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Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Old Sep 13th 2012, 9:56 am
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Default Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Hi All

Apologies if these questions have been posted elsewhere - I'm struggling for energy at moment.

My husband's company are moving him to NY, and we've just had our visas approved. This has all happened in the last 3 weeks, and in middle of all this we've just found out I'm pregnant.
He needs to move next week, and I'll stay in the UK with our 2 year old until maybe Christmas to get through start of pregnancy and allow him time to find us a home.

We've been doing some research and like the sound Westchester County - Bronxville? but all seems v expensive. We currently live in approx 25 min train journey from central London (Surrey) so our commute is about 1 hr door to door. We'd like similar - he's going to be based somewhere near Madison/25th street. We live in a small town, 1 supermarket, nice playground, activities for toddlers, couple of nice pubs/restaurants and have to go to big town nearby for anything other than grocery shopping.

we have to pick our insurance policy next week and we're not clear on what this means location wise.

So my questions:
- what towns would you recommend
- Our insurer options are :
Anthem Blue Cross
United Healthcare
Q - how can i tell which one would have better coverage Ob/GYN or hospitals in the area we're choosing to live?
- how can I find out about local services/activities for toddlers/babies in the area
- I hope to go back to work too, and someone told me there are lots of large organisations in White Plains which would be an ok commute

Given my husbands limited window to find us a home - how do we find a realtor? do we register with lots (like in UK)?

What questions should I be asking the insurance company in relation to my pregnancy?

(PS we have confirmed that I'm insured for pregnancy just not detail of coverage)

Many thanks for any assistance or advice at all you can give
from a very tired Mum to be.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 11:41 am
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

First off - what visa is your husband getting?
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 11:44 am
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Originally Posted by MayMum View Post
Hi All

Apologies if these questions have been posted elsewhere - I'm struggling for energy at moment.

My husband's company are moving him to NY, and we've just had our visas approved. This has all happened in the last 3 weeks, and in middle of all this we've just found out I'm pregnant.
He needs to move next week, and I'll stay in the UK with our 2 year old until maybe Christmas to get through start of pregnancy and allow him time to find us a home.

We've been doing some research and like the sound Westchester County - Bronxville? but all seems v expensive. We currently live in approx 25 min train journey from central London (Surrey) so our commute is about 1 hr door to door. We'd like similar - he's going to be based somewhere near Madison/25th street. We live in a small town, 1 supermarket, nice playground, activities for toddlers, couple of nice pubs/restaurants and have to go to big town nearby for anything other than grocery shopping.

we have to pick our insurance policy next week and we're not clear on what this means location wise.

So my questions:
- what towns would you recommend
- Our insurer options are :
Anthem Blue Cross
United Healthcare
Q - how can i tell which one would have better coverage Ob/GYN or hospitals in the area we're choosing to live?
- how can I find out about local services/activities for toddlers/babies in the area
- I hope to go back to work too, and someone told me there are lots of large organisations in White Plains which would be an ok commute

Given my husbands limited window to find us a home - how do we find a realtor? do we register with lots (like in UK)?

What questions should I be asking the insurance company in relation to my pregnancy?

(PS we have confirmed that I'm insured for pregnancy just not detail of coverage)

Many thanks for any assistance or advice at all you can give
from a very tired Mum to be.
Oh my goodness!! You've a lot going on, so congratulations on the pregnancy

Firstly, I would find a realtor that you could work with, even from the UK, to help you find a rental property which will suit your needs. Westchester can be expensive, and I don't know anything about the area that you're looking at, so a local Realtor would probably have the best knowledge regarding neighborhoods etc. We were lucky, and were recommended a realtor through a personal recommendation from someone in my OH's company, and she was great, found us a rental, did all the legwork for us, all of which was done whilst we were still in the UK, so maybe someone from his company over here, would be able to recommend someone. I take it you're going to rent when you initially move, this will let you get a feel for your surroundings, and give you time to work out if you've made the right choice in where you should live.

As for the health insurance, if you're pregnancy is covered, that's great, because as I've found out, health insurance is a minefield. As far as which company to go with, you'd have to find out their details, ie, how much is their deductible, is there a co-pay for office visits, what is covered and what is not and what are the maximum out of pocket expenses per year. How much is your husband going to have to contribute from his salary, towards the insurance etc. You can go online for all the insurance companies, and look up what doctors/specialists are in their network, so that you know what doctors are going to be available to you. Have you ever been over to NY, and especially Westchester?? It's not easy doing all this blind, we had several visits over prior to moving, so that we had a rough idea of where we wanted to stay.

My husband works in White Plains, and he commutes every day from Connecticut. I'm not sure how far away the commute would be from Manhattan, but I'm sure someone else will know. I take it you're both going to be on L visas?? Just remember, if you go back to work, childcare here can be mighty expensive, and I mean expensive, so you'd have to work out if going back to work would be a good idea for you, if you have 2 kids to be cared for while you work.

That's about all I can think of at this early hour this morning, I'm sure the rest will be along with some worthwhile advice for you. Good luck with everything
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 11:46 am
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Im not sure about insurance companies since i havent done that yet, but for where to live, take a look at these sites http://www.city-data.com/county/West...County-NY.html That one is just general information about Westchester County. And this one is for housing. There are email and phone numbers for the realtors so you can contact them. http://www.trulia.com/for_sale/36119_c/ There is a rental section but i have linked you to the buying section (i had it saved already!)

Good luck for your move and pregnancy!
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 11:57 am
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Originally Posted by MayMum View Post
Hi All

Apologies if these questions have been posted elsewhere - I'm struggling for energy at moment.

My husband's company are moving him to NY, and we've just had our visas approved. This has all happened in the last 3 weeks, and in middle of all this we've just found out I'm pregnant.
He needs to move next week, and I'll stay in the UK with our 2 year old until maybe Christmas to get through start of pregnancy and allow him time to find us a home.

We've been doing some research and like the sound Westchester County - Bronxville? but all seems v expensive. We currently live in approx 25 min train journey from central London (Surrey) so our commute is about 1 hr door to door. We'd like similar - he's going to be based somewhere near Madison/25th street. We live in a small town, 1 supermarket, nice playground, activities for toddlers, couple of nice pubs/restaurants and have to go to big town nearby for anything other than grocery shopping.

we have to pick our insurance policy next week and we're not clear on what this means location wise.

So my questions:
- what towns would you recommend
- Our insurer options are :
Anthem Blue Cross
United Healthcare
Q - how can i tell which one would have better coverage Ob/GYN or hospitals in the area we're choosing to live?
- how can I find out about local services/activities for toddlers/babies in the area
- I hope to go back to work too, and someone told me there are lots of large organisations in White Plains which would be an ok commute

Given my husbands limited window to find us a home - how do we find a realtor? do we register with lots (like in UK)?

What questions should I be asking the insurance company in relation to my pregnancy?

(PS we have confirmed that I'm insured for pregnancy just not detail of coverage)

Many thanks for any assistance or advice at all you can give
from a very tired Mum to be.
First, welcome to BE. What a difficult situation you've found yourself in.

As far as finding a home is concerned, Zillow and Craigslist are your friends, so take a look there. If your husband wants to be 25 minutes from 25th St, your options are going to be living somewhere in Manhattan itself (insanely expensive), or maybe Brooklyn or Harlem (ignore its old reputation - it's become quite cosmopolitan in recent years), or possibly even in NJ around Hoboken or Jersey City (on the PATH train). Just stay away from Newark. Anywhere in Westchester County is going to be a minimum of 45 minutes' travel away, more once you factor in any subway rides he needs to take. And if you're looking for a small-town feel, you're not going to find that anywhere near NYC, not without going as far out as upstate NY or NJ, where your journey time will be significantly longer, and where they may not be the option of taking public transport. Getting a realtor involved will help, but they tend to charge pretty steep commissions - will you have to pick up the tab for the new house, or will your husband's employer?

And, as far as healthcare goes, beware. Since you're not coming from a previous US health insurance plan without a gap in coverage, being pregnant is regarded by insurers as a pre-existing condition that they don't have to cover you for - the tenets of the ACA regarding pre-existing conditions haven't kicked in yet and won't until 2014. Pregnancy and birth may be covered, but you need to check if it's covered in your situation - there's a good chance it won't be. If not, you may be able to secure coverage through the ACA's high risk pool, but it won't be cheap. I've had previous dealings with United Healthcare and they're OK, but make sure you get a full statement of benefits from them, which will itemise the cost of all covered services. Also, make sure to check if doctors, OB/GYNs and hospitals in the area you're moving to are "in network" - if not, you could be paying much, much more.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 12:04 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Just another thought, if you're going to be looking for a country feel, or neighborhood feel, there are places on the Hudson line (train line direct into Grand Central). Brewster and Carmel, have reasonable priced homes, have some really nice neighborhoods, and have a train station which has park and ride. I don't know how much it would cost for a permit for parking, but maybe something else to look at. I think the train time from Brewster to GC is slightly over an hour, I've gone from there a couple of times when I've missed the local train from here in Bethel and it's actually a really scenic route. Having said that, he'd still need to get from GC to 25th Street, which could be quite a walk. There is a lot to consider and city-data is a good site to look through too. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 12:11 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Hi All, thanks for responses so far. In answer to some of your questions or where I didn't make myself clear.

- Visas are L1A for hubby L1B for me
- husbands company have confirmed that pregnancy not pre-existing condition on their policy but haven't clarified coverage.
- I'll ask my husband to ask his colleagues to recommend a realtor as that sounds like best way to find a good one
- 1 hr commute would be fine for him even a little more to be living somewhere less built up.
- will check out the links you've recommended and call the insurance companies. thanks for your advice - keep it coming
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 12:21 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Originally Posted by MayMum View Post
Hi All, thanks for responses so far. In answer to some of your questions or where I didn't make myself clear.

- Visas are L1A for hubby L1B for me
- husbands company have confirmed that pregnancy not pre-existing condition on their policy but haven't clarified coverage.
- I'll ask my husband to ask his colleagues to recommend a realtor as that sounds like best way to find a good one
- 1 hr commute would be fine for him even a little more to be living somewhere less built up.
- will check out the links you've recommended and call the insurance companies. thanks for your advice - keep it coming
If you can deal with a longer commute, then look out in NJ. You'll get more for your money there, and NJ Transit has a reasonable train service into Penn Station. I'd suggest maybe somewhere in central NJ, maybe around the Princeton area, or northern NJ, maybe around Morristown. Both areas have a decent train service (less than an hour into NYC), good amenities and the cost of living isn't too ridiculous (although it's still quite high, especially if you're a property owner since NJ has the highest property taxes in the country).

There's some nice places for an expat in northern NJ - Chester, in Morris County, has a lovely British tea shop and a sweet shop that does all the usual British favourites, Montclair has a great British pie shop, and Morristown has several Irish pubs where you can usually find other British expats. And you're still only an hour away from NYC where you can go to "Little Britain" in Greenwich Village for a decent portion of fish and chips.

If you do choose NJ though, check with the health insurers that their coverage is good out of state. If you go with the Blue Cross option, it probably will be since BCBS is a nationwide thing. You'll also have to pay NY and NJ state taxes, although you'll be able to claim back the NY ones when you file your taxes every year.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 12:41 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Westchester has lots of nice areas. We currently rent in Tarrytown paying $2150pcm for a very nice 2 bed, 1.5 bath apt close to the village centre. My commute time to GCT is 35 mins on the peak non-stop express. We're curreny looking to buy a 3 bed, 2 bath fixer-upper in a nice suburban neighbourhood of Sleepy Hollow, the next village north, for the bargain price of $300k. It may well need upto $100k work to make it really nice, but it'd could fetch upto $450k in tip-top condition.

We estimate that if we take out a renovation mortgage for it, we'll probably be paying around $3000 pcm in mortgage insurance and property tax (actually a bit less as property tax and mortgage insurance are taxable-income deductible). The current property tax on this house is a whopping $15k pa as it's configured as a two-family home and we will be converting it back so should get a sizable reduction. The Rivertowns are a lovely place to live but not cheap!

Further out we also considered Ossinning, which is about 45-50 mins to GCT at peak, and even up in Putnam county where property is less expensive and property taxes are a lot lower than Westchester. There are some lovely places up there (Cold Spring, Beacon) but the commute to GCT is around 1hr 20 - 1hr 30 even at peak.

Last edited by rpjs; Sep 13th 2012 at 12:43 pm.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 12:58 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Originally Posted by rpjs View Post
Westchester has lots of nice areas. We currently rent in Tarrytown paying $2150pcm for a very nice 2 bed, 1.5 bath apt close to the village centre. My commute time to GCT is 35 mins on the peak non-stop express. We're curreny looking to buy a 3 bed, 2 bath fixer-upper in a nice suburban neighbourhood of Sleepy Hollow, the next village north, for the bargain price of $300k. It may well need upto $100k work to make it really nice, but it'd could fetch upto $450k in tip-top condition.

We estimate that if we take out a renovation mortgage for it, we'll probably be paying around $3000 pcm in mortgage insurance and property tax (actually a bit less as property tax and mortgage insurance are taxable-income deductible). The current property tax on this house is a whopping $15k pa as it's configured as a two-family home and we will be converting it back so should get a sizable reduction. The Rivertowns are a lovely place to live but not cheap!

Further out we also considered Ossinning, which is about 45-50 mins to GCT at peak, and even up in Putnam county where property is less expensive and property taxes are a lot lower than Westchester. There are some lovely places up there (Cold Spring, Beacon) but the commute to GCT is around 1hr 20 - 1hr 30 even at peak.
Never thought of Tarrytown!! Love, love Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, lovely town centre's, very quaint, but as you said the property tax's are high if you're a home owner. Another consideration, not for now, but for the future, is schooling. Different areas, have different standards of schooling. Just something to bear in mind, because if you pick a place when you initially move, and really like it, then decide to move permanently, then find out the schools are not as good, it's always better to research everything about an area, or as much as you can anyway. That's what we did, and we haven't been disappointed in the area that we picked. Obviously the commute from where we are to Manhattan wouldn't be an option, but there are places over the CT border which you could also look in to. Property tax's are a lot lower here, but I would say that CT is quite expensive to live in day to day, so it evens itself out. And that's great that your pregnancy is covered, believe me, that is a huge plus side for you, you just need to find out your coverage costs.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 2:41 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Originally Posted by MayMum View Post
- husbands company have confirmed that pregnancy not pre-existing condition on their policy but haven't clarified coverage.
He should contact the HR department at his company and ask them to send links/copies to the coverage that they provide, so that you can see in writing how it all works. They have to have something to give to employees that explains everything.

Also he might want to ask the company if they work with a "relo" person -- a realtor who would help you find a suitable town and house.

Here is the link to the Metro North Railroad site. The Harlem, Hudson, and New Haven lines go from Grand Central to suburban commuter towns in Westchester County, NY, and Fairfield County, CT. If you hear of a town that might be of interest to you, you can plug it into the schedule to see how long the commute is. Then, of course, allow some added time to get downtown from Grand Central to 25th.

http://as0.mta.info/mnr/schedules/sched_form.cfm
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 2:52 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Originally Posted by Rusty Chainsaw View Post
Getting a realtor involved will help, but they tend to charge pretty steep commissions - will you have to pick up the tab for the new house, or will your husband's employer?

And, as far as healthcare goes, beware. Since you're not coming from a previous US health insurance plan without a gap in coverage, being pregnant is regarded by insurers as a pre-existing condition that they don't have to cover you for - the tenets of the ACA regarding pre-existing conditions haven't kicked in yet and won't until 2014.
The seller usually pays the commissions.

Double and triple check your insurance policy. Get a certificate of coverage from the NHS. Ask people at your husband's work about good places to live and OB/GYN doctors.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 2:57 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP


We were provided with a serviced apartment for the first few months. It gave us chance to check out areas etc. maybe that's something your company could offer?
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 3:13 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Pregnancy is only considered a pre-existing condition if you are buying an individual insurance policy. If you are buying as part of a group policy, as it seems to be in this case, then pregnancy cannot be used as a pre-existing condition under the HIPAA act.

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html

You will get a few numbers thrown at you by the insurance / HR people. Basically, get these figures:

1) What is the monthly premium?
2) What is the annual deductible?
3) What is the OB/GYN copay per visit (note: sometimes you only have a copay on the first visit).
4) What is the copay for the hospital?
5) What is the co-insurance you have to pay for a delivery?
6) What is the annual maximum out of pocket expense for you?

These will give you a rough idea of some of the expenses with the delivery. The costs of the first year of life for the child will be another set of numbers. Be sure to also note the time frame for a 'life change' in adding a new person (your child) to your health insurance. You usually have 30-60 days or so.
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Old Sep 13th 2012, 8:49 pm
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Default Re: Pregnant, moving to NY from London with toddler ..HELP

Welcome to BE, good luck and congrats!

Relocation package, really should have included help in finding a place. You won't to be buying a place for the first year, but ask around for realtors to find a place, you might have to pay anything from 1-3 months rent for a fee, but then the landlord might pay the fee, all depends on the local rental market. As for actual locations, folks have already provided good info, but also search out posts by "Englishmum", as she has posted loads about that area or NY/NJ.

For insurance, find out from HR exactly what the plans are, what the break down of cover is and what the costs involved are. Read the wiki here, which explains what all the terms mean such as co-pay, levels of coverage, deductibles etc, etc.

Things to do, check local libraries, they will have info most likely for local new mums groups as well as any welcome to town type of groups, often based out of a local VFW hall type of thing. Also Facebook will probably have a group and so will meetup.com

Work, depends on your visa, if it's a company transfer, you'll get L2 derivative visa, which when you get a EAD will allow you to work, but if you're getting a H1 and H4 derivative, you won't be working, also you'll have plenty of time to figure things out as you'd not be getting that visa till next year unless it's a research uni related job.
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