I have a lengthy post half written with advice for families moving to London and/or England. I found loads of helpful websites and forums before moving here but there’s not a lot specifically for those moving with kids. I actually found a list of questions I posted before our big move early last year that I’m also hoping to answer for myself. However knowing me it will be a little while before I’ve finished either of those!
Here’s a quick list of websites that I’ve found super helpful in the past 16 months. These are aimed more at once you’re in the country. My next post will cover pointers and links to help you out BEFORE the big move to the U.K.
Moonpig (greeting cards for family back home) – Moonpig is based in the UK, the USA and Australia. This is great because you can customise birthday cards, Christmas cards, Mothers Day cards etc. with photos and your own text and only pay local postage to have it sent directly to your family or friends. The cards are great quality and our family love receiving a pretty card with photos of us and the kidlets! We mailed Christmas cards to family last Christmas and it cost us a fortune and a whole lot of fuss. This year I’ll definitely be doing it through moonpig (I’m intrinsically lazy so its right up my alley).
English Heritage Annual Pass – This recommendation depends entirely on your situation. If you have kids (especially if like us you have more than 1) then the English Heritage annual pass is a great option to get you out of the house and seeing parts of England affordably. When we lived in the West Midlands we were 10 minutes from Kenilworth Castle. Most English Heritage Castle’s and property’s are very kid friendly and have loads of space for kids to run around. On top of that they are steeped in history and the views are almost always spectacular! An adult with an English Heritage annual pass can bring up to 6 children for free to any of the properties. Kids for FREE!! Can’t beat that! English weather is a bit gloomy for a large part of the year (not that I’m complaining) so having a list of places to visit is great when you and the kids are bored senseless.
Road Trips – the motorways in the UK are awesome compared to Australia. They are fast, wide and direct. Naturally if your single or a couple without kids then you can fly all over Europe cheaply and this recommendation probably doesn’t apply to you. If you have 2 or more kids like us then renting a car and driving around the UK is going to be significantly cheaper than airfare (wooohoooo! roadtrip!!!). Try: http://www.visitscotland.com/ and http://www.visitwales.co.uk/ both have accommodation searches. We shacked up in a gorgeous cottage on a cattle farm in Scotland for Christmas last year. Yes it took us 12 hours in sleet and snow to drive up there (probably wouldn’t recommend it) but it was fun in a tedious and nail-biting kinda way. The cottage had more room then the house we were living in and a much bigger kitchen then we currently have.
UpmyStreet – If you are sifting through real estate sites trying to pick an area you’d like to live in then check out this website. You can find out about school’s in proximity to the house you’re looking at, the crime rates and even a general breakdown on the kind of people living in the area. When I was picking an area I googled terms like, “family friendly area London” and once I had a shortlist of regions I checked prices on websites like, http://www.findaproperty.com/ and then punched in the postcode of any houses that fit my criteria in upmystreet. Be sure to check out the Ofsted reports of the nearest school’s!
http://www.australianfoodonline.co.uk/ – For those times when you’ve run out of Cherry Ripe’s, proper Milo and Tim Tam’s and you’re in between emergency food package’s from your Mum!
Sainsburys website – Grocery shopping can be overwhelming at the best of times with kids in tow, let alone when you’re in a new country and have so many other things to worry about. Obviously there are heaps of options, I’ve suggested Sainsbury because you can get free delivery if you get your groceries delivered on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and spend £100 or more.