Moving to America? Heeeeeeelp. Clueless. Utterly Clueless. Income? Childcare?

(32 Posts)
OpheliasWeepingWillow Mon 16-Dec-13 05:40:07

We have the opportunity to move to the USA (my employer) and I have NO idea re living costs or childcare.

It would in the NC / SC region and pretty rural (nearest urban 'metropolis' is two hours away from where we would like)

My main questions are:

What would you say would be a 'good' pre-tax income to live comfortably (and by this I mean rent a 3 bed house in a great area, have a cleaner once a week and someone to mow the lawn), eat out maybe twice a month and not have to 'worry' about money all the time.

Childcare - right now I live in Asia and have a full time nanny. She's amazing but she is also paid at local market rates so it is not that expensive. My dd is tube fed at 22 months and I would be working full time.

What's the difference between kindergarten / pre kindergarten / day care and having a nanny? I assume the nanny is outside of my price range but I don't even know what the price range might be for a qualified nanny.

How much is a private Kindergarten and are they more expensive than day care? I have researched quite a few but can't find any reference to real pricing / tuition on the internet.

So mumsnetters. Help basically. thanks

OpheliasWeepingWillow Mon 16-Dec-13 14:15:13

Bump!

I'd go over to britishexpats.com/forum/ and read and ask on the USA section, lots of info and they can be specific to the area you'll be in. We were West coast so know nothing about NC/NY.

FlipFantasia Sat 21-Dec-13 14:44:02

Agree that britishexpats may be good for this. I have no idea about the south as we're northern New Jersey (which is expensive).

A nanny may be cheaper than you think though, as it's not the British system where a nanny is the gold standard (so the speak). Try sites like care.com or sittercity or any relevant local sites to the area (eg local news paper site, local message board). Check what the local minimum wage is. Also ask potential future colleagues about their child care arrangements.

Regarding daycares, check directly with them. They pretty much never publish their rates so you have to make direct contact. There may at home daycares too (more equivalent to a uk childminder).

Kindergarten is for school-age children (5+), pre-K is 4+ and preschool is from 3 (or sometimes 2.5) but these tend not to full day/full time unless they offer wrap around care. What seems to happen around here is that parents drop their kids and the nannies pick them up.

I have noticed my US friends tend to call daycare 'school' (eg 'my 6 month old loves school! He loves his teacher' - I find it odd and a little sad tbh!).

I have no idea what is involved in tube feeding, but a large daycare may not be ideal. A nanny may be a better bet, especially if you need more flexibility around hours.

Good luck!

Want2bSupermum Fri 27-Dec-13 04:17:09

Where about in NC/SC? Does your child have special needs?

Don't be scared about paying for a Nanny. Here in NJ I could find some acceptable for $1200 a month if I had to. I pay more because I have someone who is awesome and overqualified.

Salary wise I know here in NJ I would say an income of $200k would enable you to live without money worries, have a nanny, cleaner and serviced rental. You could most probably do it for a lot less in NC/SC. I wouldn't accept less than $100k if you are the only one working. In any case you need to neigotiate your vacation. Demand 4 weeks and be prepared to settle for 3. Do not accept 2 weeks. When you have family abroad you need more time off than that.

BTW - NC/SC is a huge area, probably bigger than the UK and Ireland. My Dad moved his business down to Charlotte in the early 90s and that is not a cheap town. My Dad bought his home half way between Greensboro and Charlotte (90 acres + 4500 sqft home) for peanuts from an exec that was fired and had a condo in Charlotte itself. Call a Realtor and look up schools on greatschools.org. Nice areas have good schools (ranked 8+). Don't be surprised if the rents are higher than expected. Generally speaking the schools in NC are excellent thanks to the tobacco industry.

West coast too I'm afraid so not sure if it's really comparable

Our rent (in a half decent area of West LA) is >$3000/month for a 3 bed single storey house with a good sized garden in a good school district, 10mins from the beach

No idea about nannies but 2yo DD goes to an in home daycare for $60/day, 5yo DS currently in preschool 3 days a week for $890/month. Here nannies are typically $20+ per hour

We live on $120K per annum before tax. We're comfortable and can afford to go fly back to UK once a year, take little trips around California, shop actually decent food shops but still but cheap clothes, run one cheap car. We don't save anything

CheerfulYank Fri 27-Dec-13 05:44:42

Rural areas tend to have much cheaper daycare...we paid $105 a week for full time care for DS. That was just an at home daycare.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 08:42:49

Thank you everyone for the links and tips!

Have done my maths over and over as we have some pretty big fixed costs to cover and a lot of my daughter's feeding equipment and etc is not covered by insurance.

I budgeted about $18,000 for childcare so looks like that's doable and surprisingly the rents are HALF what we pay now so happy face here! To be honest I would prefer a great day care over a nanny as DD is so incredibly social she needs the interaction. She is tube fed because of allergies but is NT otherwise.

Car insurance is a bit of a worry as I have never driven (ever) so it's not going to be cheap.

AmericasTorturedBrow your house sounds lovely.

Want2bSupermum Fri 27-Dec-13 13:13:36

Car insurance is cheap in NC compared to NJ. I pay $150/month for my 8 yr old VW golf. My Dad pays $100/month for a 2 year old Bentley. Go figure.

Given the way people around here driving, having the ability to drive is not a requirement to get behind the wheel!

Feeding equipment might be covered under your flexibile spending account (FSA). It is a program that allows you to set aside $2500 per year to pay for co payments for doctor visits, medical equipment, scripts and other authorized medical expenses (including breast pumps). You need to find out what your healthcare insurance is and what doctors are included in your network. Check out the credentials of the allergists that you would be seeing in plan. If the better ones are out of plan you might be better off with out of plan check out the cost and factor that into your move. I know my employer has a fund available for parents with high medical costs and DH's employer pays 100% of all medical costs covered under an FSA.

Life is so much easier if you can stay in-network. I speak as someone who paid $27k to have tubes put in DD's ears at a better facility instead of using the one in-network. On that note, I sleep better with nine months worth of living expenses in savings. You just don't know whats coming up and having that money in your bank account gives me peace of mind.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:07:43

Oh my god. It did not occur to me that certain doctors might not be covered or that I would be limited in my choice!

Right now we can go to anyone with only a $14 deductible!

Hell.

NatashaBee Fri 27-Dec-13 14:14:13

I'm in NC right now visiting in laws. It's relatively cheap here compared to most states, do you have any idea where you would be moving to?

The medical insurance would be a big worry for me though. Why are out daughters feeding tubes not covered? Do you know the copay, deductible and out of pocket max on the policy?

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:16:33

Out of pocket max is $6,000. Not sure about co pay (need to check) but $50 a dr visit?

NatashaBee Fri 27-Dec-13 14:19:51

Realtor.com and zillow would be good for checking out houses and prices. You say you are going to be somewhere remote, so I'm guessing housing will be relatively cheap. We've been thinking about moving to NC from MI - I estimated we could manage on 80k a year easily, it's a lot more expensive where we are currently! That 80k included a 100k mortgage, bills, child care, gas, and 2 car payments and insurance. Salaries are a lot lower here than other areas (indeed.com will give you an idea of the job market) and there aren't many jobs out in the sticks - many people commute a long way to places like Raleigh or Charlotte to work.

NatashaBee Fri 27-Dec-13 14:22:12

$50 a drs visit is very steep. The standard is $20. 6k out of pocket max is on the higher side of what's usual, but not too bad. What are prescription costs, is that a separate plan?

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:22:47

Ok family deductible of $5k a year. Out of pocket max 10k. Non network benefits $10k deductible. Individual out of pocket max non network $10k.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:25:09

Primary physician is $25. Was looking at specialists.

Prescriptions seem to be between 10 and 60 $ a month but can't see what tier we would be.

Wow. America is complicated <naive>

NatashaBee Fri 27-Dec-13 14:29:11

So basically you have to pay 5k a year out of your own pocket before the insurance will kick in at all. If your daughter has medical needs I'm guessing that there's a distinct possibility you'll spend that every year. If any of you need major medical treatment (say something that requires hospitalization) your maximum liability will be 10k for that year. It's not a great policy (whem DS was born, his birth and subsequent stay in Nicu cost 60k, DSD fractured a finger and xrays, strapping and follow up with a specialist cost 2k, our insurance covered most of it - just to illustrate costs) but it depends how badly you'd want the job and whether you have savings to cover those costs. You can pay into a medical flex spending account which is deducted from your pre-tax salary, to reduce those costs slightly - but those funds have to be used or lost within the calendar year they're deducted.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:31:44

Ok then I need to check with my employer as I need to work this out.

Thank you.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:33:57

Re reading this - so I have to absorb the first 5k up front and then can claim? Really? Not doubting you but that seems horrible. What about people who don't have 5k hanging around?

NatashaBee Fri 27-Dec-13 14:39:01

Yes, the deductible is what you pay before the insurance kicks in at all (it may cover prescriptions or doctors visits minus the copay, you'd need to check your policy). Our deductible is 1k so we set that aside each jan/ feb since we know we will have to pay it eventually.

Medical costs are the largest cause of bankruptcy in the US hmm

OpheliasWeepingWillow Fri 27-Dec-13 14:44:04

Wow.

Ok well it's not an issue financially but still wow.

AntsMarching Fri 27-Dec-13 14:55:30

Where in NC/SC will you be? I'm originally from NC and went to uni in SC, so might be able to help point you in the right places.

Your deductible sounds high. I typically had around 1K - 2.5K, depending on the monthly premium I paid. $25 co-pay is fairly standard.

Do both you and your DP drive? NC is not public transport friendly. Big cities will have buses, but these won't run to or between smaller cities/towns. If you drive, don't be put off by distances. Journeys don't take as long as the UK (can't speak on Asia as I've never been), less congestion and routes are more straightforward as most places have grid system roads (not all, especially in New England, but down South and out West tend to be).

Schools are easier to get into than UK, as you automatically go to the one closest to your house.

Pm me if you have any questions.

Want2bSupermum Fri 27-Dec-13 22:50:55

We pay $30 to see our GP (called a primary care physician - PCP) and $50 to see a specialist. When I had my babies I paid the $50 at my first visit that established pregnancy, $50 for the delivery and $500/night for the hospital stay. We were then fully reimbursed by DH's employer. None of the numbers you have posted shock me and this is what I would pay if I insured our family through my employer.

This is why I keep what is considered a large amount of cash available in the bank (around $100k). America is not Europe and there is a safety net but you don't want to find out how big the holes are or aren't. I have been laid off three times since 2008 and unemployment here is generous at $500/wk if you don't have healthcare expenses.

Ants Premiums and copays have gone through the roof since obamacare. DH's employer went from paying $50k/yr in health insurance costs for 11 employees to over $175k for the same coverage. Starting next week they are moving to being self insured (ie they will pay the doctor directly and take the cash discount). Given the expenses in the past year which included me having a CS and 3 night hospital stay, a heart attack with triple bypass surgery (2 week stay) and colon cancer, it works out cheaper for them to cut out the insurance company. Everyone ranted and raved when Obamacare was signed but now people are seeing the costs they are not happy.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sat 28-Dec-13 01:37:28

antsmarching I don't drive and never have (very long story) but my DH does. I'll have to work on getting a license as soon as I have a social security number. Until then I have a bike with a toddler seat (can't see this getting me very far) and a sturdyish pair of legs.

Want2bSupermum NatashaBee* antsmarching So it looks like the deductible is high which I need to address but if it's a company plan not sure there is anything I can do about it.

Are out of pocket healthcare costs tax deductible? Being able to offset them would be great.

NatashaBee Sat 28-Dec-13 01:46:44

If they're over 9% of your total income I believe you can deduct something from your tax return for them.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sat 28-Dec-13 01:58:57

Oh my. You are right. Some quick investigation here

If, for a taxable year, you itemize your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), you may be able to deduct expenses you paid that year for medical and dental care for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. You may deduct only the amount by which your total medical care expenses for the year exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. For years beginning after December 31, 2012, you may deduct only the amount by which your total medical expenses exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.

shock

NatashaBee Sat 28-Dec-13 02:20:21

Will your company include the cost of having your tax return done in your relocation package? This was really helpful to us, they itemized lots of things we weren't aware of. I should really do it myself for this year, but so far it's been $400 well spent since my calculations come out owing loads more than the tax prep woman tells us.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sat 28-Dec-13 02:59:49

Yes there is a discretionary fund for that kind of thing that I can draw upon. I'll be claiming everything I can!

AntsMarching Sat 28-Dec-13 08:30:44

Thanks Want I haven't lived there in a few years, so my numbers are a bit out of date.

Opehlia don't worry about the test. It's ridiculously easy in NC (varies by state) and the roads are wide and if you're in a small town, there is really no traffic.

Want2bSupermum Sat 28-Dec-13 13:46:02

It is worth getting your tax returns done by someone who is well versed in international tax. I would only consider big 4 for this and that doesn't come cheap. If you go to a regional firm they will do your US taxes but will have to research doing your international taxes.

Bear in mind if you are on AMT you don't get the provision for deducting your medical expenses. If you are earning in the $300k range look up AMT. I would be tempted to say run for the hills (ie Switzerland) given you DC has medical issues.

If you have a discretionary fund make sure it is enough. When we were supposed to move to the UK 3 years ago the offered us $20k. No joke, that wouldn't even cover the cost of selling our house let alone replacing electronics etc. Make a list of what your fund is going to have to cover and make sure it is enough to cover it.

You will also have problems opening a bank account and securing a rental as you don't have a credit score. If you don't already have a amex card I suggest you get one. I transferred over my amex card from the UK to the US. It gave me an instant excellent credit score. This made my life much easier. I think you can open a citibank account in the Far East that you can access from the US. I say think because it was Americans that told me this is what they did when going out to work in China/HK/Singapore for a few years.

sykadelic15 Thu 02-Jan-14 02:25:36

My deductible per person is $400 ($800 for family), my out-of-pocket (OOP) max is $2600 ($5200 per family). $20 for docs, $40 for specialists.

Deductible is paid before insurance covers. Usually 80% (you pay 20%) but can also be 90/10 depending on your plan.

OOP max is the max you'll pay before insurance covers 100%.

We live in Iowa so our cost of living us much less. Wow. I'm just shocked. We insure 3 vehicles, less than $400 for 6 months. Registration for all 3 is less than $150 per year. We will be adding a Ford Expedition which is another $55 per year being a bigger vehicle. Insurance for it we're not sure but maybe another $100 for 6 months.

Unemployment depends on your income amount. There are tables online. It's something like 46% of your salary and you're only eligible (at least in Illinois where I work according to what I found online) if you've worked for at least 18 months.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Fri 03-Jan-14 02:30:33

Just wanted to highlight that since last year, breast pumps don't even have to be bought via FSA - they're now freely available through health insurance with no copayment. My OB wrote a prescription, we faxed it to Cigna and it was couriered to my house 2 days later (just a few weeks back).

For comparison purposes, we're in DC, pay $3000/month for a 2/3 bed row house, DH has a 10 minute cycle to work so we're pretty central. I find our living costs are pretty much the same as the UK, but distributed differently. Cars and gas very cheap, car insurance expensive (always seems to be around $1200 for the first six months as foreign driving records not taken into account), utilities very cheap, mobile contracts stupidly expensive ($100+ per month for iPhone 4S, not unlimited usage vs £30 in the UK for iPhone 5 and unlimited everything), clothing, computers, electronics all cheaper.

Re daycare, we pay $15/hour for one child with a nanny, $18 for two if in the same family or $11.50 per child if shared with another family. Local daycare/nursery ranges from $18,000-$30,000 per year per child full time. In London it was £1500 per child so comparable.

We have a great accountant who specialises in international tax so PM me if you want the details. He was aware of so much more we were entitled to than we could have known so definitely worth it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now