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Single mom moving to London: Can I make it?

(27 Posts)
ritaH2O Sun 22-Sep-13 04:41:18

Hi everyone.

I'm new here (I mean at mumsnet and UK) and I have a 6 years old boy. I've been offered an excelent job in central London. By excelent I mean as a career opportunity. I'm from one of "those" south european countries with no jobs opportunities right now but some companies in London became very interessed to hire me.
I've been to London several times but only as a tourist. Now I will have to move in to London very soon and start to work (salary around 42K/A). I don't know the city and school's times, etc. Both me and the kid are very excited with the change (the city does not scares me, we already live at a busy city and love it).

I don't have any family in London, just single friends without kids. My job, sometimes will force me to work after hours or even weekends. For that I'll use my single friends to baby seat and, if they can't make it, a nanny or an au pair (I don't know exactly what is the difference in your country).

So basically, in your opinion, do you think that me and the kid can make it? I mean financilly and logistics?

What places to live do you recommend (will work at zone 1)?

I'm very social. Is it normal in London that moms that have kids in the same school help eachothers in case I can't pick him up on time? That's normal in my country...

Of corse will miss the family, the sun and the beach but I simply can not go further in my career in my country sad

I'm so confused... thank you for your time.

Gracias, obrigada, grazzie.

ritaH2O Sun 22-Sep-13 18:15:06

anyone please?....

MadameLeBean Sun 22-Sep-13 18:26:58

I think you need a childcare plan because you will be very stressed if you need to rely on single friends at short notice.

The thing with London is that you will need childcare to cover the time it takes to get to and from work as well (unless you can afford to live in zone 1 ... Not sure you can on 42k plus childcare costs)

In your situation I would consider a live in nanny or au pair. This is because you mention irregular hours / weekends. So a breakfast club and after school club would not be enough. Although you could consider a combination. You may be able to get tax credits to help with childcare but I think you might be on too much money (not sure as you are a lone parent).

It's not normal here for other parents to pick your child up if you are late. I'm friends with a few of the parents at my child's school so we do help each other out sometimes but we also all live close by which isn't always the case. I wouldn't count on this being regularly possible.

I work an extreme full time job, my child is in childcare/school 7.30-6.30, this costs me £1250 per month. Even with that in place and two of us doing pick ups / drop offs, it's still quite hectic.

It's possible but you need a rock solid childcare plan. Good luck

MadameLeBean Sun 22-Sep-13 18:32:35

As your son is 6 I think an au pair might be fine and perhaps the cheaper option than a nanny (although you will need 3 bedrooms not 2 then which is £££) and the au pair could not be expected to work weekends so you'd need an alternative if you had to work weekends. Hmm

Or you could get a nanny that does not live with you but again £££. You might need to think of it as an investment in your career until you make more money. 42k may be enough to cover full time nanny plus rent etc but it might not - it'd be pretty tight at best.

BranchingOut Sun 22-Sep-13 18:34:01

Hi RitaH20

Well, firstly you seem to have a really positive attitude and have also done the right thing by posting on here for advice.

I lived in London for 17 years and have just moved away - but it is a fantastic city.

The plus points:

So many free museums
Free bus travel for children
Multicultural and cosmopolitan city
Many excellent schools - if you live close enough to one!

The minus points:

Your salary won't be very high for central London
Childcare can be expensive
The cost of living can be quite high
Huge population density, meaning pressure on services

What I suggest, as a first step, is that you search on 'Rightmove' for places that you can rent for about

BranchingOut Sun 22-Sep-13 18:46:27

Try these areas as a starting point:

Mile End
Bethnal Green
Surrey Quays

These have all got quite fast connections into Zone 1 - although it depends on where exactly you need to go!

I have worked out that your net take home pay would be about £2500, BUT you would probably get stung for higher tax in your first few pay packets so you would need to come over with some money in savings.
Is there a particular area where your commuity lives?

Sorry, but I don't think that depending other mums to pick up your child from school is a viable plan! You may get this kind of arrangment in time, but you cant expect it straight away. It is definitely seen as a 'favour' in the UK, rather than something you do as a matter of course.

BranchingOut Sun 22-Sep-13 18:47:03

Sorry, look at what you can rent for about £1000 per month.

cestlavielife Sun 22-Sep-13 23:05:55

You could cut rental costs by sharing with your child initially and have room for au pair and get a place closer to your work. If there is eat in kitchen you could get away with a one bed flat...Then rethink in six months or a year. If your salary will rise.
Advertise for live in child care au pair.
You cannot rely on strangers it will take a few months to get to know other parents enough to share picks ups .

ritaH2O Sun 22-Sep-13 23:39:34

Thank you so much for your answers. They told me about rises soon but I'm so used that companies lie about that (remember I'm from south europe...) that I found it hard to belive. I'm now consindering cestlavielife suggestion and hope everything will be OK smile
Thank you all again.

ritaH2O Sun 22-Sep-13 23:41:08

BranchingOut, I don't have a commuity in London, just a few single friends at different places in the city...

MadameLeBean Sun 22-Sep-13 23:42:43

Good luck! smile

ritaH2O Sun 22-Sep-13 23:43:10

cestlavielife, is it ?

showtunesgirl Sun 22-Sep-13 23:45:57

I live in Zone 3 and £1000 a month right now will barely get you a one bedroom flat. I know because I'm househunting right now with not much luck. sad

MadameLeBean Sun 22-Sep-13 23:48:10

Yes, that's the website

HeeHiles Mon 23-Sep-13 00:00:41

Which part of London will you be working in? Do you know the nearest tube station? We can work on suitable areas if we know what transport links you need.

We have an underground railway and an overground one as well that serves central London and the suburbs very well and good bus routes. Take a look at for all transport advice.

ritaH2O Mon 23-Sep-13 00:13:54

By the way, I was reading some ads offering au pair jobs and most of them includes a salary but does not includes acommodation. It's not a live in au pair but only a after school au pair with salary.
Am I getting it right?

ritaH2O Mon 23-Sep-13 00:17:17

I'll be working very near to Goodge Street Station. I also know What I don't know are the best / affordable areas to live at. But I will follow some information from this thread to start looking for a place...

aufaniae Mon 23-Sep-13 00:18:17

London is a great place to live IMO. Loads to do with kids.

However, to answer your question " Is it normal in London that moms that have kids in the same school help eachothers in case I can't pick him up on time?"

No, that's not normal, you need to have childcare in place.

London rents are very expensive. It's very normal to travel 45 minutes across London or more to get to work. Zone 1 is astronomically expensive and few people who work there actually live there too.

Whereabouts in zone 1 will you be working? It's a massive area. If you can be a bit more specific we can suggest areas in London for you to consider.

About schools, the quality of schools varies, and there's a lot of pressure in London to get into the good schools. Children are selected simply on the distance from their school. If the school you want has a place you'll be accepted immediately. If there is no place available at the school you want, will be put on a waiting list. When a place becomes available it will be offered to whoever lives nearest to the school on the list, not whoever has been waiting longest. So, it pays to select the school(s) you want and then move as close as possible to them. We can help you identify the good schools once we have a better idea of which part of town you hsoul be looking in.

To find out about schools, look at their and ask on mumsnet for the inside story. A good tip is to use the maps on If you look at an individual property, you can tick to see local schools on the map. Each one has links to information on the school, and their "OFSTED" report.

Schools generally start about 9am, and end about 3am, with a week off in October, the spring and summer terms. 2 weeks off at Christmas and Easter, and about 5 weeks or so in the summer. Assuming you are working full time, you will need to find childcare for the times they are not in school. Some schools offer breakfast and after school clubs.

aufaniae Mon 23-Sep-13 00:23:36

Au Pairs are only live-in. An Au Pair is not a childcare professional. They are usually young women (18 or 19 years old) who come here to learn English.

You give them a room, and treat them as part of the family. You pay all their bills and an allowance to spend as they wish. They have very light duties, you would not leave them on their own with young children.

A Nanny is a childcare professional who works in your home. You employ them and must pay tax, national insurance etc for them.

A Childminder is self employed. They look after your child in their own home, along with other children. They are registered and inspected by OFSTED (the same body which inspects the schools). An excellent CM will be amazing smile

We got DS's two amazing CMs from this website

aufaniae Mon 23-Sep-13 00:29:39

An au pair is a great solution if you just need a bit of help, have the space, are happy sharing your home and possibly looking after them a bit. The allowance is usually about £80 or £100 a week I think. So a very affordable way to get a bit of extra help (although you'll be paying through the nose for the extra room if in London!)

Nannies are expensive, and not generally inspected as Child Minders are, and come with the hassle of you having to be an employer. They can be live in or live out. Many people love their DCs having the one-to-one attention from a nanny however, and the convenience of having them in your own home.

BranchingOut Mon 23-Sep-13 07:07:37

On a general rule, anything to the East and South is cheaper than areas to the West and North of London.

Have just looked on rightmove and seen some 2 beds in Walthamstow for 1000pcm.

cestlavielife Mon 23-Sep-13 12:54:53

you can find on gumtree some students living at home who have free time in the afternoon so like a live out au pair. think from £8 to £12 per hour .
but if your hours are variable someone live in might be better. accomodation plus £85 per week .
for holidays play schemes/holiday clubs can be good. eg like all over london but circa £30 per day . some school based schemes cheaper.

goodge street northern line so look along the lne north. eg kentish town . archway. but also you can maybe walk from eg kings cross etc so look at nearby stations to ggodge street see if you up to walking to your work then look along those lines .

cestlavielife Mon 23-Sep-13 12:55:42

if you have to get to work for nine you will need before school au pair or child minder - ubless school ahs breakfast club

BranchingOut Mon 23-Sep-13 12:57:02

Victoria line takes you to Warren Street super quickly, so Walthamstow would still work quite well.

HeeHiles Mon 23-Sep-13 23:33:36

Goodge St has fabulous transport links - Northern Line, Victoria in to Warren St and Central at Tottenham Court Rd but closed at the moment because they are linking Crossrail - with transport links from the west right out to the East of London.

Lots of bus routes serve the area too - so as advised I would look East and South as prices are better. Depending on your job you may get help with housing -

As a single mum you may be entitled to social housing - you are from Europe - perhaps worth checking to see if you qualify? If not you may get Housing Benefit.

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