Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA > The Trailer Park
Reload this Page >

Moving to Houston, Texas

Moving to Houston, Texas

Old Feb 10th 2015, 3:56 pm
  #1  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 4
Amy1 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Moving to Houston, Texas

Hi

Looking for some advice about me and my family moving to the US. My husband has been offered a job in Houston Texas and we are close to agreeing to move.

VISA

The job he has been offered is with the same company so we are thinking we may get a L1 visa, we can't get a L1A visa because he is only halfway through a degree so looking like a L1b is the only option, His skills are very specific to engineering so this should be an issue.

SALARY

Can anybody who lives in Texas give us any rough idea of take home pay per month if he earns 70,000 US dollars per year. I have read the tax is different in Texas to most other places. We have 3 children under 10 years old.

DRIVING LICENCE

Can you confirm we can drive in the US on our UK licence for 1 year before taking the US test

BILLS

Also is there any costs that are way off the mark below or and costs you pay in the US we haven't thought of

Rent 1500
Gas and electric 300
Water and garbage 50
Car insurance. 150
Food 800
TV 80
Internet 40
Fuel 100
Insurance home 40
Medical insurance 300

HOME

We are looking to live in the KATY or Cypress area in TX for the good schooling etc has anybody got any thoughts or information regarding shipping furniture v buying all new, almost all of the rented homes I've seen are unfurnished.

Thanks for your help
Amy1 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 4:52 pm
  #2  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 30
Portsmouth-Portsmouth is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

I can't speak to your costs- really, it does depend, though food seems low. We have a 3600 square foot house and AC was closer to 200 for the summer months, but we keep our house at 81-82 F which even the natives notice is a bit warm. Winter has been cheap.

Salary Paycheck Calculator |Take Home Pay Calculator |ADP is handy to see what your take home pay will be at a given salary etc.

fuel will be more, even if it is around $30 per tank. You will drive a lot more than you think.
Portsmouth-Portsmouth is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 4:55 pm
  #3  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: May 2009
Location: DC Metro Area
Posts: 305
AlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond reputeAlphaTangoMike has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Welcome to the forum. I don't have an answer to your questions about bills & housing, some of the Houston-based members can comment on those.

With regards to the L-1A: there is no requirement to have a degree. Whether the company petitions for an L-1A or L-1B will depend on his job title and his responsibilities. I would highly recommend that you push for the "A" if at all possible. If you intend staying longer-term, it's a lot easier. If your husband has direct reports, then an L-1A is typically the correct category. If he does not manage staff, search: "Functional Manager".

Without knowing too much about the cost of living in Houston, I would hazard a guess that $70K is on the low side. (Unless you also plan to be working or the company is also paying for housing, cars, etc.).

ETA: With regards to the driving license: you're usually required to have a state-issued license shortly after becoming 'resident'. I believe that Texas allows 30 days until they require a Texas-issued license. Take a look at the Texas DMV site: http://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/new-to-texas

Last edited by AlphaTangoMike; Feb 10th 2015 at 5:01 pm.
AlphaTangoMike is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 4:57 pm
  #4  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 30
Portsmouth-Portsmouth is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

One other item- don't look at items and do an exchange rate conversion. My wife is great with budgeting etc, but falls into that trap more easily than would be expected. Buy what you need, within your budget.
Portsmouth-Portsmouth is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 5:04 pm
  #5  
BE Forum Addict
 
Owen778's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Anchorage, AK, USA
Posts: 1,330
Owen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Welcome to BE. Hopefully a Mod will move this back to the main USA forum, for better visibility.

I arrived here on an L1-B visa, but my situation isn't quite the same as your husband's, because I knew I would be marrying my US-citizen fiancee and then staying in the US. I already had a house to move to, and I don't have to worry about repatriation.

To answer your questions:
Visa
L1 is possible for a transfer. I don't understand your comment about a degree, though. L1-A is for executives or managers and L1-B is for people with what USCIS terms "specialized knowledge". If he is an engineer not a manager, he probably wouldn't qualify for L1-A, but you don't give enough information. However, a degree (often including a post-graduate degree) is usually used as part of the justification of specialized knowledge. It should be possible without, but his company and their immigration lawyers will need to prove that he has sufficient experience. This is their responsibility, but he can provide assistance, and will likely need to provide them with training documentation etc. It is not clear to me if it will be difficult to justify him having "specialized knowledge".

Salary
I'd say $70k is OK in suburban Houston, and the cost of living is mostly quite low. It's certainly not a professional level salary, but then your husband doesn't yet have a degree. I don't know if that's the going rate for his job here. He would need to investigate.

Taxes in the US vary by state, but generally the overall level of tax you pay doesn't vary that much. Texas doesn't have state income tax, but instead gets its money through property tax and sales tax.

Driving License
Only visitors can drive on a foreign license for up to a year. On a temporary employment visa, you don't count as a visitor. You are expected to get a Texas driving license within 90 days.

There is some information here and on linked pages.
TxDPS - Moving to Texas

The actual written and driving tests themselves are very easy, but there are other requirements to get the license, like proof of Texas residency that may require work.

Bills
- I don't have an exhaustive list to check against, but I don't see buying or leasing a car for each of you on there, and I don't see phone on there.
- Mobile phones and contracts are expensive in the US.
- Not sure if you've factored the cost of air conditioning into your gas and electric cost.
- Is his employer not going to pay for medical insurance for your family? That would concern me. You will need to budget for medical co-pays and co-insurance, though (the bit the insurance won't cover).

Schools
Our kids are in Cy Fair ISD, and the school is generally good. Bear in mind that while it's a good district, there's still quite a bit of variation between different schools. I imagine Katy ISD is similar.

For houses in Houston, look at har.com.

One last caveat - there are a lot of layoffs happening now or in the next few months in Houston in oil and gas, because of the oil price. Your husband needs to negotiate for full repatriation costs in his contract in case he does get laid off, if he can, and maybe some kind of pay off too.
Owen778 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 5:12 pm
  #6  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 4
Amy1 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Hi sorry for the lack of details and thanks for your replies so far,

My husband would get a company car and phone but we have not had any information regarding medical insurance as yet. He works in oil and gas and is a machining specialist for oil and gas components. The company he works for has 10 vacancies for Texas so not sure If the price o the barrel is affecting them to much.

Hi salary is basic 70k but uncapped bonus opportunity company average is 15% but we want to budget on a flat rate, He will not have anybody working under him so I can't see a L1A being approved.

His company employs around 2000 people in the US and has a turnover in US of 800m
Amy1 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 5:51 pm
  #7  
 
Pulaski's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2001
Location: Dixie, ex UK
Posts: 50,785
Pulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

$70k is likely to give him around $55k take home after tax and SS, or perhaps a little more.
Pulaski is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 6:11 pm
  #8  
BE Forum Addict
 
Owen778's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Anchorage, AK, USA
Posts: 1,330
Owen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Originally Posted by Amy1 View Post
Hi sorry for the lack of details and thanks for your replies so far,

My husband would get a company car and phone but we have not had any information regarding medical insurance as yet. He works in oil and gas and is a machining specialist for oil and gas components. The company he works for has 10 vacancies for Texas so not sure If the price o the barrel is affecting them to much.

Hi salary is basic 70k but uncapped bonus opportunity company average is 15% but we want to budget on a flat rate, He will not have anybody working under him so I can't see a L1A being approved.

His company employs around 2000 people in the US and has a turnover in US of 800m
OK.

He may get a company car and phone, but you personally will still need both to do almost anything.

I don't know if a machining specialist would qualify for L1-B. Hopefully his company is making the offer with knowledge that he would be likely to qualify. If he has yet to actually talk to them about it, it's even possible the US office have just assumed he has work authorisation. He needs to ask for clarification.

Almost every company in oil and gas is hurting right now. Without knowing where his company is located in the supply chain, it is difficult to give specific advice. However, if I were to make a guess, I'd say his company is still recruiting because they still have signed contracts with the oil companies to supply components for major projects that mean they have work for, say, 6 months or a year. If the oil price doesn't go back up before those contracts are fulfilled, he could easily be out of work and you would all have to immediately return to the UK. Bear in mind that Texas is an employment-at-will state, and there are very few employee protections.

Last edited by Owen778; Feb 10th 2015 at 6:13 pm.
Owen778 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 6:32 pm
  #9  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 4
Amy1 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Originally Posted by Owen778 View Post
OK.

He may get a company car and phone, but you personally will still need both to do almost anything.

I don't know if a machining specialist would qualify for L1-B. Hopefully his company is making the offer with knowledge that he would be likely to qualify. If he has yet to actually talk to them about it, it's even possible the US office have just assumed he has work authorisation. He needs to ask for clarification.

Almost every company in oil and gas is hurting right now. Without knowing where his company is located in the supply chain, it is difficult to give specific advice. However, if I were to make a guess, I'd say his company is still recruiting because they still have signed contracts with the oil companies to supply components for major projects that mean they have work for, say, 6 months or a year. If the oil price doesn't go back up before those contracts are fulfilled, he could easily be out of work and you would all have to immediately return to the UK. Bear in mind that Texas is an employment-at-will state, and there are very few employee protections.
We have our doubts as well but his company seem ok about getting it done, something about a blanket petition, I'm not disagreeing with you but he has 15 years experience in engineering consultancy I.e lowering costs for producing parts through advanced manufacturing techniques and feature process changes. His company works with all of the big firms in Houston And he currently does the same job in the UK and was recently awarded Europe's best engineer award for his company which we are told will be sufficient proof to prove skillset. I have heard blanket petition mentioned but not sure how that all works as yet.
Amy1 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 6:44 pm
  #10  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 905
cranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond reputecranston has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

As already has been said....the Houston oil & gas industry in shock due to oil prices. Redundancies have already started and many more are planned.

Sure, that could all change with a recovery in the price of oil & gas....or it could get a lot worse. Citibank have just said oil could fall to $20...

Double check the contract....they are very quick to sack people here.
cranston is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 6:44 pm
  #11  
BE Forum Addict
 
Owen778's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Anchorage, AK, USA
Posts: 1,330
Owen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond reputeOwen778 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

That sounds a lot more hopeful. And if they have a blanket petition, they should be pretty familiar with the process, too.
Owen778 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 7:05 pm
  #12  
Banned
 
Joined: Aug 2014
Location: Lake Nona, FL
Posts: 205
Canveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond reputeCanveydave has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

I moved here a month ago, I work in recruitment in the Oil and Gas industry. Looking at my board right now I can see I have 15 live jobs on. Compare that to the 3 at any one time I had on in London 6 months ago and that might give you some perspective.

There are lay offs, but at the same time things like the 4 massive LNG plants on the Gulf coast are keeping me more busy than I have been in recruitment since before 2008.

One word of advice I would give is save as much as you can before you move. I have been hemorrhaging money since I got here a month ago. $300 for a deposit on this, $150 for a deposit on that, hidden costs on everything. Nothing, absolutely nothing costs what it says it does! Sometimes this works in your favour, sometimes not. Get a Cricket mobile phone. It is pay as you go and it costs $60 a month. For this you get unlimited calls, texts and internet, you also get 1000 minutes to mobile phones back home. It is lovely to be able to just call people like you would back home.

If I am being 100% honest I think your husband needs to push for a little more. I don't know what he does for a living, and you are wise to base your calculations on worst case, but I think some of your costs are a little out.

Water will be more. like possibly double. You are a family of 5, that's 5 baths/showers a day, all the washing of clothes that comes with it. Our first months bill which was for 3 GALLONS! was $54. There is a minimum amount that you have to pay each month.

I also feel like $300 for medical insurance is light. I have the companies basic policy for my family, I also have dental and vision, all at the lowest level. I pay $304 per fortnight.

I think you are OK with food actually. We shop at Aldi in Katy and never spend more than $125 a week.

Houston is a great place, but without a good amount of money behind you it is tough. Tougher for the people who stay at home. My wife has struggled being at home, remember that you cannot walk anywhere, not to the shop, not your friends house, not to the school. So without a car you are stuck indoors with 3 kids doing nothing, watching awful US TV.

Oh and one other thing mattresses are absolutely scandalous. We are talking around $1000 for a half decent one!
Canveydave is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 7:52 pm
  #13  
BE Enthusiast
 
Bomjeito's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Houston
Posts: 522
Bomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond reputeBomjeito has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Regarding the costs...double pretty much everything. Decent housing in good school districts start at $3k. Research each school, not the entire district for a rating. Katy ISD has hundreds of schools, and building more....so some addresses will be redistricted later. Anyhow, research each individual school for the home you desire. KISD has some marginal ones out there! As does Cypress ISD.

$70 k isn't a lot after taxes are accounted for.

As one poster mentioned, your upfront costs are large. Furniture is cheap by way of IKEA, and a lot of moving expats always have listings on FB, Shell Outpost, etc. But those require waiting and hoping. You can rent furniture...Cort does whole 4 bedroom houses for about $600 a month.

Car insurance...too low...if a corporate car, isn't it covered anyhow? If not, there is a year upcharge premium as you'll be considered a new driver here...and since you have no credit, credit scores come into play for rate decisions.

Have hubby ask for more or get more provided. How long is you corporate paid accommodations? Be sure it is at least in a targeted school cachement you may be leaning toward.

Three kids under 10 ...it can be expensive...depending on hobbies and desires they may have.

Of course anyone can make it happen on any salary...but I question that salary for desired living here. It is not as cheap as people seem to think Houston is.

Greatschools.com for specific schools and look at HAR.com ...you will get an idea of prices and school districts to look up. Also get onto city-data.com for Houston as folks will give their suggestions and opinions of schools and locations you've narrowed down.

Last edited by Bomjeito; Feb 10th 2015 at 7:55 pm.
Bomjeito is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 8:00 pm
  #14  
 
Weeze's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 2,262
Weeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond reputeWeeze has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas


I agree with Owen. Look at har.com and see what sort of rentals are in that price range. We were considerably more for what we wanted as renting in Houston is expensive.
Car insurance is expensive. You will need a car of your own. Life will be miserable without one.

You haven't mentioned your kids ages but you will need to factor in costs for children's activities if they aren't all school age.

Otherwise I'd say that salary doesn't seem an overly good one for Houston unless you are getting lots of other assistance in the moving package that you haven't mentioned yet.
Weeze is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2015, 8:14 pm
  #15  
 
Pulaski's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2001
Location: Dixie, ex UK
Posts: 50,785
Pulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Moving to Houston, Texas

Originally Posted by Bomjeito View Post
Regarding the costs...double pretty much everything. Decent housing in good school districts start at $3k. .....
Your advice isn't much help when the OP's after tax income isn't going to be much more than about $4,500/mth. ...... Given his income his budget is in line with the general guidance in the US to spend about 1/3 of your income on housing. Do you have any suggestions as to what he can do with a housing budget of $1,500-$2,000?
Pulaski is offline  

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

Copyright © 2022 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.