Should I work in the US or the UK? - which pays best?

Paul Mison lists at
Tue Dec 13 22:39:13 GMT 2011

ohai Long time, no see.

On 13 December 2011 13:01, Simon Wistow <simon at> wrote:
> So, I'll bite. This is based on my last 4 years working in SF. YMMV,
> IANAL etc etc.
> For what it's worth. I still live out here, don't have any plans to come
> back to London any time soon, if ever. Make of that what you will.

Mostly I have no quibbles with Simon's post, even though I've only
been here a little over a year and can't imagine living here for more
than the six years two H-1B visas give me (if that). So, some little

> The Location
> SF seems more like a big city stuffed into a small city's footprint.
> It's much easier to get around (terrible public transport not
> withstanding). It's much easier to move between parts of the city and to
> randomly bump into people. Nearby we have world class mountain sports,
> wine country, surfing, diving, hiking, mountain biking, the desert.

For me, as a culture vulture, SF doesn't cut it. SFMOMA is the size
of, what, the Wallace Collection? As for a really world class museum,
there isn't one, whereas London has the two Tates, the two National
Galleries, the British Museum, the Exhibition Road cluster, the
NMM/RGO, and that's just the big free ones that I can remember.

As for the wilderness part, that's great if you have a car and can
drive. I have not and cannot, and so I'm reliant on the kindness of
strangers, which I don't like. Even the Golden Gate Bridge, part of
the city, takes about an hour by bus from where I live. (There is a
lovely urban forest about twenty minutes from my house, though.)

On the other hand, if I'd managed to get to a different part of the US
(NYC springs to mind) I'd have a much more London-like experience,
grind and culture and all. Both have a reasonably good selection of
job opportunities, too.

> Jobs
> Salaries seem higher too. Even with various different things taken into
> account I'd say I'm about 20-30% better off out here.

Shame about the holiday (sorry, vacation) time. 15 days is just
becoming common as a starting offer, although you could probably be
unlucky and get just ten. When five or six of those days are eaten up
every time you visit family and friends back home, that's kind of
sucky, and more so when you're used to 25.

You get roughly the same number of public holidays as the UK, but
they're weirdly distributed (no Easter, but Thanksgiving; a holiday in
February but nothing for May Day) which takes some getting used to.
There are fewer than most EU countries, though, and some companies
pick and choose. The UK's habit of Christmas shutdowns is less common
here as well.

(This reply was partly inspired by seeing the Economist's holiday time
chart - - which
inexplicably lists the US legal minimum as 15 days then notes with the
dagger that it's merely common practice. Note that's after ten years,

> Visas
> The Politics

These both suck. I can imagine bugging out of the country within
months if Gingrich gets the White House, UK recession or not.

> Uncanny Valley
> To be honest - I miss the British personality as well. That's a longer
> story though.

Also, pubs. Bars just aren't the same. Love your local pub, Londoners.
Be cosy in it. Enjoy meat pies and warm beer.

Paul Mison

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