For me it's a mixed bag, and we will be probably moving back to Europe next year, after spending 6 years in between San Francisco and New York.
On the positive side, money. Software engineers make much, much more in the US than anywhere in Europe, including Nordic countries. My income tripled in the US, and my income was considered pretty high Denmark. Another positive side of the US is that there seems to be more opportunities, particularly if you are white or Asian and work in tech. My wife couldn't get a job in Europe, here she joined multiple FAANGs.
On the negative side, the lifestyle doesn't really fit us: too much focus on work. The problem is not -only- longer working hours, but that a lot people center their life around their job. I also find the social issues of the US (unequality, racism) more disturbing than the ones there are in Europe.
On the contrary, when I lived in Europe (Rome) I found it disturbing that the overt racism and inequality was not acknowledged by anyone. I got the impression Italians believed that racism only existed in America and that they themselves couldn't possibly be racist (even though moments earlier they were disparaging east European immigrants)
The more things are called racist, the less people will care. OK, so I'm racist for making rice pudding? Fine, so be it.
Not always, but often times the reason their country is a horrible place to live is because of historical racism in the form of colonisation on the part of
European countries or the USA. And it goes without saying that just because something is worse in place A doesn't mean it isn't bad in place B.
Do you know the etymology of the word "slave", that is comes from the Slavic tribes who inhabited central Europe and were enslaved by Arabs: 'The Slav was the most prized of human goods. With increased strength outside his marshy land of origin, hardened to the utmost against all privation, industrious, content with little, good-humoured, and cheerful, he filled the slave markets of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It must be remembered that for every Slavonic slave who reached his destination, at least ten succumbed to inhuman treatment during transport and to the heat of the climate. Indeed Ibrāhīm (tenth century), himself in all probability a slave dealer, says: "And the Slavs cannot travel to Lombardy on account of the heat which is fatal to them." Hence their high price.' (The Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. II, 1913).
I can go on forever for the history of humanity is indeed a sordid affair, riddled with accounts of cruelty and - seen through modern western eyes steeped in Judeo-Christian morality - truly proof of the fallen nature of the human race. I won't since it doesn't change the fact that societies and cultures rise and fall through conquest, then and now. Claiming, as you do, that "...the reason their country is a horrible place to live is because of historical racism in the form of colonisation on the part of European countries or the USA" is myopic, it stems from a vision of the world as a European/American-centric place where all roads lead to Europe and America.
This self-flagellation which is so popular in many western cultures needs to stop or those same cultures will succumb to the process of history which gave rise to them in that other cultures will take over. Many of those cultures don't care about racism - they are openly racist - and have no qualms about slavery.
anyway lots of italians come to my eastern european city and we make it extra obvious we are racist against them so its even
European everyday racism feels a bit different than American racism. It's the end result of many cultures interacting over centuries and accruing generational memories of when X group screwed them over. Meaning, everyone is equally racist to one another. Also, it's not based so much on physical race, as on group belonging. For example, often people from within a single country would be prejudiced to one another, based on the specific city one is born in. Depending on how the country borders get redrawn and what the government decides to call the ethnicity of people within them, those relations can technically flip between being racist and not.
Basically, we can be casually racist with each other, because it's between equals. Americans can't, because it's between two groups, one of which used to inflict horrible human rights abuses over the other.
They probably would recognize me too, but I would decline association to be honest, regardless if it is the US or British variant. Also racism to me has a very specific definition. To believe people to be inferior because of extrinsic properties or ethnicity. Not every form of prejudice is racism of course.
The only person I have ever met that though I was too brown was my dermatologist. Sure, others face racism, but it is also used to justify discrimination and I think that is moving backwards. The US has better understanding on multiculturalism but they changed course recently. It is progress as that is inevitable, but I don't see it improving anything.
When you judge someone by birth location you are also judging someone based on race. Would you accept an Indian person born in Moscow as Russian or would you treat them as Indian? This is harmful..
I really enjoy the guilty/shame we put upon White Christians about slavery.
Even being the *OnlY* people who fought to end the slavery.
Black merchants/kings? Jesuit Company (Converted Jews), Islamic republics, etc.
All did not care about slavery.
But then these pesky White Christians came and said NO to slavery.
I hope they learn the lesson and be more cultural aware in future.
"It is not slavery it is their society..."
And keep themselves out of helping people.
But do you know were the word "slave" comes from?
>>Use of the word arose during the Early Medieval Period, when Slavs from Central and Eastern Europe (Saqaliba) were frequently enslaved by Moors from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.
So brown/black peoples enslaved white peoples, but hey the US only thinks about sold black's by black peoples only, a slave can only be black..end of discussion.
That said, I do find it ironic, that we had to remove all mentions of master/slave from our software products, so as to not offend our American customers. Again, I don't mind, but it's funny when you think about it.
I'm not letting people's stupid actions be marked as a "have to" when they're most definitely still stupid and still neither required nor appropriate.
"I had to" rob the liquor store.
It is part of their culture. The problem runs deep and is shared by countries in the North border (Switzerland, Austria, France).
The history of institutional racism in Europe is different. The levels of institutional racism and violence the US went through in the 20th century are extreme to whatever happened in Europe, barring notable examples (Nazi Germany).
The biggest football team in Italy literally threw around a giant banana to mock a black player. And that's not like it's an isolated incident
There is a difference between having racist people in population and having whole system set up rules to discriminate negatively against part of population.
Ask a typical European what they think of Roma ("gypsies"), then get back to me.
I blame the faulty social system for that. For example, if you never work a day in your life you get higher pension payout as in that case it is based on nationwide average wage. It basically penalizes getting a job.
I grew up in the US but have lived in Barcelona for several years now.
I don't believe that racism is worse in the US than Spain; in fact much the opposite. I live in a mixed-income neighborhood in Barcelona and see far more casual discrimination against low-income immigrants and the local Roma subculture here than I've seen in any major US city. The US has historically had really bad racial policies and there are definitely still parts of the country with a backwards view on race and class, but most of the US (and certainly the parts of the country where a high-skilled immigrant might move to) just isn't like that anymore. I can't speak to the rest of Europe, but Barcelona at least seems behind here.
That said, I do agree there's a lot more inequality in the US than Spain. (It seems to me though that's more about the middle and upper class in the US being much richer—the poor in Spain don't seem to have an easier life than the poor in the US.)
On racism, I don't wanna sound harsh, but I believe you only see less because the US is much more segregated. I am typically perceived as Hispanic by most Americans, and believe me, racism is an issue. I don't want to imagine how it is for an immigrant from Africa or Latin America.
Yes, the Spanish healthcare system works quite well; I'm a fan! It does a much better job of ensuring coverage than the US system, particularly for the lower middle class. In the US, the poorest ~25% have good public coverage through Medicaid or Medicare and the top ~40% do ok with the employer-subsidized system, but there's a giant donut hole in the middle with no good options and the system sucks for them.
> I see the same problem with education: while we were not poor, I am not sure if I would have been able to go to one of the best schools in my country, as I did for free in Spain.
I admire Spain's commitment to free university education and I think it's a good deal for some folks, the lower middle class in particular. But for helping the very poorest advance, I'm not sure it works in practice. The Spanish high-school graduation rate is much lower than the US one, and anecdotally at least I feel like the children from low-income families I know here in Spain are less likely to consider university or a professional career an option at all compared to their peers in the US, despite it being free. I'm not sure how to fix this.
> On racism, I don't wanna sound harsh, but I believe you only see less because the US is much more segregated. I am typically perceived as Hispanic by most Americans, and believe me, racism is an issue.
It's possible that US cities are more segregated on average, but I don't think that's driving my personal observations. I've lived in low-income neighborhoods with 20-90% minority populations my entire adult life, so I've had a lot of exposure to race relations to calibrate against. More concretely, my wife happens to be hispanic, and feels she's experienced more negative racism in Barcelona than she ever did in the US.
I think it does. I studied in the south of Spain (I am Spaniard too), and some of my fellow students comes from very poor sides of the city.
It is very frequent now to see teachers, lawyers and other careers that requires University level studies that are Gypsies, that were born and raised inside those communities.
IMHO free quality education is the perfect equalizer, but it is true that there is much to do there.
There is no such thing as free education. Someone is paying for it
I'm a bit confused by this. Racism in Barcelona against Hispanics? It's because she doesn't speak Catalan?
My current theory is that the difference between Europe and the US right now is that discrimination is about the same but that in the US racism is openly discussed and criticized. This leads to an illusion that racism is worse in the US because we hear about it more. In this theory Europe like the US in the 60s in which racism was prevalent but sort of more hidden in the dominant white public consciousness.
Excuse me? If there’s anything I’ve learned in about two months of applying is that no company wants yet another white, male engineer.
Not through bad intent from folks doing the hiring just through human things: white men are more likely to know what to expect from a tech interview, or even to know someone who can give them an inside scoop. Without even getting into how off putting some job listings can be to many folks not extremely steeped in nerd culture.
The actual interview process everywhere I’ve worked has been pretty rigid and without doing some form of blinding on the code parts could not be more neutral to the candidates identity.
Which is to say: if you’re not getting interviews as an experienced software engineer you must have something glaringly wrong with your resume. Maybe have a trusted friend or former coworker take a look. If you’re not getting offers from at least some of those interviews you probably need to brush up on your algorithms, and make sure you’re actually conversational in all the things listed on your resume.
I don't think it "favors" white men. Go into any university Computer Science or engineering class and what will you find? Mostly White men and foreign students. Of course there will be other genders and ethnic groups but the majority of students are white men and foreign students. Therefore most of the candidates for jobs right out of school for most engineering positions at tech companies are white men because it is hard for foreign students to obtain work permits.
This would say the issue with diversity needs to be solved elsewhere. I think businesses should be judged on the diversity of the departments based on the diversity of people with the proper credentials. It is as asinine to think a tech company's engineering department should match the demographics of society when the demographics of the people obtaining the necessary skills to work in that department are so far off.
You can find demographics data here: https://datausa.io/profile/cip/computer-science-110701
According to your own data, Hispanics got 8.16% of CS degrees; African Americans got 3.81%. Facebook tech workers are 4.6% Hispanics and 2.1% Black. Google tech workers are 5.3% Hispanic and 2.9% Black. Both companies are far away from even matching the percentages of the candidate field.
Sources: https://about.fb.com/news/2021/07/facebook-diversity-report-... https://console.cloud.google.com/bigquery?p=bigquery-public-...
I’m an associate-level engineer. Why would a company, many of which are increasingly proud of their diverse team, pick a white engineer when there are hundreds of equally skilled junior applicants that won’t bring down their recruiting metrics?
I’ve literally seen recruiting KPIs at previous startups involve how many black or woman engineers they hire in a quarter.
My current attempts at breaking into the industry is currently being made more difficult by the previous decades of inequity in software engineering teams.
Some studies showed certain ethnic markers are harmful for applicants:
I am quite frustrated that being colored means I get to be put on posters, literally got a photo taken of me and the diversity/inclusion HR put it up on the company website to further their agenda which I completely disagree with. It always felt condescending to me. I want to be judged by merit and not my skin color.
I completely agree with you. Pity is a particularly disturbing version of contempt. But if you think that this contempt is only reflected in the diversity circus, you are fooling yourself.
High-caste Americans (sorry Wilkerson, the simile is too good to let it go) want to virtue-signal and maybe give some breadcrumbs to the minorities they feel pity for, not put them at their level.
Every white leader I’ve met have given me opportunities and often their higher ups are not white. The problem is the corporate HR wokeness and their agenda feels condescending to me. That’s the distinction I want to clarify.
You can probably be green and get a job if you know how to code.
Financially definitely worth it - salaries here are so much higher even than London, not to mention stock options and suchlike.
California is a really lovely place to live. We saw a whale from our back deck once! It's November and it's sunny and warm outside. Very different from the UK!
Even with the best insurance plan we can find, interacting with the healthcare system here is so stressful that it's the main thing that makes me consider moving back again.
Spending weeks fighting that was definitely stressful. And that's just one example.
Seems like they should just pay for it then, no more stress
We enjoy the US, especially Washington but will probably move back to the EU in ~7-8 years. Miss a lot of things from Europe though, especially the school system and public transportation.
You personally pay around that amount in "insurance", but a big part of your healthcare costs are being taken out of your general taxation. The Netherlands spends around 13-14% of its GDP. That's pretty far from 100/EUR/month per person.
I live in The Netherlands and I'd take Western European healthcare over the US's any day, but let's not sugar coat it by hiding the ball about how it's being paid for.
Before I moved to The Netherlands I paid 0 EUR/month in "health insurance" (a country with a true single payer system). Does that mean I wasn't actually paying anything for healthcare? No.
US healthcare for the top 1/4 is far better than what public healthcare is like in most of Western Europe.
In the US if you have good healtchare you have exceptionally fast access to among the world's best healthcare services. You also have a freedom of (ab)use when it comes to utilizing healthcare services; it's a luxury you do not get in most of Europe, where service rationing and very long wait times are normal in the public healthcare sphere (also true in Canada). There are trade-offs in all of these systems.
It sucks if you're in the middle ~40% in the US. It's spectacular if you're in the top 1/4 and your health insurance is covered by your employer.
Since you were replying to a comment about Holland this seemed relevant. Don't know about a general study covering all of Europe or something.
But I guess that's where the "if you're employed by a bigcorp" part comes in. You can get better service if you pay a lot, yeah that much seems a bit obvious.
Not exactly - larger organizations in the US are able to negotiate better rates with insurance companies. So it's more so that your buck goes further than it is you paying more bucks ;)
Sure, you might get proper and very good healthcare, but what about those around you in your community?
The very non-privileged get moderately ok, free healthcare via Medicaid (along with numerous other programs for poorer people, including coverage for children, SS disability and so on). That covers the poorest/worst off quarter of the US population approximately.
It's the working poor and middle class that really get screwed with the US system. The well-off pay taxes to cover the free healthcare system that the US has. The working poor and middle class often can't afford the healthcare system, are more frequently at risk while unemployed, and their employers are less likely to provide good coverage as a benefit.
Would I get medicare/aid?
Are all people students / unemployed expected to be paying monthly premiums to get any kind of cover?
I have had healthcare in the US for a serious accident, but I had travel insurance (UK based) which likely saved me 100,000s of dollars. Fortunately they paid up without question. I'm not sure how that would have worked if I was just some regular student from the US travelling around, would I be bankrupted for life or hoping for crowdfunding? Sounds like if you have an accident in the US you need to be rich or popular (or maybe really poor).
3) public only
Then we’re still left with the fact that most big companies do offer private health coverage in Europe. Mostly this is for less than life threatening illnesses, psychological help and physiotherapy.
And yes in most countries some classes are purely private. I think Britain is a big exception though I've heard the NHS is also not what it used to be.
Assuming you are high up enough in the organization. Unless junior developers get the same plan and coverage as the CFO.
The bigger assumption would be that a person with a good employer plan today, had no health conditions that went under-treated as a child and are more acute in adulthood.
Someone in a UHC country may not have top-quality access to care, but it is the simple act of access to primary care itself that can have conditions diagnosed and treated early. That in turn will have a compound effect on QOL, even if you do earn the Tim Cook-level coverage plan when you're 50.
Companies are required to offer the same benefits to all employees, so yes you do get the same health insurance as the CFO.
This is one reason that companies keep pushing low-level labor jobs to contractors or falsely separate contracting companies. They want to attract software engineers with good health insurance, but avoid offering it to their janitors.
The overall US healthcare cost per capita is around double the median of affluent Europe typically; higher than double vs Britain, and lower than double vs eg Switzerland or Norway.
A lot of US healthcare is covered entirely or partially by employers. If you're a software developer making near or over six figures, it's very common that your healthcare costs are covered by your employer.
What you're talking about when you say "100" for Holland is subsidization by way of taxation for covering healthcare costs. When you say it's free in Spain, you're talking about subsidization by taxation. Around 1/4 of the US population also gets "free" healthcare (ie the higher income brackets are paying higher taxes to cover those people).
US healthcare is artificially very expensive, for numerous reasons. The employer provided system can also make unemployment quite risky, definitely. There is no free lunch however, someone is paying for the healthcare in France, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on. Whether it's $7k (Germany), $8k (Switzerland), or $11k (US) per person, it's a lot of money.
Norway? Really. Health care costs here in Norway are capped at about 350 USD per year. If you pay more than that you get a card that exempts you from paying for things like GP visits, X-rays, MRIs, prescriptions, etc. Anything you did pay in excess of that you get refunded in the next tax settlement.
You are confusing "individual out of pocket extra costs" with "total costs".
Norway's annual per capita expenditures on healthcare are about 71883 krone (about $7,000 USD). Only the United States and Switzerland are higher.
In the US, your employer will buy you health insurance, which covers some but not all of your healthcare costs.
If you don't need much medical care, your costs in the US will be small or nothing, essentially the same as in Europe, probably with much more expensive and luxurious service.
But if you do need extensive care, then even when a good insurance policy, you may be facing substantial costs.
A friend who moved to New York with a big tech company told me (lightly paraphrased to anonymise):
> I’ve had a surgery, a ton of dental work, and a new child. It’s cost me tens of thousands of dollars, but the experience has been consistently better than in the UK.
If that child had been ill and needed special care when it was born, that could have been hundreds of thousands. Whereas in Europe the cost is still zero, or only a little more.
There's also the issue that the insurance is tied to your job, and it's extremely hard to get decent insurance directly from an insurer. I'm not sure if this is still true in the Obamacare era, but I've read of extremely rich people being unable to get decent insurance.
I know all the self-employed and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands do this, they all have "BV"s and "Holdings" so they pay less income tax.
It makes it much harder to change jobs in case of difficulty and a much bigger blow to getting fired.
But if you have insurance through your work, it’s usually not that bad, it’ll probably be under a thousand.
Only if you also include the public pension and unemployment insurance deductions (both of which are also percentage based and capped) you'll max out at about 1050 Euros.
How do people cope that are on minimum wage?
Then again, the Netherlands reportedly (https://longreads.cbs.nl/european-scale-2019/car-ownership/) has 48 per 100, which would be higher than the highest USA state, while I think most people are aware of the difference in car mentality between the two countries so something doesn't add up here. I'm not sure what I'm missing.
> The U.S. is ranked 25th in world by number of passenger cars per person...The Carnegie paper explains that car ownership rates are closely tied to the size of the middle class.
Depending on how you count there are between 4 and 9 mass transit lines alongside a fairly extensive bus network and commuter rail system.
Granted, if you live in the suburbs you’ll need a car for most activities.
As in, some of those accents are treated better, some worse
The exception is melting pot cities like London and NYC - where you are likely not interacting with the native population at all.
- medical staff demanding to know if I'm Polish or Ukrainian in the middle of a big medical procedure where I am already in tears and in pain
- easier to get things done at banks and other admin places if you call the customer service number and speak (good) Swedish
- first thing that anyone asks in any social interaction is "Where are you from and what are you doing in Sweden?" Might not be malicious, but it's starting to grate on my nerves. Where I am really from is probably the least interesting thing about me.
And by the way, I am originally from another Nordic country and look Western European. I can only imagine what it's like for someone who looks different.
If you don't have kids that need a school or daycare (or have the luck to live in one of the few areas with good public schools), that alone may be a 5 digit difference.
It's probably pretty comparable, as academic salaries in the US are significantly higher than anywhere else, except perhaps Switzerland.
Yes it's been worth it for me. I really enjoy my time in New York and I was looking for a change.
Being far away from friends/family is clearly not fun. I already changed countries several times within the EU before so I was used to it.
Some random notes since the question is a bit open-ended:
- I stayed with the same company, which helped me a lot because it gave me social contacts when I first moved (my colleagues).
- Having a guest bedroom is great because having friends or family over for a longer time is easier.
- The visa process is a pain while you're in it. Looking back on it, it's mostly the frustration at the lack of efficiency and unclarity that made it bad. Considering all the other things, it's a visible and easy to discuss "cost" but changing social circles is the bigger challenge and less easily discussed, I think.
- Moving to a country where English is the native language is a _lot_ easier than moving to a country where you don't know the language as well. This holds even if a large part of the population speaks English very well; if you don't speak native language of a country, it's hard to feel like a part of society.
- I personally don't like the "X in NYC" (X being your citizenship) facebook groups. Bonding based on interests (sports, books, ...) has been more rewarding for me.
The experience has been totally worth it for me and I don't regret moving one bit. That said... I don't plan on having kids in the US/growing old in the US.
(salary is better but I assume you looked that up already)
I am trying to decide between London or California. London seems so much easier to move to. I am on the verge of giving up trying with California.
I don't have any job opportunities at hand at either right now. I am an IT Consultant, and as you know, most contract brokers for Nordics are actually UK based and offered to find me contract immediately.
UK offers some visa pathways for IT Consultants, whereas with US; I literally don't know any direct/clear pathway for it.
Compensation-wise; as IT Consultant in EU, I already make as much as in US and can do same in UK. So that's not a factor for me.
650-900gbp per day sounds similar to southern Sweden. Hourly rates here go between 750 to 1300 sek.
650gbp x (365 per year - 30 vacation days) = 217750 gbp
Isn't that already very high? in comparison to some US salary?
For a fair comparison vs a full time job in the U.K. when I compared the two recently, I was using 226 working days per year (261 week days - 8 bank holidays - 27 paid holiday days). Of course if you don’t want to take so much holiday or want to and can work weekends then you’ll earn more!
650 x 226 is £144,460 for the record, still nothing to complain about!
Working as a consult comes with its own risks (not much worker rights, very little or no notice period when terminated etc). But those risks are not too bad when you consider how little worker rights one has in US.
I'm pretty happy with the trade-off w.r.t. freedom of association where a business can fire me for ~any reason at any moment, and likewise I can go and get a new job paying mind-bogglingly huge amounts of money with minimal friction. (No amount of "worker rights" will save you if the company employing you goes under, like so many did in the dot com era.)
That being said, I don't know if I would plan my life entirely around being in the absolute top %10 of engineers. Avg. seems like a better figure to compare when speaking of whole markets/countries.
I plan to be at top %40 of engineers in a given field as a specialist and be a generalist overall. Seems like EU is a better fit for me then.
40th percentile compensation in the US is probably still much higher than in the EU, but you do you.
-> I had to learn this the very hard way here in Sweden. Even though I come from another Nordic country, I guess I have an annoying or very noticeable accent which makes socializing extremely hard.
It is relatively easy to move to the US if you've been at your company for 1+ years, have a good education background and if your company has a "blanket L1 visa petition". My "Im-not-a-lawyer" summary of L1 blanket visa is that it allows a company to move special knowledge workers to the US with a simplified and fairly certain path to get a visa (vs. H1B which is a lottery, O1 has hard requirements, etc.). The downside of an L1 is that it's tied to your employment at your sponsoring company, so you can't move to the US and then switch employer (... unless you first switch to H1B/greencard, etc...).
I don’t know if that’s how the rest of the US is, never having lived there. But from my own experience and that of friends, it’s very different in Germany, Britain, Ireland and Israel.
Unless you are smart enough to pass FAANG interviews (or better yet, live through an IPO) you should keep in mind that people like you are supposed to leave once they get older and want to have a life. Which likely includes a family. Basically, the SFBA is for people who can buy a house for cash.
It's been worth it although it's come at the cost of personal relationships somewhat.
There's also a difference in push/pull: Germans will often expect you as the new guy to make the first steps, whereas that will be the opposite in other cultures that are more inviting.
Joining some Verein or taking a class at the Volkshochschule can help crossing that first circle.
Someone explained to me that this is the case in Sweden as well, but during covid (even though we had lighter restrictions), meeting people on any circle has been near neigh impossible.
Everywhere's still low compared to the Bay Area, don't get me wrong. But it means you either need to be a salary maximalist, determined to nationalize, to have a strong pull toward a certain US city/company for the move to make as much sense these days.
Still, I'd encourage everyone regardless of home/destination to live and work at least some of their life in another country. The merits of doing so are vast, and extend well beyond renumeration.
The people talking about a lifestyle downgrade in the US aren’t wrong, exactly, but it does depend on your own preferences and values and situation. For me, the lifestyle in the Seattle area is better overall I’d say, but I definitely miss the transportation system in Munich a ton. Seattle is practically drowning in nerd culture, which I adore, whereas Munich had relatively little.
Also, not everything is as the stereotypes go. The public school our son is in here in Kirkland is fucking awesome, way better than the private school he was in in Munich (we were going to do public school there, but the system didn’t want him). Part of his better adjustment is obviously being a native speaker, but that’s not the only thing that’s better.
Oh, and the fact that in Bavaria you need to decide on your life's path at fourth grade I find pretty stupid, too (tracked schooling after that year).
You make a lot more $$$, but it's definitely a big lifestyle downgrade. I wouldn't wanna live there permanently, but as a temporary thing to set yourself up nicely it's not too bad.
It's not exactly cheap, but still a lot better than the Bay, plus it has a lot of the things I'm looking for - a working transportation system, social cohesion and a generally socially liberal attitude (this was the one thing the Bay Area does better than a lot of Europe!)
Edit: by salary I meant total income including RSUs, the salary is also much better but obviously not 10x.
It looks like I am will be going with London, purely based on clarity of visa procedure. But my heart is torn about giving up on California.
I work as a self-employed IT Consultant, and I already make like top US salaries in Nordics. I will be moving my company to UK. Compensation-vise, I am fine either way.
I feel like, in London, I will miss the summer weather, mountanuous nature...and end up going for vacations down south in Europe to compensate. Whereas in Califorina, you live in the right climate & nature if you like that.
Would you say other advantages (public transport, european nice city arch., close to other european centers) in London weigh heavier than climate/nature part?
Have you a sense of which US visa you would qualify for? Most people don’t qualify for a US work visa from outside the US. Folks are often surprised to learn this. If you’re considering moving to the US the first step is to figure out what visa you could get, otherwise it will just be disappointment when you’ve invested in the idea of moving and then realized later it’s not possible legally.
Asking as a London-based dev who'd love to work in the US, how did the lifestyle differ? What did you like about London and DF, and what don't you like?
Living down in the Bay Area:
- long uber (or car and no drinking) drive any time you want to go out in the city.
- lack of diversity in terms of what ppl do for living, almost everybody does something tech related and we are sadly rarely a party starter type :)
- high rent if you want a nice apartment or a house
- if you are single guy dating life is a real survival of the fittest here, not that it's impossible but it definitely puts you in more desperate mindset than most other places
- Used to have to drive 40-50 min to work everyday but that's no longer the case due to covid
- To be honest for me it's just too dirty and dangerous. I originally came from Central Europe so even London was a bit gross with all the trash piles around restaurants etc. for me but SF is a whole another level. The things you see on the streets here take some time to get used too. I am a fairly large dude so I get to avoid allot of things but my girlfriend had mentally ill folks throw needles at her, chase her with a lighter trying to set her hair on fire. Not that you cannot have fun here but you eventually learn to Uber straight to your destination, no walking around just exploring like you would do in Europe.
What I loved about London and Europe in general is relative safety + public transport combo. No need to plan everything out, no need to worry if you gonna drive/how much you can drink, no need to be on guard several times a night when something weird happens around you.
Just so I am not only listing negatives.
There is allot of cool things you can do here.
Skydiving, paragliding are super common in California and weather is great for those type of sports.
Water sports like surfing, kite surfing.
There is some beautiful nature around so if you like hiking you won't be bored for a while.
Tahoe is close so in the winter you can go sking multiple times a year with only a 3-4 hour drive.
Money you make here will allow you to travel more than any other place.
A factor of 7 is entirely believable for England (non London) and most of the EU.
That’s my perspective as an entrepreneur. I actually worked for eToys.com in the UK and spent time based in the USA in LA and loved it. Faster moving, no classism, faster advancement and plenty of other amazing businesses surrounded me.
The States is amazing in my opinion for employees and entrepreneurs.
From what I can tell these might cost 25% more in the US than Germany but that's such a drop in the bucket compared to engineer salaries it's irrelevant. These also vary drastically based on the location you're living since the US is a fairly massive country.
The US has generally lower taxes. Sales tax is 0-8% depending on the state versus 15-27% for VAT. From what I can tell the average German workers has a tax rate of 39%. In the US it's 22%. Obviously tax brackets, state taxes and so on come into account but in general the US will have lower tax rates for the same income.
Covered by your employer and will be quiet nice at any decent company. The paperwork is the biggest pain point to be honest and it's convoluted sometimes. Even if it's a crappy plan the total cost to cover a family might be $10k a year worst case. Given the salaries that's a fairly minor cost and at a decent company would be much lower.
Taxes generally aren’t worse, though this depends on specific region. NYC might be worse, while Seattle is better.
And there’s stuff that’s cheaper in the US. Almost anything that comes out of a factory is like 10-20% less, like electronics, partially due to VAT vs sales tax. Ditto for media stuff like streaming subscriptions or Steam games.
Also, internet & phones: I have friends who keep their French cell phone contract because even though used from the States it is still much cheaper than any local contract. Internet is mostly a monopoly in the U.S., resulting in easily 5x European prices at much worse performance and service.
At the top tax bracket in NYC or CA, you have iirc 35% federal + 13% state so almost 50%, and that’s not all of it (there’s payroll tax, social security etc).
Products in the US are cheap, but services are expensive, and healthcare is tied to your employer.
My impression is that if you’re young, healthy and without children, the US is much cheaper.
But e.g. putting a kid through college is $200k in the US vs free in the EU.
I looked it up for Germany. Let's say you make $400k married with children sole income earner. In Germany your tax comes out to 41%. In NYC it comes out to 34%. Not sure if Germany has the same number of deductions and loopholes as US taxes. If it doesn't then the US one would be even lower due to those.
>But e.g. putting a kid through college is $200k in the US vs free in the EU.
There are cheaper state schools which can be rather good but in general yeah. That said when the post-tax income is $150k more in the US versus Europe the $50k/year for college isn't that much.
Maybe if you go through the pain of having 'do taxes' be something you have to do, maximise your 'deductions', and look only at income/sales tax, neglecting tax-advantaged savings vehicles & home ownership.
You mean pay someone $300 and send them a bunch of forms that you download from various websites?
If you have a pension fund in your home country, you’ll likely be reporting and paying tax on its interest. Be prepared to have your looked country banks refuse to deal with you or limit you to saving accounts, and lots of other complications. When living in the US, my tax filing (because of I had to sell some non U.S. assets) one year topped 200 pages; and every year it cost me about 5-10 full work days to prepare the tax filing.
Many people just don’t bother reporting everything, whether out of ignorance or out of negligence - and very rarely get audited. But I wasn’t willing to take the risk.
My advice is: before moving, find an accountant who specialized in US tax for people in your country (and the treaty), and discuss your specific situation. Minor changes before moving could make your financial life incredibly less stressful - and most of them cannot be done once you’ve moved.
At the very least, you must know of FBAR, FATCA, and the treaties that apply to you. But really, two hours with a professional tax person will probably have an ROI of x1000 or so.
Definitely worth it: my total comp is 3x-4x what it would be in the UK for the exact same kinds of work.
After that I'm not so sure, we got citizenship and now feels a bit like a trap. I like the land, people and climate (though too hot) but it seems a bit shallow and corporate. A lot of people from other parts of the world make huge sacrifices to bring their kids here to the land of opportunity, I worry there is too much materialistic reward and not enough culture.
Interestingly dont have a problem with the inequality, I think the rich here are almost to be pitied working non-stop to buy an even bigger 2nd house and a more luxurious car? I'm not even sure why they do it.
But we eventually came back to a democracy, and saw what we paid our taxes for.
Although, I didn't move strictly for work - I intended to build a life here, and my initial visa was dual intent for that reason.
How many paid, free days per year that you can take in almost any amount in a row do you have?
This site is very accurate
As for the working environment, the general thing I found was that the US tends to have more people which are absolute experts, whereas EU is more general. If you get hired to do, say, firewall config in the US then you'd be an absolute expert on Cisco, and there would be another separate person who is an absolute expert on Checkpoint. In EU there would be one person who (whilst they might be shit-hot) would be 80% as good as their US counterparts, but on both Cisco/Checkpoint. Just an observation I had across several companies. The main things which drove we away from the US were the working environments - long days, and the general intensity. Also unsaid things like travel time in general being a lot longer, just because stuff is more spread out, than EU. I also found that a lot of the meetings were very confrontational, there was a lot of competitiveness/trying to make others look bad, etc. than their EU counterparts.
That being said, the time I got completely eviscerated in a meeting on purpose (to make the consultant look bad) was in Eastern Europe. YMMV, but of course these are just my general observations. It sounds weird, but being from the UK I missed the music scene a lot. The US people were absolutely lovely though, everywhere I went everyone made me feel welcome, even the people who look to tear you a new one in meetings 30 minutes later.
These are just some random sunday evening musings from someone who has worked a few years in both (some FAANG, some large, some small companies) in both. My observations are pre-Trump though, it does seem recently that there's a lot more division in the US these days, so the environment might be totally different now. I'd honestly give it a go if you're young, see if you like it. You can always move back. FWIW my favorite places in both were probably a smallish company in San Diego, and work in Malta. To choose any places to live for me, other than the UK, i'd most likely pick Boston and Sweden. 99% of the time the people you work with make the atmosphere though, so you can get lucky and unlucky, which is why i'm trying to generalise my experiences as much as possible. I realise i've gone on a mad tangent here, but yes it was totally worth it and i'd do it again if i could.