jollyjeffers

Comparing UK and US salaries

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Afternoon all, Not that I'm looking to jump ship to another job right now, but I do like to keep an eye on what else is around. Whilst there are more than enough good technology jobs for me here in the UK if I do any poking around I often bump into various companies based in the USA that are offering interesting positions... I wouldn't choose a job purely on the salary but it is one of the few facts that a lot of avertisements include such that I got wondering about how a UK and US salary compares. Importantly you can't just do a currency conversion as the cost of living is going to be different. What little I know of life on the other side of the pond it seems generally cheaper than here in the UK. If an entry level salary for a graduate at a big company is £21,000 - £28,000 (just based off my own recent experience as well as my friend's salaries - grad salaries are artifically inflated though) what would the equivalent be in the USA? Based on the exchange rate it'd be $41,850 - $55,800. I couldn't find any good sources of information online, but this site (US version) seems to put the actual take-home after taxes to be marginally higher in the US for a numerically equivalent salary. But that doesn't include anything w.r.t. house prices, bills and other general living costs... I'm posting here because I'm sure there are plenty of people who've either come up with the same question or who know enough about living costs (etc..) in respective countries [smile] EDIT: Just to clarify... If my living costs in a nice part of London are around £800/month and anything else is 'fun money' what would I need for a similar deal state-side? TiA, Jack

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This really depends on where you live in the US. Cost of living varies alot, even within the same state. In general, but not always, living in/near a city is more expensive than living in a more rural area.

In fact, even stuff like food and clothing can vary. Where I used to live, food and clothing weren't taxed, and were generally cheaper. Where I live now, food is more expensive and is taxed (and I'm so used to no tax on food, that when I'm checking out and the extra 10usd or so is added to the price I just about go nuts...)

Also check vehicle laws where you live. Some states require "emission checks" or some nonsense every year, which can cost quite a lot.

None of these things are super expensive, but they all add up to a big chunk of money when you sit down with a calculator....

I don't know a reliable place for cost-of-living statistics, but you might want the check the US Department of Labor or something...

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Thanks for the reply.

I figured it'd vary where in the country you lived/worked - same thing here (North UK is usually cheaper than South East UK). From articles and listings I've read the obvious one is Seattle as theres no shortage of tech companies over there. California also seems to get mentioned regularly as do New York and Washington (although the latter I'm not sure if they meant the state or the city).

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None of these things are super expensive, but they all add up to a big chunk of money when you sit down with a calculator....
Yeah, I know the feeling [headshake]... I suppose the whole point of this thread is to work out how big that 'chunk of money' really is, and work backwards from there to a salary...


Quote:
you might want the check the US Department of Labor or something...
Good idea, thanks!

It seems to have a fair number of statistics about cost of living, consumer price index and so on - but I'm not sufficiently economically minded (economics is the only subject I actually failed at school [lol]) to make sense of them. From what I see it's only useful for comparisons internally and you can't really draw any international comparisons.

Cheers,
Jack

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Quote:
Original post by jollyjeffers
[...]If an entry level salary for a graduate at a big company is £21,000 - £28,000 (just based off my own recent experience as well as my friend's salaries - grad salaries are artifically inflated though) what would the equivalent be in the USA? Based on the exchange rate it'd be $41,850 - $55,800.[..]
You can find information on national averages at this Bureau of Labor Statistics page. As you can see on this other BLS Page about my specific area, some parts of the country are significantly below the national average.

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Don't forget healthcare. While we might complain constantly about the state of the NHS in this country, it's easy to take free healthcare for granted and forget that doctors' time and medical procedures and drugs etc. actually cost money. Sometimes quite a lot of money.

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Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
You can find information on national averages at this Bureau of Labor Statistics page.
Interesting summary, but that pretty much matches what I already knew - numerically the salaries aren't too different. I was looking at the game developers survey for 2006 that put programmers at $55k-120k with a mean of $88k (off the top of my head).

The bit I can't figure out is that if I were living in, for example, Seattle with a nice enough flat or small house and earning $55,000 would I be richer or poorer than living in London on £28,000? After all the boring stuff was out of the way, which situation would have more spending money...


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While we might complain constantly about the state of the NHS in this country
We complain? Never...

Well in my part of the world some people don't complain too much as they're making a tidy profit off the back of the NHS [rolleyes]

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it's easy to take free healthcare for granted and forget that doctors' time and medical procedures and drugs etc. actually cost money. Sometimes quite a lot of money.
Yup, I suppose that is important to factor in. Yet another statistic that I don't have [lol]

Cheers,
Jack

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The 41k - 55k is spot-on for my region for a college grad. I'd say that the 55k figure is even a little high, as most grads will probably start in the mid forties. However, the cost of living here is very reasonable. A single guy can own a house and live pretty well out here on that salary.

With a salary of 45k in someplace like San Francisco you'd probably have to have roommates and do all of your shopping at Wal-mart just to make ends meet.

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Quote:
Original post by smr
I'd say that the 55k figure is even a little high, as most grads will probably start in the mid forties.
Yeah, the £28k/$55k figure is the high end here - the only tech grads I know on higher are working in the city, but that's always silly money.

Quote:
Original post by smr
A single guy can own a house and live pretty well out here on that salary.

With a salary of 45k in someplace like San Francisco you'd probably have to have roommates and do all of your shopping at Wal-mart just to make ends meet.
Sounds roughly equivalent to over here; maybe there isn't so much difference between the two...

Cheers,
Jack

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I am doing a CompSci + Eng degree in UK and have one year left. I am currently working a year in industry in Westminster, London at about ~£20k base salary. If I returned there when I graduate it will probably be about ~£26-30k

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Quote:
Original post by jollyjeffers
The bit I can't figure out is that if I were living in, for example, Seattle with a nice enough flat or small house and earning $55,000 would I be richer or poorer than living in London on £28,000? After all the boring stuff was out of the way, which situation would have more spending money...


I can't speak for actually living in Seattle, but I bet it's pretty much the same as where I am, the Bellevue/Redmond area (about 15 minutes east). Property around here is pretty ridiculously expensive. This being Microsoft country, a decently sized house will sell for $300,000-400,000. So mortgage payments are probably $2500-3000 a month. Of course, it's possible to get a house/condo for cheaper. A friend of mine just got a little place a few miles south of downtown Seattle for about $260,000. Mortgage payments around $1800/mo.

The good thing about living in WA is that there's no state income tax, but sales tax is a bit higher because of it (9%, or there abouts).

Speaking for myself, I could live quite comfortably on $40,000 a year, without a family to support and whatnot.

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$400,000 works out to be around £200,500. Where I live you'd just about be able to buy a small two bedroomed flat or possibly just a studio appartment.
London I guess is much more expensive.
The salaries for both the US and the UK seem to be similar but, I guess the money will stretch a lot further in the US.
Don't forget the Health Costs though because as already mentioned they can be a huge factor.

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Quote:
Original post by curtmax_0
This really depends on where you live in the US. Cost of living varies alot, even within the same state. In general, but not always, living in/near a city is more expensive than living in a more rural area.

In fact, even stuff like food and clothing can vary. Where I used to live, food and clothing weren't taxed, and were generally cheaper. Where I live now, food is more expensive and is taxed (and I'm so used to no tax on food, that when I'm checking out and the extra 10usd or so is added to the price I just about go nuts...)

Also check vehicle laws where you live. Some states require "emission checks" or some nonsense every year, which can cost quite a lot.

None of these things are super expensive, but they all add up to a big chunk of money when you sit down with a calculator....

I don't know a reliable place for cost-of-living statistics, but you might want the check the US Department of Labor or something...

Yup! It really depends on the city because even here in California going from the coast areas to inland the change is as drastic as moving to another state i.e. rent in central california can be had for under $1000/month easily whereas along the coast you'll be lucky to find anything under that unless you are willing to live in the slums or violent areas like say 32nd street in San Diego.
Actually, that's why there's been a large influx of people from LA,San Fran,etc into the central valleys of California since they are tons of people that don't mind polluting up the air and commuting for several hours a day just to buy a house here since house prices further inland are 1/2 the price along the coast.
Ths living wage calculator can also give you an idea of the wild differences in wages needed to survive in different cities. Note the big difference between central california(Fresno)at $2100US/month vs $3800US/month for San Francisco and $3400US/month San Jose along the coast. Seattle doesn't look as bad at $2800US/month.

"Also check vehicle laws where you live. Some states require "emission checks" or some nonsense every year, which can cost quite a lot."-funny you should mention that.
It cost the last California govenor his job since all Californian's freaked out that their car registration went up so much! And that's why the govenator is in charge now.


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When I was in the military they have this thing called COLA(cost of living adjustment) and if you are serving in the UK I'm sure you get the maximum amount since it's so expensive over there and the US dollar isn't worth squat!
If you go by what the US military pays it's members when they are serving in th UK it sounds pretty expensive over there. The military's already done all the work for you and the higher the index number on their chart the more expensive buying things off the US base( which would be comparable to prices in the US) are.
London is around 170 the only places higher are anywhere in France at 190 and Switzerland and some other European countries like Norway it looks like.

[Edited by - daviangel on May 1, 2007 4:45:35 AM]

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Thanks for the replies, they've been useful!

Quote:
Original post by sanguineraven
I am doing a CompSci + Eng degree in UK and have one year left. I am currently working a year in industry in Westminster, London at about ~£20k base salary. If I returned there when I graduate it will probably be about ~£26-30k
A lot of jobs will give a London weighting, so doesn't surprise me. Most placement year people working outside of London were in the 13-16k bracket...

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Property around here is pretty ridiculously expensive. This being Microsoft country, a decently sized house will sell for $300,000-400,000.
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$400,000 works out to be around £200,500. Where I live you'd just about be able to buy a small two bedroomed flat or possibly just a studio appartment.
London I guess is much more expensive.
[bawling] Lets not even start on house prices!

Needless to say the house prices in Seattle are ridiculously cheap by comparison to here in the UK. When I was there earlier this year I saw a couple advertised for around $600k that looked like mansions that would easily have fetched close on a million (~$1.9m?) down here in the south-east.

A medium 2 bedroom flat in my part of London would probably set you back £200-300k [headshake]

Quote:
The military's already done all the work for you and the higher the index number on their chart the more expensive buying things off the US base( which would be comparable to prices in the US) are.
London is around 170 the only places higher are anywhere in France at 190 and Switzerland and some other European countries like Norway it looks like.
How nice of them [grin] Thanks for the link!

Cheers,
Jack

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I think I must live in the worst neighborhood for real estate, because it's absurd. I'm looking at apartments, and for a 2-bedroom in a nice area (across from the mall where my wife works), it's $1150-1400, not including utilities. I currently live south of the Minnesota river, and it seems like anything north of it is an automatic +$200.

The real downside is that tech jobs don't pay as much here as they do on the coast (starting at $45,000 for programming medical software, though I only had an AAS when I applied), but the real estate prices keep pace. I think that has a lot to do with the medical industry being top-dog in this state, but I'm just guessing.

If you really are considering hopping the pond, take a look at Texas. It's where I grew up, and real estate is dirt cheap. There are also tons of tech jobs in Houston (not a great town) and Austin (a fantastic town). Frankly, I can't stand the weather or the religious intolerance, so I moved as far north as I could.

EDIT:
As far as health insurance goes, medical prices aren't that bad for a healthy, single, working adult. Through my employer, I pay about $85 per month with a $1000 deductible, and co-pays for most things are $20. That's not fantastic, but getting insurance directly from the Blue-Cross / Blue-Shield (i.e. not as part of a bulk purchasing plan at work) is akin to larceny. When I first moved out of my parents' house, BCBS wanted $250 / month to cover a healthy, non-smoking, no pre-existing-conditions-having 18-year-old.

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Well, as curtmax_0 and others have stated, it really depends where you're living.


Quote:
Original post by templewulf
I think I must live in the worst neighborhood for real estate, because it's absurd. I'm looking at apartments, and for a 2-bedroom in a nice area (across from the mall where my wife works), it's $1150-1400, not including utilities. I currently live south of the Minnesota river, and it seems like anything north of it is an automatic +$200.

The real downside is that tech jobs don't pay as much here as they do on the coast (starting at $45,000 for programming medical software, though I only had an AAS when I applied), but the real estate prices keep pace. I think that has a lot to do with the medical industry being top-dog in this state, but I'm just guessing.

If you really are considering hopping the pond, take a look at Texas. It's where I grew up, and real estate is dirt cheap. There are also tons of tech jobs in Houston (not a great town) and Austin (a fantastic town). Frankly, I can't stand the weather or the religious intolerance, so I moved as far north as I could.


I'd personally love to find 2 bedroom place for even $1400. One of my friends at work was paying $900/month for a 350 sq. ft. 1 bedroom apartment (not even a studio) with utilities not included. Of course, with cost of living being higher (city, state, and federal tax), the salaries tend to also be higher. I believe the starting salary for my job is $70000 (~£35,000). This is a trap a lot of people who don't live around the coasts fall into though. They're presented with a salary that sounds tremendous compared to what they'd make around where they live, and while they realize that it might be slightly more expensive, they don't realize how much more expensive. And yes, it is very easy to survive on such a salary, but a problem is that when people are presented with large sums of money they've never seen before, many of them don't know how to handle it. It's sad when you see people who make $200-$500k a year, yet live paycheck to paycheck due to mistakes in the past.

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