Relocating to Houston, Tx(12 Posts)
It looks likely that we will be moving to Houston next summer from the UK.
It's our first international move and I'm not really sure where to start (there may be more threads!)
The thing I'm most concerned about is the impact on our DC's education. Our DC is eight and in Primary 4 (Scotland).
Our relocation package will include a contribution to school fees so private schooling is an option but Houston is such a big city it's hard to know where to start!
My DH will be based in Spring for work so that's our only starting point.
I've looked online at the BISH and Woodlands Prep as well as other international schools but although the websites look great, some of the online reviews are apalling!
I'd love to hear from anyone who can give me any advice or point me in the direction of more balanced resources.
Once we work out schools then working out where to live should be easier. (I hope).
It sounds like you are on the sort of package where you'll get some help with relocation. Ask the relocation company to recommend some schools to you. Then investigate those yourself.
Thanks for replying Mrsmortis we will get some help but we won't be able to access it until the new year so I'm keen to start gathering wider info.
I'm a bit concerned that we will end up having to make a rush decision.
Unbelievably jealous We were repatriated in the summer and we miss our Houston friends so much.
OK - first of all you should have a relocation agent and they are fab for helping you with schools and houses etc...
wrt schools - when is your DC's birthday? Cut off for Texas is 1st September (i.e. to start Kinder they have to be 5 by 1st Sept) so if your DC has a Sept-Feb birthday and are in P4 here they would technically be in the year below in Texas which is 2nd Grade. BUT - most private schools will consider keeping the child in the "correct" year group as long as they pass the entrance test. It's much harder to do this with public schools but not impossible.
School reviews are definitely mixed. We had friends at BISH who loved it, but we have heard a lot of people who don't like it and we, in the end, didn't even look at it. It IS very cliquey - primarily Brits & Norwegians. It depends on what lifestyle you want, but it's very easy to live in Houston and be in a little British (or even Scottish) bubble. That wasn't what we wanted at all and that was one of the reasons we excluded BISH from our list. We loved the look of Yorkshire and also The Village. They are American system but very highly thought of. Awty is also very good and I have only heard good things about it, but definitely more pushy in terms of academics. There are also a ton of very good Christian private schools. You DON'T have to be a Christian to go to them, but your DC will have weekly chapel usually and sometimes some other stuff, whereas in all other schools there will be no mention of God at all. Grace school (Ella Lee Lane) is very highly regarded as are a ton of the catholic schools.
In terms of where to live - if your DH is based in Spring then the Woodlands is a LONG drive in Houston traffic. The Woodlands is very much a lifestyle choice - most people who live there rarely leave it as it is very much a city in its own right. Schools are very good but you are very far away from a lot of other stuff and definitely a fair drive from you DH's work. Katy/Cinco Ranch might be a better option for you and the public schools in Katy ISD are very good. We lived in the Energy Corridor (77079 zip) and it was a nice area - close enough to downtown and very close to my DH's work and also only about a 20min drive from the kids' school. Close to Memorial City Mall & City Centre/Town & Country for shopping and eating.
When we went we chose the school first and then the house based on that. Once we knew were the school was and where the office was we were able to make a more informed decision about the house. You need to look on HAR.com for houses - all rentals and sales are listed on there and it will give you a good idea of what is available for your money.
If we were going back (which we really hope we will someday soon) we would probably lie to live in The Heights as it is close to all the stuff downtown that we loved and has great public schools, or we'd go back to West Houston again, but definitely wouldn't go any further out that we were last time.
I hope that's helpful - I know the feelings of fear and uncertainty - we did it with 4 DC and it was terrifying, but brilliant.
Thanks days that's really helpful!
DC has an Autum MN birthday so is after the Sept first cut off.
My DH is keen that the children experience Anerican culture rather than living in an expat bubble and I agree but would put up with the bubble if it was the best thing education wise.
We both have long commutes here and I'm keen to use this opportunity to have more family time so I don't want my DH to have a massive commute (I'm aware Houston traffic is dreadful). I'm going to be a SAHM again for the first time since the DC started school so I want to make the most of that (while being quietly terrified).
I'n glad to hear that you enjoyed living in Houston - it's hard for me to quite imagine us living there or all the steps we need to take first.
My kids were in an American private school and coming back here to Scotland they have been absolutely fine - in fact, the older two were ahead with maths when we got back and my DTs were really well set up for starting P1 here having been in PreK there. I would say the biggest thing is the work ethic over there - both in private and public schools - they just expect so much more from the kids in terms of respect/behaviour and hard work, and coming back here if anything, my older two have struggled somewhat with being bored in school because there is so much farting around doing not very much! They definitely earn their 12 week summer break in the US - they work those kids hard through the year! Like I said - if you go into a private school and your DC passes the entrance test then they would most likely be happy to put them in the equivalent year group. If your DC would be P5 here next school year that would be 4th Grade in the US. (3rd grade if they made them go back a year)
In terms of not wanting to live in a bubble I would say try to avoid Lakes on Eldridge / Lakes on Eldridge North if you can - they are little British compounds in parts and a ton of BISH families live up there. Again, we have friends who were / still are there and love it, but it's definitely a bubble and wasn't for us.
Hello from Houston!
We've lived here since summer 2013 (moved from Singapore) and have 2 dds aged 7 and 11 at the British School. We live in West University and dh works near the Galleria. Our kids adore the British School, there have been some changes - one headmaster left, we had a brilliant interim for a year and now we have a fantastic new headmaster whose kids are also at the school. In terms of academics, innovation and enthusiasm, we are very happy with the school. Be aware that the school is moving to Katy summer 2013. Our kids are on the school bus and we are currently weighing up whether to move closer but will probably just see how it goes. The new campus will double the capacity of the school, its aim is to be a flagship IB school within the Nord Anglia group and the facilities will be the best in Houston.
As Days said, many Brits end up in Lakes on Eldridge but we wanted to be outside of that environment, we wanted a bit more quirky, independent bars and restaurants, shops within walking distance etc. As are here long term, we didn't want to live inside the expat bubble either with people leaving every 2 years, our kids play softball and have gymnastics and swimming lessons locally with local kids. We are also 12 minutes from dh's office which is a huge consideration as it's nice for him to see the kids before and after school. I know families where the dad commutes an hour and has to leave home at 5.30am to beat the traffic etc. Katy is OK, not my cup of tea, a bit bland with chain restaurants but it would be a huge commute for your dh, depending on where exactly his office is. Cypress might be a better option... Will you get to visit before you move?
Feel free to ask questions, there are a few Houston residents on here.
Sorry, school is moving to Katy summer 2016...
Thinking about it, Spring is actually pretty close to Woodlands, I would seriously consider living in the Woodlands and sending your dc to school there, Woodlands schools are good.
I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to have a short commute for work and school. You can do a drive time search on the HAR homepage to calculate this. And remember that a 10 minute commute can take 30 minutes if there's heavy traffic, rain or road accidents.
Thanks so much days and friend.
I think that we are unlikely to get a visit before moving which makes it difficult re schools as we won't be able to get a feel for them.
I'm sure it will all be fine in the end but it's such a big move and there are such a lot of things to consider.
How did you find your children settled after the move?
My kids all settled well. They obviously missed home and their friends there, but they did really well at settling in. Now we are "home" they miss their Houston friends like crazy.
Give them a bit of leeway and expect that things will be tough for a while, validate their feelings rather than brushing over them or trying to "gee them up" all the time. yes - they have to get on with things, but no - it's not bad to miss home or their friends and talking about it does help.
Mine were OK, about as good as could be expected. I have done 10 moves in 20 years to some weird and wonderful places and this was my hardest yet however. I don't think I managed my expectations well, thought it would be easy after so many moves and because I thought I knew American culture so well via TV, news etc. I didn't appreciate just how foreign the USA (and Texas) really is....
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