Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > Moving back or to the UK
Reload this Page >

The Start of My Journey Home

The Start of My Journey Home

Old Aug 9th 2019, 4:03 pm
  #1  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default The Start of My Journey Home

Hi All,

I hope you don’t mind if I share my story and perhaps hear from others who’ve reached this stage.

I’ve been in the US (NYC / NJ) for 9 years (working for 8) and I’ve reached the decision that I wish to return home. I first arrived in 2010 marrying into the country to woman of another cultural decent; little did I know that over time our differences would be so vast and that trying to merge our upbringings would be virtually impossible. After some very difficult years; I happily divorced in 2018.

I live alone now in NJ and am very content with the independent lifestyle – I’ve reconnected with my childhood sweetheart from back home in Devon and she’s been over to visit 4 times.

I work for a major European corporate company over here, have “platinum” health insurance, a subsidised luxury car and all the premium perks and trimmings that an global employer could offer.

You may be asking yourself, “How can this person be unhappy?”.

Well there are a few reasons. I have very few friends here and no family – I only came here for my ex-spouse. I’m fairly introverted and have done my best to force myself to be “outgoing” and have gone to many, many music parties over my time here in a certain genre of music but I still have failed to form any meaningful or deep friendships with anyone of substance – I’m just left with Facebook friends.

Many are either drug addicted, racist, bitter and angry at life and often attending these events and be a melancholic experience which I find depressing.

I’ve since taken up a new hobby - astronomy, I joined my local club and bought myself a nice telescope since I exited this music scene – its rewarding but again I find the process of forming friendships with Americans exhausting and unfulfilling in this circle. I have tried but I’ve now come to the point of acceptance that I’m never going to gel with this culture; I want to go home and start again. I’m just sooo tired of being the novelty Brit.

I feel I’m living a shallow life around shallow people. I am not materialistic in anyway and the “big is better” mindset means nothing to me; I’d be happy living a simple life in a two-roomed flat without all the excesses of the US lifestyle.

I want to go to a pub and eat English food (NYC hybrids are OK but just filled with fascinated yanks). I want to go to watch my local football team again; I watch them every week on live stream and have kept my British identity and connections. I don’t feel Americanised in any way even though I haven’t been back since I left.

I know some things have changed and I have as well (for the better).

I am a green card holder and not a US citizen; when I leave the country, my Green Card will timeout and I will default to becoming a non-resident alien. I have no need or wish to return to the US.

I’ve checked on the Social Security website and I've found that I can still claim US SSA retirement benefits as a non-resident alien; this does unnerve me slightly knowing that I will be owed benefits but theoretically cannot stay in the country for more than 90 days. Others on here and elsewhere I have read don't seem to be experiencing any problems doing that though. I’d like to hear any experiences or tips.

I'm currently on 36 credits and I need to complete the submission of my 2019 and 2020 tax returns to meet the 40-credit minimum; I effectively must stay here for another 17 months.

I've thought about utilising the US/UK totalisation agreement treaty to take some credits from my UK National Insurance to top up my US account so I can leave earlier. There is a 105-page thread on here all about getting “WEP’d” and it is a complete baffling nightmare. I've used the SSA WEP Calculator and I'll still get a fairly decent amount alongside my UK state pension in retirement. I'm just going to have to suck up the deductions that the SSA will make when you claim both.

I fortunately have enough savings to make a move and I also have a 401 K. I'm planning to either keep my 401k with my current employer or roll it over to an IRA and leave it here in the US as I am about 10 years away from retirement. I’ll be completing my W8-BEN form to declare my non resident status with my plan administrator, so I can draw down when the time is right.

I really feel that I could do with a 6-month sabbatical to recoup and acclimatise back to UK life when I return as the US has sucked the life out of me.

However, I cannot live on those savings forever and I know I will need to work at some point.

My employer has positions back in the UK which I could apply for but I don’t know if I want to remain in the corporate world. I'd really like to return to Devon or the South West, but my employer doesn't really have any presence there. I could work for one of their franchises there but that would be seen as going backwards and many questions would be asked - it would be seen as career suicide.

Before I left for the US, I simply couldn't find a job in my hometown and it was a real struggle. I think though things would be different this time as I would be coming back with substantial international experience in my industry. Its one of the only things I’m wrestling with.

I hate to fly but I've recently found out that taking The Queen Mary cruise back to Southampton is an option and is probably the route that I'm going to take.

I simply can't imagine the emotions that I would be feeling standing at the back of the boat looking at the New York skyline where I spent so much of my 10 years here, skating and riding my bike alongside the Brooklyn belt Parkway and then sailing under the Verrazano bridge which I've driven across hundreds of times and then watching it fade into the distance.

It will be a very, very surreal experience for me knowing it will be a one-way ticket with no return.

Anyway, I hope to hear your comments and thoughts if you are in a similar position and also any ideas of re-establishing myself back home in a job.

Should I stay with my employer? Should I take a break for my mental health and live off my savings for a maximum of 6 months? or should I just leave the corporate world and down size my career into something less pressured and just enjoy the simple life?

Thank you for reading.

Last edited by djsoul; Aug 9th 2019 at 6:02 pm.
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 5:25 pm
  #2  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Apr 2019
Location: Somerset UK
Posts: 84
SimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond reputeSimonTam has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Hi djsoul,

Interesting read.

On the one had you say you're not interested in shallow materialism. Then go on to say that doing the one thing that entices you, would be professional suicide.

Also, can't you just come back for a holiday a couple of times a year if it's just pub lunches and the like that are calling out to you? You might realise you're happier there.

Finally, I get the impression you've outgrown NY rather than the whole of America?
SimonTam is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 5:57 pm
  #3  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by SimonTam View Post
Hi djsoul,

Interesting read.

On the one had you say you're not interested in shallow materialism. Then go on to say that doing the one thing that entices you, would be professional suicide.

Also, can't you just come back for a holiday a couple of times a year if it's just pub lunches and the like that are calling out to you? You might realise you're happier there.

Finally, I get the impression you've outgrown NY rather than the whole of America?
Hi Simon,

Thanks for your response. Just to clarify, I was referring to making a living for myself and what options I would have IF I stayed with my employer back home. Here, I would be forcing myself to remain in a career that has become stagnant and I have no desire to continue.

Believe me, this is not a knee-jerk emotional response. This has been brewing for years and I've had a good 18 months living alone to weigh my options. I've been here 9 years, experienced multiple areas of the country and have had my fill. I'm done. I will not miss the life here. If I can find the strength to get back, resurrect my career in a new role with my employer - I believe my enthusiasm will return. Its amazing that I had to come to the US to become someone, where in the UK I was a nobody.

The US taught me well and made me a stronger person for which I am thankful for. I got my job here through bizarre set of circumstances which I cannot reveal here, something that would have never happened back home in the UK. It is becoming clear to me now that I need to up my game and stay with my employer due to my age - they encourage international movement and I need to embrace it, which in this instance, is in my favour. I just have to go with the flow I guess.

I'm very lucky to have a supportive partner who will be able to provide support upon my return.

Also pub lunches... this was just an example. I know its not going to be a bed of roses and the honeymoon will wear off quick I'm sure. I've read here how those who've struggled upon their return are the ones who miss the big houses, luxury cars, pools, malls and affluent lifestyle, but primarily its those who have become Americansed. The success stories I've read are are those who feel they don't belong in the US and gravitate towards UK culture and the rich heritage we are blessed with back home. It's very black and white for me and I know what I am walking in to. I find my own happiness and materialism is not a crutch for my integrity nor my well-being.

Give me cliff walks on the Tintagel coastline and blustery hiking on Dartmoor any day over life here.

Last edited by djsoul; Aug 9th 2019 at 6:07 pm.
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 8:19 pm
  #4  
Lost in BE Cyberspace
 
Joined: May 2010
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 6,999
SanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond reputeSanDiegogirl has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

If you don't mind me asking how old are you?

When I started reading your thread I thought you might be in your 30's - married to a US citizen for 8 years - but then read that you are only 10 years from retirement.

Mid 50's?

If you don't want to stay in the corporate world and you want to move to Devon or Cornwall, your age might be very relevant as to what employment you might/could get.

Last edited by SanDiegogirl; Aug 9th 2019 at 8:22 pm.
SanDiegogirl is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 8:43 pm
  #5  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Eee Bah Gum
Posts: 2,363
durham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Personally I would return with your current company if that is possible then apply for less stressful jobs once back in the UK. If money problems are at all an issue then returning back and being unable to find a job could be extremely stressful. 2 years out from being able to retire with health insurance I was really stressed out but managed to get an inter-company transfer to a different job in a different State and 11 years on I am so pleased that I stuck it out to gain that extra financial security before returning to England.


durham_lad is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 10:24 pm
  #6  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
If you don't mind me asking how old are you?

When I started reading your thread I thought you might be in your 30's - married to a US citizen for 8 years - but then read that you are only 10 years from retirement.

Mid 50's?

If you don't want to stay in the corporate world and you want to move to Devon or Cornwall, your age might be very relevant as to what employment you might/could get.
Yes, I'm nearly 50 and spent most of my life in Devon before moving to the US. I know how difficult it is to find a decent position there but my commitments are limited; I have no family, just myself to support.
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 10:33 pm
  #7  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post
Personally I would return with your current company if that is possible then apply for less stressful jobs once back in the UK. If money problems are at all an issue then returning back and being unable to find a job could be extremely stressful. 2 years out from being able to retire with health insurance I was really stressed out but managed to get an inter-company transfer to a different job in a different State and 11 years on I am so pleased that I stuck it out to gain that extra financial security before returning to England.

After getting this all out, I believe also that transferring to a position with my current company in the UK is the best solution; just at least until I can become stable and become reaclimatised back home. Then, perhaps I can ramp down as I head towards retirement.

Fortunately, I have saved hard for the last few years and have enough to support myself for up to 2 years if necessary, should the worst happen. I also would like to wait until I've reached 40 credits or top up via totalisation before I return.
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 10:44 pm
  #8  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Eee Bah Gum
Posts: 2,363
durham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Our son returned from the USA in 2017 but it was a year in the planning including being sure he racked up 40 quarters in his SS.

If your savings include investments in mutual funds, outside of retirement accounts, then look to converting them to HMRC reporting funds before leaving the USA. I did this before our return and some of the funds had like for like ETF equivalents so there were zero taxes to be paid with the conversions.
durham_lad is offline  
Old Aug 9th 2019, 10:57 pm
  #9  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post
Our son returned from the USA in 2017 but it was a year in the planning including being sure he racked up 40 quarters in his SS.

If your savings include investments in mutual funds, outside of retirement accounts, then look to converting them to HMRC reporting funds before leaving the USA. I did this before our return and some of the funds had like for like ETF equivalents so there were zero taxes to be paid with the conversions.
I only have a 401k retirement account with my employer and a regular savings account with a bank - no other investments.
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 10th 2019, 8:58 am
  #10  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Eee Bah Gum
Posts: 2,363
durham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by djsoul View Post
I only have a 401k retirement account with my employer and a regular savings account with a bank - no other investments.
Easy peasy then. 401k providers are often more difficult to deal with from overseas so if you plan to keep it and manage it from the UK then look into rolling it over to an IRA with someone like Vanguard after you finish work but before moving to the UK. My son’s last day at work was only 2 weeks before he moved to England but that was plenty time to do the rollover. Rollovers to an IRA are tax free.
durham_lad is offline  
Old Aug 10th 2019, 5:41 pm
  #11  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post

Easy peasy then. 401k providers are often more difficult to deal with from overseas so if you plan to keep it and manage it from the UK then look into rolling it over to an IRA with someone like Vanguard after you finish work but before moving to the UK. My son’s last day at work was only 2 weeks before he moved to England but that was plenty time to do the rollover. Rollovers to an IRA are tax free.
Yes, I've been reading some posts including yours about people having difficulties with companies like Fidelity whom I'm with. They seemed to have upped their game recently and have some better online tools to update your W8-BEN status periodically as well as your non-US address. I'd actually read also about Vanguard as well and will be opening an account in advance before I leave. I'll probably stay with Fidelity whilst I'm with my employer as it's performing well; I'll still be under the global umbrella of my company and the 401k will be managed by the US division. I would though like to establish with both Fidelity and Vanguard if they have finally learned to adhere to the terms of the UK/US treaty and wont be witholding 30% tax automatically. I may also rollover to an IRA if overall its better solution.

Also, I will be letting my green card expire and will default to becoming a non-resident Alien. Are all of your family USC's?
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 10th 2019, 8:24 pm
  #12  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Eee Bah Gum
Posts: 2,363
durham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond reputedurham_lad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by djsoul View Post
Yes, I've been reading some posts including yours about people having difficulties with companies like Fidelity whom I'm with. They seemed to have upped their game recently and have some better online tools to update your W8-BEN status periodically as well as your non-US address. I'd actually read also about Vanguard as well and will be opening an account in advance before I leave. I'll probably stay with Fidelity whilst I'm with my employer as it's performing well; I'll still be under the global umbrella of my company and the 401k will be managed by the US division. I would though like to establish with both Fidelity and Vanguard if they have finally learned to adhere to the terms of the UK/US treaty and wont be witholding 30% tax automatically. I may also rollover to an IRA if overall its better solution.

Also, I will be letting my green card expire and will default to becoming a non-resident Alien. Are all of your family USC's?
You seem to be on top of all the issues. Well done.

All 4 of us are dual US/UK citizens. Son here in England, daughter in California.
durham_lad is offline  
Old Aug 12th 2019, 6:49 am
  #13  
Democracy advocate
 
Cape Blue's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 11,061
Cape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond reputeCape Blue has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Have you added years to your UK NI contributions - as a non-resident it's a pretty cheap way of catching up years.

Exit tax for a long-held green card?

There is a form (i-407) to formally give up your Green Card, which gets stamped etc by the US embassy in the UK.

As you have already come round to - get a transfer back to the UK even if it means working in London, do that for a couple of years until you are more comfortable with career downsizing to the sticks.

Good luck.
Cape Blue is offline  
Old Aug 12th 2019, 3:02 pm
  #14  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 13
djsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nicedjsoul is just really nice
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

Originally Posted by Cape Blue View Post
Have you added years to your UK NI contributions - as a non-resident it's a pretty cheap way of catching up years.

Exit tax for a long-held green card?

There is a form (i-407) to formally give up your Green Card, which gets stamped etc by the US embassy in the UK.

As you have already come round to - get a transfer back to the UK even if it means working in London, do that for a couple of years until you are more comfortable with career downsizing to the sticks.

Good luck.
Thank you for your comments and ideas; they pretty much align with my current objectives now.

I do have a few gaps in my NI record for the time I worked back home up until 2010; some have timed out now so I can't make those up, some years (90's / 00's) show a message like "we are updating the records for these years - please check back later". I'll probably have to call in at some point to get them actually updated.

When I came to the US, I never expected to return back home and didn't continue contributing to my NI; but situations (and people) change I guess. It currently says I will get about 80 GBP based on previous contributions and 169 GBP if I continue to work in the UK until retirement age. Most of the recent years (since 2010) say I have until 2023 to top up for those respective years. I'm not sure how much that will benefit me in terms of final pension but I guess I'll have to contact them upon my return. I will though have my US SSA which I can claim and avoid WEP until I claim the UK side at a later date - I just have to get to 40 credits first to be safe.

I'm not sure if I should just use the totalisation agreement and use some UK credits to qualify. I currently qualify for credit top ups and the US SSA website says I don't have to do anything until I claim benefits and then they will do the credit calculations. I'm quite weary of weakening my position before I leave the US this way as I will be a NRA; I'd feel much better knowing I've qualified by reaching 40 credits.

Regarding the exit tax, as far as I can work out, I will be exempt from paying it because:
  • My assets do not exceed $2m
  • My income is below the average earnings threshold of $165k per year over the last 5 years
  • My tax returns are up to date for the last 5 years - AFAIK. I will verify this with the IRS before I leave. My accounts are in good order after checking IRS online.
https://myrawealth.com/insights/beware-exit-tax

I have noticed on Form 8854 "Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement" used for verifying your exit status; there is a provision under box No.6 for "Long-term resident with dual residency in a treaty country. Date commencing to be treated, for tax purposes, as a resident of the treaty country:"

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8854.pdf

Does this mean that under the UK/US treaty there is exemption from the exit tax or does it just apply if you have permanent residence in both countries? I think I am exempt anyway but would just like to know what this relates to.

Also, a subsequent form 8833 "Treaty-Based Return Position Disclosure Under Section 6114 or 7701(b)" is mentioned in Form 8854

https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-8833

It looks like I am going to have to visit the IRS for clarification - unless someone here has gone through this already??

Thanks!

Last edited by djsoul; Aug 12th 2019 at 4:42 pm.
djsoul is offline  
Old Aug 15th 2019, 8:53 pm
  #15  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Aug 2019
Posts: 5
Zattu is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Start of My Journey Home

I read this and thought 'This is exactly how I feel '. It is a very strange feeling to feel that you don't belong in your environment. when I go back to the UK to visit and people say: 'What in the world do you want to come back here for?' I say 'No it's not what you think it is'. They have a Hollywood version of America in their heads.
Zattu is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.