International Bumpies

Possibly moving to London.... any advice?

Hi all,

Short intro...  DH and I have one son, almost 18 months, and are trying for #2.  DH's company has recently expanded to London, and they are talking about giving him a job there (we should know for sure in the next week or so).  From lurking today, i see that quite a few of you are from London, or the UK.

My question... any advice on moving with a young child, finding housing, what to take/leave, what to buy there, etc.  Also, health care if we do become pregnant?  I am looking into things online as well, but was just wondering if any of you had gone through this first hand.  If this does go through, we will probably be moving Jan or Feb 2013, so pretty quickly as we had just learned of the possibility a couple weeks ago, still have to sell a house, etc.  

 Thanks in advance!   

Re: Possibly moving to London.... any advice?

  • DS was 4 months when we moved, just 2 months ago so I'm still feeling my way.

    Here's what we did:

    DH started his job here when DS was 2 weeks old. We stayed behind to recover from delivery, and also wanted DS to get through a couple rounds of vaccinations before traveling. The company lined him up with temporary housing and a realtor as part of his relo package. Looking for a place to live is just like with any other move. You have your criteria as far as what kind of commute you want, do you want to be in a walkable neighborhood with convenient transit vs. car-dependent, are schools important, etc. DH saw a bunch of places with the realtor and then emailed me links to his top 3. We agreed on our favorites and put in an application. We are renting, btw.

    For health care, once you have an address you take your proof of address to a clinic in your catchment area and register. That's it. You can also purchase private health insurance, and some companies will provide this as an additional benefit. You can go to the National Health Services website to find clinics/practices in your area.

    I've heard mixed reviews on the experience of going through pregnancy and delivering a baby here. From what I gather it's worth purchasing private health insurance. Oftentimes you get the same doctors/midwives/nurses but it could mean the difference in terms of having some control over your birth experience or having a private room.

    As for what to take/leave, we brought only clothes and some baby's things, and a few other personal items - books, art supplies, etc. Any important papers, especially things like birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. We also brought our dog. We wanted to stay under a certain amount so that we could have our stuff delivered by air freight, which is much faster than sea. We kept our house in the US and are renting it to a family member, so we don't have to sell all our stuff or put it into storage. 

    Hopefully some who have been here longer can add more information.

    Good luck! 

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  • Hello :) My DH, DD, and I moved to the UK (northen Scotland) about 6 months ago.

    To start most companies do offer some kind of relocation package when moving employees internationally and will help out with moving logistics-like what to do with your US house, cars, etc.

    My biggest piece of advice would be to look into joining an expat community here in the UK.  They can be so helpful before, during, and after your move here and provide you with expertise for your area. (I belong to one in Aberdeen)

    In regards to what to move over, it depends on what your DH's company is willing to ship. Keeping in mind that all your small appliances/electrical things will not work here unless you purchase adaptors.  We bought several electric converter adaptors in the States that range in wattage allowance. We have a couple in the kitchen and some in the study/guest bedroom so we can use our stand mixer, crockpot, DH's Xbox, laptop, Ipad, etc. 

    DH's company allowed a sea shipment (took about 8 weeks) and an air shipment (3 weeks) We ended up bringing everything...which we now regret because things we do not use-lamps, vacuum, coffee pot, curtains/rods....are just taking up storage space in our garage. (alot of the homes here are beautiful, but older and lack closets)

    Like PP said, make sure you bring important documents and have your LO's health and vaccination records! It made it so much easier when finding a GP (doctor) here. 

    Our experience with the NHS has been very positive so far.  We registered with a GP (you will need passports, proof of residence like utility bill, and LO's immunization records). Our home health visitor is awesome and very helpful.  We even had an emergency while visiting Edinburgh and had to take our DD to the children's hospital after she had an allergic reaction. The care we received was fast and excellent.  We already have a follow up appointment with our GP Friday too (this episode happened last week) We plan on trying soon for number two and I have utmost confidence in the healthcare here.

    We too brought our dog over here.  They recently changed the laws, so as long as your pet is microchiped and has a rabies vaccination there is no longer any quarrantine period.

    There is probably a lot I am leaving out.  If you have any other more specific questions, let me know!

    Good luck! We absolutely love living here in the UK.





    sibling love  

  • Thanks for the replies!  I'm sure if we do go through with this I'll have more questions, but this does relieve a little stress!!
  • image freezorburn:

    I've heard mixed reviews on the experience of going through pregnancy and delivering a baby here. From what I gather it's worth purchasing private health insurance. Oftentimes you get the same doctors/midwives/nurses but it could mean the difference in terms of having some control over your birth experience or having a private room.

    If you have private insurance that covers maternity (and unless you have a bespoke plan in the UK it won't, however overseas, like from the US, would) you would use it at a private hospital, like Portland, or possibly at an NHS hospital that has a private wing, like Chelsea and Westminster. I had my son in London and the private rooms at the hospital were available for a fee, but they gave first priority to people who had issues in delivery, and we couldn't get one (and this was on the NHS). While the experience wasn't as 'fancy' as in the US I had a good experience and really liked the midwifery model of care.

    We lived in Wimbledon, which is SW London, and there were tons of families with young kids there, and easy to get into central London. 

    DS 02.10.2008 * DD 04.05.2011

  • I can't speak to relocating with a family - I moved here when I was still in University.

    However, I can speak to having a baby here. DS was born 8.5 months ago. I had NHS care and couldn't fault it at all. (We cannot, and do not want to afford the premiums for private healthcare.)

    DS is my first baby and I had him at home, with NHS midwives in attendance. (My choices for birth were, delivery floor at hospital, birth centre [no pain meds] in hospital, or home birth.) The midwives came and left several times during my labour, as I wanted them to and they had other women to attend. When it was finally time for DS to be born, they came and stayed until after DS had nursed and I was showered, fed and tucked in bed with DS. Then they came back to check on us the day after birth, the third day after birth, a week after birth, then we were released to the weekly clinic for weight checks, with a follow up appointment for both DS and myself (with our GP) at 6 weeks. 

    If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them. 


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  • Just remembered one more thing ... there's an organization here that specializes in expat support -- DH's company purchased a membership for us as part of our relo benefits. I've been to a few of their seminars and I find them very helpful:
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  • I am a few days behind but just wanted to add that we absolutely love living in the UK (6 years this past September). We don't live in London but about an hour away and can easily get into the city if needed. Definitely think long and hard about what to bring - we left everything with an electrical cord and didn't move any furniture. However, we were in college when we moved and didn't have furniture in the US that we were attached to. Keep in mind that the rooms here are typically smaller (but with great character!) so your US-sized furniture may not fit in a UK-sized house. 

    I would invest in a good stroller and probably a double if you are expecting another baby soon. You will do so much walking and a good stroller with great wheels is a must in my opinion. I have friends that have brought their regular Graco mall ready strollers from the US and within two months are throwing it away and buying a Phil and Teds or BOB. We have a Phil and Teds inline double and could not live without it. Even now that DD does quite a lot of walking it is nice to have the option for her to ride if need be. Especially if it is raining or we are taking the underground in London. 

    Both of my kids were born with the NHS and we have no complaints. Neither birth was straightforward but I had complete confidence in the midwives and doctors that took care of us. I had a c-section with DD since she was footling breech (vaginal delivery is not an option at all when the baby is feet first) and wanted a VBAC with DS. The VBAC support I received was phenomenal and not one time was I made to feel like I was being pressured into another c-section simply because I had already had one. Obviously we talked about the risks of both a RCS and VBAC but they were very supportive of my decision. (And it was successful!) I have also found the postnatal and pediatric care to be exceptional. Perhaps we have been really lucky to be connected to good hospitals and GP surgeries? 

    Good luck with your decision-making process and if you do end up moving I know we are all happy to answer any questions you might have! 

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    m/c at 13 weeks - March 23, 2011
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