Possible move to the USA, asking for insights

leman

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To all my American friends on the forums: there is a certain possibility that my partner and me (both in our late 30-ties, no children) will be offered professor-level positions in the USA (California coast) in the near future, so we want to prepare for that eventuality. In particular, we are a bit concerned about the cultural and frankly financial impact of such a move. Having lived in prosperous European countries most of my independent life, I am sure that there will be a lot of subtle (and less subtle) cultural things to adjust to, as well as many obvious mistakes one can make. Starting with things like having to drive pretty much anywhere, credit scores, low density housing, different construction and food safety standards, crime exposure, lack of safety net, to culture of academic teaching (e.g. one hears horror stories of lecturers being harassed and fired because students believe they might have used a term they find offensive). Maybe I am overthinking this, but it sounds like a potential minefield to navigate. We also would interested in purchasing a house, but prices and mortgage rates seem absolutely obnoxious down there and I don't know if I want to do a 90 minute one way commute to campus from a more affordable, but that's a different issue.

Anyone might have some helpful tips or insights? Maybe some street wisdom to share? Anything that you might consider obvious, but a naive European might be oblivious to?
 

Agent47

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IMHO it is close to impossible to achieve what you are looking for, assuming you'd like to settle there on a permanent basis unless you win the Green Card lottery.
I've tried and researched this for over a decade without luck. Maybe if you have close ties to someone of higher status in the US (I haven't) its possible or easier
 

leman

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IMHO it is close to impossible to achieve what you are looking for, assuming you'd like to settle there on a permanent basis unless you win the Green Card lottery.
I've tried and researched this for over a decade without luck. Maybe if you have close ties to someone of higher status in the US (I haven't) its possible or easier

We are not worried about the Green Card since we’d be entering the country as “Outstanding researchers” (EB-1 I think). The university potentially interested in employing is a top tier institution, so we don’t expect any immigration hurdles here. That said, no offer has been made yet and it’s not given it will be made, I just want to be prepared for the eventuality. Like, what kind of mistakes can one make when relocating or looking for housing, what are common pitfalls expats might encounter, what are some general do’s and dont’s?
 

Alli

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There a few Californians here on the forums, and they may be able to offer some good insight as to best places to live, housing, etc. Being a non-American will get you through a lot of things as far as language…once or twice.

A lot of things will depend on the school/city. I have a cousin who is non-teaching faculty at SDSU. I’d be happy to put you in touch if that might help.
 

leman

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Thanks Alli! The place in question is Santa Barbara.
 
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Alli

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Thanks Ali! The place in question is Santa Barbara.
The only people I know there are from Moms Demand Action. None of them are in academia though. On the bright side, the organization does really well there.
 

Citysnaps

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Thanks Ali! The place in question is Santa Barbara.

UCSB?

Santa Barbara is beautiful - I love that city being on the coast. And it's just far away enough from Los Angeles. I haven't been there in awhile, but I suspect living in Santa Barbara would be on the pricey side. Nearby towns like Goleta/Carpinteria might be more affordable if you're just starting out. Just a guess.
 

leman

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Precisely

Santa Barbara is beautiful - I love that city being on the coast. And it's just far away enough from Los Angeles. I haven't been there in awhile, but I suspect living in Santa Barbara would be on the pricey side. Nearby towns like Goleta/Carpinteria might be more affordable if you're just starting out. Just a guess.

Yes, the housing prices are really insane.
 

Citysnaps

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Is your motivation/goal mostly about considering that specific offer at UCSB, or... in general a desire to live in California, or some other state in the US, potentially taking a position at a different university?
 

leman

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Is your motivation/goal mostly about considering that specific offer at UCSB, or... in general a desire to live in California, or some other state in the US, potentially taking a position at a different university?

Just this specific possible offer. It’s not that we are actively looking to move to the USA, it’s just that the offer might be very attractive for our careers and we don’t mind starting a new adventure. Obviously, it’s also a risk.
 

fischersd

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California's my favourite state. The west coast is pretty laid back (hence why I moved to the Vancouver, BC area) :) I lived in Boston for about 2 1/2 years (never again!). A lot of the northern states may as well be Canadian, as we tend to have so much in common - similar people. :)

Get your permanent residency, then your citizenship as quickly as you can, so you don't have to worry if they change any of their immigration quotas. If you're a UK citizen, I think you'll want to renounce your citizenship to get away from their taxes, once you're an American citizen.
 

Roller

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To all my American friends on the forums: there is a certain possibility that my partner and me (both in our late 30-ties, no children) will be offered professor-level positions in the USA (California coast) in the near future, so we want to prepare for that eventuality. In particular, we are a bit concerned about the cultural and frankly financial impact of such a move. Having lived in prosperous European countries most of my independent life, I am sure that there will be a lot of subtle (and less subtle) cultural things to adjust to, as well as many obvious mistakes one can make. Starting with things like having to drive pretty much anywhere, credit scores, low density housing, different construction and food safety standards, crime exposure, lack of safety net, to culture of academic teaching (e.g. one hears horror stories of lecturers being harassed and fired because students believe they might have used a term they find offensive). Maybe I am overthinking this, but it sounds like a potential minefield to navigate. We also would interested in purchasing a house, but prices and mortgage rates seem absolutely obnoxious down there and I don't know if I want to do a 90 minute one way commute to campus from a more affordable, but that's a different issue.

Anyone might have some helpful tips or insights? Maybe some street wisdom to share? Anything that you might consider obvious, but a naive European might be oblivious to?
From your post, I think you know cost of living will be a major consideration, but only you can tell if you and your partner's income and financial resources will be sufficient to achieve the lifestyle, including housing, you want. I've been to Santa Barbara several times, having lived in Southern California for more than a decade. As others here have noted, it's lovely, but expensive. I suggest you rent a home or apartment for six months to a year rather than buying. It's a good way to determine if you're in the right area.

As well, only you can assess the solidity and permanence of your job offers. I've been in academics almost my entire career, and know that universities and other educational/research institutions will go a long way to recruit superlative talent, especially in "hot" disciplines. The more they're willing to do for you (e.g., set up labs, pay for staff), the more likely they see it as a long-term commitment.

Culture and politics also come into play when moving to a different country. As you probably know from the news and perusing this forum, the U.S. is at a particularly fraught juncture, with the most important election in our history just under one year away. We are hoping for the best, but there are no guarantees. The extent that this should factor into your decision-making is up to you, of course.

Best of luck with your decision.
 

shadow puppet

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Yes, the housing prices are really insane.
Indeed. Current median home prices in Santa Barbara are roughly 2.1 mil. I would love to live there. SB is like another planet of fresh air and it's utterly beautiful.

I wish I had some good options for you. California has been my home since 1974 and from North to South, I have loved every place in the state I've lived. Sadly, Covid was the beginning of the end for me so I have to sell my house and no clue where to go.

FYI: Currently Goleta's median price to buy is $1.2 mil. Carpinteria has had a home median increase of 141% so current home medians are running 4.8 mil.

I absolutely love living in California but it seems the few semi affordable places right now are Fresno and Bakersfield (MAGA country).

I hope something works out for you. Perhaps renting a guest house or somesuch might be a good option? Or does UCSB offer any help towards living accommodations?
 

MEJHarrison

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Youtube seems to have a large amount of videos along the lines of "European visits America for the first time" or "Top 10 most X things about visiting America for the first time". I've not had one pop up on my feed in a while, but I know they exist. They might be a good place to research some of the things an outsider might find different than what they're used to.

Here's a good jumping off point: https://www.youtube.com/@yournewzealandfamily
 

leman

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Thank's for the kind words and suggestions! I'll be sure to follow them up!

From your post, I think you know cost of living will be a major consideration, but only you can tell if you and your partner's income and financial resources will be sufficient to achieve the lifestyle, including housing, you want.

Yes, that's the big question for us as well. All we know is that even with our current fairly decent salaries a $2M+ place is completely out of the question. So a lot of details will depend on the offer.

As well, only you can assess the solidity and permanence of your job offers. I've been in academics almost my entire career, and know that universities and other educational/research institutions will go a long way to recruit superlative talent, especially in "hot" disciplines. The more they're willing to do for you (e.g., set up labs, pay for staff), the more likely they see it as a long-term commitment.

Not really a hot discipline (it's humanities), so I doubt we can expect too much. But one will need to wait and see. I also don't think we would consider a move unless it's a long-term commitment.

I hope something works out for you. Perhaps renting a guest house or somesuch might be a good option? Or does UCSB offer any help towards living accommodations?

Good suggestions, we'll check it up!

Santa Barbara is lovely. We go there for long weekends every year or so. Solvang is nearby and a lot of fun to visit, too.

Well, if it works out I'd love to meet you for a drink one day :)

Youtube seems to have a large amount of videos along the lines of "European visits America for the first time" or "Top 10 most X things about visiting America for the first time". I've not had one pop up on my feed in a while, but I know they exist. They might be a good place to research some of the things an outsider might find different than what they're used to.

Here's a good jumping off point: https://www.youtube.com/@yournewzealandfamily

Good ideas! I'll have a look.
 

Cmaier

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Thank's for the kind words and suggestions! I'll be sure to follow them up!



Yes, that's the big question for us as well. All we know is that even with our current fairly decent salaries a $2M+ place is completely out of the question. So a lot of details will depend on the offer.



Not really a hot discipline (it's humanities), so I doubt we can expect too much. But one will need to wait and see. I also don't think we would consider a move unless it's a long-term commitment.



Good suggestions, we'll check it up!



Well, if it works out I'd love to meet you for a drink one day :)



Good ideas! I'll have a look.

My grandparents moved to the US from Europe, and they liked it :)
 

Eric

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I'm in Northern CA myself as one who has bought a few homes here (and considering the cost of housing) we always look for nearby suburbs with new builds, as you mention you don't want a 90 minute commute and I get that, not sure what they have to offer in Santa Barbara but you may be able to find something more reasonable that isn't too far away.

The biggest issue you'll run into right now are the really high interest rates, assuming you're not paying in cash. We really took a hit with it on our last home but figure we can refinance again once they drop back to something more reasonable.

As for California and its culture, IMO it's wonderful, there's something for all walks of life here and the weather is pretty much the best you'll find anywhere in the world, especially where you're going. If it works out for you I think you would be very happy here.
 

Cmaier

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I'm in Northern CA myself as one who has bought a few homes here (and considering the cost of housing) we always look for nearby suburbs with new builds, as you mention you don't want a 90 minute commute and I get that, not sure what they have to offer in Santa Barbara but you may be able to find something more reasonable that isn't too far away.

The biggest issue you'll run into right now are the really high interest rates, assuming you're not paying in cash. We really took a hit with it on our last home but figure we can refinance again once they drop back to something more reasonable.

As for California and its culture, IMO it's wonderful, there's something for all walks of life here and the weather is pretty much the best you'll find anywhere in the world, especially where you're going. If it works out for you I think you would be very happy here.

This is everything anyone needs to know about Santa Barbara:
 

Citysnaps

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As for California and its culture, IMO it's wonderful, there's something for all walks of life here and the weather is pretty much the best you'll find anywhere in the world, especially where you're going. If it works out for you I think you would be very happy here.

Spot-on assessment of California. My grandparents were from Boston, but came out to California and never looked back. Thus I've been in the San Francisco Bay Area my whole life and enjoy the wide range of what it has to offer. In the past I've done a lot of traveling in the US and overseas, but still can't see living anywhere else outside of California. Maybe Australia. In the past I had a six month work-related stint there and enjoyed the culture and people there immensely. Or Manhattan - I love the energy, culture, and photo opportunities there.
 
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