We meet Erin Niumata, a mother of two, who learned the ropes of London with a young family in tow.
Hello Erin, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Originally, I’m from The Bahamas, which is where I grew up. I moved to New York City after I graduated university and stayed there until my move to London in February. I was a book editor for 17 years before I decided to become a literary agent. I’m with Folio Literary Management: foliolit.com – if you want to see my full work bio.
What’s been the most challenging aspects of moving to London with two small children?
Keeping my three year old entertained has been the biggest challenge of all. She was very depressed when we first got here – she missed her friends, nanny, family and routine. We were in corporate housing for 5 weeks and it wasn’t until we moved into our current home and got into a routine that she has finally returned to the happy, carefree child she has always been. Just getting around without help, searching for flats and child minders (and now schools) has been a real challenge. Another big challenge was sorting out how everything works – the oven, washing machine, the tube, etc. Everything is different but I figured it out – after a few mistakes!
In a recent post you tell a story of running into a live comedy act that you weren’t so keen on. What shows have you been to in London, and how would you recommend finding the best gigs?
I ran into Michael McIntyre – he just happened to be at a table next to us. I have never seen his act – my husband and I made fun of his television ad because we just didn’t get it. I hear he’s hilarious however, so I’m going to have to check him out. When we were in New York we took in Broadway shows and comedy acts (like Eddie Izzard at Radio City Music Hall) but haven’t had a chance to get out and explore here in London yet. We’re still setting up shop and sorting ourselves out. But I want to get out there soon!
You mentioned that both your children had immunizations recently. Have you ever travelled abroad with them and required shots or immunizations?
My daughter has been to seven countries so far – my son has only been to the US and UK. We’ve never travelled anywhere that required an immunization. My daughter had to have an immunization that is not required in the US. She needs it to go to school here. Otherwise the immunizations are just the regular shots babies get.
You recently blogged about moving into your new flat. Do you own property back in the states? If so, how do you manage your payments or any other money transfers?
We do own a summer cottage in Pennsylvania that we rent out. We have a caretaker and my family oversees things for now. It’s owned by my two sisters and me so there are plenty of folks to watch over it. We’ve kept our bank accounts in New York open and I am still paid in the US for my job so we just use that to pay for everything. We have had to do transfers from our NY banks to our UK one and it was simple and painless. Very efficient this internet banking!
You seem to have had a moving nightmare – with boxes as far as the eye can see. Do you see yourself moving back to the states with many possessions? Have you ever thought of how you are going to get things across?
I never realized how much stuff we had until it arrived on our doorstep here in the UK. I am still opening boxes and wondering why on earth I have so much. We’ve been getting rid of a lot of things as we just do not have the space for any of it. There is no way we’re heading back to the States with this much stuff. We never planned on bringing our furniture back, and by the time we go back we won’t have so many baby things (babies have A LOT of stuff). I’m looking forward to paring down while we’re here and heading back streamlined (and ready to buy new stuff!) When we move back I hope to have ¼ of the things we do – or less. The container heading back to the US should have cobwebs and tumbleweeds rolling around in it!
Thanks for your time Erin. Do you have any advice for any Mothers who move to the UK?
Try to get as much information as possible BEFORE you move – there are some nasty shocks waiting for those who don’t do their homework. Even though I had researched London I was woefully unprepared for a lot of things: like banking, NHS, where to buy baby supplies, etc. There are some terrific blogs out there that can help . Also, join your local community centre the minute you get off the plane – those folks know everything and everyone. They should receive medals of honour!
Erin’s Blog: www.jollyoldengland.blogspot.com