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Move to London in Des12/Jan13

(28 Posts)
ongik Mon 03-Sep-12 19:56:31

Hi. We are Americans, and may move to London in Des 12 or Jan 13. My wife's office is in central London. She is thinking to ride bicycle to work, so distinct from home to workplace should be with in 7 miles /11 km ideally. Little bit more is ok, if other factors are favorable.
Our primary concerns are safe neighborhood for kids, and commuting with bike.
The second concern is good primary school for our daughter is in 4th grade. Considering all the costs, and paying taxes in two countries, we wound like very much to go with the state primary school. I am aware that you have to live in catchment area to have a change to get in to your school of your choice. We also have 17 month old boy, and I may not get a job right away.

Base on our research East Sheen/Richmond/Barnes came out on the top in school and safe environment for kids. It is about 10m/16km bike ride for my wife to work. Other areas that are closer are Hammersmith/Chiswick on the North side. Kensington and Chelsea are more expensive. We also look into Clapham, which only about 6-7 miles (9.6-11.2 km) from her work.

So my questions are:
Is any one has any input on the areas I mention above, as far as safety, and school?
Do you have any other recommendations?
Is it possible to get into state school in mid term?

Thank you in advance. These a bit overwhelming for us.

prh47bridge Mon 03-Sep-12 20:07:25

Yes it is possible to get into a state school in mid term. However, you may not get the school you want. Most popular schools will be full, so the local authority will allocate you a place at the nearest school that can take your daughter. That is likely to be an unpopular school and could be some distance from your home.

lovelymama Mon 03-Sep-12 20:19:03

welcome to England in advance! here are a few answers to your questions:

Out of the areas you have mentioned, Richmond/East Sheen are the nicest areas if a somewhat greener, cleaner London is important to you. It's still highly populated but pretty, middle class suburbia. It has good schools and certainly a good standard of living, as long as you're prepared to spend a fair amount on a house. catchment areas as small so you could phone the schools to check if any houses you have your eye on have historically been in the catchment.

Transport to London is excellent from Richmond, slower from East Sheen as it's on a slow train line. if the cycle is too far, your wife could take a fold on bike on the train half way.

my in-laws moved from the States to London last year and did have a few problems getting their kids in to school mid-term. The main problem is that you have to have a UK address before you can apply for schools. So if you move in in to your UK house, only then can you apply for schools and then they have to check where there are spaces. there may not be spaces in your preferred school. I'm not trying to be negative, it's just a bit of a delayed process. if you could time the move to be at the end of the US summer term/beginning of US summer holidays, you'd then have 3 months to get in to a house here and get your application processed before school starts in the UK in September. But that would be in an ideal world!

Oyher option for London isDulwich in South East London. beautiful, close to London. Nice family set up and lots to do, google Dulwich park.

Good luck if you go through with the move.

ongik Mon 03-Sep-12 20:43:13

Thanks to prh47 and lovelymama. Folding bike is an excellent idea. We prepare to pay up to $2000 pm for housing, if we could get into a good state school. I will check Dulwich. Lovelymama, if you don't mind, can you share little bit more about your in-laws when they first moved to London? Thank you so much.

ongik Mon 03-Sep-12 20:48:59

Sorry, we prepare to pay up to 2000 pounds pm for housing.

monkey42 Mon 03-Sep-12 21:28:35

I live in teddington ( also richmond borough) where we pay just under 2000 per month for a 4 bed family house with a small garden. A lot of people pay more than that even here. In richmond you can pay £5000 per month for something similar.

The schools in the borough are good, both state and private, but is an area where people move to certain streets in order to access the schools but you have to be very close indeed to get in, and that's for recpetion entry not mid year (ie where we live, about 1000m to get in)..

I have collagues who live in east sheen, it is not cheap but more affordable than richmond, and the state primaries are very good there.

good luck!

meditrina Mon 03-Sep-12 21:37:21

You will need to check your DD's school year. US 4th grade is (I believe) equivalent to UK year 5.

Are you going to move to London permanently, open-endedly, or for a set length posting? I was wondering if secondary schools might be the greater consideration.

meditrina Mon 03-Sep-12 21:48:04

Sorry - should have expanded a bit. In UK, Year 4 is 8/9 year olds (ie children having their 9th birthday on or after 1 September 2012 for the school year just beginning) and Year 5 is for 9/10 year olds. Year 6 (still in primary) is 10/11, then it is school transfer to secondary for Year 7.

lovelymama Mon 03-Sep-12 22:14:28

My in laws we used to a very nice life in Seattle - big house, land, drove everywhere, could park outside any shop they wanted to pop in to, 100 different supermarkets with no queues, a doctor who used to call them to see how the kids were getting on,a drive thru was a major shock for them not to have these things here. Trying to get in to a dentist nearly sent my sister in law crazy and she misses the convenience that America seems to offer in every part of life. But at least now she can walk wherever she wants to without being considered odd, she can wander down to our local pub and she has her wonderful sister in law around the corner. Ha

I think if you have realistic expectations about what England has to offer you will like it here. As monkey said, 2000 quid may get you something in East Sheen but probably not in Richmond. Check out Twickenham and Isleworth/St Margarets. i love Twickenham and it's much cheaper than Richmond but Not so crowded. Oh one more thing. When looking at your budget dont forget to add council tax to your list. on your budget and in a borough like Richmond it can be about £250 per month and this was a big shock to my SIL and they hadnt accounted for it. petrol, gas and electricity and insurance also seems to be more costly here too.

ongik Mon 03-Sep-12 22:43:47

Wow thanks for the quick responds. We probably going to be in London for 2-3 years, so secondary may be a consideration in the future. She just turn 9, so she is probably in year 4?
I have been to Europe, but not England. I am comfortable running around the city with public transportation, and seven-eleven size super market. However, cost off living is like going to the moon. If I rent a place (flat/house) for 2000, what other cost should I consider, and how much in average?

ps: what is council tax? Is that additional tax then what the gov. take out from your salary?

Kewcumber Mon 03-Sep-12 22:47:02

I live in the RIchmond area - my son goes to a good small state primary school (ages 5-11) even in our oversubscribed school there tends to be places for a 9 yr old as a proportion of people in the area are temporary like you. There is a tube in Kew and rIchmond and good trains and buses for commuting and lots of green space. Not sure about rents - will check.

Kewcumber Mon 03-Sep-12 22:49:11

Ah £2000 per month will only get you a 2 bed flat

sybilwibble Mon 03-Sep-12 23:48:50

No, if your DD is already 9, i.e. turned 9 between sept 1 2011 and aug 31 2012, then she will go into yr 5. So she will have 1 1/2 yrs at primary school and then move up to secondary school in Sept 2014.

Chocoholiday Tue 04-Sep-12 00:12:08

Try Blackheath - or surrounding areas like Lee and Hither Green, which are cheaper and still nice. Some good schools around and not too far to cycle into town.

BoerWarKids Tue 04-Sep-12 00:20:52

Look at Brockley/New Cross Gate/Forest Hill/Sydenham. They're all south-east London, good primaries and cheap grin

washedup Tue 04-Sep-12 08:59:18

Here we pay Council tax for local services, Income tax for national services. (very roughly) and 20% VAT for goods and services.
Details here: council tax

ongik Thu 06-Sep-12 02:44:30

OK thank you good People of England. I now have a better understanding.

Kewcumber Thu 06-Sep-12 11:07:39

You also need to think about whether you want to be near other american ex-pats. They tend to live in more expensive areas like Barnes, Richmond, Kew (as generally the company is paying). Hopefully language wont be a big problem so you may prefer to get a bigger house in a less popular area!

Kewcumber Thu 06-Sep-12 11:10:15

rents in Sheen (close to RIchmond Kew and Barnes) a little cheaper as it doesnt have a tube but does have a good station into waterloo and good buses. Also good schools and good local shops and parks.

ongik Thu 13-Sep-12 22:09:19

Thanks kewcumber. We are not looking for places that have a lot of Americans. We want to live like local. I did same more research and East Sheen seem is on top of our list so far.

Is it possible to bike during winter?

shattereddreams Thu 13-Sep-12 22:25:22

Yes in winter. Good bike gear is vital helmet fluros lights etc as often there are no cycle lanes. It needs nerves of steel to cycle in London.
I would check commuting costs are affordable in your budget as the roads here are nothing like US.

But your council tax pays for the roads to be gritted, heavy snow would be the only reason not to cycle (but the trains would fail in tha case!')
And waterproofs essential too. It rains a fair bit

sinclair Thu 13-Sep-12 22:26:59

Hi from Hammersmith (well, Shepherd's Bush) - i used to cycle into work in town for years in all weathers from the W12 and W14 postcodes - it's quick and there are cycle routes now on the main roads.

It is urban here rather than the more genteel feel of Richmond but you have the huge advantage of the fast and frequent Central line for getting into town when the bike isn't an option - or for family outings etc

What others have said about schools - you will get a place probably somewhere quite sought after from Y5 up as the movement then is all out of London/state but less between state schools.

My in-laws are in Toronto and can't believe that we walk everywhere, and how freaking expensive everything is, however on the plus side we point out that the doctor really is free and we get our shopping delivered.

London is a really fun place to live if you take advantage of everything it has to offer - parks/museums/theatre etc

disclaimer - no idea what rents are like here...

afussyphase Thu 13-Sep-12 23:03:40

Hi from Islington. I cycle about 8.5km each way, to the Chelsea area, and it's fine. From Islington you can get to central areas very easily and the schools are overall pretty good; parts of it are not too extortionately expensive. I used to live in the US and find that drivers here are more aware and that speeds are slow enough anyway that cycling's really not as bad as people make out. I really like it, actually. London's so mixed (I mean, mixed residential/commercial), with residential routes available just about everywhere. But 6-7 miles might take some serious time - there are just way more intersections, stops, delivery vans, lights (long ones if you're on a minor route), buses that are dangerous to pass, etc etc. You might want to visit and try the commutes from the various areas; commuting is a major part of life and you might have to decide whether another bedroom is worth an extra 1.5 hours a day or whatever... I agree though, London can be a lot of fun, hope you enjoy it here!

ongik Fri 14-Sep-12 02:43:05

Thank you for the input of biking. Is it common for students use bike to school?

One of the first place that my wife looked was Islington. However, after compering the rent and school with other places she decided that Islington is not the right area. I read on other post that Hammersmith has a good state school but very hard to get in. Sinclare and Afussyphase if it not to much trouble, could give your input on good state school on your area.

We know for sure that we are not going to own a car, so proximity to public transportation is vital when bikes are prohibited.

sinclair Fri 14-Sep-12 06:40:59

The system here is that you apply for admission to local schools once you have an address in the area - and then the Local Authority - in London this is the London Borough in which you are living - who administer admissions to all state schools in their area, will allocate you a school.

You can request a specific school or schools but realistically it is only worth selecting schools that you know have space - again the LA will tell you this, but none of this can happen until you have an address.

So in your situation i would find an area suits lifestyle/commute/budget and look at schools in more detail once you have narrowed down your search a bit.

To reassure you slightly round here i don't think you will struggle to get a Y5 place at a Govt rated Good school it that is what you want - many of them will have one or two vacancies by Y5.

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