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Moving to the UK with 2 kids

(26 Posts)
EKoolen Fri 23-Feb-18 22:57:53

We are Canadians who are currently living in Australia for the year but now moving to the London area in July for work purposes. I will be working remotely and my husband will be commuting to London.
My daughter would be entering Yr7 and my son is turning 11 in October (2018) which I think makes him entering Yr6 (not sure). We are a little lost with figuring out which neighbourhoods to target, what schools to look at (and knowing that we missed the exams and offer stages) and where we can find sports. My daughter is a competitive gymnast and football player and my son is a competitive basketball player. We will also have our dog with us so some proximity to dog parks would be great. Any suggestions on any of the above would be very helpful. We have a relocation assistant but she doesn't seem to understand that we have children and keeps recommending very non-child friendly options. Thanks for helping this lost Canadian & I am so glad I found this place.

JoJoSM2 Fri 23-Feb-18 23:20:00

What's the budget and what size property would you like? Are you after sth pretty central, suburban or a commuter town? Will you be looking at state or fee paying education, and finally, where will the commute be to?

dantdmistedious Fri 23-Feb-18 23:23:25

What's your housing and travel budget? Will education be funded?

EKool Sat 24-Feb-18 00:04:11

We have a housing budget of around 2k/month and my husband will be working near Charing Cross Station and is open to 45-60mins commute. We are ok with more suburban but or commuter towns as long as there are plenty of amenities. We would ideally only have to keep one vehicle. We are willing to pay for education if needed but ideally not top end. My kids have been lucky to have amazing public educations to date in Canada and Australia. What is important to us is schools with good resources, sports, programs like STEAM etc. Sorry it thats not more helpful but we are truly starting from scratch and our google searches are only contradictory and confusing. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions! We will have only a few days for house-hunting in June but I know we need to sort schools out now as we are already very late.

JoJoSM2 Sat 24-Feb-18 07:37:48

With a family of 4, presumably you'll be after a 3+ bed house? 2k pcm isn't very much by London standards but there are some lovely suburban areas commutable to Charring Cross that will work with your budget. Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley will offer direct trains to ChC from zone 5. I'm not sure about fee paying schools but both, particularly Bexley is amongst the best local authorities in England for state schools. It's also got some of the lowest crime rates in Greater London - basically a great family-orientated suburb.

I live in the borough of Sutton which is also in zones 5 and 6 of South London and might be worth a consideration. There are no direct trains into Ch C so the commute would be less good (still very reasonable, though). Again, very family-orientated and super-safe with state secondary schools at number 1 in England for attainment. Excellent for city and outdoorsy lifestyle (countryside in the south of the borough, hills a 20-min drive and the beach under 1h).

I'm not much of a commmuter town expert but would say to factor in commuting costs. An annual ticket from zone 5 is 2.3k whilst commuter town commutes often set you back 5-7k per year.

Also, the reason I mention state schools is that good ones are abundant in these budget suburbs. There are fewer of the independent sort as they tend to be more common in more expensive areas so on 2k pcm you'd need to squeeze into a 2-bed flat.

The only area I can think of that would be commutable for DH, offer a selection of fee-paying schools is the south of the borough of Croydon (South Croydon, Purley etc) but I'd find it too close to Croydon proper for my liking.

Alternatively, hopefully your relocation person will have some bright ideas about commuter towns if you feel strongly about fee-paying schools.

On the sports front, gymnastics and football options should be easy enough to find most places but basketball is going to be a bit more of a challenge as it's very niche in England.

eurochick Sat 24-Feb-18 07:51:33

I agree that Bexley and Bromley boroughs would be good areas to look at. The schools are generally good and there are lots of stations that go into Charing X. They are also fairly cheap by extortionate London standards.

eurochick Sat 24-Feb-18 07:58:24

One example in the areas suggested: Holywell Close, Orpington

Rightmove And Zoopla are useful property search websites. And there's a site called that shows commute times and routes.

Good luck!

EKool Sat 24-Feb-18 08:54:11

Thank you so much for the replies. I will look at these options. So much to do!!

Beetle76 Sat 24-Feb-18 09:38:15

Charring Cross is a lovely/easy walk across the river from Waterloo station so that opens up much of the south. DH did that commute happily for 9 years. Look at the commuter towns on the Portsmouth line into Waterloo. Guildford /Godalming/Haslemere come to mind particularly as Guildford has Basketball / Ice Hockey teams so more than just the usual offering of cricket/rugby/football (apologies if that’s a bit of a stereotype). As pp has said, you do get more house for your money but the rail fares can be ridiculous, and station parking is sparse. (Hence we’ve always managed just fine with one car) Look at South Western Railways for season ticket prices to see if it’s viable for you. You don’t need a specific “dog park” in these areas as there is so much access to open countryside and walks along the River Wey are great. Are you coming over for a look-see first or are you hitting the ground running?

PhilODox Sat 24-Feb-18 11:22:01

I think you need to consider how long you'll be here, ultimately.
If it's two years, say, then a two bed flat in the centre of things might be more of a cultural immersion, giving you greater opportunity to indulge in all that London offers- if DH is home at a reasonable time instead of commuting, you can eat together every evening, visit things after supper, see concerts, etc etc that a commuter life wouldn't allow him to do.

If it's longer, then something more suburban (and with more space!) would probably be preferable.
You need to consider the big changeovers in education- so some secondary schools choose options in Y8, and begin GCSE courses in Y9, most choose in Y9 and begin GCSE in Y10, as they're 2 year courses. As you've only one year gap, you need to consider that a move later will disrupt one of your DC's education, guaranteed!
After GCSE, it's two years A Level, or IB, then university, typically three years undergraduate, sometimes four.
If you're to be considered home students (for fee purposes) then they need to be resident for three years prior to starting university, which they would... but that's already committed your family to eleven years in the UK!

EKool Mon 26-Feb-18 01:01:54

We will be in UK for minimum 2yrs, most likely 4. Thank you!

Desperatelyseekingsun Mon 26-Feb-18 01:55:36

Just to say specific dog parks aren't really a thing in the U.K., dogs have to be on the lead in some areas and can go off lead in others. So I would consider green areas but don't try and look for dog parks.

Desperatelyseekingsun Mon 26-Feb-18 02:00:54

What is the relocation agent suggesting that you feel won't work? Also be clear you have a dog renting with pets in the U.K. can be difficult.

EKool Thu 01-Mar-18 02:27:14

Our relocation agent keeps suggestion areas that don't have great sport/activity options for kids or may be suited for people with much younger children. She keeps sending me ideas and mentioning Mum &Bub classes, library time, toddler swim times etc. and her idea of gymnastics is kindergym. Our kids are 11 & 10 and play higher level sport. Our daughter is provincial level in both soccer and gymnastics and our son is high level in soccer and basketball. We know that our dog may be an issue but it's one we are willing to work with as he is a big part of our family and we don't want to leave him. Thank you for the clarification on dog parks.

We are actually now looking at areas between London & Birmingham as my HB will have to spend some time in both.


Desperatelyseekingsun Thu 01-Mar-18 02:36:00

You will get a lot more housing for your money outside of the Lomdon commuter belt although I nothing about the midlands so can't offer any advice.

DoctorTwo Thu 01-Mar-18 10:47:27

In that case have a look at the Milton Keynes area. Newport Pagnell seems ok and is only 5 or 6 miles to MK rail station with direct links to London and B'ham. It's only a 20 or so minute drive to the National Gymnastics Centre, and there are oodles of other sports clubs about. Good luck and enjoy your time here.

SharonTyl83 Mon 12-Mar-18 04:56:22

Hi could someone please help me my husband is working in Havant UK... the kids and I have to move from south Africa and I have no idea which is the best area to move to I have a 9 year old and a 12 year old any advice and suggestions will be great thanks so much smile

alltheworld Mon 12-Mar-18 05:38:03

I would suggest you look at the Eden Park area in The Beckenham area of Bromley ideally in what is known as the park Langley catchment area. There are two Park Langley schools next to each other one for girls and one for boys. The boys one is outstanding with great facilities, the girls one less so. They will both be likely oversubscribed and I don’t know how much movement there would be on the wait list but the wait list will go by how close you are to the school, not when you joined it. Also in the area is a brand new school called Eden Park High. Been open for a year in temporary location but due to be in permanent building with amazing facilities by September 2019. Supposed to have big emphasis on whole child.
Eden Park station is on Hayes line to charity cross and about 40 minute commute.
Spaces for secondary are very tight and not always allocated by proximity to school. You must be canny and find a house that puts you in the best position to getting into a school. Do not listen to your relocation agent but get proper local advice from areas you wish to target

alltheworld Mon 12-Mar-18 05:39:23

Sorry didn’t see the bit about birmingham

Jenijena Mon 12-Mar-18 05:45:52

@SharonTyl83 you’ll probably get better answers if you start a new thread. Useful to know your monthly housing budget?

alltheworld Mon 12-Mar-18 06:35:15

Also probably best to post in secondary education

SharonTyl83 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:40:30

Thank you I think I might be blond I have no idea where to start a new thread I can't find anything on the website 🙊

Antonia87 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:46:12

Bishops Stortford is what want . About 60 mins to Charing cross and 30 mins to liverpoool st , I think. You can get a four bedroom house for £1.5k . Its the schools you want though as three of them are totally excellent. I mean, some of the best in the country. They also have a specialist language college with a 99% pass rate and they are state funded. Its a sweet little town but not soul less like other commuter towns. Have a look!

SharonTyl83 Mon 12-Mar-18 10:48:30

Oh I found it ...yay great I'll start a new thread

thisisme2018 Mon 12-Mar-18 12:08:17

I'd look at Milton Keynes, fantastic gym clubs there and basketball. Lots of open spaces for dog walks. It isn't the prettiest looking place but has great facilities, even indoor ski slope. Loads to do with the kids, safari park, goods shopping centre and easy commute to London or Birmingham. If you want prettier location then look at Woburn, Ashley Guise, Woburn sands but these will be more pricey to rent.

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