So you’ve decided to swap your tea and scones for coffee and bagels. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible before hopping across the pond. International moves can be difficult but we’ve a few tips and tricks to help make it a little easier.
If you have a choice where to relocate, think carefully about where you would like to live. States can be as different as countries due to varying climate, environment and culture. Research before deciding on a location. Search the internet, talk to someone who’s lived there before, or even visit on a short holiday.
Visas are a nightmare. Make sure you fully understand what visa you require. Do you require a sponsor? Will you need permission to travel outside the states? Do you need to pay the SEVIS fee? London’s US Embassy can provide a lot of useful information. Sort everything in advance. There’s a lot of forms, fees, and an interview. It can take up to 60 days for administrative processing after the interview.
As obvious as it sounds, learn the currency. It’s hard to wing it when the nickel (5 cents) is bigger than the dime (10 cents). There’s nothing more embarrassing than holding up a queue, holding out a handful of coins, and hoping your barista will pick through them for you. Most US banks require a social security number to open an account. Your best bet is to look for an international bank if you’ve yet to receive yours. Watch out for hidden bank fees when transferring money abroad. You can save with TransferWise. Make sure you’re paying your recipient, not the bank.
It’s not as easy as just remembering to drive on the right. Do you know you can turn right at most red lights? Or if the use of a horn prohibited in your city? Also, just to further confuse you, the green man is white. If you don’t drive, there’s no need to fork out on expensive taxis. If the local buses/metro can’t get you where you need to go, try using Uber of Lyft.
Take a stash of chocolate and tea bags. (Almost as important as taking a visa.) Learn the Lingo: ‘I’ll have the arugula salad with cilantro, no zucchini, and chips on the side please.’ If you don’t know what you just ordered, you need to get back to the books. Enjoy what the U.S. offers; embrace a different food culture instead of focusing on finding your favorites from home. If you spend your entire time searching for some good old British Fish and Chips, you’re going to be extremely disappointed (or unusually lucky). Read more about moving to the US in our guide for expats here.
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