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Old January 25 2012, 01:12 AM   #1
Professor Moriarty
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Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

Good evening everyone. I suddenly find myself in an interesting but unfamiliar situation and I'm hoping someone here will have a few minutes to spare for a little advice.

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.

I have absolutely no experience in this area and I don't personally know anyone else who has done something like this before, which is why I am casting a net for advice. I have (some ) common sense, but I am afraid I will not ask the right questions or inadequately scrutinize some crucial aspect of the package offer.

If you have ever done something like this before, were there any online resources or guides that you used when you made your move? Did you have anyone to advise you on things to watch out for in the employment contract and/or relocation package? And just as important, did you enjoy living in London? I've vacationed there several times, but I'm sure it's quite another thing to actually live there.

Missus is going to help me look over the offer package, but if anyone has any words of wisdom they'd like to share I'd be VERY grateful for anything you can offer. Thanks!
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Old January 25 2012, 01:17 AM   #2
trampledamage
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

Presumably since your company is offering to relocate you, they already have a branch of the company in London - so most of your problems are solved, there will already be people on site to help you get organised with accomodation and the like. That would be one of the first questions I'd ask - do they have someone who looks after this sort of thing!

I worked there for a while, but my experience will be completely different to yours because I don't like big cities and London is by far the biggest city I've ever been to. I would think compared to Washington, London might seem quite small!

Good luck!
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Old January 25 2012, 01:20 AM   #3
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

As you say the devil is in the detail. The UK and US are fairly similar so that won't be much of a problem. Aside from maybe adapting to a few British terms.

But the $64 000 question so to speak is

Do you think you can give up your life in the states (friends/family etc..) for a life another country (and as important could your family)?

If it were the other wat around I would jump at the opportunity, but I'm single so I don't have that to factor in.
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Old January 25 2012, 04:16 AM   #4
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

I have no personal experience with this, but watching House Hunters International, a big issue often seems to be the monthly rent allowance. A friend's stepson was relocated to London, his (very small) flat was paid for.
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Old January 25 2012, 04:57 AM   #5
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

Actually trampledamage, there are about 1.5 million more people living in London than in the entire Washington, DC metropolitan area. Plus, London has always struck me as much more cosmopolitan than DC. Yes, there is an office in London but I'd be using London as a base of operations--I would only be there for three-day weekends, flying to other European cities Monday through Thursday.

propita, if anything scuttles this deal it's going to be my employer cheaping out on the pay differential or the housing allowance (or both). Since they're talking about me being elsewhere four days a week, I'm thinking that a housing allowance is non-negotiable... I just don't see how it makes sense to pay for a flat out of my own pocket that I only will be using three days a week. As for the pay differential, that's also going to be key. The cost of living in London is astronomical--I've seen estimates as high as 180% of Washington area costs--and even if I'm only there three days a week that could be a huge hit if the differential isn't sufficient. (When I'm traveling to other cities the company covers everything, of course.)

MacLeod, I hear what you're saying but it's all but certain that my partner is relocating there in 2013, so I'm the vanguard for our little family. In the meantime, one of the non-negotiable items for me will be regular flybacks to DC. He also flies to Europe a lot for his work, so he will be visiting me in London throughout the year. And also meanwhile, I have several friends who live in the London metropolitan area, so it's not as if I'm moving somewhere I don't know anyone. As for the rest of my family, I'm not particularly close to my dad and my mom is a world traveler--she's already picking out dates to come see me.

Thanks for the feedback everyone... please keep the suggestions coming!
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Old January 25 2012, 05:17 AM   #6
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

If you go, you're in for a treat..

Just remember, a car in London is more a liability than an asset..and as an American, you'll most likely pay astronomical insurance rates.. so best bet is to use the Tube and bus system..( I mitigated my insurance rates by actually getting a full UK Driving licence but the tests were VERY difficult and I BARELY made it through the driving exam).


There are slight differences between American Standard English and British English and those can be VERY amusing.. enjoy the fun...
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Old January 25 2012, 06:45 AM   #7
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

If this contract is for a firm 5 years, see if your company will be paying relocation costs to come back at the end of the time period.
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Old January 25 2012, 06:49 AM   #8
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

as a london commuter myself i will back up the comment about cars being a liability in london... if you can get away without taking a car into london, do it... when i'm in the main city i always leave my car at home and take the train / tube system...

saves a lot of time and money in the long run...

as for other advice, i've never gone through a different country move before, but wishing you all the best if you take it

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Old January 25 2012, 09:17 AM   #9
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

OH, another piece of advice: Don't drive on the righthand side of the road. They hate that over there.
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Old January 25 2012, 12:42 PM   #10
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

don't do it. save yourself. it's too late for us, but you can still stay away. we were born here!
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Old January 25 2012, 01:20 PM   #11
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

Thanks for the feedback!

MANT!, I don't think I will have a car in London. I intend to live within walking distance of a tube station, and I've heard the horror stories about insurance rates. I may still sit for the UK driving test, if only so that I can hire a car for weekend jaunts.

sojouner, relocation costs at the end of the contract are one of the first things I thought of. It sounds like you have done this before... what did your employer offer in this area?

captcalhoun, I'm sorry you feel that way. I love London and am trying to not get too excited about this (there are still lots of factors that could sink this besides an inadequate pay differential and relocation package). You can at least take heart that I'll still be a Yank who has a fixed end date to leave!

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks!
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Old January 25 2012, 01:28 PM   #12
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

Professor Moriarty wrote: View Post
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!

Last edited by Holdfast; January 25 2012 at 01:38 PM.
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Old January 25 2012, 01:30 PM   #13
MacLeod
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

^like every country on the planet the UK has it's pros and cons. And those change over time. I'm always mindful of the phrase of the "grass is always greener on the otherside."
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Old January 25 2012, 02:19 PM   #14
Asbo Zaprudder
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

I would recommend that you avoid having to commute by tube - travel by surface rail or even bus if possible. Some tube lines are getting roomier rolling stock with air conditioning, but precious few of those trains are in operation and there are frequent delays and much overcrowding on some lines (such as the Jubilee).
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Old January 25 2012, 05:47 PM   #15
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Re: Relocating from the US to London, UK... any tips?

[QUOTE=Holdfast;5674579]
Professor Moriarty wrote: View Post
- 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.
I'd also ask if the company themselves will assist with that. I know ours does with any people that we relocate.
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