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This could be a long thread as I just don't know where to start!

Joined this forum when I got wind that my OH may get an offer through work to move to the US, via L1. I work as a consultant/contractor which keeps me travelling (once every 1-3 months) between UK and US for the last year. 7 trips in the last year. Two children - 15 and 14. Both children well settled in schools, social life etc.

It was almost a case of 'We'd be mad to leave this and start again with an uncertain life!' Then we thought, if we don't do it now, we never will. Plus thinking of the childrens' ages, they were keen, having visited the US, well at least the older one is, to study in a Uni there, so... We're going for it.

Between our busy jobs, childrens' school demands and the moving forward of the paperwork etc for the Visa though, I never got time to post here.

Have been reading a lot though, googling and going through this forum and it has helped us a lot. Thank you so much ! :)

Still, quite a few unknowns and scary things worrying us and keeping us up at nights, instead of being excited! I know :-(

So, where do I start?

The move will be to Chicago quite likely where the OH will need to work, whereas my work keeps me on the east coast.

The approvals have come through from the USCIS, we filled in the DS-160's this weekend and next step try and schedule appointments.

The reason that did not happen over the weekend is actually we need to slow things down just a little bit! This has come on like a train, hurtling towards us and has given us no time to prepare. We also know that once the visa is in, the pressure will be on for us to relocate pretty quickly as the requirement in the US is very urgent.

So... questions, questions, questions.. Anyone who can answer any of the below would receive eternal gratitude :) :fingerscrossed: :help:

1. We get personal mail - all of us family members and my limited company mail as well. What is the most secure and cost effective way to corral that mail into say, a mailbox? Is that even an option for the limited company? How about forwarding that on? Does anyone here allow some companies offering that service to open, scan and email? Any recommendations from anyone here?
2. Things like ISA's (stocks and shares) and Premium bonds etc need to be researched. ISA's I did - it says I cannot add any more funds once in the US, it kind of freezes. So I will ISA up the entire family for this year before we leave. Re. Premium bonds, I don't know, but if someone can tell before I get to research, then great! ;-)
3. What about taking over any insurance (home, travel, car) No Claims Bonus? Any ideas?
4. Health insurance (HUGE topic I know), right now we only have one choice, that is my OH's workplace issued one. Does anyone do 'topup' insurance on top for areas that are say 80% covered etc?
5. Schools, we are likely to land when they are closed in the US. Is that truly closed or can we still talk admissions with the local authority etc? We have identified a good secondary school where both will go. When we called them a month ago, their response was along the lines of 'Come here and when you live here, we will sort your admission out'. :-( How easy will it be for them to settle in? Currently, the older one goes to a grammar school, younger one to a comprehensive in the UK. It is a Top 10 school in Illinois, is public, not charter or private if it helps.

There's many more around currency transfer, mortgage, buying vs renting first, contracting within US etc etc, but I don't want to scare people off this thread!

Please please help answer, much appreciated.

Best
justcricket
 

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Don't have answers for all your questions, but can help out with a couple of them:

1. We get personal mail - all of us family members and my limited company mail as well. What is the most secure and cost effective way to corral that mail into say, a mailbox? Is that even an option for the limited company? How about forwarding that on? Does anyone here allow some companies offering that service to open, scan and email? Any recommendations from anyone here?
If you google "mail forwarding uk" there are loads of services that do pretty much what you're looking for. Maybe we can find someone here who has used one of the UK ones. (I've looked into such services in the US, but I really don't have enough mail over there to bother.)
2. Things like ISA's (stocks and shares) and Premium bonds etc need to be researched. ISA's I did - it says I cannot add any more funds once in the US, it kind of freezes. So I will ISA up the entire family for this year before we leave. Re. Premium bonds, I don't know, but if someone can tell before I get to research, then great! ;-)
Good idea to stock these up and just let them sit (hopefully earning loads of interest) while you're gone. The only trick is that you'll have to declare the interest/income on all foreign accounts while you're living in the US. They normally don't recognize the "non-tax" status of foreign programs - and if those ISA's are tax free in the UK, you'll wind up paying tax on the earnings to the US while you're subject to US tax laws.

On the good news side, there are some types of tax free retirement accounts you can set up while in the US that you might be interested in. (However consider how these might wind up being taxed on your return to the UK, if this is in the cards.)
3. What about taking over any insurance (home, travel, car) No Claims Bonus? Any ideas?
Usually no. Even your credit history stays over on the other side of the pond and can't really help you in the US.
4. Health insurance (HUGE topic I know), right now we only have one choice, that is my OH's workplace issued one. Does anyone do 'topup' insurance on top for areas that are say 80% covered etc?
The ACA (Obamacare) has really changed things. If your OH's workplace offers insurance, grab it. But ask the HR department to explain to you how it works before you try to supplement or do anything else.
5. Schools, we are likely to land when they are closed in the US. Is that truly closed or can we still talk admissions with the local authority etc? We have identified a good secondary school where both will go. When we called them a month ago, their response was along the lines of 'Come here and when you live here, we will sort your admission out'. :-( How easy will it be for them to settle in?
If you're looking at public schools, there should be no problem. If you live in the district, they have to take your kids. Private schools may be different, but there is usually some allowance for new arrivals. Real estate agents can give you LOTS of information about the local schools, as the prices for homes (rented or purchased) depend on the quality of the local schools.
Currently, the older one goes to a grammar school, younger one to a comprehensive in the UK. It is a Top 10 school in Illinois, is public, not charter or private if it helps.
It should just be a matter of finding a place to live in the school's catchment district.

All your anxiety is perfectly normal - and what I call the "good kind" of being terrified. Don't be afraid to ask for help from OH's employer - it's in their best interest to keep the family happy. And, one way or another, it WILL all work out!
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Insurance
Get a statement from your current car carrier. Some give discounts based on European accident history. All give discounts for multiple coverage car/home/rental/pet/... Contact a local broker and have him/her do your legwork to compare rates. Have your broker rerun the rates in six months.

Quiz HR, read the fine print of the benefits package. Yes it is common practice to receive it by email prior to finalization of contracts. So far I have not heard much positive feed back about Obamacare.

Public Schools
Your physical address determines which public school your children attend. You may be able to enroll them in summer classes. Ohio has no required age for latch key kids. Have you looked into "mommy's cab service" for extracurricular activities?
 

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US health insurance basics

So far I have not heard much positive feed back about Obamacare.
Your experience with health insurance purchased through your state's ACA exchange will depend on the state you I've in and the caliber of the insurance that you choose. I live in Massachusetts, which had this sort of system set up as of several years ago, and so we now have lots of choices. Some states have chosen not to participate, or have done so reluctantly. This has resulted in poor choices for their residents. New Hampshire chose the reluctant route, and their citizens are suffering with few choices as a consequence.

Basically, you can choose gold, silver or bronze insurance. Gold is the most expensive as far as monthly costs go, but the deductibles, the amount you pay for each use of healthcare are lower. Bronze is the reverse; low monthly cost, high deductibles. Silver is in between. You will be buying private insurance - it is not like the NHS at all.

If you decide to go with your employer's insurance, you'll want to read the details regarding the out of pocket costs. Usually there are co-pays for doctor visits as well as for prescription medications. You should find out what they are going to be. It is usual for patent protected medicines to be more costly, while generics have a lower co-pay.

Normally employers provide health insurance and pay part, most, or even all of the premium. The rest is deducted from your pretax income on a pay as you earn basis.
 

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Moving as a teenager

I am a US citizen, but lived in Holland and England from age 8 to 14. We returned to the US the summer I was to start high school, and it was a difficult transition. It was probably made more difficult by a few things acting in concert:

  • I did not want to leave the UK.
  • We arrived in the summer, I had no friends, no activities and it was very boring.
  • My parents bought a house that was not walking distance to anything, which added to the boredom and isolation.

If your children are keen to move to the US, you should see what you can do to have them get involved in something that will allow them to make friends immediately upon arrival. You should also look at what attending university here will cost. For example, would they qualify for in-state tuition at the local uni, or will you be paying out of state cost as an international student? Will your children retain the right to attend uni in the UK?
 
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