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UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Old Dec 24th 2022, 9:02 am
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Default UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

There are certain things that are clearly more expensive in the US, such as healthcare and some smaller monthly expenses. But I'm interested to read about your experience with how significantly lower taxes, fuel, house prices and other factors have offset these expenses over the longer term.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 4:56 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

I don't think that over the years we have found the US to be any cheaper than the UK.
Certainly property tax is a much bigger expense in many parts of the US than council tax,
Add into that medical premiums and expenses, house insurance etc and it all comes out to about the same, if not more.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 5:21 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

And if fuel is cheaper, much more is consumed because of the higher mileage most people put on their cars. As for house fuel -- I've had four-figure bills each time the oil tank has been filled recently.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 6:06 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

I think my overall lifestyle is too different to make a definitive determination as to whether one country is cheaper than the other. That said, I think we, and people in general, tend to "do more of what is cheaper" - if flying to other cities for weekend breaks" is cheap then you are more likely to that, and in our case, as the costs of owning vehicles is relatively low, and we have the room to park them, we have several vehicles; if we lived in the UK, we wouldn't have those. And we certainly drive a lot more, and further, than if we lived in the UK.

And so far as healthcare in the US being expensive goes, I calculated when I moved to the US that my reduction in overall income tax more than offset the costs of health insurance and OOP costs combined, and I am certain that that is still the case. Perhaps it might be different after I retire, but ATM I am not intending to return to the UK post retirement.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 6:49 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

It will depend on where you live and your lifestyle, I have only seen the West Coast, first San Diego and now Seattle area, and life here is expensive - but the pay more than compensates. Housing is expensive, 1 bed apartments here are $2k/mo, family homes >$1M and owning a home is expensive due to high maintenance costs on top of the mortgage.
Taxes are cheaper, If I look at this year's tax return I pay 19% tax (just looking at AGI and total tax) and Washington state does not have an income tax.

Some approx monthly costs (WA state)
Property Tax: $1k
Insurance: $1k
Healthcare: $200 which is mainly co-pays and dental as company benefit is v.good
Phone: $200 I never thought I would pay $200/month for phone as UK plans could be so cheap, but kids ...
Cable: $200
Water: $200
Gas/Elec: $200
House maintenance: $2k

The bottom line is that the increased total income has more than compensated, and I find it is the one-off or unexpected costs that drive the budget, eg $10k after a windstorm, kids sports are expensive especially when there are a lot of out-of-state tournaments (flights + hotel). So the total I spend each year is much, much higher than I would have ever imagined before leaving the UK.

Then the joker is college, where $200k per kid for first degree is not unusual, even after scholarships.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 8:07 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

I don’t think you can compare things in generic terms comparing the US as a whole to the Uk. It’s going to be relative to your income, and specifically which state you live in, whether one is working (with health insurance mostly paid by an employer) or have to pay your own way, with or without subsidies, until Medicare at 65, what age you retire, etc. Property taxes vary considerably (1% in CA, but on much higher property values, or 2%+ in other states, usually where there’s no state income tax). And if there is a state income tax, you have to look at the effective percentage being paid rather than the headline marginal one. The best answer I can give with without specifics is you’ll make more money in the US in general (and often a lot more), be taxed less overall, and some things will cost more, others will cost less.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by epiphanyuk
There are certain things that are clearly more expensive in the US, such as healthcare and some smaller monthly expenses. But I'm interested to read about your experience with how significantly lower taxes, fuel, house prices and other factors have offset these expenses over the longer term.
If you own a property and have a mortgage one of your biggest costs is interest which depends on interest rates. With good timing or a refi that is likely to be lower in the US. I have ones as 2.63% on 25 years. I don’t think your average rate in the UK over that period would be that low historically.

Healthcare will cost more if your a higher earner, or maybe less if you qualify for ACA, tax’s are lower because healthcare is separate. That said you can’t just compare the cost, you need to compare how quickly you can be seen and what treatment is available. I think the US would win there.

The tax system here also favors married fillers in the sense that you get a joint allowance which helps if one partner stays home with children for a while.

But none of that matters, your question is not relevant unless you have a large pot of money already, assuming you work you need to compare both income and costs to see where you would be better off.

For me I calculated the US 10+ years ago, and although I don’t know what would of happened in the UK, I know that had I stayed in London or pretty much anywhere else I would not live in a house that’s both 20 mins drive to the beach and have hot summer weather and 1h10 mins drive to real snow for skiing every weekend in the winter . I probably would not have. A second home in the UK either.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 10:10 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by OldJuddian

Healthcare: $200 which is mainly co-pays and dental as company benefit is v.good



s.
Does this include monthly premiums? If so then your company scheme is Very Good.
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Old Dec 24th 2022, 11:43 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl
Does this include monthly premiums? If so then your company scheme is Very Good.
Yes. It is that good. I pay nothing monthly and just $20 to see my primary doctor. So the main costs are due to dental, eg Invisalign for kids and other remedial dental work.
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Old Dec 25th 2022, 1:37 am
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by OldJuddian
Yes. It is that good. I pay nothing monthly and just $20 to see my primary doctor. So the main costs are due to dental, eg Invisalign for kids and other remedial dental work.

Wow.....
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Old Dec 25th 2022, 2:27 am
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by OldJuddian
.... Some approx monthly costs (WA state)
Property Tax: $1k
Insurance: $1k
Healthcare: $200 which is mainly co-pays and dental as company benefit is v.good
Phone: $200 I never thought I would pay $200/month for phone as UK plans could be so cheap, but kids ...
Cable: $200
Water: $200
Gas/Elec: $200
House maintenance: $2k .... .
In NC, our property tax is about $150/mth,
Home insurance about $100/mth
Healthcare about $250/mth (almost entirely premiums - I don't know what Mrs P paid for little Miss P's orthodontics, lots probably, but that's all paid for and about finished.)
Phone $230mth (I don't like that, but somehow buying an iPhone for little Miss P caused our already stupid $160/mth to jump by 50%!!!
Internet about $60 (we don't have cable, but we do have Netflix and Amazon Prime)
Water $0. (After 20 years we just had to replace our well pump and tank; cost about $2k.)
Gas/Elec about the same, $200/mth average.

But I have to ask WTF are you including in $2k/ mth of "House maintenance"?



Last edited by Pulaski; Dec 25th 2022 at 2:30 am.
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Old Dec 25th 2022, 8:36 am
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

The differences in costs are going to be very personal depending on lifestyle and where you have moved from and to. For example this week our daughter’s partner found a furnished apartment he really likes right here close to us and where our daughter has moved. The rent is £400/month and he had been paying $4,000/month for a similar sized apartment in Santa Monica. Our daughter has a bought a much larger house here than she had in LA, £375k, and she sold her LA house for $1.2m. She said the property taxes on her house here in England are unbelievably small in comparison.

For us, we retired early at age 55 in Texas and spent 6 years traveling extensively. We needed good PPO health insurance and the retired group insurance from my ex-employer was the best deal for us, although I did shop around. When we moved back to England we did take out private health insurance for dental, vision and to supplement the NHS. Our UK taxes and health insurances have been consistently lower than what we would have been paying in the USA.

Food, insurances, broad band etc are all MUCH cheaper for us here.
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Old Dec 25th 2022, 1:37 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by durham_lad
The differences in costs are going to be very personal depending on lifestyle and where you have moved from and to. For example this week our daughter’s partner found a furnished apartment he really likes right here close to us and where our daughter has moved. The rent is £400/month and he had been paying $4,000/month for a similar sized apartment in Santa Monica. Our daughter has a bought a much larger house here than she had in LA, £375k, and she sold her LA house for $1.2m. She said the property taxes on her house here in England are unbelievably small in comparison. ....
The differences definitely are very personal, because my experience on buying in NC, was that property taxes on a 2,750sqft, 4 bed home on 1.5 acres had almost identical property taxes to a 700sqft 2 bed terraced home that I had owned in London.

The conclusion, as noted on BE in the past, is that when crossing the pond, sometimes most of the difference is caused by moving from a high cost area (London, Southern California), to a low cost area in the other country.
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Old Dec 26th 2022, 2:54 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Like others have said it all depends on where you are coming from and which state you are going to. There is good info online about relative cost of living in the different states. I live in Tennessee and I think it’s among the lowest. But even within a state it can vary largely due to property tax and housing cost. If I had to work in a city my plan would be as long a commute as I could tolerate and live in a more rural setting.
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Old Dec 27th 2022, 3:32 pm
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Default Re: UK vs US cost of living - has it balanced out for you?

Originally Posted by ddsrph
Like others have said it all depends on where you are coming from and which state you are going to..
This.
We moved from the edge of Chicago to (very) small-town Essex about an hour on the train from London.

Rent is about 1,000USD less per month. Even with council tax added, it's still a huge savings for us. Place has less square footage, but not too bad and we fit.
Car insurance is a little more now, because I'm new, but should be less next year with residency established and hopefully a UK license.
The car itself (used) was cheaper and newer. The gas/petrol is more, of course, but I don't drive for work.
When I commute on the train to London it's more than my Chicago commute was, but isn't really comparable since it's three times further. Also, I only have to go into the office once a week. Trains in general are expensive here, no idea what Amtrak was like when I left.
Electronics are more expensive, the contracts (mobile service, etc) are much less.
Food is less expensive and much easier to get good quality than where I was in the US.
Health insurance premiums (much bigger than any copays etc) - when I was in the group plan for work, for insurance of OH and self that was just over $600 a month in premiums. In the difficult interim after getting booted from there and moving to the UK I had to pay the full whack - $1,600 () a month. Upside - it was easy to get appointments for stuff. Now, of course, I pay nothing at all. May consider supplemental private since at the moment I'm stupidly healthy so no pre-existing. OH has pre-existing stuff that would not be covered anyway.
Heating and light - we don't use very much heat since we find Essex pretty mild after Chicago. Cost has lately gone up hugely, but given that in a Chicago winter it was on ALL THE TIME we still aren't doing too badly in comparison. And no a/c in the summer. Still don't have a good idea of how it will work out over a year since we haven't been here long enough.

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