moving to the uk (perhaps... maybe... oh how i hope so!)

(52 Posts)

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Mr78 Wed 11-Sep-13 19:15:22

Hi to everybody, I'm new mumsnet and this is my first post.
First of all I'll present myself and later explain why I'm writing: I'm a 30 and something Italian, a very happy father of two (girl 4yo and boy almost 3yo) and married to a fantastic if somewhat tempestous woman ;-) but oh well, aren't we latins all like that? ;-)

The reason I'm writing is the very same I came across the site in the first instance and subscribed later. We currently live in Italy but I might have the possibility to be posted to London for work in the not-so-far future, it's not assured but it is a concrete possibility (and I pray oh how much I pray for it!).
To avoid crashing against aforementioned concrete I'm starting to gather some informations on living there. I'll be honest me and my better half are a bit scared (nothing major, just menial things like... she would have to quit work and start hunting for it when there, we are moving two kids, everything is bound to be different... simple things like that).

The first thing I'd like to ask is a suggestion on where to look to start my search for a house, many other questions will come in time but for the time being I'm just wondering on this.
Just to give you a bit of background my work would be based in two locations, the City (near lloyds) and Crawley, just south of London. We were thinking of a small town in Sussex, for the easy connections, but schooling is a big issue too -so location of good schools is to be taken into about too- and the idea of living in a soulless dormtown isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'd prefer some place with a bit of a historical town centre, not for any night life but... You know... I mean, I live in a very small town with just a small centre but in those roads there is only a couple of buldings that are less than a century old and most are older (I wonder if what I mean to say does come across or if I just sound like another of those complicated and petulant Italians... No please don't answer to this grin )
Any suggestion? Ideas? Advice? Tricks? Maps to " go get lost " country?
Thanks a lot for any help

lljkk Wed 11-Sep-13 21:42:01

You seriously need to consider the commute time, costs & hassle, too.

Xpatmama88 Wed 11-Sep-13 23:00:26

If this is your first posting as expat, I can imagine the excitement and all the uncertainties that mixed in. London is a great place to be, full of life. I don't think I will choose a small town and commute.
Hopefully, the company you work for will provide you with relocation agent to help you sorting out housing, and schooling, which is quite normal for expatriate. A look and see visit so you have an idea the areas with the housing allowances you are getting, and whether school fee is included, you can then look for independent school for your children.
It is important to let your wife choose the house( she needs to be happy with the choice and supportive of the move) it is not easy for her to be on her own with the children while you are far away, even though an hour plus each way commuting is not ideal.
I have been an expat wife for 17 years, to make this work you need to listen to her. And remember she give up a lot in order for you to persuade you career.

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 07:45:19

seriously need to consider the commute time, costs & hassle, too.

You are absolutely right, even though commuting is nothing new to me (doing it since almost 18 years, 1:30 mins in each direction), still it might be a major hassle for it adds to the time away from family.

One thing I must take into account though is that having two headquarters I am somewhat bound in the choice of places. I mean, Richmond might be the best city neighbourhood but going from there to Crawley takes so long as to make it impracticable.

magicstars Thu 12-Sep-13 07:54:15

Hi, if you don't mind commuting then have a look at Kingston upon Thames, Guildford & tonbridge wells.
All the best if your move goes ahead.

LIZS Thu 12-Sep-13 08:07:57

Bear in mind that Crawley is far from just south of London. It is a good 45-60 minutes away by train (depending which part you need to visit) Horsham is nice as long as you avoid some of the faceless modern estates and about 20 mins from Crawley but an hour and 10 at least from London. The towns on the train line between London and Three Bridges/Crawley are probably not going to meet your criteria in terms of size and style but would be more accessible and there are some nice villages within a 10 to 15 minute drive of the stations. Dorking or Haywards Heath/Lindfield might be possibilities too.

NicholasTeakozy Thu 12-Sep-13 08:10:11

As you're going to be working in London and Crawley I suggest you have a look at Horsham, it has direct trains to 3 London mainline stations and is just a few miles from Creepy. I like Horsham, it's naice

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 11:48:27

If this is your first posting as expat, I can imagine the excitement and all the uncertainties that mixed
You know that sensation you get when your rollercoaster car is nearing the so ever so slowly and you are there all "wow yes!" and "oh my, no please no!"?
That's it. Only heightened wink

London is a great place to be, full of life. I don't think I will choose a small town and commute.
That is one of the things I'm fretting over, I mean "I'm going to London only to bury myself in a small town? Am I that mental?" at the same time though
1. I must take into account commuting anyway (see my post above) so choice of neighbourhoods is limited by an extra factor beyond the usual costs/security equation
2. I'm not a big city boy, I grew up in small cities where i could see the lake (what lake? Ask Mr. Clooney... grin ) and mountains
3. We hear pretty scary stories about crime in London, I know the majority are tall stories or journalists exaggerations but still it seems blades are more common than brollies...
4. Schooling seems a big issue in the city, I've heard (well more read) stories like "they enrolled my boys in two different schools at the opposite corners of London and there wasn't a thing I could do now I'm delirious" "the school I've been assigned is a nightmare but i couldn't refuse it as no other place is free" and other such amenities...

Hopefully, the company you work for will provide you with relocation agent to help you sorting out housing, and schooling, which is quite normal for expatriate. A look and see visit so you have an idea the areas with the housing allowances you are getting, and whether school fee is included, you can then look for independent school for your children.It is important to let your wife choose the house( she needs to be happy with the choice and supportive of the move) it is not easy for her to be on her own with the children while you are far away, even though an hour plus each way commuting is not ideal.I have been an expat wife for 17 years, to make this work you need to listen to her. And remember she give up a lot in order for you to persuade you career.
I know and am grateful to her beyond what words can convey. She's a force of nature but this well be demanding for her and I want to make things as smooth as possible for her.

In all of this, let's hope it will indeed happen or I will feel so incredibly stupid! And that everything will go all right or I will feel so bad! (worry worry worry)

Boopear Thu 12-Sep-13 11:54:20

Horsham-Crawley commute takes about 20 mins (if you drive fast through the back roads wink) Schools great/housing not too expensive/about an hour into London on train. Very pleasant & historical town centre. And, yes, very naice .

JessieMcJessie Thu 12-Sep-13 12:15:33

Mr78 I am intrigued- by the way you write it sounds as if you have lived in the UK before. is that right? if so, where did you live and is there anything you learned from that experience which would influence your choices now?

Mr78, I live in Kingston upon Thames, which is lovely, and it's close to Richmond, which is also lovely, but I think the commute would be too long. There are so many lovely historic towns in the south east that you'll be spoilt for choice. Best of luck to you and your family.

Xpatmama88 Thu 12-Sep-13 13:27:55

The reason I suggest you to stay in London, actually is for your other half. As you mentioned, your job is split between the City, and Crawley, I assume you spend 2 days in one office, and the rest in the other. If you base in London, your wife can hop on the underground, and join you for lunch. And she can go to various places in London, visit museums etc. I have a lots of Italian friends, from what I'd seen, they all enjoy life, have big heart, and absolutely love their food. (I'm also jealous, that they all have beautiful olive skin). There are so many good restaurant and cafe, shopping, cinema, threatre, concerts... etc in London.
I know your concern about commuting, I guess your wife would prefer to know you only commute half the week, and not everyday of the week. And to be honest, I will drive to Crawley on the day you need to be there.
As for school, good thing of being an expat is you may have school fees paid for by the company, that give greater choices. (and you may not restrict only to state school), you can go for independent school or International school. And you children are still young, your 4 years old may start school, but 3 years old may still be in nursery. Great opportunity for them to learn English.
And if your wife is able to find a job, most likely will be based in London, and you can then consider child care, I guess it is easier for her to find a job in London than in a small town.
I know what you means about not a big city boy, I love all the Italian lakes, I lived in Switzerland for 5 years, and drove down to Italy for our summer holidays, the mountain, the lakes and all the fresh air! But with opportunity to explore a big city like London, isn't that exciting too.
London is a pretty safe place. Hopefully, your housing allowance will get you a nice place, get your HR/ relocation agent to provide advice on housing.
I think the chance for your wife to make friends, is also in London. You can register with the Italian ambassy in London. They can introduce other Italian expat in the City. (My Italian neighbour in Japan was linked with the ambassy, and she organised parties for newcomers every now and then)
Good thing is Italy is not too far from London, she can away go home to see family and also family and friends can come and visit.
Anyway, good luck with the move. And ask her where she would prefer to live, she is the one who stay in the house most of the time.

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 18:44:58

So basically two paths ahead:
1. London (advice on boroughs obviously more than welcome, I've read wonderful things on Stoke Newington, Richmond, Highgate, Chelsea, Dulwich and a few other but am a bit clueless myself)
2. Surrey/Sussex (we have votes for Kingston upon Thames, Guildford & tonbridge wells from magicstars, Horsham from Nicholas Teakozy and Boopear and Kingston again from Lyra)

Being the nice little bookworm that I am I ask: do you know of any good book on this issue? Hey, lightbulb moment! I could buy a tourist guide... Hmmm...

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 18:48:53

@ Xpatmama, you are slowly tilting the scales...

Kingston isn't in Surrey wink

LIZS Thu 12-Sep-13 18:51:09

but also you need to know what the financial package is worth and inclusive of , renting in London is very pricey but if you have to fund travel commuting may be more. What happened to my suggestions ... envy?

All those parts of London you list are very expensive.

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 18:57:17

@ JessieMacJessie, unfortunately no, sorry, never lived in UK.
That's the treason I appealed to the community, I'd rather have some first hand advice from residents than making any choice only on the basis of prejudices formed from half a continent away and first impressions after a brief visit (even though I've always believed that guts never lie)

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 19:04:51

Whooops! Sorry LIZS! blush
Point 2.bis. Surrey/Sussex (we have votes for Kingston upon Thames, Guildford & tonbridge wells from magicstars; Horsham from Nicholas Teakozy; Boopear and Kingston again from Lyra; and another vote for Horsham plus Dorking or Haywards Heath/Lindfieldfrom LIZS -to whom I present my apologies)

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 19:07:21

@ Lyra, you see why I need that guide smile
So little I know... confused

magicstars Thu 12-Sep-13 20:57:16

Kingston upon Thames was voted as one of the happiest places to live in and around London. I think the leafier, more family friendly area is around Richmond park. No doubt it is also v.pricey.

magicstars Thu 12-Sep-13 21:03:27

Or if you have a big budget, look at Wimbledon. Plenty of city folk Commute from there, nice for families but very expensive.

SuiGeneris Thu 12-Sep-13 21:42:56

Mr78, listen to a countrywoman who has lived in the UK for almost 15 years, both London and countryside. AVOID the country (Guildford, Dorking, whatever), esp if your wife is giving up her job to follow you. You do not say what she does, but finding decent work in the country when you are a foreigner is more difficult, as is making friends.

Check out Battersea/Clapham Junction/Tooting/Clapham South: convenient for the City, good schools, lots of international families and near Clapham Junction, which has lots of trains for the south.

Dulwich is very pretty but less good for the City, less well-linked to the centre and more expensive.

As others have said, check out your package and bear in mind that nursery and school fees are much, much more expensive than in Italy (15k per year per child is not unusual).

Mr78 Thu 12-Sep-13 21:44:12

Hmmm sadly budget is definitely not a non-problem, the house in Italy can't be sold and i don't know whether there will be a housing allowance

What about Reigate? Any ideas on it?

Oh how i want that guide...

JessieMcJessie Fri 13-Sep-13 05:51:07

So where did you pick up your very colloquial English?

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