Potential 6 month (ish) move to Kansas City - advice please

(11 Posts)
maggie75 Thu 04-Feb-10 16:26:58

We have the opportunity to move to Kansas City for 6 (ish) months from April for DH's work. We have a DD who is 2.3. I work 3 days (with DD in nursery) and we live in London.

I am quite tempted by the offer, but am worried about all the usual things - DD settling, isolation, childcare, being a SAHM, i cant drive (im thinking i could do an intensive course with an Automatic?).

Im used to being round the corner from activities/friends/cafes - and I think Kansas would be very much living in a suburb having to drive everywhere?

However, living overseas, seeing some of the States, the change, and different way of life also quite appeal - knowing that that it will be temporary especially ... any advice from you Statesiders on how easy it would be to settle, make friends and enjoy it for 6 months? And if you think its a good idea for a 2.3 year old to drag her round the world?

Any advice much appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
mathanxiety Thu 04-Feb-10 20:14:43

You will definitely need to drive in KC.

It's very different from London, very spread out and suburban. There are inner suburbs that are oldish and full of huge houses, outer old burbs with smaller houses, and far flung new ones with houses both large and small, but getting around means driving. There is no public transport, no trains, hardly any busses. In a lot of neighbourhoods there aren't even footpaths, so forget about walking with a buggy.

Weather-wise, you'd be getting there during tornado season, with the extreme heat and humidity of summer following closely after. You would have your air conditioning on full time from May to September.

KC is quite a small place as US cities go, not very international, a bit parochial. People are friendly and uber-polite, and since you'd be there during grilling season, you might get to develop a taste for excellent bbq. You can get away to Colorado in about 8 hours by car, Chicago is about 8 hours away too, and the Gulf coast takes a bit longer.

Manners are very Southern/Texas and people tend to be conservative wrt clothes, attitudes...

If you don't mind heat and taking driving lessons AND if it's only for 6 months and you can get off work, it might be worth it.

kansasmum Fri 05-Feb-10 13:41:07

I live din a suburb outside KC (Kansas side) for 5 years and loved it. However you DEFIBNITELY need to drove as OP said there is NO public transport- zero, zip, nada!!
You may be able to get away without a US driving licence if you are only there for 6 months but any more you would need to sit the test- dead easy- a theory test(Multiple choice), eye test and short driving test-in my case once round the block and could I stop at a stop sign!!!

The people are friendly and very family orientated. However it takes a while for relationships to develop beyond the 'acquaintance' stage.

There are lots of groups for Moms and toddlers but you have to put the legwork in to find them. Places like the YMCA is a good place to start.
Its is VERY hot in the summer- almost unbearable at times- you can't play outside between 11-4- its way too hot.

There are lots of good coffee shops etc and all were child friendly.

If you get in the right neighbourhood it could be great- we loved where we lived(Olathe) and made good friends, schools were great (not an issue for you I know) and the kids made loads of friends and loved it.

One last piece of advice- if you do go- make sure your dh's husband will pay for GOOD health insurance. You will need a Pediatrician (depending on where you live if you go there, I may be able to recommend one) and medical bills get very expensive without insurance!

Lots of good things about living in KC so don't be put off but definitely learn to drive- the good thing is if you learn in London driving in KC will be a breeze!! Its dead flat and everything is pretty much on a grid system!!! And nearly EVERYONE drives an automatic!

maggie75 Fri 05-Feb-10 13:54:57

Hi - thanks for the advice and info both. I suspected the driving thang would be an issue. Never bothered here as its so easy to get around and such nightmare traffic/aggressive driving - i can imagine its all far too polite for that kind of attitude there! But the thought of an automatic is VERY appealing - the whole gear thing confuses me Im afraid!

I have to say the heat is a minus - me and DD are red heads and v v fair ... what do you do if you cant go outside?! How do Mums spend their days in that climate? No walking with a buggy? I would never have got through the 1st year with DD - the driving everywhere thing is alien to most Brits i guess.

Great that its child friendly - what other suburbs can you recommend?

Would be very diff from our life here - but I guess thats the point. We live in multi cultural east london so id imagine it would be a culture shock somewhat.

OP’s posts: |
mathanxiety Fri 05-Feb-10 15:29:41

KC is not multicultural. It would be very, very different from east London in that regard. But bearable for 6 months grin

People stay indoors in the heat and humidity -- you see people out getting exercise at the crack of dawn, doing a bit of gardening, walking dogs, etc., then running errands in cars for the rest of the day. There's hardly any of the sort of getting out and strolling around you would be used to in London -- people go out with some specific thing to do and then duck back home again. There are public pools, but sunscreen would be a must all day every day if you intended to get out. The humidity is the aspect of the climate that is the hardest to cope with, though.

The trick to finding your feet socially in the US is to get an introduction to some sort of group of young mums from someone who is already "in"; this is an art rather than a science, however. You could be lucky or end up quite isolated -- but then it's only for 6 months. Your DH's company might be a ready-made source of invitations -- people really do enjoy grilling and backyard bbqs are frequent.

Olathe and Overland Park are nice. Mission Hills is very 'toney' but nice. Prairie Village is also nice (these are in Johnson County, Kansas). The area along Ward Parkway on the Missouri side is also upper crusty, but nice, especially from Ward Parkway east along 63rd Street to Brookside, and in that general area. I would avoid Raytown and Grandview.

I think 2.3 is a great age to bring a LO to a different place to live for a while -- you don't have to deal with the school thing yet, your time is your own, your little redhaired girl would be a really great 'calling-card' (you'll be asked if you're Irish a lot), and 2 year olds are very adaptable little adventurers. You will need health insurance though; this is something your DH needs to be clear about when discussing the matter with his employer. Children's healthcare is taken care of by pediatricians in the US -- hardly anyone would use a 'family practitioner' (GP), and they are few and far between, ime.

kansasmum Sat 06-Feb-10 10:36:51

Oh yes and EVERYONE will ask you where you are from and tell you they LOVE your accent! Its nice to begin with but gets a bit wearing!

Driving is striaghtforward and generally much more polite than here- the "4-way stop" thing had me giggling- whoever gets there first has right of way- and it works- unlike here where everyone would want to go first and they would be road rage! You can also turn right on a red light if its clear and there's no sign saying otherwise- I forgot once when we were back herein the UK and tried going left on red light!! Everyone behind was hooting- very funny!!

mathanxiety Sat 06-Feb-10 18:51:46

LOL at the remarks about the accent -- smile and hmm. I felt like a performing pony when I first arrived in the US. Driving in the US really is so sane and reasonable and sensible and polite and civic spirited (somebody stop me...) compared to some other places.

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rosietoes Tue 09-Feb-10 18:16:41

Isn't KC dry? at least one side? (meaning no sale of alcohol)

poguemahone Wed 10-Feb-10 03:30:24

Oh do move, I want another mn'er close to me! We're just over the border in Oklahoma, a couple of hours from KC. We moved here when DD was almost 2 and DS was 6 months. KC is a nice friendly city (don't know anything about the suburbs).

I found the car culture and the climate (I have 2 redheads) the hardest things to get used to. You absolutely need to be able to drive. But the driving test is ridiculously easy, everyone drives an automatic, so if you can steer a dodgem you can pass your test here. Not sure what the rules are about needing a social security number before you sit your test here?

Meeting people is much easier than I ever found it to be in the UK. My red-headed kids and our accent attracts attention wherever we go. When people found out I was new in town they'd very often want to exchange numbers to get together (usually other mothers with children of a similar age to mine).

I second what was said about health insurance.

We've been here almost 18 months and it's been a great experience so far.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

GoingRodeoBaby Tue 23-Feb-10 19:36:46

I am moving to Kansas City for 3 years in May with DH and DT (3.5) and DD2 (10 months). We went over last week to look around and find a house and I loved it! I must admit I am a bit worried about no walking (I exercise my children a lot!) but there are loads of parks and stuff for kids to do. I guess as with anywhere you need to make the effort to make friends. Please please go, we can get together and start our own mums group!

kansasmum Wed 10-Mar-10 08:24:10

rosietoes- no neither Kansas or Missouri are 'dry' - I bought alcohol with no problem on both sides of state line! You can't buy alcohol in grocery stores etc on sundays though.

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