Moving to the USA: tips & tricks
The US is one of the most popular expat locations in the world. This is mainly because the US offers incredible opportunities for work, travel and education. If you are (planning on) moving to the United States there are a few things you need to know to arrange your move properly. We have collected some of the most important things on this page. If you need more information regarding the subject of international or European moving or if you need a reliable partner to organize your move, please feel free to contact us.
The USA diversity
One of the beauties of the country is that it takes up almost half a continent, which means you can have a completely different feel in different locations without crossing an international border. If you still need to pick your destination in the US, you have to take things into consideration like housing, school system,culture, climate etc. The most popular cities among expats are:
- New York
- San Fransico
- Los Angeles
Cost of living in the USA
Since the USA is such a big country, the cost of living can really depend on where you are living. In general you can count on the fact that the cost of living is higher in the bigger cities. To try and plan your upcoming costs, the Economic Policy Institute developed a really helpful tool which allows you to estimate your living cost based on your new location and the amount of family members you are living with.
Some things you need to arrange before moving to the USA
The best advice we can give you is to start planning and preparing as soon as possible and find a reliable partner to organize your move. We listed some things you need to arrange before moving to the United States. Worth mentioning here is that every state can be seen as a different country with different regulations, laws and culture so it is important to check the specifications of the state you are moving to. If you need any help regarding the things listed below, we are happy to help.
- Apply for a visa: Visas should be something to take care of as early as possible. Visa applications for the USA can namely take up to a year to be fully processed and accepted. In order to be able to work in the USA, you will need a so called 'green card' (of a Permanent Resident Card), a work permit (or a Employment Authorization Document), or any other employment-related visa. Often, your employer will initiate the application process for you. On the website of the US Citizenship and immigration service, you will find more information about the different visas and the requirement that come with it.
- Get a social security number: if you intend to work in the US, you must have a social security number. This nine-digit number helps the government track your earnings and wages and is used to determine if you are eligible for social security benefits. Usually, you can apply for an SSN together with your visa.
- Get your healthcare sorted: if you are moving to the USA, a private health insurance is crucial to avoid high medical bills. In the United States you pay for your own medical costs, including an ambulance. Trust us when we say this can be expensive. If you are moving for business reasons, your employer will probably cover your health insurance for you. Since there are different types of health insurance, a good starting point may be the US government website.
- Open a US bank account: if you want to open a US bank account for the first time, you will need to go to the bank in person. Make sure you have all the important documents with you like visa, immigration papers, Social Security Number, proof of address etc. It is also a good idea to pass by your current bank if you plan to keep your current accounts open. They can advise you regarding USA banks and making money transfers.
- Register your kids for a public or private school: if you are planning a move with your family, you better look into schools for your kids before arrival. This to make sure you know all the details concerning costs, eligibility and deadlines for application. All children are able to attend a public school, however, due to the lack of national funding and regulations there can be some differences in quality. Some public schools also require that you live within a certain distance from the school. Another option is a private school, for which you will need to some specific research. There are also international schools, specifically designed for students with international backgrounds.
- Have your pets vaccinated: a vaccination against rabies is mandatory for pets in most parts of the US. Bring the document of vaccination with you because you may need to present it upon arrival. Some animals (like snakes, birds, turtles etc) have specific regulations. Also for exotic animals, the rules are different. You can find all the information you need on the CDC website. Compas International Movers also has a special pet relocation service, so we are always happy to help.
- Get an International Driving Permit (IDP): If you are not living in one of the big cities where public transport is well arranged, you likely need a car. An international Driving Permit is only valid for short-term visitors. If you are planning on staying in the US permanently, you will need a new license from the state where you live. If you want to take your own car with you to the United States, make sure you look at all the regulations first.
Tip! Make copies of official documents: before leaving, it is best to gather copies of important documents they might ask for in the US and translate them into English. This includes items like:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or divorce licence
- Bank documents
- Tax records and other financial documents
- Prove of completing a degree
- Vaccine record
- Job contracts
- Driver's licence
Why Compas is your partner for moving to America
International moving is the sole focus of our firm. Our professional movers have taken care of many USA moves, whether it is from Belgium to the USA, from the USA to Belgium or from the USA to another country in the world. We always try to provide the best service for our clients and look at each move individually. Please feel free to contact us.
To sum up your USA move:
- Start planning early in advance
- Collect your current most important documents and apply for new ones (like SSN, visa etc).