Thomson Reuters relocation interview
Submitted by Laura Shepherd on 18/06/2009 - Senior Marketing Manager
Why did you relocate to the UK?
Although I have a global role, which feasibly could be done from anywhere, I was spending a significant amount of time on business trips to our London headquarters. I was effectively commuting from NYC for 2 years. After a while, my London based boss thought it would make sense if I simply relocated.
How many people were in your relocation party?
There are four of us. My wife Tina and our two children who were 4 and 1 at the time of the move.
What was your main concern when moving to the UK?
Finding the right neighbourhood and flat so Tina would be happy.
How did you decide where to live?
We chose the London neighbourhood of Maida Vale for the proximity to the school where my son was enrolled (and later our daughter, too). We considered living in a community outside of town but thought living in the city would be a great experience. We traded in our old suburban lifestyle and it was the best decision we made.
What did you take with you and what did you decide to leave at home?
We brought almost everything over with us. We sold the house in New Jersey and only stored a few odds and ends.
How long did the preparation and the actual relocation take?
Just a few months. My wife was happy for the move after having me constantly travelling up to that point so it felt relatively easy.
How long did it take to adapt to living in the UK?
I adapted right away (having spent so much time in London already) but it probably took my wife 18 months to start feeling at home.
What advice would you give to people relocating to the UK?
Be self-aware and sensitive to the fact that you are a foreigner. There's a false belief that, because you are speaking the same language, you are all thinking the same, too. Having an overt awareness of the cultural differences is really important.
What is the best thing about living in the UK?
I've loved the exposure to rich history and the incredible diversity of the people. Living here has given my children a fantastic perspective on the world.
What would you do differently if you had the chance to do it again?
We thought we'd only be here for 2 years and ended up staying for 5. Had we known we'd be in London for this long we would have tried harder earlier on to integrate ourselves into the local community and make more British friends. Most of our closest friends are other expats - typically parents of our children's international school classmates.
How do you and your family feel about repatriating?
Our feelings are mixed. I need to get mentally prepared for working in New York City again. I like London office culture and will miss it. On the other hand, we're looking forward to being closer to our extending family again. We are really excited to be moving back into a house of our own after 5 years of flat living. I can't wait to start gardening again.
What is your biggest concern about repatriating?
I am bracing for the reverse culture shock. Not sure how long it will take to readjust to life in the New Jersey suburbs but I keep warning myself, Tina and the kids that it will probably be a bumpy ride.
Do you get a similar level of support for repatriating as you did when you moved to the UK?
Yes. (with a big smile) I helped write the global policy!