Author Topic: UK couple needing fresh perspectives  (Read 1326 times)

jade

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UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« on: April 11, 2018, 10:11:35 AM »
Hi,

I am 42 and my husband is 47 and we are child free (apart from our cat :)). We own our 2 bed semi detached house in the SE of England and it's probably worth £200-220 k.

We have had lots of good advice here already so wanted to lay out our situation to see if there any thoughts on our options, financial and otherwise.

I work on a zero hours contract for a university providing student support. I have been doing this for eight years. I enjoy the work, flexibility and benefits of the role overall but also find it tiring and emotionally draining, more so the longer I do it. I have found working three days a week term time (plus usually one day, non term time) manageable and I usually net £17-18 k per annum as I earn £31.00 per hour (inc holiday pay). Although it is zero hours, I usually get the hours I need each year though the precariousness of the role, lack of sick pay etc. does add to my anxiety levels. I also contribute 9% to my workplace pension find and the university contributes 19% having joined in sept 2016).

My husband is an agency nurse earning £19 per hour inc holiday pay. He hasn't got a workplace pension. His work is much more sporadic and he now seems to be spending more time dealing with cancelled shifts and red tape than getting paid work over the last few years. His net has been £4.5k the last few years. He also has a previous NHS pension which he could take at 50 at £2100 a year plus a lump sum of £6k (64% of what he'd get at 60).

Where we live there isn't a huge about of work around and a lot is minimum pay so though we have our different issues with our jobs, we've hung on as most other jobs don't compare, in terms of hourly rate and flexibility, especially in my case. We want to retire early but financially aren't there yet, at least in our current circumstances, but are trying to look at it from different angles hence this post for feedback.

We're both quite used to a lot of free time and the truth is we're both also feeling quite burnt out from work in different ways, which has also led to anxiety issues for us both so extra work or new roles just don't feel doable right now. Though we're physically fit, hard workers and open to other work in future, we are trying to see if we can work things to get a basic level of financial independence sooner rather than later to take work out of the equation, at least for now. My husband has been nursing for over 22 years and would like to leave especially as the stress of the work and uncertainty exacerbates his IBS. He also volunteers in a conservation role which he loves.

We met when I was 30 & he was 35 & bought our house in 2006 for £133k and paid it off in just over 8 years in 2015. We continue saving as much as we can and currently have £34k in Vanguard life strategy 60 plus 7k in an emergency fund.

We live on £12k a year.

In an ideal world, my husband would retire and leave nursing now and I would stop my role in a few years (or if I felt better than I do now, possibly carry on for a couple of days a week). Crunching the numbers, we've come up with a few options:

Either now or in the next few years move to a lower COL area to release equity to add to our money to live on.

1. Thinking of South Wales where it seems possible to get a nice 1 or 2 bed house for approx £85k, releasing approx  100k to add to current pot of 34k to live on (pros are larger equity release, we like Wales, new start etc. cons are moving further from aging parents and family in South east and concern of not giving ourselves the option to move back if needed, as equity has been released).

2. Move to a LCOL area closer to our current location. It's possible to get houses for £140k upwards in areas not a million miles from where we are. (pros: we know these areas better than Wales and it would be easier logistically to move and scope things out. Some nice regenerating seaside areas with cheaper houses. More to do with free time (we live v rurally now). I could still commute to my job so that option is still there and possibly at reduced hours and travel to parents etc. should remain the same. Cons. These areas can have their issues, esp could be hard after living in a quiet area).

3. Move to a flat locally (possible for 100k). We are less keen as prefer freehold property if possible to avoid potential financial and other complications.

The other option is to keep doing what we're doing or some of the version of that. I have the freedom to to pretty much decide my hours each year or sometimes more regularly. State pension wise I need to contribute 7 more years and the my husband, 3.

It seems tight in some ways, but we don't need a lot to live on and the plan is to bridge things till we get the state pensions and if needed, hopefully top things up with extra work over the years as needed.

Thanks for reading and your feedback.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 10:19:35 AM by jade »

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 11:56:11 AM »
Hi Jade,

Apologies I may provide more comments that fall into the Ďthings to think aboutí category rather than genuine advice. Congratulations on your level of expenses. Thatís amazing for two people. I sympathise with you both for your work situations and feeling burnt out.

Your situation is difficult and so I have found it difficult to offer too much advice for fearing of misleading you. I found it difficult for the following reasons:

1. Your expenses are so low, you have very little contingency in a FIRE situation. I have three FIRE budgets and the higher two allow me to go down to the bottom one if there was a market down turn for example. You donít really have the ability to cut your expenses by too much here I wouldnít have thought. Therefore your plan A needs to be a solid one.

2. The state pension will be very important to you both. Firstly are you confident it will be worth the equivalent of what it is now in twenty years time? Secondly you will both need to contribute the years you have quoted.

3. You mention you would both like to quit now ideally or soon but you both need to qualify for the full state pension but you also donít feel you can take on new roles right now. Is it just a break you need here or is it more serious than that? Finding new roles is probably the best way forward if your job situations are really difficult.

I have also been exploring the possibilities of moving location at the time of FIRE. Similarly I would also look to move somewhere cheaper to effectively transfer house equity into my drawable stash. However a move should not be taken lightly and a huge amount of research needs to be undertaken. The cost of moving means no mistakes can be made. Done correctly though it could lead to a wonderful outcome.

With regards to your options:

1. Do you know the area in Wales well? What can you do to learn more? It will rain a lot more there than your current location. Does this bother you? The met office have great long term climate charts for the UK, well worth checking out. Could you rent your current place out and rent somewhere yourself that is cheaper for a period of time? As well as a potential small income boost, this could provide you with the benefit of exploring a new area before committing to it. You would need new positions in this new location. Could your husband get something in the conservation area or something else he enjoys? If you did this you would still have your place in the south east to fall back on if (a) you didnít like the new area or (b) you needed to move back for family reasons.

2 & 3. Would you then want to move to Wales as your permanent FIRE location as well? Iím thinking of moving/solicitor costs etc if you have multiple moves. Would renting your place out and renting a local 1 bed flat or something be an option here again to boost your income slightly without committing to all of the moving costs? I have no idea of rents in your area. Apologies if this is unworkable where you live but I thought I would mention it.

Your job sounds great in terms of flexibility and pay so if I was in your position I would probably try to keep this. It covers all your expenses now as well as providing a good savings rate. Is there anything you can do to tackle the elements of the job that are hard? If you felt a bit more comfortable at work then your husband could leave work now, take a break, recharge and then look for something better suited to help boost your savings and qualify for the full state pension.

There are others on the UK forums far better than me with investing knowledge and thought provoking solutions so Iím sure someone else will be along in a moment. I wish you both luck and hope you can find a solution. Your health and well being is the most important thing. Youíve both done so well to be mortgage free and live on such low expenses.

PhilB

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2018, 01:20:09 AM »
+1 on the congratulations on those expenses!  Keeping those so low really ups your options and speeds your journey, but I don't think you are quite there yet.
The good news is that once your SPs are in payment you will be way over your required income level assuming full SP - which is only a combined 10 working years, or about £7.5k of voluntary contributions, away.  The two things to address therefore are firstly the gap until they come on stream and secondly whether or not the survivor would have enough income once the first spouse dies taking their SP and, if DH ides first, a big chunk of that NHS pension with them.
As regards the gape, I'm guessing that you have about 3 years worth of expenses in your pension and you have another 3 in your vanguard investments so 6 years in total.  It's probably 21 years until the first SP comes on line so you have a 15 year hole to fill, but you are saving around 1 year per year worked so you are probably looking at around 7 or 8 years to  FIRE as it is.
You might be able to shave a bit off that by downsizing the house, but that will probably be pretty inefficient with the cost of moving etc.  Depending on your commitments to aging parents, etc, there may be another way to leverage your house though.  Would renting it out raise enough to fund a few years of 'slow travel'?

kei te pai

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2018, 02:13:18 AM »
I wonder if you have looked at private nursing/carer work for your husband? Ideally a  role with accomodation for you both? If it was within commuting distance for you, you could continue your job in the short term, and rent your house for extra income.
Its years since I lived in the UK, but The Lady magazine used to be a good place to look for these sort of jobs. I didnt enjoy the stress of agency hospital nursing, but had some very interesting experiences private nursing.

jade

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2018, 09:24:26 AM »
Hi Jade,

Apologies I may provide more comments that fall into the Ďthings to think aboutí category rather than genuine advice. Congratulations on your level of expenses. Thatís amazing for two people. I sympathise with you both for your work situations and feeling burnt out.

Your situation is difficult and so I have found it difficult to offer too much advice for fearing of misleading you. I found it difficult for the following reasons:

1. Your expenses are so low, you have very little contingency in a FIRE situation. I have three FIRE budgets and the higher two allow me to go down to the bottom one if there was a market down turn for example. You donít really have the ability to cut your expenses by too much here I wouldnít have thought. Therefore your plan A needs to be a solid one.

2. The state pension will be very important to you both. Firstly are you confident it will be worth the equivalent of what it is now in twenty years time? Secondly you will both need to contribute the years you have quoted.

3. You mention you would both like to quit now ideally or soon but you both need to qualify for the full state pension but you also donít feel you can take on new roles right now. Is it just a break you need here or is it more serious than that? Finding new roles is probably the best way forward if your job situations are really difficult.

I have also been exploring the possibilities of moving location at the time of FIRE. Similarly I would also look to move somewhere cheaper to effectively transfer house equity into my drawable stash. However a move should not be taken lightly and a huge amount of research needs to be undertaken. The cost of moving means no mistakes can be made. Done correctly though it could lead to a wonderful outcome.

With regards to your options:

1. Do you know the area in Wales well? What can you do to learn more? It will rain a lot more there than your current location. Does this bother you? The met office have great long term climate charts for the UK, well worth checking out. Could you rent your current place out and rent somewhere yourself that is cheaper for a period of time? As well as a potential small income boost, this could provide you with the benefit of exploring a new area before committing to it. You would need new positions in this new location. Could your husband get something in the conservation area or something else he enjoys? If you did this you would still have your place in the south east to fall back on if (a) you didnít like the new area or (b) you needed to move back for family reasons.

2 & 3. Would you then want to move to Wales as your permanent FIRE location as well? Iím thinking of moving/solicitor costs etc if you have multiple moves. Would renting your place out and renting a local 1 bed flat or something be an option here again to boost your income slightly without committing to all of the moving costs? I have no idea of rents in your area. Apologies if this is unworkable where you live but I thought I would mention it.

Your job sounds great in terms of flexibility and pay so if I was in your position I would probably try to keep this. It covers all your expenses now as well as providing a good savings rate. Is there anything you can do to tackle the elements of the job that are hard? If you felt a bit more comfortable at work then your husband could leave work now, take a break, recharge and then look for something better suited to help boost your savings and qualify for the full state pension.

There are others on the UK forums far better than me with investing knowledge and thought provoking solutions so Iím sure someone else will be along in a moment. I wish you both luck and hope you can find a solution. Your health and well being is the most important thing. Youíve both done so well to be mortgage free and live on such low expenses.

Thank you for your support, and encouragment and just getting where we're at never give up. ☺️ I understand it will be difficult to give advice as such, but the points you've raised have helped a lot and it's been good for both of us to lay everything out and assess where we're at too.

1. You're a right about expenses and the importance of ensuring our plan is solid.

2. state pension wise, we're not confident it will be worth the equivalent of what it is now in twenty years time and will need to keep an eye on changes and ensure we're OK. You're right though, we do both need to contribute the years I quoted.

3. I think as you mentioned later, I should try and hang on to my role especially as I need to qualify for the full state pension. We're thinking my DH may do one more year nursing to accrue at least enough (about 3 k) to cover buying five years to qualify for SP as the last two years he hasn't earnt enough due to issues mentioned and he has three more years to go as well. We're planning on him leaving nursing at the end of the year then, to continue volunteering and possibly find other income streams in time though conservation roles seem hard to come by especially without associated qualifications.

You're right about not taking a move lightly. We want to get it as right as we can if we do move to Wales, locally or elsewhere, as if we do decide to move, plan not to move again and want to minimise solicitor and moving fees etc too. We also want to do it for the right reasons, not as a fear response as such. As you said though, done correctly, it could be great.

With regards the options we mentioned:

1. We don't know Wales well but have liked it when visiting. We're not completely ruling it out and it could be a good back up option but not a fore runner now we're reflecting on it. We can visit,  research etc if we decide to pursue and your climate chart suggestion is useful as something we weren't aware of, thank you. We would probably prefer not to rent for financial reasons but can see the benefits so would try and scope any new area out fully beforehand.

You're right about my job being  great in terms of flexibility and pay. I think it's probably about accepting its the best option for me for the next seven or so years as I have tried all I can to change things (counselling, looking at things differently, tweaking practicalities where I can) and know it's very unlikely I would find anything comparable.

Thanks again for taking the time to discuss our situation, you've been really helpful and we very much appreciate it. We both feel clearer after reading the responses here and it does reinforce that patience and keeping on doing what we're doing whilst researching options carefully is the best option.




« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 09:51:01 AM by jade »

jade

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2018, 09:44:04 AM »
+1 on the congratulations on those expenses!  Keeping those so low really ups your options and speeds your journey, but I don't think you are quite there yet.
The good news is that once your SPs are in payment you will be way over your required income level assuming full SP - which is only a combined 10 working years, or about £7.5k of voluntary contributions, away.  The two things to address therefore are firstly the gap until they come on stream and secondly whether or not the survivor would have enough income once the first spouse dies taking their SP and, if DH ides first, a big chunk of that NHS pension with them.
As regards the gape, I'm guessing that you have about 3 years worth of expenses in your pension and you have another 3 in your vanguard investments so 6 years in total.  It's probably 21 years until the first SP comes on line so you have a 15 year hole to fill, but you are saving around 1 year per year worked so you are probably looking at around 7 or 8 years to  FIRE as it is.
You might be able to shave a bit off that by downsizing the house, but that will probably be pretty inefficient with the cost of moving etc.  Depending on your commitments to aging parents, etc, there may be another way to leverage your house though.  Would renting it out raise enough to fund a few years of 'slow travel'?

Thanks PhilB!

Appreciate the feedback on our low expenses, and agree we're not quite there yet. As you said though, we should be all good once SP kicks in (all being well with any government changes etc! ).

Your point about addressing the gap and situation if one of us dies, taking the SP with them is good and something for us to look at. We also thought I would get all DHs NHS pension in event of his death but need to check.

Thanks for your figures... It helped to see you saying roughly what we are thinking and it does seem like seven more years at least is the aim (possibly a little more). We're not up for slow travel but appreciate the idea could work for some. We have weighed up if releasing 50k ish after moving fees would be worth it moving locally... possibly or possibly not depending I guess on the other factors but we can keep investigating.

Thanks again, as I said to never give up, we feel clearer in just 24 hours after writing it all out here and reading your thoughtful responses.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 09:46:47 AM by jade »

jade

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2018, 09:49:48 AM »
I wonder if you have looked at private nursing/carer work for your husband? Ideally a  role with accomodation for you both? If it was within commuting distance for you, you could continue your job in the short term, and rent your house for extra income.
Its years since I lived in the UK, but The Lady magazine used to be a good place to look for these sort of jobs. I didnt enjoy the stress of agency hospital nursing, but had some very interesting experiences private nursing.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. To be honest, it's time for DH to leave nursing completely but I am sure your suggestion could be useful to others reading.

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2018, 11:27:49 AM »
Yes thereís nothing like writing everything down to make things seem a little clearer. Iím really rooting for you both Jade!

I have a similar length of time to go as well (7 years) and I find my job very stressful and the environment increasingly toxic. Exercise helps me as well as the knowledge that Iím trying my best each day and that I can do no more. I find this mindset ensures that when Iím outside of work I rarely think about work. I think this in turn means my recovery time in between working days is better and as a result I find it easier to get through the working day.

I have found that to improve things at work, it is not necessarily just connected with work itself. Can you make alterations to your home/outside life to ensure you can arrive at work energised rather than starting the day drained? I have had to work hard on sleep patterns, made changes to the time of day when I make my lunch for work, how I organise all my housework etc. It may sound silly but all these small changes have impacted me positively to ensure I feel stronger at work. As a result I then cope with the working day better.

Surprisingly I have found writing has helped me considerably. Iíve never been much of a writer and never really enjoyed it but shortly after joining these forums I started a forum journal and I canít quite describe how much of a positive it has been for me. I have a loyal group of just the loveliest people following, who have all helped me so much. Just the process of writing things down helps clear my head and I definitely think has led to better decision making. In turn I hope I provide an interesting read in the same way I have found many of their journals to be interesting myself. The path to FIRE is both exciting and interesting to read about. Your story is really interesting. You may hate writing, but if you found this thread beneficial, then even a journal where you only update it monthly or something may help clarify your thoughts, and make you feel you have additional support cheering you on.

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate
Here is the link I referred to. If you select the ĎAverages mapsí tab it takes you through to a map. It defaults to a 30 year period. You can select temperature, rainfall, all sorts of stuff and change the month to see how things vary across the UK. I spent far too long on here but I found it really interesting!

jade

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 01:48:01 PM »
Yes thereís nothing like writing everything down to make things seem a little clearer. Iím really rooting for you both Jade!

I have a similar length of time to go as well (7 years) and I find my job very stressful and the environment increasingly toxic. Exercise helps me as well as the knowledge that Iím trying my best each day and that I can do no more. I find this mindset ensures that when Iím outside of work I rarely think about work. I think this in turn means my recovery time in between working days is better and as a result I find it easier to get through the working day.

I have found that to improve things at work, it is not necessarily just connected with work itself. Can you make alterations to your home/outside life to ensure you can arrive at work energised rather than starting the day drained? I have had to work hard on sleep patterns, made changes to the time of day when I make my lunch for work, how I organise all my housework etc. It may sound silly but all these small changes have impacted me positively to ensure I feel stronger at work. As a result I then cope with the working day better.

Surprisingly I have found writing has helped me considerably. Iíve never been much of a writer and never really enjoyed it but shortly after joining these forums I started a forum journal and I canít quite describe how much of a positive it has been for me. I have a loyal group of just the loveliest people following, who have all helped me so much. Just the process of writing things down helps clear my head and I definitely think has led to better decision making. In turn I hope I provide an interesting read in the same way I have found many of their journals to be interesting myself. The path to FIRE is both exciting and interesting to read about. Your story is really interesting. You may hate writing, but if you found this thread beneficial, then even a journal where you only update it monthly or something may help clarify your thoughts, and make you feel you have additional support cheering you on.

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate
Here is the link I referred to. If you select the ĎAverages mapsí tab it takes you through to a map. It defaults to a 30 year period. You can select temperature, rainfall, all sorts of stuff and change the month to see how things vary across the UK. I spent far too long on here but I found it really interesting!

Thank you never give me up! I'm rooting for you too... We can cheer each other on along the way on our similar journey. Sorry to hear your job is so stressful and the environment so toxic too.

Exercise is amazing for helping with coping isn't it? It keeps me sane too. And yes, you're right...  trying our best each day. It's great that outside of work you rarely think about work. I am learning to do that slowly but surely. I cut my days down last year and stopped checking my email emails when I wasn't at work and that has helped immensely as well as trying to enjoy life outside work more.

I know what you mean that improving things at work isn't necessarily connected to work. We are proactive about this and exercise every day, sleep well, cook from scratch, and have nice down time. We are v organised and have a good division of labour between us,  DH does a lot of the cleaning and housework whilst I'm working more etc and rebalance it as needed for us both. I think in a way that's what's been hard... We've tried things from all angles, and they help us feel good a lot of the time but there's been this tricky dynamic with our jobs. I think like a lot of things in the life, it's accepting what we can't change or at least quicklyand appreciating the benefits of our situations where we can.

It's great to hear about the benefits you are finding with writing.
☺️ I have to say, I like the way you express yourself in writing... You have a lovely way of getting people and being clear and supportive. For me, one thing I have found beneficial to my mental health is being online less so I don't feel like writing a journal is right for me now but will sign up to yours and look forward to sharing more of your journey.

Thanks also for the met one office link... look forward to having a play with that!


never give up

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2018, 11:32:38 AM »
Crumbs it does sound as though you have tried everything. I wish I could have a nugget of a piece of advice to help you. I still find work draining despite making the changes I have. I guess ultimately I keep going as I realise the current job I have is in all likelihood the best chance I have of achieving FIRE early, and every day I put in is one less I will need to do in the future.

Thanks for your nice comments and have fun with the climate maps!

pdxbator

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2018, 01:07:19 PM »
Wow I was surprised by how little housing could be found for in the UK. Coming from the US in a good size city those costs are so low. It makes me want to move there.
already FI but telling myself I'll RE at age 50 in 7 years. Can I make it?

my journal http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/cold-feet-and-thoughts-on-early-retirement

jade

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2018, 05:08:48 AM »
Crumbs it does sound as though you have tried everything. I wish I could have a nugget of a piece of advice to help you. I still find work draining despite making the changes I have. I guess ultimately I keep going as I realise the current job I have is in all likelihood the best chance I have of achieving FIRE early, and every day I put in is one less I will need to do in the future.

Thanks for your nice comments and have fun with the climate maps!

I know, I guess as they say, when you have tried everything else it is about trying to look at things differently. I think we're kind of in the same boat, I think my job is probably the best chance of achieving FIRE too but also know I am fortunate that I can do it part time etc. Thanks again! We're feeling better and clearer now. :)

jade

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2018, 05:09:57 AM »
Wow I was surprised by how little housing could be found for in the UK. Coming from the US in a good size city those costs are so low. It makes me want to move there.

Outside London prices aren't too bad a lot of the time.

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2018, 05:20:43 AM »
Wow I was surprised by how little housing could be found for in the UK. Coming from the US in a good size city those costs are so low. It makes me want to move there.

The snag is that low housing costs are strongly related to a poor job market here. Fine if you are FI or retired, not good if you are still trying to get there.

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Re: UK couple needing fresh perspectives
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2018, 08:44:49 AM »
Wow I was surprised by how little housing could be found for in the UK. Coming from the US in a good size city those costs are so low. It makes me want to move there.

I have a friend who moved from one Wales (where Jade was talking about possibly relocating) to Portland, OR. His salary increased by a factor of almost x4 - and I suspect he still probably wasn't on a great salary relative to other people doing the same work in the US.