Advanced search

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


SquinkiesRule Sat 21-Dec-13 07:47:31

I'd go over to 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 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 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.

AmericasTorturedBrow Fri 27-Dec-13 05:38:15

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!


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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