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Moving without expat package?

Moving without expat package?

Old Jan 17th 2020, 12:19 pm
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Default Moving without expat package?

Hello everyone,
new member here, even though I have been reading for ages. I think I need a bit of advice and a sounding board to get clearer on what I/we want. So I am grateful for everyone taking the time to answer

The situation: we are a family with two children (4 and 6 months), currently residing in Germany where we own a flat. We have been living in London before and would also like to go back at some point, but we are also strongly considering a move to the US Within the next 2 years. That is mainly my doing I must admit, as my husband is not the biggest USA fan but he is slowly warming up to the idea. It is not meant to be a permanent move, so not pursuing a green card, but more 2-3 years (just to get it out of the system I suppose )
Visa is not the big problem, my husband would get a L1A through his company, they do it all the time. He has in fact already asked the CFO a few months ago and she liked the idea, BUT (and now we come to the problem/question I guess) his company is a bit disorganized when it comes to considering the bigger picture. So for them to initiate the move is probably unlikely. I think that us initiating the process brings us in a not so favorable position though, right? There goes the cushy expat package I have dreamt of...

My questions are along the lines of what would you do in this situation? Did you go with your company but without any additional benefits besides the visa costs (which I’d appreciate of course)? If you’d have to go again under this circumstances, would you bring all your things like furniture with you or buy brand new (both options make my head spin when I look at the costs!)? Is it just a big money sink to do it for such a short amount of time?

Oh and we are unfortunately looking at high COL areas... it would probably be the Washington DC office, so I was looking at VA and MD homes. Or maybe the NYC one, so either NJ or Westchester County...

Thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 12:29 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Busylizzy111 View Post
Hello everyone,
new member here, even though I have been reading for ages. I think I need a bit of advice and a sounding board to get clearer on what I/we want. So I am grateful for everyone taking the time to answer

The situation: we are a family with two children (4 and 6 months), currently residing in Germany where we own a flat. We have been living in London before and would also like to go back at some point, but we are also strongly considering a move to the US Within the next 2 years. That is mainly my doing I must admit, as my husband is not the biggest USA fan but he is slowly warming up to the idea. It is not meant to be a permanent move, so not pursuing a green card, but more 2-3 years (just to get it out of the system I suppose )
Visa is not the big problem, my husband would get a L1A through his company, they do it all the time. He has in fact already asked the CFO a few months ago and she liked the idea, BUT (and now we come to the problem/question I guess) his company is a bit disorganized when it comes to considering the bigger picture. So for them to initiate the move is probably unlikely. I think that us initiating the process brings us in a not so favorable position though, right? There goes the cushy expat package I have dreamt of...

My questions are along the lines of what would you do in this situation? Did you go with your company but without any additional benefits besides the visa costs (which I’d appreciate of course)? If you’d have to go again under this circumstances, would you bring all your things like furniture with you or buy brand new (both options make my head spin when I look at the costs!)? Is it just a big money sink to do it for such a short amount of time?

Oh and we are unfortunately looking at high COL areas... it would probably be the Washington DC office, so I was looking at VA and MD homes. Or maybe the NYC one, so either NJ or Westchester County...

Thanks in advance!
I moved without a “package” but as a single 30ish year old. I would not even consider a temp move with a family without an adequate package ( especially to cover the move back afterwards). Google employment at will.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 12:32 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Wow, there's lots to talk about there, but for starters, with a family, IMO it would critically depend on the salary of the US position. For a location like the DC area, I wouldn't recommend trying it on less than about $200k/yr gross salary. You could, do it on less, certainly, and obviously many do, including locals on a lot less - but they have eased into their living situation either as a student or with family support, whereas you're going to be unsupported by family and needing to acquire vehicles and all the trappings of family life, .... And the costs are somewhat compounded if you are only planning to stay for a few years - with double shipping costs, disposal of vehicles, etc.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 17th 2020 at 1:06 pm.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 12:53 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Thank you for your thoughts! I am under the impression that they simply “pause” the German contract until the person comes back, but I will definitely check. And we will also try to find out how they translate the salary from Euro to USD. Thanks for the number, that’s also along the lines I thought we would need.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 1:14 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Busylizzy111 View Post
Thank you for your thoughts! I am under the impression that they simply “pause” the German contract until the person comes back, but I will definitely check. And we will also try to find out how they translate the salary from Euro to USD. Thanks for the number, that’s also along the lines I thought we would need.
You're welcome.

You can look on-line using rental web sites such as Zillow.com to look at homes and what you'll pay to rent them. And remember in the US the owner of the property pays the local property tax, so you don't have a "community charge" to pay on top of the rent.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 2:10 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
You're welcome.

You can look on-line using rental web sites such as Zillow.com to look at homes and what you'll pay to rent them. And remember in the US the owner of the property pays the local property tax, so you don't have a "community charge" to pay on top of the rent.
oh yes, I looked at places already and found quite a few. I also checked grocery prices at local stores (I like to research ). I think the day-to-day costs are not the big problem. We will also be able to get a good rent for our place so that should help. The health insurance at his company is also generous from what we hear (probably not as great as in Germany though, where there is no copay etc). The problem I see is the mountain of upfront costs, not having credit history, oh, and the costs of childcare (we pay nearly nothing in Germany). And the emotional side of course... my parents are having health problems and really enjoy their time with the kids. But my dad said I cant always put my life on hold for them, so there’s that.

for those of you who came with only suitcases... how much did you approx. spend to furnish your houses?
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Busylizzy111 View Post
... for those of you who came with only suitcases... how much did you approx. spend to furnish your houses?
How long is a piece of string?

I came with my USC wife, and we didn't unpack for 17 months, and lived in a sparsely furnished apartment until we decided were we going to live longer term.

Good quality furniture can be very expensive in the US - we bought a fairly nice new dining table last year, that seats 10 (has two removable leaves), with chairs, and we think we got a great deal, from a furniture clearance warehouse (a long way from DC, and in a small rural town in NC), and paid almost $2,000. Take a look at Restoration Hardware's web site for some ideas on more pricey furniture - though from a British perspective high end US furniture often looks "dated".

If you like to research, look at Ikea's US web site, and see if you could furnish a home for less than say $10k (about what you'd pay to ship furniture back and forth), then ship only clothes and personal stuff and dispose of it when you leave the US.

Try wayfair.com for more general ideas on buying furniture in the US. .... You will see that most larger dining tables start around $2k, and many are in the $3k-$4k range, which probably means over $6k with chairs, which is why we were fairly pleased with our purchase.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 17th 2020 at 3:08 pm.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 2:30 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Busylizzy111 View Post
Thank you for your thoughts! I am under the impression that they simply “pause” the German contract until the person comes back, but I will definitely check. And we will also try to find out how they translate the salary from Euro to USD. Thanks for the number, that’s also along the lines I thought we would need.
I have friends who relocated from Germany on an expat contract and they didn't convert the salary at all - they continued to pay the Germany salary into their Germany bank account, along with a housing allowance and a car allowance to cover their apartment here in Texas.

The friends in question don't seem to think they are being screwed, yet regularly complain about having to recruit subordinates who earn substantially more than they do.

I suppose every firm will do things differently, but at least see if they will put you on a local contract with local payroll.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 2:31 pm
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Talking Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Busylizzy111 View Post
for those of you who came with only suitcases... how much did you approx. spend to furnish your houses?
I have no kids, so I just spent a couple grand in Ikea on a sofa, bed and coffee table for my apartment.

I still have all my original Ikea stuff now that I own a (somewhat sparsely furnished) house. I've been looking at buying more furniture recently and it's pretty damn expensive for even moderately nice stuff!
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 2:57 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
How long is a piece of string?
haha, I knew that would come
great deal on the table!
I was looking at Ikea, and also at furnished apartments. Our city here has also a very big facebook group where expats sell their furniture and other things once they leave, so I am aware of this option

Originally Posted by TexanScot View Post
I have friends who relocated from Germany on an expat contract and they didn't convert the salary at all - they continued to pay the Germany salary into their Germany bank account, along with a housing allowance and a car allowance to cover their apartment here in Texas.

The friends in question don't seem to think they are being screwed, yet regularly complain about having to recruit subordinates who earn substantially more than they do.

I suppose every firm will do things differently, but at least see if they will put you on a local contract with local payroll.
interesting! Thanks for sharing

Originally Posted by TexanScot View Post
I have no kids, so I just spent a couple grand in Ikea on a sofa, bed and coffee table for my apartment.

I still have all my original Ikea stuff now that I own a (somewhat sparsely furnished) house. I've been looking at buying more furniture recently and it's pretty damn expensive for even moderately nice stuff!
Yes, I should probably look at smaller houses, at least the rooms wont be that sparse then
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 3:17 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

I wouldn’t spend a lot on furniture for a short term three year stay. Buy new bedding and maybe couch but the rest used thru craigslist, furniture consignment shops, garage sales etc. You can buy OK used furniture for a fraction of new cost.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 4:03 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Lets get back to basics.

They do relocation's all the time, yet those people are happy to move without any relocation package? Sounds odd to say the least.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 4:18 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

You usually get a good moving package when the company asks you to move - not so much the other way, when the employee is asking for the move.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
Lets get back to basics.

They do relocation's all the time, yet those people are happy to move without any relocation package? Sounds odd to say the least.
no, that was me wording it wrongly. They normally don’t send you as an expat somewhere routinely. But they are happy to transfer you within the company if you ask for it and it matches their open positions (I know two people who wanted to be with their partners in the US, they went on L1). Company has a L1 blanket petition. They also do B business visa for people who need those.
But yes, if they need you somewhere they will be very generous. They sent us to London for a few months (quite spontaneously) and paid for a nice corporate apartment in Kensington and all the flights.
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Old Jan 17th 2020, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Moving without expat package?

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
You usually get a good moving package when the company asks you to move - not so much the other way, when the employee is asking for the move.
Yes, I am afraid that’s true.
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