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Navigating a Family Move in London: Beginning Your Journey

Manny Sahmbi January 19, 2024

Updated: February 15th, 2024

Navigating a family move to or around London can be an overwhelming task for anyone, although it is especially challenging for families. Managing budgets, timelines, and logistical arrangements alongside work while taking care of kids can be a big ask. 

As an experienced removals company in London, a large portion of our customers are families – and it’s safe to say we have learned what you should, and what you shouldn’t do if you want to enjoy a smooth family move.

We offer house removals for families to support you with every step of your journey, although this is not a sales pitch. If we can make your move more manageable, with or without providing a service, we have done our job!

So, how can you start navigating this shift into the next chapter of your family’s life?

Finding the Right School for Your Children

A big question when moving home is where your children will go to school. Within that, there’s the question of state vs private school – both have their advantages, and of course one is free. There is no wrong answer and we would encourage you to be open-minded in your selection process to find the best option (more on this in a second).

A useful website for locating schools near your new home or preferred area is Locrating. You simply type ‘London’ or the specific area within London, and the results will appear:

On this map view you can select any of the schools and find more information about them, including contact details and links to the website to speed up next steps.

State School vs Private School

The key differences between private and state schools in the UK primarily revolve around funding, curriculum, class sizes, and extracurricular activities. 

State schools, funded and regulated by the government, follow a national curriculum and admit students based on local catchment areas. There are various types, such as community, foundation, grammar, and academies – each with specific characteristics. 

Private schools, independently funded and operated, have more freedom in curriculum choices and often have smaller class sizes and a wider range of extracurricular activities. They may require entrance exams and interviews for admission, and are known for offering enhanced opportunities for student development. But of course, there are usually significant fees to consider.

This academic review provides a deeper look into the advantages and disadvantages of private and state schools in the UK. We would encourage you to seek further information before making a final decision, although this should lay out the general themes to be aware of.

Finding a Family-Friendly Neighbourhood

London is home to a wide variety of neighbourhoods, each with its unique charm. Consider factors like safety, accessibility, community vibe, and proximity to schools and parks. Our top picks are Richmond, St John’s Wood, and Chiswick. Here’s a bit more info about these desirable areas.

Living in Richmond

Situated in Southwest London, Richmond is an affluent area known for its scenic beauty and serene environment. It offers a blend of village charm and city convenience, making it highly attractive for families. The area boasts two of London’s largest green spaces, Kew Gardens and Richmond Park, providing plenty of outdoor space and activities for families. Additionally, its low crime rate and proximity to the city centre make it a favoured choice among families??.

Living in St John’s Wood

Known for its leafy streets and elegant Victorian architecture, St John’s Wood is a highly desirable neighbourhood in Central London that is particularly appealing to families.

This area stands out for its serene atmosphere, offering a slower pace of life within the bustling city. It’s a place where community and tranquillity are valued, making it an ideal location for those seeking a family-friendly environment. 

While it’s one of the pricier areas in London, the investment is often considered worthwhile due to the combination of its peaceful ambience, beautiful surroundings, and proximity to essential amenities like quality schools and local shops. These factors collectively make St John’s Wood a top choice for families looking for a harmonious blend of city living and suburban comfort.

Living in Chiswick

Located to the west of London’s city centre, Chiswick is known for its village-like feel. The area is famous for its quiet streets, low crime rate, and independent stores, making it ideal for families seeking a peaceful neighbourhood. Chiswick also boasts a range of high-performing schools, further enhancing its appeal to families with school-age children. While it offers a quiet, suburban experience, its proximity to central London ensures residents do’nt miss out on the big city benefits.

Family Packing Tips

Moving home can be a significant undertaking, especially when it comes to packing up everything you own. However, with a structured approach, you can make this task manageable and even efficient. Here are some essential steps to help you get started:

  1. How and Where to Start: Organise your packing process by making a plan of action. It’s usually best to start with rooms you use less frequently and end with essential spaces like your kitchen and bedroom. This way, you minimise disruption to your daily life during the packing period.
  2. Packing Supply List: Before diving into the packing process, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. This list should include various-sized boxes, bubble wrap for delicate items, packing paper, strong tape for sealing boxes, and markers for clear labelling. Having these items ready in advance prevents last-minute scrambles and ensures the safety of your belongings during the move.
  3. Choosing and Managing Boxes: Consider both new and slightly-used boxes for packing. Slightly-used boxes can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly choice, but make sure they are sturdy enough for your items. Clearly label each box with its contents and the room it’s destined for – this will be a significant help when unpacking. Happy2Move offers packing materials if you are unable to source used boxes.
  4. Handling of Fragile Items: Identify items that require special care, such as fragile pieces, hazardous materials, or valuables. Plan how to pack these items properly to ensure they’re transported safely.
  5. Decluttering: Moving is a perfect opportunity to declutter. Go through your belongings and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or throw away. This not only makes packing easier, but also means there’s less to unpack in your new home.
  6. Essentials Box: Prepare an essentials box with things you’ll need during the last few days in your old home and the first few days in the new one. This should include toiletries, a few changes of clothes, basic kitchen supplies, and crucial documents.

But, for some people, the time it takes to do all these pre-move tasks can outweigh the cost savings of managing the packing yourself. In which case, it might be quicker and easier to hire a professional packing and removals service. At Happy2Move, we offer cost-effective plans tailored to every budget and timeline. Our experience handling these tasks daily takes the weight off your shoulders.

Managing Moving Day with the Kids

Moving day, particularly with children and pets, is often chaotic. To ease the transition, we have several tips: 

  • Prepare an inventory.
  • Familiarise your family with the new area.
  • Even visit your future home ahead of time if possible.
  • Planning activities can be very helpful, for example: colouring books, puzzles, and favourite toys.
  • Involving kids in the moving process with tasks like sorting or packing their own things can be a great way to keep them occupied.
  •  Creating a quiet zone with comfortable seating for reading or watching films can be especially helpful in a new home without immediate Wi-Fi.
  • Keeping a stock of easy, mess-free snacks and drinks, along with scheduling regular breaks, ensures everyone stays hydrated and rested – these breaks also offer chances to check out your new area. 

It’s important to remember that these tips aren’t foolproof, as children often struggle with big changes. The key is to be kind to yourself during this process, get some space when you need it, and keep the ultimate goal in mind. 

Our family moving day checklist breaks down these steps and more to make the process as ‘happy’ as possible!

Unpacking and Setting Up Your New Home

Settling into your new home after a move can be a daunting task, but with the right approach, you can make it a smooth and stress-free experience. Here’s a condensed guide on how to efficiently unpack and settle into your new space:

  1. Start with a Clean Slate: Before unpacking, give your new home a thorough clean from top to bottom. This includes wiping down walls, cleaning windows, and dusting surfaces.
  2. Furniture First: Before diving into the boxes, arrange your furniture in its intended spots. This step helps in visualising the space and makes unpacking more organised.
  3. Unpack Essentials: Begin with essential items like bathroom supplies and bedroom necessities. This ensures you have immediate access to the most needed things, like being able to use the bathroom or having a ready bed on the first night.
  4. Prioritise Comfort for Anxious Family Members: If someone in your family is particularly anxious about the new environment, focus on setting up their space first. A familiar and comfortable area can ease their transition.
  5. Involve the Kids: Depending on their age and interests, involve your children in the unpacking process. This can help them adjust to the new home and keep them occupied. Alternatively, prepare activities to keep them engaged while you focus on unpacking.

Overcoming Unpacking Procrastination

  1. Set a Deadline: Creating a sense of urgency can help maintain momentum. Choose a realistic date by which you want to have everything unpacked and stick to it.
  2. Break It Down: Tackle the process in small, manageable chunks. Write down tasks on Post-It notes and enjoy the satisfaction of removing them as you complete each task.
  3. Minimise Distractions: Keep distractions to a minimum. This could mean keeping the kids busy, playing music instead of watching TV, or keeping your phone out of reach.
  4. Clean as You Go: Maintain tidiness by cleaning up packing materials as you unpack each room. This keeps the chaos under control and makes the process less overwhelming.

Once you’re settled, you can finally relax and enjoy your new home! If the above sounds too large a task to manage alone, then you might prefer to book a service like Happy2Move to take some of the load. We can unpack your belongings as you explore your new area and settle in.

Integrating into the London Community

Join local clubs, participate in school events, and engage in community activities. These efforts will help you and your family build social connections and adapt more quickly to London life. 

After relocating to London with family, it can be nerve wracking to put yourself out there to actively build your community, although please be reassured by the fact that many people are in the same boat. A great platform for discovering events, local clubs, and people is Meetup. You simply search for a hobby of interest in your area, and the results appear:

Exploring London with Your Family

A huge benefit of moving to London with family is the vast array of family-friendly activities to choose from. Explore the city’s rich history, parks, and attractions to fully embrace the London experience. 

In terms of finding the best places for your interests, we’d recommend checking out tripadvisor. It provides a clear breakdown of activities you can choose from, with customer ratings and the ability to book directly on the platform. 

As Londoners ourselves, we at Happy2Move would be more than happy to offer our personal tips for where you can take your children on a fun day out. We are always happy to help, just say the word.

Get Step by Step Guidance and Support from Movers

For a stress-free move, book Happy2Move’s expert services. We boast years of experience managing family moves in London, helping you save time, reduce costs, and lower your stress levels. Get a free quote from Happy2Move, a family-friendly removals company.

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