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Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Old Apr 26th 2017, 9:07 am
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Default Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Hello, first time poster; forgive me for any poor spelling or information overloads.

I have looked through the direction and guidance and have found, with great appreciation, the resources available here to help with the administration and logistical complexities of the move across the pond.

I will expand on my personal situation after, but if anyone could share with me thoughts and experiences on the following, I would be very grateful:

1. How does the US work/life balance compare? I understand the USA stereotypically has much fewer holiday time than the UK, and is less charitable in cases such as maternity leave etc. Though I believe there are one or two more bank holidays? How have people who have moved over in recent years found work life, comparable to the UK? I have read somewhere that (stereotypically) American culture can be more 'live to work' where as the UK can be more 'work to live'. Obviously I know there is a great deal of depending factors, such as the industry or company you work for, and length of time you have been with them, I am just looking for a rough idea. (At this time I do not know what career I will be pursuing.)

2. How employable are you, as a British expat and how have you found work over there? This is related to my last. You can read more about my background below, I am just looking for any early warnings or realistic expectations.

3. Where would you prefer to raise a family? I understand the school systems are very different in many ways, does anyone have any insightful experiences with regards to this? Again, I appreciate America is a huge place, and there are numerous variables, I am interested in the Mid-West; specifically we are looking at the likes of Ann Arbour, MI (or possibly near Indianapolis, IN).

About me:
I (32) am an infantry Officer in HM Forces, 7 years experience, with previous careers in Special Effects and Fitness, and a BSc in Media (not helpful I know). My wife is American and moved over in 2014, we have our fist kid due August, and would like to settle down, hence leaving the military and looking for something new. Her family are predominantly in Toledo, OH, hence looking at Ann Arbour, MI. It has a good reputation for schools, easy access to Detroit airport, close to her family and is meant to be a great town. (I have been there - but not for long enough to know it as I should, yet). My wife will most likely be a stay at home mother, so although I would certainly not be opposed to further education and retraining, I am not prepared to build up a big debt so I can go and become, say, a Physiotherapist (something I would have loved!).

Thank you.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 10:13 am
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

1. This will vary depending on your job, but honestly I have found the work/life balance to be no different than the UK. I get 3 weeks vacation time, which I think is fairly generous after 3 years working somewhere for the US. If you want to get ahead and get noticed, then you do have to go above and beyond and prove yourself exceptional.

The main difference is cultural - people will stay behind to do things that I would never dream of doing, although I am changing in this regard. For example, most of the staff at the Hospital/Nursing Home that I work at will stay late several times in the year for things like the Resident Christmas Party. While not expected, it is certainly frowned upon not to put yourself forward for these sorts of things.

2. Being an expat, IMO, has absolutely no bearing on hire ability. It is all about education, experience, and achievements here.

3. I can't really answer this as I do not have children, but I think I would prefer them to undergo schooling in the UK if I had the choice. The education system in my area seems to leave something to be desired.

You listed your experiance, but what career would you be interested in pursuing?
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 12:01 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Civilservant,

Thank you for your response. I am glad to learn that the work life balance is not dissimilar. Regarding the culturally differences you mentioned, I may already be accustomed to this environment. It sounds like business as usual in the military (currently working 12 hour days, furthermore tours away have been much more intensive).

Career wise, I am still working on this. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and will probably look for some type of general management or project management role. If I had no one depending on me, it would probably be back to school, perhaps to study physiotherapy. However, more realistically, as long as I am working with people (preferably more than computers!) - I'll be happy. I will start pursuing prospective employers more intensively once I have a solid timeline laid out and the visa application in progregss.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 12:18 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Next week I hit 1 year since relocating so this is purely based on my experience so far:

1. How does the US work/life balance compare? - For me it's great but I work remotely for a UK company where I make my own hours and I also run a small LLC here. Typically I work less hours, from home, make more money get to do my hobby almost every single day.
My work-life balance is very good.....however: my wife who is in typical employment here (with an NGO) is not so good. 10 days paid leave per year and limited sick days. If I had to do that coming from the 5 weeks I had in the UK that would have seriously sucked! So all-in-all work life balance will be entirely dependant on your situation. If you're employed by someone else in anything not upper-tier you'll probably have it a little worse off than the UK to begin with.

2. How employable are you, as a British expat - Pretty much the only limit I've seen is going to be whether your professional qualifications are transferable. For example: my professional body (The Royal Institute of British Architects) does not automatically qualify me to work over here in Architecture so if I wanted to do that I would have to 'retrain' whilst grinding for a company here. Otherwise being an expat is irrelevant.
I will also add that there seems to be a trend here of companies putting a bizarre amount of weight on having a masters degree...I know people with 15+ years in the workforce who seem to be stuck because they don't have some irrelevant masters degree from when they were a student.

3. Where would you prefer to raise a family? - We don't have kids yet (same age as you though, next few years likely). We're in a nice part of NJ where the schools are very good (pay through the nose in tax for it!) so I don't think there's anything that would sway me one way or the other right now. College costs will be interesting in 20 years but the kids having dual citizenship could offer some good opportunities for that.

YMMV!!
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 12:47 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Originally Posted by civilservant View Post
1. This will vary depending on your job, but honestly I have found the work/life balance to be no different than the UK. I get 3 weeks vacation time, which I think is fairly generous after 3 years working somewhere for the US. If you want to get ahead and get noticed, then you do have to go above and beyond and prove yourself exceptional.

The main difference is cultural - people will stay behind to do things that I would never dream of doing, although I am changing in this regard. For example, most of the staff at the Hospital/Nursing Home that I work at will stay late several times in the year for things like the Resident Christmas Party. While not expected, it is certainly frowned upon not to put yourself forward for these sorts of things.

2. Being an expat, IMO, has absolutely no bearing on hire ability. It is all about education, experience, and achievements here.

3. I can't really answer this as I do not have children, but I think I would prefer them to undergo schooling in the UK if I had the choice. The education system in my area seems to leave something to be desired.

You listed your experience, but what career would you be interested in pursuing?
I think CS has summed it up quite nicely.

I find the work life balance better in the US, but that might be because I lived and worked in London, and now live in rural NC. I also get 28 days holiday each year, bumped up from 23 days after ten years service, but I don't get all ten bank holidays, and unless you work for the government or a bank you probably won't either. Six bank holidays seems to be usual - 1/1, Memorial day, 4th July, Labor day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; some employers throw in the day after Thanksgiving.

Schools and schooling vary a lot between states and even school districts - with houses costing markedly more in good school districts. I only have one child, so we decided to "go private" rather than move house, but probably couldn't afford to if we had more than one child as cheaper private schools aren't great.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 12:47 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

NoOfficialComment,

Thank you for your reply, it's good to hear from someone who is so fresh through the relocation process. Though, unfortunately, I imagine my immigrating will be quite different to your favourable situation with working for a UK company (I had to Google 'YMMV'!).

Your response to point 2 in interesting. It makes me consider trying to obtain an MSc (which is feasible - but difficult with a baby inbound) before I move over, or whether it would be a less practical use of my time. If it was in the slightest bit vocational, as opposed to more general, I'd probably have to 'retrain' anyway from what you have said. Thanks again, food for thought.

Do you know, with regards to expats, whether they generally happy to have moved over? I've read mixed things, mainly a lot of people missing the UK, including forums about returning.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 12:54 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Pulaski,

Thank you for your comment; another positive message overall which is good to hear. The rumour of the poor work life balance is sounding like the exception rather than the rule.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 1:06 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Originally Posted by Daniel_Robert View Post
NoOfficialComment,
Do you know, with regards to expats, whether they generally happy to have moved over? I've read mixed things, mainly a lot of people missing the UK, including forums about returning.
I think this is generally going to be variable depending on the age of the person in question and for what purpose they moved over. I can see how someone who uprooted because of their partners job could have a very different opinion from a young person who took a big opportunity benefiting themselves. Even then it's going to be a very personal thing.

I have 5 friends here who are English (4 male, 1 female):
1 is in identical circumstances to me (same age, moved and married on K1, has solid job etc) and seems very happy with no real regrets yet.
3 blokes are here on a work visas and again are in similar circumstances regarding age etc - They're all super happy.
The final one moved here 17 years ago because her husband was American, she's now divorced with a teenage daughter. Out of all of these people, the divorcee is the only one who wants to come back to the UK.

For me, other than the concept of 'free' healthcare and a few friends/family, there's nothing I miss about the UK yet at all.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 1:25 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

NoOfficialComment,

That's really encouraging, thank you. The longer my Mrs stays here, the more she likes it, alternatively, the idea of America excites me more and more as well. We are both very close to our families, but I think once baby is here, she'll want to be nearer her family and I'm happy to go for it. I love it over there, however I am aware this opinion is reared from short but frequent holidays, and living there indefinitely will be another thing entirely. Bottom line, I'm just trying to figure out where my family can enjoy the best quality of life; spoilt as we are to have such an option. Thanks for your insights.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 1:44 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Originally Posted by civilservant View Post
2. Being an expat, IMO, has absolutely no bearing on hire ability. It is all about education, experience, and achievements here.
Originally Posted by NoOfficialComment View Post
2. How employable are you, as a British expat - Pretty much the only limit I've seen is going to be whether your professional qualifications are transferable. For example: my professional body (The Royal Institute of British Architects) does not automatically qualify me to work over here in Architecture so if I wanted to do that I would have to 'retrain' whilst grinding for a company here. Otherwise being an expat is irrelevant.
Depending on your field of work and location, being an expat can be a big hindrance. I'm job hunting again now and find that an awful lot of vacancies in the area require security clearance - something that's not available to non-citizens (and not necessarily trivial for naturalized citizens).
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 2:00 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

A lot depends on location and sector. I work in a in-demand industry (web development) in a location where supply isn't meeting demand (NYC) so my benefits and work-life balance are excellent (the fact that my new employer is based in Sweden probably helps too). It *may* be that locating in the mid-West in an sector that's not especially suffering from skills shortages you'll find the entry-level vacation time and w/l balance to be poorer, but it will vary a lot between companies - Glassdoor.com can be very useful to get an inside view of what actual working conditions are like.

I've never felt being an ex-pat has either hindered or helped me. I'm in NYC where we Brits are a dime a dozen so I know I've never been helped into a job because "I love your accent!" but similarly it's a very diverse area where not being American-born and bred is not a handicap for seeking employment at all. I suspect in the mid-West you *may* encounter just a bit more prejudice against hiring non-Americans but that will be offset among other employers for your novelty factor as a Brit.

I was 44 when I moved over, and I'm 50 now. I've not regretted moving here at all, and have taken to life here well. Everyone's mileage varies on that sort of thing of course, and you won't really know how it affects you until you do it.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 5:24 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

1. How does the US work/life balance compare?
Lots of good answers here already. I would add that when I first moved over this was not even a consideration for me. In later years I have come to realize that there is a disparity between the UK and USA over general employment benefits and the way vacation and sickness is treated. In general probably the US does provide less vacation days in most sectors of the workplace, those where it’s good are public employment, think military, civil servants, education sector. Most private companies not so good, although Pulaski seems to have found the exception! The biggest issue is you usually have to earn it to use it which for most people means a year of work before any time off. Not so I understand in the UK?

It is imho a truism that American generally speaking ‘live to work.’ Or as I like to put it they can certainly talk a good job of work! The being seen to be at work and doing something culture is very strong, even if you are just wandering the corridors with a piece of paper in your hand going from meeting to meeting.
Adjust to this and you will fit in fine.

2. How employable are you, as a British expat and how have you found work over there?
In general this is a non issue. Used wisely it can work for you. Another poster mentioned professional qualifications and degrees. There is a general trend especially in the public sector to verify ‘foreign’ educational quals (which yours are considered). However, I think in the private sector this is likely not the case. Again, its often used as a barrier, might be more local commentary as 'rpjs' states above, than widespread, for example look at this MI college: https://www.jobs.lcc.edu/postings/4407, just picked one example.

Who post this on every job application now:

Applicants with foreign education credentials (i.e. earned degree and related to this position) must contact a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) credential evaluation services (NACES Home) and request an academic transcript evaluation. Three of NACES member credential evaluation services are: Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (email: [email protected]) ; World Education Services, Inc.(email: [email protected]) ; International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (email: [email protected]). The credential evaluation must be submitted with the application materials.

Wherever you see this on any job application turn and run. The cost of doing this is prohibitive in most cases.
Other than that I think finding a job here is just like anywhere else.

3. Where would you prefer to raise a family?
The Midwest very simple. You are choosing a great state just be discerning around Detroit. Other than that it’s a great place. Ann Arbor tends to be more expensive north of Detroit is nice and a lot cheaper.

Your name's not 'Harry' by any chance!

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Old Apr 26th 2017, 5:31 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

I moved to Charlotte, NC a year ago from London.

1.Certainly would depend on role and industry. I work in transport/logistics and for me there is a difference in the culture here, it's skewed more to work than life, but it's not to an extreme amount. I've found expectations higher here, but they are not unrealistic, I got used to it pretty quickly, and still feel like I have an acceptable work life balance.


2. I quit my job and moved here with no job lined up and two kids to support. It took me three months to find a job. I was looking for a management role and a good company and had planned on the basis that it might take some time to find the right job. Not knowing many people can be a barrier to hearing about opportunities and people not fully understanding your work experience if it is UK specific could be an issue. But in general I felt like it was fairly neutral in my job search that I was British.


3. For me the US is huge improvement for my family. I lived in South East London in a 2 bedroom flat and next to a busy road. Moving to North Carolina I was able to buy a house with lots of space and in a great area. The weather is amazing, people are friendly. Not sure exactly how it will be in the Mid-West, but family life was a big reason for us to move to America.

I'm in my mid 20s, had 5 years work experience when I moved here. My wife is American and is much happier here. I do miss the UK in many ways, but have a better life here. Lots of challenges, but definitely worth it.
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 6:57 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

Ann Arbor has very good schools, good enough that Google would recruit from them.

Vacation and benefits can vary widely depending on industry and employers. Even more so if collective bargaining is in place.(unions).
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Old Apr 26th 2017, 7:23 pm
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Default Re: Heindsight for the hasty! UK to USA (Mid-West)

You say that you are leaving the military and looking for "something new"

So what industry/fields do you think you would be looking at? What are you qualified/experienced in?

As you mentioned Ann Arbour MI have you researched into what types of jobs are available in that area?

While you've had several encouraging responses with regard work/life environment and job opportunities, there are other examples on this and other forums of folks who have taken months to find jobs, and found life very hard.

General Management/Project Management sounds rather vague. You mention that you don't know yet what career you will be pursuing, so you did not build up experience in any industry before you joined the military?

It's interesting that your first questions asks about amount of vacation/maternity leave. While the vacation rates are improving, there are still plenty of people who, when starting work, only get 5 to 10 days and maternity leave (for wife or husband) can be minimum.

A lot of, what I would call, general office jobs/first rung management roles demand a degree which probably in the UK they would not. The US seems to be totally degree oriented.

While I'm not discouraging you from moving to the US I think it might benefit you to look at getting some further tangible experience in the UK so that you would have definite work experience/qualities which would appeal to US employers.

If you are intending to move after the birth of your child, the last thing you want is to be out of work for several months after arriving, as you will need to have medical insurance from pretty much day one.

Also note that if you move before your wife has her British citizenship, then, should you wish to return to the UK, you'll start the immigration process all over again.


Good luck in whatever you choose.
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