{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Anyone here a US citizen who chose to leave in favor of London? I’m American but husband is European. He wants to return for the social culture of Europe but I just get traumatized by the pay in London and almost equally high cost of living as in tier 1 USA cities. I know money isn’t everything but hoping to hear about other Americans experiences . Thank you!", "post_id": "6145ed19006d3c001d6fcdce", "reply_count": 70, "vote_count": 4, "bowl_id": "58f81907c1ca28001625d527", "bowl_name": "Londoners in Consulting", "feed_type": "bowl" }
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Anyone here a US citizen who chose to leave in favor of London? I’m American but husband is European. He wants to return for the social culture of Europe but I just get traumatized by the pay in London and almost equally high cost of living as in tier 1 USA cities. I know money isn’t everything but hoping to hear about other Americans experiences . Thank you!

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Started my career in the USA, spent 5 years there, now permanently relocated to London (10+ years).

It took me three years to get back to parity earnings-wise, and on a gross basis I'd probably make at least 75% more if I moved back to the USA. However:

- On a net basis, the difference isn't as great as it first appears, especially considering health insurance.
- NHS is great. Medical bankruptcy doesn't exist here (or anywhere in Europe). You can start a family or change jobs without worrying that a freak accident could wipe out your savings and put you in a lifetime of debt. I think I paid £200 for the birth of our son, and that's because I wanted a private room on the maternity ward because my wife needed a Cesarian.
- You get lots of holiday. And you are expected to take it. One of the reasons you make less money is because the firm hires more people, because people *take their holiday*. Back in the US, three weeks in the mountains is a trip of a lifetime, over here it's just an ordinary summer holiday. World's a big place, might as well see it while you have the chance.

One big drawback: US global taxation is a pain in the ass and will forever be a cause of stress.

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As an American diplomat, my wife and I have lived in five different countries in the last 12 years, and I can say with some confidence that London is probably the greatest city on earth. Don't @ me.

Hyperbole aside, living away from family is tough--that can't be denied. Then again, your spouse is already doing that in the U.S., and London isn't exactly Budapest, so flights back home should be relatively easy.

Pay, wealth building, lifestyle, happiness? No easy answers here. One can build wealth faster back home, but at what personal cost? The average American spends almost 1.5hrs commuting, whereas London has one of the best transport systems in the world--and that's just one tiny example the constellation of consideration. How does one price that into salary? How about air quality? Schools? Health care? That's a big one. Yes, the NHS is "free," but independent analysis shows on average it offers fewer options than private American care (the NHS patient backlog is currently 5.6 million). Then again, you can always top-up with private insurance and bypass the NHS.

I know a few Americans here who are not keen on London and are eager to leave. Others wouldn't give it up for all the money in the world.

I like to play the following thought experiment with friends, especially expats:

Name a global city with excellent quality of life that offers anyone the chance to call it home while providing significant economic opportunities. What comes to mind? Tokyo is amazing, but is it international? New York! Though can we really argue on quality of life, especially given climate change? Barcelona! Amazing place to visit, but perhaps not a truly global metropolis. Hong Kong? Political issues. Maybe Singapore would top the list, but for many of us from the West it's quite far. Of course Paris is amazing, but can one truly be Parisian after a few years? Copenhagen? Amsterdam? Berlin? I'd put those at the top of the list, though I'm told finding work there isn't simple. At the moment, London is tough to beat.

Transcontinental moves seem daunting, but the truth is, in the 21st century it's quite simple. If you don't like it in 3-4 years, you can always go home.

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We are a family of 3 (2yr old) - uprooted from lucrative U.S. pay and just moved to London. We are betting that professionally it’s good international exposure, personally, it’s a better cultural fit, and that it will be good for a child’s life experience.

But, we are accepting just getting by for awhile financially, for sure.

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Londoner here. The cost of living is nothing like an NY or an LA. It’s expensive compared to the rest of Britain, but it’s not the same. It’s a financially different decision though to me moving to the US from London, as I’ve already benefited from free healthcare and having paid my student debt off for both bachelors and MBA before turning 30. Plus your hours will be better and you will have far more days off, and your employment rights will get a hell of a lot better.

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I worked for 4 years in London in consulting, then NY for 4. I miss it all the time, it’s an amazing city.

If you’re moving for the long term don’t worry about the discrepancy. Salaries across all industries are lower so you won’t feel any “less wealthy” there. Also it’s partially made up by the great holiday policy, work hours, benefits, etc.

The only potential issue becomes if you build up savings in Sterling, move back to the US and have to convert it over. Currently that’s not a favorable transaction, but hey, that could change in 10 years! Historically it’s fluctuated quite rapidly.

likehelpful

Thanks! Yes my only hesitancy at this point is being very far from my parents in the Midwest though I know intentionality about these things is more important than proximity. I have friends that live super close to parents and rarely see them. Psychologically the distance from them though is the one hurdle I have to overcome - much more than the financial hit really

No one is mentioning maternity leave. That’s a huge benefit and a major reason pay is lower. My wife just took 12 months off her job in tech on nearly full pay for almost all of it. Our baby was free (thanks NHS). We just took a month long holiday.

On a different note, I don’t worry about school shootings or police shootings.

I think nice stuff costs as much or more as in the US and the pay cut is massive, but there ARE mitigating factors.

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Eligibility details here https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/birth/transition-requirements/

The lifestyle points (travel, more days off etc.) are 100% spot on. I lived in London for 3 years and New York for 3 and can say that I would take the pay cut for the better work life balance but that’s just my two cents

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Are you still in London? Agree largely that good lifestyle trumps some money

SC1 covered it pretty well.

I just returned from a few years in London and I really miss it. The economy there is built around lower salaries, so decent food and entertainment is MUCH cheaper (high end is still just as expensive as US).

Pension plans are often stronger there and other benefits make it close to a wash if you plan to stay long term, at least close enough that it's less of a financial decision and more about choosing the culture you want.

Is your husband familiar with London? Only ask because you mention "European culture" and that can be rather different across major European cities.

The access to travel (VERY cheap holidays) was incredible, and in my opinion, that alone makes it worth it. I only left because COVID like travel and it wasn't fun for my family to live in a small house in London anymore.

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London to France is pretty convenient.

And I'm sure this is blasphemy, but I loved cheap croissants in London. You can pay a good amount for a REALLY good French pastry, but I loved paying $0.50 for a good enough croissant at Lidl 😂. By American standards those croissants are 👨‍🍳😘

But yeah, quick train to France or cheap flights to other European cities. Spending a weekend in a different country was just a normal way of life for young consultants with a good income.

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People have covered most of what I would say here (American who recently returned from several years in UK) but I would add that I would, in a heartbeat, give up the 60+% increase I got coming back to the US to have my UK work/life balance back. You really don’t “feel” the paycut like you might think bc salaries are just lower across the board.

Hardest part for me was distance from friends and family, which, it sounds like you are also worried about OP. It is definitely a tradeoff (missed tons of weddings, bachelorette parties, baby showers, holidays w family etc) and the biggest driver of coming back.

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I'll never forget three things about moving to the UK:

1. Being fearful of taking all my holiday, just to get yelled at by my partner to take more vacation and needing to take all of December off. And then working with colleagues from the Nordics and realising they take... months off, and their careers are doing just fine.

2. Getting really sick my first year here, going to a hospital, and not understanding that I couldn't pay them even if I wanted to, because they didn't physically have a way to take my money at the A&E.

3. First time out with clients at lunch on a Thursday, we went to the pub and they all got pints. I abstained because in my American brain, drinking at lunch = get fired. Came to learn later that drinking at lunch in my industry is the expected behaviour.

UK quality of life and working culture is hands down better than the USA, unless you really like stacking a bunch of cash that you'll never have time to spend well.

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Spouse is British and I am American. Childcare is way cheaper in the UK. I think private schools are also cheaper (although at the top top end may be comparable). We may move back to the US when our children are older but definitely not moving until my youngest is out of early years education.

I also had a great experience giving birth on the NHS.

Moving back home, I’m not looking forward to having to work on sick days and justifying using all my PTO though. And the cut in PTO will be very very sad.

likefunny

Careers factor in a bit, but more important which secondary school system we believe in / where we think our children might want to go to university so we can establish residency for cheaper tuition. I think it’s easier to get in to a university in the UK as it is almost entirely exams based, and fees are far lower as every school is a ‘state university’ ; but there are more well-known institutions in the US, including state schools.

Secondary school wise, if we moved back to the US we would be moving back to very good state schools; in the UK we would probably try to send them to private secondary.

Drugs problems are also worse in the UK regardless of private or state, urban or suburban.

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Honestly I wrestled with this for months but once COVID happened I had to move so that I could see my partner since he couldn’t enter the US. The pay cut is rough, and right now we’re in the state where we’re thinking about some of the larger life decisions like buying a house which is frankly much harder to do it the side of the pond then if you were in the US with a US salary. However, overall I think I am glad I moved partly because I do think that the lifestyle is better, even if only marginally for consulting, but I have a feeling that once we move into industry it will be significantly better. Some of the smaller things that I have appreciated- parks, culture, better produce ( goes a long way!) and ability to travel to Europe!!

I’m happy to chat live if helpful - just DM me

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Thank you and glad you guys are able to be together again! I’m at the stage where we are thinking about buying a house and having kids and I know that though we’ve been in the USA to date, making those decisions in the UK “grounds” us there more (or at least makes it a bigger decision to ever leave there again). Based on my visits I’m sold on living in Europe. The pay part is hard to swallow but I can get over that. It’s really the distance from family variable I just can’t come up with a good solution for. If I did, I’d be wholly invested in life across the pond

In a similar boat — have an Irish partner and plan to move to London next year. It has taken me one year to somewhat come to grips with the pay cut I’m about to take, and I’m still not over it. I’ll probably move to industry because I can’t imagine doing this work for a 40% pay cut. Similar to what others mentioned, I’m taking solace in the idea that I’ll be enhancing my quality of life to offset my pay reduction.

Our move is primarily to swap which family we’re closer to. We’ve been close to mine for a few years, and now it’s time to give her a turn. This messaging also helped my family understand and accept the move.

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M4 😖
OP have you considered working as an independent contractor for your US firm? I haven’t looked into the feasibility, but I do want to look into it

I’m about to move to London for my husband too. Also nervous about the 30% pay cut but really excited for the experience! We plan to move back to the states in a few years. DM me if you want to connect!

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Yes, he’s Swiss and lived in the US for 7 years. Long term we want to raise our kids in the US.

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Can folks help orient around what good, great and crazy comp packages look and feel like in the UK? For example, total comp is X, monthly bills are X, savings are X.

Maybe the difference in lifestyle on 100K, 150k, 250k?

I’m comparing NYC to London.

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I’m looking at a few industries and to move in house at the partnership level. Here they can be $400-800 and I prob at $600 you are crazy comfortable. What is that range in the UK? Assuming £300+ all in? £200k+ base?

likefunny

I think for Americans moving outside of USA to anywhere it’s almost always a cut financially speaking, not unless you’re very senior or household name in your field, or there’s always the good nepotism if you know the right people

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Cv builder, opening of your experience and perspectives, better education hands down for kids, better global perspective for kids hopefully eliminating any preconceived bias in global and cultural affairs (I’m American I know this to be true for our compatriots whose definition of international restricted to Puerto Rico and vacationing only in Florida). Overall it’ll only be upside not much negatives.

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Following as I’m American but partner is French

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Director in EY, earning £210k TC. I live just outside London, kids go to a fantastic state school. My mortgage is £1800 a month. After all my bills are paid, I have £3.5k left over and then my other half works too. Why would I move to the US where the equivalent would be far worse?

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On the c2c just past Upminster. I'm not saying for a second that everything is rosy but I think too many people incur a heavy debt load to be in their ideal location like Clapham, Blackheath, Muswell Hill, Wanstead, Richmond etc... But then you spend the rest of your life servicing that debt load without doing anything else you enjoy. I'm content with my setup and enjoy my work because I can take my foot off the pedal any time I like as I have a 50% buffer between what I earn vs. what I spend.

While we are at it can you guys shed some light on the housing situation there how does it compare to the LCOL and HCOL in the US from both rent and own perspective . Is there a huge difference between London and other places like Manchester etc ?

Yes, London is the most expensive place you can live. Other cities will be much more affordable but also pay less.

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The best way to mitigate the cut in pay is to go on secondment from your current company. If you are sent for 2 years or less, you can deduct significant amounts of your living expenses from your UK taxes (rent, commute, etc.). Even if you want to stay longer, just accept a 2 year period and change it later. You get the tax break until you make the decision to extend beyond 2 years

Taxes are also higher in Europe on top of low salaries…

My total tax burden as a % of takings in the UK really isn't materially higher than the USA, once you take federal, state & health insurance into account.

Also, never having to worry about a medical bill is a massive load off my mind, especially with a 9 month old!

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