Really need opinions... US vs UK

(86 Posts)
otterbaby Sun 28-Mar-21 11:31:53

Hi all, I would really value some unbiased opinions please! It's a bit of a long read but any advice would be most appreciated.

I am originally from California and my husband is from England. I moved here 7 years ago, we've been married for 6 years and we have a 6 month old baby. We have built a life here - own a house, both have decent jobs, cars nearly paid off. However I don't like the area that we live in - high rates of crime, racism, poverty etc. There are some good things about the area but for the most part, I don't feel like it's a very safe place to live and would move in a heartbeat. It's worth noting that my husband was born and raised here, he definitely agrees but has a fondness for the area (obviously!).

It was always the deal that we would move back to California eventually. I am very close with my family back home and that is a big part of my desire to return. My parents are wonderful - unfortunately they haven't had the chance to meet my baby yet, but they are so doting and loving to her. I grew up with a very close relationship to my grandparents and it really shaped who I am as a person. I want her to have that experience as well. She also has an uncle there who I want her to know (my brother). My husband's family is very different - he and his his sister are not on speaking terms (and no chance of reconciliation ever) and his parents have a bit of a toxic relationship. I could write a whole thread on this but to sum it up, he very nearly cut them off entirely about a year ago. I also don't trust them fully with my baby - his mum is a bit aggressive with her (bopping her in the face with toys, shaking her arm/hand very roughly, shouting in her face when crying) so they will never watch her unsupervised. I do know that we could fully trust my parents to watch her on various occasions (date nights and such) and my husband agrees with this.

Moving back does mean starting over in some regards. We would live with my parents for a few months until we found jobs and a place to live. It would also mean renting for a few years until my husband builds up enough credit for us to get on the property ladder - and of course housing prices will be much much higher than they are in our current area. But realistically, within a few years it is very likely that we'll be back to where we are right now in terms of house, cars, jobs etc. My husband is very worried about all of this - he is 35 and is worried about finding a job in his trade. His job is very in demand in California and highly paid. My dad works for the government and ran his CV past a hiring manager who said that he would have no issues whatsoever landing a position with his experience. I do understand his anxiety about it though!

I really feel as though our daughter having a relationship with her grandparents outweighs all of the above concerns. Our other concern is healthcare, but I worked in California prior to moving here and it's not too bad if you find a position with decent insurance (£20 co-pays for appointments and prescriptions). I don't think we'll have another child so that's not a concern either. And holidays - we'll probably get 2-3 weeks and be able to visit many areas in California and surrounding states, but Europe is pretty much out of bounds unless we're going away for a good week or two. But we would be living so close to the beach, San Francisco, Napa, Tahoe, etc. And only a short flight to places like Hawaii, San Diego, etc.

My husband is pretty much 50/50 - and our marriage wouldn't suffer if we decided to move, so please don't factor that into your opinion. He just wants what is best for our daughter. Like I say, I understand his concerns but I also don't know if I'm looking at this with rose-tinted glasses because I want to go back. If we stayed here, we would move but still be in the same area due to our jobs so not much can be done about that.

Please, give me your brutally honest opinions. I'd love to know if I'm really off the mark. We have submitted a visa to go back but it's only the first step and we could be waiting a year or more before we hear back.

Thank you star

OP’s posts: |
mathanxiety Mon 29-Mar-21 06:18:30

Do it. Do it before your DD gets stuck into school, etc.

The warm, happy family environment will be far better for your DD.

Don't count on your H getting a job right away though. He will need a green card. (Also, my understanding is that you need citizenship to get government work either federally or local/state.)

Persipan Mon 29-Mar-21 06:26:24

I would personally be really worried about US healthcare. Not just the copays but all the various exclusions and the labyrinthine billing practices. I appreciate you worked in the field and that may be why it seems 'not too bad' from your perspective but I've seen too many horror stories; and known too many UK families who've suddenly had to manage unexpected health crises but at least not had to worry about going bankrupt from medical expenses, to feel comfortable with that.

SnoozyBoozy Mon 29-Mar-21 06:52:09

I have a family member (English) who met his Californian wife in London, they lived here for a few years and then moved closer to her family in California and there about 15 years and I think they loved it, had high paying jobs etc.

They were close to her family (both in distance and feelings!) and had their first child out there, very hands on grandparents etc. They moved back to London a couple of years ago, partly for what they could easily access in London, but mostly I think because of the cost of living in San Francisco (which sounds ridiculous to me as I think London prices are pretty high. Although having said, when we visited San Francisco as a tourist, we were slightly horrified at the prices). So I guess that's something to consider - where are you now, and where in California are you considering moving to?

LadyBrienne Mon 29-Mar-21 07:00:00

It’s truly impossible for anyone to tell you the right thing to do - you need to write a list of the things that are important you and your husband for the next 20 years and then make a decision based on that

Fact is that healthcare in California is very good if you are employed and have insurance - some school districts are outstanding and some are very bad - house prices are reasonable in some places and not in others .... ultimately you have to decide whether being near your family is important and if so, then you make the decisions and sacrifices to make that happen

Lucent Mon 29-Mar-21 07:20:32

But this isn’t ‘US vs UK’, it’s ‘your understandable desire to live in California vs your DH’s understandable desire to stick with what he knows’.

You say the plan was always to move back to the US— if so, why is your DH now stalling? Has something changed? Was he ever fully on board? And did you know he lived in a poor, high-crime area before you agreed to live there, and know what his parents were like?

bonbonours Mon 29-Mar-21 07:27:12

The things that would really put me off living in America are: the healthcare insurance thing, I've heard too much about even when people are insured, their insurance won't cover a certain procedure etc, or still having to pay even when you have insurance. I wouldn't feel happy living somewhere where I have to hesitate whether to get an ambulance for my child based on whether the insurance will pay.
Secondly if we were both going to be working full time the lack of paid holidays would bother me. School holidays are long and parents' holidays are short which means not only paying through the nose for childcare during holidays but more importantly not being able to spend time with your kids.


BusyLizzie61 Mon 29-Mar-21 08:07:58

I understand your wishing to move back. But think that yabu re your pil and saying you wouldn't trust them and assuming that just because your parents are yours they'd be amazing! Let's be honest both sets of parents have managed to get you both to adulthood!
I also think that it's incredibly relevant that you chose to relocate to the UK, so as much as parenthood changes things, you trying to sell the American dream to effectively coerce oh is unfair. Had you been so close to your family and then you'd never have moved in the first place, imo!
The holidays reduction and lack of flexible working in the USA would concern me. He'd be losing a minimum of a quarter of the holidays he gets and have worse ts and Cs. Add into that starting again financially, home wise etc. That's a big ask imo. Hawai or not being on the door step. No good if he's burnt out and never gets to see his child!
Healthcare another major concern.
The instability of the USA would concern me, no fall back etc.
That's before you get I to the far higher crime rates, educational elements etc...
I would look at making the home in the UK more fulfilling.

sashh Mon 29-Mar-21 08:25:28

I'd look at it from the point of view of what is best for your dd, now and in the future.

Look in to the education systems, both school and college / uni.

How much will you need to save for college?

What about access to extra curricular activities?

Holiday entitlement would worry me, living in the UK would give you more holidays and as dd gets older if your parents are willing she will be able to fly out to see them.

You said you are not planning another baby but what if you have a surprise? Would you consider abortion or not?

Have you considered moving within the UK?

Hollyhocksarenotmessy Mon 29-Mar-21 08:53:50

I know two families that have both done this in opposite directions, UK to US, US to UK.. The people who are in their non-native country all have a certain amount of home sickness and some mixed feelings, but overall they are happy and settled into new lives.

They can all see pros and cons of both countries. These will be different for every family, so you need to work through all the benefits and disadvantages yourselves.

Both countries have very different environments and cultures in different areas, so don't just compare exactly where you live now with the US, as theres a 3rd option of moving within the UK. Your family has got to be a big factor too.

MiniMaxi Mon 29-Mar-21 08:54:58

Ultimately I think it’s only “fair” that you give it a shot over there. Could you agree on say a 3 year move with a view to staying if he settles and gets a job etc?

Yes schools make things tricky but it isn’t impossible.

YukoandHiro Mon 29-Mar-21 08:59:35

Definitely do it before baby becomes a child and has friends she'll miss, you become close to local parents and it's a bigger wrench etc.
Having family you can rely on makes a huge difference when raising children and it will be nice to be near family that baby can get close to rather than exposing her to a toxic relationship.
Plus the weather and the lifestyle!
Yes property prices will be higher, but also so will salaries as you've said and lower taxes. The only thing you'll miss out on is holiday I guess as US jobs only give two weeks so I hear?
But overall it sounds like your long term lifestyle will be better over there. I would set wheels in motion now so you're settled well before your child is school age.

YukoandHiro Mon 29-Mar-21 09:06:20

@BusyLizzie61 you have absolutely no idea what went on within the husband's family and why he's lowish contact with them, and sorry if someone shouted in my baby's face while they were crying they would never be left alone with them. You are being entirely unreasonable on that point.

GracieLouFreebushh Mon 29-Mar-21 09:08:48

@YukoandHiro OP did say her mother-in-law will never be left unsupervised so is not being unreasonable.

GracieLouFreebushh Mon 29-Mar-21 09:11:13

@YukoandHiro sorry pressed send too early... totally agree with you. Also agree about outdoors lifestyle and getting settled before school. The sooner the better so financially you catch up OP

Lucent Mon 29-Mar-21 09:25:18


@BusyLizzie61 you have absolutely no idea what went on within the husband's family and why he's lowish contact with them, and sorry if someone shouted in my baby's face while they were crying they would never be left alone with them. You are being entirely unreasonable on that point.

I assume the OP, from the context, means that her MIL just has very basic ideas about 'how to amuse/distract an unhappy baby', rather than that she was actually shouting in anger at the baby. My MIL is a bit similar, and when DS was small and grumpy, she used to sort of wave toys right up in his face and do this annoying finger-clicking thing, or grab his finger or arm, while repeating the same phrase increasingly loudly to get his attention (not helped by her increasing deafness). Because in her mind, that's what you do to babies to show you know your way around them, and it doesn't matter whether the baby responds positively or not, because apparently all babies like that. (In fairness, she's exactly the same with adults -- absolutely no capacity to alter her behaviour, depending on who she's talking to.)

As soon as DS was able to express himself -- and he was an early talker -- he would look at her with obvious displeasure and say 'Why do you keep doing that and saying the same thing, Granny?'

OP, more seriously, I think you need to factor in that while you clearly don't like your PILs, and your DH doesn't have a good relationship with them, and you are close to your parents and think they're great, and will be great GPs -- things may not be so rosy when you're living under their roof, and your DH may not always share your feelings about their fabulousness, or the self-evident superiority of California over wherever in the UK you're living.

I mean, you may think both are objectively 'better', but there's really no such thing as objectivity when it comes to choosing somewhere to live. I used to live in the US, and despite objectively better standards of living in my particular situation and a permanent visa that would become a green card, I chose to leave.

I think you also need to factor in that if you divorced, your DH would be 'stuck' in the US.

averythinline Mon 29-Mar-21 09:26:48

I would try and sort work for one of you and the legalities of work for your DH..
He needs to be able to stay there in his own right which I think is more complex than you staying case you split up..
This has happened in 2/4 of the families i know have done that...
I wouldn't want to be dependent on your family that healthy for either of you...and especially risky for him...
Your dad may have passed his cv around put they haven't offered him a job??
I wouldn't go to the US without work to go to ...and legalities sorted out..

Sickoffamilydrama Mon 29-Mar-21 09:29:38

I have no experience of living in the US Op but the lack of a support system should it all go wrong would be my biggest worry, whilst our welfare system is far from perfect at least it's there to a greater extent than the US. If this year has taught us anything it's that things can change rapidly & your once secure job can be gone within less than a month. The cost of health care would absolutely petrify me.

Could a compromise be that you move away from the area you are in & live somewhere else in the UK then if it's still not working move to the US?

Good luck whatever you decide.

coffeeandjuice Mon 29-Mar-21 10:11:51

Sounds like a head v heart decision. Might s as well move back to California as the head is much easier to pacify 😊. If it all goes pear shaped you just move here again. It'll probably be fine though.

drspouse Mon 29-Mar-21 10:58:47

I have worked in the US and I would not move there on the grounds of it not being racist or crime-ridden...
My DH has an expensive medical condition and DS has SEN and also on those grounds it's a no-go.
Use the money you'd save on health insurance to make frequent, long visits to your parents?

knitnerd90 Mon 29-Mar-21 13:26:03

This isn't really a US vs UK issue so much as a family one and no one here can tell you what's right there. Depending on where in California it could be quite expensive.

Immigration wise you can sponsor your DH and he will have a green card, but you will need to sort the financial sponsorship. Since you aren't working in the USA you will either need a co-sponsor or savings to meet the financial requirements.

We moved to the USA in part because my mother was here and overall the move was positive for us. At this point we get decent holiday entitlement (not as good as the UK but enough) and SEN provision for the kids has actually been excellent. Health insurance, well, the care is good but the costs are high.

What I find is the more annoying issue at this point (since my DC are older) are actually American school holidays. Week at Christmas, week in spring, whacking 12 weeks summer.

otterbaby Mon 29-Mar-21 14:37:10

Thanks for the responses everyone. The visa he would be granted would allow him to work immediately, although he would take a few months off to acclimate once we moved there. We have a pretty decent savings pot (~£15kish) that is basically our rainy day fund if things doing go as swimmingly as we imagine.

Healthcare is probably my number one concern. I sadly had a second trimester loss before our daughter was born and after the trauma of induction & labour, I remember walking out of the hospital thinking how much worse it would be if I had to deal with insurance and paying for the privilege. So that's definitely a factor in the decision still.

@BusyLizzie61 that's a bit of a stretch - just because I chose to relocate doesn't mean I'm not close to my family! After a few years of long-distance dating, we decided that one of us needed to move so I volunteered as I had just finished uni and wanted to experience a new country. And it was on the basis that we would eventually move back. Fair enough that guarantee may be a bit wobbly now that we're settled and have a child, but it is what it is. And it definitely isn't a "my parents are great and yours aren't" thing. Like I say, I won't go into detail about his parents but there are several reasons why their relationship has deteriorated over the past couple of years and that's up to him. Thanks for your input though.

@Lucent he's nervous about starting over from scratch, which I understand. I think he's become more nervous as we've built everything here together, at the time of my moving here he was renting a flat, didn't have a reliable car, etc. So there wasn't as much to lose if you see what I mean. And I actually had a really lovely relationship with his parents for many years, it was some of their actions in recent years that has caused a rift, sadly. And yes, we have discussed that if we were to separate he would be stuck out there. Although if we separated here, I'd be stuck here..! Not things we considered when we chose to start dating!

Lots of good points to consider here, so many thanks!

OP’s posts: |
moochingtothepub Mon 29-Mar-21 14:49:51

I've lived in the us and U.K. and the USA is so expensive, not just property (even rent is out of reach), the company only paid the first $500 of insurance premiums two that was $200 a month, $15 each visit or prescription even kids.

Then there's food, costs so much more for a family shop, basics like broadband cost more, have to have cable as no tv reception. Kids activities were more than double too.

Finally it's getting the right paperwork, took my relative 2 years to get a spousal visa and she had to have a job prior before he put the paperwork into the embassy which meant nearly 3 years living apart

moochingtothepub Mon 29-Mar-21 14:51:10

And as far as high rates of poverty, crime, racism - CA is far worse than the U.K.

turkeyboots Mon 29-Mar-21 15:08:20

I've just read some visa rules for the spousal visas. As the US sponsor you have to apply from your US residence and have a minimum income in the US which varies by state. For California and a family of 3, you need $80k income pa plus for a easy application and over $ 38k plus as a minimum and they'll look for additional guarantees.
California is lovely but so so expensive, and the working culture is very long hours and long commute. My DF lives there and it makes for a great holiday destination, but his 5hr commute to the office is insane.

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