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Family moving from US to London

My wife and I have decided to follow our lifelong dream of moving to London with our 4 year old and 10 month old. I've been researching this pretty heavily since October and have gotten some great invaluable info, but the problem we keep facing is the visa. I work for a global tech company but it has been difficult to get them to support my decision and assist with sponsorship. As a result I am looking for any suggestions on jobs in London that folks have.

We're VERY excited about moving to a new country and all the wonderful changes it will bring. We've begun adopting a more minimalist lifestyle at home and have spent our evenings mostly watching Rick's travel videos on the UK and Ireland. I've also downloaded the app and listened to all the podcasts about the UK, and I've even listened to the walking tours! You might say I'm a bit obsessed, but it's been incredibly motivating.

Any special spots for locals we should check out? Good neighborhoods for families? Activities the little ones will enjoy that aren't so obvious? I'd love to hear any suggestions you have to help make this as smooth a transition as possible.

Posted by
752 posts

Consider contacting Ron via his website
www.roninrome.com
He's working on moving back to Europe, and London is a possibility, among others. Hoping you can benefit from his research.

I don't have recent info about Ron as we communicated last summer.

Posted by
3525 posts

Others will tell you how difficult, maybe impossible, this will be.

I'm just going to suggest that you look at some HGTV House Hunters International programs about the potential costs in London. You need to look around that link to see the listings and when they will be shown. And don't be put off by the fact that the show is "scripted." The apartments and houses and the prices are real, I think. After all, there has to be something real in reality TV.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the quick responses!

I'm very familiar with how expensive it is, and while it is certainly deliberately complicated, I refuse to believe that it's impossible. Difficult - absolutely. Having a family in tow also limits the options a bit, but we're very positive about the possibilities.

I'll check out Ron's site now - thanks for the heads up! House Hunters would be interesting to watch, however we're fine with renting. I don't currently own a home (which makes it much easier to leave) and my wife and I don't have any interest in buying anything in the forseeable future. We're looking forward to living leaner and being more mobile going forwards - who knows if this will lead to moves other places in the world.

Love your thoughts - keep 'em coming!

Posted by
1395 posts

Good luck to you on this. We could have done this when our children were little - we worked for a company that sponsored employees for 2-5 year assignments abroad. But, we thought it would be difficult to uproot the children - they were young and now we think it would have been a great experience for them. You get to a point (at least we have) where we don't want to consider a move like this because we have our grown children and grandchildren and don't want to leave them. Good to do this when you're young.

Posted by
3136 posts

We lived in London for a year when I was an Fulbright Exchange teacher, 20 years ago. We didn't face any of the problems you're coming up against. Job and visas were handled by our government. Housing was a direct exchange with my British opposite number. I, therefore, can't help with those. I do have one thought on the housing issue. Scout around the house exchange websites. You may find someone looking for a long term exchange in your area. If you live near a university, there may be a possibility to exchange or to rent your home to a visiting academic. Check university housing offices, too.
As for activities for young children, almost every residential neighborhood has a leisure center. My husband joined the one where we lived for an almost ridiculously cheap rate. They have all kinds of programs for kids. Also, you should look into the possibility of school for the older child. Depending on his/her age, public, that is a state school or a pre-school would be good for the kid and a great way for you to meet local families.

Posted by
626 posts

Dave, do you mean move here permanently, and buy a house? Or just for an extended time and rent?

Regarding best neighbour hoods, it's all down to what you can afford. An idea of your budget would help us to suggest areas to look in.

And how close to the centre do you need to be? Living in zones 5-6 is affordable on a reasonable salary. Living in zone 1 is unattainable for most.

Posted by
31289 posts

dave,

You may have already done this, but a good place to start would be the official U.K. website. There are a lot of different types of Visas, and I'm not sure which category would be applicable for your situation. Your profile doesn't indicate where you're located, but it would also help to pay a visit to the nearest British Consulate, as they'll be able to give you all the information you need in short order.

I suspect it's going to be a complicated and lengthy process to arrange the Visa's, especially since your firm isn't willing to sponsor you. I've never checked but it may be easier if you're only planning to stay for a finite period, rather than immigrating to the U.K. In addition to housing, you'll probably have to prove that you have the financial resources to support yourselves for things like health care, as I'm not sure what the rules would be to qualify for NHS as a temporary resident? Finding housing is only the first step - you'll still have to arrange utilities and similar, set-up bank accounts, etc.

A few more websites that may help....

http://www.emigrate2.co.uk/united-kingdom/

http://www.workpermit.com/uk/uk.htm

http://www.ukmigrationlawyers.com/

Good luck!

Posted by
25741 posts

Are either of you UK subjects, or other EU citizens?

Posted by
25741 posts

Dave

You are right to be concerned about the visas that you, your wife, and the children will have to obtain prior to any idea of moving here.

It is very difficult to immigrate here for all but special categories of people. That's why I asked in a previous question if you or your wife already have a right to remain or right to abode in the UK through citizenship.

If your current employer doesn't want to acknowledge you and help in the relocation it will be even harder. You will need to be sponsored and if they won't do it who do you think will?

No UK business is allowed to hire a person wanting immigration if there is, anywhere in the UK or the EU who can do the job. You will have to prove that your skills you (or she) have are unique and nobody in the UK or the EU can do that job.

With sponsorship it is much easier.

You will also have to prove that you have sufficient funds to support the whole family for a definite period, and guarantee that you and the family will not become a burden on the state.

Your post gives no hint as to where you live, or your nationality. We have readers and posters from all over the world so you could be from anywhere. More detail from you will help us provide answers tailored to your circumstances.

I would in no way wish to discourage you in your dreams, it is a worthy ambition.

But I suggest you spend less time motivating yourself with travel videos and get busy on moving the mountains in the way.

Are you aware that if you are American you will need to file US tax returns even when you live overseas?

EDIT: I note from the title of the question that you are moving from the US. It isn't clear if you are US citizens.

Posted by
571 posts

Dave. Have you and your family visited London? Watching videos is all very well, but they cannot compare with actually going somewhere and getting some experience of the lifestyle, even if only as a tourist.

It would also give you the opportunity to look at the salaries available and the cost of housing, etc. There may be all sorts of wrong assumptions you are making about living in Britain.

I am intrigued by your adoption of a "more minimalist lifestyle". What have you been reading?

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for all the wonderful replies! Let me provide a bit more detail on the situation for everyone.

This has been a long-time topic of discussion for my wife and I, and we committed to the decision about 6 months ago. In that time, we've gotten current passports for all four of us, I've read countless travel and expat blogs, dug into UK.gov and informed myself on the tiered visa system, spoken to my employer at length (the door isn't fully closed on that option, just taking longer than I'd like), spoken to friends (nationals and expats) living both here and in the UK. We currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I've done a number of cost comparisons between this area and the suburbs of Greater London, and in all honesty there's not too much difference. I've had a RightMove account since October and have been monitoring rentals in our price range (I have a Zoopla account as well, but having both that and RM was redundant as they have most of the same listings). I've researched shipping costs and flights as well as gotten info on getting a bank account overseas and rental requirements. We've got a pretty decent savings (definitely covering the minimum recommendations at UK.gov for Tier 2 visa recipients and then some), and while I haven't been to London, I previously moved to SF from the east coast never having been there, knowing no one and with only a job awaiting me. I understand that moving across an ocean to another continent is different and considerably more challenging, but I'm up for the task.

I also understand that any work I apply for would have to review EU citizens and UK nationals before me, but I am not deterred. I've been cross-referencing any jobs I apply for against the list of companies approved to sponsor visa provided by UK.gov as well to ensure that I'm not wasting my time. I make a decent wage at the moment and am confident on my ability to sustain a leaner version of our lifestyle when we arrive.

We've been looking at rentals in mainly South and Southwest London, in places like Twickenham, Wimbledon, Croydon, Kingston, Richmond, etc. We have friends in Richmond, others up in Leicester as well as friends from London and Yorkshire living here in the states to help out. We're trying to stay within the M25 but until we arrive and get a better feel for things we won't know for sure.

So it hasn't been all travel videos and romanticising - there's been a lot of investment into this as we've been taking this very seriously. I'm sure there's more that we've done, but it's been six months of hard work so I'm sure there's something I've forgotten (it is not even 7am here!). As far a the minimalist lifestyle I was referring to - we've been learning to live with less. We've sold and donated a lot of our possessions, packed others to store here and to take with us, but overall my family and I are committed to purging about 90% of our things before we move. We want to live a simpler lifestyle (less clothes in the closet, less "devices" and more real world experience) and part of our inability to travel has been due to having to deal with all our "stuff." Additionally, we became debt free in the last few years and now want to put that freedom to good use, see the world, teach our kids to be part of the world community, and stop looking at life through a TV/computer/phone screen.

Hopefully that helps. I'm glad to answer any other questions, and keep all the awesome ideas coming!

Posted by
4528 posts

Your best chance is if you are qualified for a job on the 'UK Shortage Occupation List '. For these an employer need not advertise first for an existing UK resident as it is recognised that there is a general shortage. These range from nuclear decommissioning engineers to high integrity pipe welders to high school chemistry teachers.

In the software area this includes ONLY the following jobs in this occupation code:
 the following jobs in visual effects and 2D/3D computer animation for the film, television or video games sectors:
- software developer
- shader writer
- games designer
 the following jobs in the electronics system industry:
- driver developer
- embedded communications engineer

As to the upfront cost, the visa is £428 for a shortage occupation and £564 otherwise. Dependants pay the same.

As for healthcare you and your dependants would each need to pay £200 per annum Immigration Health Surcharge as a temporary resident. This needs to be paid upfront with any visa application for the first year.

As a temporary resident you would not be entitled for any benefit from public funds apart from those you may qualify for from paid National Insurance contributions.

(Your post above crossed with mine so with the extra information about how far you are none of this may be news to you, but might help someone else.)

The situation regarding jobs means that any UK resident applicant that meets the advertised job spec has to be offered the job ahead of you, even if you have better qualifications, experience etc. That's just the way that it is.

Posted by
626 posts

Sounds like you ARE serious!

I (we) wish you all the best and are here to help as best we can.

Just one thing... Twickenham, Wimbledon, Croydon, Kingston, Richmond... these are four very nice areas in outer London, Croyden stands out in that list though... not somewhere I'd want to live, sorry Croydonians. And not sure I could afford to live in the other four either. I don't know every last detail about those areas though.

Posted by
783 posts

I have not researched this in regards to the UK, but student visas are easier to get in other countries. I wouldn't apply to random programs that you have no interest in just to get a Visa- and I am sure they are competitive. But is there a program that you or your wife have an interest in that would further your career or perhaps make you more marketable when you complete it? You then have the added cost of tuiton but this also can open up an option to live in student housing which can be a big money saver.

Posted by
626 posts

As others have said, despite your resolve, it would seem sensible to have a week or two's holiday in London before moving. Maybe even a month to 6 weeks to allow the initial excitement to wear off. If you were buying a car... You'd test drive it first wouldn't you?

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the feedback. Normally I would agree with you, however I've done multiple moves in my life to places I've not been to before and it's always been fine. It may seem strange to some to decide to uproot your life and go to a place you could potentially hate, but this is the first step in a much larger adventure which may take us to some other places to live around the world. I don't know whether this is permanent or not - but I would like to try in on for size and see what we think. If we don't like it, we'll move somewhere else. It's a big deal, but only as big a deal as you make it. I don't really mind moving, so for us it's a risk we're willing to take.

A large portion of this decision is based on the fact that my family and I are rejecting the "standard American lifestyle" for something different. I'm not criticizing America, Americans or American life, it's just not what my wife and I want any more. We identify very strongly with the European "work to live" aesthetic as opposed to the American "live to work" one. We've both been to Europe before, just not to the UK. And I do understand that the UK very much has it's own identity, personality, politics, etc. than the rest of the continent, and that to lump them together isn't always accurate, however in my experience there is this prevailing attitude in Europe of a more laid back, slower paced lifestyle that places more value in family and personal time than work.

That being said, I'm far too mired in the 21st century to go too far and live "off the grid". I love the internet and my gadgets, and my wife and I are both very much city-oriented people and want to stay in the first world. We can life more simply there (and we are beginning to adopt that lifestyle now in advance of the move) and also start again with a clean slate. We didn't make this decision lightly and had been discussing it on and off for years. Now that we've decided to move forward we are very serious and trying to be as diligent as possible. I've even looked into working for the US embassy in the UK - it really comes down to what are we willing to sacrifice in our life to make this happen. I can tell you that aside from living under a bridge somewhere as an illegal immigrant in the UK, we're willing to do what it takes for however long it takes.

I really appreciate the feedback from you all. I know that we haven't chosen the easiest path, but I always believe that the more people I talk to and the more questions I ask only help to keep every single option I have open!

Posted by
626 posts

Good luck to you Dave, I admire your determination. Even if London doesn't turn out to be what you think it might be, I'd be surprised if you didn't love it anyway.

Posted by
25741 posts

Dave,

I'm sorry to say it, but if you want a laid back lifestyle, as I think you said in your last post - thanks for the updates and context by the way - London is probably the last place in Europe that can provide that to you.

It is one of the most expensive places to live in the world and I see people commuting to work at 6 in the morning, using their computers on the train to try to eke out 10 more hours at work a week during the commute, and I see the same ones going home at 7, 8 or 9 at night, 5 days a week.

I work on the trains so I am used to the lives of these commuters. An hour each way to work is like 10 more hours in the office.

Study after study have shown that UK workers, and particularly London workers, are the longest working in the entire EU. The odds are that your wife will have to work too, and preschool and after school programmes are not cheap.

If you visit here and love the work life balance and the day to day life, the southeast of the UK is a beautiful and lovely place to live and, for some, work.

I love it here but I also live semi-rural. But things are definitely different here. Costs are much higher - I used to live in Daly City and the Lake Merced area of San Francisco and I KNOW it is vastly more expensive here in the rural east of England and even much more in and around London - and salaries are much lower, and taxes are much higher.

Do you know that even if you don't own (or the bank owns and you are paying) your house you are still expected - nay required - to pay the property tax each year? And that that, depending on the size of the property and its location will be £1,500 to £3,000 a year on top of the rent?

Have you truly costed out the things that add up? Sight unseen? How do you know you will like Croydon? I lived there when I was a teen. I agree with the previous poster. I wouldn't want to live in most of it now.

And how will you get to work from Croydon or from the other much more expensive boroughs you have listed? Do you know the price of a Season Ticket?

Maybe you do. I sure think you'd do better if you had a look yourself, or with your wife for a few weeks. That's one of the costs of relocation.

Posted by
6 posts

The feedback is much appreciated, Nigel - and your honesty. I knew about the property taxes, and also know that I'll be paying income tax in both the US and the UK. And you're right - I DON'T know if I'll like living in those neighborhoods. It's a lot of "grass is greener" at the moment, but to be honest, that's also part of the adventure. Croydon isn't necessarily the destination, simply the place that shows the most results for rentals in our price range. Being that I'm not that familiar with the neighborhoods via first hand experience, I have to limit my searches to certain areas. That being said, nothing we're doing commits us to a lifetime of hellish living in a place we don't like - if we don't like it, we move. To another neighborhood, to another city, to another country. I wouldn't be undertaking this if I was unsure of the risks, but I trust my own instincts and they have served me well in the past. And the hassle of moving is really a non-issue for me.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, Mike J - this is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. I do hope to fall in love with the place when we're there in person.

To be clear - I don't expect that my SCHEDULE will be any less full (certainly not with two kids), however my LIFESTYLE will be different, and that's enough for now. I'm not trying to be contrary - as one who's lived both in SF (where I live) and the UK (where I'm going), Nigel's experience will be far more informed than mine. I appreciate the blunt honesty as well, truly, however I can tell you that these are all details that we've been uncovering over the last 6 months and we're still eager to move forward. I also understand that you don't want me to have undue expectations, so your candor is welcome.

I'm no stranger to living on a budget, and the costs don't scare me. I heard the same thing about expenses when I left rural Connecticut and moved to California, and I'm still here 15 years later and am thriving. I knew no one, had never been here before, didn't know the neighborhoods, and had only a job as a waiter to look forward to. Having walked a similar road before, even if only within my own country, gives me confidence that this will be fine.

Are there any positives to making this leap? It seems as though a fair amount of folks are quick to jump to all the most negative conclusions and downsides of this undertaking. In an effort to remain positive, is there anything I can look forward to here?

Posted by
26 posts

Hi Dave--

I certainly understand your excitement and enthusiasm! It is an exciting idea.

One of my kids, a US citizen, recently moved to the UK with a job at a prominent UK university not in London. The position is for 2-3 years (post doctorate researcher) and pays about twice what the same positions do in the states. Even with that bonus, he won't net much savings over the duration because of cost of living, travel, taxes, etc. But, since the opportunity was too good to miss, he considers it worth it. Note that he doesn't have a family.

If you determine that you can't afford the UK, or that you can't get a VISA, have you considered other areas of the US? Not everywhere is materialistic and work obsessed. We (my spouse and I, both professionals) moved to a mid-sized city in the SE from a very large Midwestern city. The pace is slower, people nicer (as is the weather!), taxes lower and the cost of living is very affordable. Outdoor activities are huge here: mountains for hiking, climbing, bouldering, and rivers for kayaking, boating. Did I mention the 1 gig internet?
If the UK doesn't work out, check out Chattanooga.

Posted by
626 posts

Positives to look forward to? Yeah, living in London is amazing. A completely unbiased view I promise.

And, if that were not enough, we have a TV channel called 'Dave'.

Posted by
6 posts

Well jeez - that's reason enough to move right there. Sign me up! ;)

Posted by
4542 posts

I relocated to London and spent a year working there.

First, you absolutely cannot enter and reside in the UK before you have your work visa. You need to spend most of your time working on that first. I spent a number of years pursuing employment overseas before I found an opportunity so be persistant and patient and keep trying. I worked in software development. Ultimately, I switched companies, spent a year and a half developing software for them in the U.S., and then moved overseas to support a European client. I spent two years in Stockholm, a year in London, and then finished up with a short assignment in Stockholm. Before I moved to the UK, my company arranged a 3 year visa/ work permit based on an intra-company transfer. My visa only allowed me to work for that employer.

Once you have worked out the visa, I recommend this book which has lots of practical advice geared towards American expats:
http://www.amazon.com/Living-London-practical-Junior-League/dp/0952519550/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430440562&sr=1-1&keywords=living+in+london

Regarding banking, Citibank UK has excellent services for U.S. expats and if you also have an account with the U.S. entity, you can move money between the accounts at one of their ATMs. it is not so simple to open a bank account in the U.K. as an expat. You will likely need a letter of reference from your employer, your visa, and copies of current bank statements.

London housing is incredibly expensive. I couldn't have afforded it without the assistance of my employer who covered the differential in housing, taxes, cost of living, etc. You will have to file both U.S. and U.K. taxes, although once you have been out of the country for 330 days in 12 months, you are eligible for a big exemption.
http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Foreign-Earned-Income-Exclusion---Physical-Presence-Test

I wouldn't call London simpler or more relaxing. I really liked living in London and I honestly think it is one of the most amazing cities in the world, but it is still a big hectic city. I found work there just as stressful as in the U.S... same long commute, overtime, bad customer service (don't ask me about the time it took 17 days and more than a dozen calls to get my home phone line fixed after it suddenly stopped working), high costs, crowds, etc. It was a great experience and I would have liked to have stayed longer, but my assignment came to an end.

Good Luck and I hope this works out for you.

Posted by
2625 posts

Dave, people here are not being negative. They are giving you what you came here asking for...good advice. We all hope you have great success following your dream, and wish you the very best during your move.

Posted by
3318 posts

It is probably going to be a bit of a long, drawn out process for you to be successful in obtaining a visa for you and your family.
While you wait, why don't you take advantage of the 6-month limit on travel on a tourist visa and spend an extended period of time in London before you move? That way you can pinpoint where you want to live and make other big decisions.
Have you considered making a home exchange with a family from London? You would be living in a "real" British house, you would be able to experience day-to-day real life there, do your shopping, take out the trash, call the plumber, find a social group, and see what would work best for your family. There are plenty of people who want to exchange from London to San Francisco - we swapped with a family in a London suburb for a month a year or so ago and it was a great experience! I wasn't sure if London was a place I could live but after the swap, I now know what things I would have to adjust in my lifestyle, how I would cope with cultural differences (and there are plenty!), and many other small things you just can't even begin to guess at before you spend time there.
Coming from SF (I lived there for quite a few years) I would recommend looking at Richmond, which you already mentioned. The area is far less closed-in than some of the other areas you name, has a friendly atmosphere, and is within easy reach of central London.
Travel shows are fun to watch and it looks like you have really done your research but nothing beats going there and spending time. The first time I went to London, I HATED it. Swore I would never go back. Over many extended visits, the city really had to grow on me for a number of reasons. After you get over ooing and ahing at the beautiful central areas of the city, you really do have to be prepared for the gritty, GRITTY reality of riding the tube on a daily basis, dealing with lots of rain and gray days, lots of crowds, and an extremely fast paced lifestyle that makes SF seem like Napa on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's really a give-and-take with London - you have to learn to adjust, which I'm sure you will, to be able to enjoy all that the city has to offer.
I wish you all the best! Once you figure everything out please keep us all updated and let us know how you were eventually able to do it!

Posted by
3895 posts

I admire your determination...as much as my husband and I talk about moving to Europe, neither of us are brave enough to do it...bravo!

My sister (with her 4 children under the age of 15) took the plunge back in 2007 and moved to Portsmouth...but she was moving over to live with a man she met online (believe it or not!) so I guess he was her sponsor. And I think something that helped her along getting permanent residency was because our grandmother was from England. She is now married to the fellow, and we have a place to stay every time we go to Portsmouth! Well, OK, now we are obligated to go to Portsmouth every time we go over...lol.

All the best to you on your journey! I wish I had your chutzpah!

Posted by
2625 posts

Dave, Bravo to you for following your dream! I'm sure everything will work out for you because you sound very determined! I once did a move to New York City much as you are thinking of doing to London. It was an exciting time. I had to take a first job that wasn't exactly what I wanted, but my second job was one that I loved. I was very young; otherwise, I would have become discouraged by the naysayers before I moved.

You have received some excellent advice. A good friend of mine always wanted to live in London. She left her old job and applied to American Airlines as a stewardess. Once she had worked for them for several years, she asked her supervisor how she could put in to be transferred to London as her base. He told her how to apply for the transfer, it went through, she got a visa and moved to London. What is your current job or field of expertise? Is there any company in your area that has a British division? You could change jobs, work a short while, and ask about procedures for applying for a transfer? Just a shot in the dark.

Best of luck to you. It will work out for you. Wishing you much success and happiness in your endeavor.

Posted by
4744 posts

We have a general election next week and one of the parties wants to severely restrict the number of immigrants coming into the UK which has become a hot potato here. We will have to see what happens.

If you have young children, this adds an extra complication getting them into schools etc. This will impact on where you can live. I would try to spend some time here to check it out before you make such a huge commitment.

My employer recently took on a Croatian lady who is married to an Englishman. Croatia is in the EU. Easy, you would think. It still took her over 4 months to get all the paperwork sorted out and there is meant to be free movement of people in the EU! Without sponsorship it may take you a year, so be prepared.

You are right to look out of central London for. Home and commute in. Most commutes are 1 to 1.5 hours each way. I am not sure why you think living here will give you a better standard of living. I usually leave home at 7am and I am rarely back before 8pm. The only benefit is that we get more holiday than you do in the States. Children here are far more materialistic than in most of Europe or the States.

Posted by
4528 posts

Croatia is still in the first phase of transitional arrangements of EU membership and as such there is no free movement of workers from there into the UK and 12 other countries by their choice so at present the process isn't that different.

Most employer s will only take the trouble for shortage occupations, but this will extend outside of the ones recognised by the Government.

Posted by
135 posts

Dave -

for loads of good expat advice, might I suggest visiting the UK-Yankee Forum. Loads of practical advice on all sorts of 'living and working in the UK' topics, plus warts and all views and opinions.

Good luck.

Posted by
3895 posts

Oh...someone mentioned school and that got me to thinking of some of the challenges my sister had...well, not challenges, but things seem much more strict. (Now, I have no kids myself so I'm not sure how things have changed here since I was a kid, and if all the schools over there are as restrictive). Things like...school uniforms - which I thought was a good idea until I started hearing stories of people trying to buy plain black shoes for the kids (no logos allowed!) and children being sent home if the shoes had a visible logo. My crazy niece (who is 15) had her brow pierced and she had to cover it daily with a bandaid as it wasn't allowed. Heaven forbid if your kid is rebellious and skips school (I think there can be fines involved for the parents - I'm sure my sister's oldest may have knocked off school a few times - not sure what happened there. I'm sure someone can clarify). The youngest niece (she's 8 now) had a yarn wrap put in her hair when they went to Greece last summer and my sister wasn't sure if it would be allowed! I think they camouflaged it in a pony tail.

I'm sure you've looked into school differences as well...and obviously your children are young enough that it wouldn't be the culture shock that it was when my sister went over with 3 school age kids (the youngest was under 2 at the time).

Posted by
1838 posts

Beware of High Schools where the kids are not dressed in proper school uniforms as discipline - and hence education attainment levels, are likely to be low.

'Public School' in Britain really means posh fee paying private schools. State schools/ High school/ Comprehensive school all really mean the same thing = a school that accepts kids from 11 to 16 with many also having 17 & 18 year olds studying 'A' Levels which give entry to University & other forms of Higher Education. 'Free Schools' are what they say but are not run by Local Councils but are directly funded by the Government.

Posted by
216 posts

As the Nike folks say: just do it.

Yes, the visa needs to come first. Consider if there are visas for entrepreneurs, etc. I got a working holiday visa at 19 and lived in London for 2 years. Check the age limits on these some countries it's 26, others 30.

Is there not a US-UK tax treaty that allows offsetting? Seems like double taxation would then not occur. Consult an accountant with specialised knowledge. [Get used to spelling certain words with "s" instead of "z".]

Are you planning a permanent move? Excellent suggestion to try it for 6 months or less as a tourist. A home exchange would be ideal but if you don't own your home, can you sublet your apartment?

Kids will love the trains, especially the heritage stream trains, double decker buses, the castles, the pomp and the bucolic countryside.

I have a friend who moved to the UK years ago. He lives in a small duplex (semi in Brit-speak) near Twickenham. He now has a wife, two kids and a very modest lifestyle. They go camping or on ultra-cheap EasyJet flights to obscure European locales. Very little stuff and no splashy trips abroad.

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Just a point on the tax question . . When we did our year, there were two options. One required overseas residence for 366 days or more. I think you then were free of U.S. taxes. I'm foggy about it because it didn't apply to me. My assignment was carefully documented as running from 8/15/94 to 8/14/95. The second option gave a very generous per diem tax deduction. Or, I think you could itemize. As we all know, tax laws change. As soon as you get to the point of worrying about taxes, you can consult a pro.