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Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Old Nov 30th 2011, 3:14 pm
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Default Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Hello everyone, this is my first post but I have been lurking on the board for weeks and trying to absorb as much information as possible.

I am trying to get a rough idea of what our standard of living will be if we relocate to the US. I know it's not an exact science but would really love to find out whether our dollar is likely to go further then our pound.

There is a possibiliy that my DH will be offered a job in the US (California area - San Fran or Santa Clara)

We are a large family with 4 kids (3 of whom are teens) and I imagine that I won't have a work Visa so we will just be living on my husbands salary.

If he does accept the job then he is looking at a salary of approx $130,000.

Now to me, this sounds like one hell of a salary but in reality, I can't get my head around what this actually means in terms of standards of living.

People I have spoken to talk about the fact that day to day living expenses are cheaper in the US - but is this actually true?

So my question is - can a family of 6 live comfortably on that amount?

Our medical insurance will be paid for by the company and we plan to rent rather then buy (would need a 5 bed in area with good schooling). We are not a 'flashy family' - just hoping to be able to live in a reasonable area and to have a little bit of cash spare each month to treat the kids to cinema, trips out etc.

I know its a tricky question but would anyone be willing to put this into perspective for us?
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 3:21 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by clarity1971 View Post
There is a possibiliy that my DH will be offered a job in the US (California area - San Fran or Santa Clara)

We are a large family with 4 kids (3 of whom are teens) and I imagine that I won't have a work Visa so we will just be living on my husbands salary.

If he does accept the job then he is looking at a salary of approx $130,000. A family of 2 or 3 might live comfortably on that salary.

So my question is - can a family of 6 live comfortably on that amount?
I personally think it will be difficult for a family of 6 to live on $130K a year in the SF area.

Our medical insurance will be paid for by the company ...
Does the company pay 100% of the premium for everyone (family plan)? I'd say that's unusual. You might want to find out if you have to pay any part of the premium.

Is it an HMO type of medical plan? If so, you could still have the co-pay costs, plus anything not covered by insurance (a portion of the cost of lab work, for example), plus the cost of prescriptions (at a reduced rate, but still out of pocket to you).

If the plan is not an HMO, then you're looking at insurance paying 80% of the bill, you pay 20% out of pocket. There are SOOOO many different types of insurance plans out there, you really need to know ahead of time what you're getting and how much it will affect your expenses. Especially with 4 children.

Just my ideas

Rene
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 3:27 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

I'm not really familiar with CA, but if that location is Silicon Valley-ish, then that salary may be on the low side...

However, one critical thing to consider is your quality of life, as opposed to your standard of living. The classic divergence is that in the US, you can have a better standard of living (bigger house, lots of cars, pool, loads of "stuff"), but a poorer quality of life (much more time at work, 10 days vacation/year, more stressful work environment, the need to drive everywhere etc).

But, as with anything, that's a personal observation so may not apply in many cases - just be wary that standard of living may not be everything :-)
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 3:30 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by clarity1971 View Post

People I have spoken to talk about the fact that day to day living expenses are cheaper in the US - but is this actually true?
Where are these people?

Something I noticed when I visited the UK this summer was that so many people told us how cheap it was to live in the US - oh yes they knew all about it.

Of course some of it depends on what you have in the UK, but factor in the cost of healthcare as Noorah has mentioned, cars (life is more difficult without them here) and university. This part of the country is expensive for housing.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 3:30 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by clarity1971 View Post
I know its a tricky question but would anyone be willing to put this into perspective for us?
$130k in Wichita, Kansas and you can live like kings. $130k in the SF area and you're the struggling middle class.

Don't forget to add the fresh-off-the-boat tax to your cost of living. Not only will you get to pay deposits on utilities and enjoy the most expensive auto insurance premiums for not having a credit history, but you will also make costly mistakes through lack of knowledge.

Don't equate US health insurance with BUPA -- you can still pay a lot out with insurance coverage.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 3:58 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

California is a very expensive place to live and I don't think that salary would go far at all. Ask for $230k! I don't think the cost of living here is any cheaper than the UK on the whole. Petrol is cheaper and I do find clothes here are cheaper because they have terrific sales and you can really find some bargains. Car insurance is much more expensive and of course you have to deal with health insurance and with a family of six, you need to find out exactly what the company are paying for. 100% is unusual.

Where I am in Houston, property is a bargain but it is not like that elsewhere in the country. For example, if we were to move to the northeast we would need to add $100k+ to our salary just to get the equivalent in housing and standard of living that we have here. There are web-sites that work it out for you but you are coming from the UK so it won't help unfortunately. You could look at real estate web-sites for the area you are going to be in to find the cost of housing. It would be a starting point and give you some idea of how much would come out of your paycheck monthly for somewhere to live.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

We live in Silicon Valley so I can give you a rough idea of monthly costs for our family of 3, our daughter is 9.

Rent $3500 for 2,900sq ft house (this is cheap because of stupid kitchen that is only around 6x9)
Healthcare Contrib $548
Monthly Groceries $450
Tv/Internet $160
Cell Phone $60 (only 1, we get the other paid through work)
Car Insurance $125 for 2 average cars, with 2 of us insured
Gas/Electric $115 average over the year
Water/Trash $60
Car $300 (high interest % just to get some credit) we bought the other cash
Gas $65 in my Jeep does around 300 miles

I think you would be looking at $5k for a house big enough for 6 of you, and I guess take home before healthcare deductions is going to be around $7,800 so I'd say it's not possible. Sorry, hope the breakdown helps though.

I'm sure someone will point out something I have missed too.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 4:12 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by Noorah101 View Post


Does the company pay 100% of the premium for everyone (family plan)? I'd say that's unusual.

Rene
It may be unusual, but it happens. All expats from OH's co. have all their US medical insurance totally free. We have to pay for our dental and vision plans, but that's not much. It's on the basis that the NHS is free, but dentistry and optical services are not in the UK.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 4:20 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by N1cky View Post
I think you would be looking at $5k for a house big enough for 6 of you, and I guess take home before healthcare deductions is going to be around $7,800 so I'd say it's not possible. Sorry, hope the breakdown helps though.

I'm sure someone will point out something I have missed too.
I wouldn't go as far as to say "it's not possible" because tons of people bring up large families on far less than $130k in this area. But I do agree that the cost of living here is such that $130k won't go that far when you have a large family.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 4:24 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by Giantaxe View Post
I wouldn't go as far as to say "it's not possible" because tons of people bring up large families on far less than $130k in this area. But I do agree that the cost of living here is such that $130k won't go that far when you have a large family.
You're right, I was meaning 'you wouldn't choose to live to such a tight budget each month'
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 4:34 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

The numbers that N1cky gave look about right to me.

Having 3 teenagers and the requirement for a 5 bedroom house is what is going to make this difficult although I tend to think that you would probably be better off (or, at least, have more options) down in the Santa Clara area than in the city. One possibility if your husband does end up in San Francisco would be to live somewhere in the East Bay and for him to commute in on BART - that won't do much for his quality of life but your housing costs will be a lot less.

Other important things to consider are how long you expect/intend to be in the US (is this just going to be a few years or might it be permanent) and what is going to happen to your kids as they get older - especially the teenagers. You should at least explore what the various options for college / university in the US or back in the UK are like - and what they will cost ...

Also realize that unless you end up in San Francisco itself you are probably going to be a 2 car family as soon as you get there (and depending on the ages of your teenagers you may come under pressure to become a 3 or 4 car family sooner that you expect ...). The "good news" is that even if you are not able to "work" you will actually have a full time job in driving your offspring around.

Anyway, I don't think that what you want to do is impossible on $130k but it will be difficult and, to make it work, you might end up spending quite a bit more than you earn for the first year or two (and don't underestimate the unexpected "one time" costs of relocation - even if you have a good relocation package you will still spend more than that and it will be useful to have a fair amount of cash available for the first month or two when you will end up buying lots of "little" things that quickly add up).
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 5:00 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Originally Posted by N1cky View Post
We live in Silicon Valley so I can give you a rough idea of monthly costs for our family of 3, our daughter is 9.

Rent $3500 for 2,900sq ft house (this is cheap because of stupid kitchen that is only around 6x9)
Healthcare Contrib $548
Monthly Groceries $450
Tv/Internet $160
Cell Phone $60 (only 1, we get the other paid through work)
Car Insurance $125 for 2 average cars, with 2 of us insured
Gas/Electric $115 average over the year
Water/Trash $60
Car $300 (high interest % just to get some credit) we bought the other cash
Gas $65 in my Jeep does around 300 miles

I think you would be looking at $5k for a house big enough for 6 of you, and I guess take home before healthcare deductions is going to be around $7,800 so I'd say it's not possible. Sorry, hope the breakdown helps though.

I'm sure someone will point out something I have missed too.

Debbie Downer


Jim.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

If you have teens and the move is permanent factor in college as well.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 7:22 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

glassdoor.com and salary.com are good places to look at, as is city-data.com

What you need to consider is what visa you get, if L1 transfer, you would be allowed to work, the kids wouldn't. If you got H1B for a new job, you and the kids won't be able to work.

How that affects the kids obviously depends on their ages and what your long term goals are...do you plan to stay here long term, do they think of going to the US for uni or back to the UK, thus requiring 3 years residency in the EU to get local rather than international rates. Also as the kids won't be able to work, that can affect how they settle when friends are earning money during holidays or whilst going to college etc.

Other things to consider, how much of a commute will you be willing to put up with...that will probably affect things too, as well as much the medical actually ends up costing you.

Some things here are cheaper, others not, but realistically, most things level out to be about the same. Cost of running a car is high and you'll realistically need 2 and if the kids are of driving age, they might want one.

Rent also on a large house I couldn't imagine being cheap, especially if you want to go to good schools, because which school you go to depends on the street you live in.
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Old Nov 30th 2011, 7:29 pm
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Default Re: Can I ask a question about salary and standard of living

Try this site. This is a great source of information for states and cities across the country.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/california/

http://www.city-data.com/forum/san-francisco/
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