) Even if Austin isn't like that you can buy a lot on Amazon - some stuff is crazy expensive (I don't buy crisps for instance because they are too dear) but other stuff is OK - digestives, golden syrup, robinsons juice etc...

bettybud Wed 25-Mar-15 11:45:20

I fully respect you not wanting to live in a bubble. As we live in London where our friends are from all over the place, I'd find it odd living in America and only hanging with expats. We are getting nearer now and it's been so manic. Started to look at medical coverage, since this is all new to my husbands company I've started to do some research. Do you have any tips or advice on this? Thank you for all your advice.

dayslikethis Mon 06-Apr-15 23:31:44

We are with Aetna for medical and something else (I can't remember what) for dental. My husband's company sorted it all out for us though so I'm afraid I have no clue how it all works. We have used it very rarely (unlike most people here I don't take my kids to the docs for a flu test and a prescription for tamiflu every time they have a cold wink) However, some of the costs have still surprised me. Our coverage is really good, but even with that it cost us over $400 when my son broke his foot last year.

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