What's it really like in the U.S.?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by racedirector, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. racedirector

    racedirector Member

    Hi all

    This is about as off topic as you can get! :) I have been thinking lately about the cost of things here in Aus from general day to day things like food and fuel to anything supporting my hobby of model railroading. So I asked myself, what is it really like in the U.S....

    I personally would like to live somewhere in the U.S. at some stage but knowing nothing really about the nitty gritty of day-to-day life there I thought I would ask. I would probably look to living outside of a major city like LA, NY etc and into some sleepyish state/suburb. As far as skills go I have many years in warehousing & logistics, computers (programming) and mechanical skills. My wife is a personal assistant to a company director.

    For example, what is the average wage over there, average housing costs (in reasonable neighborhoods), food costs, utility costs, schooling for youngies (I have 2 at 4 & 6) etc etc. I suppose I am asking (if anybody feels like attempting this one) what a couple such as us would expect to pay to live reasonably comfortably in the U.S.....

    So there we go, I've said it now :)

  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Bruce, The US is so varied that I'm sure you'll get a ton of responses, some pro and some con.

    What I might suggest you do is decided on what part of the US you think you would like to live in and then sort of narrow it down to cities.

    After you have done that seach for sites for the Chamber of Commerce for the particular cities that you are interested in. Most any city with a Chamber of Commerce has a web site. You can request information from them ( usually free) and they will send you a ton of information.

    Hope this helps.
  3. storm

    storm Member

    just move to canada that will solve all your problems LOL.
  4. fifer

    fifer Active Member

    I live in southern New Mexico , we are the second poorest state in the US.
    Our avearge home is about $175,000 New and $95,000 to $175,000 for pre-owned.
    Wages here in this area middle average from around $24,000 to $60,000 year.
    We average about 360 days a year of clear sky and about 2 weeks of over 100 degrees but low humidity (around 10% ) .

    Want to trade?????

  5. storm

    storm Member

    that is cheep for a house. here in mississauga just out side of toronto u cant find a house for under $200 000 or at lease i havent seen any. on my street alone in the last 2 years the going priseis around $500 000. but i think that we make more $$$. mose jobs here starte around $30 000 and can go up to $200 000 fast. i am a local golf pro and i make about $50 000 for 6 months of work.
  6. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    This site might be of use: http://www.city-data.com/

    Fifer...is that a typo or do you really only get about two weeks where the temp is over 100? I can deal with just two weeks of 100+ and low humidity!
  7. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    Gee, could you have asked a more open question? ;)
    Here's something I suggest...go on Ebay and buy a copy (even an older one) of "Places Rated". It rates various cities in the US and Canada on everything from cost of living to weather. This may be a good starting point for you to narrow things down. This country is so geographically diverse, you can find someplace you'll like. And if you are in the logistics business, there are plenty of trucking companies and even railroads (!) that would be interested in you. The most expensive places to live are California and the northeast (New York metropolitan, Connecticut, Massachusetts). You have to remember that taxes are different in every state...some have sales tax, some have annual property tax on everything (incuding each car, every year) and so on.
    Then, when you're serious, I'd take a 2-3 week trip driving around the country (or if you're really daring get an Amtrak pass) and visit as many locales as you can. The only way to really get a 'feel' for anyplace is to visit it.
    I've also used web sites like "Findyourspot.com" to get an idea of costs, crime rates, and so on.
    Personally, I've dreamt of moving to New Zealand should I ever find myself single again. :eek: :thumb:
    Canada is a nice country...good folks. Just too much darn white stuff to suit me.
  8. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Funny, I always wanted to move to Australia. :D The grass is always grrener someplace else. Fred
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Fred, Bruce -

    Maybe you guys should trade houses and jobs (if possible) for a while... :D I have known a few teachers here in Canada who did that sort of exchange with New Zealand counterparts...

  10. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    Sorry to dissappoint, but might as well get the news out first.

    Neither you nor your wife will get work there. You will need a "Green Card". To get one of these, you will need a potential employer to "sponsor" you. i.e. you need to have employment before you go there, and they have to be able to demonstrate that no one in the US can do the job.

    Next. A lot of things we take for granted here, you pay through the nose over there.

    Do you own your own home? How much are your "rates"? (garbage, sewerage, council charges for local libraries etc). Try at least double, if not triple the cost in the US.

    Wanna insure your car? Try triple the cost. But the car itself, is a little cheaper, and petrol is cheaper.

    Taxes? A bit less, but what our taxes pay for, is charged for in the US.

    Like your mobile phone? Every man and their dog here has one. Not so much in the US, as the receiver of a mobile phone call pay the costs, not the caller.

    Off ta Sydney or Perth for a holiday? Walk up to your bank's teller machine and get some dosh? Not in the US, or hefty charges apply, cause it will be a different bank.

    Free local phone calls? Yep. but local ain't much more than the same number as your 4 digit prefix. Anything else is "long distance".

    The place ain't like Hollywood Blvd, The Strip in Las Vegas, or Times Sq in NY, and bears no resemblance to Friends, Raymond, Frazier and you don't bump into the Hilton sisters, Arnie, or Brad Pitt while doing the shopping.

    Having said all that, I recommend it for a visit, to check it out first. :thumb: :D
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't know a lot about "green cards", but I think you can circumvent the issue if you get a job with an Aussie company doing business in the U.S. and get a transfer here. That may be easier said than done.
  12. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Before making any final decisions one of the first things I would check would be the weather. Like it hot and humid? Try the southeast. Hot and dry? The desert soutwest. Snow? Northern Rocky Mountains. Rain? Pacific northwest. And remember, traveling 100 miles, 160.934 Kilometers can give you completely different conditions. :eek:
    That brings up another thing, forget kilometers, liters etc. and get used to miles, gallons and so on. :rolleyes:
    I won't even get into the difference in language. Think you speak english? Learning American English is a whole 'nother thing which also changes from one locality to another. :p
    Now I don't want to discourage you, I'd love to have you as a neighbor, just be sure you know what you are getting into. :D :D :D :D
  13. fifer

    fifer Active Member

    Rory , Yep it's true , we usually only have a couple weeks of over 100* The other 50 weeks are generally very nice.

    I would still love to live in Australia!!!!

    :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave:
  14. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Wow. I'm totally envious of your weather, Fifer. (Happy Birthday, BTW.) Right this moment, at 12:31 p.m. on June 18th, 2004, it is 92 degrees and 46% humidity (which is sorta low for this time of day, I think). The heat index is 98 degrees. And it's not even officially summer yet. But, I'd miss Huntsville too much if I moved and away...

    Bruce, are you sure you want to move to the U.S.? Afterall, we're one of the most hated nations on Earth (if not THE most hated nation). But EVERYONE loves Australia. We think people from Australia are really cool!
  15. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Well Woodie, it may not be as bleak as you think. Garbage is $29 a month, sewer is $15 a month, libraries are free.

    my car insurance is $109 a month for full coverage on the truck and liability on the car. My truck costs $450 a month payments, 3.5 more years its mine. Our house payment is $500 a month and is 5% interest.

    taxes, 17% federal, 10% state, 7% sales., and $700 a year on my house.
    Mobile phones are $60 a month for 500 min I think that's waht I pay. A nomal landline costs about $60 a month with normal use. Long distance is 7 to 25 cents a min depending on where and what company. It's regulated.

    ATM cards cost to us, but most people don't use them anymore. We use debit cards which are free other than the $6 a month fee for having it.

    Gas is $1.77 today, milk is $3.50a gallon and good bread costs a 2 dollars a loaf. Hamburger is $2 a pound, good steak $10.

    My wife and I made about $80, 000 dollars last year. We are not rich, but we get by and have enough extra to buy trains, entertainment, and loan our kids money. That's how it really is here where I live. Fred
  16. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Here in New Jersey, state taxes are a bit different than by Fred. I paid about 3% state income tax, but my property tax is $4600. Garbage and such are included in that. My auto insurance is about $1000/year, for three cars with just liability insurance. Of course monthly mortgage payments depend on balance and interest rates, remember interest is deductable from federal income tax. ATM cards, or debit cards, not sure what the differance is, cost nothing except for as Woodie says, if you use a machine from a different bank, there is a $1.50 to $2.00 charge. For as infequently as I need to do that, my cost is probably less than $10 a year. Don't own a cell phone, I'm under the impression you need to be careful selecting a plan as the various companies offering service tend not to tell you abiut hidden charges, buyer beware. Woodies comment about the receiver of the call being billed, not the caller, isn't quite accurate, mostly both have their minutes charged. I just heard a commercial for a plan that doesn't charge for incoming calls. The ad didn't say just what other charges may offset that apparent savings. In this area, perhaps the most densely populated in the country, homes for us "common folk" those earning, as a household, $60,000 to $120,000 are in the $250,000 to $500,000 range. There are plenty way more expensive than that, I often wonder how so many people can afford them.

    But the green card issue is a real stumbling block, you need to come with a job for a company with offices here, or be in a profession which is needed here. Not easy, I know a couple people here illegally who work in a restaurant, others as landscapers etc. One has a teaching degree in Brazil, which is useless here. However, she says she is far better off here anyway, go figure.

    If you visit the NYC area, please contact me and we'll get together.

  17. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I'll just compare a few things, as you've outlined.

    Your Gabarge, sewerage, and "house tax" comes to $1,228 US. here? Bout $700 US. And that is for expensive residential property.

    Car insurance? $1,308 US p.a. Here? $800 US. As low as $300 US if you haven't had an accident for 6 years. Fully comprehensive.

    Mobile phone? from as little as $10 US a month, and that includes free phone.

    Home landline? $22 US per month and 15c per local call. Long distance? 2 - 10 cents per minute depending on the time of day.

    Internet? Dialup? $15 US per month, includes unlimited connect time, and download, plus 10 MEG webspace, and 5 email addreses.

    However, a household income of $80,000 US ($114,000 AUS) is reasonably well off here.
    (quite well off, actually). :thumb: :cool:

    Oh... and one thing I should mention is the tipping regime. You do not tip here. maybe in a restaurant, if it was good, then maybe no more than 10%. Tipping in bars is unheard of, and you might round the cab fare up to the nearest 50 cents. No tipping hairdressers, tour operators, or bell boys in hotels, or room service or anywhere else.

    I've spent a lot of time in the US, both working and visiting, and the perception of the US from outside is all what you see on tele, and doesn't really reflect the reality. And vice/versa. The perception of outside the US from inside can be very underestimated too.

    However, some of this works in reverse. See my "chat" thread on car part costs. $800 US to replace the electric car radio aerial!! :cry: :curse:
  18. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The cost of living varies considerably here, depending on where you live. We lived in Austin, Texas for a while. The cost of living there is outrageous. If I made as much here in Huntsville, Texas as I did in Austin, we'd be living like kings. But we just scraped by in Austin.

    BTW, Texas has no state income tax. I think there'd be a revolution if the state legislature ever started one.

    Another interesting note... The population of Texas is fairly close to that of Australia, but Australia is closer to the size of the U.S.!

  19. the line I always heard was "The people of North America found a howling wilderness and conquered a contenent. The people of Australia found an even more Howling wilderness and fought it to a draw."

    :D :D :D
  20. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    As already stated, economic conditions are a big variable across the States. So variable that it is impossible to make a flat statement that can apply to the whole country. Home “X” where I live (a very nice residential, middle to upper-middle-class town in the suburbs of Southern California) will cost $500,000+. A similar house, but probably with the addition of a basement and better insulation, in St. Joseph, Missouri, (just as nice a place and, except for the weather, perhaps a better place to live) will cost around $175,000. But the “average family income” in St. Joseph is about half that in my area, so wages for equivalent jobs must be quite a bit higher here.

    Beyond all that, however, I have some opinions about emigration. There are a few places I’ve found in this world that, in many ways, seem to be better places to live than the United States. The Czech Republic. Chili. Canada. Perhaps even Luxemburg. But I have lived in foreign countries in my lifetime, and I always came home. It’s not that I didn’t like the people in those other places, or the taxes, or the food, or the politics, or even the language. What it boiled down to is that I was born and raised - for all the good and bad that entails - an American. I could not escape the fact that my home was really my home. The place where, due to my habits, or perceptions, or prejudices, or learned tastes, or - whatever it is inside me - a place where I just fit better.

    So I guess my advice would be to think long and hard before making any serious commitments to move. You are likely more Australian than you know. If you really must escape from down under, I might suggest that the place that you would find best for you would be Canada. Canada has about everything the States has, plus a few things the States has not: Like a seemingly kinder, gentler population; a health care system that - in spite of some problems - really does try to care for all the people. And yes, more snow - but there are some temperate regions. Southwestern British Columbia for instance. And certainly it would be a thousand times easier for an Aussie to immigrate to Canada than to the States.

    Good luck whatever you decide.

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