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Moving to New York with 5 and 7 yo(15 Posts)
Hi, My husband has been offered a job in New York and is thinking of accepting. I need to start looking for schools and a home - can anyone help with these questions or general information? 1) I'm thinking of looking at Brooklyn; what public/state schools are the best to aim for? 2) This will probably dictate which neighbourhood to choose, but any recommendations? 3) We live in a house in the UK - do people live in houses in Brooklyn or should we be looking at apartments? Our budget is approx $5000 a month, is that do-able? DH will be working for a start-up so there's no official relocation service or help, so any help is much appreciated!
I moved from NYC over 4 years ago but my quick piece of advice is take a look at streeteasy.com as a start. Search rentals in your price range and you will start to get an idea, it will also give you commuter lines and school zones of each property. Think positive, it's tricky but in my opinion there is no place like it.
Where in Manhattan will your DH be working? This will dictate where is best to live as cross town transportation is awful in Manhattan.
You've not mentioned other practicalities - are you okay with these?
What visa are they sponsoring him on? Are you going to be able to work if you want to ( you can only do this on certain types of visa). Remember your family's right to remain is linked to his job - you will have to leave the country pretty quick if the start up fails.
Are you going to be able to pick up a life back in the UK easily (are you selling or renting your house)?
Ignore if none of this is relevant - just concerns i would have.
Want2BSupermum - My husband will be working on 5th Avenue, but he has been advised by colleagues that Brooklyn is a nice area for families. Do you think that commute would be reasonable?
Whiteagle - thanks for flagging these things up. I am trying to see this as an adventure and not a permanent, life-long move so I accept that his job may disappear and we may need to move back quickly.
The issue of renting or selling our house is a really difficult one for me. Selling would feel like cutting ties with a house and area I love, but renting sounds like a massive headache. Any thoughts or experience with this?? I think I'd feel safer having our old house to come back to, but I guess that depends how long we're out for.
Visa-wise, this is what we're looking into. I forget what type of visa my husband is getting but I know it won't entitle me to work. My company has its HQ in New York but I doubt I'd get a transfer as I'm a relatively new employee (1 year) and I'm also part-time. So, I think I might have to move out and accept that for the short to mid term I won't work. I don't feel brilliant about that, but I do think there are advantages to being there for the children, volunteering in school, etc, at a time when there are lots of changes in their lives as a result of the move.
What other practicalities do I need to think about? I'm keen to start looking for elementary schools in Brooklyn as I think this will dictate all sorts of decisions about housing.
5th avenue is a long long road. I am assuming you are either midtown or downtown.
If uptown, best transportation is either trains to Westchester or Brooklyn. There is Astoria too which I like. Westchester towns - MTA train map - Scarsdale to White Plains and Larchmont to Stamford, CT. Advantage of these areas is that you will get a smaller house with a yard for your current budget.
If downtown, best transportation is either NJ Transit towns (South Orange to Summit or Montclair), Jersey City, Hoboken or Brooklyn. I live in Hoboken and like it a lot. It is very walkable and there are lots of European families here. We used to live in South Orange but the commute killed me and DH found it too suburban.
In Jersey City, Hoboken or Brooklyn you are not going to find a house with a yard. You should be able to find a nice 2-3 bed apartment with a yard and possibly a parking spot at a push.
Also, take a look at what subway would be closest for your DH and go back from there. If Brooklyn is too expensive for you take a look at Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and even as far as Bay Ridge.
I would not sell your house in the UK as you don't have a great visa for the US. I assume you are on a H1B or L2 and, with both of those visas, if you lose your job you have 180 days to leave the country.
For schools go on great schools.org. Tells you about 90% of what you need to know. Narrow it down from there.
Thanks. I'll start by looking at the nearest subway for my DH's work and go from there.
Does anyone have any advice on particular state schools in Brooklyn? Any to aim for? Anyone with good experiences to share? Moving my children is the bit that worries me the most, and I really want to make the transition a happy one if we're going to do this.
It's not about aiming. You are normally zoned for a school and that's the school you go to. Sometimes, like in hoboken, you can choose between 2 or 3 elementary schools but the standards are very similar in terms of teaching. Low test scores are more of a function of the socioeconomic mix in that particular testing year.
There are high schools that you can apply which are selective. Namely they are technical schools. It's easier to get into Harvard than to get into one of these. They also will have charter schools where places are allocated by lottery. I do suggest that if you have an average child with zero SNs (ie neither end of the spectrum) you apply but again the odds are against you. In hoboken a parent in DDs class has been #2 on the wait list for over 2 years for one of the charter schools.
You need to strongly consider flying over and visiting the schools in Brooklyn in person. What one person raves about another hates. In our town many people speak badly about the Spanish immersion charter school while others rave about it. Neither DH nor I speak Spanish so our kids won't be going there as we want to be able to help with homework and be more involved in their education.
Also until you are living in the district you will not be able to register your child for a school. It's extremely important to consider this if you are thinking of living in temporary accomodation. Some school admins are willing to bend the rules but where you have low availability they will enforce the rules.
The U.S. is not like the UK in terms of rules. Here they will nearly always stick to them and that should be your expectation. You will most probably need at least 3 forms of ID that show your address to register your child at school. That means getting your DL or at a minimum your state ID is your #1 priority.
PS31 and PS35 are both great elementary schools but there have been lots of reports about overcrowding. This is a problem Brooklyn wide, I believe.
Agree with want2be on all fronts, and would only add that commute times shouldn't be underestimated. You're easily looking at an hour each way (at least) by the time all is said and done, between midtown/downtown and any of the areas mentioned. Factor this into the regular working/school day and calculate how much of their dad your DC will see each day. This may be a non-issue for you, no change from your UK life.
FYI we spent 3 years trying to buy an apt in the ps321 zone. $2m wasn't enough for 3 beds. This is one of, if not the top rated public elementary school in NYC. In the end we gave up. Renting might be easier. Also check out ps 107 and pa29. Note that people deploy all sorts of tactics to get their kids into these schools, and the schools are hot to it. Spot checks are common occurrences, don't think you can second guess the system. There are far more wily and desperate parents ahead of you!
I think it's a good idea to stay home with your kids, the transition will benefit for it.
Don't sell your house in the UK, at least not until you have more security over your situation. Taxes will be a bitch to file, but it'll be worth it for the security.
Taxes are not bad. Speak to HMRC and the IRS. In the UK I filled out a form to say I was non resident and this meant no income in the UK was taxed. I then declared all income in the US. The IRS were incredibly helpful and as a CPA, I regularly see the tax people calling the IRS if in doubt of the rules.
I don't know NY in particular, but in general I'll chip in with:
- 5 and 7 are great ages to move (assuming that your 5 yo is a Yr 1 now ie a kindergartener here)
- not working is great for helping the family to adjust and settle, but it comes at a cost: I didn't work for 6/7 months initially, and eventually I found it frustrating and putting a strain on our relationship (I have always been the higher earner, and didn't much like not being able to make a financial contribution beyond having time to clip coupons and work out savings offers - though these can be pretty lucrative ).
- ideally I would have started work after about 5 months; personally I wouldn't have come out without being able to work: the other stay at home mums here are either super rich Ladies That Lunch, or mums with large families and lots of little ones, neither of which are my natural bed fellows at this point in my life
- we got the DC enrolled in schools without driving licences / state ID, but it was a pain to go round in circles getting things like utility bills (which probably will need to be in your DH's name, as you might not be able to get a social security number and you can't get utilities without a SSN...)
- look into the vaccination requirements and check that you are content for the DC to have the additional jabs - in some states it's quite a few extra
Do your research and find a school you like first, find exactly where the catchment boundaries are for that school, to the house number, and then try to tie available apartments within the catchment to a workable commute for your DH. There will be a balancing act involved. Be open minded, and look at NJ as well as Brooklyn.
What sort of health insurance will your family have?
Unless you have cast iron contraception in place, you will need maternity insurance on top of family insurance. Check of maternity insurance is included in whatever coverage your DH is being offered. Sometimes it comes separately and doesn't kick in until a few months/a year, etc. has passed.