Relocation to Lake Tahoe CA

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I’ve got wood worm!

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Hey all. I need your advice.
We’re thinking of relocating from Scotland to the Lake Tahoe, California area soon and would really appreciate any advice or experience you might have, such as the lifestyle, work life balance of the U.S, the woodwork industry in general etc.
We’ve moved around the world and worked in many countries, but this will be the first time since having kids (5 year old twins 😬) so it has a lot more gravitas this time and scares us more 😂
I’m at the start of this exploration really, but the wife has booked a last minute trip to California for a week, leaving in a few days so that should give us a good start to see whether we’ll like it or not.

A brief bit of history to help perhaps. I’ve been working with wood all of my life but only professionally for 5 years now, have my own business but have been Sub-contracting to a high end cabinet maker/furniture maker for the last 18 months. We’ve spent time in CA and my wife is a consultant for a company in L.A. So we have ‘an in’ on regards to visas and work hopefully.

We are close friends with the mayoress of Truckee, just up from LakeTahoe also, so she’s been advocating for us to move there!

Any advice or experience would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Spectric

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I think culturaly it will be like chalk and cheese, but I think it may be a better place for woodworking thinking about how many American woodworking books have influenced me. You will also have to adapt to a different safety culture! Someone with more insight will be @MikeK who may now live in Germany but is American.
 

dzj

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A whole slew of my relatives would suggest that if you're in the prime of your life, it's a great place to be.
When facing rising costs of healthcare, educating your kids, mortgage...there are better places to drop anchor.
 

I’ve got wood worm!

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I think culturaly it will be like chalk and cheese, but I think it may be a better place for woodworking thinking about how many American woodworking books have influenced me. You will also have to adapt to a different safety culture! Someone with more insight will be @MikeK who may now live in Germany but is American.
It’s amazing seeing the difference just in housing construction. The predominantly timber framed housing there is situated within the forest itself. A far cry from our brick terraced housing! I’m hoping there will be a strong industry there given how much timber is used. But yes, the culture has its ups and downs I guess, though I’m excited about the general US blues music scene and outgoing, adventurous characteristics of the people in that area. We’re very adventurous ourselves so would hopefully fit right in.
 

Spectric

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It’s amazing seeing the difference just in housing construction.
Perhaps they still have standards and are actually building homes, here they are just building sheds to make good returns for the investors knowing they won't be standing for to long and so another opportunity to rebuild at some point in the future, what happened to housing that would stand for a 100 years plus.
 

Sideways

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Haha. You'll have the pleasures of OSHA, EPA, small town planning bureaucracy and 10 days a year holiday :)
Go for it. Travel broadens the mind. I'd say give it a go but stay away from union 'shops. Seeing one of those in the states was like time warping back to the 1970's.
 

RobinBHM

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The lack of public health provision scares me about America, but I wish you luck, it sounds like a great adventure.

And the weather….

Scotland 130 days rain a year 1300 hours sunshine

Lake Tahoe 60 days rain a year, 3,300 hours sunshine
 

PerryGunn

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Having visited Lake Tahoe when I was in California I can attest that it's a beautiful place.

To my mind the only downside is that, being in the mountains and over a mile above sea level, it doesn't have what you'd think of as California climate - at night during the winter it can regularly drop to -20c. You'll need to learn to drive with tyre chains because it averages over 10m of snow a year and the only months you can really count on for no snow tend to be July and August.

The lake has some of the clearest water I've ever seen but, being meltwater, even in the summer it's as cold as a witches hind tit.

I loved it, but I wasn't working there...
 

clogs

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Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
I went to live there S Calif just over 50 years ago.....best time of my life...for 5 years.....
I took a chance with no garanteed job...but good engineering skills.....working inside a week.....
luckily not to many Brits there then......
I earnt loads'a money......easy to spend tho.....lol.....
Just make sure ur families medical insurance is bomb proof....and that aint cheap either.....

would I go back absolutely but TOOOOOO old, fat and not enough money now.....hahaha.....
plenty of easy to afford but good quality equipment unlike here.....ton's of stuff used.....

Same weather here in Crete as Calif but without the stress......
we even drive on the wrong side of the road as well......hahaha.....

Just go for it, it's not a failure to come back if it doesn't work out...
 

I’ve got wood worm!

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Haha. You'll have the pleasures of OSHA, EPA, small town planning bureaucracy and 10 days a year holiday :)
Go for it. Travel broadens the mind. I'd say give it a go but stay away from union 'shops. Seeing one of those in the states was like time warping back to the 1970's.
Haha yes, woohoo for bureaucracy! I’ll have to get used to the concept of unions, having had no experience of them before. And most of my experience was in New Zealand, where H&S is a few decades behind the UK 😂
 

seanf

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Work-life balance is the one thing I see Americans complain about the most on other sites. With health insurance being tied to your job and many states having no mandatory annual leave allowance or a pitiful few days, plus the ability to legally fire anyone at any point for almost any reason. It seems if you are working for a company instead of for yourself then you really are expected to almost place your job above all else. As I say, these are things I’ve read rather than experienced but I would look into the work culture very closely

Sean
 

I’ve got wood worm!

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Work-life balance is the one thing I see Americans complain about the most on other sites. With health insurance being tied to your job and many states having no mandatory annual leave allowance or a pitiful few days, plus the ability to legally fire anyone at any point for almost any reason. It seems if you are working for a company instead of for yourself then you really are expected to almost place your job above all else. As I say, these are things I’ve read rather than experienced but I would look into the work culture very closely

Sean
Thanks Sean, yeah this is something which worries me the most! 😂 I’ll look in to it for sure.
 

DBC

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Haha yes, woohoo for bureaucracy! I’ll have to get used to the concept of unions, having had no experience of them before. And most of my experience was in New Zealand, where H&S is a few decades behind the UK 😂

Hi I am an ex NZ housebuilder and cabinet joiner. I think that you will find the US - as far as woodworking goes anyway - to be more similar to your experiences in NZ than in the UK. I did. The building procedure and materials are virtually the same. Much bigger houses that stand alone on 1/4 or 1/5 of an acre plots that are timber frame, lots of timber cladding, custom fences built by carpenters and not panels from B&Q, bigger land parcels around each property also mean more scope for outbuildings, decking, pergolas etc: at least at the non-budget end of the market.

When it comes to joinery/cabinetry many everyday people tend to want a lot more timber in their houses than the UK. Towns of any consequence in size will have one or more ‘cabinet shop’ for custom kitchens etc. In my experience the standard of workmanship in these is usually very high. From what you say above you should fit right into this sort of operation.
 
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Sandyn

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I would say, go for it. You can always come home, or go elsewhere if it doesn't work out. I have spent a lot of time working in San Jose C.A. I worked for an American company in Scotland. I really loved being there. The weather, the vast selection of products available 24 hours a day. I had the opportunity to move there, but I could never settle in the US, but that's just me. I had a few friends in the company move out there, some stayed and did very well, others returned. I didn't see any real difference in work-life balance. I saw a LOT of people absolutely buried in debt. I have seen horrendous poverty. Pay in the US for equivalent level in the UK was a lot higher. It is the land of opportunity. Things are cheap compared to here, but I don't think people's lives were hugely better in the US. I think you have the same old struggles no matter what you have. Having said all that, I still absolutely love visiting the US ....just on vacation now.
 

MikeK

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I think culturaly it will be like chalk and cheese, but I think it may be a better place for woodworking thinking about how many American woodworking books have influenced me. You will also have to adapt to a different safety culture! Someone with more insight will be @MikeK who may now live in Germany but is American.

Having lived in Germany for nearly 25 years, I am out of touch with what is going on in the U.S. and don't have any relevant experience with life on the west coast. My experience was working in northern Virginia and living about 45 miles west so I could afford a nice house with a decent plot of land. My daily commute in the beginning was about an hour each way, but it was worth it. Now the commute would be almost two hours each way because of the urban sprawl and increased traffic on the major highways.

The closest public transportation was about three quarters of the way to work, so it was not really an good option when adding parking and metro fees. This might have changed by now, but I am comfortable in my retirement here.
 

Scruples

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Hey all. I need your advice.
We’re thinking of relocating from Scotland to the Lake Tahoe, California area soon and would really appreciate any advice or experience you might have, such as the lifestyle, work life balance of the U.S, the woodwork industry in general etc.
We’ve moved around the world and worked in many countries, but this will be the first time since having kids (5 year old twins 😬) so it has a lot more gravitas this time and scares us more 😂
I’m at the start of this exploration really, but the wife has booked a last minute trip to California for a week, leaving in a few days so that should give us a good start to see whether we’ll like it or not.

A brief bit of history to help perhaps. I’ve been working with wood all of my life but only professionally for 5 years now, have my own business but have been Sub-contracting to a high end cabinet maker/furniture maker for the last 18 months. We’ve spent time in CA and my wife is a consultant for a company in L.A. So we have ‘an in’ on regards to visas and work hopefully.

We are close friends with the mayoress of Truckee, just up from LakeTahoe also, so she’s been advocating for us to move there!

Any advice or experience would be greatly appreciated!
Personally, I'd go somewhere where they speak the same language.
 

BucksDad

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I love the US and I love California but a country where my kids have to do active shooter drills at school is a no from me as a place to live (plus the healthcare, lack of employment rights and the political polarization of the country)

However sounds like it would be great for you. Most people enjoy stability and sameness whereas it sounds like you and your wife are the adventurous type :)
 

Richard_C

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I'm not trying to put you off, about 25 years ago I was offered a good job in my company's head office in Germany. I turned it down, young children and elderly parents, something which I now regret, I wish I and my now adult children had the right to live, work and retire anywhere in the EU. If either of them said they wanted to emigrate I would encourage them.

There are some practical barriers. I used to run our expat secondments and permanent overseas transfers among many other things. My knowledge is out of date but some things to think about (each may or may not apply).

In some countries, including I think the USA, one half of a partnership might be able to get a work visa but that doesn't mean the spouse/partner can. Situations vary. Is that important to you? How might your wife spend her time if she can't work?

Reintegration to the UK might bring difficulties if you plan to come back. No problem with citizenship or right to work here but you will probably fall short on state pension and any contribution based benefits. I really don't know about NHS, our hospital asks if you have been resident for 12 months whether or not you are a UK citizen but I don't know what the rules say. If you expect your children to go to a UK university they might be treated as overseas students and pay 3x the fees and no loans unless you moved back well before.

Tax isn't usually a problem, out of UK for 120 days or more (check, might be 160) you become non resident, there is a limit on how many days you can spend back here in any year, so you become tax resident in the country you live in. We did have a problem with one of our expats who unexpectedly inherited a house when his mother died young. The country he was in taxed inheritance very heavily so he lost out big time. Doubt that's an issue in the USA but once you get a green card the US will want to tax your worldwide income.

This is not to put you off, just find out about visas, tax, healthcare and future education before you make up your mind.

Had I accepted the offer back then I would be replying in perfect German and looking forward to retirement in the alps. Oh well...

(didn't last years wildfires get mighty close to Lake Tahoe? Great area, not been near for 10 years though)
 

Telebrit

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We made the same move as the one you are considering 20 years ago (from Yorkshire). It’s been good for us and we have no regrets though there are a lot of things to think about especially with school age kids. Typically your money goes further here but work/life balance is different, I worked for an entire year with no holiday, then I got 1 weeks paid leave in my second year!
I have worked for the same cabinet shop all this time and we have always had a full order book. I agree with what BucksDad wrote above, but, life is good and the sun shines a lot! We live in the Central Valley, 2 1/2 hours from Tahoe, I’d be happy to talk to you anytime, send me a PM.
Good luck!
 
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