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-   -   Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please? (https://britishexpats.com/forum/usa-57/moving-kirkland-seattle-wa-advice-needed-please-591791/)

CherylH Feb 16th 2009 10:27 am

Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
Hi, again I'm new here and have looked at previous threads for advice on moving to Seattle, but I guess everyone's situation is a bit different. So here's mine... My husband has been tentatively offered a job at a well-respected technology company in Kirkland (subject to formal interview). We're seriously considering the move but know next to nothing about the area.

From what I've read, Kirkland seems like a fairly expensive place to buy houses but we'd probably rent to begin with. His salary isn't fixed yet but he's earning £70k in the UK (almost $100k) - and obviously won't accept a pay cut - is that enough for us to live comfortably in a nice area? I obviously won't be able to work on his visa. Also we were just about to start trying for a baby before this news came - am I mad to still consider being pregnant and having a baby over there?

It's so much to think about but I've read that Kirkland is a beautiful place with nice family atmosphere, picturesque countryside, and bars/restaurants etc. Can we survive on one salary - and possibly with a baby? I guess he'd have to discuss healthcare with the new company when he negotiates package. What sort of package should he expect to receive - in terms of relocation remuneration?

Sorry for rambling questions - I'm just not sure where to start with this!
Any advice you can offer would be great!
Many thanks

penguinsix Feb 16th 2009 1:31 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
Hi,

Welcome to the Expat life. I would strongly suggest clicking the link for WIKI at the top and go into the USA / Lifestyle section for some more information on the issues you may confront when/if you do a move.

First bit of advice, don't consider a flat $/£ conversion to be 'fair' when it comes to your salary. You need to assess what your expenses will be to live the relatively same standard of living, including the fact that your income may be lost. You should also consider if you have any UK£ expenses while you are away (like a loan or something) and definitely consider the cost of moving (some of which they will pay) but also the bits you will pay, i.e. a trip home for an emergency, buying placemats and coat hangers because you left yours in the UK, etc.

The other bit is rent first, at least 3 to 6 months so you can get a feel for the area, the schools, etc before you buy. I don't think the prices will be going up much in the next 6 months.

As for having a baby here, you can do a search on pregnancy and health insurance in the forums. It's talked about a great deal. Midwives are rare (but available if you hunt around) in the US and most of your pre-natal care will be by a doctor and nurses with your OB. Delivery is usually in a hospital and about 1/3 of the cases end up as c-sections. Usually the cost is covered by your employers health insurance, with your contribution being between $20 total to 10% of the bill (depends on the insurance)

As for the specifics of Kirkland, you should take a look at http://www.city-data.com/forum/seattle-area/ That's a relocation messageboard in which people can give you some 'on the ground' advice about specific neighborhoods and areas, and schools and all that. It's not Brits but everyone but it can offer some very good advice.

CherylH Feb 16th 2009 1:39 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by penguinsix (Post 7290336)
Hi,

Welcome to the Expat life. I would strongly suggest clicking the link for WIKI at the top and go into the USA / Lifestyle section for some more information on the issues you may confront when/if you do a move.

First bit of advice, don't consider a flat $/£ conversion to be 'fair' when it comes to your salary. You need to assess what your expenses will be to live the relatively same standard of living, including the fact that your income may be lost. You should also consider if you have any UK£ expenses while you are away (like a loan or something) and definitely consider the cost of moving (some of which they will pay) but also the bits you will pay, i.e. a trip home for an emergency, buying placemats and coat hangers because you left yours in the UK, etc.

The other bit is rent first, at least 3 to 6 months so you can get a feel for the area, the schools, etc before you buy. I don't think the prices will be going up much in the next 6 months.

As for having a baby here, you can do a search on pregnancy and health insurance in the forums. It's talked about a great deal. Midwives are rare (but available if you hunt around) in the US and most of your pre-natal care will be by a doctor and nurses with your OB. Delivery is usually in a hospital and about 1/3 of the cases end up as c-sections. Usually the cost is covered by your employers health insurance, with your contribution being between $20 total to 10% of the bill (depends on the insurance)

As for the specifics of Kirkland, you should take a look at http://www.city-data.com/forum/seattle-area/ That's a relocation messageboard in which people can give you some 'on the ground' advice about specific neighborhoods and areas, and schools and all that. It's not Brits but everyone but it can offer some very good advice.

Fantastic - thank you! I suppose it all depends on his salary and relocation package as to what we can afford/where we'll rent. Kirkland does seem like a lovely place though. But you're right, it's hard to know what an area's like until you live there.

Do you know if there is ever much leeway for negotiation in terms of salary/annual leave/relocation renumeration? I suppose a company won't pay over the odds as they'd just hire a US citizen instead and save themselves the trouble and extra money. But we're just wondering what we should expect and how hard we should press for salary/leave/health insurance etc.

Anyway, thanks again - it's certainly given me a starting point.

penguinsix Feb 16th 2009 2:57 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7290351)
Do you know if there is ever much leeway for negotiation in terms of salary/annual leave/relocation renumeration? I suppose a company won't pay over the odds as they'd just hire a US citizen instead and save themselves the trouble and extra money. But we're just wondering what we should expect and how hard we should press for salary/leave/health insurance etc.

Everything is negotiable. Everything. And don't think it's the simple ones, like leave and salary (health insurance should be non-negotiable--they should provide it, and if they say 'we have a plan and you have to pay for it' than factor that cost into your salary negotiations).

Here are some things to consider in expat packages:
http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Corpor...tion-Australia
http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Before_You_Move

It is worth noting that standard vacations in the US start at 10-15 days a year (which when mixed with weekends works out to about 3 weeks). You'll also get 6-12 bank holidays (varies). Some folks balk at this drastically reduced vacation time, but you also have to remember that 'popping over to Paris' is really quite a pain when you are 5,000 miles away and that most Americans don't even use their full allotment of vacation days.

You're going to have to find the fine line where 'they'll just hire an American' and they can offer you these things. They're probably already going to be spending about $5,000 or so on your visa paperwork so that will be part of the process.

He's just going to have to 'wow' them in the interviews.

Good luck.

AmerLisa Feb 16th 2009 3:15 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
We live south of Kirkland and I think you'll be very happy there. My husband loves this area because it reminds him somewhat of England, he works in Bothel and at the time we couldn't afford to buy up there. Real estate prices have lowered, so you should find something suitable.

Negotiate a very good health insurance package though....

CherylH Feb 16th 2009 3:22 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by AmerLisa (Post 7290616)
We live south of Kirkland and I think you'll be very happy there. My husband loves this area because it reminds him somewhat of England, he works in Bothel and at the time we couldn't afford to buy up there. Real estate prices have lowered, so you should find something suitable.

Negotiate a very good health insurance package though....

Thanks, AmerLisa - do you mind me asking if you have children? And if so, did you have them out there? How are you finding healthcare in general?

AmerLisa Feb 16th 2009 4:24 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7290635)
Thanks, AmerLisa - do you mind me asking if you have children? And if so, did you have them out there? How are you finding healthcare in general?

We have a 7 year old daughter and I had her in the UK, but I've had other children in the US. I am American and my husband is British, although I've lived in the UK as well before we moved here.

Healthcare is scary if you don't have good insurance. My husband has a good job and with a big company and 4 years ago started off with a very good insurance package. We've since seen that get worse. We currently pay around $100 a month for our premiums, but we have to meet our huge deductible before we get to pay our co-pays at our doctor or pharmacy. Our deductibles are $2300 annually, per person. So until that is paid (going to the doctor, having tests, buying prescriptions whittles that amount down) we pay full price for all of our medical care.

You will probably pay some out of pocket expenses for medical care. If you negotiate a good insurance package then your expenses may be small. Besides salary, this is very important in your husband's negotiations with the his company.

shorrock Feb 16th 2009 5:44 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7289867)
From what I've read, Kirkland seems like a fairly expensive place to buy houses but we'd probably rent to begin with.

Hi CheryleH and welcome to the forum. I live in Kirkland and it's the best place on the eastside of Seattle. When you say it's fairly expensive place it all depends on what you are use to. I work with somebody from Texas who can't believe the house prices here. he is use to paying $120k for a 5 bedroom with lots of land. In Kirkland you'd be looking at $500k+ for the same think.


Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7289867)
His salary isn't fixed yet but he's earning £70k in the UK (almost $100k) - and obviously won't accept a pay cut - is that enough for us to live comfortably in a nice area?

Depends how you live. $100k is a good living, however if you are dual income and are going down to single income then you'd find it a little tough. When my wife and I moved here we were both Dual income no kids. Now we are single income, no kids and another home loan. It's not tough but you do have to look after the pennies.



Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7289867)
Also we were just about to start trying for a baby before this news came - am I mad to still consider being pregnant and having a baby over there?

MAKE SURE you have good medical cover. Having a baby / going to doctors can be expensive.



Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7289867)
It's so much to think about but I've read that Kirkland is a beautiful place with nice family atmosphere, picturesque countryside, and bars/restaurants etc.

Yes it is a nice place to live and everything you say is spot on. Howevere I will say that come winter the place kinda shuts down.


Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7289867)
Can we survive on one salary - and possibly with a baby?

I'd say yes


Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7289867)
I guess he'd have to discuss healthcare with the new company when he negotiates package. What sort of package should he expect to receive - in terms of relocation remuneration?

Depends on the company. I got 2 return flights and 1 single flights for the whole family, 2 months accomodation, 1 months car hire, full move of our stuff from Australia to Kirkland, tax accountant for first years tax return and a relocation person to help you settle in. The relo person helped us get the SSN, open bank accounts and the other usual stuff you need to do. Very helpful and highly recommended.



Send me a private message and I'll send you my IM address. My wife and I would be happy to help you with any questions.

Kieron

CherylH Feb 16th 2009 8:32 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
Thanks, Kieron, I will do that as soon as I've got a list of questions together. I'm very keen on the Kirkland area - although someone mentioned that the Juanita Bay area is a bit rough. We'll be coming from London though so it depends on your definition of 'rough' I suppose.

Many thanks though for taking the time to answer my questions - I'll IM you with my next batch soon!

The Horticulturalist Feb 16th 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
Perhaps someone here can confirm this as I'm not sure, but I think that many health insurers will not cover a pre-existing condition initially and might exclude coverage for 6 months or more, I think that might mean they would not insure you if you arrived in the US already pregnant.

Paying for a pregnancy and delivery without insurance is beyond the means of most people and might mean you waiting in the UK to give birth if you get pregnant in the near future.
I'm sure I read that someone on here is waiting to have her baby in the UK for those reasons, I'm afraid I can't recall the details though.

shorrock Feb 16th 2009 9:42 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by CherylH (Post 7291373)
Although someone mentioned that the Juanita Bay area is a bit rough.

I wouldn't buy/rent anything North of 116th street which is Totem Lake area and try to stay away from the freeway/motoway (I405).

Rough, I don't think so. The area is 20% below average for crime rates for the whole of the USA. If you are from London then you'll think this place is good.

The one thing I will say about Kirkland is it's a little of a show off place. You see kids driving expensive cars (BMW, Merc, ....) all bought by mummy and daddy.

Also given there isn't much foot traffic in Kirkland then you see shops come and go.

Some other good things about moving to this area. You shouldn't have any problems getting credit :) Because the area is use to a lot of expats (Microsoft/Boeing/Google), then they are easier on you. I managed to buy a car on a 5 year loan, even though my visa was only for 2 years. I also managed to get a home loan as well without any issue.

caleyjag Feb 16th 2009 11:46 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
$100k should be okay to get by, I would think. No state taxes in Washington.

However you must negotiate a decent health package. That is probably the most important thing. Not sure how familiar you are with the US, but pay attention to vacation time too. This is often negotiable too.


What kind of neighbourhood are you looking for? I'm in the younger crowd and tend to find the eastside (Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond and Mercer Island) stuffy, a bit pretentious and frankly, a little boring.

However, they are probably alright if you are looking for a pleasant. safe environment to raise a family. If you want to live in a happening neighbourhood, there are much more vibrant parts of Seattle to live in.

Horses for courses, really.


Also, be prepared for a potential rollercoaster ride with the visa stuff.

naomi Feb 17th 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
I have several friends who live in that area (Kirkland, Redmond). They enjoy living there, definitely very family friendly, good schools etc. I'm more of a Seattle girl myself, we live a few miles north of downtown in the Ballard/Greenwood area. There are a lot of great neighborhoods around here too, I think Seattle is a bit more vibrant than the Eastside but that's just my personal preference. I also think you shouldn't have a problem living off $100k, that's a pretty decent salary. Also a great time to be buying of course, but definitely rent first to find your feet. Good luck, you are (hopefully) moving to a great part of the country.
Naomi.

CherylH Feb 17th 2009 4:12 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 

Originally Posted by naomi (Post 7294295)
I have several friends who live in that area (Kirkland, Redmond). They enjoy living there, definitely very family friendly, good schools etc. I'm more of a Seattle girl myself, we live a few miles north of downtown in the Ballard/Greenwood area. There are a lot of great neighborhoods around here too, I think Seattle is a bit more vibrant than the Eastside but that's just my personal preference. I also think you shouldn't have a problem living off $100k, that's a pretty decent salary. Also a great time to be buying of course, but definitely rent first to find your feet. Good luck, you are (hopefully) moving to a great part of the country.
Naomi.

Can I just say thanks to everyone who's given me advice on this - this is such a friendly website and I'm so glad I found you all!

You've definitely given me a lot to think about (maybe Seattle sounds a bit more lively than Kirkland...? but are rental prices similar?) so we'll keep researching and hopefully it'll all work out. Maybe we'll postpone the baby idea slightly until we're more settled and have sorted out the health insurance thing. Not even sure pregnancy health will be covered under OH's insurance... So much to think about, but thanks for giving me a jumping off point. Am really excited and I hope so much the move goes ahead! I'll keep you all posted ;-)

No doubt I'll be back with more questions though!
Many thanks again

caleyjag Feb 17th 2009 6:37 pm

Re: Moving to Kirkland/Seattle, WA - advice needed, please?
 
Good. Sounds like you have the right attitude.

I know a few young couples in the Fremont-Wallingford-Greenlake part of the city that like it there. Those are nice neighbourhoods.

I live in Cap Hill (basically the gay/alternative/party district), which is far as I am concerned is the centre of the universe, but it's not for everyone.

Wherever you end up living you'll be alright. Seattle is fabulous.


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