Thinking of moving to Scotland for 2-3 years to work

Hi folks!

I have a relatively unique situation in where i have an opportunity to take my current role at an International bank and possibly relocate from the US to Glasgow where much of my team is located.  I can do a "bare bones" relocation meaning I foot most of the bill but they will handle the visa and taxes and all that.  I would make a fair bit of salary for Glasgow I believe based on my current salary.  I think we would be very comfortable.

My concerns are mostly for my three kids, who would be 12, 9, and 6.  How would they get on in school?  Would they be behind, or ahead going into the respective grade level there?  I don't know what they would have missed or need to catch up on before going there.  Would there be any issue with bullying since they are foreigners?  Do kids typically walk to school?  In looking at a couple rental properties, I noticed there were several primary schools within 1/2 mile of the house.  Can we choose what school to go to?

Housing costs/rentals are also a bit murky.  I understand there is a council tax paid by the renter.  The properties I am looking at I think some are in council g46.  If I looked correctly, council tax is around 1800-2000 pounds but that varies greatly it seems.  I assume that is per year, paid monthly and believe it includes water/sewer/trash?  I'm really trying to figure out costs here and see what it really adds up to.  We want to have money available to travel once a month.  Appreciate any help on the above.  Thanks!

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

Schools - apart from the fact we speak the same language (and even that is sometimes frustrating), there really is no comparison between the US and UK school system; we don't salute the flag, nor do we sing the national anthem at the start of the school day.  My concern would be your 12 year old as he would be returning to the US at age 15/16 with no preparation to continue in the US and be completely out of the loop for further education back home. 

For your other questions:

Some kids walk to school, others get dropped off by family, others take the bus.  Our kids walked, the school was across the road from our house.

When I came back to London from the US as a child many years ago I didn't experience any issues with my talking like a Kentucky hillbilly, but some kids do experience it; accents tend to go away after a while; I now speak English with a cockney accent, you wouldn't know I'm an American.  Years later, we moved from Holland to the UK with my job and our twins didn't speak much English, our daughter got a bit of a hard time until they realised that her twin brother was more than willing and able to look after his sister; as they say, blood is thicker than water.

There is no guarantee you will get in your local school, particularly if it is well-performing, so popular.  Do your research before you go, use Google maps to find the schools, then local FB groups may be helpful.  You may find other US families in the area.

Rent just covers the monthly rent for the property and includes nothing else.  Council tax basically pays for local services, like trash, police etc.  It's down to the occupant to pay it.   How much council tax you pay depends on the "band" your house has been classified in and then is directly related to the value of the house; you can find out about Glasgow council taxes by following this link.  Charges for water, electric and gas are also in addition to your rent and council taxes and are again down to you to pay.

A good reference to check out and compare costs and other social details is the Numbeo website; while Downingtown is featured in the data set, there is not a lot of data in there, so I've done a comparison between Philadelphia and Glasgow; this link will take you straight there.  The data is probably 6 months behind the curve, but it gives you a good feel as to what goes on.

The thing going on at the moment which is really screwing up everything is COVID; right now I wouldn't recommend moving as it's making life a bitch for most of us and if your desire is to travel while here, probably best to wait out the storm where you are until they get a vaccine sorted out and things calm down.

At the top left-hand corner of the page is a link to our Discover section, this contains our Scotland Guide, just mouse over the "Discover" and you'll get a drop-down menu and the Guide is in there.  Read it and any links it gives for general information.

Once you have done that, if you have any further specific questions, please come back to us.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

Thank you for the reply!  I did go through the guide and it was very helpful. 

I share your concern with my oldest son. And this pandemic has made it worse.  I don't want to wait too long and have him come back to the states for only one or two years of HS.  But I think the experiences of living somewhere else and traveling around Europe will probably offset any negatives or having him jump back into high school here.

Another question I've had and haven't seen answered is buying a car.  Family of 5, we would need a decent vehicle.  I would take the bus/train to work in the city center but my wife would need a car during the day.  I have read about needing local credit so do some people just simply pay cash straight away for a car?  I don't think most people can actually do that.  The bad US exchange rate exacerbates that for people moving over there.  Are there places that will lease/finance a car to expats with no local credit history?  I know you need a bank account, but does a pay statement help at all?  Kind of lost on that issue.

Hi again.

Credit - if you want to get a car on any sort of credit, you will need to have a credit rating in the UK; in fact, thinking about it, you'll struggle to get a mobile phone contract.  It normally takes 12>18 months to build up a credit score that will enable you to get credit.  There's a useful website that will take you through it, this link will take you straight there.

I used to work for a US multi; when we brought guys to the UK for a secondment (similar to what you're doing), the Company took care of credit-score things (house, car, fuel-car, phone, electrical items because UK domestic voltage is 240v as opposed to 110v in the US, TV and satellite contract).  It really isn't a hard thing for them to do because it's all 100% deductible on the company capital gains tax and assuming you transfer to the UK payroll, you pay income tax on any personal benefit.  When my company moved me from Holland to the UK, they paid for everything, removals, travel, it actually cost them nothing, it sits as a debt on the ledger until year-end and the CGT is calculated and then gets written off.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

But what do people usually do for a car if they don't have a company helping them with credit? I'm talking day 1/week 1.  I know it takes time to build up credit but you need a vehicle unless you're in the city center, and even then especially with a family of 5 who wants to experience the country.  Is the only real option paying cash?  Is there any option, even a higher interest one for getting a loan with no previous credit?

Hi again.

I was tempted to answer bicycle as a joke until it dawned on me that apart from public transport, that's it or you pay cash and buy a 2nd hand car; thinking back 25 years when we moved back to the UK, that's what I did until I got a company car, I left the family car with my wife and family in the Netherlands and I then bought an old wreck that had a years tax and inspection and just drove that until I got my 1st company car when my probation was done.

Other options - ship your current car; rent something on your US credit card?  We're now getting silly; seriously, if you can't afford to buy a car that you say you need, then perhaps moving to Scotland is not a realistic proposal.

Expat Team

Hey Chazboomer. I've just relocated to Glasgow from Michigan. Arriving on August 4, 2020.  I have two boys, ages 14&19. We are living in the west end so my youngest can walk to school. I don't have a car and don't plan to get one anytime soon. You can get everywhere on foot or public transport and rent cars for weekend trips. With Covid, and we like to travel like you, we plan to do staycations for a while.

If you want help, I'd be happy to let you know what we have done and what worked and what didn't. I'd be happy to help guide you, as I know first hand how confusing this is to do from the states.

As for kids going back and forth in school, I like you, think living abroad is a huge benefit the overcomes issues of formal education. We lived in Dublin and my kids did two years of school there. My oldest returning for his senior year at an IB school back in Michigan. It went fine and I wouldn't change any of it for the world. They agree, though fought me hard on the first international move. Now they are happy to live here rather than the US.

Anyway, let me know how I can help.