Professor Moriarty wrote:
I just found out that my employer is going to present me with a verbal offer next week to relocate from the Washington, DC area to London, UK for five years. If after evaluating the offer I decide that I like the terms, they will proceed with drawing up a formal package that includes an employment contract, relocation costs, etc.
You've probably thought about all the basics already but a quick checklist of areas to consider and see whether they're included in the relocation package:
- PPP equivalence in your overall remuneration. Cost of living is higher in London than Washington (largely due to housing and transport).
- Will you be paid in USD or GBP? Five years is a long time, with significant scope for forex variability to erode purchasing power (or vice versa). Think about it carefully, if you have a choice. On a related note, you'd probably benefit from a bank account that can run multiple currencies in subaccounts (various banks offer this service; it does carry a small extra cost, but can be worth it if you're regularly having to deal with multiple currencies as it avoids continuously having to pay conversion fees and simplifies cross-border transfers).
- Taxation. Depending on your exact situation, you may well need to dual file with both the IRS and the HMRC. Annoyingly, they operate different fiscal years. Speaking from experience, this can create problems. Problems that are solvable with good accountants... and with the accompanying financial outlay. It also creates some opportunities.
- Do you have children? Even if not, five years is a long time for you to change your mind. If you do, think about whether your remuneration package covers the cost of private education or not, and whether you need it. The free state sector education quality in London varies massively from the brilliant to the dreadful, depending on the catchment area (where you live, more or less).
- Talking of where you live, your company should be able to help you, I suspect. There is massive variation in cost, travel and housing stock across London. Depending on your family and personal circumstances, you may also wish to consider living just outside London, in the commuter belt. House prices are very high in prime locations in the Home Counties, but it can be worth it for the benefit in the fast commuter services to the centre (esp. if your company pays your annual rail tickets) and better environment/quality of life.
- You mentioned weekly travel to other European cities: where will you be travelling from? There are various airports and transport hubs around London and its outskirts, each with different benefits and downsides. Consider your transport links to them when deciding where to base yourself. It might mean the difference between a 30 min journey and a 2+hr journey.
I'm sure there are loads of other things I'm forgetting, but that's just off the top of my head right now. Sounds like an exciting time for you; good luck!