Moving to the UK with Kids
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Moving to the UK with Kids
We are considering a move to Bristol, England. My husband has a
job offer. We don't know a whole lot about the area. We have 2
young kids (3 & 4). We need to know about pre-schools and
schools. What is it like to live in England? Is it kid friendly?
What is there to do with young kids? What is the cost of living
like? Everything seems so expensive. It seems like a great
opportunity to live abroad for awhile, but we'd love to get any
I'm from London originally but we just spent 2 years in Bristol before
come back to the bay area. I could say so much about the place, both
negative, that it would be much easier if you'd like to email me and we
Bristol is a pretty good place to be if you want to be in England. It is
a family friendly
city, diverse and alternative community minded, surrounded by lovely
and felt a very managable size. It's only 1 1/2 hrs from london on the
train. Cost of
living is high, but it really depends where you live in the city. I can
point you in the
direction of some family oriented neighborhoods. Schools are not great
secondary schools (high school) are notoriously bad, but may change
you have to afford to live in a good neighborhood to get into a good
overall I think schools are less inclined towards standardized testing
in the UK and
still manage to have arts, sports, etc. Our son went to the Streiner
there which has a very good reputation and which we loved, and which -
- is government subsidized up to 5 yrs old. In general nursery school
starts at 3 yrs
old and - imagine this - is free in the state schools. Primary school
starts in the
september of the yr your child turns 5. For me though it was hard living
there for a
few reasons; a long way from the coast, despite how it looks on a map.
It's a very
racially segregated city. A lot of grey skies and rain. I missed the
joy, energy and
optimism of bay area folk. Us Brits are much more reserved, overall. I
out (too expensive and not very child friendly, plus the food isn't
great). On the
other hand; fantastic media, real seasons, long vacations (5 weeks a
all of Europe at your doorstep, and genuine people - when you make a
with someone it really lasts. Oh, and good beer : )
I was just there last week. I spent 2 days in Portishead, just a
few minutes outside Bristol. Portishead has a lovely park and
lake with a playground, lots of ducks to be fed, lots of old men
sailing remote control sailboats, a path to walk around the lake.
There is a teacup ride there, too, and when we were there (on a
weekday) and inflatable slide. Bristol is beautiful. Amazing
bridge over a gorge. You may be happy to know that there is a
children's ER there. We had a very good experience there after
my daughter fell down a steep flight of stairs. There is a small
zoo just outside Bristol called Noah's Ark Zoo Farm.
It is very expensive. It seemed to me that it was ALMOST the
case that what they pay in pounds there, we pay in dollars here,
in other words, something that costs one pound there would cost
one dollar here, so everything is twice as expensive.
One thing that bothered me was the pervasiveness of smoking.
There are just a whole lot more people smoking everywhere there
than there are here.
I say go for it! Your kids are a perfect age to expose them to
new places and people without the challenge of separation you
would face if they were a bit older. When I was in junior high
school, I lived in England with my family due to a job transfer.
I think the hardest part of that for me was my age. I now love
England and have been back several times. Be prepared for re-
learning how to drive, a very different school system, school
uniforms, inability to find some favorite foods (or prohibitive
expense when you do find them), and potential loneliness for the
parent who isn't working, especially if that parent has to leave
a job here to make the move happen. Besides being a beautiful
place to explore in its own right, being in England means being
in Europe. Going to France can be a similar expense to going to
Yosemite for those of us in the Bay Area!
Greetings! We are a family moving to London in January, probably for a few years.
If anyone has suggestions about neighborhoods and especially schools, we'd be most
grateful. We have a child entering second grade in September. I know it is very
expensive there - we are also considering areas outside of London that are
commuting distance, such as Greenwich, if it means a better school. Where are the
best public schools? If we can afford to go private, which I am not sure we
can/will do, what are the best options? Many thanks for your help.
Ooooh, lucky you! London is one of our favorite places in the
world. It would be #1 on our list, if not for the poor exchange
rate! Husband has taught there twice on two different occasions;
lived there w/ two children for 6 mos. Would highly recommend
North London, off either the Hampstead or Belsize Park or Chalk
Farm tube stop. It's about 20min from London central, but a very
lovely area, albeit a bit posh. We had a rental in Hampstead,
postal code NW3, found that the schools were good, although the
class sizes were large (about 30+). We opted for a private
school (which I believe they call public) because of our
temporary stay,otherwise, the local school would have been fine.
Feel free to email me if you have more questions. It will be a
fabulous experience for you and your family! Cheers!
I also replied to the question about moving to Bristol, England.
Keep in mind that in England the name for public and private
schools is often reverse from here. What might be a private
school here is called a public school there. The school system
is quite different and if you prefer and can afford it, there
are ''American'' schools around.
My husband's job is relocating our family to London for 3 years.
We have an infant and a toddler, and are interested in finding a
child-friendly neighborhood in London. We're especially
interested in finding a place to live where we can walk to parks,
restaurants, shopping, etc. Also recommendations for childcare or
other activities to do with kids (I'll be home with the kids)
would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for any suggestions.
I am British and have just moved from London to Berkeley. I would
be happy for you to contact me by email to try to answer any
questions you have. You mention young children, but not whether
they will reach school age when you are in London. This of course
would be critical to your choice of neighbourhood, as will budget
for renting/buying a house. Other factors include whether you
would like to live near other ex-pats (specifically American) in
which case you should consider north London boroughs such as
Hampstead and St John's Wood.
I would urge to you look at the wonderful neighbourhood where we
still have a house: Dulwich, in South East London. It is very
leafy, with great houses, several huge parks, a good selection of
public and private schools and a lovely village-like centre. It
is very family friendly with all the resources that entails. It
is about 15 minutes by car to the City, 20 minutes West End and
only 10 minutes to both by overland commuter train -- it's not on
the tube, but nobody sensible would choose to commute by tube!
Do get in touch if you would like to chat.
Finding a neighborhood that meets your criteria is pretty easy - there are
loads. Most Londoners walk or use public transportation, so getting to all
amneties is usually doable. Driving in central London is actively
discouraged since one has to pay a fee to do so.
What narrows it down is your budget and your husband's commute. No
use recommending a particular borough if it means he's going to be
travelling for 2 hours, or if you can't afford it.
I assume that any company that can transfer a family for 3 years without
only one parent working to a city that has horrendously expensive
housing costs (even for locals) is going to make it worth your while.
Generally speaking, the further out you go from central London, the
cheaper it is.
But London is HUGE, and sometimes it's easier (and cheaper)
commute-wise to live hundreds of miles outside London and use one
direct overground train than live closer and rely on busses and tube.
How to start... Google.
Chat with locals to get a feeling of the character of each borough. Old
prejudices have changed, neighborhoods have been revived. Living
there is completely different than visiting, and you will find that your
neighborhood will indeed be your world since you will not be very
motivated to go into central London very often with small children...
But make the most of it and good luck!
Used to Live There
A few years ago, we spent 6mos in London w/ our two, then 4, 7.
Hampstead, just north of London, off the ''Hampstead'' stop,
Northern Line or 24(?) bus. Postal code ''NW3''. This is a
lovely, lovely, not to mention posh, neighborhood. It's very
convenient and NW3 schools rank highly. Would also recommend
the area around the ''Chalk Farm'' stop, Northern line, just south
of Hampstead. Both areas are an ez commute to London U. There
are tons of
Americans who move to Buckinghamshire, esp. since it is close to
the American School, but I think that area is too far from
London to be any fun. Figure out where you will be working and
from there, figure out what school(s) you want for your kids. We
had a wonderful experience, albeit a bit expensive. You'll have
a great time!! [I'd go again in a heartbeat]
We did not read your original posting. But we will move to
London, too, in December. We have a toddler and a baby and have
extensively researched housing, childcare and schooling issues
during the past months. The areas we have looked into most are
Twickenham, Ealing and Acton. We are also looking for a family
that moves the other direction to possibly swap electric
appliances and the like. Please contact us. Looking forward to talking to you.
We are considering a move to Bristol, England for my husband's
work and are looking for any advice on living abroad with small
kids (ages 1 1/2 and 3). We figure we will go for at least 3-5
years so they will start school there. Any experience with
Bristol? England? Or just generally advice on living abroad? This
is something we have always wanted to do and figure it is better
to go when the children are young. At the same time, I worry that
I will be isolated since I won't know anyone or be able to work
(thankfully they speak the same language!). My husband's schedule
will be demanding and will require travel so we'll be on our own
at times. Ideally, we would take the opportunity to travel as a
family but even that seems exhausting with young kids. We are
both excited and nervous about the possibility and appreciate any
We lived in England for about five years and I taught in an
elementary school there. Bristol is a lovely city. I haven't
lived there since I had my son, but lots of my friends have
small children. I think you will have a wonderful experience.
A city like Bristol is very child-friendly. A lot of pubs have
play areas and the schools for young children are very good.
Travelling should also be quite nice because you can travel
almost anywhere on a train. I always find train travel nice
with small kids because they are not so tied down to their
seats and you don't have the stress of driving or navigating.
There are lots of kid-friendly things to do if you seek them
out too -- berry picking, museums, walks. I never lived in
Bristol, but I have friends that do. I lived in London and
Oxford. If you have any specific questions feel free to e-mail
Greetings! We may be moving to London in a few months to stay
for a year. Any advice on affordable neighborhoods? Great
places for kids? We also need tips on schools, as we have a
child entering kindergarten next year. One of us would be
commuting to ''The City'' (financial district). Thanks for your
I lived in North London for six years, in West Hampstead.
Unfortunately, nothing in London is affordable any more, but
Northwest London--St. Johns Wood, West Hampstead, Hampstead,
Swiss Cottage--are all convenient to central London and the City
and all have heavy ex-pat populations--really critical in
meeting people in a short time (it takes MUCH longer to make
friends in England than in the U.S.). In particular, West
Hampstead has a Thameslink (main line) train stop, which is
convenient to the City and (generally) less crowded and faster
than the Tube. It also is close to St. Johns Wood, where the
American School is located. While we didn't have kids in London,
many friends did. If you're there for just one year, it's best
to keep them in American-style schooling. The British system is
just too different. Another plus: they're all close to Hampstead
Heath, which is glorious.
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