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Once you’ve decided on moving to the US, it’s time to start planning and getting organised. However, there are a million questions to ask and things to consider.
Frankly, it can be more than a little daunting and result in a ‘to do’ list that would make Martha Stewart’s eyes water. Half the battle is knowing where to start, and what you need to get done before and after moving to the United States.
Read on to find out how to move to the USA easily and painlessly.
REQUIREMENTS TO MOVE TO USA
Here are some of the basic requirements to immigrate to the USA. Of course, there are more detailed requirements, such as your visa and all other official documents. But the following is a list of important things to think about before you make the big move.
WHERE WILL YOU LIVE AFTER YOU RELOCATE TO USA
First on your moving to USA checklist should be finding where you want to live.
There’s no denying that the US is a popular destination for aspiring expats and immigrants.
Coupled with the fact that some cities are more popular than others for Americans themselves, it can be pricey to live in certain states.
Get help finding work in the US: Visit Aussie Recruit
You wouldn’t want to move to the United States, and then battle to find an affordable place to live.
Now’s the time to narrow down the cities you want to live in the most. The cost of living will play a huge factor in this decision, and you can find out more information on US city cost of living here.
Then think about lifestyle, the average wage offered to those in your field and other factors important to you. It’s better to have a few options on your list because sometimes the job hunt can be brutal.
FINDING A JOB AFTER MOVING TO UNITED STATES
Most expats will need a visa to live in the USA. Many visa types require you to have a job and for your employer to sponsor you to live in the country for a certain amount of time. That means you’ve got to find an employer willing to shell out some serious cash (in some cases) to bring you over.
The best way to do that when you’re job hunting from another country is to use the internet.
Create profiles on a few of these US job websites and make sure you have a LinkedIn profile.
Once you find some job ads that suit your skills, use these tips before you fill out any applications or write cover letters.
Remember that you’ll be competing with others who are thinking about moving to the US, so stand out from the crowd.
CHOOSING AN AIRLINE
Booking your flight to America is a big part of your United States immigration process. While the price of your flight might weigh heavily in the pro/con list of the airline you choose, there are other things to consider.
You should also study luggage allowances carefully. Some airlines allow more baggage than others and can come in handy when you’re moving to the US.
You’ll want to take as much as possible with you on the plane to cut down the cost of shipping extra items.
I went with Virgin America back in 2015 and was allowed two pieces of 20kg luggage as well as hand luggage. It made a huge difference!
BEFORE MOVING TO AMERICA
There are lots of bits and pieces that you should take care of before you leave, so be sure to understand exactly what you need to get done.
If you’ve got health insurance, don’t be so quick to cancel it. Some providers will allow you to put your membership on hold for up to two years. It won’t cost you anything extra and it’s a good safety net in case you end up coming home sooner than you’d originally planned.
As long as you meet the insurer’s requirements, such as holding health insurance in the US for the duration of your stay, you’ll be able to take up your policy again without having to go through waiting periods.
As always, read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms and conditions.
Go over your bank statements for the past year and write a list of all of your direct debits.
You’re not going to need that gym membership, clothes subscription, or fruit and veg delivery once you’re overseas.
Make sure you go through the proper process of cancelling them all. Some gyms require notice in writing before you stop payments or you’ll continue to be charged.
If you’re an Australian citizen you’ll need to vote in all federal, state and local elections for six years after moving to the US.
Visit the Australian Electoral Commission‘s page for Australians living overseas for more details on registering for a postal vote. Once you have an address in the US, you can ask for all ballots to be mailed to you and avoid those pesky fines.
You can apply up to three months before leaving or three years after moving to the US. Otherwise, there’s a form on the website that allows you to remove yourself from the roll altogether.
My least favourite word probably. It can be confusing and downright annoying at times, especially if you have to file in two countries. The US tax year is identical to a calendar year and there are a few other changes that you’ll need to be familiar with before moving to the US.
Get the lowdown on 3 tax issues that every Aussie expat in the US needs to know.
Finding an accountant overseas, who knows the ins and outs of both the US and Australian systems can be tough as well. Here are some tips on what to look for in an accountant.
Remember that there are new rules that require you to continue paying off your Australian HECS/HELP debt (student loans) even if you’re not earning money there. Find all the details on paying off debts here.
DRIVING IN THE US
Don’t waste your money on an International Driver’s License unless your license is written in a language other than English.
Different states have different rules about whether you can drive on an internationally-issued licence and for how long. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to be sure.
I’ve moved to California, specifically San Francisco, so my experiences and the links below pertain to driving here.
You’ve driven in one country, so why should driving in the US be any different? Trust me, it is. The locals do things a little strangely.
If you’re jumping straight behind the wheel of a rental car once you arrive, you’re going to want to know a few things first.
Getting a Driver’s Licence
In California, you have ten days after your arrival to get a US driver’s licence. Otherwise, you’re seen as driving without a licence, regardless of whether you have an international one or not.
Jumping through the hoops of doing a written test and then a driving test can be a little confusing. I’ve written about the entire process and everything you’ll need to bring with you at the above links.
AFTER MOVING TO THE STATES
You’re finally done relocating to the United States and you’re ready to start settling in! Now what? Here are some things to start arranging and organising once you’re in the USA.
Setting Up Your New USA home
You know where to go to buy everything in your home country. But here in the US, there are so many stores with strange names that you’ve never heard of. No matter how many American movies you’ve seen.
So how do you know where to get everything you need to set up your place? You could start on Amazon since it seems it sells and delivers just about anything you could ever want.
Or you could check out this rundown of US stores and start to get acclimatised early.
Social Security Number
You’re going to quickly realize that in the US, a Social Security Number (SSN) is like gold. As a foreign citizen, this should be the first thing you try to get.
It’s used for everything from proving your identity to allowing you to sign up for utilities. Some visas don’t allow you to have one but most do.
Here’s a quick guide to getting yourself a Social Security Number.
Building Credit History
Once you’ve got an SSN, it’s time to start building your credit history.
You start from scratch in the US, which means you have no history and companies have zero reason to trust that you’ll pay them.
So it’s best to start building that history as soon as you arrive. There are a bunch of easy ways to build your credit score that add up eventually and could have you with a credit score in six months.
MOVING TO THE US
By now, you should have adequate info on how to move to the US. This should be enough to get you started and moving in the right direction. Good luck with your move and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.
Welcome to America!