Moving to London from NYC

Dec 21st, 2006, 07:38 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 197
Yes, Audere is correct, Foxtons are well know for being dodgy but a lot of industries in Britain are, unlike other countries, unregulated and real estate is one of them. However, their website is excellent for getting an idea on what's out there and is good for a browse
endlessummer is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 09:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3
Thanks for all your replies. I did post in a hurry but the facts I had then are really still the same now. My husbands firm is American and newly opening in London. So really they are no help because they don't know anything themselves.

I did mean 400 pound and not dollars. Schools dont matter as yet to us. We would prefer to live in central London. I was looking at Notting Hill because I lived there when I was very young and that's the tip my dad gave me. Is it still nice?

I'm confused about the sq footage on some of these places. Is 500 sq ft. really possible for a two bedroom? Also, whats this about having to pay the taxes on the flat? Is rent paid once monthly or some other form?

I looked at some agents but the seem to concentrate on specific areas. Can I get a few of them? And what area is Little Venice? Is that close by?

Sorry for bombarding with the q's. Thanks again for all your help. I will contact the American women's group you mentioned but I would also like friends with other backgrounds. I won't work so how would that happen? I feel like a dork asking how to make friends but ah well.

thanks again.
alchemistee is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Is 500 sq ft. really possible for a two bedroom?

a 'double bedroom' means that a double bed can fit in it with just enough room to walk around it. a single bedroom means the same but with a single bed. obviously some are some bedrooms that are bigger but what i describe is the norm for many places. forget about a place to hang your clothes.

so yes, it is possible and about right for many places.

council tax is paid monthly, 10 months out of the year (or you can pay ahead but usually it's deducted from your account monthly). budget roughly £200/month. although it can be more or less depending on the 'band' of the property. the renter almost always pays this occupancy tax....with the exception of very short term lets when the owner pays.

i don't like notting hill. i don't find the transport links very good and i just generally don't care for the feel of it. just my are lovely and parts are crap.

and yes, stay away from foxtons. you can tell a foxton estate agent from a mile away...

22 year old male
highlights in hair with a very trendy cut (but at the point when it becomes mainstream in the chav pubs)
very poorly fitting cheap but flash suit (usually with trouser legs much too long)
novelty cufflinks
drives a crap motor because most make next to nothing.
basically a polished up chav, but the chav shows through the thinly veiled surface. don't believe a word and don't expect good service.
walkinaround is online now  
Dec 21st, 2006, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,759
alchemistee-I hear you with regard to your husband's firm starting a new branch in London and therefore being at sea themselves. But folks in your situation need and deserve more assistance than you are suggesting you will receive. There are many commercial outifits that bill themselves as professional relocators and you need one. I would strongly suggest that you do some homework on finding a good one of those and putting some pressure on yur husband's employers to foot the bill rather than trying to do this from NYC by yourself. Fodors can help with a lot of stuff, but this is NOT "a bad hotel for two nights situation" . You need more help than this kind of thread can provide. Trust me, I have walked in your shoes.
LJ is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,714
The co. should pay for you to stay in a temporary place while you look. Do NOT sign for anything sight unseen. Will you look for some place furnished or do you plan on shipping furniture?

In addition to all the good advice you've already gotten, I suggest you figure out what tube station is closest to his office and look at a tube map to see what areas are near/on the same line.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,184
Have you considered not London at all. I did Brighton to the City for 4 years and it was a quicker journey than from Clapham.

Others will tell you better than me, but there are a heap of leafy little outposts within spitting distance from central London.
waring is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 11:55 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 218
Well said, LJ.

alchemistee: In the event you don't get a good relo agent - I feel compelled to comment on your thought that you don't need to worry about schools as of yet. If you are going to be in London for a while, and it sounds like you are, you may want to give that a second thought because of the way the public school system works among other factors.

Kids go to school in the September when they are 4. However, the November before that you must apply for a school placement with the burough you live in. So when your kid is 3 you go for a look-see at the local schools and then fill out a form with your top 3 and submit them to the burough. In March, the burough matches requests with schools and the 3/4 year olds are assigned a school - mostly based on how close you are to the school. If you don't live in the burough, you can't participate in the process (at least where I live). If you move somewhere after the process is complete, even right next door to a school, and the school is full, they won't let you in and you get on a waiting list. I have a friend who moved here from NYC in May and got her kid into the closest local school just a week before school started when I presume someone else pulled out of the class - she felt really lucky to get him in. It is a different system and it starts way earlier than it would in the states so you may want to consider it so you are not closed out of a good school in 2 years. It does seem crazy to think about schools when your child is a baby, but moving can be pretty expensive and you may not want to hop communities after you are already settled.

How to make friends - that is another reason I believe to move to a place with good schools. IMO good primary schools attract families with small children. If you move somewhere that is crawling with kids, you may have an easier time making friends with other moms. Lots of churches in my community have "playgroups" which are basically open play for babies/toddlers while the moms sit and have coffee and chit chat. There are also indoor pay to play areas that do the same thing. It is easy to strike up conversations with people or see the same people week in and week out at these things. I don't know how new of a mom you are or if you currently work in NYC, but you will probably find in London that you will be friends with other moms with kids of similar ages - if nothing else because those people have the same schedule as you. Unless, of course, you have a nanny - which is not uncommon here - and you have someone to watch your baby while you persue your own interests. Otherwise, it is you, baby and other moms and babies. Another reason why I mentioned the AWC. It is just a starting point to get a network going. Not that you will only be friends with Americans or you only want to hang out with Americans. But sometimes it can be difficult moving and you can feel isolated being a stay at home mom in a new community/foreign country - and I have not found London to be a place where your next door neighbor brings you brownies to welcome you to the neighborhood. The AWC can help get you started, living around other expats can help, too. Plus they always have someone moving back who needs to sell electronics!!!

I am also with everyone who is encouraging you to have your husband push back on his company for more support. A relo specialist is certainly necessary (I can't recommend mine who was not that helpful). Also, if you can get them to throw in little things, such as flights home every year, private medical insurance, tax prep and tax equalization - it would be nice for you. I don't get these things but I know people who get this plus free rent, free private schools, free cars, you name it. (That is one bad thing about knowing lots of Americans - lots of people get better packages.)

These are just suggestions, of course. I think it is easier to ask for things up front than a year down the road.

By the way, I will second the Greenwich suggestion.
where2 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2006, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 74
I wish you the best of luck!
I have lived in London twice over the past 6 years.
You will be able to find something in your price range. I can't recommend a specific neighhborhood. I lived in North London both times due to hubbies commute. I know many families that live in Notting Hill. It is a nice area with lots to offer. There are many americans, but don't limit yourself. You will have no problem making friends. Many churches have playgroups for you and baby. People are friendly and obviously speak English so you won't have a problem fitting in. Lots of mums also meet at the playground-not sure how old your baby is??
The might also be useful?
Don't be put off by the negative comments. Not everyone that moves abroad has help from an employer. My husband has moved to contract in pharma and every time we were on our own. We've managed to find a place to live and settle in many countries, even when we didn't speak the langauge. I'll post again if I think of anything that may help you.
SusanMac is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 04:30 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,836
We've also done NY-London relocation 7yrs ago. A few factors you might take into consideration:

* WC2 is more of an office/business area, not really a family friendly area IMO.
* Commuting: just choose an area where your husband will have easy commuting (ie less transfers on tub). Northern Line is notorious for delays/disruptions. Sometimes mainline trains run faster though may look further on the map. Check zones on tube map--zones 1-3 are good commuting areas, 5-6 gets quite further out. Also if your husband needs frequent air travel, you may want to check the access to the airport.
* Real estate agents usually specialise in a particular area. Also they're only open on Saturday mornings, not Sundays. Call/visit them, tell them your budgets/neighbourhood/specs, then have them arrange viewings so that you can do multiple viewings. Surprisngly, it is very rare for them to be able to provide layout maps.
* You'll need to insist on two- double bedrooms, as single bedroom is really no larger than a closet.
* £400pcw is not impossible, though not in popular areas like SJW or South Ken. We live in Maida Vale, not far from SJW, and 2-bedroom goes for about £400-600 range.
* Another consideration--will you need a car? If you can get away without it, it will be so fewer headaches. Parking permit/petrol/car is so much more expensive, traffic wardens are everwhere issuing tickets, and roads are congested. And this is before you think of £8 daily congenstion charge.
* Agree about the need to look for areas with good schools--unless you know for sure your husband will be posted here for no more than 2yrs (and your baby is less than 1 yr old).
* You pay council tax, determined by value of your property (even when you're renting). Westminster has somewhat lower rates.
* BTW, the equivalent of doorman apartment here is "block of flats with porters". Garden flats--usually the basement and/or the groundfloor of converted houses in my neighbourhood--command a higher price.
* You'll need to think if you want to rent a furnished flat or unfurnished one.
* Agree with the others that you should get your husband's company pay for relocation package--removal and temporary housing, ideally a housing trip but it may be too late for you.
* In general, rents are cheaper on southern and eastern side of London. However, there are some good neighbourhoods south of Thames, including Greenwich, Richmond, Wimbledon, Fulham, and Wandsworth/Clapham Commons aka Nappy Valley. Blackheath is also nice, near Greenwich. Eastern London has less developed tube network. NW within zones 1-3, Hampstead/Hampstead Garden Suburbs/Swiss Cottage/Belsize Park are popular, safe, has lots of green space though somewhat yuppy-ish.
Lots of shiny new flats near Canary Wharf but we're not so keen personally because of limited green space and lack of good schools.
W9London is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 478
This is not the only travel site that I look at or post on, and I've noticed more than once that when somebody posts about moving or relocating to Europe, the first wave of responses usually includes a lot of negative, remarks, and overestimates of the costs. I used to chalk it up to people being envious, but the negative remarks often come from natives of the country!

I've had to consider relocating to Europe for business, and I can't figure out why people are so often determined to make out like you have to be a genius to do it.

Anyway, there is a lot of helpful advice in this thread. It would be nice if alchemistee's company could come up with some help, but maybe they are a very small, entrepreur-ish kind of place.
fall06 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,759
Fallo6, With respect, anyone can move to Europe: to relocate successfully and enjoy your time overseas takes planning and some degree of courageous optimism.

It can be expensive without corporate/institutional help, especially for those with children:
that trip to check things out, in advance, requires, at minumum, co-operative grandparents and can mean babysitters, expensive last-minute flights. There is paperwork, book research and endless long-distance phone calls and long nights in front of a computer. It can take a toll on a marriage.

I love to live abroad and will go back again (have already lived in 4 different countries, 3 "successfully").

But I really do not think that it is easy and I think the length and detail of some of the responses on this thread testify to that.
LJ is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 478

I wasn't implying it didn't involve work and alechmistee from her very first post indicated she knew that as well. And I wasn't the only one to react to the presence of so many negative remarks. I was just commenting that they weren't unique to this thread. I've gotten used to it as a knee-jerk reaction when I bring up relocating outside of America. People begin interrogating you like they are going out of their way to find reasons to make it seem impossible or miserable.
fall06 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 152
My sister used to live in NYC (like I do) and moved to London permanently in 2001 (her husband is from Denmark). They have a almost 3 year old child. They live in North London in a neighborhood called Crouch End. They love it there and, when I've visited, it seems like everyone has kids. It kind of reminds me of Park Slope -- turn of the century townhouses, nice high street with lots of shops, restaurants, etc..., and many child oriented activities. My sister didn't know anyone in the neighborhood prior to moving there and made many nice friends from her Baby Yoga class, Baby music class, swimm class and Bubble Club (I think it's kind of like Gymboree). Everything in London is pricey, but it seems to be moderately, but not excessively, expensive. I believe it's a neighborhood that recently got kind of fashionable. There's another neighborhood nearby Crouch End that is very nice too call Musell Hill. I think it's more expensive, but I'm not at all sure what rents go for in either neighborhood. My sister purchased her 2 bedroom flat.

They are very happy there. Good luck, London is a great place to live - just be prepared for certain things to be more expensive then they are over here. When my sister comes to NYC, she always shops for her child for the whole year -- seems that children's clothes (and a lot of adult clothes) are much more reasonably priced here. When we went to get manicures and pedicures, she said it's much more expensive to get them in the UK.

But, that being said, many great museums are free in London, and you can get better prices for theater tickets at the 1/2 price ticket kiosk in the West End then what you pay for Broadway.
Rachele is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 08:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,759
Fall06...h-m-m-m, upon re-reading, you have a point about some of the negativity. Maybe foks who don't have the courage to do it themselves like to dump on other's dreams? Personally, I am the Pollyanna of living abroad and promote it to anyone who has the opportunity: we LOVE the chance to live in another culture as part of it and you absolutely SHOULD go for it if you get the chance. Make the chance if you don't get offered it on a silver platter.

But do your homework and take whatever financial and other assistance perqs are on offer for a happier and more successful re-location.
LJ is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2006, 01:24 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 326
Hey there!
Congratulation ... I guess! Our family moved to London exactly two months ago. Just to warn you, be prepared for ups and downs.. We started our webpage and post almost everyday blog about the places we see, about schools, everyday business etc. The address is Feel free to contact me (Natasha) from our webpage. We currently renting pretty big seti-attached house (4 bedrooms, HUGE garden, garage.. ) in Greenwich for 1600 a month, and my husband is comuting to Canary Warf. My husband's company paid for relocation agency that took care of house hunting, bank card and credit card applications, moving etc. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A NICE RELOCATION PACKAGE!
Good luck!
Matroskin is offline  

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