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View Full Version : Americans working in England, any experience?



Chris P
08-18-2010, 05:05 PM
Hey folks. I might be off on some wild hair (wild hare? what's the proper term?) that will lead nowhere. I am seriously considering working in the UK. I've applied for a prefect job that pays nearly double what I make now, and hey, it's in England with travel to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East!

I'm not even sure what questions I need to ask you lot. Would I have to pay taxes in both US and UK if I remain a US citizen? How long can I work as a highly skilled (Tier 1 general) worker? 1 year? 2 years? Indefinitely?

Or, if you just have some general impressions of your experience (working or as a student) I'd be happy to hear them.

SaraP
08-20-2010, 05:54 AM
Can't offer any advice as I'm not in the UK, but I hope it works out the way you want it to. :)

pdr
08-20-2010, 11:24 AM
Americans must always pay tax whilst working abroad.

Can't help you with a visa. You're not from the Commonwealth or the EU so don't get preferential treatment. Your employer might help.

Cliff Face
08-20-2010, 02:14 PM
Woo, Commonwealth! Does that mean I can go to Canada just because I'm an Aussie? WIN!

Ms Hollands
08-20-2010, 02:39 PM
TNT Magazine is the freebie staple diet of any traveller living in London:

http://www.tntmagazine.com/movingtolondon/default.aspx

It's aimed mostly at Aussies, Kiwis and Saffers, but it contains a lot of useful information about settling in the UK (London, in particular).

I would say that if you're on a Highly Skilled work visa, the company you work for would have to 'sponsor' you (no idea what this involves - I got there on an ancestry visa). You would have to keep getting sponsored to stay there annually I *think*.

The hardest part for me was not setting up a bank account but getting a National Insurance number: you can't get one until you have a job, but it's hard to get a job until you have an NI number, so a bit of a vicious circle. You can get a temporary number, but it's extra work for employers, so you have to find a sympathetic one, or one wants you over anyone else, to get started really.

Good luck!

Terie
08-20-2010, 03:02 PM
First of all, the chances of a non-EU, non-Commonwealth citizen getting a job in the UK are incredibly small. (ETA: Unless you marry a Brit. But that doesn't sound like part of your plan.) You have to have skills that are required by the UK company and can't be satisfactorily supplied by an EU or Commonwealth citizen. I was extremely lucky to have such a set of skills. (In my case, I transferred to the UK office of the US company I work for, and at that time, I had product knowledge that couldn't be found elsewhere, and that's what got me the work permit.) So good luck with that key component. :) I'll carry on assuming you're successful with that part.

If you are a US citizen in the UK and paid by a UK entity, you pay UK taxes. Foreign income is exempt from US taxes up to a certain point, which changes each year. (I *think* it's currently in the $85-90K range, but don't quote me on that; do your own research.) Once you reach that point, US taxes kick in, too. I've only had to pay US taxes once since moving to the UK 10 years ago.

You will have to keep records on any writing work you sell, and what can be deducted is different, so you have to keep *really good* records. There are tax accountants here in the UK who specialise in doing both US and UK taxes for authors and know the laws of each and how they apply to residents of each, so if you make a good sale, you'll probably want to engage the services of one of them.

I would caution you to do a lot of research before you make a jump like this. Taxes are MUCH higher here, although you get MUCH more in the way of services, too. I don't mind paying the higher taxes AT ALL; some people would. Also, depending on your lifestyle, the cost of living is considerably higher here, too. Almost everything costs more in the UK than in the US (not least because of the 17.5% VAT (value-added tax) that is applied to almost all goods except for food and (hooray!) books). For me, I have considerably more disposable income than I did living in Southern California because I have a very boring lifestyle (plus, SoCal isn't exactly a cheap place to live...LOL). If you like to eat out a lot, drive a lot, buy lots of consumer goods, you might find that the higher income doesn't translate to that much more money. There are just a lot of variables.

But don't let me discourage you! I love living here, will be applying for citizenship soon, and have no plans to move back to the US. So I think England is grand! But the move isn't for everyone.

If you'd like to PM me for more info, feel free. :)

waylander
08-21-2010, 12:39 AM
You'll be amazed at how expensive petrol is here.
Don't believe the people who say the food is bad, that wasn't true twenty years ago and is so not true now.
Most of the US people who have come over with my employer for any length of time haven't wanted to go back

veinglory
08-21-2010, 12:42 AM
Working in the UK depends entirely on getting an employer to sponsor you and argue that they need you. So I would suggest seeing whether that is going to happen first.

Mr Flibble
08-21-2010, 01:13 AM
One point which is vital.

No matter how drunk you get, the kebab with extra chilli sauce will always be a bad idea. Seriously.

You've got some research to do re visas etc, but the tax should be fairly simple once you have an NI number. Once you're here, a quick trip/chat with the tax office should sort you out and fill you in on the US/UK tax treaty.

Hope it all works out! Whereabouts in the UK is the job?

Chris P
08-21-2010, 01:35 AM
Thanks all! I went ahead and applied, since the job was perfect and the pay was incredible, but I don't think anything will come of it (but, you never know unless...). If they show interest all this can be hammered out when the time comes. My question was as much curiosity as it was serious.

IRU: The job's in Evesham, not far from The Bard's hometown (gotta like the writer vibes!).

Maxinquaye
08-21-2010, 01:45 AM
Thanks all! I went ahead and applied, since the job was perfect and the pay was incredible, but I don't think anything will come of it (but, you never know unless...). If they show interest all this can be hammered out when the time comes. My question was as much curiosity as it was serious.

IRU: The job's in Evesham, not far from The Bard's hometown (gotta like the writer vibes!).

Not too far from London. So, we will take it as a personal insult if you don't come to our meets then. :)

Maxinquaye
08-21-2010, 02:45 AM
As to your chances... I know all the trouble I went through when I moved to Epsom (and that's not even London proper) with regards to getting a bank account - which you will need for, well everything.

You really need to be on site to get one, and to get one you need a flat or a house with utility bills, but to get a flat or a house you need a bank account... There's lots of little things like that.

It was a vicious circle for me, and I'm an EU citizen.

Keyan
08-21-2010, 04:27 AM
Hey folks. I might be off on some wild hair (wild hare? what's the proper term?) that will lead nowhere. I am seriously considering working in the UK. I've applied for a prefect job that pays nearly double what I make now, and hey, it's in England with travel to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East!

I'm not even sure what questions I need to ask you lot. Would I have to pay taxes in both US and UK if I remain a US citizen? How long can I work as a highly skilled (Tier 1 general) worker? 1 year? 2 years? Indefinitely?

Or, if you just have some general impressions of your experience (working or as a student) I'd be happy to hear them.

On taxes. There's a tax break for US citizens working overseas (I think up to $87.6K annually, same for a spouse). Some things can be claimed as expenses. (You can google expatriate taxes USA.)

With a tax treaty, you will end up paying the higher of the two taxes - but you will probably have to file in both places.

JHUK
11-20-2010, 09:27 PM
Not sure why anyone from the U.S. would want to live here. Haven't met any American ex-pats who really LOVE it, mostly due to the economic climate. A tiny little 2.5 bedroom house is nearly US$ 500,000. The VAT (similar to sales tax) is going up to 20% on 1 January. Petrol (autogas) is about US$8 per gallon. Unemployment is very high.

The weather in the winter is horrendous: damp, dark, and cold. Summers, however, are great...they just don't last very long.

I'm from Texas and have lived here for almost nine years because my husband is from here. Life is difficult, even for natives of the UK. It has it's good moments, sure, and the people are like they are in the U.S., a mixed bag. I miss it here when I go back to visit in the U.S. and when I'm here, I long for the U.S.

Terie
11-20-2010, 11:21 PM
Not sure why anyone from the U.S. would want to live here. Haven't met any American ex-pats who really LOVE it, mostly due to the economic climate.

Guess you didn't read this very thread did you? :D


But don't let me discourage you! I love living here, will be applying for citizenship soon, and have no plans to move back to the US. So I think England is grand! But the move isn't for everyone.

As to your point about economics: my after tax money goes substantially further in Manchester UK than it ever did in Southern California. My good-sized 3-bedroom house with a pleasant garden both front and back is worth not US$500,000 but under US$200,000...as a matter of fact, it's worth a little less than what I sold my small one-bedroom condo in SoCal for. And, funny enough, economics isn't even a chief consideration for me personally.

I'll say it again: I love living in England. :)

firedrake
11-20-2010, 11:29 PM
I'm with Terie on this.

I was on a salary equivalent for 40k pounds in the US, we still lived from paycheck to paycheck. If I earned that here, we'd be doing very well indeed.

After 8 years in Arizona, I'm glad my employers laid me off before our Green Cards came through, they did me a favor because I'm back in a country where I feel like I'd be thrown to the wolves if I lost my job. At least workers have rights here.

MaryMumsy
11-21-2010, 04:08 AM
You will have to keep records on any writing work you sell, and what can be deducted is different, so you have to keep *really good* records. There are tax accountants here in the UK who specialise in doing both US and UK taxes for authors and know the laws of each and how they apply to residents of each, so if you make a good sale, you'll probably want to engage the services of one of them.

This. I would encourage you to engage an accountant familiar with both US and UK taxes even if you have no significant sales. I had a client whose company transferred him to Australia. I suggested he seek an accountant in Sydney after he got there who knew both sets of laws. Not the least reason is that the US is on a calendar year, and the Australian tax year is July 1-June 30.

Those who mentioned that part of the income would be exempt from US tax are correct, but there are rules about number of days in the foreign country etc.

MM

Chris P
11-23-2010, 02:07 AM
Thanks for the input, everyone. I've decided to give getting a temporary position a go. Nothing came of the position I mentioned above, but there are several opportunities, one of which would be a totally awesome position with an outfit that's at the top of its game in the field. The experience would be a good resume builder and, well, things with a certain English lady are looking good too. So it's an exciting time.

SaraP
11-23-2010, 02:08 PM
:D

Harlequin
11-23-2010, 05:16 PM
Just a note of caution - if your job is near london, the pay won't nearly be as high as you might think. or rather, jobs in london almost always pay more, because of the higher cost of living.

London and surrounding areas are massively expensive, and tbh twice your current american salary in london terms won't amount to an increase (in fact, what with living and so on, it may cost more).

It's still a good experience though, as you say, and there can be a lot to see here. Certainly I've enjoyed my time abroad, and I can't see myself moving back to either HK or the USA anytime soon - I quite like the free healthcare for one thing =)

jkababy
11-23-2010, 11:43 PM
I lived in London for a few years, working legally, and it was the best decision and best time of my life. Go for it. Do temporary, menial, WHATEVER work...just GO. Live simply and breathe in the experience. Its a different world over there. But London is my favorite city and I miss it. A small chunk of my soul permanently resides in Soho and is only recovered once Im there again. Then, I am whole.....GO.

Chris P
01-05-2011, 07:00 PM
Oh, big news! A company is interested in me, and the recruiter is asking me how long it will take to get a Tier 1 work visa. They are currently limited to 600 per month, but it is first come/first served.

How long did the process take for any of you (especially non-EU folks going to UK) to get your visa? I'll email the Border Agency and ask for the current wait times, but I'd love to hear your experiences.

SaraP
01-05-2011, 08:17 PM
Ooh great news, Chris!

Hope it all works out. :)

Chris P
01-05-2011, 11:21 PM
Boo hiss! :cry:

The UK suspended all Tier 1 applications indefinitely on 23 December. Ironically, this is the same day the headhunter emailed me to set up the initial phone interview. They are still taking Tier 2 (sponsored) applications, but it is unclear if the company will be willing to sponsor me. To do so, they must demonstrate that no suitable candidates exist within the UK. I'm in a relatively small field, so there is some hope. Nothing to do but keep on trucking and see what happens....

SaraP
01-06-2011, 12:23 AM
Crossing fingers for you. I can add some sparkles too, if you want. ;)

Chris P
01-06-2011, 12:30 AM
Sparkles?

SPARKLES! Ace!

Chris P
01-06-2011, 12:35 AM
I've even been practicing my Brit-ism with the special software

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b234/setimret/FTL%20stickies/RosettastoneUKUS-1.jpg

JHUK
01-06-2011, 02:40 AM
Boo hiss! :cry:

The UK suspended all Tier 1 applications indefinitely on 23 December. Ironically, this is the same day the headhunter emailed me to set up the initial phone interview. They are still taking Tier 2 (sponsored) applications, but it is unclear if the company will be willing to sponsor me. To do so, they must demonstrate that no suitable candidates exist within the UK. I'm in a relatively small field, so there is some hope. Nothing to do but keep on trucking and see what happens....

Well, I know you're disappointed Chris, but really the UK is better observed as a visitor. I speak as an American who has lived here for 10 years (well, WILL be 10 years Feb 2). It's so expensive here right now: How about a 20% sales tax and $7.65 per gallon for gas and average house price $383,723. That's what we have. Oh, and I did I forget, a 40% income tax. Meanwhile the government is shutting hospitals (we have no maternity service within a 30 minute drive on a good traffic day), closing libraries, and cutting school budgets. A one-year rail pass for people who commute to London from here (about an hour east of London) is about $6218. I'd give anything (except my marriage) to move back to the U.S.!

Aside from the cost, there's the weather. Cold. Damp. Dark. Until about April. Sure, you think it's no big deal until you have to live with it day in and day out.

Hate to sound completely negative. There are SOME good things. London is a truly quirky place, though I wouldn't live there. I live about a 15 minute walk from the sea and, in the opposite direction, about a 15 minute drive (not counting time looking for parking of course) from Canterbury Cathedral, built about 1070 AD...and that still takes my breath away!

Chris P
01-06-2011, 03:44 AM
Thanks for your honest input, Jane. Your experiences are as valuable as those who enjoyed it. It's always good to hear varied perspectives. I hope you get back to Texas soon. I know what it's like to be stuck somewhere you hate.

JHUK
01-06-2011, 10:53 PM
Thanks for your honest input, Jane. Your experiences are as valuable as those who enjoyed it. It's always good to hear varied perspectives. I hope you get back to Texas soon. I know what it's like to be stuck somewhere you hate.

Chris, although I was born in the US, I've lived in Iran, Lebanon, Japan, and now England. I highly recommend living abroad at least once in a person's life.... and it IS life-changing. I probably sounded a lot more negative than I really feel about England. Every country has its good and bad points. Right now, the UK is going through a huge societal change and the new government is making life pretty miserable for the average Brit. I'm hopeful that things will soon stablize, however.

It is truly amazing to live among buildings that are over a thousand years old (note that Canterbury Cathedral was built in 1070, not 1700 as I mis-typed), see places that we only read about in history books, and actually feel part of it. I got interested in genealogy since I came here and found my ancestors lived only a few miles away before they emigrated in 1630 to the US! So I'm really not 'hating' it. I'm just fed up with the expense and the weather, but so are the Brits and they have no choice but to put up with it.

Terie
01-07-2011, 12:01 AM
As mentioned previously, I ADORE living in England. I speak as a Southern Californian who's lived for the last 10 (as of last August) in the Northwest of England. Where, I might add, the average house price is nowhere near $383K. (Much like comparing house prices in different parts of the US....the average house price in Southern California is considerably higher than, say, that in rural Arkansas.)

I don't mind paying higher taxes (and until I went part-time, I was in the 40% bracket) because we have loads more public services. Higher petrol prices suck, but that's due to the extra taxes (see previous sentence).

Chris, as I mentioned before, the chances of getting a work permit are small, but I hope you succeed!