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Chicago to London with child

111 replies

Shrh4veus1 · 03/10/2018 18:03

Hi everyone,

I've wanted to move to Europe for several years and I'm finally getting the opportunity. I'm not getting the traditional expat package with paid housing and school for my 11 year old daughter.

I've interviewed for several international positions over the years and have either turned them down due to too much travel or didn't get an offer. Last time I interviewed for this same position was about 6 months ago and would have been offered 90k GBP.

Things are different this time. The hiring manager came to me. Two of his best people are moving into different positions and he wants someone experienced to fill the gap. In our first conversation I told him 90k wasn't going to be enough. He came back a day later and said 108k. I told him I just don't want to move there and worry about money when I don't think twice about spending money now. He proposed I come up with a number and he'll "go to bat" for me but to make sure the number I give him is right, because he's only going to do it once.

If we move to London, I'd like to rent a two story house with at least 2 double bedrooms, 1 bath, and a private yard (I'd REALLY like 3 beds, 2 baths - this is downsizing from what we have now. I know it's larger than what most people can afford, or even find, in or around London) in a good secondary school area and an excellent soccer/football program.

My office would be in central London near the Liverpool Street Station and my customers would be all around London. I currently make 150k USD in Chicago. I don't understand why salaries are so much lower in London when the cost of living is so much higher.

I'm looking to you guys to suggest some great neighborhoods and what you think it would cost to live in that neighborhood.

It would be great if comments could be like: You should look at Hampstead and you'll need X amount of GBP to live there comfortably or Richmond and you'll need this amount, etc.

I look forward to all of thoughts and suggestions!

OP posts:

1Wanda1 · 03/10/2018 19:01

There is an American school in Cobham (easily commutable to London). It's very expensive though.


LeftRightCentre · 03/10/2018 19:03

You might get a better response if you remembered people are giving you free advice out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than addressing them like underlings who are behind schedule on a project.

Indeed. Quite the tone there, Sh. It doesn't go over here well, just a little tip when soliciting advice and help.


pumkinspicetime · 03/10/2018 19:05

An American colleague put her DC in a British school and was taken aback by how different the system was, eg, clear uniform policy and how different the content of the work was. Have you checked the differences between the two school systems and are you happy with them?


Miyajima98 · 03/10/2018 19:07

Hi OP,

I live in London and my DP works in Canary Wharf and did work in the city for a number of years. We live in a flat with a balcony. I think you have rightly identified that your wish list is a bit of a push for anywhere central. However Liverpool Street is very convenient. Therefore I agree with the pp who suggested east / Essex area. It is slightly less cosmopolitan as the pp said, but you get a lot more space for your money, green spaces and family activities. I think it also depends on your lifestyle (apart from having a daughter) and what you're interested in.

Have a look at the Central Line and check out areas on the edge of London such as South Woodford. The Overground is also a good option for access to the City and the commute is generally more pleasant with more spacious air conditioned trains. Walthamstow is one option, but it is getting v expensive as it has a trendy 'village', and the crime is not great imo, though Walthamstow School of Girls is v popular. Clapton is a part of Hackney that is a lot cheaper than some parts of Hackney, and popular with families, again with a girls school. These areas are within easy access of the Olympic Park in Stratford where there are lots of sports activities for your daughter.

Beyond East London, lots of families head to South London where there is a gap in the tube network and therefore property is cheaper to rent and buy. Places like Streatham, West Norwood or Brockley are popular and worth investigating - again lots of green space and families but transport is not as easy. Streatham has various national rail stations with trains into the City but often has delays so you would need to plan your journey and head early. The other two are on the Overgound but you would need to change lines.

Look on or to check property / rental prices. But yes, do factor in council tax on top of rent.

Here's some info on girls'


Stupomax · 03/10/2018 19:10

If you make over £70k you will pay tax in the U.S. as well as the U.K.

I think you're thinking of the foreign earned income exclusion? There's also the foreign earned tax credit, and the fact that the UK has a tax treaty with the US to avoid double taxation, and as UK tax rates are generally higher than US tax rates, you'll generally find that if you've paid taxes in the UK then you're not liable in the US.

As others have already said... it's complex.

We have never had to pay US taxes when earning in the UK and we've earned well over £70k at times.


7salmonswimming · 03/10/2018 19:11

Your request is losing focus because it’s a woolly request. You may be able to ask this question for Chicago, but it doesn’t work like that for London and environs. You’ll probably find that a lot of what applies in Chicago doesn’t apply to London...

If Friday is a hard deadline, ask for £160k plus an accountant to help you with your taxes. They’re a fucking nightmare.

Then you do your own research. Randoms on the internet aren’t going to know what you mean by “good secondary school”. Schooling dictates a lot for Londoners.

Off bat, I’d have suggested you move to St John’s Wood for the American school. But on £150k you’d get a 2-bed apt, maybe with a yard, and a lifestyle where you won’t have to mind which supermarket you shop at. I say the American school because it doesn’t sound like you’ve the first clue how English education works.

Have you looked into visas/work permits? Health insurance? Repatriation costs?

Sorry, but you need to do your homework. And perhaps lose the chippiness...


GreyCloudsToday · 03/10/2018 19:18

  1. Will you be moving back to Chicago before your kid finishes school? If yes, you need to pay privately for an American school which will cost a lot. You need to look up these schools and pick an area nearby that you can afford after school fees.

2. Do you want to live IN London, or in a commuter town? Liverpool St is ideal for commuting - what's the max time you would travel? What's your neighbourhood in Chicago like? Is it super middle class with chi chi shops and cafes? Or is it diverse up and coming? London is huge and neighbourhoods are vastly different. Give us more info so we can help you.

LeftRightCentre · 03/10/2018 19:21

The listing for rentals won't usually tell you how much the council tax is, just the band. You might then need to look up on the council's website how much the tax is. You will need to pay this in addition to the rent unless it's specifically stated the council tax is included in the rent (which I've actually never seen myself).


CheesyMother · 03/10/2018 19:26

What are you wanting to get from a move to London? Just to love somewhere different? To experience urban London living? To live in London relatively centrally but a bit more residential than the centre?

London is a massive city and it's very diverse. You'll get a completely different experience living in different areas of it, and the costs will be vastly different too.

I'm an east Londoner and love it round here, but it's not for everyone. Liverpool St is very easy to get to for me though!

As others have said, the main thing you need to decide is whether or not you need to be sending your daughter to an American school - if you do then that will vastly limit your options of where it is practical to live.


juneau · 03/10/2018 19:26

Great advice from salmon above and OP, I know you say you've always wanted to live here, but have you ever been to the UK? Spoken to anyone who's made a similar move? Done any homework at all? I ask because your questions are naive, at best, and remind me of the question: 'How long is a piece of string?'

London is vast and full of nice neighbourhoods - Mayfair, Hampstead, etc - none of which you could afford to live in. Often those nice neighbourhoods are cheek by jowl with rough housing estates too - so be careful where you commit to without seeing it first (I used to live on a lovely street in Battersea, which just happened to have a crack den in the estate opposite and I was mugged at the bus stop by one of its denizens).

So let's be realistic. Most of your colleagues, if they have kids, will probably live outside London and commute in, because no-one on a salary of approx. £100k can afford to live in a nice house in a nice area with great schools that actually have spaces available for families who turn up mid-year - the British school system just doesn't work like that. Good schools in nice areas all tend to be over-subscribed and your chance of getting your DD in at the last minute are nil.

So where are your colleagues likely to live? For Liverpool Street, I would guess that many of them live in places like Bishops Stortford and in towns along the commuter lines into Essex. A website like this details which lines run into Liverpool Street: Search along those lines for the names of towns and then do a bit of digging. Rightmove will give you an idea of rental prices and MN can answer specific questions, along the lines of 'What is Colchester like and where would I need to live to have a chance of getting my DC into X school?'


Shrh4veus1 · 03/10/2018 20:01

Apologies for the "chippiness". I wasn't trying to be harsh in anyway, I am just trying to collect specific information.

I do not know how secondary schools work, but I have an idea for the immediate need - there are grammar and compulsory options that you apply to in primary school. We've missed applying to these schools during primary so here we are.

"Have you looked into visas/work permits? Health insurance? Repatriation costs? " - my company is taking care of all of these.

We spent a month in London this summer, but I wasn't considering moving there at that time so we weren't considering where we might live. We had an Airbnb in Hampstead and spent most of the time in London or further away with train trips to places like Stonehenge, Dover Castle, etc. We did not really explore the commuter towns around London which is likely where we'd end up living.

I'm willing to commute using public transportation. I'm not ready to drive in the UK. I'd like to keep it under 30 minutes if possible but would be willing to go up to an hour if it means we'd be more comfortable. We currently live in a commuter town about 45 minutes away from Chicago that is very nice.

Areas I'm currently considering are: Richmond Upon Thames, Hampstead, St. Albans.

A few others have been mentioned here that I will take a closer look at. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions. Thank you.

OP posts:

Eliza9917 · 03/10/2018 20:08

Bishops Stortford is nice (or was when I lived in London) and the train line goes straight in to Liverpool Street.

I'd look at areas on one of those trainlines.

Cheshunt and Hertfordshire are nice too.

No idea about schools.


Kay2705 · 03/10/2018 20:13

OP St Albans is quite far away so wouldn't be in your commute range. I'd say consider Greenwich and deptford area 30 mins or so you could be in Liverpool Street


Kay2705 · 03/10/2018 20:16

I'd also say check what's on the DLR Route as you can get the dlr to bank and walk to Liverpool Street. So areas like shadwell, Canning Town , Stratford etc


Enjoli · 03/10/2018 20:23

Ask for £108K + school fees as a relocation benefit. Send her to the American School, I'm sure they do soccer.

Forget the 2 story house thing

Get a flat in St John's Wood

Enjoy the museums and culture instead of a big rented house with a garden


LIZS · 03/10/2018 20:24

Also Crossrail will eventually open up direct access from West London and beyond to Liverpool Street, as well as East. How often would you need to be in the office?


LIZS · 03/10/2018 20:25

Also Crossrail will eventually open up direct access from West London and beyond to Liverpool Street, as well as East. How often would you need to be in the office?


bbcessex · 03/10/2018 20:30

It’s a big step, OP, but good on you.

Couple of posters have mentioned Bishops Stortford; that’s a nice place. You’d get a really nice 2 bed rental with a garden for approx £1200 there.

I’m not sure if exact train costs, but you could expect to pay around £375 upwards per month for commute to Liverpool Street.

Council tax, water, gas, electric etc probably another £500-£600 per month.

Food, maybe £500 per month?

I’d suggest private school / independent school is key. Bishops Stortford College is private - I think , non boarder, you’re looking in the region of £1,400 per month for that.

Uniform, trips, spends, etc - another £200 per month at least.

I think you need to clear around £5,500 / £6,000 per month for it to be a worry-free experience.


Stupomax · 03/10/2018 20:35

Ask for £108K + school fees as a relocation benefit. Send her to the American School, I'm sure they do soccer. Forget the 2 story house thing. Get a flat in St John's Wood. Enjoy the museums and culture instead of a big rented house with a garden.

I'd do this too.

Hampstead is ridiculously expensive.

Living in a house somewhere outskirty seems to miss the point of being in London a bit.

You can have fun living in St John's Wood, it's easy to get places, it's lovely in itself. Your daughter could walk to school.

You can go to Regent's Park or Hampstead Heath whenever you want some outside time.

Shit, I'm talking myself into moving back to London.


1Wanda1 · 03/10/2018 20:35

St Albans is 20 minutes direct into King's Cross! It's not far away at all!


crumpet · 03/10/2018 20:39

What are your childcare requirements - is this a factor?


pumkinspicetime · 03/10/2018 20:41

St Albans is lovely we spent a year there when dc where small. I don't know what state schools there are like.

Given your dc's age I would agree with getting American School fees covered in relocation and renting a flat in St. John's.

Herts is lovely but without a car you are going to be pretty restricted. In central London it won't matter so much. But like Chicago if you want to live in the center you really need a private school.

Also your dc is a little old to be messing with her education, I say this as someone who put their dc in another country's education system for a few years.


pumkinspicetime · 03/10/2018 20:43

Also Brits are less transactional in their relationships normally than their US counterparts so more superficial politeness is often needed.


Fredthefrog · 03/10/2018 20:44

Richmond would be a terrible commute and I think a house in Hampstead would an put of your price range. I'd listen to the advice to look at trains in to Liverpool street.
School - sounds like you will struggle to get your daughter in popular 'good schools so look for private.


MingaTurtle · 03/10/2018 21:16

But she’d have to get from Kings Cross to Liverpool Street. It’s easy to lose time by having to change from overground to underground. I think the total journey time from St Albans to Liverpool Street would exceed 30 minutes. Having one direct train to Liverpool Street would be very advantageous.

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