Golly gosh (and help!)... I think we may be moving to California

(19 Posts)
TheBeekeepersDaughter Sun 22-Mar-15 17:03:03

After a few vague initial discussions, DH may well be offered a role at his law firm's office in Palo Alto. We live in the Home Counties at the moment and it looks like we'd be there for about 4 years. It's exciting but feels like a very big move.

I work part time at the moment and I think that my professional qualification is valid in California (varies state to state). I really like Joni Mitchell and Tales of the City so I reckon I will be fine. DD is 6, DS is 3. Both at UK Montessori schools at the moment. DD would apparently like to move there as she's always wanted to see both the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower ?!

If anyone can tell me anything about life there, especially about cost of living, where to live, working life, schools etc I would be very grateful.

As a 37 year old woman in Palo Alto will I absolutely have to grow a hipster beard?

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nilbyname Sun 22-Mar-15 17:05:16

How exciting! No real advice except to say that I'm sure you will have a fantastic time. I lived in Santa monica for a few months about 20 years ago and it was incredible! I love the Cali vibe!

TheBeekeepersDaughter Sun 22-Mar-15 17:10:01

I love the California vibe on the car radio in England. I was so gung-ho about it when it was just a thought and now I'm a bit jittery. And excited, as indicated by my initial rather excitable post. I have never been to the West Coast or worked in the US.

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mummytime Sun 22-Mar-15 17:32:04

If your DH is going on a L visa you should be able to work. Be flexible.
California is huge, and could be split into three in the future.
If you are at all religious I would join a church etc.
Try to negotiate for leave, and use it to explore.

nilbyname Sun 22-Mar-15 18:09:44

I've lived in the U.S. but Colorado and of course there are some aspects of American culture I dislike- guns, church!
But on the whole the Americans I have met are super friendly and accommodating.
Does the company he is working for have someone to advise you on the localities near to you?

Providore Sun 22-Mar-15 18:12:20

We've just done this! Been here just over a month. No regrets thus far. The weather is GORGEOUS and the fresh produce is lovely. PM me if you like smile

ImperialBlether Sun 22-Mar-15 18:24:55

I am so jealous!


TheBeekeepersDaughter Sun 22-Mar-15 18:54:48

Thanks all, some useful ideas there. Hopefully Palo Alto won't be too big on guns and churches? I go to the odd Quaker meet here so would perhaps carry on there as a way to meet like minded people.

It's a UK firm with a small office. A few UK lawyers and their families are there, so I guess we might link up with them.

I would like to continue in the Montessori primary system. As the founders of Google and Wikipedia were Montessori educated I'm assuming this might not be impossible in Silicon Valley. I have no idea how US schools work, at all!

I've only been to the States a couple of times, only to the East Coast (friends in Vermont). How is the West Coast different? I am food mad, the fresh produce, wineries and restaurants are just my thing.

I would want to work at least part time. Is part time a thing there or is this wishful thinking. I have a professional qualification but would most likely be in the public education system ( school psychologist).

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Laptopwieldingharpy Mon 23-Mar-15 08:59:01

look up threads within the last 6 months...there are a couple about moving to that area. If I remember correctly, there was a link to a calculator ( by county/postcode etc...) for cost of life & also a link about school districts etc.....
Maybe post on the living in the US 2015 thread? there a few California mums on it
Lucky you!

TheBeekeepersDaughter Mon 23-Mar-15 09:34:54

Thanks for that tip laptop. I will post on the living in the USA thread. It would be really good to link up with some California mums. Have had a look already but all the information about health insurance and tax codes felt a bit daunting!

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Laptopwieldingharpy Tue 24-Mar-15 04:55:26


& here

Read and zoom in on whoever is closest to your situation and see if the poster allows personal messages?

good luck!

SauvignonSash Tue 24-Mar-15 05:46:20

We've been here for a year now and love it! RE work the most important thing for you is to find out what visa you pr husband will be on - if an L1 you'll be able to work, but if an O1 (for example) you wouldn't. Also make sure his company are offering good health insurance! Good luck!

rootypig Tue 24-Mar-15 06:00:31

Hi. I'm married to a Californian and live in LA. You've probably seen me on the Living in the US thread. Palo Alto and Silicon Valley really is a world unto itself - it is NOT Joni Mitchell or hipsterville. To be honest, that doesn't really exist. Sure, there are people with all sorts of daft ideas. But California is above all else, pushy and ambitious. It's where Americans come to seek their fortune, let alone the rest of the world.

Without wishing to sound unkind, you sound a bit hippy dippy about it all at the moment. Health insurance, visas and tax codes ARE daunting, but if you're remotely serious about the move, you need to get to grips with them. Ask the firm for a visit, talk to people who are based in that particular office. US corporate culture is punishing, though Silicon Valley can go the other way, and is a bit more progressive (the rich, well established firms at least).

There are people much better versed in corporate deals than I am but as a minimum you need to aim to hang onto his UK annual leave allowance (if it's a UK firm, you stand a better chance), and make sure you have family health insurance.

Schooling won't be a problem. There's a huge range of options, Montessori and Waldorf are, as you say, popular.

Your visa will depend on his visa, so find out what they're proposing then research.

hopefulpuffin Tue 24-Mar-15 06:04:33

I can only comment very briefly on job prospects. Do not be surprised if you are required to take a class(es) and certification exams.

I'm an American teacher and every time we move (frequently unfortunately) I have to do paperwork and often pass tests to get myself recertified in the new state.

Not all schools have an on-site psychologist although you're moving to a relatively wealthy area.

There was an interesting photo essay a couple weeks ago on CNN.com about the working poor in Silicon Valley.

rootypig Tue 24-Mar-15 06:12:07

To (more helpfully) answer one of the questions in your OP, cost of living is high. Exceptionally high in San Francisco - in fact, almost the highest in the world (housing). A bit better in Silicon Valley, but still expensive. Food is as expensive as the UK, if not more so. Petrol is cheaper. Pre school costs are comparable to London.

If you need cheering up after this litany, google image pictures of the Californian coast grin

Yes, California can be wonderful. You can be outdoors year round. There are fantastic state parks around central California, where you are looking at. Driving north into Marin, northern California and Oregon is breathtaking. You can teach your kids to ski in Tahoe. Take summer holidays on the lakes. Drive to Napa at the weekends. Fly to LA in an hour, or drive the 1. Your family will have fantastic holidays. There are many positives smile. Just remember it's still real life, and American life at that.

Nolim Tue 24-Mar-15 06:21:18

Agree with rootypig: find out about visas, insurance and relocation package. Immigration can be a burocratic nightmare.

That being said california is nice. You are going to need a car.

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 24-Mar-15 06:21:59

I'm in LA too (10min walk from rootypig) and know not very much about the north except everywhere in the Bay Area is expensive. Sounds like he'll be on an L1 so you'll be able to work - but you must (as mentioned) do your best to hold onto UK leave allowance

To be honest I have been here three years and still don't really understand the health system, mainly because we've been lucky enough not to have to need it, but try to make sure his company pays for or at least heavily subsidies PPO rather than HMO

You are unlikely to have a problem finding Montessori schools, good place to start is greatschools.org which also shows catchment areas. I don't know about Palo Alto but ️LA and SF are similar to London in that you need to live in catchment to guarantee a place and schools can be very mixed - do your homework! Also remember that the U.S. Starts a year after the UK so you'll probably want to get the school to agree to let your DD go into the year where everyone is a year older than her if you intend on returning home in 4 years.

Again, I'm down south where the last week has seen temperatures of 25-30degrees and its sunny 362 days of the year. I adore SF but it's bloody cold and foggy, not sure about inland. We are however in the middle of a serious drought though

Having said that fresh fruit and veg is in abundance, crunchy lifestyle highly achieve able and the wine is cheap and plentiful

California is a real mix of people, from all over - understandable really. Might be worth you posting on the Brit Expat forum or city data and you'll find more people specifically in your area that way

rootypig Tue 24-Mar-15 06:29:16

You are going to need a car.

This made me grin. True but such an understatement.

<waves at ATB> I am waiting up to ring bloody HMRC, hence the MN bothering!

Dreadful fog is pretty local to the Bay ime, the weather in Santa Cruz (south again of SV, about 50 miles) was actually a nice balance for me. A short, slightly wet but not too cold winter, punctuated by long sunny spells, plenty of warm days, but then a nice spring too.

The drought is terribly serious and they're feeling it up there. Water awareness is much better than in SoCal.

AmericasTorturedBrow Tue 24-Mar-15 14:31:40

If only everyone would get rid of their ridiculously luscious lawns!!!

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