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USA question

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
This is a daft question for all my friends in the USA out there.

Carol and I have been talking for a while about living and working in the USA. I turned a job down some years ago to come out and give it a go, however, we always regretted this over the years.

Whats it really like out there? I know its not all milk and honey - but generally, is it a good standard of living, whats the schooling like for kids? I want the best for my wife and son and am curious before I start sounding the ground out again??


post #2 of 26
The USA is a mighty big place Kev! Where are you looking to live? There is such a huge difference between say Maine, and California. Its like different countries sometimes!

No, Its not all milk and honey. And it really has a lot to do w/ your financial situation. There are the slums which you definitly want no part of, then there is Beverly Hills where you could live the high life!

I think the safest thing to say is USA is a land of opportunity. If you want to work, and you can get a good job, more than likely you will lead a plush life here! Cost of living is fairly low compared to Europe, that I know for sure ( I lived in Europe for 7 years ). Once you know a geographical location, I think you can research it better.
post #3 of 26
Well, as a Canadian who has lived in the USA, the biggest drawback I see is the cost of medical insurance / medical care. That's one of the primary reasons I moved back home. That, and a general feeling of homesickness, because although Americans and Canadians seem a lot alike, we are not really, and I was tired of being a foreigner.

I also like the broader political spectrum in Canada, one of the really frustrating feelings I had in the USA was that, being left of liberal in Canada, made me member of the raving lunatic fringe in the USA.
post #4 of 26
I agree with Daniela, kev. It's like asking, "Hi, I'm from Mars. Do I want to live on planet Earth?"

Cost of living, quality of education, climate, job availability, etc. can vary a lot, depending on the area of the country. Where are you looking to go?
post #5 of 26
Hi, Kev;

I agree that it depends on where geographically where you want to live. I am in Minnesota, which is going to be radically different than living on one of the coasts or in the southern US.

It's hard to describe 'what's it like here' in a short post - I think a person could write a book answering that question no matter where they live! Health care & insurance are expensive here, but pretty much any larger employer will have policies available. I have had good luck with reasonably priced health insurance through my employers. I personally think the quality of health care in the US overall is good (the quality will also vary dramatically by region - Minnesota has a great public health system and some first-rate private facilities).

I don't believe our public school system is the best in the world (I don't know where we are ranked, but I don't think we have ever been number one) - But it's certainly not the worst either. Again, there will be great variation by region. There are also private schools available.

I took a population course in college, and the professor showed us some US census bureau social indicator graphs and maps. They were very helpful in showing variation by region for all kinds of things that help to indicate quality of life. I jumped onto the census bureau's web site briefly to see if they are available online, but it is a pretty big site and I didn't find them right away. I will look later when I have more time, and if I can find them I will send you a link. The link to the main US census site is http://www.census.gov/. I know that will not give you personal insight, but I am a math/data type person, so that is where I think to look.

post #6 of 26
Kev, you need to weigh factors such as climate, cost of living, quality of the schools, crime rate, recreational options, as well as job opportunities and wages.

In my area, that all varies, from neighborhood to neighborhood. AZ does have a lower unemployment rate, than the country as a whole. Wages are not as high, as some other parts of the country but the cost of living is lower. Bill and I live comfortably on a combined income of about 56K per year. We have a three-bedroom house, a 5-year-old pickup and a new car. Since we don't have kids, the lousy school district isn't a concern and our neighborhood is relatively crime-free. We have the city's largest park and a decent small zoo, half a mile away. A well-stocked and priced supermarket is three blocks away and we have two malls, within 5 miles. All in all, we like it here.
post #7 of 26
Just chiming in here, that there is no blanket answer for you. It depends on where you live. Take Oregon for example, here, the land taxes eat you alive! They are one of the highest in the nation. There is no state sales tax, but heck they don't need it with all the money they make on slamming you with land taxes. There are zippo jobs available, the unemployment rate here has skyrocketed, the lumber mills have shut down, forced out by envionmentalists and foreign interests. My hay supplier (for my horses) told me the other day, he is going to stop selling his hay locally, because another country has offered him a better deal. I was getting excellent hay from him (racehorse quality) for $115.00 a ton delivered. Now, he won't sell to his local people. I have to find 7 tons with a new supplier and quickly! Gasoline prices are high here, and health insurance for small businesses, will put you out of business fast! For Mike and I to have full coverage of the best insurance, it would cost us $750.00 a month. EACH!

Again, it depends on where you live. Personally, I loved Alaska but the darkness and the cold is a bit daunting at times. I like the sun to much to live there again.
post #8 of 26
Hey, Hissy come on down here. We've got low property taxes, lots of sun and hay is cheap!
post #9 of 26
For all you know your job may have been eliminated in the past few years so I wouldn't live with any regrets. Tons of companies have been downsizing and getting rid of a lot of good employees. Then when they eventually decide to take other people on, they hire them with twice the experience for half the price. I'm sure things will get better as everything is a cycle. It also depends on your industry.

Where you live does have a big effect on your style of life too. Here, you can make ends meet with a full time $7 an hour job. But then most jobs, knowing this, don't offer over $7, even for higher positions, so there's not much getting ahead going on. Currently job opportunities are scarce. Many companies have replaced one full time employee with 2 part time employees to save costs. Other places want to hire seasoned people at low salaries. The only people this is working for are healthcare and government employees.

Public education here has it's good and bad points. It really depends on the teacher and that goes back to our colleges and universities. I know that in PA they have instituted periodic teacher tests and lifelong learning standards. My mother (a teacher since the 70s) must take a certain number of credits within a certain time period because "the best way to teach well is to never stop learning" or something. We now have the "no student left behind" plan, which is really good in theory but in practice it leaves some to be desired. It basically holds the school/teachers accountable for whether or not all kids in the same grade learn at the same level (and as we know, there are always faster kids and slower kids). But it's really to avoid letting children pass through school never grasping what they should have, so it's a noble cause, just kind of unrealistic.

There are a lot of cost of living web calculators out there, so you can type in the city, number of kids u have or whatever, than see how much you would need to live in that area.

Moving here would be a HUGE step. I'm wary about moving from Pennsylvania to New York because if the job doesn't work out for any reason there's no way I would be able to afford rent out that way. I couldn't imagine crossing on ocean without really knowing how it would turn out. In my area you can live (single) very comfortable for between $25 to $30k a year. If I moved north an hour it would go up about $10k, and if I moved to New York anywhere near the city it would about triple.

I know some people in various places overseas who have moved here and a lot of them whine about how it was better in their country, but they only seem to do it when times are a little tough. That's what I love about living here, you can go from broke to successful to broke in a short time, and I truly believe we are born with the potential to do whatever we set our minds to.
post #10 of 26
I live in the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area. I would say, weather wise, we have the best weather in the entire US, except for Hawaii. However, the cost of living is pretty expensive here, and you have to be sure you move to a decent area, because there are some bad sections of Los Angeles, where the crime rate is high, as well as some really good sections, where the crime rate is almost nil.

There are still a lot of good jobs for people, although it's harder than it used to be to get a job, because employers can afford to be really picky now. However, I personally have not really felt the crunch like a lot of the people in the nation, so far. I hope it stays that way.

One good thing about Los Angeles, is that no one is really a foreigner here, because we have so many cultures that make up Los Angeles. There are a lot of British Pubs and places like that, where a lot of English people go and have a good time, plus you can experience the cultures of a wide assortment of other nations and ethnic groups.

I'd say the biggest expense in living in Los Angeles, is housing. Whether you rent or buy, it's gonna cost you, however, the wages are also pretty decent here.

I have friends who live in other parts of the US, and they don't live as well as most people out here in Los Angeles live. You see more Merecedes, Jags, and Rolls Royce here than you do Toyota's. So, I think live in pretty good in The City of the Angels.
post #11 of 26
I have lived all over the Southern US, but if I had a choice, I would still be in Kansas City, Missouri. The job market seemed pretty good there, and even a lot of the fast food places paid a decent wage, and offered low cost health insurance. I worked in a retail job, not even in management, and had health insurance. The cost of living was pretty good, but rental housing was hard to find, unless you wanted an apartment. My s/o found one before I moved us out there, but when they sold that property, it took us 6 months to find another house to rent. If we had wanted to buy, we could have bought that house at an amazingly reasonable price. It is a beautiful city, with a lot to do and see, museums, lots of live music and activities, casinos. Can you tell I miss it?
post #12 of 26
the U.S. is a great place for choices, it really depends on where you want to live and how you want to live, i think you need to think about where first, in alot of the U.S. we have really bad winters, cold and freezing rain and slush and snow lots of it, but then again we have warm places where it stays summer like all year, so it depends. i havent lived anywhere elese so i cant say how other countries are but i love the U.S.,,, the goverment makes me mad sometimes, but that is in any goverment i guess.
post #13 of 26
Just about everything has been covered, from housing costs to unemployment rates. But - after having made several extended visits to both the U.K. and Ireland, I'd venture to say that you and your family would experience less "culture shock" and fewer language difficulties if you went to the Northeast (New England: Maine, Conn., Vermont,MS, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or the Middle Atlantic states of NY, NJ or PA). Delaware or Maryland would also be possibilities. I have family in the Midwest, Florida, and California, but, being a native Philadelphian, I found that Britain was more like "home" than many U.S. states. I could live in Britain, but I'd have some difficulties in the Southwestern U.S.. That's not meant as criticism - it's just that I felt more "at home" in Britain than in Nebraska, Missouri or eastern Texas. The country is, quite simply, huge. Americans are, in general, very friendly and helpful, so you wouldn't have the problem of being treated as outsiders.
post #14 of 26
I've lived in Chicago, Houston and Kansas City. Chicago is really great for culture, but the winters there too COLD. Houston was an intersting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to stay there...the summers there were too HOT and as a northerner, was never welcomed to that city. Kansas City reminds of a shrink-wrapped version of Chicago, and the weather is not so cold. Cost of living is great, job pay is only slightly less than other big cities, and you can find the best and worst school districts depending on where you settle in the area. I think that is typical no matter what city you live in.

The economy as a whole is bad all over the country. I'm ready to move again, this time out west somewhere, and can't find a decent job anywhere. I'm waiting for the replacement of our current national leader to straighten things out.
post #15 of 26
Kev, here's a link to information about various metropolitan cities around the U.S.
post #16 of 26
I agree with most everyone's posts. It depends on where you want to live and what you are into.

I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a rural area with the most incredible natural surroundings you would ever want to see. Living on Lake Superior (largest fresh water lake in the world) the views and vistas are beautiful. Many areas are still untouched by humans. We have four seasons and each season, except for spring, has its recreational offerings. Tourism is a big part where I live because of the surroundings.

Health care is not bad, because my employer offers insurance. Schools are very good here, because class sizes are not large, so teachers can give one on one attention. Sports are a big part of our lives. Football, basketball, baseball and hockey are huge. You don't have to go very far to find a ski slope or ice rink, because we have a long winter season (not cold as Minnesota, but a lot more snow).
post #17 of 26
I'd choose Canada! LOL! Actually, have done alot of traveling in the USA and I really like Nevada and Arizona, but then again, I like that kind of climate.
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by adymarie
I'd choose Canada! LOL! Actually, have done alot of traveling in the USA and I really like Nevada and Arizona, but then again, I like that kind of climate.
Dont laugh but I picked up some brochures etc in respect of Canada. Logic does dictate that Canada would be the better choice as I have familly in Ajax, missasagua and Oshawa... am seriously thinking about it and have emailed our canadian company today as well.

Have decided that its time to start living our lives for us - that my wife and our son and I and not for the rest of the famillies who dont have a lot to do with us.

post #19 of 26
Kev - come to Canada! The areas that you mentioned are all very close to me and you seem like you would be a hoot! Toronto is fairly reasonable and we do have a government run health care program that covers most things (like doctor's vists) but not medications. Good luck making your decision.
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by adymarie
Kev - come to Canada! The areas that you mentioned are all very close to me and you seem like you would be a hoot! Toronto is fairly reasonable and we do have a government run health care program that covers most things (like doctor's vists) but not medications. Good luck making your decision.
I think that this may be the avenue of exploration that we may have to look seriously at. We had a bad weekend here - have decided that we have lived our lives for our famillies instead of ourselves and that has had an adverse effect on us and our relationship.
Can you advise what areas are classed as "the better" ones around Toronto. I would like to be out someplace quiet - like Ajax but dont want my step mother always over and interferring? I dont want cheap and want to be somewhere nice and without hassles.

Also, can you recommend any agencies / employment or otherwise in Toronto area that would be able to assist. Not easy from over here and 3500 miles away?

Your help would be appreciated - we are dead serious about this - I have just cancelled next years vacation that we had booked abroad in a different direction to be able to pursue this.

I have to try I guess, I miss my father badly and cannot live any more days wishing "if only".

I work hard, play hard but want everything for my wife and son.

post #21 of 26
Kev - do what is best for your family - they have to come 1st!

If you are looking for a job, I would suggest trying www.jobbank.gc.ca - it is a government run and sanctioned job site. If you are offered a job here you will need to get employment authorization. Here is a link to Canada's policy on foreign workers policy . I live in the Etobicoke area - my neighbourhood is fantastic but it really depends on where in Etobicoke you live. Richmond Hill, Maple and Thornhill our just outside the Greater Toronto Area and are any easy communty. They are generally know as nice and safe places to live. I will see what other info I can find for you.
post #22 of 26
Actually, I LOVE Toronto. I've been there 3 times, and it is the most beautiful city, and the people are so nice and friendly.
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the sites - I dont want to take up too much of your time and I dont want everyone getting tired of me - therefore, I wonder if it would be best to take this direct to my email address.

Your help already is much appreciated.

Have been to your neck of Toronto and Etobicoke where you live. Unsure about the other areas. Out of curiosity - is CJEZ radio station still going ? used to be known as the E-X Listening station?

post #24 of 26
Originally posted by kev
Have been to your neck of Toronto and Etobicoke where you live. Unsure about the other areas. Out of curiosity - is CJEZ radio station still going ? used to be known as the E-X Listening station?

CJEZ is now Easy Rock 97.3. You can listen to it online here:


I had to do a google search, since I never heard of that station! I usually listen to club music!

I live in Richmond Hill and am familiar with all the areas just north of Toronto. I grew up in Scarborough, then moved to downtown Toronto for school and purchased a condo and spent 7 years there. I just moved to Richmond Hill last year and would never move back since I love it here. House prices are crazy, but they seem to be slowing down now. If you need any info on housing prices across Toronto you can PM me. I spent a year and a half looking at various communities and housing prices before settling here.

Here's the Town of Richmond Hill's website if your curious:

Richmond Hill

The only thing I'll warn you about is Toronto's traffic headaches! If you trying to drive from the east Toronto to the west of Toronto during a weekday.....good luck! There are usually accidents every day on the main highways. I can't stand the traffic, that's why I try to stick to public transit.

post #25 of 26
I love Toronto. The only thing I hate about it is driving in Toronto traffic. No offense, but road signs in Toronto are very confusing. We took more wrong turns than I care to mention.

A few years ago we stayed in a B&B in a Toronto suburb and took the subway into Toronto. That was a better way to go.
post #26 of 26
It really depends upon where you live and in what neighborhood. The schools in Boulder, Colorado are generally not very good, but it's an excellent family city and a wonderful place to live. There are parts of San Diego I would not live and would not want a child to even know about and the schools vary. Some are better and some are worse. In Escondido there is a wonderful charter school. In Wyoming you can get some really good places for kids to grow, the schools are pretty good but not very advanced, but it's harder to find modern jobs for the parents and can be boring for the adults if they're not used to it. Over all, in all the places I've lived I'd say Germany had the best schools, and I loved living there, but I'm not so sure I'd want to live there for a long time.
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