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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:

RoboticSealpup · 04/10/2018 16:01

I don't recommend commuting from outside London. Even though rents are lower, public transport is extremely expensive so you don't actually save that much.

There's quite apart from the fact that anyone with a slightly different accent gets treated with suspicion. Most of these places voted Brexit because they don't like foreigners much.


LeftRightCentre · 04/10/2018 16:08

It's just such a huge decision to make in such a small time frame. If it were just you, it'd be easy enough, but with a secondary-school aged child it's a different kettle of fish entirely. And yes, it's looking like a no-deal Brexit is increasingly likely. No one really understands the real ramifications of this but it may well mean the economy contracts quite a lot.


anniehm · 04/10/2018 16:12

The best football option would be a development team for a professional club, you'll need to research which have girls squads as not all do. They have try outs in June/July but with a reference from her current coach they might make an exception.


BigChocFrenzy · 04/10/2018 16:13

The 2 or 3 bed places in the UK are tiny compared to what many Americans are used to,
so do check online to get an idea of the size of rooms and garden in your preferred area

Feedback from former US colleagues indicates that to have a comparable standard of accommodation, space etc

  • assuming 3 bed+2 bath - is £200k p.a. which would include school fees

juneau · 04/10/2018 16:18

Before considering Essex I'd seriously consider Hertfordshire first.

Cheshunt is a nice town and that's 30 mins from Liverpool Street. Ware is 45 mins and Hertford (East) is 50 mins - so those might be too long for the OP to consider. I lived in Hertford for a bit though and it's a lovely town, as is Ware.

And don't worry about being an American in Herts - it's very friendly here and there are lots of people from other places - inc. the USA. I should know, I'm married to one and we've lived here for 9 years.


juneau · 04/10/2018 16:25

Sorry - just realised I confused Cheshunt and Chesham Grin. Chesham is nice, I've no idea what Cheshunt is like!


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 16:29

Cheshunt is alright. But it's next to Enfield.

Although the other side of Enfield is very nice, Southgate might be an option.


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 16:30

I loved living in Southgate. I lived on chase side, 10 mins from the tube station. There's proably a few nice private schools around there too, there's one up nearer to chicken shed.


LIZS · 04/10/2018 16:36

Is Chesham not in Bucks, with selective grammar schools and secondary modern schools?

Disagree that an American accent would be viewed with suspicion in suburbia! If elite soccer is a potential deal breaker you really need to explore if and how she could access an FA training scheme. Olympic competition is not the focus at grassroots level.


Shrh4veus1 · 04/10/2018 16:36

A dedicated office room would be nice, but I have one now that I've never used so it's not the biggest deal if I have a dedicate office space.

Eliza - what did you hear that was bad about the line to Essex? hot? crowded? cancellations? dangerous?

OP posts:

LIZS · 04/10/2018 16:41

Given that room sizes are likely to be smaller than you are used to you may be grateful of a dedicated room!


QueenOfToast · 04/10/2018 16:49

I would add to the recommendations for Hertford and Ware. They both have direct train lines into Liverpool Street and are very nice towns. Properties within walking distance of the station are more expensive, so you would get better value for money if you were prepared to drive. This one is nice at £2,500pcm and is walking distance to the stations in Hertford.

There are good state schools in that part of Hertfordshire, but you could also consider a couple of private schools and

Good luck with your decision.


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 16:59

Eliza - what did you hear that was bad about the line to Essex? hot? crowded? cancellations? dangerous?

It just never seemed to run and when it did, it was delayed. As a pp said, its not as bad as Southern Rail but they're on the other side of London.


Eliza9917 · 04/10/2018 17:01

I'd 3rd looking at Ware. I nearly moved there once. I looked at a flat above the shops on the first parade along from the train station, and just - literally, just - around the corner there's a really lovely river.


LIZS · 04/10/2018 17:07

Given that the City is not large you could also look along the Thameslink line which runs North-South via Kings Cross and London Bridge, with stations in the City from which you could walk towards Liverpool St (or take a cab) . Not a hugely reliable or comfortable service ( but then where is?!) although that has improved recently but as long as you don't live too far out there are plenty of trains. Btw if you go into London what are your plans for dd before and after school. The school day here typically runs from 8:30/8:45 to 3:30 ish.


PestoSurfissimos · 04/10/2018 17:08

Ware is indeed lovely & has the bonus of having a very good all girls state school -



pumkinspicetime · 04/10/2018 17:34

All commuter trains are hot in summer, there is very little air conditioning in the UK, very crowded and expensive. They are not dangerous, at least certainly not by Chicago standards.
It would be unusual in the UK to work full time and drop off and collect DC on a daily basis.
I would check possible football options early on in the area search, getting by public transport early on a Sunday morning for example might be challenging if you are out in Herts.


lexi727 · 04/10/2018 17:41

Have you considered Essex? I live just outside Basildon. DH commutes to London everyday, train journey around 35 mins which is very doable. Rent would be no more than £1500 (probably less, haven't rented in a long while) for what you're looking for. £108k would go much further there than in London, but like PP have said you need to consider tax rates.


lexi727 · 04/10/2018 17:43

Also, far better choice of schools.


KoshaMangsho · 04/10/2018 17:46

I would focus on schooling. I have lived in the US. I AM British and have had two kids in school in the UK and now we are in NYC for a 4 year expat deal. So been there and done that.
The schooling is v different. Among other things, kids start a whole year earlier so there is a little catching up to do although by 11 the playing field has levelled. State secondaries in London are so so (whereas there are excellent primaries). Find a good secondary school and rent in the catchment would be my advice.
It is a big big big change. Having lived in the US, coming back here after a looooong stint in the UK, I have been reminded about how entirely different everything is.


HundredMilesAnHour · 04/10/2018 17:49

The football question could be your biggest challenge and I would suggest you discuss UK connections with your daughter's coach asap. For example, Arsenal is one of the best academies that admit girls but they have some fairly hefty restrictions other than the level of actual talent/skills. For example, players must either be English nationals (or have a parent that is an English national) or have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before trying out. They also have restrictions re. distance lived from the training ground. If continuing her football is a dealbreaker for you/her, you need to investigate this in depth asap.

(A good friend's daughter plays for England - in her teenage age group - and this is where the above info has come from).


lexi727 · 04/10/2018 17:59

@RoboticSealpup DH pays just over £2k for his season ticket from Essex-London. For the house we have in Essex it would be far more than £2k extra a year to live in the equivalent in London!


RoboticSealpup · 04/10/2018 20:56

Id 3rd looking at Ware.

Shock Don't do it, OP!!! Lived there for two years and ran screaming back to London.


citykat · 04/10/2018 21:17

Eliza c2c does not routinely run into Liverpool Street. In runs into Fenchurch Street. It goes into Liverpool Street sometimes at weekends or when there's engineering work. Fenchurch Street station serves a different set of Essex towns to the line that runs out of Liverpool Street.


KoshaMangsho · 04/10/2018 22:09

I think you need to calculate 3K for rent+ 2K for school fees plus 3K for everything else. Assuming you are within the Oyster zone. Then that’s what 96K a year. So based on the tax rate, I would ask for double or just under. (The 3K in living expenses with no commute is generous). So ask for 180K and see where you end up.

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