Advice about Moving to England

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Considering a move to England

June 2003

My husband, who is British, is considering a job in England. There are many considerations we face. We have two young children (1 & 4). The four year old loves her preschool and has many friends in the neighborhood and through school. I'm worried about finding a good school for her and the impact this move might have on her. We also have a great caregiver for our one year old. We like our neighborhood and are homeowners so would need to figure out whether to sell or rent. I currently work and would want to find work in the UK. Basically, our current life is comfortable and familiar and a move of this magnitude feels frightening. Any advice on how to sort through the decision of whether to move and for how to find out more information about neighborhoods, schools, resources, etc. abroad? anon

Well, since you didn't say where your husband's job would be, or where you might consider living, or whether or not he still has family and friends there, it's a bit difficult to offer specific advice.

If you're talking about London, yes, each borough is very different and the quality of schools, neighborhoods, affordability varies greatly.

As for working, unless you have the proper paperwork, you won't be able to, at least not immediately.

As for the general question of moving and impact on children, whether it's 1 mile or 1,000 miles away, it depends on the child, but most kids can and do adjust just fine. I do think a move of that magnitude is more of a jolt for an adult, and it can be a bit of a culture shock for you.

Do keep in mind that the cost of living in southern England is still high and yet most salaries just can't compare to Bay Area ones for the exact same jobs and requirements.

As to whether to rent or sell your house, hard to say not knowing the whole picture, though generally speaking I would say it wouldn't be a bad idea to at least rent for a year or two - gives you income, provides a safety net if the UK doesn't work out, and you can always sell later. Good luck! Ex-pat Mum

2 things to consider in your move:

1) The weather. I'm sure you're aware that it rains a lot there, but it really rains A LOT!!! This can be a huge bummer for you and for the kids as it pretty much rules out outdoor play. A friend of mine fled London with her 3 small ones after a year and a half because it was driving everyone crazy to be indoors all the time.

2) Finding Work. Check out the work paper situation as I've heard that unless you get a job offer on your own (with the work papers included), your husband's job doesn't give you the right to work there yourself. However if he's a UK or EU citizen then that will make a difference. Good luck!

This is not really an answer to your question, but I would like to recommend a book, The Everlasting Story of Nory, by Nicholson Baker -- famous for sexually explicit novels, high literary acclaim, essays in the New Yorker and Harpers and protesting the SF library's destruction of books. Anyway, Baker moved with his family, including his nine year old daughter, from Berkeley to a small town in England. I thought perhaps you would enjoy his fictionalized musings. Book Lover