Uprooting the family to London
April 28, 2009 9:59 PM   Subscribe

My Wife will be pursuing a PHD in UK in 2010 lasting 4 years. We are planning to uproot the family to London (a 3yr old kid + me) Question: Has anyone have similar experience?

What are the options available for the husband in terms of getting employment (visa issues?) and what kind of costs are we looking at (rent, childcare) and how much dough realistically I need to save?

Background: I work in IT (as a .NET/Java programmer/Team Lead).

I am thinking of pursing a Masters Degree in UK, and seeking employment thereafter, would it make it easier?
posted by merv to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am in a slightly similar situation, my wife took a job in the u.k. and I am here as a trailing spouse.

Your husband will most likely be on a dependent visa (here is info), which means they will not be tied to a single job and can work anywhere.

I can't help too much with living expenses and such in London as I live in a very different place and my wife's employer set it up. I would assume your school would probably publish some sort of international support information.

Check out expats sites. There is a lot of useful information. Sadly, I nuked those bookmarks, but a simple search should turn up a bunch of info.

Go for the Masters if it interests you, there are a lot of part-time study options available if you want to keep working as well.

Living can be expensive, but just getting here can be too. Shipping and such took a lot out of us and in reality we only shipped books (and animal "immigration").
posted by sundri at 11:30 PM on April 28, 2009

Just to throw this out there...4 years is fairly ambitious for a PhD program. It's sort of dependent on the field, but you throw in family, kids, adjusting to a life abroad, and that 4 years could more realistically be 6. I would plan for that, and be happily surprised when she has finished early. Good luck to you all.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:44 AM on April 29, 2009

iamkimiam, four years is the normal length of a full-time PhD in the UK.

merv, you will need to pay international student fees if you do end up studying yourself, until you've lived here for five years. But that still might work out cheaper than studying in the US.

Here's a previous thread on the cost of living in London.
posted by goo at 1:10 AM on April 29, 2009

This site has general u.k. edu info for internationals.

Specific info on what goo raised, it's 3 years for residency for most people, some exceptions.
posted by sundri at 1:42 AM on April 29, 2009

Your husband will most likely be on a dependent visa

I'm not sure this holds for spouses of students, although it may depend on the exact circumstances of how your wife is let in (i.e. her visa).

The IT market is so-so at the moment: lots of scared or depressed talk but there is still a reasonable amount of work about (it is London after all). However, your visa situation may effect this and has to be resolved first.

Other than that, I'd refer you to the above mentioned thread on cost of living in London. It's still fairly up to date.
posted by outlier at 3:00 AM on April 29, 2009

Best answer: This site tracks the UK IT market; not sure how your skills will slot in but this is a good starting point.

London living costs: where is wife your studying? Transportation clearly will drive lots of your decisions.

Most of Central London is very, very pricey, so many folks tend to end up in Zone 3 and beyond. This can give you a good idea of how London is organised from a transportation viewpoint.

Mrs Mutant and myself live in Whitechapel, Zone 2. Its a very in-your-face urban area, not sure how amenable to a newly transplanted couple with child, although there are lots of families.

We're in London's East End because we work in banking and both of the financial districts are an easy walk. Also its very, very cheap. Not only our mortgage (and rent if you ended up here), but also Council Tax (renters in London have to pay Council Tax so make sure you inquire before you secure a flat), restaurants, cinemas, etc.

This web site can help you compare supermarket prices, although we purchase much of our food at street markets. This list isn't exclusive (seems like more than a few have been left out), but maybe it will help you select a neighbourhood to live in.

Keep in mind the street markets aren't ALWAYS cheaper, but for some things you can beat a bricks and mortar store price by 50% or more. And, best of all, you can haggle (I spent a lot of time living & working in Africa and The Middle East and I surely do love to negotiate prices); even if you're bad at haggling an American accent might just get you a deal. Americans are very, very thin on the ground in Whitechapel.

And finally - London isn't expensive! Mrs Mutant and I live on £32 a day, all in. Top costs are food (£70 / week), mortgage (£57 / week) & council tax £22 / week).

Folks have to work maybe a little more at living cheap, but if you budget carefully, know exactly what you're buying, how much it should cost and where to purchase it cheaply, you can live quite well for a resonable sum.

Let us know how you're getting on. And lets have a meet up once you're here!
posted by Mutant at 3:48 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Got pets? The UK is really serious about keeping rabies out. Someone can correct this if I mis-remember, but the animals will be kept in quarantine for 6 months at your expense. You get to pick the place and go out to visit on weekends, but you can't get around it.
posted by justcorbly at 4:45 AM on April 29, 2009

3 years for residency for most people, some exceptions

Sweet! Thanks sundri - it's reduced since I last looked for info.
posted by goo at 5:24 AM on April 29, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to all for your answers, at the very least, you provided me with some useful starting points to obtain information.
posted by merv at 6:01 AM on April 29, 2009

Please note that because of Mutant's unusual mortgage situation, his costs are vastly lower than most Londoners. We paid £950 per month four years ago for a 2 bed in E15 (good for transport, great for mixed ethnicity, now heaving with bloody Olympic Village), plus £1,300 per year in council tax.

Most rentals are let furnished so do not bring any furniture. Do bring books. Do be prepared for SEVERE sticker shock.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is there information on which parts of London are generally not 'family friendly', and with higher crime rates?

I do not want to rent a place and later find out the next door is a crack house.
posted by merv at 6:35 AM on April 29, 2009

Merv, try UpMyStreet for crime and suchlike, although London is weird in that you have pockets of crime and blight a couple of streets away from palatial luxury all over the place. Very expensive areas like Kensington etc are nominally safer (but waaay pricey), but there's safe streets and areas in Brixton, Whitechapel and everywhere else too. Google Street View is a good way to get a rough feel for an area without being physically able to visit.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:37 AM on April 29, 2009

justcorbly: they let you "quarantine" in your home country. But your pet(s) need vaccines, chipping and paperwork 6 mos before entry to the U.K. Here is the DEFRA info. I brought 4 ferrets with me 2 years ago, doubt much has changed.
posted by sundri at 11:18 AM on April 29, 2009

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