Joey’s comments are well taken.
I do not have tables for Edinburgh, but I have Glasgow, and it’s probably comparable. These are broad statistics based on data collected locally in terms of prices of items and services, and then averaged. They are used by companies in transferring employees from the US to the UK; there are several companies who do (and charge for) these statistics.
- Food at home will probably cost about 85% of what it costs in the US; food in restaurants, about 90%.
- Groceries about 70% of US costs, although fruits and veggies at 90%
- tobacco and alcohol at double US prices
- personal care at double US prices
- clothing at about 1.3 x US prices
- recreation at about 1.5 x US prices
- transportation about double
Overall, costs for goods and services ON AVERAGE at about 1.5 times what they are in the US. Be careful of that “on average” – individual preferences may lead to more expensive or cheaper purchasing needs. For instance, if he’s buying lots of diapers, that won’t be “average” anymore.
The statistics show that an American in the US on a USD 35,000 salary would spend about USD 18,000 on goods and services (about 50%). A Brit in the UK on a GBP 25,000 salary would spend aobut GBP 16,000 on goods and services (about 65%).
Rental costs depend on what type of place you want to live in (obviously); a local would probably rent smaller quarters than a US citizen might be comfy with. One bedroom apartment on average ranges from GBP 400 to GBP 500 per month unfurnished; add another GPB 100 to 200 for each additional bedroom. Figure utilities at around GBP 70 per month, and add GBP 10 - 20 per bedroom.
Just for comparison, the same sources show housing and utilities cost for a US employee with salary of USD 35,000 to be around USD 700 per month. Depends very much on where you’re living, you ain’t gonna be in downtown Manhattan for that.
Taxes will be higher. A US employee (married, one child) with income of USD 35,000 would on average pay around USD 3,500 in income tax and about USD 2,700 in social security contributions. A UK employee with an equivalent salary will pay around USD 6,000 in income taxes and around USD 3,600 in social security contributions.
He should check on the social security situation. If it is possible for him to remain on US social security and to be exempted from UK social security (there is a treaty between the countries that allows that for certain categories of transferred individuals), that should be looked into. Not just because it’s cheaper, but so that there’s no interruption in US social security when he gets back – cleaner, thirty or forty years from now, when he doesn’t have to worry about getting a small payment from UK social security. However, whether the treaty is applicable depends very much on his circumstances (who’s the employer, etc.) US social security tax is about 7.6%; UK is about 10%, but the ceiling is much lower.
REMEMBER that a US citizen must still file a US tax return each year, even if he also must file a UK tax return. The tax treaty between the two countries prevents double taxation, but it can be complicated to figure out.
It used to be that it was difficult for a spouse to get a work permit. Now, under the treaties between the US and the UK, in many cases the spouse can work under the employee’s work-permit. This should be verified; she shouldn’t go looking for work if she’s not legally eligible to work.
The real trick in international transfer is to live as much like a local as you can. Don’t shop at the supermarkets where the other Americans hang out, they tend to be overpriced. He probably won’t eat out as much as he might at home (probably won’t with a 2-year old anyway.)
Medical care is an issue to consider. The UK National Health service will cover most expenses, the quality is good, but the “service” may not be up the standards that an American expects. Supplemental health coverage is not too expensive, but is not included in the figures here. He also needs to be sure he has coverage at home; coming back home over Christmas, frinstance, if the baby gets sick, they don’t want to be SOL by not having US health coverage.
Hope that helps.