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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:

Cuddlykitten123 · 03/10/2018 21:32

Do consider that our schools do not have transport; will you/your daughter be ok making her own way to/from school or to on foot or via public transport in a new area in a new country?
Also schools do not tend to have organised after school activities at secondary the way American schools appear to. Most activities are via private organisations with no affiliations to a school so you/she would need to get to them too.


LeftRightCentre · 03/10/2018 22:35

Yes, that's a salient point, Cuddly. Your DD will be expected to make her own way to and from school if you will not be taking you. Mine were catching the bus on their own by age 11/secondary school.


batshite1 · 03/10/2018 22:42

I’d said minimum 150k to allow for private schools if needed & because you want a similar standard of living to what you have now.


7salmonswimming · 03/10/2018 22:46

If you’re wanting a 30-60 minute commute to Liverpool Street, St Albans won’t work (and you’ll likely need a car to get to the expensive station anyway). You’ll also be appallingly dependent on the trains.

Hampstead would work, and is only up the road from SJW, but for £150k (minus school fees) you will get an okay 2 bed apt. You’d walk or take your DD to school on the bus, then walk to SJW tube station for the jubilee line, changing at Baker St. An hour will be pushing it, but if everything runs smoothly you’ll be ok. You may as well look at Swiss Cottage, Belsize Park and St John’s Wood. They’re all close to each other (more or less).

Account financially for after school clubs. They’re not a “thing” in the UK as much as they are here. The expectation is often still that children have two parents, only one of whom works.

Forget Richmond. It’s too far away, too expensive, and the better closer schools won’t have space for your DD.

Keep asking specific questions and we will provide the answers we can give. Brits don’t like chippiness, but they love feeling helpful!


MiniMaxi · 03/10/2018 22:48

Agree with previous suggestion of the American school in St John’s Wood. No idea what fees are but London private secondaries are usually around 25-30k a year I think. Plus all the extras other people have mentioned. Definitely push for that to be an addition to your package.

In terms of where to live, SJW is a fancy part of town. You might get a bit more for your money somewhere like West Hampstead or around Finchley Road tube station (on the jubilee line one/two stops from SJW). NB both those places (and pretty much all the most desirable parts of NW London) you’re looking at rent of around £2.5k per month for a two bed apartment.

Hampstead itself is likely to be too ££ I think but you could look around Gospel Oak or Kentish Town. They are more urban though - depends if that bothers you.

Richmond would be a long commute to Liverpool St and is also expensive. If you don’t mind the commute and want to be near the river, look at Teddington and Twickenham as you’ll get more for your money (they are on the train line into Waterloo but not the tube).

Otherwise the previous suggestion re looking at places on the direct line into Liverpool St is a good one. Or stops along the train line that runs into Moorgate from Welwyn via Alexandra Palace and Old St.


MiniMaxi · 03/10/2018 22:52

PS I would say £150k with school fees on top to be comfortable


lily1110 · 03/10/2018 23:01

Richmond is a lovely place to live and Kew is also lovely with plenty of good surrounding schools, easy access to museums etc and plenty of green spaces. We live here comfortably on a combined income of 110k but I’m not in the higher tax bracket and we own our own property - we live in a 3 bed house with a garden and our mortgage is £1600 per month where as to rent I think it might be more like £2400 if not higher. Most schools in the area also offer reasonably priced aftercare which is handy.


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 09:50

Sawbridgeworth, Cambridge, Newmarket are all very nice, as is Haverhill. All depends on how long you want to commute for.


PancakesAndMapleSyrup · 04/10/2018 10:14

Another option for you would be Cambridge. It's a lovely city and 52mins on the train to Liverpool st or kings x. I would ask them for £140k plus school fees and an accountant. (These can be written off by them as expenses)
Saying all that what actually is your role? I ask as it would be easier to know if what they have offered you is in line with what others are paid for similar roles and thus asking for what I've put above would be way out.


DontCallMeCharlotte · 04/10/2018 10:29

This might be useful. You can research areas and train times etc (


juneau · 04/10/2018 11:29

St Albans is not on the line into Liverpool Street, so I wouldn't bother looking there. If you want a 30-min or less commute that really doesn't give you a very large search area, and it certainly doesn't include St Albans, which would involve travel to station, travel from St Albans to St Pancras, tube to Liverpool Street and then walk to work. As I said before, look at the lines with direct trains into Liverpool Street and look along those commuter lines (not forgetting the Central line and London Overground).


jay55 · 04/10/2018 12:19

If you are coming in to Liverpool Street then you need to look at living in Essex, lots of good trains. Cheaper housing and good school options.


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 12:23

I've heard the c2c (into and out of Essex) is absolutely horrendous so try to avoid that line.


Enjoli · 04/10/2018 12:32

Remember to factor in your transport costs, which can be significant in the UK. Delays and strikes are also an issue.

The opportunity cost of the commute will also be significant for you and your daughter both. I worry about her being too far away to get together with new friends etc.


SlackerMum1 · 04/10/2018 12:35

Have a look at areas along the east London line - close in places like Surrey Quays and Canada Water are central and provide easy access to Liverpool Street (shoreditch high st) plus good private schools in the city and Blackheath. Further afield places like Sydenham are family friendly and the the girls high school is extremely sought after. Also consider places along the new cross rail line - this will provide very fast access from places in east London like forest gate. Basically most Londoners work out their best transport links for their job and work out along the line to the preferred place they can afford! Check out Rightmove website for up to date info on prices and availability - you can search by proximity to the station of your choice.


DontCallMeCharlotte · 04/10/2018 12:51

I've heard the c2c (into and out of Essex) is absolutely horrendous so try to avoid that line

Very true but compared to Southern, C2C is like having a personal chauffeur 😁


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 15:14


Shrh4veus1 · 04/10/2018 15:26

Any work travel related costs, including to customers or the office, would be covered by my company.
I work in IT security.

My daughter plays soccer for a club today and on the Olympic Development team (which is why it's such a big deal to find the best club in the area), not through the school so that will be something we'll be familiar with.

I'm typically home to take her to school and pick her up from school.

She doesn't currently wear a uniform but she has in the past.

What is the C2C line?

It sounds like Stratford and out towards Essex is where I should focus my search.

You have all been so great! Thank you!!!

OP posts:

LIZS · 04/10/2018 15:39

It would be unusual to have travel to normal place of work covered in addition. You should also bear in mind that public transport to places out of town centres (such as out of town office complexes) is often sporadic and kids usually rely on parents to drive them to clubs and sports grounds after school and at weekends.


Shrh4veus1 · 04/10/2018 15:43

@Lizs - my primary work location would be a home office so leaving the house for work counts as an expense.

OP posts:

citykat · 04/10/2018 15:44

C2c is a train line that goes from Fenchurch Street Station in London east towards Grays/Stanford/Basildon which while good value may not be what you are looking for, then to Leigh and Thorpe Bay which might be.
But if your office is at Liverpool Street then you want a place on one of those train lines so Greater Anglia towards Shenfield, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Colchester or Billericay and Rayleigh or north towards Chingford. Liverpool Street is a major travel hub with many routes out east and northwards.


LIZS · 04/10/2018 15:47

So you need 3 beds or 2 reception rooms to accommodate a home office?


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 15:53

The c2c line is the main line that runs through Essex in to Liverpool Street.

Before considering Essex I'd seriously consider Hertfordshire first. I really didn't hear good things about that line when I was looking into moving to Essex.


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 15:57

Also, depending on where you go you could get the stansted express which would decrease your commute time. It used to run every 15mins and into the early hours of the morning but I'm not sure that it does anymore, since it was taken over by National Express I believe.

Plus, because the stansted express runs on that line they keep it running a bit better than the seven sisters line, when possible.


anniehm · 04/10/2018 16:00

Housing is small if you want to live centrally, east London is most convenient for Liverpool Street but it's tiny houses or flats, very multicultural,very urban. Schools aren't bad in London to be honest but the best state schools will be full because you will be coming into an existing year group, private schools cost circa £15000 a year. We don't have sports programmes like in the USA, all kids get to do pe, and most schools have teams who compete with other schools - those who take it seriously join a community club, girls tend to play Sunday mornings with a practice during the week. Another option with Liverpool Street as an office location is further out into Greater London, Essex etc you'll get a good sized house, garden, garage etc but train tickets are expensive (don't even think about commuting by car).

We've lived both sides of the Atlantic and our tiny houses will be a shock to you - our two bed apartment in Seattle was bigger than our three bed house here including the stairs for half the price (prices have gone up a lot now). We have left London, can earn the same wages and have a better standard of living elsewhere

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