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Moving to NYC - no DCs - lots of questions

(60 Posts)
AcrosstheSea Wed 20-Sep-17 06:48:11

Looks like DP's offer is about to become official. Negotiations on package etc will start once he gets goes for the "official" meeting senior people visit. It would be an office transfer, so L1 visa.

Work has hinted that they'd like him there by the end of the year. How likely is that? I would have thought visas would take a few months? Does anyone know how it works? Is my visa processed at the same time, separately? Will I need to stay in the UK while he goes over first?

We are engaged already so will be doing a registry office wedding so I can accompany him.

It's exciting, but where to live?!? We are thinking for the first year Manhattan, then NJ if all goes well. But where in Manhattan, I like the look online of flats in Gramercy, is that ok?

Apartments are small, so people ship their things? We have stuff I don't want to leave in storage in the UK for an indeterminate amount of time.

allfurcoatnoknickers Wed 20-Sep-17 19:32:25

Hello! I live in Manhattan and would be more than happy to help.

Regarding where to live - where will your DP be working? Ideally need cross streets i.e. 42nd between Madison and Park. That way it'll be easier to suggest an easily commutable neighbourhood. Commuting across town is a nightmare so if you work on the west side, it's better to live on the west side too, even if you live at the other end of Manhattan from your office.

Gramercy is lovely - very safe and very expensive, so if you can afford to live there, then go for it. Make sure you live near a supermarket though, schlepping groceries home on the subway is miserable, and there aren't nearly as many supermarket delivery options. Certainly no Tesco delivery equivalent.

Shipping - apartments are teeny, so make sure that you get good measurements before shipping anything. They do tend to come unfurnished though, which will make things a bit easier. I wouldn't bother shipping any cooking stuff. Manhattan kitchens are notoriously minute and often barely ever get used. Everyone eats out or gets take-aways all the time.

Let me know if you have any more questions or would like me to elaborate. There are lots of us living in or around NYC, so I'm sure someone else will be along in a minute with more info.

BritInUS1 Wed 20-Sep-17 19:39:22

Wow how exciting

The company should provide employment lawyers, who will help with all your questions. You will need to be married to get an L2 visa, there may be questions as you will only have just got married.

We went for our interview in June and had visas a week later, but there was a lot of paperwork to do with the lawyers beforehand.

You can work on an L2 visa, however, you will also need an employment card. You cannot apply for this until you are in the US and have a social security number, it then takes around 3 months to come through. You cannot work without this.

Make sure the company is giving a good medical package as this can get hugely expensive.

We shipped a few boxes and took cases on the plane, everything else stayed in UK.

We are not in NYC so cannot help on that side of things.

misssmilla1 Wed 20-Sep-17 19:41:54

L1 visas are usually (well, used to be) quicker to process than H1's, as they don't run through the same system where you have to apply at certain times of the year.

My L1 took 5 months (altho that was nearly 7 years ago now), and that was with the work immigration law firm doing it. I think getting him there by the end of a year might be a push, the company will need to take their lead from whoever's doing their visas. Important to note that once the application is in, you usually can't travel to the US before the visa is issued. There's a ton of expat forums on line that have up to date info on processing and lead times

Your visa will be separate, altho can be submitted at the same time. I can't recommend enough that you get married asap, as the conditions of a spouse visa versus domestic partner are v different. Again, whoever is sorting his visa out should be able to give you the best way to do this.

Most of Manhattan is nice - depends on what sort of area you want to live in, and where your DP;s work is (some of the upper east and west side can be a long commute if working downtown) and how much you want to pay. My friend had a place in flatiron that was a proper 1 bed for about $3200 a month

I will caution that I found a lot of liberties being taken with rental ads and pictures, so do take with a pinch of salt. try and figure out what is important to you - i.e. a proper kitchen (lots of city apartments have microwaves and no ovens for example) or a washing machine (most apartments esp the old ones will not have one in the apartment)

Decluttering before you go is a great idea so you don't ship everything- I'm assuming your DPs office will provide a relocation package that includes shipping? if so, less expense for you. Lots of storage units around the city, prices vary depending on the size you want and where it is. I think we paid about $110 a month for ours (but that was Brooklyn)

i'd recommend you push the firm hard on the relocation package for help with temp accommodation, shipping costs, any one off payments (for large goods / furniture etc)

also get them to confirm whether your DP will be on an expat package or a local one. The former means they will still get UK terms on holidays, contracts etc and usually get flights thrown in, the latter means it will be a local NY 'at will' contract. < This is really important as basically either party can quit the job with a max of 2 weeks notice. If your visa is tied to your job, you have a v small window to have the leave the country

misssmilla1 Wed 20-Sep-17 19:43:48

Oh, and if you can, open an international bank account in the UK with HSBC or similar before you move. Will save a MASSIVE headache trying to set it up and the fact you'll have no US credit history (so renting an apt etc can be bloody expensive)

realhousewife44 Wed 20-Sep-17 20:22:29

You can do premium processing on an L-1 visa which is just 15 days. But the overall timescale will depend on how quickly the lawyers can put together the petition paperwork and gather all the evidence needed. Once the petition is approved, you'll need to go to the consulate for the actual visa interview and that timescale will depend on how quickly you get can an appointment. It's definitely possible to do it all in 2-3 months if the lawyers are good, all the application paperwork and supporting documents can be gathered quickly, you opt for premium processing and there is no RFE (Request for Further Evidence).

Important to note that once the application is in, you usually can't travel to the US before the visa is issued.

You can still travel on the visa waiver program while the visa application is pending. You can go for a house hunting trip or you DH could still go on a business trip. Not to go and do the job he will be doing when you move but meetings and the like would still be allowed.

AcrosstheSea Thu 21-Sep-17 09:35:09

DP's office will be in Midtown, any advice on commutes?

We don't know anything about the package yet, waiting for him to have his big meeting over there in a few weeks.

It's starting to feel like this will actually happen, which is exciting and a bit nerve wracking. I've been an expat before as a child, but I'm hoping the US will be an adventure.

allfurcoatnoknickers Thu 21-Sep-17 13:49:56

Midtown is a fairly big swathe of Manhattan, so since you're interested in Gramercy, I'm assuming the office is in midtown east. Gramercy would be an easy commute, but I'd also look north in Murray Hill and south in the East Village to widen your search area a bit. Unless you're a committed party animal, I'd avoid moving to the Lower East Side.

If you want a bit more bang for your buck, you could look at Long Island City. It's one stop on the subway from midtown east, and since lots of new buildings have just been built there, you can get some real bargains at the moment. You also get spectacular views. I have friends who live in the Hayden who recommend it highly. I also like the Halo building.

Regarding looking for a flat - trawl daily. NY Bits and NY Apartments and Lofts are also good websites for no-fee apartments. I've never used a broker for rentals, but it might be worth it if you're pushed for time and the company will cover the broker fee as part of the package.

Washing machines do not come as standard, so make sure to read the descriptions carefully if you want one in your flat. This was my biggest shock by far when I moved to NY!

Like someone else mentioned, beware of the photos in real estate listings. They might not be the most accurate. Unless you're able to spend $$$$ Manhattan apartments can be notoriously grotty, so take a trip over
And see as much as you possibly can to get a sense of what you can reasonably afford.

AcrosstheSea Thu 21-Sep-17 14:09:36

I had to look it up where the office is as DP only told me "midtown", didn't realise it meant lots of Manhattan. Looks like his office is near Bryant Park, so Murray Hill could be great.

I just liked the look of Gramercy online, I've never been to NYC and didn't know where to start.

The way it's all going not sure we'll have time for a trip over before the move. We're hoping they'll put us in a hotel for a month or so while I sort out somewhere to live.

I noticed the washing machine thing in listings. What do people do?

AcrosstheSea Thu 21-Sep-17 14:14:47

Also what is a Co-op? I've seen that in a few of the listings.

greatpumpkin Thu 21-Sep-17 14:17:02

Usually there are washing machines in the basement of the building. It works fine, although it's best to go at a less popular time of day.

greatpumpkin Thu 21-Sep-17 14:22:56

Co-op refers to the management/ownership structure of the apartment building. Usually they have more owner input into the way the building is run but they will also tend to have more restrictions on how/whether you are allowed to rent out your apartment.

Not really your concern since you'll be renting, but your rental application would likely have to go to the board so it might take longer to get approved as a tenant.

Since you'll be looking to get settled quickly you might be better focusing on all-rental buildings owned by professional landlords.

AcrosstheSea Thu 21-Sep-17 15:17:01

Thanks @greatpumpkin I saw a place I liked in Tudor City and then went down a rabbit hole of other places.

Do you like living in NYC? Was there a big culture shock after moving ?

allfurcoatnoknickers Thu 21-Sep-17 16:06:02

Across if there isn't laundry anywhere in the building, then people usually send it out to be washed and folded. Dry cleaning is really REALLY cheap too - DH has all his shirts dry cleaned so he doesn't have to iron them. I think it's $2 per shirt.

Bryant Park is a great part of town to work in! My office used to be there and I loved it. You can get there from pretty much anywhere on the east side, or Hudson Yards/Hell's Kitchen, or even Flatiron or Chelsea if he likes a walk in the morning, so that gives you LOADS of choice of places to live. What are you looking for in a neighbourhood? I live in West Chelsea and adore it, but it's not for everyone.

As greatpumpkin says, if you want to get settled quickly, then an all rental building might be the best place to focus. You probably don't want to me messing about with Co-Op board interviews.

AcrosstheSea Thu 21-Sep-17 17:26:51

We'd love a neighbour with lots of walkable areas. We're not party party people but we love good food,green spaces, a cocktail or two. No DCs yet but maybe in a year or two.

We live in north London, we'd probably want somewhere with a similar vibe. Residential, safe, green.

misssmilla1 Thu 21-Sep-17 18:35:53

Yeah, co-op board interviews are to be avoided (imo) I was sub leasing a place with agreement from the board, and had to provide them 7 years of my financial history and 4 character references (all of which they did precisely nothing with)

No fee apartments are great if you can find them, but beware scams on line, along with switch and bait i.e. you'll see an ad with no fee ,call and they'll be like "oh its just gone but I have this great one for xyz $"

For rentals, you (the renter) pay the broker fee, which can be $$$. Each agent has a different % - back in '11 (so this is probably way out of date) I had to pay the agent the equivalent 3% of the total rent for the year. Also, be warned that as you have no credit history (unless you set up an international bank account who can port it over) you will routinely be asked to stump up 6-12 months rent in advance as you're seen as a flight risk. This, plus the agent fee means you can have to find a ton of money v v quickly (also worth considering when you negotiate the move package)

Long Island City is nice, but beware the commute into town. DH takes that line from grand central to work, and its often down or has delays. Its the only proper line over, so if its busted you can be stuck

misssmilla1 Thu 21-Sep-17 19:16:18

This is a bit of a random one, but I'd also consider proximity to stores (mainly food ones) if its important to you (Im heavily influenced by my ability to get decent cheese, so may be biased...)

There isn't the concept of a tesco metro or similar here on every corner, and in the city you can be hard pushed to find grocery stores with a lot of range that won't cost you a ton of $$. Trader Joes (well known chain, does a lot of own brands but they're generally always good) has 2 locations in NYC - the 14th street one has a booze shop attached. There's also a couple (maybe more now?) Whole Foods around, but they're generally pricy and again carry less brands / more organic (altho they do have a good selection of different beers!)

greatpumpkin Fri 22-Sep-17 00:28:51

When we first moved here we had no children and I was very lonely. You will have a lot to do with getting settled but I suggest you make sure you prioritise doing something that you'll just enjoy that will help you make friends too. As others have said, it will be a few months before you're allowed to work.

AcrosstheSea Fri 22-Sep-17 11:28:47

@greatpumpkin how long have you been there?

Thankfully I know friends of friends and some acquaintances over there so wouldn't be totally without a network, DP would have it worse with only work contacts and my network.

OlennasWimple Fri 22-Sep-17 13:26:02

It's unlikely but not impossible to get your visas through so that you are out there for the end of the year (ours came through in about 6 weeks, but there is a lot of paperwork to be prepared in advance and you have to go in person to the embassy to give your fingerprints etc)

Get an Amex card now as you will then be able to convert it into a US card. Also look at your current bank account and see if they have a "sister" US bank or any formal links. We found it straightforward to open a Bank of America account (using DH's work address as our address) but I've heard others have struggled

Be prepared for the cold!! Serious snow gear is required...

In the discussions about the package, the single biggest thing to ensure is covered is the medical insurance offer. Be really clear what it does and doesn't cover, your monthly payments and your co-pay requirements. If you have any existing medical issues, check that they are covered and that the annual / lifetime limits wouldn't be a problem

allfurcoatnoknickers Fri 22-Sep-17 17:09:51

Across everywhere in Manhattan is walkable, but most of it isn't very green at all grin. If that's important to you, I'd suggest looking near the parks. Upper East or West would work for access to green open spaces - Upper West by Columbia is very park heavy. Or you could look in Chelsea/meatpacking near the Highline. There's also Battery Park City which is a bit Nappy Valley, but very close to TriBeCa and South Street Seaport for good bars and restaurants.

I second what Olenna said about insurance. A friend of mine did an inter company transfer and assumed that he'd have to pay nothing, like with his company sponsored BUPA insurance in the U.K. He got a nasty shock when he saw how much was coming out of his paycheck every month.

AcrosstheSea Sun 24-Sep-17 18:59:32

Thanks @OlennasWimple @allfurcoatnoknickers I've mentioned health insurance again to DP, he needs to pay attention to these things. It's usually me that sorts those things out.

Want2bSupermum Tue 26-Sep-17 02:19:49

If you can't get your credit score sorted via Amex/HSBC I would suggest you not go for Manhattan unless you can easily pay 6 months rent upfront. A proper 1bed in most parts of Manhattan is about $4500-5500 a month. You need to have at least $10-15k in savings. Health insurance isn't cheap. DD twisted her ankle dislocating it. The ER visit was $5500.

If you are planning to get married I would suggest you get married now and go over as a spouse. The only other way I have seen it done is to apply for a student visa. Given the cost of tuition I think a wedding is cheaper!

Areas outside of Manhattan that I think you should consider are Astoria, Long Island city, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, red hook, park slope, jersey city and Hoboken. I live in Hoboken and take the bus to midtown. If you live below 7th street in Hoboken the bus is 20mins. Above 7th st you have buses skipping stops around 8 as the buses fill up. Landlords here, DH having four units, are very willing to rent to Brits. A one bed with w/d, outdoor space and parking spot will cost about $2500-3000 a month.

Acrossthesea Thu 09-Nov-17 07:09:00

Looks we are about to get the thumbs up for the move. I’m trying to understand the differences between the L1A and the L1B visas since DH is not a manager, I don’t know if his work could get a petition for an L1A.

Also I’ve looked at other ex pat boards but has anyone been through it recently? What are the timelines like for applying for London?

Finally, what the hell do we do about our flat? I’m thinking it’s easier to sell but I’ve lost my reasoning powers as I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of moving abroad. (No need to answer this one, I’m chalking it up to my set of questions with no answers right nowsmile)

BritInUS1 Thu 09-Nov-17 17:40:49

We went through it last year

Assuming your OH has worked for the company for a year then the immigration lawyers will apply for an L1 visa for him. Our took a few weeks for the lawyers to sort the paperwork out and put the application in, we then had to go to the Embassy for a meeting and then our visa was approved. I guess 2-3 months, though depends how quickly lawyers move, etc.

You need to talk to the lawyers about your status as you are not married, as it will be hard to get you a visa.

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