Moving to the US in 3 weeks!

(20 Posts)
LucyHoneychurchsPiano Fri 08-Aug-14 17:12:28

I know lots of people have done this before, but our heads are spinning! We do have a lot of support from the company, but are there any essential tips that any of you who have made the move would care to share? We'd really appreciate any insider knowedge smile

One thing is car insurance - I've heard that writing to the current insurer or the DVLA can be helpful in obtaining a lower premium, but are they generally obliging?

Shipping costs are another issue, is it better to ship out as little as possible and buy new over there? I'd quite like to take some bits, but I'm not sure whether it's worth it confused

TheWholeOfTheSpoon Fri 08-Aug-14 17:21:11

Are you paying for the shipping yourself? We brought pretty much everything (including a bin full of nappies, thanks Removal Men!) and I think that cost about $25k. Ironically, a lot of that furniture got replaced quite quickly as it looked too small in our big US house, so not sure if it was worth it in retrospect. Is it permanent or temporary?

I've never heard about writing to the DVLA. Do you mean bringing your driving record? We found insurance with Geico that was affordable and easy. You do need to get your US licence asap though.

As for insider knowledge, I can't think of any now! It seems almost a lifetime ago since we moved out here. Enjoy it, and be prepared for quite a culture shock. I don't think I expected it to be as different to the UK as it actually is. The social norms take a bit of getting used to. Where in the US are you moving to?

lettertoherms Fri 08-Aug-14 17:22:57

Where are you moving? <nosy>

AlpacaMyBags Fri 08-Aug-14 17:27:40

We moved to Michigan about 4 years ago. I agree with regards to the culture shock - you would never have thought that a country that speaks the same language would be so different.

We shipped an entire crate of our stuff, which cost about 5k (pounds). In hindsight, if we had used that money to buy replacements it might have been better (although I don't think we would have got everything new for 5k, we probably would have had to shop around a bit). Obviously bear in mind that your electricals mostly won't work or will require step up/step down transformers (which may invalidate your home insurance), so I would definitely buy electrical stuff new. We used Eagle relocations in Watford, they were pretty good. If you do ship everything, make sure you check out the reputation not only of the shipper on the UK side, but whether they work with another US based company to manage the US customs aspect and delivery to you in the US - a good experience one end doesn't guarantee a good experience on the other side!

We had no luck getting a discount on car insurance based on our previous driving history (Geico) but it's worth asking. You will probably need to retake your whole driving test within a set number of weeks (varies by state).

kansasmum Fri 08-Aug-14 17:37:11

I would avoid shipping much. We took loads and ended up getting rid of it!
I got a letter from my insurance company confirming my years of claim free insurance. My car insurance wasn't too bad but getting your US licence makes things much easier ( I was in KS and the 'test' was driving once round the block- dead easy!).

Good luck- I lived there for 5 years and LOVED it. Miss it a lot still although love living where I do now.
Where are you moving to?

AlpacaMyBags Fri 08-Aug-14 17:37:50

Some other things to think about - consider continuing to make your NI contributions while you're in the US to allow you to continue contributing to your UK pension. It only costs 135 pounds to 'buy' a year (full pension is 30 years of NI payments so it is worth it). Try and keep your UK bank accounts open if possible, it might come in handy.

We use my-uk-mail.co.uk to give us a UK forwarding address for UK credit card statements (although some banks will allow you to use your US address).

I used my UK iPhone over here when I first moved, but you'll need to get it unlocked by your carrier (I had to jailbreak mine to make it work). Phone contracts are expensive here, I use Virgin mobile (no free phone upgrades but $35 a month for unlimited calls and data, no contract).

Do you have kids? Make sure you have their red books/immunization records, schools require kids to be vaccinated according to a specific schedule and you will probably need your new doctors to 'translate' your old records onto the school's standard form, we found that DSD had to have a couple of shots to catch up. Chicken pox vaccine is usually required here by schools so make sure you have a letter from the doctor or a copy of their records saying they've had it, it will save them having to get a blood test and waiting for the results.

What visa are you going to be on?

Depends on who is paying for your shipping? Are you?

Leave behind big electricals, we did bring our TV over (long since destroyed by a 2yo), and a converter to run it. Otherwise we put everything else into storage electrically wise, also all of the garage stuff is in storage, bbq, and a spare couch, mementoes, books/cds we didn't want to bring with us etc... It costs us about 70quid every 3mths for it throught White & Co, the company used to pay this, but we do at the moment.

How long are you coming for? Do you have DC? If it's less than 12mths, may not be worth it, but do bring things for the DC to make your home more familiar, duvet covers, pictures in their room etc... Always important for them to have their stuff, esp if they're young. But if the company is paying the shipping, just bring it. Have a GOOD clearout of stuff you don't use, and if time, sell off bits and pieces that are just taking up space. But think carefully about it, don't get rid of things for the sake of it, you may regret it later.

I don't think we got a reduction on our car insurance from previously good record, but you can bring that anyway, it's worth a try. We pay something like US2200 per year for 2 cars, one new, one about 5yo.

Your head will spin for the first week. OUr last move, DH took the first week off as we were in a hotel for 3 days then to an apartment, and we used it as a bit of a holiday/recce of the place. We drove all over to see where we might want to live and took the DC to the zoo, museums etc. to ease them in.

Yes, good point about the immunisation book. Also make sure all the dates are readable and written correctly. DC1s 8 week shots were written down as 37/7/2007 and I had to ring the UK to get the doctor's surgery to send their record before they'd let him start school, even though the previous school accepted it!

The red tape here will drive you UP THE WALL. You really need to smile (while inwardly cursing), and nod, and just do it. It really is infuriating.

There is a form you can fill out if you object to immumisations, I think the consequence is, if there is an outbreak of CP or measles for eg, your child has to stay off school.

LucyHoneychurchsPiano Fri 08-Aug-14 18:00:02

Thanks everyone - wow, lots to think about!

We've been given some money to spend how we like so that could be shipping or buying new. I wouldn't mind taking a couple of our sofas and a few bits, but maybe it isn't worth it.

DH has an O-1 visa and the rest of us are O-3s (we have 4 children) that are for 3 years initially, but renewable after that.

We are moving to the Midwest; we went out for his interview - what seems like ages ago now - and loved it.

I'm a bit nervous about driving, but know that it's a necessity - eek!

TheWholeOfTheSpoon Fri 08-Aug-14 18:00:55

Oh, yes! Definitely bring your red book. If you've got kids going to school, they HAVE to be up to date with their shots, plus there are extras that don't come as standard in the UK. Be prepared for your kids to hate their new doctor! grin You can only opt out for religious regions in our school district.

Our State's DMV has finally moved into the 21st Century and offers online booking for appts. You have no idea how many hours of standing in queues in that Godforsaken place it will save you!

AlpacaMyBags Fri 08-Aug-14 18:06:32

It was nice to have our old familiar furniture, but it was a pain having to wait for it, it usually takes 6 weeks or so (sometimes longer if you don't ship a full crate and have to share with someone else).

Driving is easier here, don't worry - just remember, that no matter which country you're driving in, the driver is always next to the center of the road. That was my mantra when I first moved here as I was worried about pulling out into oncoming traffic smile You can probably find an app or online quiz to help you study for the written test for your state, you could start brushing up on it now so you can get your test done ASAP when you arrive.

LucyHoneychurchsPiano Sat 09-Aug-14 12:41:52

We have a tax consultation next week, but we're just trying to work out what we can afford in terms of rent (especially as we still have our mortgage over here) and have to make a decision soon.

The tax system seems pretty complex - from what I can gather DH would be classed initially as non-resident for tax purposes as we'll have been in the US for fewer than 183 days this year, but does anyone know a basic formula so we can get an idea of what income we will have left after tax? We're feeling v muddled! confused

AlpacaMyBags Sat 09-Aug-14 16:30:03

We pay HR Block to do our tax returns ($400), some locations have specialist advisors who know about international taxation rules. Not sure what they charge for a quick 30 min appt just to make sure you have everything in order ready for your next return, but they might be a good starting point. Maybe your DH's employers would pay?

PalmTrees Sat 09-Aug-14 17:16:01

Taxes vary from state to state, we're in Tennessee and lose roughly 35% of our income in stoppages.
With regards to the vaccines, I seem to remember one of the required vaccines was a course of 3 shots. My DS started the course while we were still in Europe and had the final doses here, we were only required to show the school that he had started the course for admittance.
For furniture, we really only brought pictures, books, personal items etc. The homes seem to have larger rooms and higher ceilings so our furniture would have looked miniature in our American home!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Sun 10-Aug-14 01:45:36

Good luck OP! We've been here 2 years and it takes a while to get used to - in fact, I think it's only recently that I've started to feel at home here. Lots of good points above - and as PPs have said, definitely don't underestimate the differences you'll encounter despite the common language. I still feel like I need a dictionary some days!

Re tax, did you know you can count your recce trip towards the tax days? We moved in the July and fell just short of the required no of days to file as residents, which was worth about $4000, so our accountant was able to include our week long recce trip to bump us over the 180whatever it it. Definitely use an accountant, they've always saved us more than they've cost in the UK and here (and it is a pain moving partway through each country's tax year, when those years don't run concurrently!).

We also have car insurance. Seems the best option for foreigners. I find it expensive, more so than the UK, but gas and cars themselves are cheaper, so it evens out. Living costs are roughly the same I think - though split differently. Utilities cheap, food expensive (healthy food!), mobiles and cable expensive, clothes cheap etc. Baby gear, prams etc are all around 1/3 less than the UK.

Top tip - if you don't have your own social security number, get an ITIN ASAP and note you'll need a letter of denial from your social security office to take to the DMV when you apply for your driver's license. In our state you do an online test that takes 5 mins in reality - not even a practical test.

In public places/supermarkets/cafes etc, I don't find anyone is particularly helpful to be honest, nothing like the amazing customer service I was led to believe the US had. This can be very frustrating! And you get used to the grunted 'uh-huh' when you say thank you for something, as opposed to a cheery 'you're welcome'!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Sun 10-Aug-14 01:47:13

Car insurance with Geico that's meant to say...

LucyHoneychurchsPiano Sat 23-Aug-14 22:34:39

We've decided to buy new furniture and to just ship out boxes of belongings...can anyone recommend a good company? Seven Seas Worldwide can get boxes to us quickly, has anybody used them? Getting slightly stressed now...

Also, supermarkets - we usually shop at Waitrose here, but didn't see anywhere similar. We visited Target and lovely (but v expensive) artisan type places when we were out there. I think we have a Piggly Wiggly, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Copps, etc nearby.

So much left to do and only a few days now. Already feeling very upset about leaving my mum and dad and everyone else behind. I dread to think what a snivelling wreck I'll be by the end of the week sad

We used Rainier overseas shipping www.rainieros.com/ from US back to UK and at the UK end it was Eurogroup. www.the-eurogroup.com/ we didn't have enough for a whole container and everything was packed into a liftvan which was wooden and measured about 7' tall and 7' wide by 10 or 12' deep I forget exactly. it was packed solid I took pictures I was so impressed.
Both ends were very professional and helpful. Rainier did all the arranging and I just answered questions as they came up. Eurogroup unloaded all our boxes and other stuff into the garage here, as we had no room in the house for it all.

helzapoppin2 Sun 24-Aug-14 21:12:18

We were there for five years.
We rented out our UK house to cover the mortgage.
We bought in the US, but I don't recommend it. The expenses, and real estate agent's cut from the sale, when we returned, typically 6%, meant it was an expensive option.
Target is good for basic furniture and most things. World Market for when you need a Cadburys fix!
Wholefoods is the closest to Waitrose, but mega expensive. I ended up shopping in several different supermarkets to get a balance of foods.
We kept our British bank account, invaluable!
I found our UK insurance record didn't mean much. The driving test was very easy.
Pay someone to handle the tax! We did, it seemed impenetrable!
Enjoy the adventure!

trader joes is your friend!
second (third?) hiring an accountant, the company should have a reccommendation
find out from your state DMV what you need to get the licence - I only needed to show my visa (California) and didn't need my ITIN
we used pickfords, they get mixed reviews but were great with us
we're also renting our British property to cover the mortgage and keeping the British account to keep that all simple
Bank of America let you set up a checking account without credit history

GOOD LUCK!

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