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Please help me make an informed decision!!(2 Posts)
NC for this as I want to detail my specific situation which could be quite identifiable. I'm looking for some MN wise advice, ideas, anything that might help me.
THIS IS LONG. Sorry!'
I've always been indecisive and Covid/Brexit are throwing even more spanners in the work.
So, basically, I'm French but grew up in London. In total I've lived in Paris for 4 years, 2 as a kid and 2 as a jobseeker than employee after my studies in the UK. I returned to London after those 2 years as it felt much easier to get work in my creative industry and since moving back now ten years ago, I met my (British) husband and have a two year-old. We live in the SE, in the most southern, greener bit of the borough of Lewisham. Basically we need to move. Our lovely flat is just way too small and cramped now and we are so lost about where to go. The one saving grace is that we seem to be roughly on the same page.
Back in 2016, following the Brexit vote and after my work had hit a lull and was struggling to find anything I became obsessed with moving to Paris where my parents live, where I felt safe and where I felt the quality of life would be significantly better given Brexit. I was also massively concerned about having a child in the UK given my poor experience of hospitals, expensive childcare etc.My husband was completely against the idea to the point we nearly broke up. Lots of talking, compromises on both our parts and a little bit of couples' counselling and we became much more in tune. I started to get more interesting freelance work, I made friends in my area, he learnt French and explored freelance avenues for work.
So the situation today is this: I like my neighbourhood and would happily stay here another few years but it's just out of our budget. So where should we go?? Should we go to the Ile-de-France region? (Paris is just too expensive and cramped)? Move to the next neighbourhood along, which is mildly cheaper? Go a bit more south (thinking Tunbridge Wells?)
I must sound nuts exploring such random options. Here are the pros and cons for us in particular:
- Staying in SE London/SE: My main issue is schools. I'm very anti-academy/free-school and would much rather my daughter went to a state primary. There's a good one near one but I feel their numbers are dwindling. So-so quality of life, we don't earn that much and everything is paying. potential for another crap birth experience if we have another kid and no support/expensive childcare. We'd have to move again for secondary school. The consequences of Brexit on the diversity of the area, the economy, prices etc. However, I work across various sectors, and it's just easier to get freelance work through contacts, networking and so on. My husband runs a local business (It's IT so could work anywhere) but it means he'd keep his existing clients. It wouldn't be too much of a change and better the devil you know. We'd more or less know the area. Knowing that there's quite the international community.
- Moving to France : (Ideally I'd pick a regional town but we've narrowed down our choice to the Ile-de-France region as it's near my family and my husband wants easy access to his family who live in Kent, and we both want to be fairly close to the Eurostar) But biggest issue: we don't know it! We have friends dotted around but even with their input, they have different expectations. And Covid has meant we couldn't spend time looking around this year. I'm terrified of struggling with the work situation, I remember how hard it was to freelance in France but that was 10 years ago. I've been told it's much easier now. I already have some work contacts and clients there but I'm not even sure which industry I'd privilege working in. But there is so much more state support, a great education system, access to good quality, fresh food, my family nearby.
The reason I don't mention my husband too much is that his criteria are literally just these: a biggish house with space, access to the eurostar and not having to move again in a year or two. I should add that his French is now pretty good, he'll be applying for citizenship soon, has an English teaching qualification and IT skills so wouldn't b too hard to find work.
Whereas I'd feel much better knowing we can try a place out and move again if it turns out to be a bit shit. I'm sorry, I'm rambling but I guess my questions are:
- for those of you that know the Ile-de-France region, where would you recommend? I want somewhere that's fairly cosmopolitan, ethnically diverse (I'm also Arab and I like the diversity of Lewisham), fairly vibrant (I mean not a banlieue dortoir, basically somewhere with at least a few coffee shops and some life) and most importantly, easy to get around in WITHOUT a car. I don't drive. I'm not fussy about distance though, I'd consider up to 45 min/hour from Paris.
- For everyone else, what would you do? Have you been in a similar situation? What did you do?
I think ideally we'd move to a bigger house in a nearby area for a year or two just to give ourselves the time to properly investigate the French option than move after due diligence. My husband thinks it's too much of a hassle (selling our place, buying, then selling again so soon after) and he's reluctant to rent. He's right but I'm really scared of making the wrong choice.
I'm so sorry this is so long!! Thank you for reading.
Oh wow, I'm sorry it's THIS long!