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Potential Move to Houston, Texas

(31 Posts)
nervousandexcited2018 Fri 12-Jan-18 19:02:59

Hi All,

So me and my husband have been talking and a potential move to Houston is on the cards! Eeeekkkkkk!!!

We have 2 DC's, 1 DS 6 and 1 DD 2

We have spoke about emmigrating / travelling for many years but ive been to scared. Decided life is to short and to bite the bullet

Initally looking at Houston as I can potentially get a work transfer and know someone over there who I used to work with here so feel a bit better I know someone. I havent been able to speak to them yet as have a meeting with my MD next week re asking on the potential transfer so havent told ne1 yet

So my question is .......
What can you tell me about Houston?
Lifestyle? Schools? Houses - buy or rent? Weather? Etc etc
Any information you can give would be much appreciated

Thanks in advance
Xxxxx

BritInUS1 Sat 13-Jan-18 17:41:24

First thing to look at is visas.

You would need your work to sponsor you and do a transfer. Will your OH need to work? If so, you need to check what type of visa you will need and if this is possible

I don't live in Houston, so can't help with local knowledge, but the visa is always the biggest stumbling block x

nervousandexcited2018 Sat 13-Jan-18 19:07:09

Thanks for the response

We are planning for my husband to work eventually once we are settled.
I think ive read he can come over on a spousal Visa but cant work for 3 months after receiving his SSN and then has to switch his Visa over.

Going to speak to work first and see if they are willing, then hopefully can look into it un more detail, ice scanned websites re the Visa's and it all sounds so complicated and difficult!

Thanks
xxxxx

BritInUS1 Sat 13-Jan-18 20:40:13

It is extremely difficult unless you can get sponsored by work

You will need an L1 visa or similar, otherwise your OH cannot work at all

Yes once you have a SSN, he will need to apply for an employment card before he can work

mathanxiety Sun 14-Jan-18 06:05:17

Houston is a really big city, there's lots of oil money and it trickles down into law firms, accountancy firms, etc. The oil industry contributes to air pollution. Everyone drives, American football is huge, the Republican Party is huge, guns are very popular.

The weather is HOT and humid/subtropical. The heat and humidity are extremely unpleasant for seven or eight months of the year. There are massive thunderstorms in spring that sometimes spawn tornadoes, and in the hurricane season you can get hurricanes off the Gulf (like Harvey in 2017). Summer brings heat, humidity and thunderstorms. Air conditioning is a must. Walking around outside is very unpleasant. With the heat and humidity come bugs. Flooding is a recurring problem.

Autumn and winter are nice.

It's fairly diverse.

nervousandexcited2018 Sun 14-Jan-18 13:42:21

Thanks for your replies 😀

Definitely different to good old england then! Lol!

Xxx

BradleyPooper Mon 15-Jan-18 02:42:07

We've lived in Houston for nearly 5 years, moved here from Singapore so it's not nearly hot or humid enough for us here! Today is was 5C, August gets to about 32-33C max and humid but we have air con everything and pools etc so not too bad.

Houston is a great city, there are always new restaurants and bars and always something to do, shows, festivals etc and the arts scene has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Like all US cities, there are no-go areas and there is poverty (begging at red lights etc), homelessness is a huge problem, but plenty of opportunity to volunteer and help out. Traffic is an issue, Houston is bigger than greater London with very little public transport, but people tend to live close to work and school. We have 2 dds aged 9 and 13 at the British International School which is in Katy but we live near the Medical Center. We are in one of the few areas where you can walk to the pub and shops. Life is very easy, banking, bureaucracy etc, not a problem. I don't know many Republicans and I haven't seen a gun outside the range and not attached to a cop since I arrived.

I imagine you would come here on an L1 visa and your DH can apply for an authorization to work on his spouse's L2 visa. Houston runs on networking so it might take a while for him to get enough contacts to find work but he should get there.

Feel free to ask questions if you like. Took me a while to get used to Houston but the clear blue skies and wide spaces are growing on me!

Cavender Mon 15-Jan-18 03:09:04

We live in a suburb of Houston, having moved from the U.K. a few years ago.

Math’s post isn’t untrue but it’s a fairly dark view of Houston.

We moved here because the company asked us to. I thought I’d grit my teeth and endure until it was time to go home. But actually I love it.

The people are lovely, courteous, friendly and helpful.

We’ve been very pleased with the schools our D.C. attend.

The summer is hot, but as long as you have AC in your house and car it’s fine.

Politics are perhaps best avoided but I’ve met plenty of Democrats too.

In summary Texas is interesting, Texans are lovely and the lifestyle is really great, but it’s not cheap.

Where we live rents are high (though the houses are lovely), there’s no public transport so two cars are required, health insurance (medical, dental, vision) is expensive and even if you are fortunate (as we are) to have a great company policy it still cost $25 dollars every time you go to the GP. And you pay for all your prescriptions of course.

Our kids go to an excellent public school but we pay for all their school supplies ($100 per child) and various other things through the year.

Extracurricular activities are excellent, with wonderful programmes in music, art and sports but costs are much higher than the U.K. (eg music lessons more than double what we paid in the U.K., sports three times)

Food and eating out is definitely not cheaper than the U.K. and despite popular belief I don’t think clothes shopping is either. The only thing that’s clearly cheaper is gas (petrol).

What I’m saying is that Houston is a brilliant place to live but if you are seriously considering moving here make sure your salary will really cover it.

Holiday is something you also need to consider. Americans get considerably smaller holiday allocations and the school summer holidays are 12 weeks long. If you a both working you’ll need to find childcare. It’s available but be prepared to write very large checks.

Make sure you get good advice on VISAs and ability to work for you both.

Finally you need to get financial advice because you will start off with no credit rating. So renting a house, getting a credit card, leasing a car or even opening a bank account can be complicated if you don’t have a company sponsoring your move.

mathanxiety Mon 15-Jan-18 05:03:47

You can get an American Express card and use it for a while in the UK, pay it off monthly. That will help with credit.

If this is to be a permanent move, you should consider the public schools, and look forward to your DCs going on to the University of Texas system, which is very good and very well funded. US public schools in middle class areas are often really good. In the US, people moving somewhere often look for good elementary, middle and high schools first, then find somewhere to live within the school district (= catchment area).

If you can afford it, talk to an emigration lawyer with US expertise so you know where you stand wrt visas. Look at the implications of the Hague Convention too. Emigrating and finding your feet in a new place can be tough on a relationship.

There are lots of nuts and bolts to consider too, related to your company - relocation expenses, medical insurance, meaningful vacation time given that you may like to go to the UK for a spell each year, driving, security of your job/long term prospects for your company.

mathanxiety Mon 15-Jan-18 05:08:01

As you have a 2 yo, you would also be looking for childcare if you and your H were both working. It can be hard to find decent, affordable childcare.

It might be a good idea to go on a holiday to Houston and see for yourself how you like it.

Cavender Mon 15-Jan-18 05:20:27

Math makes a good point, you can only drive for 90 days on your U.K. license. You need to sit both a theory and practical test to get a Texas driving license.

The tests aren’t particularly difficult but studying for the theory test is time consuming.

If you are considering coming out for a visit the Singapore Airlines Manchester route is good and usually cheaper than BA from London.

BradleyPooper Mon 15-Jan-18 13:43:05

If you're transferring from a UK based job with the same company, you may find that your holiday allowance is the same here too and that would be a point worth negotiating. My dh did this and has a huge amount of vacation time. I work for a US company and have 5 weeks holiday a year, plus I work flexible hours so can attend school assemblies etc. Many companies are very tight with vacation time but not all.

Medical insurance is a big one ... make sure your company offers you all comprehensive medical and dental insurance. There are plenty of threads on here about expat packages and what to ask for when it comes to that stage.

nervousandexcited2018 Mon 15-Jan-18 19:50:52

Thank you all for your replies!
All really good information 😀

Gonna be speaking to my MD later this week, so fingers crossed ill be coming back with lots more questions!

Thanks
Xxxx

nervousandexcited2018 Fri 19-Jan-18 19:39:25

Hey All

So spoke to work and its all go!! Yay!! smile

Only stumbling block is they think me having a work sponsor / Visa will only get me and be DC's in and that DH must have a job and do his own application.

I have said id look into a bit more and get back to them as I thought as we were married he would be able to get a Visa from mine.

He will be planning to work but look once we have moved over there etc

Does anybody know? Or know where is best to check on the web / phone for a general idea?

Thanks
Xxxxx

FeckTheMagicDragon Fri 19-Jan-18 19:55:40

I’m just about to go on an L1A visa. My husband is on the spouse L2 visa - he can work just had to apply for his SSN when he gets there. If your company are sponsoring you they should have s blanket visa already. If you there is a lot more information for you to collect. Are they paying visa and legal fees? And are they offering a relocation package?
As above get an AMEX card in the UK and call them up and ask for a global transfer. HSBC opened a us bank account for us before we were due to go. Very handy for sorting out things like rent. Also - if you rent an apartment you can rent a furniture pack (bed, sofa, tv, table, etc) by the month while you buy your own stuff.

FeckTheMagicDragon Fri 19-Jan-18 19:57:18

It’s been exhausting- but I’m scared and stupidly excited all at the same time.

BritInUS1 Fri 19-Jan-18 20:01:21

Your company can sponsor an L1 visa, this would give your husband an L2 visa.

In order to work on an L2 visa, he would need to get a Social Security Number and then once he has this he can apply for an Employment Card - this can take around 3 months. He cannot work until he has this.

Bear in mind you cannot get paid by the US until your SSN comes through. You will have no credit history, so utility companies will want deposits and you may have to pay a larger rent deposit. You will probably also have to sit your US driving tests, in California you cannot lease a car without your US licence

FeckTheMagicDragon Fri 19-Jan-18 20:03:36

Oh - and he’ll need his SSN in most states to get his driving license, which you have to take within 90 days.

OlennasWimple Fri 19-Jan-18 20:05:58

As others say, if you get an L1 your husband can get an L2 visa (and you should look for work to pay his visa costs too, as they can be $$$$s)

FWIW, my SSN came through in about two weeks and my work authorization took another month, so although it's unusual it is possible to get to place where legally you can work very quickly

its5oclocksomewhere Fri 19-Jan-18 20:05:58

Assuming you're getting a L1 visa (intra company transfer) then your DH and DC will get spouse & dependent L2 visas. Your DH will be allowed to work on an L2 visa after he has applied for an EAD card when he arrives. That takes around 3 months. Here's the official link.

www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1a-intracompany-transferee-executive-or-manager

Your employer has to submit your petition, you cannot do it yourself. If you're keen to get things moving as quickly as possible, you can do Premium Processing which is 15 days. Although it will take quite a bit of time to gather all the necessary documents and prepare your case for submission. An L1 visas is one of the more straightforward visas to get as long as your immigration lawyer can put together a robust case for your transfer i.e. show that you have the necessary managerial / executive experience within the company or you're highly skilled within your particular field. The immigration lawyer will advise whether the L1-A or L1-B is the right one for you. L1-A is for a maximum of 7 years, L1-B is maximum 5 years.

You'll have to negotiate with your employer whether they're going to pay for DH and DC applications and embassy fees or just yours. A good employer should cover all application and relocation expenses. And make sure you negotiate a generous relocation (and repatriation) package. The average relocation budget seems to be around $20k. The initial costs of moving can be eye watering!!

its5oclocksomewhere Fri 19-Jan-18 20:20:28

If your company are sponsoring you they should have s blanket visa already

Not necessarily. Blanket petitions tend to be for larger employers who transfer people on a regular basis. But there are plenty of small employers who send people on an individual basis. Just becasue you need to transfer an employee doesn't mean there's a blanket petition in place.

nervousandexcited2018 Fri 19-Jan-18 20:24:31

Thanks All smile

All good info, need to speak to work again

Presume they dont have a blanket petition as we dont transfer often but cud b wrong.

I need to discuss the relocation package - as ive asked them to transfer me rather then the other way round but got time for that, only had initial talks with my MD earlier this week

Dont think we will be actually going until early next year, prob Feb / March time so what seems like ages to organise / agree terms but sure it will fly.

Thanks
Xxxx

its5oclocksomewhere Fri 19-Jan-18 20:38:11

as ive asked them to transfer me rather then the other way round

So your immigration lawyer will need to present a case that shows you need to be transferred for the good of the business which might take a bit of "creative license" given that you're asking for the move.

USCIS (the people who approve the application) would ask, why do you need to go now? What's happening in the business that you're needed over in the US? Is there not a US citizen that could do the job? What significant skills and experience are you going to take with you that aren't currently in the US and that the company can't do without. (All hypothetical OP, I'm sure you will be able to present a strong case but it's just worth knowing what the sort of standard is.)

GetTaeBed Fri 19-Jan-18 20:49:17

Try and keep your uk t&cs - mainly holidays. Make sure after medical costs you wont be worse off.

School holidays would be what put me off - will your then 7 year old be happy in holiday camps for say 10 weeks of the summer and you dc2 would need to go in them at 5yrs. My two uk friends in the usa don't work- mainly because of this.

BritInUS1 Fri 19-Jan-18 21:24:18

The negotiation is key

Our relocation package cost over $100,000 so it's a huge amount for your company to invest in you if they are moving you because you want to rather than them asking you too

Agree with UK holidays, however, I think this is a hard one to negotiate as it puts you on different terms to your colleagues

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