I moved last year into my home, these were things I looked for in a house and am prepping for the move so I thought they may be things you should consider:
All the Best!
American to Britain
- Location, location, location: I currently live and work in Cambridge. I like the fact that I cycle to work. I know that as Americans we are bred to commute to work but believe you me, it is not the same. In America, if a fender bender occurs, the rest of the traffic proceeds as usual. Here, it comes to a stand still. I used to live in Newmarket and commuted in but it all adds up. I suggest you think about your everyday trip. Its nice to think you might go to Oxford once a month, which is a two hours drive but if you are finding a house that will make this trip an hours drive shorter but your hubby has to drive an hour everyday to suit this (times five!) that doesn't make financial or time management sense. BUT thats just me. The house we bought means I have to cycle 10 minutes more each way (but that is 10 minutes less I have to workout :P)
- Amenities: Everyone says that they are only going to shop off base in the markets and yada, yada, yada (that's for the Seinfeld fans). Truth is everyone likes comfort and people find comfort in food. The only place to get the mac and cheese how you remember it is the Commissionary. I will be writing a post about how I save money shopping at the grocery store since I no longer have access to the base, but a lot of people still are devoted to the Commissionary. I have told you many times that I have an allergy to milk and soya which means I cannot have processed foods or many of the American favorites like mac and cheese :( Don't worry, it keeps me thin! The point of this point is that you need to think about what you need. For me, I do a big shop either online or once a month in my car at a huge supermarket like Tescos or Sainsbury. The other days I go to the local Co-op or butchers, to get the bits to tie me over. I obviously bank with the local bank and use the local post office (I do not recommend you using one if you have access to an APO box- it costs a fortune to ship to the US!).] You need to think about what you are really going to do. If you like to have a coffee at 11 a.m. and have done so for 10 years, moving to England is not going to change that. Habits are hard to change and they do not change with the time zones. You know what you do and what you would like to and in the middle is the probably where you can move to. Rome was not built in a day and you cannot change everything you know in a day, I know I have tried! You need to have an idea of what you need today and go off that not what you would like to be. Sorry for the rant but I see this all the time. BTW my new house, Co-op, 5 pubs, bank and post office so good to go!
- Take this chance to get rid of your junk! I have been selling my stuff on Gumtree, Varagesales, FB groups and giving whatever else on Freecycle. In fact, Saturday I am doing a carboot sale. I don't have a huge sentiment with my crap. There are some stuff that I refuse to give up. Living over here has made me become accustomed to the lack of storage the houses have. Have a jumble sale, donate to charity shops and feel how free it is to let go of things (and put the money aside to buy the things you do need in the new location). In fact, as I am writing this I am waiting on someone to buy my Freeview box.
- If you get rid of the stuff you do not need, you don't need to get a house big enough to store it in. Okay so we currently live in a 2.5 bedroom, 2 bath, dinging room, living room and conservatory which we could have bought but we choose to move to a 3 bedroom, dining room, living room and one bath. We only need so much space. This allows us to grow and allows me to get rid of unneeded items that I was holding onto fill this house. It cost 3 times as much to run a house here (I will write a post on how to keep you costs down).
- Go for double glazed always. Look at the EPC ratings this is important. This directly reflects what you pay to run the house. The bases tell you to get something D or above and your utilities will be covered by your allowance. For non-military related, A-D means it is affordable otherwise you could be paying too much to heat your home. The current house we are living in is freezing cold and you can never go wrong with being warm.
- Do not take a bigger phone contract than you need. I recently went through this. I had a Blackberry and a pay as you go contract. Since we are buying a house I am trying to keep my costs down. So after sadly returning my Xperia Z1 before the cooling off period, I decided I would prefer a phone and contract that was 15 pounds cheaper ($ ). I figured that I would have access to Wifi at home and work and if I needed it its everywhere, Starbucks and more. So why did I need to pay so much? Also the time I have had away from being attached to my phone, has shown me that I don't need it as much as I thought- thank goodness my new phone, Xperia SP, and contract 22 pounds (300 mins, unlimited texts and 500 MB) is on its way!
- This gets on my nerve a lot- crime. The areas around the bases are very safe when compared to the crime rates in America. However you can look up and see what is going on where here. One make sure you are insured- helped me when my bike was stolen. Although the affluent area we live in has been hit up lately but apparently Dusty (my dog) is a deterrent.
- Schools- I used to be one of those children that had to ride the school bus for an hour to school and back and no this is not the same story you hear from your grandfather that he had to walk to school 3 miles uphill both ways. My stop was the first and last on the route. I cannot personally agree with parents doing that to their children when it not only takes time away from their homework and other activities. I suggest you live in an area 30 minutes or less BY BUS if you choose to send your children on base. Others will often find that they will be able to walk their children to school. I suggest that children 9 and below go to school off base. It is a great learning experience, they are ahead (1.5 years) and they will catch your children up. After this point American and European schools four on different skills and different teaching styles. If you think you would like to enroll your children in schools after 9, you need to meet with the head at the school to make a decision. In some cases your children may need to be held back to catch up as they have to meet the requirements for their age range.
All the Best!
American to Britain