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London to Chicago relocating 1 year

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London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Old Aug 22nd 2023, 6:42 pm
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Default London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Hi all!

First, what a great site. I’ll be moving from London to Chicago for a 1-year position in January and have already found lots of useful info.

The company I’ll be working for is a not-for-profit, funds are limited. They’ve offered me a £2k relocation package which at first I thought was good… but after reading into it a bit more I realise this may not go very far. I’m hoping to pack light and use checked baggage instead of shipping, but apart from that I’m struggling to see where I could cut costs,

Does anyone have an experience of moving to Chicago from the UK and have any thoughts on this? Should I push for a better relocation package or could I make it work? What’s the best way to justify a better package/argue my case? Any suggestions welcome!
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Old Aug 22nd 2023, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Originally Posted by JenSAL
Hi all!

First, what a great site. I’ll be moving from London to Chicago for a 1-year position in January and have already found lots of useful info.

The company I’ll be working for is a not-for-profit, funds are limited. They’ve offered me a £2k relocation package which at first I thought was good… but after reading into it a bit more I realise this may not go very far. I’m hoping to pack light and use checked baggage instead of shipping, but apart from that I’m struggling to see where I could cut costs,

Does anyone have an experience of moving to Chicago from the UK and have any thoughts on this? Should I push for a better relocation package or could I make it work? What’s the best way to justify a better package/argue my case? Any suggestions welcome!

No idea how to answer your poll really, but I lived in Chicago for many years, now back in the UK and there are some costs you should consider if you haven't already.

At 2k they are paying for little more than your round trip airfare. They may not be able to afford more of course. Relocation packages are totally voluntary of course.

I hope that they have sorted out your visa requirements if you are going to work in the US, because that will be a significant cost to them. I raise this because I worked for a non-profit there as well, and you would be surprised how little they know about these matters. Make sure they've done it right, especially since if funds are limited they may not be very large or have their own attorney on staff.

You will need a place to live in Chicago, obv, and if renting that will require a minimum deposit of the equivalent of one's month's rent. So when you start your lease, if an annual lease, you will pay a month's rent and the deposit and will need to have that much cash in hand to do so. You can easily look up Chicago rents online.

Make sure you understand the provision for your health care while in the US. If they are putting you on their insurance, you will almost certainly have to pay a significant portion of the premium (usually deducted from your paycheck) and you will have copays etc if you need medical care. If they are NOT putting you on their group insurance, you will need to buy individual coverage because paying actual costs to doctors and hospitals is prohibitive. Not being morbid, but should you have an accident you could end up owing from 5 - 6 figures, easily.


Oh, you will also need to buy some serious cold weather gear if you are arriving in January!

Edit to add: Happy to answer any Chicago-specific questions I can.

Last edited by Lion in Winter; Aug 22nd 2023 at 9:34 pm.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 12:59 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Please tell me they are also giving you a pay bump and not just giving you your GBP salary converted plus £2k?
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 1:42 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Originally Posted by GeneralPowerpoint
Please tell me they are also giving you a pay bump and not just giving you your GBP salary converted plus £2k?
Chicago is fairly pricey, but the OP seems to be moving from London and imo things like rent and possibly food, depending, will be cheaper. My rent here in Tiny Town, Essex, is def cheaper than my Chicago apt was, but London would be another matter entirely.

Petrol/gas will be cheaper, if applicable.

Public transport will be cheaper.

Health insurance/payments will of course be a LOT more expensive.

Mobile phone contract and home internet will be more expensive.

A year contract is different from a permanent move, too, in terms of assessing costs.



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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 1:54 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

America has become very expensive and Chicago is very expensive. £2k is NOT going to cover it.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 2:38 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Only you can work out a rough cost of your relocation since we don't have any details. Do you own a home which you would need to keep paying the mortgage or or pay to store your items and rent it out? Do you have a lease which you'd need to break? Do you have a partner and/or children coming too? Do you have any regular medical care? How much stuff would you want to bring with you to be comfortable? How often would you want or need to visit the UK?
It's not difficult for these kinds of things to be in the tens of thousands.
I suggest you work through what the big costs would be for you and see if 2k gets close. But as others have said, it'll cover your return flights and not much else.
One thing a Chicagoite could advise - is a broker fee likely to be a major expense? In NYC it's pretty common to pay 2 months rent (!!) in a fee to sign an apartment lease.

I also +1 to JR4E's comment that the US in general is now more expensive than the UK. LiW's comments sound generally outdated and overall living expenses are going to be much higher than the UK (even London). I would not even consider relocating if they don't pay more in salary for the duration. Browse Zillow for somewhere you would want to rent as one good barometer.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 3:22 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

I moved from just outside London to the Northern Chicago Suburbs in 2019.

We did ship our household goods, but outside of that, the costs were still way way more than £2k. Even to replace basic household electricals and essentials is going to use some of the £2k on it's own (TV, Toaster, Kettle, lamps (many US rooms don't have ceiling fixtures and need lamps that plug into sockets), etc). On a positive note, most rentals seem to include washers and microwaves, not all obviously, but the ones I found all did. This goes away if you plan to rent furnished, but you should check out the prices before making a decision.

Not trying to put you off, a year in the US would be a great adventure and I love Chicago (even with the extremes of weather), but £2k is not even close. You just need to go into it 'eyes wide open'.

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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 4:00 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

I selected the 'more like £10k' option, but it will very much depend on what else they're paying for. If that is all they're giving you and they're not covering flights, insurances, rental deposit, car deposit, shipping (or extra baggage), buying replacement items, then even £10k isn't going to come close IMO.

We've just moved and although circumstances are different (a family of 4 plus 2 dogs, and moved to east coast rather than Chicago), our costs are way more than that. We're a month in and are still spending out on setting up life here - really hoping it stops soon!

Best of luck.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 4:44 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

One more thing to consider, if you plan on driving, my car insurance in the UK was around £300 on a high performance car and in the US on something pretty standard it was over $1,500. Few insurers will recognize UK No claims discount and the ones that do seemed to be the higher priced ones anyway.

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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 4:48 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Originally Posted by porkedpie
Only you can work out a rough cost of your relocation since we don't have any details. Do you own a home which you would need to keep paying the mortgage or or pay to store your items and rent it out? Do you have a lease which you'd need to break? Do you have a partner and/or children coming too? Do you have any regular medical care? How much stuff would you want to bring with you to be comfortable? How often would you want or need to visit the UK?
It's not difficult for these kinds of things to be in the tens of thousands.
I suggest you work through what the big costs would be for you and see if 2k gets close. But as others have said, it'll cover your return flights and not much else.
One thing a Chicagoite could advise - is a broker fee likely to be a major expense? In NYC it's pretty common to pay 2 months rent (!!) in a fee to sign an apartment lease.

I also +1 to JR4E's comment that the US in general is now more expensive than the UK. LiW's comments sound generally outdated and overall living expenses are going to be much higher than the UK (even London). I would not even consider relocating if they don't pay more in salary for the duration. Browse Zillow for somewhere you would want to rent as one good barometer.

Outdated? I only moved back to the UK from Chicago last year

Everyone will have different experiences, I'm sure, but I am VERY experienced at keeping my costs down due to necessity. So depending on the lifestyle you choose or are forced to choose costs will vary considerably.

You will also note that I said that 2k will barely cover airfare.


Last edited by Lion in Winter; Aug 23rd 2023 at 4:52 am.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 5:20 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

What visa is the OP getting?
Sound like a youngish person - no shipping, just checked bags, little re-location package. Probably rents in the UK?
2K is not going to go far - but what is he going to have to purchase if just staying a year. Getting a furnished place would be sensible. 2K could be used for deposits.
Personally, I think it rather strange that a) company would move someone and go to the expense of getting a visa for only 1 year b) someone would move for only 1 year taking into account start up costs such as deposits for utilities etc. if not getting any decent re-location package.
Wonder if OP has taken into account medical insurance costs etc.

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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 6:38 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

I moved as a single to NYC on an L1a, mainly via carry on bags, but skis and Brompton etc had to be checked.

If the OP is working for a non profit they could share an apt with others… so may only need to buy a bed. I got all my stuff when I first moved from IKEA. probably spent the most on the sofa bed for guests, TV and coffee machine, all If which are not essential…

assuming they are young and single and just want the experience it should be doable on a small budget assuming the salary will cover costs and they will have insurance… it could be J1 visa type assignment.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 6:48 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Lots of good advice has already been given, all of which I agree with, and disagree with, given this is a "how long is a piece of string" question.

This sounds like a "bring a suitcase" type of arrangement, not one where you will ship your stuff and your cat, then ship them back again. If your goal is to survive, have some fun, and gain experience, not get rich, then $2k probably makes sense for you even if I wouldn't accept it.

That said, you said "will be working for", which makes it sound like you're a new hire, not being transferred*, which begs the question: do you have a visa?, and if so, which type? (Should be "letter - number", and perhaps another letter, so something like J-1, H-1B, L-1A, etc.)

* To be clear, even if being transferred, you still need a visa, but a transfer visa is a lot easier to obtain.

Last edited by Pulaski; Aug 23rd 2023 at 6:57 am.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 7:41 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Originally Posted by Pulaski
Lots of good advice has already been given, all of which I agree with, and disagree with, given this is a "how long is a piece of string" question.

This sounds like a "bring a suitcase" type of arrangement, not one where you will ship your stuff and your cat, then ship them back again. If your goal is to survive, have some fun, and gain experience, not get rich, then $2k probably makes sense for you even if I wouldn't accept it.
.
This is why I decided to go with the 5k GBP option, assuming you keep your existing property in the UK and just need flights and a small initial start up fund and that your salary would pay for a furnished rental for the year and either a cheap used car that you can sell at the end or a really short term 1 year car lease if those are available to people on short term moves like this. If you need to move any furniture or want money towards the costs of rent/furnishing or cars on top of plane tickets and things like that then most definitely over $10k.
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Old Aug 23rd 2023, 8:34 am
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Default Re: London to Chicago relocating 1 year

Originally Posted by EdgeAA
.... and either a cheap used car that you can sell at the end or a really short term 1 year car lease if those are available to people on short term moves like this. .....
I think the cost of car insurance for a newbie on "non-profit-level salary" likely precludes buying a car. So I envisage Jen relying on public transport, Uber, and maybe occasional weekend car rentals if really necessary.

IF a 12 month lease on a new car exists it would have to cover about ⅓ of the purchase cost PLUS interest on the average implied loan, so I sincerely doubt it would be affordable for Jen. Hypothetically buying a lease with 12 months remaining of the original lease might be relatively attractive, but I don't know that trading unexpired leases ever really took off, and in any case wouldn't solve the very high cost of car insurance for a new (to the US) driver.

Last edited by Pulaski; Aug 23rd 2023 at 8:40 am.
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