Moving to the United States and living the American Dream is what many people hope for.
But why do you want to leave your country? Before you make such a life changing decision, you should make sure that you don’t have any false expectations. Most of the time life in America is not any easier than it is in your home country. Here are some things you should consider before you move to the USA.
Do your research
Make sure you are well informed about the area you are planning to live in. Google it, check out Facebook pages/ groups and try to find places you would like to integrate into your daily routine. Think about places like gyms, libraries, bars, restaurants, coffee shops. Anywhere you could imagine to make new friends. Remember that life is not just about your job, but what’s much more important is your personal happiness. Only if you really like a town you should take the big step. Living in the middle of nowhere (the US is a BIG country) will most likely not make you happy in the long run.
Be prepared to get homesick
Have you ever been away from your family and friends for a long period of time? Once the initial excitement about your new home is gone and you become settled in, there is a chance that you will start missing your loved ones back home a lot. Luckily nowadays we have Skype, Facetime, etc. which help us stay in contact with our friends and families. Once you meet new, exciting people and build your first friendships, it will get a lot easier and you will start enjoying your new life.
Find tips on how to beat homesickness here.
Save up a nice little stack of cash
Money is definitely a big factor in moving to a new country.
You will basically start all over again, so you should calculate your money well before you make the big move. You should take the following costs into consideration:
- Housing – It will most likely not be easy to find your future home from abroad. You might consider living in a hotel for the first month, until you are able to find a place you like and can afford. For a rental apartment there is usually an application fee, a security deposit and the first month’s rent to pay upfront.
- Utilities – Once you’ve found a nice place to stay, you will connect it with your local gas and electricity services. Since you don’t have a credit history yet, they will ask you for a security deposit (mine was around $150). You will get your deposit back once they see that you pay your bills regularly, usually after a year.
- Cell phone – If you bring your old cell phone from home, all you need is a prepaid service and a SIM card to get started. These plans can be as cheap as $25 per month. If you need a phone and want to get it through a contract with one of the big phone companies, please be prepared that it might be a lot more expensive than in your home country – I was shocked at some of the prices!
- Furniture and household items – Of course you’ll want to make your new home comfortable, so you will either need to get new furniture or ship your furniture from your home country to the US. Before I moved, I checked out the American IKEA website to get an idea of the prices. I did not end up buying a lot from there, but it definitely helped me to calculate my budget.
- Transportation – Unless you live in a big city with a good public transportation system, you will need a reliable car to get around. Gas is pretty cheap here compared to the prices in Europe, but you’ll also need to register your car and get good insurance.
- Groceries – Depending on your eating habits, groceries can range anywhere from very affordable to very expensive. It makes a big difference if you go shopping at Aldi’s (cost efficient) or Whole Foods (costly).
Start all over again
This one is probably okay with you since you’re already researching how to make your dream come true. It can be a fun challenge to give up on everything you have, move to the US and start all over again. If you’re willing to take on a new adventure, have a positive attitude and are willing to adjust to your new surroundings, everything is possible.
Find a job
I was very lucky getting transferred to the US by my German employer. If you don’t have a job when you arrive, make sure you consider all opportunities you get, right from the beginning. It is always a good idea to research companies and job opportunities in your dream city before you move.
Please keep in mind that the education system in the US might be different than it is in your home country. Many employers might not know the kind of degree you have. Be patient and make sure you have your CV and cover letter in order, so that your application gets some good attention.
Brush up that English
Even if you’ve learned English in school, it will take you some time to accept it as your new first language. In the beginning it was sometimes frustrating for me, especially when I was not able to say what I had on my mind. If you want to prepare yourself, you can take an English class before you move, watch English movies or read and try to understand the lyrics of your favorite English songs. It is also a good idea to get some friends together and make an “English evening”, where English is the only language allowed to be spoken.
Taking an English class in the US right after your arrival is also a good opportunity to brush up that language and maybe even make your first friends.
Having a good health insurance was one of my biggest concerns before I moved. Unfortunately in the United States it is not a rule that everybody has health insurance, not even talking about a good one.
Therefore, whatever your job might be, make sure you ask for the benefits and if it comes with good health insurance. There are many different health insurance plans available. Many of them have a high deductible, which means that you will still have to pay a certain amount out of pocket if you go see a doctor or need to go to the emergency room.
In order to not end up with crazy hospital bills in case of an emergency, please get yourself covered as soon as you arrive, just to be on the safe side.
This is a very complex topic to talk about. If you want to move to the United States, you will need to find a visa that you qualify for. There are many different kinds of visas available: student visas, visas for internships, au pairs and artists. There are different kinds of work visas that are sponsored by companies and of course there is the green card.
Please click here for further information about visa categories to check for which one you qualify.
Moving to America is a big step that should be well considered. When I first got my job offer, I wasn’t completely sure if I wanted to move as I had just moved to a new city in Germany. I didn’t feel like I wanted to leave my new home just yet. But on the other hand, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. After a few days I was pretty sure that I would take this big step and I have never regretted it.
What is your biggest concern about leaving your home country and starting your new adventure in America? Let me know about your experiences in the comments below.