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Living in the US

Discussion in 'off topic' started by philiphifi, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. philiphifi

    philiphifi pfm Member

    hi - could i ask if anyone has lived in the states? i have the option to emigrate over there in the next couple of years and i have started looking at job/taxes etc. Although i have been there many times as a tourist, when i look at property tax, health insurance etc, the cost of living seems much higher than in the UK. Is this correct? Would it be an awfully expensive place to retire?
  2. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    Apart from property taxes being more realistic (higher) than in the UK I think health care is a problem.
  3. IanW

    IanW pfm Member

    I lived in the States for 2 years. I expected tax and prices of goods etc to be lower in the US, but they were similar and so overall the cost of living was similar in the US.

    I really enjoyed living there, but the cost of healthcare (was paid for by the company that I worked for at the time, but what if you are not at work etc) would have been a big concern had I stayed there longer.
  4. andrewd

    andrewd pfm Member

    I lived there for a year and a half. Income and property taxes vary widely depending on what state you live in.
    Health insurance for you and your family is usually covered by your employer. Coming in as an expatriate with no medical history in the US the health insurance premiums are sky high. My employer paid $50k. If you lose your job you are screwed since you will need to fund the insurance costs yourself.
    Big Tabs likes this.
  5. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member

    I have lived in the US for 20 years. I’ll try to put together coherent thoughts later but it would help to know where in the US you’re considering moving because it’s very diverse.
  6. Minio

    Minio pfm Member

    I've just come back from Virginia. Had a lovely time there but my biggest concern would be healthcare. You can get insurance but it's expensive and has exclusion clauses which catch people out. Emergency treatment is expensive and prescriptions too.

    The most noticeably cheap item is petrol, but Americans seem to spend a lot of time in their cars. Things are spaced out and it's a big country.

    Also, be prepared for the heat and the cost of running air conditioning. Bugs and spiders and snakes can be a bit of a shock if not used to them.

    Incomes seem higher though and a buoyant consumer economy means there are many "Now Hiring" signs to be seen. Cheap labour seems to be hard to get since "the wall".

    If you live out of town you can buy a nice house for less than UK prices and they are much roomier than the average here.

    Good luck with the research.
  7. philiphifi

    philiphifi pfm Member

    Thank you very much for all your help. Initially i will start my search on the east coast: NJ, connecticut, washington for work and kids. I am 53 now and I don't know if that is issue for finding work in the US or not. One plan is to carry on working in the UK for another few years and retire in the US but i think i need to do something in the US in the next couple of years otherwise i will lose my green card. (Does anyone know the minimum requirement? e.g could i buy a house and rent it out for the next 4 years and move there after?). Again, thank you very much for your help.
  8. Marky-Mark

    Marky-Mark pfm Member

    I can't imagine why anyone would want to live here.
  9. tuga

    tuga European

    I've been thinking the exact same thing... Though I can conceive that there may be a few oasis.
  10. Marky-Mark

    Marky-Mark pfm Member

    Oh, there are quite a few of them if you're lucky or wealthy. But with population growth and migration people are ending all that.

    And so all you can do is say or write "I can't imagine why anyone would want to live here."
  11. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    East coast, especially New Jersey and others are very expensive-housing and taxes are crazy. But pay can be generally higher to offset some of it. Hard to make recommendations or really make many truly beneficial comments though, as others have mentioned, many things vary state by state. And healthcare, simply a joke, and not a good one.

    I have lived mainly in the Midwest my whole life, and while the US is okay, I don’t think if I lived in another country I would be wanting to come here. I think there could be other places that would be better all around, but it all depends on what you are really looking for, lifestyle, housing, space, etc. Not worth much, but there you go.
  12. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member

    In your 50s with kids is IMO not the ideal time of life to move to the US, unless you have very good employment security, can earn at least $100k a year (preferably $150k) and everyone in the family is very healthy.

    Healthcare for a family costs $20k-$30k per year, more if anyone is sick/injured or has a chronic health condition. With a good job ($100k salary) you can expect your employer to cover anywhere from 50% to 80% of the above cost, so while you're employed it's doable. The problem arises if there is a period of unemployment. In theory Obamacare (the ACA) will allow you to purchase subsidised insurance for relatively little money while household income is under $60k PA, but that insurance often comes with $10k out of pocket spending before it pays for anything. Add in property taxes, which can be 1-2% of the the home value per year and your fixed costs of living are very high.

    I live just outside of Boston - lovely town, great schools, crime almost non-existent - very educated and affluent area. We bought one of the cheapest houses in town (1939, 1400 sq ft) - would now sell for $750k. Annual property taxes are $8k. To buy private health insurance for the family is around $15k per year, but it only pays after we've spent $12k of our own money. If I lost my job and someone in the family got sick / injured we'd burn through savings very fast. If you walk into an ER you're out about $1000. If they treat you in any way it will be near $2000. A night in the hospital with observation and perhaps a CAT/MRI scan = $10k. A year of cancer treatment = $250k+. I live a good life, but it feels precarious - like at any moment a health related incident could start a rapid downward slide. Personally I'd prefer a lower material standard of living with more stability.

    At your age you'll have to check medicare eligibility requirements - I think it's based on a certain number of years of paying taxes in the US - make sure both you and your spouse will qualify for medicare at 65. Once on medicare healthcare isn't free, but a married couple can cover all healthcare costs for around $600 a month on medicare according to my relatives. Still not cheap, but a lot cheaper than private insurance, and with much better coverage.

    US colleges are expensive if you have children. 4 years at a state university in Massachusetts is arond $30k per year for tuition, room and board. There are some excellent and much lower cost community colleges where you can complete your first couple of years of 4 year undergraduate school for $5k a year if you live at home - that's a great option for a lot of kids.

    The other big negative of the US is lack of free time. I get 3 weeks of vacation a year and I'm lucky - many get only 2 and if you have to visit relatives in the UK regularly it results in a situation where I've had one real holiday in the past 10 years. My wife won't camp, and IMO camping / hiking / outdoor activities are IMO the best aspect of the US.

    Finally the weather. Contrary to popular opinion UK weather is pretty good, particularly if you like being active outdoors. Everywhere in the US except for the west coast has a much more extreme climate. It's either a hot sticky cauldron in summer, or freezing cold in winter, and often both (mid west). This also can lead to pretty big heating / AC bills. I much prefer the temperate climate of the UK.

    I don't want to be all doom and gloom. The thing I most enjoy about living in the US is the positivity / can do attitude of most Americans. There is much less tolerance of mediocrity than I remember from my 10 years working in the UK in the 1990s (I grew up in the UK and moved to the US when I was 30). I do think that my daughter has benefitted from this in school here, and in Massachusetts we have excellent schools and colleges - probably better overall than the UK. New Jersey also ranks very high for education, as do certain parts of Virginia around Washington DC.

    I hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask more questions or PM me.
  13. Martin M

    Martin M Crueller than April

    If you have a Green Card and have been outside the US for more than 6 months, or did correctly complete the required paperwork to leave the US for a year and also not complete a tax return or just been outside the US for a two years, your Green Card is likely to be toast. If so, you are looking at a Visa and all the fun that entails. Good luck though. I enjoyed my time in the US but my patience with working 50 hour weeks and having short holidays has long since evaporated.
  14. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    Sean has got it right mostly with his post above. Not much more that I can add to it. Healthcare for me is huge. I have been covered fairly well over the years through my employer, but still, out of pocket expenses can still wipe you out. My wife was diagnosed with cancer some seven years ago, went through chemo, the whole nine yards, multiple surgeries, and it took basically all of my savings and then some.

    Yes, thank goodness, she is still alive and cancer free at this point in time. But at 58, my financial means are probably at their lowest, and the thought of retirement, almost non existent. And I live a hugely modest life compared to many here and of those I read about on this forum. At some point, I feel like my wife and I will just elect to forgo medical coverage, forget any of the available coverages and wing it. I personally would rather have 5-10 great years and just pull the plug, than slog through another 10 years of work and then die. Then again, there are no guarantees on anything.
    Big Tabs and Tony Lockhart like this.
  15. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    An interesting post sean99 which only reinforces my limited information about the real cost of being an American. It all sound pretty scary.
  16. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    It kind of illustrates how lucky we are in UK, even. £100k plus salary a year in US is not that much compared to if you were earning £70-80k here. I do love visiting the states though, people are generally more positive & upbeat.
  17. maxflinn

    maxflinn pfm Member

    I think it's terrible that you may need to gamble on your and your wife's health just to be able to get off the grindstone and have a bit of time to yourselves.
    Jonathan likes this.
  18. Minio

    Minio pfm Member

    The UK is not so bad.

    I'd vote for our leader over theirs (not a great choice admittedly) We're fairly free from firearm obsession. We have a much fairer health system. Our food is healthier. We don't have to drive miles to get anywhere. Our trains are faster (oh yes they are!) And I could go on and on.

    I hear Bulgaria is nice if you like a little slower pace of life.
  19. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    Max, it is what it is. Life itself is a gamble of sorts. But this grindstone of daily life is killing me too. Like many others as well. In my opinion, things are pretty ****ed up, but we have allowed it to some extent. Those that have the means or figure it all out early in life versus later, more power to them. But this is another thing and not so much about the OP’s original thoughts....
    maxflinn likes this.
  20. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member

    Tim, I'm really sorry for your experiences - just try to make it to 65 when medicare removes much of the healthcare cost burden (not all, but the majority). Hope you and your wife enjoy many years of good health. I'm 50 - just another 15 years to get through.

    America can be a great place to get a few years of living and working experience when you're young and have no dependents, but I struggle to imagine how a move from western Europe to the US could be beneficial for anyone older with family, unless they can earn a family income significantly above $150k per year and are prepared to relocate back to Europe if anyone gets ill or work becomes scarce.

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