Living in America 2013

(381 Posts)
smartieknickers Wed 30-Jan-13 22:31:40

Howdy y'all! I was a long time lurker on the Living in America 2012 thread and in the spirit of my new year's resolution to 'get involved in more stuff' I thought I'd start a new thread, what with it being a month into 2013 and all that... So who's with me? grin

Link to previous thread

Brief introduction: I initially moved from Scotland to Houston, TX with my DH and DS (now 2) in 2011, but we moved to Dallas in September last year. We never really felt quite at home in Houston but for some reason we really like life in Dallas, even though it's pretty similar in a lot of ways. We have just today finally dispatched with the last of our Christmas visitors (we've had parents and in-laws here back-to-back for 5 solid weeks!!) so I'm feeling like I deserve a large wine and a medal

OK, confused now. You need to be here for 4 weeks minimum to get a social security number and you need that to get a driving license, don't you?

Texas says I can drive on my UK license for 3 months. Passed my Texas theory this week, practical in 2 weeks...

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 18:10:22

I checked with DH and I got it wrong! Geico gave us 3 months to have a date for our driving test. Apologies, it's several years ago now so my memory is hazy!

However, I do have 4 friends who have separately had problems with their insurance for driving on their Brit license so it's really important to get it sorted.

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 18:30:14

Btw, the driving test is scarily easy. Mine was 5 minutes and I had to parallel park between two imaginary cars!! I was very relieved to find out 16yo learners have to have at least 50 hours driving experience, now DC1 is learning!

How are you finding Texas btw? There are some rumblings in DHs office of a possible Texas relocation and I don't really know how I feel about it.

Thanks Cool, the practical can't be that bad, I've been driving for over 20 years in various countries and have taken defensive driving courses. The theory test was a bit ropey though, remembering all the fines for offenses - why don't they ask more about road rules and signs?

Texas is good, we're in Houston, nice city, great people, good weather (except Jul / Aug!). Lots of different nationalities so a good cultural mix. Would you be Houston or elsewhere? Apparently Austin is more liberal than Houston but Dallas isn't!

rootypig Thu 24-Oct-13 18:41:11

parallel parking between two imaginary cars grin

it better be easy because I have it in ten days and have done no practice (rather difficult without a car hmm). Am driving MIL's car all weekend, it's the one I'm taking the test in, let's hope she doesn't kill me or I her

CoolStoryBro Thu 24-Oct-13 19:16:30

Good luck for both driving tests!

This would also be Houston. If it happens, DH will have to live there during the week at first as DS is a Junior at HS and there's no way we're moving him again until he graduates.

Rootypig let me know if you want I practice in mine during the week, you can if I'm with you and I have an extra car seat so we can take both DC

It's stupidly easy - I'd never driven before and passed after 3/4 lessons and a 10min test. Didn't have to parallel park

rootypig Fri 25-Oct-13 07:09:45

Oh bless you. Yes let's have a tootle! Take the kids to the beach?

trockodile Tue 05-Nov-13 00:15:34

Hi everyone smile
I am trying to send a Christmas box to a friend in the us and was wondering if I can ask if anyone has any advice about the best way to send a medium size box of misc presents-teddy/biscuits/choc/socks/magazines etc. it weighs about 4 kg and is worth about 70-80£. Should I split it down to avoid customs charges and make it cheaper to send? Priority is that I don't want it to cause any hassle for my friend. Do I need to give his phone number or just address? I don't actually have his number as we mostly chat on Facebook, don't want to ask him as would rather keep package a surprise! Also am I allowed to send pre-packaged food or do I need permission from FDA? Information online is so confusing.
Thank you so much for any advice-it would be very gratefully received!

NatashaBee Tue 05-Nov-13 02:24:36

What food are you sending? Chocolate and biscuits are fine and all you need to do is make sure you list each item out on the customs form - I would fill out the customs form as 'candy' and 'cookies' though because the customs officers are more likely to know what you're talking about! I imagine that a 4kg box will cost loads to send - When I send a big bag of M&Ms to my sister (US to UK) even that costs $15!

wentshopping Tue 05-Nov-13 02:36:02

Butterflies if you go to the social security office, you can get a tax id number which you can use to get your drivers license/take test - if you feel the wait is too long for the ss number.
It felt quite autumnal today didn't it? I turned the a/c off in the car!!!

trockodile if you have not already bought the gifts, might I suggest my cheating way of sending parcels? Go onto amazon for the country you are sending to, and buy it all there - cuts the postage down to a very reasonable amount. Even if you bought from the UK website and sent to US, it would still be very little compared with actual shipping costs. Alternatively, try splitting into printed paper - magazines etc (no letter allowed inside) and other items as they always used to go for different rates.

rootypig Tue 05-Nov-13 08:46:00

trock my brother just sent me some formula - would have been 1.6kg (2 800g packs) and it cost £20 shock. I have had various things (DD birthday recently) and no customs interest or charges - I would write on the form that it's a gift ie "Gift: chocolate, candy, etc." Post Office in UK said was fine to send baby milk and we had no trouble.

trockodile Tue 05-Nov-13 21:16:01

Thank you so much everyone-I have already bought the stuff so will just have to bite the bullet-postage can be ridiculous! I have sent flowers/a coffee basket/ bacon cookies etc through American companies but was trying to get something different for Christmas. Thanks for the tip about magazines-will send seperately. Mainly I just wanted to check there wouldn't be any hassle for my friend, and about americanising customs slip. thanks

rootypig Tue 05-Nov-13 22:25:09

You sound like a lovely friend smile

Roselau Wed 06-Nov-13 01:18:37

Hi!
did any of you ship your belongings from UK to US?
We had the movers come (in the UK) early September, and they mentioned the shipment would arrive in LA on Nov 22. but then it needs to clear customs, which could take another few weeks. arg I'm so upset! I'm due mid December and I really want my stuff before the baby arrives!!!
anyways - can any of you tell me how long your shipment took to clear customs?

NatashaBee Wed 06-Nov-13 01:51:19

Did you have a full container? If not it can take longer while they wait for another person's belongings to fill the rest of the container. We shipped a full container and it got here in about 8 weeks. It took a lot longer to clear customs as my husband shipped a motorbike in there and we needed to sort the paperwork for that. Otherwise customs should be fairly straightforward.

NatashaBee Wed 06-Nov-13 01:53:21

I doubt customs clearance will take a few weeks in there unless you have a car or something in there which needs special inspection.

rootypig Wed 06-Nov-13 02:01:23

Roselau we shipped with Anglo Pacific - they picked it up in London in June and it arrived last week hmm. We only had 17 boxes (clothes, linens, books, kitchen) so I think it was held for a while in their UK warehouse. Then it was selected for a detailed customs inspection and held up 2 more weeks and we had to pay $100 customs charge - doubly annoying. If you escape this random spot check it should clear customs in a few days, because they only look at the paperwork. For us, they looked in some of the boxes. Anyway I rang and harassed the shipping guys endlessly, so that once customs released it they would get it to us straight away, and they did.

wentshopping Wed 06-Nov-13 02:02:34

I think ours was a week or so... maybe 5 weeks from leaving UK? Fingers crossed.
My new house has been delayed so all my Christmas decorations (gathered over the last 20 years) and everyone's winter clothes are in a storage pod - I can't access it until they deliver it. So, shopping is called for!

Roselau Wed 06-Nov-13 04:16:13

thanks so much for the quick responses.
so we got the confirmation that it was arriving in LA on Nov 22, so I guess that's good news then that it's not being held up in the UK. let's hope they don't do that detailed inspection like for yours rootypig... it's just annoying because its going to be right around thanksgiving. So cross your fingers for me that it arrives at the latest early december. nothing dodgy in the shipment: 100 cubic feet of kitchen stuff, books, linens, baby stuff, etc. not even any furniture.
ugh i'm 34 weeks pregnant and am obviously in need of nesting, but my stuff is all over the world right now. some here, some in shipping and we still have stuff in a storage facility in canada...
plus, since i'm on maternity leave, budget is not as free flowing as it used to be so i'm trying to not spend too much. it's just such an emotional time...
anyways thanks again for the responses. i will let you know smile

wentshopping will you still get your new place before xmas?

wentshopping Wed 06-Nov-13 14:57:59

No, the builder is saying January now, plus I have some work to do after closing which I would really like to get done before the furniture goes in. Never mind, the rental we are in is nice enough (previous house sold very quickly, earlier this year) - it's just when I packed up the old house, I envisaged seeing all the storage stuff in September! It will make me appreciate the new house all the more, won't it?

Want2bSupermum Wed 06-Nov-13 18:20:22

Roselau I would call back on Nov 22nd and ask where it is. DH deals with shipping into Newark mainly. Last year they relocated someone with a pregnant wife. DH went down to the docks with someone from the moving company and got it cleared the morning it arrived so it can be done. He has access to the docks so can do that. The moving company should have someone with access to the dock. If you explain your situation of being heavily pregnant I am sure they would help you out.

BTW - Docks close for Thanksgiving....

Want2bSupermum Wed 06-Nov-13 18:22:15

rooty Buy formula on amazon.co.uk They can ship to the US for less than what your brother would have paid.

Ugh Roselau how boring and annoying for you - hope your stuff clears customs quickly despite thanksgiving

How are you settling in despite? Can't imagine how it must be to be so pregnant so please PM if you need help with anything! Or even just tea and cake

rootypig Mon 11-Nov-13 00:30:50

Thanks want2be - good idea but too late for me, and she's 1 now, whoop!

My good news is: I passed my driving test and DH bought a car! I am currently home seeing family so sadly can't cruise LA in celebration but life is looking a lot more exciting!

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