Every once in awhile you find yourself at a crossroads. Each road leading to an entirely new destination, each with their own crossroads leading to places that you never could have imagined.
When you find yourself at one of these pinnacle moments in your life you know that the decisions that you make will be paramount and you know this with absolute clarity. This week I found myself at one of these crossroads. I’ve seen it coming over the horizon for quite a while now but I didn’t think that I’d end up here so soon. There’s a lot of pondering to be done.
I’ve said many times on this blog that my dream is to relocate to a far away land, preferably the USA. In fact, it’s been my dream to move there since my childhood, it’s been almost an infatuation. I know that I’ve got the “American dream fever”, but when analysed, a lot of my wants and needs also point to the USA:
If you want to earn the biggest software engineering salaries, you need to be in the USA (particularly Silicon Valley)
I enjoy working hard and progressing, I also have an entrepreneurial spirit. Silicon Valley is where I belong and being there brings endless possibilities (even more than London!)
It’s the best country to be a citizen of, with regards to variety
I plan to retire early, I have plenty of passions but these might change at a moments notice. If I were a US citizen, I’d have 50 states that I could move to. No matter if I wanted snowy mountains, desert planes, lush greenery, rocky shores or perfect beaches - there’s a state that I could move to which would accommodate these dreams.
I also love the idea of ranching, building, and farming. Doing that in the UK would be a lot harder and more expensive than it would be in the USA.
There’s more land and bigger houses
The general consensus is that there is much more land and bigger houses in the USA (not particularly in California or New York City). For comparison - I’d be able to buy a ranch in northern Massachusetts for $75,000. If I tried to buy the same in Devon I’d be looking at over £1 million.
Moving away is a mean feat until you have clocked up a lot of experience and become desirable. In order to get a green card, the hiring company has to pay thousands of dollars and prove that they can’t hire a US citizen to do the same job. Due to this fact, I’d put the notion out of my head whilst I progressed through my career. Now, with over 5 years under my belt and with my marriage just around the corner (I can bring her with me), the time has come to really ask myself; is this what I still want to do?
Option #1 - Apply for visa sponsoring jobs now
This option has become more readily available to me due to new work connections. I could be applying to as many jobs as possible right now to maximise the possibility of moving to the USA.
Moving sooner rather than later seems like it’s what my heart desires. I have the experience, I’ll be able to bring my wife with me, why wait? Like previously mentioned in this blog, I feel like my life is waiting to start, why shouldn’t I start it ASAP? Moving now would mean that I’d become a citizen sooner, so I could move to a higher paying job more quickly once I’ve obtained a green card.
But it would also put a severe dent into my FIRE plans…
My savings rate would suffer, at least initially. My soon to be wife would not be eligible to work without her own VISA, she’d effectively be house-bound until I get my green card, which could take over 3 years. We’d also be living in an extremely high cost of living area. I wouldn’t really have the option to do what I’m doing now and have a long commute because I’d have to be working really long hours to ensure that I successfully get citizenship. These facts may mean that my savings rate would dip to near zero, a long way from the 80% that I’m achieving today.
Option #2 - Start contracting in London and relocate in a few years
The reason I initially started working in London was because I knew that I wanted to start freelancing. I’ve now got the experience (and the London experience) to begin this journey, it would be frustrating to move away before I even got to try it out.
Contracting would increase my pay by a factor of 2 and with my savings rate already sitting at 80%, it would make my savings rate go stratestophic. Contracting for a few years may even allow me to become fully financially independent before moving to the USA. My stash would then be able to grow whilst I obtained my green card and earning less over there during this process then wouldn’t matter as much.
Doing this would also allow my partner to continue working and moving up her career ladder, which brings us to another question - what to do about kids?
We’ve teetered along the lines of whether we want children for quite a while now. Both of us feel like we don’t want kids right now. We’re not settled into a location where we know we want to stay, it’s certainly not a viable place for children. We also still have so much that we want to accomplish, so many places that we’re yet to visit. And I know that children won’t halt these aspirations, but it will definitely hinder them. We are definitely in agreement that we do eventually want children, we don’t want to grow old without them. We know that one day, we’ll want a family.
The only trouble is the time bomb which is a woman’s womb. We know that we can’t wait too long without increasing the likelihood of pregnancy difficulties. Especially if we want more than 1 child. Because of this, we’re aiming to wait until the age of 31 at the latest, which gives us just under 4 years to sort our shit out and prepare.
This timeframe leads us down two pathways:
Option #2.a - Have children in the UK and relocate when they are young (in around 10 years)
This seems to make the most sense financially, but it would put a huge spanner in our initial dream (which is to relocate). We’d be able to continue earning and saving as much as we can, we’d both get maternity pay and we’d have the support of relatives if needed.
The one issue that I see with this option (other than staying in England) is that we’d have to move house. We chose our current place with cheapness in mind, we live in a really shit area (I’m pretty sure we have drug dealers at either side of us) and the house is not suitable for children. The place allows us to save a very high amount of our salaries, but we’d definitely have to move if we had kids.
The problem is, there aren’t many other options for places to move that would allow me to work in London, we’d either have to increase our housing costs massively or relocate to outside of the London area reducing my pay by a fair bit and perhaps forcing me to take up another permanent position.
I could potentially look for a fully remote contract before moving away from London, this could segway beautifully into relocating to the USA if the remote contract is with an American company. It would decrease my salary of course, but maybe that won’t matter after I’ve got a significant amount invested?
Option #2.b - Relocate in a few years and have children in the USA
This seems like it should be a great option. My wife won’t be able to work for at least a few years when we move away, so why not have kids then? The main issue seems to again, come down to costs.
I’m told that even with company health care, your excess costs for childbirth in the US can still be around $20k. WIth these prices it would be ludicrous to move out of a country where we could have kids for free, then proceed to instantly have children.
The other problem is that when we first relocate I’m going to have to be working crazy hours in one of the most demanding work cultures in the world. I wanted to take more time off and be more relaxed when we had children, not work more! I would hardly get to see my wife and newborn and being in a foreign country with no friends or family, it wouldn’t be ideal.
Going Around in Circles
What a conundrum. I want to move away to start our ”real life” as soon as possible. Doing so straight away would be financial suicide. Moving away after a few years would be ideal but we’d need to start thinking about children around this time. And having kids would make for a horrible few years working in a foreign country with a newborn.
Staying in England to have kids seems like the most sensible option but that would mean we’d have to foot the costs (and stress) of moving homes when we know that we’re not going to be living there for very long.
It seems like there are no correct options. At least, for now, moving straight away definitely seems like a bad choice. Doing so would be thinking solely with my heart and not with my head. So I should hold off on those interviews.
The most logical choice seems to be to have children in England. But that means we’d have to wait such a long time. We’d be much older then, everything wouldn’t be as new and exciting. We may even run the risk of ending up not moving at all. Children in general are also very unpredictable. We could end up not being able to have them or have some other kind of problems. Should we hold off our dreams on the wisps of uncertainty? Or let the uncertainty happen once we have moved?
There are other options to consider. We could move to Canada for example, we’d both be able to work there. It would also be a lot easier to get jobs and sponsorship there. We could move to any number of countries, but I guess we’ll have to defer this thinking for now. I did promise to not think about all of this until after the wedding!
At least this post has taught me one thing - to not move straight away. To hold fire! I’ll focus on the wedding and then starting my first contract. Building up my cash will only make things easier down the line.
What do you think I should do?