Originally Posted by SARAHSELLAR
Hi there, I am new here. We are English and currently live in Germany and will be moving to the Miami area this summer. My husband will be working in the Doral area. Can anyone please advise as to nice areas to live with good schools that are approx. no more than a 30 minutes drive away?
Also can anyone give us some indication of the cost of living? What percentage of monthly salary for example do most families spend on rentals, so we can gauge how much we can afford for renting a house?
Does anyone know what monthly amount I would receive for normal child benefit for two children?
Any other advice would be greatly received.
Thanks in advance!!!
If your husband works in Doral, then live in Doral: one of the worst things about US life is being forced
to commute by car.
Doral is fine enough as far as neighborhoods go, but you will have to investigate deeper than this forum as to the quality of public and private school choices in the area, though, on balance, you should be alright: remember that good education begins at home.
As mentioned, to fully integrate socially, Spanish is basically a must. If you do not feel up to the challenge of integrating into Hispanic culture, Miami-style, then think twice about coming.
The rule of thumb used to be around 25% of household income on housing. A quick search on craiglist shows that a 3 bedroom rental in Doral averages around $1,700 per month. Do the math for your budget.
Though people complain as a matter of course, effective federal tax rates in the US are very low. You can deduct
$3,650 per person (2010, maybe higher in 2011) from your adjusted gross income (AGI) when calculating your tax base, so with a four-member household that's a $14,600 deduction
(2010). In addition, there is a child tax credit
of $1,000, per child I believe, but check the tax law or with a tax accountant. In any case you can subtract up to at least $1,000 from your annual federal tax liability.
State/municipal sales tax is around 7%, compared to around 20% VAT in much of Europe, and Florida has no state income tax (though hefty property taxes if eventually you own property in the state, plus hefty property insurance).
On the other hand, low taxes mean poor services in terms of transportation and the financing of health care, for example, and many US residents wind up paying "taxes" to insurance companies (mainly car and health insurance) in the form of premiums.
You may be lucky in that your husband's employment compensation package includes health insurance premiums. If not, then all I can tell you is that health insurance in the US is utter chaos, and the recent "reform" has exacerbated it, good luck.
Miami-Dade County has among the highest car insurance rates: if you both drive, figure somewhere around $3,000 per year in car insurance, though that figure can vary significantly depending on any number of factors.
Your biggest monthly utility bill will be electricity, the main factor being air-conditioner use and what average temperature you set. If you keep it around 79-80, for a 3 bedroom, estimate an average of $150 per month, if a lower temperature then the bill could be significantly higher, maybe double in the peak months.
Estimate food around $500 per month for a family of four, higher or lower depending on whether you know how to shop and the vicinity of more economic alternatives to the ubiquitious Publix supermarket chain (try Super Walmart, Super Target and fresh produce stands, if you can find one).
A phone, internet, cable television package could be around $125 per month.