I'm considering a move from Europe to the USA - but I somewhat struggle to compare salaries because of some big differences in living costs. So far when trying to budget life in the USA I got this:
- you can estimate take-home salary at a zip-code level with paycheck calculator, I use this https://smartasset.com/taxes/paycheck-calculator
- medical insurance is a minefield and even though I would be insured I can expect heavy deductibles. I use Amazon's benefits (as they made them public) to get a general feeling of costs https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/benefitsoverview-us
- buying a property is not only property price: there's also HOA, home insurance, mortgage insurance if I have less than 20% down-payment, property tax that varies from county to county, generally a lot of extra payments. I use zillow.com to see home prices and rely on their estimated monthly payment break-down where they seem to cover both mortgage and extra costs.
- unlike in Europe I should not expect to build good enough retirement based on taxes withheld from paychecks only: so I should definitely consider contributing some of my net salary to 401(k), at least to the level of employee match + max out Roth, etc. I read "Bogleheads guide on investing" and get a general feeling of how to plan for retirement myself, how to calculate expected returns and navigate the complex tax system, I can do the exact math in Excel.
- I need a car, it's not optional. 2 cars likely if my spouse finds a job too. Doesn't apply to New York City.
- College - I've no idea how this works and why it's so expensive but I seriously consider worst case scenario is if I decide to stay and can't afford it I'll send my kids (who would be dual-citizens by then) for education to Europe... Meanwhile, conservatively I'll assume I should save for kids education somewhere around $50-$100k.
So my question is: did I miss something? Is there any other major expense that could derail my calculations that wouldn't be obvious to foreigners?