nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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2 weeks to go

So we’ve done 2 years, 2 months and we have 2 weeks left. There is so much to do, but we have done loads; it feels OK so far. Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like near the end of our expat life in New York.

  1. You suddenly realise that living way up high in the sky is amazing and that living in a fabulous apartment building with lovely, friendly staff is just the best. You wonder how you will ever cope with opening the door yourself and consider installing a concierge desk and doorman in your new house.
  2. You know everything is ‘the last’, so you make the most of it. You max out on babysitters to go out at much as possible, going to bars and restaurants that you’ve always fancied but never quite managed. You regret not going out more, but hey, that’s OK, there has to be some time to watch the Good Wife and The Blacklist.
  3. You remember all the logistics that got you here from London and reverse them. You feel like a pro when dealing with the relocation agents, the shipping people and know all the pitfalls. It’s a nice feeling.
  4. You feel complete relief at having sorted housing and schools back in London and feel excited to be going back to what you know, the people you know and that wonderful familiarity.
  5. You make sure you can get rid of all those things you can’t take with you and because you have a thing about recycling, find people who will love them after you are done with them. Still can’t find a home for the iron, but you keep on looking.
  6. You make time to see all the people you have come to know and go out with them to talk about how great it has been but it’s over, it was always a short gig and yes, you’re happy to go home. This may mask some more emotional feelings, but being British, best kept inside. Ahem.
  7. You try to work out how to tell your toddler they are leaving the only home they know and the school they love. Focus on what’s important: the number of the house you are moving to. It’s very important when you are only 3.
  8. You help your nearly 9 year old think through the move, what it will be like to go back to her old school, to where she remembers, knows people and feels happy. Enjoy the excitement she feels.
  9. You make a mental list of all the nice New York food that you want to take back, just to ease the transition. You hanker after a trip to Sainsbury’s but know secretly you will miss the inconsistent world of Fairway’s. A bit.
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And so it begins: the clear out

It feels like time is slipping away already. I am on a major drive to purge our apartment of stuff we just don’t need. We have been carrying around items for years that we move from house to house and never use. But that ends now. I am on a mission to have a big clear out.

So how do you get rid of things in New York City? Well, according to our doorman you need the Salvation Army. Sounds extreme, but he’s right, they collect all your unwanted goods and sell them on to make money for their own charitable needs. I booked a pick up online last night at www.satruck.org. It’s a really good website that allows you to specify the goods you want to donate (although some of their categories are a bit esoteric), where you want them collected from and when. I was amazed at the lead time, it’ll be another 2 weeks before the boxes are collected, so I’m glad I did this early.

Then there’s the electrics. We had to buy electrics that drew any considerable amount of power, so that includes the hair dryer, toaster, kettle, hoover, shredder, blender and dust buster. I am looking for good homes for them all now, except the dust buster that will go in the bin as it’s completely worn out from collecting all the crud on our white kitchen floor! The electrical goods will be hopeless back in the UK and we already have them all sitting in a lonely storage crate in the back of beyond.

And of course there’s toys and baby clothes. J has gone from being a 10 month old baby when we arrived to a 3 year old tornado. He has a lot of baby things we just don’t need now and there will be no baby 3, that’s for sure. So, I have been sending these off to someone I know who has a boy exactly 2 years younger than J.

Even the buggy will go. Kids in New York stay in buggies way longer than UK kids because of the amount of walking they seem to do to get to school. I have seen 5 year olds in buggies. But not us. I am determined the nearly 9 year old Maclaren will not be going home and will go to the buggy tip and the 3 year old Mountain Buggy is off to Queens. Don’t tell J.

I’m sure there will be more to go, but it’s a good start. So cathartic.