The decision to move to another country to live is a difficult one no matter what your age and circumstances. When you have children however, any choice you make has to take their needs and best interests into consideration.
England as a whole is a great choice in terms of whole family relocation, with many towns and cities which have a great amount of history and culture within them. You also have the option to travel to Scotland, Wales and over to Northern Ireland too, all forming part of the UK. However, most families moving to England for work often find themselves in the vibrant capital city, London.
London is the largest city in England and, as we just mentioned, it’s capital city. There are countless opportunities in terms of culture, entertainment, history, and a very multi-cultural vibe across the entire city span. Whether you find yourself based in North London, South, East, West, or further afield in the Greater London scope, this is a city which certainly doesn’t sleep too much, but always has an opportunity for fun and growth to hand.
When you decide to move to London as a family you need to think very carefully about where you’re going to base yourselves. London is huge, but it does have a very good public transport system, via the Underground (also known as The Tube), the Overground train service, an extensive but network, and of course, taxis. Driving in London can be quite difficult due to traffic, especially during rush hours and holiday periods. In addition, the congestion charge in central London means you have to pay to actually get into the centre of the city. With that in mind, most people choose to use public transport instead, but it’s an option if you do want to drive yourself.
There are also many towns which are close to London and can be visited as a day trip, such as Brighton, Dover, Oxford, and many small coastal towns. Put simply, you’re never going to be stuck in the city when you live in London and that’s what makes it so great for families. There are also much more green, open spaces than you might realise, and that’s not only in Hyde Park!
Educational Considerations When Moving to London With Children
So, what do you need to consider when moving to London with children?
You have to think very carefully about everything when you have children in tow, and that means pre-planning. The first thing you need to think about is where you’re going to live, and from there you need to think about schools. It could be that you choose where you live according to a specific school you want your children to go to. There are several international schools in London, which are options, and there are boarding schools too. Every borough has a range of infant, junior, and senior schools to choose from, and you can find information on all of these online, giving you scores and how well the school has performed in the OFSTED grades. This is a reflection of different performance markers, and show you which schools may be the best for your child.
From there, you will need to contact the school and discuss admittance. Every school has different criteria, so this is something you will need to research very carefully. It also depends upon volume of children already at the school, as to whether your chosen school will have space for your child to attend. Despite that, you won’t struggle to find a quality school for your child, however if English isn’t your child’s first language you will need to explore International schools in particular.
Of course, you could also choose to employ the services of a governess, who can work with your child in the home setting in terms of their education and help them to learn English far quicker as a result. This is something else to think about.
The good news is that your child is probably not going to struggle to make friends in a city as large as London. The capital is full of families from all walks of life, and that includes families who have moved to London from different countries.
A Multicultural City With History at Every Turn
London is one of the most historic cities on the planet and here you can teach your child about days gone by, right in the heart of where it all happened. There are many free museums to visit at the weekend, and all the main London historic spots can be seen from the street. Living in London is almost like living in a real-life museum!
Despite that, the language barrier could be an issue if you don’t think carefully beforehand. Obviously, English is extremely widely spoken and whilst there are many people from all over the world, most do speak English. You will find many English speaking schools around the city and many tutors who can help your child to learn. Immersing your child in an English speaking city is a great way to help them learn on the go, and obviously being able to speak English will help them in their future, especially in their career, whatever they choose to do.
Living amongst a multicultural atmosphere also helps your child to become very openminded and tolerant, which is what we all want for our children! People in London may have a reputation of being a little cold, e..g not speaking to anyone on the Tube, but that is simply city life; overall, Londoners are very friendly and if you need help, e.g. you need to ask directions, everyone will help you.
There are also many opportunities for your child to learn not only about history as we mentioned before, but also about the various cultures which have touched and shaped London into what it is today. You can also teach your child about the English monarchy, with Buckingham Palace being in the centre of London and open for people to visit at specific times.
Healthcare Arrangements to Make
Aside from somewhere to live and schooling, you also have to remember to enrol your child in a doctor’s surgery to ensure that they have their own GP. This is a General Practitioner and that means that if your child is sick, you will go that surgery and see a doctor easily. It may not be your child’s named GP per se, depending upon how busy they are, but it will be a doctor within that surgery’s four walls.
The same advice goes for enrolling your child, indeed your entire family, in dental surgery. You can opt for private dental surgeries or NHS-based surgeries, but as a foreign family moving to the UK, you will not be eligible for NHS treatment unless you have a specific pre-paid entitlement. This is something you will know about, but overall, payment of treatment is something you need to be aware of. If you are from an EU country however, you could use the EHIC card, but do bear in mind that the UK is currently negotiating to leave the EU, which is at the moment scheduled for October this year.
Eye sighting testing is also something you need to think about and you’ll find many different opticians on the High Street. You simply walk in and make an appointment, that simple.
Childcare Arrangements to Consider
If your child is not yet of school age, there are a few options you can think about in terms of childcare and how you can help your child to make new friends. We mentioned that there are many free spaces in London and there are many large playgrounds where children can play freely and meet other children. This is also a great opportunity for you to meet other parents too. As we mentioned before, most people are very friendly and this is a good place to socialise and make your move much easier. We all need connections with other people!
Young children have the option of going to creche or a playgroup before they start school, which is around the age of 4. This enables them to meet other children and use active play methods to ensure they meet their developmental milestones. You will also find many other child-focused activities in and around London, and these are all advertised online, making them easy to find.
Another option to think about is hiring a nanny. A nanny can help calm the waters of a move, which can be quite distressing to a child, especially a young child who may be slightly out of routine. You can choose to live in or live out options, whatever you’re comfortable with, and part time or full time options too. All of this means that you can do the things you need to do as you arrive, such as finding schools, registering at doctor’s surgeries and familiarising yourself with area, and you can rest at ease knowing that your child is looked after and with their nanny the entire time.
This is certainly something to consider and an option which will make your life far easier as a result. In addition, a nanny may help your child to learn to speak English very quickly, through total immersion. This will allow your child to settle in very fast, make new friends, and adjust to life in a new country as a result.
Why Moving to London is a Great Option
With all these points taken into consideration, moving to London is a great option for a family and will provide your child, or your children, with a fantastic spot to grow up and learn about the world. The multi-cultural feel of London will open your eyes to people and cultures that they may never have come into contact with otherwise, helping them to become open-minded and tolerant of differences. With the world we live in currently, that is a very important trait for your child to develop and one which they will find easy to obtain in London.
You can also very easily reach other nearby places and show your child different sides of the country. England as a whole is very easy to explore, with long-distance coaches, rail networks, and of course, driving opportunities linking together all the major towns and cities. The south-west coastal resorts of Devon and Cornwall are certain must visits and will open your child’s eyes to the wonder of nature, whilst the culture and differences of the north of the country are worth exploring too. England as a whole is never static and the different experiences you can have travelling and explore in your spare time will be something your child will certainly enjoy.
As for London as a whole, this offers a fantastic base for a family. The many schools which are in and around the main central London area make education easy, and the countless free cultural attractions around also mean that your child can learn and experience things first hand. Choosing the right childcare will also mean that your child doesn’t miss out on exploring and learning whilst you’re at work or doing whatever it is that you need to do. Again, a nanny could be a good option here, giving you peace of mind that your child is looked after and supported whilst you’re working or away from the house on other commitments.
Of course, London has very easy links to major cities around the world, with four major airports in and around the city itself. This means friends and family can visit, or you can go and visit them very easily, without having to make life difficult for yourself.
Of course, a move to any country around the world needs to be planned and considered carefully when you have children, but London is a city which actually makes life a little easier for you overall.