Moving to the states(45 Posts)
It's possible that we may be moving to the states and I'm scared! My husband might be changing jobs and that means a move from a cosy village in the south west of England, not far from our families and friends. I don't know exactly where we will move to, east coast somewhere (possibly very urban and busy), but I have so many worries and questions. It's early days at the moment and my head is in a spin. We have three children aged 4-8, and I am worried about schooling, getting them settled, separating them from their friends and of course their grandparents.
Is this normal? Any tips or advice would be really appreaciated.
Take one step at a time. There are plenty of us here on the East coast you can help you out with which are good areas to live and what your DH should look for in his package. I would suggest he take a gander through some of the previous posts about the topic.
Schooling isn't a huge issue and most of the time the public schools are better than the private ones. If you are moving back you can live in a town where the school district follows the IB program.
Finally its completely normal to be worried about such a huge move for your family.
It's normally fear of the unknown that's the worst. If you can tell us which part of the USA you might be moving to, we might be able to put your mind at ease.
Sorry, should have read better.
I'm in the south which is pretty extreme and vastly different to the U.K. / Europe but we're settled and doing just fine. It won't be as bad as you think.
I moved from a similar sounding village and now live in a very urban area (city known for its gun problem at the moment). We chose to go with an international school because we are probably only here temporarily (and the public schools here are definitely not good).
My kids are slightly younger (oldest is 5) but they have adjusted very quickly. They love having people to visit from the UK and showing them out new city. They've also embraced FaceTime/Skype.
Just make sure your DH gets a good package because we've found the cost of living to be much higher than the UK. US salaries are also much higher though so unless you're having a lot of costs covered (rent/health/cost of living allowance) your dh should be ambitious with his salary demands.
Hi OP, I moved to New Jersey in October, if you're moving anywhere near there I hope to be able to help. I also might gain some general insights from others on this thread. It's still very new for me and I wouldn't say I feel settled yet (though there is a lot to like!)
We moved to the states from the UK last year. I was worried about all the same things as you but actually everything has worked out well.
We are only expecting to be here for three years so that has dictated some of our choices of course.
We chose public schools for our DC and we have been extremely pleased with our choice so far. There's quite a lot of information about schools on line and once you know where you are going to live the local school districts are very happy to answer questions.
FaceTime makes a huge difference to keeping in touch with friends and family and I'd also recommend WhatsApp for free messaging and picture sharing.
The kids have had some very natural homesickness but we seem to have come through the worst of it now.
Culture varies between states but where we are the people have been extremely welcoming and kind and we have all made friends.
I've also joined an expats group which is helpful although I don't want to live in an expat bubble so am careful to make an effort to form a range of friendships.
I'm happy to answer any specific questions you have.
Sultana I am in New Jersey. Welcome to the Garden State!
I echo AppleMagic about costs. We live frugally on spends of $80k a year and our healthcare is fully reimbursed with no contribution for the monthly premium. Food here is very expensive for a proper diet with 7 portions of fruit and veg a day. Yes it is cheap to buy a car but insurance is very expensive compared to the UK.
Missing grandparents and family and friends and country of origin will be hard.
But ... the US is a great place to move to with small children. The schools are a whole community in themselves and small towns/cities/districts are geared around children/sports/families.
Also - and this is hard to express but I will try - the US is an easy place for your children to feel connected to the US but still feel connected to their country of origin. If you are rearing your children in France, they need to be French or expats. In the US they can be baseball-playing, oath of allegiance-saying school kids and still say "we are English" and everyone will be fine with it.
I am here 24 years. I still miss home to a certain extent but I do think the US - especially east coast - is a fab place to rear children and be a family.
When you move into a neighbourhood, your neighbours will come over and say hi. the school will set up pre-start of school parties. Everyone will love you because of your accent.
Your children might be able to take ski-lessons through school (maybe that is a Massachusetts thing) but it is really easy and cheap to learn to ski, learn to skate, do sail and kayaking in the summer. It is a nice place to rear a family.
Wow, thank you all for your kind responses.
It is likely that we will be north of Washington DC in Maryland somewhere. It's not a place I know so I've been googling furiously to try and find out more. It's still quite a wide area, which makes looking at schools and places to live a bit tricky. We are about to start talking packages with his work, my husband is in contact with another Brit working out there and is getting advice from him, but are there things we should ask for that I might not immediately think of?
At what point did you tell your kids? I don't want to worry them unnecessarily, but don't want to suddenly spring it on them either.
Make sure your health insurance is as good as it can be and includes dental.
Take a good look at the overall benefits package - mine used to include health insurance (I paid some too), short term disability, long term disability, life insurance and pension matching.
Have your dh sign up for the 401k immediately, especially if there is a match.
Maybe negotiate a bit more vacation time than usual - it isn't great in the US generally.
When looking for someplace to live look first at school districts - you want to be in the best school district possible. Google it and you'll be able to see rankings. Have your husband ask colleagues over there where they live, what are the schools like. Schools are the easiest way to figure it out.
The pension issue comes in of your DH is on a workplace scheme that is final salary or equally generous. These pension schemes are country specific. When DH moved over here they took him off the final salary scheme in Denmark after promising not to. That has cost us about $2 million over the remainder of our working life.
We told the kids a year before the move that it was a possibility and kept them updated as things progressed. It gave them plenty of time to process.
Your DH's future colleagues will know where the best school districts are, also his company should put you in touch with a realtor who will help you find a house in an area that is in the catchment area for a good school. If the public schools are not very good, see if he can negotiate help with private school fees. Be aware that teachers in public schools have to have a teaching accreditation, teachers in private schools do not (if the school doesn't want them to). Look out for magnet school programs - theses are public schools with a particular focus such as arts, science, IB. A lot of districts have IB schools.
Many school districts have their curriculum on line so you can easily see what each grade will be studying if you want to compare to the UK system. If it looks like your DC are going to be way ahead of their US peers, see if the district will let them jump a grade. Some districts will, some won't.
Ensure that your DH's package includes everything Palisers suggested, especially health and dental, negotiate four weeks vacation if you can (most people in the US only get 10 days vacation a year), also find out about repatriation costs if things don't work out/the company is bought out/closes. Some packages also include help with tax preparation and flights home to visit family once a year. If you get a credit card that earns airmiles that can help reduce travel costs.
Just a quick message and I'll try and write more later. The DC area is great and Maryland is beautiful. It should be fairly easy to find a place that is more countryside than urban/suburban if your husband doesn't mind a little commute. There are also many "village" within city type areas in some of the suburbs too. I used to live in Virginia suburb west of DC. The public schools in general are good there. Almost all the expats I knew sent their kids to private schools, of which there are many due to the proximity to DC. Washington is a major hub so you can easily fly back and forth to the UK, and there are also I think flights from Baltimore airport (as well as cheap holidays).
Do you know where in Maryland? Or how far from DC? I have a friend who lived in Maryland for a while, so could ask her for areas to look etc?
Just FYI - traffic in the DC area can be really really awful, just as bad in some ways as London traffic. (Sometimes took H 45 mins to drive 5 miles home on an B type road).
Hey Ted- currently in Maryland as a trailing spouse. If you want to drop me a PM I'm happy to chat you through the details/take you for coffee when you land
def ask for as much holiday as possible, make sure they will either ship everything you want to have shipped or give you a very good amount of money to buy stuff new, health insurance as above, rent paid in an apartment for 60days while you find somewhere to live, same deal with a hire car, repatriation details (if he's on a H1-B then I think they legally would have to repatriate you anyway), filing for green cards as soon as you land (you might not think you'll be here for long, but sometimes it only takes 12-18months to get the green card and you won't be allowed to work on a H4 spousal visa, if this matters to you)...we got all the above, but wish we'd also been given use of an accountant especially in the transitional years, also we asked for flights home yearly and were told they couldn't do that but did give us flights the first 2 years. Always worth asking!
The art of successful negotiations is to put more on the table than you are willing to accept. Ask for flights for the family twice a year and an allowance for costs while you visit. We drop serious money on trips back to Europe even though they pay our flights. Car rental and accommodation for two weeks for a family of 5 comes to about $6k for us in a good year. During the summer it's a lot closer to $10k.
Also echoing those highlighting the cost of living.
DH was offered three different relocations to the US over the last couple of years and after the initial excitement our enthusiasm evaporated when we totted up how much worse off we would be. It has made me appreciate what we have here. I would have loved to go for a little while though. Hopefully your offer is much more generous than ours were!
An opportunity and adventure not many people get a chance at. Good luck.
I moved to the east coast (maine) 5 years ago.
I had a couple of rocky years but now love it. I think ds will have opportunities here he'd never get at home.
I also moved to Maine 3 years ago, we love it here. We find it a lovely place to raise a family.
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