Relocation to London is no doubt an exciting adventure to couples moving to London, but what about the couples with children? Children are told only after their parents have fully committed to moving to London, they really have no say in the matter. If your children are pre-school age this obviously is not a problem, but what about older children. While kids between the six and ten generally form attachments at school, in their neighborhood, or with sports team members, these children are more likely to land on their feet and adapt well once they attend school and make new friends. If you’re an American moving to London, or a Canadian moving to London there are so many neighborhoods that are primarily expat inhabited that children this age may not even need to wait to meet fellow expat kids at school.
The children over ten, particularly teenage children find it hardest to adapt. In this series of posts we’ll cover the PROCESS of preparing them for your relocation, and how to bring them along prior to your relocation UK move. Part of the reason that it is so difficult is not that they are “teenagers” so it seems everything is hard (which is true, my 16 year old is living proof), but because so much of their identity at this age is social in nature. Teenage years are “all about ME”, so their activities, hobbies and social relationships. So much so that once you arrive in England after moving you may find your teen actually grieving the losses of these things when they arrive. Mourning behavior is normal during the adjustment period when your teen first experiences your relocation. So prepare for this mentally in advance and as difficult as it is, know that it is a normal process they will go through, but that the stage will pass.
Now relocation agents will tell you that where you live will determine where your children go to school if you have not opted for a private school. However, those with teens should speak to the relocation agents at relocation services companies and explain that they have a child teen age, and what sort of neighborhood will make them feel most at home. Your relocation agent will tell you that there are plenty of neighborhoods consisting of mainly expats. This may be best considered if you have a teen that is dead set against the idea of moving to London, and has shown in the past a history of difficulty with social engagement.
I know that certainly if you are living in one of these areas, Camden, Covent Gardens, and the like, your family will have access to more familiar things from America or Canada. Even the groceries you buy will be more of what you’re used to at home. For some teens that live on cereal, mac and cheese, or must have Oreos or American ice cream (English ice cream is quite different) this can be of great benefit. Anything that feels like they can still keep life somewhat the same inside your new London apartment will help.
Over the next couple weeks we will dive more into important ways to start the process of preparing your teens to live as expats after the relocation. Until then keep in mind that moving to London takes mental prep work with your teen. Much like everything with teens, it takes time for them to adjust. The earlier you start to help them mentally and emotionally prepare for relocation UK, the easier and faster the transition will be once you arrive in your new home.