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Old 02-27-2012, 07:01 AM
 
175 posts, read 312,282 times
Reputation: 245

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My husband and I have been struggling with this decision for a long time. I know an anonymous chat room isn't the best way to resolve it, but I'm still curious about what opinions might be.

My husband is Scottish, I am from the Corpus Christi area and most of my family live around Alice. My husband's in oil and gas. We currently live in the Aberdeen area of Scotland with our two kids (2 and 6 months) where quality of life is high (breathtaking scenery, forest walks, virtually zero crime, excellent schools) but also very expensive. We own a home here, but need to upgrade to a larger house, which will cost us somewhere in the 325K range ($500-600K). Everything else is expensive here, too.

We are considering a move to Houston for the low cost of living and my husband strongly prefers the weather there (he likes the heat). I miss my family and would be able to see them more often if we moved to Houston, but not extremely frequently as they live so far away. His family is here and they are nice people.

Stay here and be poor or go home and make more money but deal with heat, crime, ugliness... ugh, I just don't know what to do!

What is life like in Houston with little ones? Are there areas which would offer a space for them to run around, or are they stuck inside due to the heat most of the year? Are there any neighborhoods in Houston that are better for families? And are there any alternatives to big ass houses on tiny plots of land with no privacy? We are looking to spend about $250-300K on a house.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:25 AM
 
Location: League City
3,267 posts, read 6,279,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bronstew View Post
My husband and I have been struggling with this decision for a long time. I know an anonymous chat room isn't the best way to resolve it, but I'm still curious about what opinions might be.

My husband is Scottish, I am from the Corpus Christi area and most of my family live around Alice. My husband's in oil and gas. We currently live in the Aberdeen area of Scotland with our two kids (2 and 6 months) where quality of life is high (breathtaking scenery, forest walks, virtually zero crime, excellent schools) but also very expensive. We own a home here, but need to upgrade to a larger house, which will cost us somewhere in the 325K range ($500-600K). Everything else is expensive here, too.

We are considering a move to Houston for the low cost of living and my husband strongly prefers the weather there (he likes the heat). I miss my family and would be able to see them more often if we moved to Houston, but not extremely frequently as they live so far away. His family is here and they are nice people.

Stay here and be poor or go home and make more money but deal with heat, crime, ugliness... ugh, I just don't know what to do!

What is life like in Houston with little ones? Are there areas which would offer a space for them to run around, or are they stuck inside due to the heat most of the year? Are there any neighborhoods in Houston that are better for families? And are there any alternatives to big ass houses on tiny plots of land with no privacy? We are looking to spend about $250-300K on a house.
You're not gonna make friends that way.

If you are from Corpus, then at some time you probably played in the heat as a child. The heat here isn't enough to stop kids, just slow them down. There ARE low crime areas around Houston. And yes there are alternatives to suburbia, but usually it is going to be in older neighborhoods, and you may have to make compromises such as location.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Aberdeen
313 posts, read 581,571 times
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I am from Las Vegas (I know heat, but Houston has me beat) and my husband from Scotland as well. We too lived in Aberdeen (well, Stonehaven) and when we looked for a bigger house we couldn't find anything decent under the 450K range (more like $600k or more.) But that wasn't why we left Scotland.

We came to Houston because the oil and gas industry has way more opportunities here than in Aberdeen. More opportunities for career growth, different kinds of work and a melting pot of all sorts of different approaches from expats around the world. And Houston simply loves a North Sea process engineer. (Unsure what part of the industry your husband works.)

If he is a rigman, then you will not be in Houston. At least, I mean, you don't want to live in Houston if he's not working in Houston proper. You will be in some not so nice areas along the coast, Texas City or even Beaumont. I'm sorry folks, not to upset the local crowd here, but those areas have that refinery smell.

Everyone things the cost of living here is cheap. We pay more in property taxes than we paid in council taxes. Our insurance for cars and home are more expensive than Scotland. Our home was about $400k, but surely we could have moved to Katy with about $300k, but tack on an additional 30 min commute each way for hubby. Houston isn't nearly as cheap as I thought it would be, and I find Las Vegas a cheaper market to live in (even before the housing bust.) Over all, I find that the cost of living evens out so no clear winner of here or Scotland. However, buying a house is cheaper (but not the A/C, heat, insurance, etc.) and your marginal income tax rate could be anywhere from 20-28% versus the 50% income tax we paid in Scotland. Of course, here you then have to navigate the health care system and pay out of pocket for deductibles, copays, etc. Lets just say you most likely will have more dosh in your pocket then in David Cameron's (or Alex Salmond's if he has his way! hahha.)

Get onto BritishExpats.com forum - lots of folks with first hand experience and lots of folks from UK (and Scotland) that are now here in Houston. (Including a poll, "Is Houston sh*t or not?" Spoiler: Not.) Many of us are here because of the oil and gas industry, not because we want to be.

We miss the quality of life of Aberdeenshire. I miss the UK-sourced foods in the shops, the rolling hills, the mountains, the beauty of Scotland. I miss the general politeness of a single track road. Here is very flat, and housing estates (but in the very good sense of the word, we enjoy our resort-like gated community) are abundant. Moving here - you will NEVER complain about rush hour from Dyce or the jam up over the River Dee. We long for something more reasonable like that! Its a lot of traffic here and don't look at as the crow flies for determining where you live vs where hubby works. Live and work in the same area!

Unless you are very familiar with Houston (meaning have lived here, not just visted once from Corpus) - have your husband's company give you a 2-3 week TDY work here so y'all can take an honest look. Houston is a lot bigger than even I imagined, but is all spread out so doesn't have the feel of SF, LA or NYC. Totally different for a metropolis of what, over 5m people now?

As for kids, my husband's boss has two kids and lives in Katy. They love love love it, and the kids too. Lots to do for kids. We don't have kids, so no reason for us to take on a huge commute. Houses are cheaper out there, too.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:58 AM
 
488 posts, read 1,167,322 times
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We moved here from Stonehaven (almost) 4 years ago with my son who was 9 at the time. We are all from Aberdeen and had no experience of living abroad.

What I miss? Scenery, cold crisp air, being able to walk to a shop, the NHS, friends and family, fish n chips, public transport (although my sister in law says this has deteriorated since 2008).

I love waking up to sunny skies all summer, I love that my house is so open and spacious (3 x the size for the same money), cheap gas (yes folks this is still cheap compared to UK), my son is much happier at school over here, the kids are much more polite and respectful (never thought I'd hear myself saying that about 13 year olds). So many more things to do that are family oriented, sports events that you can take safely take your kids to (I would never have taken him to a football match in the UK), community events ie. halloween, christmas parades. I love having a community pool all summer long.

We do still hide from the sun when it is 95 degrees+ outside but we have found ways round that - plan to be out for only an hour or so and slather on the sun cream, head out early or wait till late afternoon.

I did not have young kiddies when I moved but I see lots advertised to do at our local community center - swimming, teddy bear sleepovers, kids gymnastics, dancing, mommys day out, all that sort of stuff.

We live in Pearland and found a nice development with big lots and look out over a lake which is really pretty, you just have to do a bit of searching to find what you are looking for. I know a lot of Brits head out towards Katy esp. if they work in the 'energy' corridor. My hubby works at Westchase and it takes him about 30 mins to get to work instead of 40-45 mins in Aberdeen.

PM me if you have any other questions.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:01 AM
 
5,402 posts, read 12,182,649 times
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Default Houston

There are plenty of jobs in the oil industry especially if your husband is a geologist, geophysicist, petrophysicist, or reservoir engineer. If you lived around the Corpus area, then you already know what Houston's climate is like, it is not so different most of the time.

I'd say move to Houston, make and save money until you decide where you want to retire. The novelty of living in a foreign country is just that, it wears off after a while if you have to work because if you are working, you might as well work somewhere you can make a good amount of money and keep it. If you are retired, then it is a different story.

I'd say think about your kids, how you are going to pay for their upgringing and education, and then for your retirement. Yes, the UK does provide a lot of things for "free", but as you can see from Greece, the US and even in the UK, that utopia is not going to last forever... even a kid in elementary school can do the math, you cannot keep subtacting once you pass zero, there will be no one left to pay the taxes to support everyone else.

Better yet, maybe your husband can take a job in the Middle East as well? At least there the companies are required by law to provide you with a free ticket for your entire family back "home" once a year, you just have to get used to the culture. Most private schools are great, BTW.

Good luck.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:02 AM
 
488 posts, read 1,167,322 times
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Originally Posted by Shipresa View Post
We too lived in Aberdeen (well, Stonehaven)
It's a small world after all (haha - if you have been to Disney you'll be singing that all day now!)
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:17 AM
 
175 posts, read 312,282 times
Reputation: 245
Wow, guys, thank you SO MUCH for this! This will definitely help us make a decision. We lived in Houston 4 years before moving out here. We still have several months to decide. It is a big decision and it's not a decision that friends and family can help you with, because they are all biased. So getting a third party opinion is good.

My husband is a senior contracts advisor over here. In Houston he was making about $150K annually and we were doing well. In order to live at a reasonable level over here, he has to work on a contract basis with no benefits. He makes about 150K that way and we still aren't able to save. We lived in Stonehaven to begin with (small world, indeed!) and now live in Banchory, which is miles better than Stoney imo.

Thanks again for your helpful replies.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:31 AM
 
488 posts, read 1,167,322 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bronstew View Post
We lived in Stonehaven to begin with (small world, indeed!) and now live in Banchory, which is miles better than Stoney imo.
Well that's it you are not getting an invite to the 1st Annual Stonehaven Appreciation Gala .

[P.S. Hope you have picked up our wicked British sense of humour while you have been there!]
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:32 AM
 
175 posts, read 312,282 times
Reputation: 245
Nothing personal against Stoney! I just prefer rivers and mountains to seaside. I grew up in CC and I have had my fill of seaside. Plus I hate seagulls.

I will really miss the UK, have grown to love it. I will miss Channel 4 documentaries... and the scenery, etc., but at the end of the day we have to do what's best for our little family.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:45 AM
 
488 posts, read 1,167,322 times
Reputation: 332
Quote:
Originally Posted by bronstew View Post
Nothing personal against Stoney! I just prefer rivers and mountains to seaside. I grew up in CC and I have had my fill of seaside. Plus I hate seagulls.

I will really miss the UK, have grown to love it. I will miss Channel 4 documentaries... and the scenery, etc., but at the end of the day we have to do what's best for our little family.
I love Banchory too, I love the little ice cream shop on the brae - oh yeah I miss Mackies Ice Cream. Just thought of another reason to move back to Houston - 2 rubbish (trash) collections a week!!!!! and no seagulls this far north to rip open the bags
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