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:

  1. you can estimate take-home salary at a zip-code level with paycheck calculator, I use this https://smartasset.com/taxes/paycheck-calculator
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?


1 Answer 1


Is there any other major expense that could derail my calculations that wouldn't be obvious to foreigners?

Correcting two of your estimates:

  • Children: a few hundreds of kUSD, sometimes even over 1 M USD, for raising 1 kid. 50 kUSD per year on average on one kid for 22 years isn't that surprising in some locations + income class. It's not just about college saving. That's by far the main financial difference with the European country I come from, France. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_raising_a_child (aside from the lack of retirement pension).
  • Healthcare: your deductibles when working at Amazon are negligeable compared to the kid budget (between 1 to 3 kUSD per year typically). Quite close to me what I would spend in France. However if you retire in the US, then your medical budget is likely to be one of your main expenses.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .