Congratulations if you have already arrived at United States. In case you haven’t, read this blog to know what to expect when you land here.
Moving to an entirely new country can be a daunting task and if you are married or have kids, it can get to your nerves easily. The most important tip if you are new to US is that hang on to your friends(if you have any) in your local town. They are the usually best resource and in most cases more than willing to help other Desis. Nevertheless, I have compiled a guide for a person directly coming into United States from India.
- How to Search for a rental house – Craigslist is your friend here. Just go to your local craigslist listing website (For Seattle go to seattle.craigslist.org). Navigate to Housing->Apts/Housing For Rent. They have enough filters and a map view which are quite useful. Note that 70-80% of rental Ads are posted on craigslist. You can also check Rent.com which is becoming quite popular these days and also any internal forum/emailing List in the company you work for. You can read more about it in my post here.
- How to decide on buying a car – This is the trickiest step. Believe it or not, but one can bargain at a car showroom and reduce prices anywhere from 1K to 8-10K. This is unheard of in India where we bargain for everything except cars. Car sales is one of the most competitive markets in US and sellers would be willing to strike a deal at any cost, so be prepared to negotiate well. You should have a brand or class of Car in mind first. For further research on market value, consumer reviews and feedback, you can use www.kbb.com or www.edmunds.com. There are many DOs and DONTs while going to buy a car that I have explained in my post here.
- Where to buy good/cheap/luxury furniture – Ikea is a great place to look at and buy furniture of a certain quality. It is by no means the best quality but it is much much better than buying from some unknown place of dubious reputation. Because it is mass manufacture furniture you’ll also find lots of reviews online which is a huge plus for me. You might also want to look at local furniture shops which sell quality furniture.
- How do I drive here – If you feel that driving in US is complex & difficult compared to India, you are not the only one. Not only do you have to train your mind to look for pedestrians, cyclists, but also remember millions of rules while driving. But trust me, once you get comfortable with the rules, it is one of the most stress-free driving experience you will have. First things first, get your states driving guide from Dept of Licensing (DOL) and read it completely. There is no getting away from reading that boring rule book. Get a good driving instructor (could be one of your friend) and practice in your neighborhood. Once you get a hang for it, it is much easier & safer to drive around in US.
- How to transfer money to India – There are bunch of money transfer services with varying exchange rate and time to transfer. You can look up http://www.compareremit.com/todays-best-dollar-to-rupee-exchange-rate/ for finding the best possible option and sign up for one. I personally like to use the services which are tied to a Bank like ICICI, SBI or HDFC but I have also heard good reviews about Xoom. Read more about it here.
- How do I book my tickets to India – Are you already thinking about making a trip to India? Oh..Come on !!! You can look them up online at www.expedia.com, www.cheapoair.com etc. In my personal experience, I have found cheapoair.com shows more combination of flights and suggests you best travel dates for best prices. Also, there are lot of travel agents who can give you discount anywhere from $10-$100 per ticket.
I am sure there are millions of other questions right now, but I will save them for another post. I have covered each of the above topics in detail in separate posts that you should check out.
Feel free to comment below if you think I should add/edit some of the info in this post. I will be more than willing to do so if it is helpful.