London is the relocation destination for a vast number of professionals and their families. Despite the UK’s current political uncertainty, there are so many reasons why people are happily relocating to London.
But what happens if you have school aged children to consider when relocating to London? Can your beloved pet relocate with you? Which should you begin first: your property search or your school search?
There are so many variables and factors to consider when relocating to London. Read my Top Tips for Families Relocating to London to make your move run smoothly.
1. Location, Location, Location
When relocating to London, finding the right location for you and your family is the first step. Research into the London location that best suits you and your family can be largely done prior to your move. It is often dictated by proximity to where you will be working. London is a very large, sprawling city made up of several boroughs. Within each borough are a variety of neighbourhoods, many of which are perfect for families. To help you to decide on the best area in London for you and your family, read my Top 6 Family Friendly London Locations to help you make that all important decision.
In order to apply for schools and register with a doctors’ surgery you will need a proof of address. A good, local relocation or search agent is therefore invaluable. He or she will be able to begin this process for you before you arrive and to oversee every aspect of your search and move.
2. Finding the right schools
Firstly, there are two main types of schools to choose from in the UK. State schools are non fee paying schools; you will need to apply for these schools through your local council giving up to six choices. Always try to choose schools that are reasonably close to where you are living otherwise you may be offered a place at an undersubscribed school some distance away. Applications usually open in September and close mid January. However, many of my clients are unable to plan their relocation around the school application timings. For this reason, it is important to engage a professional relocation agent. They will be able to assist with the school application process to give your children the best opportunity possible and to guide you through the process.
A hugely useful website to help with compiling a shorlist of schools is locrating.com. This is a fantastically informative tool that offers indepth information, including school catchment areas and admissions data, through an interactive map.
One top tip when looking at the Ofsted ratings (Office for Standards in Education) is to consider schools that are rated Good as well as Outstanding. Many of the Good schools are really very good and could be on their way to achieving an Outstanding rating in their next inspection.
The second option is fee paying independent schools, often referred to as private or public schools. In London, these are largely day schools and either single sex or mixed. The average cost of an independent primary school is £15,000 per year rising to upwards of £20,000 per year for secondary independent schools.
Whichever route you choose, visit The Good Schools Guide to help with your decision making process.
3. Pets Factor
I have several clients who relocate with pets in tow and it is so much easier than it ever used to be. One company that has worked wonders for clients of mine is World Care Pet Transport.
They are a worldwide pet relocation specialist and offer helpful tips to prepare you and your pet for the journey to their new destination.
In order to have an offer accepted on a rental property in London, you will need to supply proof of funds and bank account details for the standing order payments. Try to set up a UK bank account as soon as possible once arriving in the UK. If you already bank with an international bank, it is a good idea to talk to your existing manager who should be able to assist with setting up an account in the UK.
Driving in London can be slow and frustrating at times, particularly during peak times. If you are relocating with a car or will be hiring/buying a car on arrival in London, you will, most likely, need to apply for a parking permit in your borough. Just remember that having a parking permit does not necessarily mean that you will be able to park right outside your property! To park in areas that are not covered by your parking permit, use the Ringo App or the PaybyPhone parking app. You will need to supply the parking location code, which will be displayed nearby.
Alternatively, London’s public transport is really very good. It might not be quite on a par with Switzerland yet in terms of timings, but it is virtually non-stop. The underground system is commonly called the tube and will get you pretty much anywhere across the capital and beyond. You can pay by contactless card or via mobile pay as you go. The same applies to the buses; it is worth noting that the latter is now cashless so only electronic payment will do.
One invaluable app for getting around London is Citymapper. By adding your destination, it will calculate your journey time, arrival time and cost by foot, bus, tube, car & uber.
5. Making new friends
Making new friends can be daunting when you relocate to London, particularly if English is not your first language. However, there are plenty of ways to integrate. Try joining local neighbourhood online forums, get involved with your children’s school and join local sports clubs and activities.
Improving your English skills is another great way to help you to feel more confident in your new community. Victoria Rennoldson at A Perfect Cuppa runs courses and tutorials to improve your everyday English as well as your business English. She will also give you a helpful insight into British Culture and will take you on a fascinating fact filled tour of your local neighbourhood.
If you are relocating with young children, Mush is an app that was designed by mums to help mums everywhere to become part of their local community.
And I don’t mean in the literal sense! Here are a few ‘add-ons’ that will make your move and transition run smoothly:
- Ask a solicitor/notary to certify your passport. This will be needed for any rental property and is a useful, guaranteed ID document.
- Let your children pack a (reasonable!) sized bag of their treasured possessions. This will not only keep them entertained on their journey, but will help them to feel comforted in their new surroundings.
- A few days before you emark on your relocation, look up and join local Facebook pages. There are some very active pages in family friendly areas such as Hampstead Mums, Notting Hill Mums, Chiswick Mums & Dads and Fulham & Chelsea Mum’s Network. The members will offer valuable tips and advice about the local area including parent and child meet-ups.
- Ask your relocation agent to organise set up and transfer of utility bills in to your name. Ideally, you will arrive at your new home to correspondence from the utility companies. You will need proof of address to set up bank accounts and to register with doctors and dentists.
- Once you have moved to your new property, register with your nearest doctor’s surgery armed with proof of address and ID documents.
- For a bit of fun and to help with your London orientation, purchase The London Game before you relocate to London. This is a fun, family friendly game and the perfect way to gem up on the underground system. Trust me, you’ll feel like a tube map master when you arrive in London!
If you are relocating to London, call Harriet Rowlands to make your entire move run smoothly. To discuss property finding and schools search call Harriet on +44 (0) 782 532 1564 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org