The eXpat files Welcome again to the eXpat files, our now-occasional visit with readers who've moved to a new land in search of adventure, sunshine and, in the case of this week's chap, bewildering and labyrinthine tax and credit regulations.
The chap in question is David Hough, currently resident in Newark, California (not New Jersey). David's just ticked past fifty, and his expat experience has been eased by his deep familiarity with the USA. Or so he thought, until he started buying houses and paying taxes.
Over to you, David ...
The Register: What kind of work do you do, and with which technologies?
The Register: Why did you decide to move to the USA?
My wife and son are both US citizens, so it was only me who needed a visa. As for coming back, my son is home educated (UK term) and we were impressed by the resources for homeschooling (US term) in the Bay Area for teenagers, so that played a part in the timing.
There is a whole other story, also related to home education, behind why we were prepared to have my green card application in the post had Labour won the last election, but as they didn't, so we took our time with the paperwork and I got the immigrant visa early in 2013.
The Register: How did you arrange your new gig?
Not quite a day trip to San Francisco, but pretty close.
Six weeks later I was out here starting the job. I'd made quite a few other applications too, but mostly never got a response from them. My guess is that they saw the UK address and the application hit the circular file without reading any further.
I'm not quite as adventurous as those who just fly out and then start looking, so I was prepared to stay in the UK job until I got an offer or until it was getting close to a year since I'd last been in the US (at which point the green card shrivels up).
The Register: Pay: up or down?
The Register: How do workplaces differ between the UK and the valley?
The Register: Will your expat gig be good for your career?
The Register: What's cheaper in the US? What's more expensive?
Housing is a lot more expensive — you're probably looking at at least half a million dollars for a fairly small property over on the east side of the bay, with the same thing in the areas around Google and Facebook likely to be a couple of million.
There's a one per cent annual property tax on that, too, so a $2 million house means you're paying the State of California $20,000 a year to own it. Mansion Tax, anyone? Rental is worse, it'll cost you more than a monthly mortgage payment, although you don't need such a large down payment.