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Old 08-20-2012, 09:40 AM
 
Location: London, UK
19 posts, read 26,923 times
Reputation: 17

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I'm moving over to LA next week from London, on an L1 working visa. I'm bring my wife who is on an L2. I'm very familiar with LA and have been there a lot for work so I have a good idea what to expect. However, because I've never been a resident I don't have any tax status, credit history, bank account, drivers license, health insurance, car insurance etc etc. I do have a cell phone though - hurrah.

Anyway my main question is, what's the right order to get stuff organized? And am I missing anything? I'm staying somewhere temporary til I have somewhere to move to, til then I'll have an address to use from the outset.

I'm thinking the best order to do everything is like this?

- SS number
- Bank account
- Drivers Test/License
- Car / Car Insurance
- Accommodation
- Health Insurance

Am I missing anything? Can anyone advise or point me in the direction of a thread discussing need-to-know stuff about living in the US. i.e. what's involved with renting? how do you set up utilities like water/power? where's the best place to bank? build credit history? recommended health insurance/car insurance places to look etc? What's the best ISP for speed? All advice welcome.

What are car insurance costs like? For a newly licensed driver in the US (I already have a UK license). I'm thinking about getting a small car, I'm 31, in good health, managerial job. Would I be looking at over $1200/year based on light usage? I know nothing about US automotive insurance. Trying to get a budget in my head. How about Health insurance? How pricey is it for a regular 31 yr old with no health issues? I realize there are varying factors. Just trying to get ball park figures in my head. Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:48 PM
 
389 posts, read 763,974 times
Reputation: 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyscraper101 View Post
I'm moving over to LA next week from London, on an L1 working visa. I'm bring my wife who is on an L2. I'm very familiar with LA and have been there a lot for work so I have a good idea what to expect. However, because I've never been a resident I don't have any tax status, credit history, bank account, drivers license, health insurance, car insurance etc etc. I do have a cell phone though - hurrah.

Anyway my main question is, what's the right order to get stuff organized? And am I missing anything? I'm staying somewhere temporary til I have somewhere to move to, til then I'll have an address to use from the outset.

I'm thinking the best order to do everything is like this?

- SS number
- Bank account
- Drivers Test/License
- Car / Car Insurance
- Accommodation
- Health Insurance

Am I missing anything? Can anyone advise or point me in the direction of a thread discussing need-to-know stuff about living in the US. i.e. what's involved with renting? how do you set up utilities like water/power? where's the best place to bank? build credit history? recommended health insurance/car insurance places to look etc? What's the best ISP for speed? All advice welcome.

What are car insurance costs like? For a newly licensed driver in the US (I already have a UK license). I'm thinking about getting a small car, I'm 31, in good health, managerial job. Would I be looking at over $1200/year based on light usage? I know nothing about US automotive insurance. Trying to get a budget in my head. How about Health insurance? How pricey is it for a regular 31 yr old with no health issues? I realize there are varying factors. Just trying to get ball park figures in my head. Thanks in advance.
Too many dynamic factors to determine the accurate estimate of you all costs. car/health insurance varies from state to state and regions in each state. The more urban area (LA being one of the most) the higher insurance premiums. You should get health insurance from your employer during enrollment period but if you don't you can get your own but beware that its very expensive. Since Obama's healthcare overhaul its gotten worse for individual health insurance market though its better now for group plans.

It takes years to build credit history, it starts from credit card. Usually high interest, with low spending limit or secured with your own cash in deposit equivalent to credit limit usually $500. Spend no more than 30% of your available credit each month, avoid exceeding 50%, especially maxing out and pay the whole amount each month. Most utility bill companies however will approve you with no problem as long as you don't have negative in your report.
You should be fine finding a rent, but I wouldn't count on getting mortgage, even if you qualified since you're here only on work visa, temporary stay, instead being a permanent resident.

For ISP, you will know what to choose once you move into your apartment. This is huge country, it varies from town to town. In LA your most likely biggest two providers will be AT&T and Time Warner Cable. If you move into Verizon territory, you'll be lucky to get FTTH they brand as FIOS. Don't be shocked if you notice wired Internet in the US and cell phone servie (especially postpaid) more expensive than in the UK. Beware of the caps most ISP now impose which is 250GB per month but like most users you should be fine unless you download 24x7. For cell phone internet service, if you decide to go mobile and take internet with you everywhere, caps range between 5GB and 30GB with prices. Plenty enough for work to do, remote login VPN into work, etc but not sufficient for video streaming.

If you already have DL from UK, you may only be required to pass written portion of the test and skip drive test. Though I don't know if UK's left side driving won't exclude you.

Enjoy California, and congratulations on your move!
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:53 PM
 
Location: 78250
923 posts, read 2,075,533 times
Reputation: 333
Hello from a fellow Londoner

Yes moving to a new country, there's a lot to take in. I came here in 2008 (got married to my american hubby) naturalizing to be a US citizen next Thursday - so I will be dual UK/US citz

Anyway I remember when I moved out of my MIL place in San Diego, and we moved to LA as soon as I got my green card (and therefore was allowed to work) in 2009 = bad year (stupid recession). We rented a big studio place for $1075 at the time, but we were only there for a month or two cause I couldn't find an IT job.

Car insurance right now, were paying $116 with GEICO to insure both me and my OH on each others cars, mine a 2007 honda civic and his is a 2002 Volvo S60.

Internet at the time in LA we were with Verizon - very good! but I cannot remember how much we were paying! sorry, right now we are with Time warner cable and we pay $100 for Road runner turbo and cable TV then I pay $35 for vonage free US/Canada and UK calls!!!! plus they have a feature where you can access your vonage number from your cell phone and call the UK for FREE as well -love vonage!!!

But I also skype with my parents back home in London too.

I opened an account with citi- but i no longer use my account, there's just money sitting in there. I also got a secured credit card with citi (deposit $200) to build my credit history here in the US - I'm still building my credit!! It takes a while.

Right now though i love banking with ING!! no fee checking account!! I am not fond of bank of america or chase

I'm 31 and in good health and I don't have health insurance, only our baby girl has health insurance- maybe you'll miss not having NHS here??

Once I applied for and received my SS, I then studied the CA road book, went in to take the multiple choice test then booked my driving test and passed first time. BTW I miss driving manual!! got a lazy left foot now!

Cell phone I am with Cricket, Tmobile, ATT Verizon all have expensive 2 year CONTRACTS (no thank you!!), with Cricket I just have UNLIMITED calls and texts for $15 (they lowered my bill I was offered the lifetime credit thing), not really into checking my emails on my phone etc..... Cricket is on a CDMA network = no SIM card.

I live in Texas now and I wouldn't consider moving back to CA because it's just too damn expensive and the 4 lane freeway traffic jams are a no no for me.

good luck with your move!!
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:11 PM
 
389 posts, read 763,974 times
Reputation: 119
yikes, lots of trolls in these forums seem to be lately.

What the guy/gal in TX have anything to do with CA? People who move out from certain places because they don't like them, come back later to these forums to discourage others from moving in. Pretty goofy.


Don't get Cricket, Metro PCS. As soon as you leave large town for road trip = no coverage. Now all carriers have unlimited talk and text. They're little more expensive, but they also have more features, better phone selection and if you're employer is a large corporation, you may get 10-25% discount of your monthly bill. If you want to avoid contract, don't buy a subsidized phone. And even though you have to pay more upfront, you'll save some money over 2 years if you choose T-Mobile or StraightTalk (MNVO that works on at&t or t-mobile) and won't be bound to a single carrier and sim lock/roaming restrictions when travelling abroad. Since you're from the UK and may go back there to visit friends, you may want that. There is a lot of MNVO on market, you need to research on google which ones are available. Also get AAA for discounts, road assistance, some travel insurance coverage, etc. Its a motor club membership with benefits.

And CA is definietly a better place to live than TX. Costs aren't too bad, they should be better in comparison to NYC or London.

Last edited by mayhem_223; 08-20-2012 at 09:20 PM..
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:35 AM
 
Location: 78250
923 posts, read 2,075,533 times
Reputation: 333
Quote:
Originally Posted by mayhem_223 View Post
yikes, lots of trolls in these forums seem to be lately.

What the guy/gal in TX have anything to do with CA? People who move out from certain places because they don't like them, come back later to these forums to discourage others from moving in. Pretty goofy.


Don't get Cricket, Metro PCS. As soon as you leave large town for road trip = no coverage. Now all carriers have unlimited talk and text. They're little more expensive, but they also have more features, better phone selection and if you're employer is a large corporation, you may get 10-25% discount of your monthly bill. If you want to avoid contract, don't buy a subsidized phone. And even though you have to pay more upfront, you'll save some money over 2 years if you choose T-Mobile or StraightTalk (MNVO that works on at&t or t-mobile) and won't be bound to a single carrier and sim lock/roaming restrictions when travelling abroad. Since you're from the UK and may go back there to visit friends, you may want that. There is a lot of MNVO on market, you need to research on google which ones are available. Also get AAA for discounts, road assistance, some travel insurance coverage, etc. Its a motor club membership with benefits.

And CA is definietly a better place to live than TX. Costs aren't too bad, they should be better in comparison to NYC or London.

We later moved from CA to TX because I was able to get an IT job here

With my Cricket cell/coverage, I had no issues using is in Diego, the last time I was there, or in NJ when I was there to visit my friend.

and trolling is not my thing
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Old 08-21-2012, 01:44 AM
 
Location: London, UK
19 posts, read 26,923 times
Reputation: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jons_wifey View Post

Car insurance right now, were paying $116 with GEICO to insure both me and my OH on each others cars, mine a 2007 honda civic and his is a 2002 Volvo S60.
Is that $116 per month? Assume that's in Texas so prob a bit more pricey in LA? I have no clue what to expect for insurance costs. What do others pay?

Thanks for the replies all. I already have a cell phone which I've been using on my frequent trips out to LA over the past year. T-Mobile $30/month for 100 mins/txts and (crucially) 5Gb of data.

re: banks, so IMG is reccomended.. true I don't want to pay a monthly fee for a simple checking account. Are all Citi, US Bank, Bank of America accounts like this? Anyone have any experience of Wells Fargo? (my boss uses this bank). Who else are good? I just want a simple account, no fuss, certainly no fees. Whats the advantage of paying fees to have a checking account?

I found out that American Express (who I have a credit card with in the UK) are able to give me a US amex card based on my standing in the UK - great. Also they can convert the primary currency on my existing card from UKŁ to US$ so I don't have to pay any conversion costs. A good, straightforward bank, is what I need now though.

I don't think Verizon do Fios where I'm likely to move (west hollywood). I will check out AT&T and Time Warner Cable. Are there any advantages one has over the other? They look very similar to me.

Last edited by skyscraper101; 08-21-2012 at 01:53 AM..
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:11 AM
 
11,697 posts, read 16,443,612 times
Reputation: 16344
Your expat contract should at least cover medical and temporary housing.

Move into an extended-stay hotel for the first couple of weeks and learn the lay of the land. Traffic patterns, areas coworkers recommend, areas you discover. It is generally advised to hold off two weeks befor applying for a social security number to allow data to be accessible. Your call. Drivers license is a no brainer. You can pull details up on CA DMV. Have all your visa documentation including I94 with you! Car insurance depends on a number of factors from age/make/model/history of vehicle to your driving history. If all you need is a checking account it really does not matter if a bank is "good". Read the small pint - you will need a certain minimum balance to eliminate fees. Try to get a debit or secured credit card (which you can convert after a minimum credit history has been established) as a lot of vendors do not accept AMEX. Wait until you know where you will rent before getting into internet/tv/phone providers. Some apartment complexes offer options and/or discounts. If you do not convert your UK cell to international pick up a cheap pay-as-you-go for the first weeks.
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:11 AM
 
Location: 78250
923 posts, read 2,075,533 times
Reputation: 333
Quote:
Originally Posted by Threestep View Post
Your expat contract should at least cover medical and temporary housing.

Move into an extended-stay hotel for the first couple of weeks and learn the lay of the land. Traffic patterns, areas coworkers recommend, areas you discover. It is generally advised to hold off two weeks befor applying for a social security number to allow data to be accessible. Your call. Drivers license is a no brainer. You can pull details up on CA DMV. Have all your visa documentation including I94 with you! Car insurance depends on a number of factors from age/make/model/history of vehicle to your driving history. If all you need is a checking account it really does not matter if a bank is "good". Read the small pint - you will need a certain minimum balance to eliminate fees. Try to get a debit or secured credit card (which you can convert after a minimum credit history has been established) as a lot of vendors do not accept AMEX. Wait until you know where you will rent before getting into internet/tv/phone providers. Some apartment complexes offer options and/or discounts. If you do not convert your UK cell to international pick up a cheap pay-as-you-go for the first weeks.

Yes good suggestion on extended stays, we stayed in one when we were in IL for a few months during the recession in 2009, paid $800 flat, no increase no decrease, you get a lil kitchenette to cook your food, a cleaner once a week to refill toilet rolls, change bed sheets, vacuum, clean toilet and bathroom, change towels etc... really cool
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:13 AM
 
Location: 78250
923 posts, read 2,075,533 times
Reputation: 333
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyscraper101 View Post
Is that $116 per month? Assume that's in Texas so prob a bit more pricey in LA? I have no clue what to expect for insurance costs. What do others pay?

Thanks for the replies all. I already have a cell phone which I've been using on my frequent trips out to LA over the past year. T-Mobile $30/month for 100 mins/txts and (crucially) 5Gb of data.

re: banks, so IMG is reccomended.. true I don't want to pay a monthly fee for a simple checking account. Are all Citi, US Bank, Bank of America accounts like this? Anyone have any experience of Wells Fargo? (my boss uses this bank). Who else are good? I just want a simple account, no fuss, certainly no fees. Whats the advantage of paying fees to have a checking account?

I found out that American Express (who I have a credit card with in the UK) are able to give me a US amex card based on my standing in the UK - great. Also they can convert the primary currency on my existing card from UKŁ to US$ so I don't have to pay any conversion costs. A good, straightforward bank, is what I need now though.

I don't think Verizon do Fios where I'm likely to move (west hollywood). I will check out AT&T and Time Warner Cable. Are there any advantages one has over the other? They look very similar to me.

$116 is what we pay here in Texas, yes.

Checking accounts here in the US, without a fee - yeh that's why I resorted to ING - doesn't matter to me they do not have a branch! I can deposit money to and from my citi to ING and visa versa.

OP what would be your occupation in CA btw?
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:11 PM
 
Location: London, UK
19 posts, read 26,923 times
Reputation: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jons_wifey View Post
$116 is what we pay here in Texas, yes.

Checking accounts here in the US, without a fee - yeh that's why I resorted to ING - doesn't matter to me they do not have a branch! I can deposit money to and from my citi to ING and visa versa.

OP what would be your occupation in CA btw?
Do all main banks (those with branches) charge a fee for a basic account facility? I'm sure our company wells fargo one dosn't have one. I would rather have a bank with a branch I can call in at.

I work for a TV production company btw.
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