Author Topic: US Expats? Aussies? I'd like to bounce some thoughts around about an opportunity  (Read 11926 times)

JohnGalt

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I was contacted by a recruiter this week looking to fill a position calling for my skill set (a niche software that I'm one of a small group of expert users/programmers) in Australia.  The compensation should be at least very close to where I'm at now - and is definitely much higher than anything I could command outside of using this specific software.

I'm not actively looking for other opportunities, but that part of the world has always intrigued me so I talked to the recruiter.  The company is interested and wants to move forward with discussions.  I need to decide how interested I am before I waste anyone's time.

My situation... single, no kids, recently sold my house and went minimalist on my possessions.  I don't even have a lease right now as I'm just renting a spare room in a friend's house.  Basically saving 85% of my take home pay. Going to do this for at most another year and then I'll have my base expenses covered by investments and will either talk my current employer into letting me go part-time or will leave to start my own consulting practice.  So... I'm very free to make a big move right now as I am essentially responsibility free and have many years of spending saved.  I also love the company that I work for - but have been very bored with the specific work that I'm doing for about a year now.

The opportunity would put me in my choice between a few locations - Syndey and Melbourne were the two I was interested in, probably Sydney since it would be the largest office (15 people rather than 5 at the other locations) and give me a bit more of a potential social network with coworkers.  The work would essentially be me starting up a similar consulting practice there to what I want to eventually do here (though it would be with the backing of a company that has been successful in bringing new technology like this to the country (a plus) and full time (a minus since my eventual goal is to do it part-time) so I feel like I could learn a lot that will help me later.

So the big issue/question - I've never been to Australia or that part of the world at all.  I don't really know what to expect.  New Zealand has always been a place I've wanted to back pack through over the course of a couple months - so my immediate thoughts are that I can do stuff like that on weekends/vacations - but I'm having a difficult time imagining what will be different about day-to-day life there.

I'm also thinking that my expenses will dramatically increase going from Dallas to Sydney.  First - I think I'll want to live downtown near the office so rent will definitely go up.  I'll also probably spend a lot more on entertainment in general since I won't know anyone and will be looking to do a lot of exploring.  I'm still doing research - but it also seems like taxes will be higher there.  All in all - I'm thinking my monthly savings dollar amount will plummet. I think I'm okay with this as I'd be going for the entire experience - but it is a little difficult to swallow as I think I'm within a year of being where I want to be before making other major changes to my life style if I stayed here in the states. 

Anyways - I'm hoping that maybe there are a few US expats or Aussies who could give me some perspective on what to expect if I were to move on this.  Also may just use this as an additional sounding board as I weigh in on the decision.

SnackDog

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You should do it.  Maybe you should ask for a trip to check it all out first.  We are Americans who lived in Perth from 2008-2012 and loved every minute. Australia is one of the most evolved countries on earth with fabulous quality of life. Sydney and Melbourne are perennial top 5 places to live on the planet. You may never come back! 

Big questions are cost of living allowance since it is very expensive (I would request they provide you housing) and taxes.  If you are on the hook for taxes in both countries, you will be very sorry. I would request your employer cover the aussie taxes.  It's also far away from your current home base so I would consider requesting reimbursement for full coach fares twice per year.

Good luck!

JohnGalt

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Thanks for the insight SnackDog.

If you don't mind, I have a couple other questions for you.

How did taxes work out?  Were you only paying Aussie taxes?  I know we're supposed to file US income taxes no matter where we live/work but that there is usually a way out of paying both sets of taxes. 

Did you have a car in Perth?  I realize it's probably very different from Sydney, but I'd love to be able to go without a car if possible. 

Numbers Man

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I would ask for about 25% more than you currently make. I would also check out the cost of living. I'm pretty sure Australia is more expensive than Dallas. Also ask for a year's severance (in writing) if you are ever let go. Moving back from Australia to the States with no job would suck. Or would that be Going Galt? lol

SnackDog

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My company paid my Aussies taxes and also paid the additional US taxes which accrued from overseas benefits. I just paid my normal US taxes and let the company have the tax credit on the foreign tax paid. There is no way around paying US taxes, as long as you are a citizen and regardless of where you live or earn income, and no way around Australian taxes on incomes earned in Oz.

We had a car in Perth but it was mostly for weekends and groceries runs. You do not need a car in Melbourne or Sydney. Public transport is amazing. Cars cost a great deal more than in the US but they don't depreciate much at all. Cheap rentals for trips are available.

Melody

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Melbourne Rents seem to be cheaper and public transport seems to be better in Melbourne. I personally like Sydney better though, mostly because of the weather/beach but you pay a lot to live there and commutes can be pretty big. (I live in Perth but have family and friends in Sydney and a number of close friends in Melbourne.)

If you want a low cost of living city Adelaide is the one for you. As long as you are in the inner ring (there is a park called the ring that surrounds the city) buses are pretty good from my experiences traveling there. Housing is the cheapest of any big city (except Hobart).

Also you might find "full time" in Australia is not the same thing as in the USA. 4 weeks leave a year, 10 public holidays, 2 weeks paid sick leave (and yes, you can call in sick without a medical certificate!), slightly shorter working hours (possibly).

Try www.realestate.com.au for housing prices/rents.
Coles and Woolworths are the local grocery chains, their websites have prices (although an MMM fan can do better by shopping at farmer's markets.)
Cars are pretty cheap is you buy 10 year old used cars. Because we do less kms/year, a 10 year old car will only have 150,000km (i.e. less than 100,000 miles) so it's still reliable and cheap to run, whereas in America I found most 10 year old cars were clapped out with 200,000+ miles! Price would be about $4000. Petrol is expensive but cars tend to be more sensible (1.3 or 1.8L engines are common).
www.seek.com.au can tell you what the local pay is for jobs. This can help you decide how much you want.

I think it would be a great life experience for you and you should do it regardless of the money ;-) I would if the tables were turned!

Hope this helps.

JohnGalt

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Numbers Man -

I'll of course do my best to negotiate as much as I can get (I've done quite well with that in the past), but I already know that I'm starting higher than they were expecting at the start (to be perfectly honest, I'm probably paid more than I'm worth already).  I'm probably the only truly qualified candidate they're going to find that is willing to move across the world so I may hold some power, but at some point it just becomes more cost effective to home grow the skill set.

I'll think about tossing in the year's severance - but that seems a bit outrageous to me if I put myself in their shoes.  I'm not really worried about coming back to the US without a job, I've had an open job offer from the company that makes the software I use for several years now (brought up every time I run into the guy I would be working for) or I could just go into my consulting plan early.  Of course, if I didn't have plenty of "fuck you" savings to fall back on I'd probably feel quite differently.


Melody -

Thanks for the ideas.  Money definitely would not be the driving factor behind this decision.  It will weigh in - but I'm already certain there's no way I wouldn't come out of it with a significant negative net savings compared to what I would do if I just stayed my current course.  I'd be doing it for that "great life experience" as you put it.  With that in mind - I think Sydney is where I would end up.  I glanced at rents on craigslist earlier and was pleasantly surprised at the price of what was available - even furnished places right down town seemed very reasonable. 

JohnGalt

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My company paid my Aussies taxes and also paid the additional US taxes which accrued from overseas benefits. I just paid my normal US taxes and let the company have the tax credit on the foreign tax paid. There is no way around paying US taxes, as long as you are a citizen and regardless of where you live or earn income, and no way around Australian taxes on incomes earned in Oz.

We had a car in Perth but it was mostly for weekends and groceries runs. You do not need a car in Melbourne or Sydney. Public transport is amazing. Cars cost a great deal more than in the US but they don't depreciate much at all. Cheap rentals for trips are available.

That tax situation seems crazy - definitely something I'll have to find more information on. 

Does anyone have any idea if a US CPA would be able to give me decent advice and maybe put some numbers to things?

mlipps

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I'll offer my experience on the tax thing. I spent about 4 months working in the Outback in 2011 after graduating college. Since I didn't stay long enough to qualify as a resident, I ended up being taxed at I believe 33 or 40% on the Australian side, so that royally stunk. However, that came back to the US on my taxes as a "Foreign Tax Credit" on line 47. Note that this is NOT a refundable credit. But, if you have 401k's or IRA's, you might be able to convert those and use the tax credit as an offset to those. That you might want to ask a CPA about, but I think it's right.

On the Australian side, I seem to recall that things seemed much simpler, although the rates were a bit higher, than US taxes. Further, because there are such an insane number of foreigners working in Australia temporarily, there are a huge number of tax places that will cheaply file for you. The worst part is that Australia's fiscal year ends in June or July and ours in January, so you have to file an extension or use a paystub instead of a more official statement of wages to file your US taxes.

I did my taxes myself for 2011, then paid $200 for a CPA through H&R Block to look them over, plus a little extra for their guarantee to defend in an audit. It wasn't really that hard, although I freely admit to reguarly reading 1040 instructions in my spare time for shits and giggles, so maybe you'd find it awful.

As far as Australia, do it, do it, do it! People were just so wonderfully friendly, a great culture and the weather in Sydney is pretty killer. If you're from Texas, Melbourne might be lousy, my impression was that it was quite gray and miserable for a good bit of the year. I found Adelaide to be terribly boring. Didn't make it to Perth, but it's quite far away. Remember that Australia is the same size as the continental US and Perth is basically the only major city on that side.

As an American, the thing that delighted and surprised me the most was actually how efficient and well run everything was. Granted, I was coming from Chicago, where things are anything but. But, it was my impression at least that their government runs well, people are engaged in politics (mandatory voting helps), everything is clean and nice in public places, very orderly. I haven't been to Scandanavia, but it really seemed to me to have that kind of well run efficiency that I have always associated with Scandanavia, with a wonderful amount of beer, sunshine, and happy folks.

One thing to remember on the salary/savings side is the mandatory 9%? employer contribution to your superannuation (retirement, similar to our 401k, I think the employer contribution might be going up soon or have recently gone up?), which you can then have refunded to you when you return to the US if you don't plan to return. Taxes were withheld on mine, but only because I was too lazy to file to get $50 or so.

Husband and I really hope to have a similar option in a few years. We basically figure if we can get our savings in line, we can go for a few years, let the savings just compound without adding as much, and enjoy the good life in Oz. So many places I wanted to travel to when I was there that I just couldn't make it to. Don't pass this up! :)

Melody

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Check out www.gumtree.com.au this is what we use more than craigslist.
Sydney is wonderful! Enjoy it!

Mark31

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I would never have let a reduced savings rate stop me from enjoying the experience of working in a foreign country! It gives you the feel for a country and the people that is difficult to get as a plain tourist.

Rather than negotiating hard on salary, negotiate on leave. 4 weeks is the minimum, but asking for 6 (or more) is not weird in a professional job, and you can easily explain that you want to be able to see Australia while you're here. Maybe that won't work with project deadlines or whatnot, but give it a try.

New Zealand is a thoroughly great place to visit. If you're keen to travel to New Zealand a few times, you could find out if Melbourne or Sydney usually have the cheaper fares, befor deciding where to live.

Sydney is more visually stunning and warmer than Melbourne, and you can access bushwalking (hiking) opportunities more easily through the public transport system. I prefer Melbourne as a place to visit, and it has more of a cycling culture, and safer cycling routes, particularly from the north of the city, but if grey overcast skies in winter get you down, don't live in Melbourne. I don't know if Hobart is an option, but if you love outdoors activities and don't mind the cold, that would be my suggestion. It's cheaper, to boot.

I've always found public transport in both Sydney and Melbourne awesome, at least as a tourist.

Based on what I know of my friends in Sydney and Melbourne, $200 should safely get you a room in a decent sharehouse within 6-8km of the CBD. (If that price terrifies you, it terrifies me too, it's not that bad in all cities)

You'll probably find food more expensive, and domestic air travel is relatively expensive from what I know - we really don't have the population to get the volumes for cheap airfares. You'll be paying taxes for things you never get to access, because you'll leave again, but that's just part of working overseas in any country.

Foreigners can be surprised how cold it can get - not outside, but inside houses, which are generally designed to keep the heat out, not in, and many lack effective heating because you only need it for a few weeks of the year.

limeandpepper

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My quick unscientific comparison of Melbourne and Sydney:

Better beaches - Sydney
Better public transport + ease of finding your way around + getting around without a car - Melbourne
Slightly higher salaries - Sydney (the equivalent job here will usually net you more than Melbourne)
Slightly lower cost of living - Melbourne (the equivalent property here will be cheaper to buy/rent compared to Sydney, amongst other things)
Weather - Sydney is widely regarded as being better, it is generally warmer with more clear and sunny days. It also has more rainfall and a slightly higher humidity. Melbourne is generally colder and has more cloudy days. It has a more distinct four seasons, and there is a running joke that sometimes you get to experience them all in one day.

SnackDog

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An American comparison might be Sydney:Melbourne as Los Angeles:Seattle.   Sydney is a sprawling tourist destination and center of commerce while Melbourne is far hipper, more culturally vibrant place with wetter weather.

stripey

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I'm an Aussie living in Perth... at the moment... however in the past five years I have lived in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia... so can probably talk about all of them a bit.

In terms of cars... you can get away without them in Sydney and Melbourne, but unless you live very central in Perth you'd find it a little limiting particuarly if you wanted to do some tourist and sightseeing things from time to time. Perth was definitely developed mostly *after* the advent of the car, and public transport is okay if you travel between certain places but not others.

Sydney is probably more in line in terms of climate and visuals with what most foreigners believe 'Australia' is like. Melbourne has a much more temperate climate (still a warm Summer though) but I think it has a better cafe culture as well as arts scene. (Adelaide has a good arts scene for a smaller city too). Wages are better in Sydney but the cost of living is also higher and I think in terms of liveability Melbourne probably beats it slightly. But either way you'll have a great time. There are lots of people from all over the world living in Australia and you'll meet lots of interesting people. Lots of places to go exploring in Vic and NSW regionally, including skiing in winter, if that is your thing. There is some fantastic hiking/backpacking (we call it bushwalking) close to both Melbourne and Sydney, including beach, alpine, etc.

SwordGuy

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Do it.

You'll regret it forever if you don't.

Higher expenses on some things, lower on others.  It's a wash.  Go for it.

JohnGalt

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Thanks everyone for the responses, giving me a lot to think about.

Check out www.gumtree.com.au this is what we use more than craigslist.

Based on what I know of my friends in Sydney and Melbourne, $200 should safely get you a room in a decent sharehouse within 6-8km of the CBD. (If that price terrifies you, it terrifies me too, it's not that bad in all cities)

Looking at gumtree and thinking about Mark31's comment... are these usually listed as daily rates?  Is that the norm there?  On craigslist, I'm used to looking at monthly or weekly rates.  $200/wk sounds great - but if you're talking about $200/day that's insane. 
« Last Edit: December 05, 2013, 11:33:25 AM by JohnGalt »

limeandpepper

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Based on what I know of my friends in Sydney and Melbourne, $200 should safely get you a room in a decent sharehouse within 6-8km of the CBD. (If that price terrifies you, it terrifies me too, it's not that bad in all cities)

Looking at gumtree and thinking about Mark31's comment... are these usually listed as daily rates?  Is that the norm there?  On craigslist, I'm used to looking at monthly or weekly rates.  $200/wk sounds great - but if you're talking about $200/day that's insane. 

Hey JG, long term stays would be $200/week, anything that's listed as per night would be short term accommodation (like hotels or serviced apartments). Just to make it more confusing, some places list the price by the month. But once you click into the ad and read the description it'll usually clarify this. With gumtree sometimes you also have to make sure you're getting the room all to yourself. There are some landlords these days who just rent out their places like it's a dorm. Again, reading the ad will give you a good indication. If not share-housing, you can look into www.realestate.com.au or www.domain.com.au and find a little studio for yourself, though that will be more expensive.

marty998

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As the resident Sydneysider here I feel like I have to contribute to this thread. But since all of you have done such a great job of talking up my fair city I don't have much to add!

Just bring lots and lots of money. Best way to fit in is to bitch about the cost of everything :)

arebelspy

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Nothing specific about Australia from me, but one thing to consider if you are leaning towards taking this job:
I also love the company that I work for - but have been very bored with the specific work that I'm doing for about a year now.

Ask your current company about other work you could do (and/or a higher salary) that might be more interesting to you.  They might rather have you on a different team/project that you'd enjoy than lose you altogether.
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unpolloloco

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If you're a year away from FI and you halve you savings rate, this only delays you a year (and I'd assume you'd be staying with the Aussie company more than a year?).  The professional experience alone seems worth it to me, as it's closer to what you'd be doing as a consultancy (this isn't even counting the cultural/geographic experience!).

JohnGalt

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Nothing specific about Australia from me, but one thing to consider if you are leaning towards taking this job:
I also love the company that I work for - but have been very bored with the specific work that I'm doing for about a year now.

Ask your current company about other work you could do (and/or a higher salary) that might be more interesting to you.  They might rather have you on a different team/project that you'd enjoy than lose you altogether.

Yeah - I've already talked to my boss (one of the owners) about getting into other stuff.  Problem is that we're very small (25 people, was 11 when I came on) and I'm the highest salary in the company (including the owners) so it's really difficult to justify me getting into anything else right now.  We do have a new product that I've been spending some time on and am hoping that it would become my full-time thing down the line, but it's still ramping up and it's hard to say how long it will be before it could support me.

But really, even with the boredom, it will come down to the company being the hardest thing to decide to leave for me. 

JohnGalt

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Well, it's moving from theoretical to real... Had an interview with the owner of the company on Monday and was all but told a job is there for me if I want it.  Recruiter confirmed today that they're interested in taking next steps. 

I told them I'd like to at least take through the weekend to think about whether or not this is something I would actually pull the trigger on before I take up anymore of anyone's time.

I do have some concerns about the position that need to be fleshed out, but I don't think they're necessarily deal breaker concerns. 

arebelspy

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Nice!  Congratulations!

I'm of this sentiment:
Do it.

You'll regret it forever if you don't.

Higher expenses on some things, lower on others.  It's a wash.  Go for it.

It may not be a wash, it may even slightly slow you down.  So what, life is for living, and this sounds like an awesome opportunity you won't regret taking.

Hope it pans out!
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sash

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I would take the job.

Money is not everything.  Experience living in a different culture and stepping out of your comfort zone can be tremendously life enriching. IMHO it's priceless.

jesstach

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I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. I studied abroad in Sydney in college and absolutely LOVED it! Public transport is much better than the US. I don't have too much to add to what's already been said. You should DO IT! Living in a foreign country is a great experience and it sounds like you're already in a good position financially.

arebelspy

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JohnGalt

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I've started estimating some numbers so I can ball park what my financial situation would look like and to give me an idea on what kind of compensation negotiating I want to do.

This decision will not come down to finances and I'm not really looking for any face punches on my proposed Sydney budget.  If I do this, I have a different lifestyle in mind for me while I'm there vs what I'm doing now and what I'll do after.  I want to live downtown, near work and I want to travel quite a bit.  I would, however, love feedback as to whether or not I'm being realistic from any one who knows more than I've been able to find.

I also don't really like posting this stuff online so I'll probably delete this comment later, so please don't quote any of the numbers besides expenses.

I'm ignoring exchange rates and assuming I negotiate the same gross income as I have now.

[Deleted Financial Numbers]

So - right now I'm estimating a ~$2,200 net loss in terms of monthly savings. 

Also - my current super cheap living arrangement isn't something I'll be doing long term, that's probably going to be more like $800-$1,000 (rent / utilities / internet) if I stay in Dallas I'm just using that as fudge room in these numbers.

So... is $2,200 / mo worth this experience?  That's about what my target long term US expenses are so it's a little hard to swallow if I use that as a barometer.


 
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 05:38:06 PM by JohnGalt »

arebelspy

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This decision will not come down to finances and I'm not really looking for any face punches on my proposed Sydney budget.

...

So... is $2,200 / mo worth this experience?  That's about what my target long term US expenses are so it's a little hard to swallow if I use that as a barometer.

Your first sentence and your first question contradict.  Will it come down to finances (i.e. is $X worth the experience) or not?

Also, not trying to face punch (honestly, didn't even look at the specific numbers), but is it a padded budget or bare bones?  Big difference, especially if you are comparing "is $X worth the experience" - because if you find you can cut 1k once you're over there, it (the actual level of spending) may well be worth the (new amount of) expense.  If you find you're spending that much, or more, maybe it won't be (assuming it does come down to finances).

I guess what I'm trying to say is - if you are going to ask a question "is $X worth the experience," you'd better make darn sure $X is accurate (or peg it to a range, and be okay with the high end of that range), otherwise the question is meaningless and you may well come up with the wrong answer (you might say no, it's not, when really X should have been 1/3 of what it was, if it was done right).

Again, I don't know, I didn't look at the numbers, but it's something to consider - how accurate do you feel that budget is?  Get that as accurate as possible, then ask the question.
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expatartist

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That article is spot-on: there'll be loneliness, self-reliance, and reliance on others too. If you go for it, the move may well be pivotal, one of the best things you've done so far, and a fantastic transition where you find other options for your life, career-wise and post-ER.

Sounds like you're determined to be central - as you should! We knew no one and lived in the far western outskirts of Sydney for several years (Parramatta), near my husband's job. I was miserable there, and got into central Sydney as often as I could. The neighborhood wasn't dodgy or anything, it was just far from where any opportunities were for me (in the arts), and transport downtown was quite expensive. It was a lot like the Midwestern (US) neighborhoods I'd grown up in, and a reminder of why I'd left.

Melbourne was lovely and I felt probably a better fit for us. Reminded me of parts of Boston, but of course has its own Australian character.

At any rate, it sounds like you've got a good deal. Oz is a great jump-off point for so many places: NZ. the South Pacific, Indonesia...go for it!

JohnGalt

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This decision will not come down to finances and I'm not really looking for any face punches on my proposed Sydney budget.

...

So... is $2,200 / mo worth this experience?  That's about what my target long term US expenses are so it's a little hard to swallow if I use that as a barometer.

Your first sentence and your first question contradict.  Will it come down to finances (i.e. is $X worth the experience) or not?

Also, not trying to face punch (honestly, didn't even look at the specific numbers), but is it a padded budget or bare bones?  Big difference, especially if you are comparing "is $X worth the experience" - because if you find you can cut 1k once you're over there, it (the actual level of spending) may well be worth the (new amount of) expense.  If you find you're spending that much, or more, maybe it won't be (assuming it does come down to finances).

I guess what I'm trying to say is - if you are going to ask a question "is $X worth the experience," you'd better make darn sure $X is accurate (or peg it to a range, and be okay with the high end of that range), otherwise the question is meaningless and you may well come up with the wrong answer (you might say no, it's not, when really X should have been 1/3 of what it was, if it was done right).

Again, I don't know, I didn't look at the numbers, but it's something to consider - how accurate do you feel that budget is?  Get that as accurate as possible, then ask the question.

Yeah... accuracy is probably 50/50.  About half are items I've looked at and half are estimates.  Just trying to get a feel for it.  I'm going to work on getting it more accurate over the next week or so. 

It got late last night while I was working on that post and I didn't really finish it.  The "is it worth it" question isn't so much to decide if I will do it as it is to decide how much to push for in negotiating though finances would become a no go reason if the compensation isn't high enough to.  As a numbers person, it's also something that I probably won't ever be able to fully ignore.  I guess the bottom line is that I need to figure out what my minimum compensation requirements will be to make this move.  If they aren't willing to at least match my current level, how much of a drop am I willing to take?  How much guaranteed salary do I want vs performance based?  Do I get creative and take less money if they will cover housing costs?  Stuff like that.

The parts I definitely need to flesh out more....  (As I change my estimates, I'll update the numbers above and note the changes in new comments.)
Healthcare, since I ignored it on both sides
Travel, I basically just assumed two flights home a year and then guessed at what I would spend traveling.
Food, assuming I will eat out less than I am now since I'm pretty much eating out every meal lately but that the cost per meal will go up. 
US tax burden while in Australia.  I think it will be fairly inconsequential, but haven't done the math yet. 

For some reason I feel like I have to have a pretty good idea about what the numbers are before I can tell myself to ignore the difference.  Leaving it as an unknown just makes me uncomfortable. 
Anyways - I feel like this is all over the place, but that's alright, I guess I'm just using this space to organize my thoughts as best I can.


« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 09:20:11 AM by JohnGalt »

arebelspy

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For some reason I feel like I have to have a pretty good idea about what the numbers are before I can tell myself to ignore the difference.  Leaving it as an unknown just makes me uncomfortable. 

I absolutely agree.

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mlipps

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Off hand, your proposed food budget looks pretty unrealistic to me. Food was expensive in Australia in a way that I, as an American, was totally unprepared for. I'd love to hear contradictions from those who live there and know how to get the sales, etc., but I would say most things were 2-3x more expensive than here. I don't imagine being able to live as a single person on $150/month+$300 eating out, but maybe I'm wrong.

JohnGalt

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Off hand, your proposed food budget looks pretty unrealistic to me. Food was expensive in Australia in a way that I, as an American, was totally unprepared for. I'd love to hear contradictions from those who live there and know how to get the sales, etc., but I would say most things were 2-3x more expensive than here. I don't imagine being able to live as a single person on $150/month+$300 eating out, but maybe I'm wrong.

Yeah - food is definitely one of the ones that I need more info on. 

JohnGalt

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I think I have a pretty good handle on the tax implications.  I'm surprised at how little difference there is in what I'm calling my effective net income (subtract taxes and insurance from gross, add in employer contributions to retirement less estimated early withdrawal costs) - the 9.25% required employer contribution (compared to 4% employer match I have now) in Australia goes a decent way towards making up for some of the income taxes. If I assume my social security taxes are a total loss (which isn't right but the implications are more complicated to figure out than its worth), I actually end up with a higher effective net income rate in Australia than I have here in the US. 

So I think I'll just consider 1 USD = 1 AUD from a gross income standpoint.  I'm also ignoring exchange rates because I'll be spending the income in it's respective country and have no way of knowing what the exchange rate might be a year (or a few years) down the line when I either repatriate to the US or decide to transfer US investments to Australia.

So while I don't know exactly what my income would be in Australia yet, I think I'm informed enough to at least start putting together a few different compensation scenarios to use in negotiations. 

Next up, expenses.  I've done some more research and revised some of my original numbers.

ExpenseAustraliaUS
Rent$1,800$650
Utilities$200$100
Internet$60$50
Cell$60$30
Dine Out$500$300
Grocery$200$75
Auto$0$50
Gas$0$200
Public Transit$120$0
Entertainment$300$125
Misc.$75$75
Travel$1,500$200
Total Monthly Expenses$4,815$1,855

So I'm essentially expecting to spend an additional $3000/mo

$1300/mo goes towards travel - which is 100% in my control. 
  • I've budgeted $3,500 for visiting home (just flights, no hotel costs) twice a year.
  • Another $12,000 for making the most of being in that part of the world.  I may be way overstating this.
$1250/mo goes towards living in downtown Sydney - this could come in lower if I can find a deal or roommate situation.  If I stayed longer than my first lease and couldn't find a roommate to lower costs, I would most likely consider moving further out of the core business district to lower costs. 
$450/mo goes towards price increases

I think the important thing for me to keep in mind is that these increases are temporary while I'm in a specific environment for 1-3 years (right now I'm thinking 3 years is the max time I would stay). I'm okay with these expenses because the experience would be hitting a number of things I've always wanted to do:
  • Super urban living
  • Extended travel in Australia/New Zealand
  • Travel to Asia (hoping I can do at least 2 major trips per year)
  • Full immersion in a non-US culture (this one might be a stretch as I don't know that Sydney is going to be all that different of a culture at the end of the day)





« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 07:23:16 PM by JohnGalt »

JohnGalt

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Update

I have a really good relationship with my boss and he and the other owners were doing all the planning for 2014 including hiring budget/scheduling so I decided to let him know that I was considering leaving - as a courtesy more than anything.

He had the exact response I expected him to have - basically that they love having me and we should talk options to make things work but at the end of the day he understands that I need to do what I think is best for me.  He even came back to me the next day and said he was trying to figure out if they could let me work for them from Sydney - but that they didn't think we could get around the time difference. 

The conversation really emphasized to me how good I do actually have it with this company.  So I thought about it for a few days and then made a proposal to set me up where I can take a few weeks to a month off at a time, 2 or 3 times a year.  Basically starting the transition into semi-retirement that I've always envisioned doing. 

With lot's of people off this week - we haven't had much time to talk about it yet other than for him to tell me he's open to the idea and we should talk when the other owners are back. 

Still holding off the Aussie company while I figure this stuff out. 

chasesfish

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I keep reading the thread and say take the flex schedule and enjoy it at 28, you always have the option to go work in Australia some other time.

stripey

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On the other hand, at 28 there are fewer financial and (possibly) family committments, so hopping halfway across the globe for a few years has less risk and requires less effort. Half glass full or empty.

I live (comfortably) on $2k/month in a city with a higher cost of living than Sydney (although very central Sydney may be a different kettle of fish). This includes several meals out per week, free range meat, a car, and several holidays (last year saw two international trips). I do have a boarder though which helps with the rent.