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samwise

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Everything posted by samwise

  1. We could end up following the US lead (and possibly other countries) - each household is expected to clear the pavement outside their property, whether by shovel or snow blower, and I'd imagine that the businesses are the same (schools definitely are). In Salt Lake City at least, property owners may receive a $50 fine if their sidewalk is not cleared of snow, sleet or hail within 24 hours of a storm. The ticket jumps to $75 after day two and $100 after day three. One of the upsides to American fascination with the large pick-ups is that you can fit a plough to the front of most of them and clear your own driveway and even the street (do a quote on a US car insurance website and having a plough to fit is one of the questions).
  2. The other differences with the US are more scholarships available (for the brightest or most athletic, normally), but also Joe Public who intends to send their child(ren) to university basically starts saving for the fees when they're born. The BoMaD pay the tuition and boarding fees in a lot of cases (not all, naturally - some students pay their own way, working part-time during their 4-year undergrad degree), but even with that, some US students come out with a degree and debts that would make the average British university student's mind boggle. Take Utah State University as an example. As a state university this is cheaper than an Ive League university, obviously. The average annual costs as quoted for Autumn 2010 are: Tuition and fees - $5,150pa residing in state ($14,797 if out-of-state) Room & board - $1,535 if living at home ($5,070 if in dorms) Books & supplies - $1,150 Est. personal expenses - $1,050 if living at home ($2,100 on-campus) Est. transport costs - $720 if living at home ($1,440 on-campus or commuting) So, for a Utah resident living at home (the cheapest option), you're looking at $9,605 per year. For an out-of-stater living on-campus, $24,557 per year. These costs change with the number of credit hours you're taking, and your own personal expenditure level, naturally. And, with so many American kids going to get a bachelor's degree now, a lot of people are finding that the only way to really differentiate them from the rest is to stay on and get your Master's, or even a Doctorate - more expense. I get the feeling from reading other websites, that in some areas the bachelor's degree has come to mean the same as the high school diploma used to, and the HSD is now pretty worthless *shrugs* [Edit]I suppose what I'm getting at in a roundabout way is that if Mater & Pater want to send little Francesca/Archibald to university, maybe they should be saving up to help defray the costs
  3. Yes - Phil from 1994-2005, Gary still does.
  4. Most of those are either in fly-over country (hundreds of miles of flat ground) or in areas that get (to British experiences) brutal winters.
  5. Coming up 39. Lived with parents until a job took me away just before I turned 26. Bought my first home (2-bed apartment) on the Isle of Man in 2006 after 9 years of renting there. Sold up in 2009 for a small profit (IOM Government does a First-Time Buyers scheme whereby you get grants and loans to help you purchase approved properties, but you have to sell back to the government if you haven't had the property for 10 years). Moved back to the parents' house in summer 2009, with the plan to find somewhere of my own to buy ASAP. Still living with parents Prices are stupid even here in Somerset (town has pretty high employment levels, so not very many distressed sellers) Now engaged to my American girlfriend, and starting the visa process for me to move over there (Utah), so I'll be staying put at the parents' house until I move, another 10 months or so.
  6. And your spouse doesn't have to be your sole financial sponsor - you can get agreements from other people like parents, siblings, etc. The financial sponsor has to prove an income level at 125% of the poverty level for the size of household (including the person being sponsored). For the lower 48 and a 2-person household, the 125% level is $16,500 a year.
  7. No benefits until you have permanent residency or citizenship, whichever comes first? And you don't think that employers would take the opportunity to adjust salaries down by £150 a week?
  8. Their choice to live in a place charging that much in property taxes though, surely? My fiancee lives just north of Salt Lake City and has a 3-bed home, but pays nowhere near that in property taxes, partly, no doubt, due to the house not being worth anywhere near California's astronomical prices (a 3-bed home in an LA suburb would probably buy you a full-on 8-bed Mormon home in Utah ). That is also one of the reasons why a lot of Americans commute what we would see as hugely long distances by car every day - the taxes where they work are so much more than the taxes where they live plus commuting costs. Along the same lines, there are people in the south of Washington state who live and work there (and pay no state income tax as WA doesn't have one), but shop in Oregon (as OR doesn't have a sales tax but WA does, and OR does have a state income tax so they don't live there).
  9. At this year's election, LD had a clear majority of nearly 23% over Tory, with Labour in third, UKIP in fourth. UKIP were 634 votes behind Labour (2,357 to 2,991). I voted UKIP, but then I've only ever voted mainstream party once, I think
  10. The Americans call the WW2 veterans "the greatest generation" - I have no beef with that
  11. So what is this mythical FTB earning? And what age/job are they doing? For example, looking online, a Personal Banking Advisor job for Santander in Aberdeen pays between £14,280 and £17,850, and this would be for someone with at least a couple years experience. 4.3 multiplier gives you a mortgage of £61,000 and £76,000 - what does that buy these days?
  12. Couldn't they use this 'excess money' to buy back the shares owned by the taxpayer - would the EU allow this? Then, once the taxpayer share is reduced or removed, money could start filtering back to normal shareholders in dividends etc.
  13. Not everybody who'd like to own a house wants a big garden, with all the upkeep - and looking at the price, the buyer could be working very long hours to pay for it! It's not, to my mind, worth the money that they are asking though.
  14. Remember, remember - a direct debit is an agreement between yourself and the originator. As such, the originator makes a claim for payment through the BACS system, and providing the direct debit mandate exists on the account in question, the bank will pay it, return it, whatever needs to happen. The bank has no knowledge of the agreed upon date or amount of each payment. Any changes to the agreed upon amount or date by the originator are supposed to be informed to the customer with x number of days notice (can't remember the actual number of days now). In theory, direct debits are deducted from the account first thing in the morning (ie, maybe 2am) as it is done by computer, so you should always aim to have sufficient funds in the account by at least the day prior to the due date.
  15. Remembering also that the description of a boat is 'a hole in the water into which your pour money' and that the two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day that they buy the boat, and the day that they sell it Paying off the student debt is definitely the first thing I would do.
  16. Is that the real cost of the degree, or just the subsidised one? How much does, say, a 3-year engineering degree actually cost, rather than what the student pays?
  17. If that's all they're going to do for the iPlayer coverage, then we're down from 2 hours to 29 minutes 37 seconds!
  18. Not really - I've seen pictures and read stories of people taking every sort of motorcycle up to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, and the ALCAN is mostly gravel. That includes Goldwings and Harleys. These are not dirt roads, they will be graded gravel, as is used in much of the US for the minor roads, especially in states where temperature extremes mean that a tarmac surface would need constant care, whilst a gravel road requires re-grading every now and then. A lot of minor roads in Scandinavia are gravel also - it's just a more appropriate surface for the conditions.
  19. Based on what they read and hear, then prices going up in the next 12 months is a viable option. MoM might be decreasing slightly, but YoY is still positive, and if it keeps on at around 0.5% per month down, there's a good chance that in 12 months time the YoY will still be slightly positive, even if < 1%. Add in hopeful thinking, and the results probably are fair to the Joe Public.
  20. Would that help out Somerset County Council, who currently have debts of £400 million? £400 million of debt for a county council? A third of council receipts (council tax, rates, etc) goes on servicing the debt and interest - why was it allowed to grow so big? Someone should be investigating! Yes, single-tier would, in theory, save funds, particularly wages, but is it necessarily best for the area for everything to be decided at the county town? There's the danger that the county town would get the lion's share of available funds as that is where the councillors and council staff work....
  21. Because it's a kitchen-diner, and therefore there is a kitchen area and a dining area, not separate rooms. As to the use of property - you expect today's journalists to actually do some work and find out what sort of residence was raided or whatever? Using 'property' means that they don't have to.
  22. Unfortunately, as they are mostly freight lines, that railway system doesn't tend to go anywhere that people want to go. Add in the vast distances in the US and you'd need 200mph+ bullet-style trains to beat the regional air routes., especially out west. New England and the east coast is slightly better served, though: The HSR network planned does look good though: My trip to Utah a couple weeks ago showed the vast distances - Dallas to SLC was a 2h 35m flight, add in, say 2hrs for check-in and you have a 4h 35m journey time. Driving distance between the two points is just under 1,400 miles, so even at 220mph you're still talking over 6hrs, and the HSR route plans shows two changes between SLC and Dallas, with no direct route.
  23. They've changed the law? AFAIK it has been illegal for the police to strike since 1919, and that was last upheld in the 1996 Police Act.
  24. 11% contribution to the pension from the net salary. Up to 20 years service, they get 1/60 of average pensional pay (APP) per year Up to final 10 years of service (normal maximum being 30 years service), they get 2/60 of APP per year. Gives a grand total of 40/60 or 2/3 of APP. If your APP is £36,000, then you get a pension of £24,000. You can commute a quarter of the pension to a lump sum, multiplied by an age factor. So, £24,000 / 4 = £6,000 multiply by 15 (for a male under 51) and you get a commutation of £90,000, leaving a pension of £18,000 pa. Source pdf
  25. We appear to charge a little more than some state universities in the US for in-state residents (i.e., if you live in Utah and go to Utah State University, the tuition fees are $3,378pa), but a fair bit less than out-of-state residents (at $10,878). Go up a level (University of Utah) and the in-state/out-of-state tuition fees are $4,298/$13,371 respectively. Move up another level and UCLA, for example, has tuition costs of $27,066pa, and total costs of $43,600 for tuition, books, dorms, health insurance, etc. Harvard would cost you over $50,000 per year. The up-side for the US system is that there are a number of grants etc available to students (you don't have to be an athlete to get them, either ), whereas the UK system isn't as well-endowed, I think. Compared to other EU countries, a quick Google search shows the university of Heidelberg in Germany charges €1,200pa for tuition and €2,200-3,000pa for dorms, although I think a lot of EU countries are struggling with the same problems of funding.
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