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Moving to Saratoga, CA (Silicon Valley)

(21 Posts)
SummerLightning Wed 03-Aug-16 17:11:17

We have just relocated to Saratoga (silicon valley). I am living out of a suitcase in a hotel (though have signed a lease on a house).

I was wondering if anyone had any tips on
- Things to do in the area to entertain two children (5 and 7) for two weeks before they start school (we have applied to schools so that is covered)
- How to meet parents in the area (this may be a bit ambitious before school starts, but my daughter's birthday is on 11th August, before school starts and would like to try and have a mini party with a couple of other kids). I've tried searching for facebook groups, etc but no joy. Any pointers to forums, etc that might be appropriate would be great!
- any other tips for US living as I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.

Thanks anyone who can help!

SummerLightning Thu 04-Aug-16 11:48:27

Hopeful bump for the UK daytime crowd.

wheresmybloodygreencard Tue 09-Aug-16 23:57:01

I've lived in CA for a couple of years. No kids, but can totally help you out with US living questions! Fire away!

SummerLightning Wed 10-Aug-16 06:22:37

Hello! Aha so many questions.

Where's the best place to
- Shop for groceries (and can you do it online or am I going to miss Ocado?)
- Shop for furniture?
- Buy a second hand car?
- Compare best deals on credit cards/bank accounts etc?

Probably loads of other things!

Where are you living?
And how long DOES it take to get a green card? :-)

gulpygulpygators Wed 10-Aug-16 06:30:14

For activities try this page
Don't be put off by the "toddler"
In the title, her oldest is now 4.5

Groceries you will miss the online shopping in the UK but could try Amazon Fresh or Instacart. For a real grocery store try Safeway, Trader Joes, Whole Foods.

Furniture try IKEA in East Palo Alto, Macy's, Crate and Barrell or even Target. There are lots of random superstores around too.

Not sure about 2nd hand cars. Maybe Craigslist if you know what you are looking for. We just went through the dealers.

Hope you enjoy California!

wheresmybloodygreencard Wed 10-Aug-16 21:55:53

I second all that gulpy has said. Although when I first hit the supermarkets I was all upset and frustrated that everything was different. Safeway is ace for online shopping.
Credit cards and bank accounts? I don't know of a place to compare, I just tried a few out. So far my fav is Bank of america. Their ATMs are everywhere.
I live in SF smile
how long for a green card? Depends. What visa are you on?

Shadowridge Wed 10-Aug-16 22:07:40

Traders Joes, though it has smaller stores, feels the most European to me ( i.e more likely to be able to buy bread not loaded with sugar) and generally more interesting food. It is fantastic for good value wine. I was in CA last month and was surprised how much more expensive groceries are compared to the UK. You need to shop around as the supermarkets vary hugely- Walmart is noticeably cheaper.

Keep a look out for people having moving yard sales - I would imagine there is a high turnover in silicon valley. When we left the East coast to go back to the uk we had one and sold our electrical goods and some furniture - could be a good way to furnish a house ( have you shipped anything?). Ikea may be a good bet for sofa as we had to wait weeks for ours to arrive from the store and wesat on the bed for weeks.

Shadowridge Wed 10-Aug-16 22:39:43

My biggest tip is to get confident driving - so you can easily get out and about. The turn right on red but through, undertaking on the freeway, traffic merging from the left, millitant pedestrians - they always have the right of way and will assume you will stop, numerous stop signs and stop sign etiquette rules can be a bit confusing at first but you need to get confident driving with youself and the kids. Before we bought a car we had a hire for a few weeks and hired a 4 seat pick up ( Ford Ranger) which was great- the bigger higher car made me feel more confident quickly.

SummerLightning Thu 11-Aug-16 01:21:15

I am OK with the driving thing as we have a hire car. DH has buggered off to work leaving me alone not knowing where I am, with only a car and google maps to help. Thank god for google maps as I never have any idea where I am going. I have got (mostly) used to the driving differences now. Some things are tricky but I think it's actually easier than the UK.

The supermarkets seem very expensive compared to the UK! 4 dollars for bread (and it's gross, eek) I am sure I will figure it out though, when I actually have a house and a kitchen.

I will look out for yards sales, good tip thanks! Just ordered a load of furniture from the first random place we nipped into. It was quite cheap. And yes we have shipped out stuff, which gets here at the beginning of Sept (in principle). WE got rid of some stuff such as our dining table and sofa as they were old, so we do need to buy some stuff.

I am on an L2, husband is on an L1-A. I think we are submitting green card paper work next week. We are both British (I think this makes a difference apparently takes much longer if you are Indian!? And presumably varies by other nationalities too)

realhousewife23 Thu 11-Aug-16 03:51:29

Why are you applying for green cards so soon after arriving? That's quite unusual. You'll have up to 7 years on your L1-A and L2 visas, why not just focus on getting settled and living in the US for a while and decide if you like it enough to want to stay on a more permanent basis, then you can think about green cards. You're still in a hotel, driving a rental car, I think applying for green cards is jumping the gun a bit.

AaronBleurgh Thu 11-Aug-16 04:04:31

I thought the whole point of an L1 was you were considered temporary?! I literally don't know anyone who has gone from L1 to GC straight away. We were here 4 years before applying. DH had to leave his L1 job and take a permanent role to apply for it (and we lost our expat bonus).

Consider leasing a new car instead of buying 2nd hand. It's a really easy way of building your credit score.

Watchadoinmummy Thu 11-Aug-16 04:49:10

There is a pretty large Brit community out here, ask to join Silicon Valley Brit Parents on Facebook.

Advice on shopping is spot on, especially Trader Joe's. Also the bread at Safeway is ok. Gene's Fine Foods in Saratoga has a little British section including baked beans.

I wouldn't advise second hand, for some reason buying a brand new car is only a few thousand dollars more. And leasing will indeed build your credit which is essential here. Good luck!

DeliveredByKiki Thu 11-Aug-16 05:18:39

I'm much further south but get so much useful info from groups of expats on facebook - 4.5years later and I'm STILL asking what things like duvets are called!

There's a Brits in LA group, must be one for Silicon Valley?

SummerLightning Thu 11-Aug-16 05:28:11

Thanks whatcha, I have asked to join.

The green card thing is complicated, I am not that bothered about it but is all happening through DH's work. Was only being flippant cos of wheresmybloodygreencard's user name.

SummerLightning Thu 11-Aug-16 05:29:17

Oh god delivered went to target to buy some bedding today. How bloody confusing?

wheresmybloodygreencard Thu 11-Aug-16 16:44:05

I'm also on an L2. The reason applying for green cards sooner rather than later gives the L1 holder opportunities to work for any company, not just the one he came out here with.
My user name refers to the fact that the standard processing time was about 8 months, but currently they are experiencing delays and mine is taking FOREVER (11 months so far).

SummerLightning Thu 11-Aug-16 17:22:09

Yes that is also the reason my DH wants a green card. (didn't want to go into it so much in case am recognised, but he works for a small company and if they get bought or even go bust he wants to have options/not be kicked out of the country respectively)

AaronBleurgh Thu 11-Aug-16 23:36:37

Sorry if I read a little abrupt, it's just unusual. Normally the company who paid to bring you over and get your L1 wants their pound of flesh before they let you off the hook and leave!

A duvet is a comforter. Weirdly, a duvet cover is still called a duvet cover. Also, bear in mind that, if you're bringing your beds over from the UK, the US bedding will be too big.

As well as checking out the expat page, look for your local Moms page on FB too. They are a wealth of local information.

Also, make sure you check out the Mountain Winery. It's such a brilliant place to watch live music with the most amazing views as the sun goes down over Silicon Valley.

IceMaiden73 Sat 13-Aug-16 00:55:37

Hi i just moved to Campbell last week. Please feel free to pm me if you want to meet up. Don't have kids but keen to meet people

SummerLightning Sat 13-Aug-16 18:23:35

No worries Aaron you did have me worried we were doing something extremely weird for a bit but not offended!

Mountain Winery sounds great.

IceMaiden I will PM you.

SummerLightning Sat 13-Aug-16 18:24:24

IceMaiden, don't seem to be able to PM you, can you try messaging me? I think you probably have to turn the option on somewhere.

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