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.
There are four of us. My wife Tina and our two children who were 4 and 1 at the time of the move.
Finding the right neighbourhood and flat so Tina would be happy.
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.
We brought almost everything over with us. We sold the house in New Jersey and only stored a few odds and ends.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. (with a big smile) I helped write the global policy!