US exchange officer to UK

Discussion in 'Officers' started by Carolina Yankee, Feb 12, 2012.

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  1. I am a US Army lieutenant colonel who has recently received posting orders for a three-year assignment to the MoD as an exchange officer. My family and I will arrive in London this June and we are very excited about this opportunity. That being said, our initial look at housing possibilities has only shown us that we know next to nothing about London and are therefore seeking any advice on where best to live. We have the option of either accepting military provided housing or finding a private home/flat on our own. The only criteria we have set so far is something within an easy commute to the MoD (one hour??) and preferably close to the where we expect our two sons will attend school: American School of London, NW8. Any suggestions are much appreciated as are any other tips and advice on preparing for this assignment.
  2. Welcome to the U.K., Colonel. I am an American too, but am single and have next to no clue about any of the useful things (schools, etc.). The only thing I can tell you about: housing is quite expensive, compared to the U.S. So, unless you have a generous allowance, I would prolly go for the provided option.

    I am sure some of the ARRSERs will help you out.
  3. Colonel - welcome aboard. Without wishing to pass the buck, there are quite few websites that deal with ex-pat Americans and getting over the shock of being sent here. It's true to say that if you have never been here before it is a real culture shock in so many ways that I can't begin to describe it. Hopefully, your predecessor will be able to offer you instant help.

    One of the most important thngs to hoist on board is that with very few exceptions, none of your household appliances will work here, from hair dryers to vacuum cleaners - it moves right on from there. Cutlery works just fine, BTW :)

    Where I live out here in rural East Anglia I am surrounded by about 15,000 of your fellow countrypersons, ten of whom live around and opposite me. All have acclimatised quite well, in spite of the $9 a gallon gasoline and strange accents of the locals.

    Meanwhile, I'll get on to the local base housing rep and see if she can come up with some better advice/websites to help you out.

    tac - Oregon and Canada [not necessarily in that order]
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  4. Have you been on the Language Conversion Course yet?

    It is nominally the same language but we have different words for things than you do. But, I am sure your DoD has an advisory leaflet or publication with lots of advice in.

    Our Imperial War Museum has reprints of WW2 books issued to your troops coming over here which is quite entertaining.
  5. For God's sake don't move into The Keep in Kingston-upon-Thames - it's not good (and that's being polite).
  6. Just check which of our buildings you will be working in. We have "Main Building" on Whitehall but it could be that you will be working at other locations from time to time. Catterick is lovely at any time of the year.

    P.S. That comment about Catterick is an example of British wit and Humour. The people from the City of Liverpool are well known for their well developed wit and Humour. A trip to Liverpool with your family is highly reccomended.
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  7. ####Do you know this guy......He was a Company Commander with 3 Para
    & is probably in a position to give you some excellent advice!

    A well respected man!

    Nato Review
  8. You lucky Bar-steward Sir! :omg: :p Some people get all the luck. I can't help you with any housing information, but imagine there'll be a liaison officer along shortly to advise. Hope your BAH and locality pay is up to the stress of living in Metro London; it's quite expensive.
    I should take the advice to visit Liverpool with a grain of salt if I were you; those scousers would steal the pennies off a dead man's eyes. ;-) I jest (mostly). I had a friend from Merseyside who was late of the RTR (Royal Tank Regiment) and he was as sound as a bell. (Since deceased, sadly)

    There are a lot of things to see in London and environs. Don't fail to visit the IWM (Imperial War Museum) There is a collection of American aircraft at Duxford that is part of the museum's holdings - a lot of WW II stuff and some newer - that is definitely worth a dekko.

    If you crave the company of Zoomies RAF Mildenhall has a major Yank population.

  9. One thing to point out is commute times in central London have little to do with distance and everything to do with volume of traffic, and can be a nightmare if you are relying on driving to work.
  10. Firstly Col welcome to the site,

    Secondly i'm unsure what information MB has forwarded to you in reference to MSQ allocations versus private accommodation guidance but If it is possible I would recommend the Uxbridge or NorthHolt area's (RAF) UB8 or UB5 if the focus 1 hour commute


    The NW area , specifically NW1 is St John's Wood which you probably know & have researched you have Jubilee Terrace locations, but i suspect something larger would be more to your requirements, PM if need further assistance.
  11. Q. How old are your sons?
    May possibly have an option for you.

    Old rat
  12. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    It depends on your budget for renting a place. If you need to be north London because of the school the immediate area is one of the more expensive in London, not that anywhere's cheap. If you go north from St John's Wood up the A41 (also known as the Finchley Road) anything east of that road is very nice, with the exception of the obvious enclaves. If your budget stretches to it I'd suggest Hampstead - a bit of a village feel, a bit arty and some nice pubs. The Heath is one of the best green areas in London. It's been a while since I've lived up that way but I wish I still did.

    As someone else has mentioned travel times in London bear no real resemblance to distance. If you're planning on commuting by tube (cars are not recommended in London) then you should consider that the nearest tube stations to MOD Main Building are Charing Cross and Westminster and rent accordingly. You can find London travel info at Home | Transport for London

    And finally, it sounds like the DOD is just as good at planning movements as the MOD. Good plan arriving in London during the Olympics.
  13. @ratty22...14 and 15.
    @all others. Thanks for the speedy replies. If it helps to focus the info we are looking for, I've been stationed in Europe three times previously so we are familiar with issues of American appliances and 220 voltage. Also, fully expect to use public transport, no desire to drive in central London.
    @twothreeuptwothreedown...congrats on being the first to add an irrelevant but slightly humorous reply. Buck and I go way back, I'll be sure to see what recommendations he has :) wife's family is from Merseyside, so I'm already familiar with that area.

  14. I think Burtonwood has closed now.
  15. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    If you have the option of temporary military housing for one month while you learn a little about London, that might be a good idea. Housing costs in London vary from area to area (as do safety, amenities, etc) so it might be helpful to get the opinions of your colleagues before committing to a long term let.

    Traffic in central London is horrendous in the rush hour, which means a lot of people use public transport. The pertinent organisation is called "Transport for London".

    Home | Transport for London