‘I earn $350,000 and pay 19pc tax since moving to the US – I’m living my dream’

‘i earn $350,000 and pay 19pc tax since moving to the us – i’m living my dream’

In America, Anton Elliot (right) can easily bring in $1,500 (£1,190) a day doing ad-hoc consulting work - Anton Elliot

Each year, over 400,000 British residents seek pastures new abroad, with 20,000 setting their sights on the United States.

Many are drawn by the vastly higher wages – the average salary was just over £52,000 in the US last year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the UK equivalent was £35,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Factor in the comparatively lower tax burden and increased disposable income, and it’s easy to see the appeal for Britons long ground down by low wages, high inflation and bad weather.

Everything in America, from salaries to portion sizes, is bigger – and some may argue better. For those grappling with soaring housing prices and a relentless cost of living crisis back home, the prospect of a fresh start across the Atlantic has never seemed more enticing.

‘For British people, okay is good enough’

Anton Elliot first visited the US when he was 13. He flew from London to Florida with his family and “within the first five seconds”, he knew he would move there one day.

As he entered his 20s, Elliot was pushed further and further away from London in hopes of purchasing a home. He eventually bought a property in Dartford, Kent, as “it’s too expensive anywhere near London”.

From 2006, Elliot worked in housing and repairs, building and training IT systems. At the time he was earning between £50-70,000. While to Elliot this seemed like a huge sum of money, the reality when you are trying to purchase a property without a cash injection from your parents, he says, is very different.

Elliot, 38, and his wife would visit the US about once or twice a year, dreaming of the day they would finally move for good.

He says: “We always knew it was going to happen. We just had to create a means to get there.” However, the trigger was finally pulled after a holiday to Wales in 2019. Despite being forecast sun, it rained for the entire three days. “I said to Selena, I’m coming home and I’m buying a plane ticket and I’m leaving.”

‘i earn $350,000 and pay 19pc tax since moving to the us – i’m living my dream’

Elliot, 38, and his wife would visit the US about once or twice a year, dreaming of the day they would finally move for good - Anton Elliot

A few months later, his wife had the opportunity to transfer internationally with her company in the healthcare industry, and Elliot was able to go with her. While their original move was delayed 10 months by the pandemic, they eventually made it to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2021.

In the US, Elliot can easily bring in $1,500 a day doing ad-hoc consulting work.

“You’re paying half in tax and earning twice as much,” he says. “The US has no ceiling and no floor, whereas the UK has a very high floor and a very low ceiling.”

While in Britain he made around £170,000 to £190,000 with an effective tax rate of about 37pc, in the US his base income is around $300,000 to $350,000 with an effective tax rate of just 19pc.

Elliot has also noticed a mindset shift since being in the US.

“Most of our friends here are so encouraging when you’re doing well,” he adds. In the UK people don’t like success, he says. “If you’re successful, you become the enemy somehow. I don’t know why but that seems to be the way.”

From Elliot’s experience, for most Britons “okay is good enough”. He says: “I just think that we settle and complain – those are the two things that we love doing.” In the US he feels a push to be the best version of himself, whether that is through how hard he works or how much he earns.

He says: “I’m a person that I want to do well, good enough isn’t good enough. Even if that means there’s a big chance of failure, that’s fine for me because the upside is equally big.”

‘The opportunities are greater if you’re putting the work in to take them’

When Amber Peacock met her husband, they both had the shared dream of moving to the US. At the time, Peacock was working in pharmaceutical sales, and lived in Edinburgh.

“I was earning a very good salary, particularly for my age, but just didn’t enjoy the job.”

In 2018, they started looking into the process of relocating, with her husband Josh securing a coveted sponsored green card thanks to his work in the summer camp industry.

Peacock also started exploring potential job opportunities in the US.

“I would have been able to get a job doing exactly the same thing, same hours, same commitment, same responsibility, and my salary would have doubled – if not tripled,” she says.

‘i earn $350,000 and pay 19pc tax since moving to the us – i’m living my dream’

Now settled in Florida, Peacock, 28, is hoping to launch her own business - Amber Peacock

When they first started the process of looking to move their lives looked very different.

She says: “It was just the two of us, it didn’t really matter about working hours and things like that.”

Now, they have a two-year old son. “Our ambition has grown, but in a different way.” Peacock’s priorities have shifted, now requiring greater work-life balance and flexibility.

“We knew that the US working culture was very different,” she says.

“Longer hours are expected, office working returned to normal after Covid in a lot of industries, my position would have included a lot more international travel and unsociable hours and I wouldn’t have been able to spend quality time with my family. Not to mention whenever we decide to grow our family the parental leave is terrible here.”

She adds: “We were kind of scared of corporate life in America, because it is so much more hardcore over here… While you are compensated far better here, that wasn’t worth the extra hours and extra stress that comes with corporate America so we decided to both be self employed.”

Now settled in Florida, Peacock, 28, is hoping to use the abundant opportunities that come with living in America to launch her own business.

While waiting for her and her husband’s work permits to come through, she began building an audience on TikTok, eventually monetizing her platform where she posts videos about life in the US. Peacock is also doing a master’s degree in business.

Now, she is launching ReGifted, a company that takes brands’ products that are otherwise destined for landfill and resells them at discounted prices, using the proceeds to help American charities with a focus on homelessness and veteran rehabilitation.

Peacock says: “I’m trying to give back to the country that’s taken us in.”

Although she acknowledges her perspective might have been different in her old corporate job, as an entrepreneur, she sees more earning potential in the US compared to the UK.

“We’ve definitely seen the benefits of America being like the land of opportunity, as they call it,” she explains.

While the US is big and competition is tough, Peacock ultimately sees this as motivation.

She says: “There is more money over here in business, the opportunities are greater if you’re putting the work in to take them.”

‘I don’t want to say we work harder here, but we do’

Alexandra Marshall Grant transferred from her firm’s London office to Charlotte, North Carolina in September 2022. A move to the US had been on her mind since her teenage years. “It always seemed like everything was better in America,” says the 37-year-old.

When applying for jobs she was strategic about the firms she applied to, prioritising global companies with offices in the US.

“I positioned myself to be able to pitch a business case to be able to move,” she says. “It worked out that everything I wanted to do was in line with the visa requirements.”

She now works as a senior consultant on a six-figure salary; the move across the pond boosted her salary by 54pc.

Having been in the US for two years, for Marshall Grant the limits are off.

“I think as a Black woman working in corporate, I feel like I’m much more represented in the US. I find it easier to have a voice,” she says.

Marshall Grant’s experience reflects a stark departure from her time in the UK, where she felt the underlying linger of class dynamics. Despite her impressive academic and professional achievements within some of the UK’s largest financial institutions, she often found herself grappling with feelings of inadequacy.

“I don’t feel that now at all in our US firm,” she says. In the US, the American Dream, in theory, defines success to the result of one’s merit. She says: “That was very appealing.”

As well as the career and development opportunities, Marshall Grant also noticed a palpable difference in work culture upon her transition to the US.

“I feel like in the UK, maybe business was slowing down, or maybe people weren’t as hungry, but I feel like here people are very hungry,” she says. “I don’t want to say we work harder here, but we do.”

Gone are the days where Marshall Grant could close her laptop at 6pm and switch off from work until the next morning.

“The work life balance is very different, if not non-existent,” she says.

For Marshall Grant the payoffs are worth it, especially in this period of her life before she has children to think of.

“I just think the quality of life here for me is way better than it is in the UK.”

Despite a lateral move in her career, her salary increased “exponentially”, affording her luxuries previously out of reach. Relocating from London, where she could no longer afford to live, to owning a home in Charlotte proved a culture shock of the best kind.

“Three beds, two and a half baths, one car garage; to me it seems like a mansion.”

She is quick to dispel any illusions that moving to the US is easy or without its drawbacks.

“Yes, you can have this American dream but you don’t just get off a plane and it happens,” she says. “Moving country and emigrating is an extremely difficult process. I just want people to be mindful that you still have to mow the lawn on the other side.”


Why Britons will never earn as much as Americans

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