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What's it really like to live in the US?

(27 Posts)
Mollythulu Mon 18-Jul-11 07:35:33

Have scanned a few pages of threads, but couldn't seem to find anything. Perhaps this is all pie in the sky, but DH and I are considering emigrating to the US. As he has cousins and an aunt in North Carolina, we were thinking (after an initial look into it yesterday,) maybe Wilmington, as it has a film industry that DH could possibly get a job in. (He's a video editor and I'm a self-employed 'cello teacher.) We'd probably have to go for employment based, third preference application, (if that's right?), and are aware it would be a great culture shock for us all. But with DD wanting to get into comic art, and DS wanting to get into the gaming industry, we think it would be preferable for them to start off where they'd have a better chance of getting into those 'scenes', iyswim.
So, what's it like, roughly? The immigration process, the actual move - it all seems very complicated, but then, not having moved house for ten years, I'm figuring it probably would be for me!

CheerfulYank Mon 18-Jul-11 07:39:17

Well, I've never lived anywhere but the US, so I can't tell you about the immigration process or anything. I've heard the Carolinas are beautiful though. So practical information at all. smile But we'd be lucky to have you, I'm sure! smile

EvelynBakerLang Mon 18-Jul-11 07:42:20

Your DH would need an employer to sponsor his visa. I lived in Virginia for while and loved it. Bet NC would be fab, but it will be hard to get visas. Even if he gets one, you may struggle to get a work permit...

Mollythulu Mon 18-Jul-11 07:46:34

work permit? (Complete newbie at this!)

Ragwort Mon 18-Jul-11 07:49:13

Have to agree with Evelyn - we have spent some time in the US (on temporary visas) and loved it - North Caroline is wonderful - but trying to get a permanent job and visa was impossible ............... I wish you luck, it is incredibly difficult to get a work visa - you will need an employer to sponsor you.

EvelynBakerLang Mon 18-Jul-11 12:48:51

Yeah - even if you can get an employer to sponsor DH for a visa (difficult but do-able) you could still be in the position of being unable to work. I was a 'trailing spouse' with a husband on one of the very few types of visa which allows a spouse to have a work permit (employee of an American company living in the US temporarily). I still had to apply separately for the work permit, which took three months to come through after we'd moved.

If he had been on a standard H visa (technical expert, employer sponsored) I would not have been allowed to apply for a work permit on a spousal visa. I could have volunteered, though. There were loads of MoD wives around our way, and the ones I met were either retraining, volunteering or taking a career break.

ragged Mon 18-Jul-11 12:56:10

You need to think long and hard about the culture shock/clash aspects of things. I can't imagine I'd be happy in NC -- landscape & lifestyle tolerable, but social values, some of them quite difficult for me personally.

gallicgirl Mon 18-Jul-11 12:58:36

I have friends who live in the US and I wouldn't swap places for the world. As much as places are geared up for kids and customer services can be fabulous, I think employment rights are next to non-existent.

There is so much pressure and they get so few holidays. My friend was a single mum and had no choice about working 50 hours a week (compulsory overtime). Luckily she had family to help with childcare. Some of the rubbish employers get away with would annoy me hugely.

LilRedWG Mon 18-Jul-11 12:58:55

ragged has a point. DSis lives in southern Virginia and it's a Southern Baptist stronghold. This may not be a problem for you, but am not sure I could handle all the holier-than-thou attitude.

MindtheGappp Mon 18-Jul-11 16:21:28

I would not relocate a family to the US unless on a full expatriate package, or already fabulously wealthy.

OP, your question is just too broad. Can you break it into small bits and be really specific about the area?

Mollythulu Mon 18-Jul-11 18:54:15

MtG, it's only really an initial inquiry - and because the DC's see the ex so much, I can't really expect it to ever happen. But DH, being a video editor, has had a steady job in corporate online media based stuff for years - he feels overqualified, undervalued and underpaid. I just thought he would stand a better chance of breaking into film work by going to the second biggest film industry, and as he's recently got back in contact with some long lost American cousins who he used to be really close to, and they live in NC, I thought it might be the best option to be somewhere where we know someone! I was just looking for some starter advice really - Dh has a degree, I'm a 'cello teacher, so I'm not quite sure how I'd work that one, as I teach at home, and not for many hours.

Mollythulu Mon 18-Jul-11 18:55:07

Maybe it's all pie in the sky!

phatcat Mon 18-Jul-11 19:11:59

check out Chapel Hill, NC. We once seriously considered it. Much more liberal than many places in the South.

MindtheGappp Mon 18-Jul-11 19:14:56

It sounds like everything balances on your DH getting a work-based visa.

Have a look at the visa pages of and try to judge your chances. You need to look at H visas (highly skilled). Before applying for a visa, he'd actually have to have a job offer and an approved petition, applied for by the employer. He'd also be subject to annual quotas.

If you want to work, you'd have to apply for an H visa in your own right. That would mean finding a music agency willing to initiate your visa application.

Your children's father will need to support their visa applications.

MindtheGappp Mon 18-Jul-11 19:16:51

US Embassy -

midnightexpress Mon 18-Jul-11 19:20:40

I'd also question the need to be in the US for your DC's ambitions to be fulfilled. Not sure about comic art, but the UK does a lot of well-respected work in the gaming/CGI etc industries. Just to say, if you can't get into the US, that all hope is not lost!

MindtheGappp Mon 18-Jul-11 19:21:02

Third time lucky with the link

MindtheGappp Mon 18-Jul-11 19:23:12

I am pathetic - for the fourth time!

If that doesn't work, you can google, lol!

Toobluntforboss Mon 18-Jul-11 19:26:05

I studied in Greensboro NC for a year and loved it - oceans and mountains close by and gorgeous 4 seasons without any being too extreme. Wilmington is lovely and agree about chapel hill as its great. I also lived in Boston for 4 years but was on a full ex pat contract so getting visa etc was easy enough. This was all before children though but I had the best time and find that people here are very judgemental about America and Americans when many have never been! They are great and very welcoming (in the main-as are people here-some nice and some not so nice) but long hours and relatively little holidays are the norm. Happy to answer any specific questions if you want to pm me as have lots of tips about moving, but can't really comment on the visa aspect as I was transferred and my employer did it all. Good luck though and I have a few friends in NC who could answer specifics on NC if you're interested.

dreamingbohemian Mon 18-Jul-11 19:26:19

Have you thought about Canada? As I understand it, it's much easier for Brits to emigrate there. Perhaps less culture shock as well. And not insanely far from NC.

Mollythulu Tue 19-Jul-11 01:34:54

Thanks all - I think we're a long way off from even starting some kind of process off, but this has all been really helpful! grin

kickassangel Tue 19-Jul-11 02:55:57

we moved her (michigan) nearly 3 years ago - the visas/green cards thing are v difficult & expensive. i wasn't able to work, or even volunteer, until we got green cards, which were a bit of a fluke as dh just happened to fit a particular category. so you would have to come with the assumption that you wouldn't be able to work for quite some time.

you would NEED an employer to sponsor you, AND a v good immigration lawyer. it is possible to get green cards by investing into a company (not sure of all the rulings), but you need to put in at least $50k.

check out house prices - they vary far more widely than in the UK. we live in a fantastic place, where housing is about 1/3 of the cost of the UK, and there's a small city nearby, good schools etc.

check out schools as well - they vary hugely, in some places just about anyone with any money at all will pay for private to avoid the state schools, other places people move into the are because the schools are so good.

you also need to have good health ins. - for many families, their health costs are their 2nd biggest expense, with the mortgage being the biggest, so you need to factor that in.

i also think that your dc's are just as likely to get into the industries they want from the UK - there's a lot more people here in the US competing for those jobs.

The 'living in america' thread is a good one to join for Qs, as most of us are brits abroad.

CheerfulYank Tue 19-Jul-11 04:55:50

I'm shock it costs that much to come live here! Holy cow!

Really, there's that much culture shock? Sad!

kickassangel Tue 19-Jul-11 23:12:39

the $50K is to get a green card via 'significant investment' if you have no other way. not sure the total bill for our green cards, but with solicitor's fees & application fees, something like $10k. the initial visas would prob have cost a couple of thousand as well.

the application for a green card due to marriage (about the cheapest & easiest to do) costs about $1,000, without any solicitor's fees.

generally, though the cost of housing is wayyyy lower, unless you want to live in SF or NY, so that makes quite a nice incentive. i would find it hard to return to a UK home where i would have to get rid of half my furniture & it would still be overcrowded.

CheerfulYank Tue 19-Jul-11 23:39:23

Yeah, I suppose the only expats I know are married to US citizens so I didn't know how much it cost.

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