What to ship when moving from London to New York and back again

We’ve moved from London to New York and back again, with young kids in tow. The second time was a lot smoother. It does get easier.

Let’s face it. Moving house is a total pain, even if it’s just three streets away. All the logistics of dealing with utility companies, scheduling in the wifi, the tv, the landline, the gas, the electrics… it’s exhausting. But when you move countries, it is a whole other level of stress.

I’m planning a series of posts on how to nail it. This first post concentrates on what to take with you, and what to buy locally. Continue reading “What to ship when moving from London to New York and back again”

Goodbye, New York, it’s been emotional

Start spreading the news. We’re leaving today (well, next week). After three exciting, crazy years, we are leaving New York and returning to London. We’ve experienced New York at its finest, and it’s been way beyond our expectations. As the song goes, in New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do. And anything is possible. We’ve driven in New York traffic.  We’ve lived under the Obamas and the Trumps. We’ve even made a little New Yorker of our own… Fuhgeddaboudit.

I’ve been chatting about this with C, and interestingly, he says he feels like a New Yorker now, whereas I still feel like an expat. He regularly plans his weekend walks to pass specific coffee shops. You drink coffee, I drink tea, my dear. I’m an English girl in New York…

But it’s been three years, and it is time. Six year old T expressed it perfectly the other day. “We’re excited to be going back, but sad to be leaving. It’s like bitter sweet food.”

Continue reading “Goodbye, New York, it’s been emotional”

Family vay-cay in the Caymans

We’ve recently come back from the most lovely, long-overdue family holiday in Grand Cayman to celebrate C’s 40th and to kick off our farewell to this part of the world.

Getting to the Caymans from NYC

Southwest of Cuba and Northwest of Jamaica, the Caymans is a really manageable distance from NYC (one of our criteria when traveling with three young kids) less than four hours direct flight on either Jet Blue or Cayman Airways. Continue reading “Family vay-cay in the Caymans”

22 helpful things to know before you move from the UK to New York

 

There are many similarities between London and New York. There’s also a whole lot of differences. Heare my top, genuinely helpful things to know before your own move to NYC:

  1. Tips. Everyone gets tipped here. Restaurants expect 18-22% for good service, taxi drivers like you to add a dollar, hairdressers, supermarket check out staff all like tips (not obligatory). Clothes shop staff work on commission, so don’t get tips. Schools may well ask you to contribute for staff and teacher tips at Christmas. Doormen, concierge and janitors in your building also bank on a generous tip at Christmas. There’s a sliding scale for how much you give each person in your building, factoring in how long you’ve lived there, how much help each one gives you throughout the year, and how fond you are of them. It’s not unusual for a friendly Manhattan apartment doorman or concierge to get $100 tip at Christmas.
    Continue reading “22 helpful things to know before you move from the UK to New York”

Our favourite New York books for kids and adults

I am a big reader. Always have been. At school I used to climb up trees with a paperback stuck down the back of my dreadful ginger-brown cords to read during lunchbreaks. So when we found out about The Big Move, I started to read up on New York. I put a call out for recommendations on this blog and on Facebook, and started ploughing my way through them.

Here are some of my personal favourite books about New York.

For adults:

  1. New York: A Novel’, by Edward Rutherford. By far and away my favourite book about NYC. It’s a brilliant book, following the lives of one merchant family down the generations, from Dutch Beaver skin traders through to 9/11. It gives a fantastic grounding in the city’s Continue reading “Our favourite New York books for kids and adults”

Goodbye Greenwich, hello New York

All day long I’ve had that song from My Fair Lady in my head; ‘I’m getting married in the morning, ding dong the bells are going to chime!” Except I’ve been singing “New York, we’re coming in the morning,” instead.

Tomorrow’s the big day, The Big Move.
Continue reading “Goodbye Greenwich, hello New York”

Here we go round the mulberry bush

My parents are moving house too, and asked if I wanted any of the old family children’s books. They gave me the most amazing pile of old books, mostly belonging to my mother and her three older brothers from the 1940s and 50s. The Secret Garden, with gorgeous swirling drawings, some classic Beatrix Potters, an old book of nursery rhymes.
Continue reading “Here we go round the mulberry bush”

Failing my Moving To New York To Do List

Struggling to keep to my official ‘Moving To New York To Do List’ at the moment, which includes all sorts of tedious-yet-vital things. Check the airline’s baggage allowance, get the kids’ passport photos for visas, sort out International Driving Licences, call the house insurers, yaddah yaddah yaddah. There’s just so much to think about when moving countries (click here for my tips on what to bother shipping out).

Instead, I am happily ordering yet more classic British children’s books online. Alfie’s Christmas, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt… pretty much anything involving Julia Donaldson, Helen Oxenbury or Shirley Hughes.
Continue reading “Failing my Moving To New York To Do List”

Checking for horns – school interviews for three year olds

This week we flew our three year old out to New York to meet the schools we had short-listed on our previous visit. The interviews seemed to go well, since both offered her a spot.

With the help of a schools broker through relocation specialists, NYC Navigator, C and I had flown out earlier to view four schools that still had places available for this September, and narrowed it down to two. They were all incredibly warm and inviting, but explained that they would need to meet the child before they could offer a place. Presumably to check for horns. Continue reading “Checking for horns – school interviews for three year olds”

Poxy Chickens – vaccine differences between the UK and New York

Met another mum at a local Greenwich playgroup this morning who’s just back from a year in Manhattan with two kids very similar ages to ours. I invited her round for tea and she’s reeled off lots of useful information, including fact that some New York schools require a chickenpox vaccine certificate.

I didn’t even know it was possible to get a vaccine. Only last week I saw a notice on the nursery doors warning of chickenpox going round, and thought “Oh goody, so they can get it young”. Surely a vaccine is much better. Made some calls. Turns out it’s actually not possible to get it done in the UK anyway, since one of the two vaccines is no longer stocked here.

For a full list of the vaccines usually given in New York, click here.

C’s back in New York again this week. Massive rush to get all his laundry washed and ready for packing again. We’ve made a little recording of him reading The Gruffalo, to play to the girls at bedtime. They love it. And so do I.