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Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Old Oct 27th 2017, 3:40 pm
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Default Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

So after a cheeky little sojourn in 221(g) and the delightful process of documenting my entire travel history, my L-1 visa finally got approved and I'll be moving to Boston in ~3-4 weeks. It's finally real.

Firstly, I've read a lot of the guides on here (thanks all!) and elsewhere online to glean as much information as I can ahead of the move, but still have some outstanding questions - if anyone with a bit more knowledge than me (not hard) would be so kind as to help I would be greatly appreciative. I have a relocation agency appointed by my employer, but they're very focussed on shipping my stuff and a lot of their stock information is very broad/basic and of dubious relevance in 2017 e.g. talking about many "tape cassettes" I plan to move, or how I must remember to return any video rentals etc. I'm on my own, which hopefully makes things simpler, but of course also means I don't have a sensible other half to help out / blame if things go wrong. If anyone can verify the below I'd be very grateful.

Rental market - I'm used to London whereby you can move in somewhere (if paying appropriate deposits and a month's rent in advance) in days. Typically flats are advertised within 4 weeks of availability and so you can get decent places on ~1 week's notice and the market remains alive over Christmas / "the holiday season". Is that applicable in the US generally? It's a strange time of year to move and I'll start with either one of the relocation agency's options or if too expensive, as they seem to be, an AirBNB.

Banking - I can keep my main UK bank with an American address. I understand that I need to research banking in my area because it changes a lot from state to state, and preference should be Bank of America or Bank One (a major bank) but particularly one with ATMs nearby for withdrawing cash to avoid fees here - still accurate? I also understand it's probably best to carry a significant amount of cash with me when travelling over to help cashflow (but legal / less than the declarable limit)? And maybe transfer a significant sum into the new US bank using a broker with good rates to get off the ground? RE: credit score, is it still the case that I should look to build credit with store cards, a secured card from my bank (being careful not to spend much on it and to repay promptly and in full) and potentially an Amazon credit card (which may be easier to attain)?

Checks - I see so many references to "checks", "checking accounts" etc. - do people really use checks (cheques)? And you have to buy these from the bank?? Or have I misunderstood this?

Electronics - A lot of advice I've seen is to sell/bin/freecycle electronics and buy again. Buuuut this looks expensive, and a lot of the concerns I've read (e.g. NTSC vs. PAL) are no longer valid in the digital age so if TV, stereo etc. accepts a lower, US voltage (110-120v) as written on the power supply and uses a standard universal tech (HDMI, Bluetooth, classic 3.5mm cable etc.) it should operate, correct? The relocation agency has a budget to cover moving and insuring this stuff and if I can avoid splashing out to rebuy then I definitely want to. Which brings me on to, finally...

General cost of living - I know this varies from state to state, but are there any general rules for avoiding unforeseen expense? Boston in general looks more expensive than London for day to day living (rent and food/grocery prices are very high!), I don't want to get caught short with bills or fines or other costs that my British way of life hasn't accounted for.

Finally, anything I might have missed or any costs I should also budget for / expect? Again, absolutely any advice is appreciated and if it means you assume I'm an idiot, I won't be offended (and it's probably fair). Thanks in advance!

Last edited by jackcharles; Oct 27th 2017 at 3:44 pm.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 4:24 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

I'm probably one of the few Americans who still uses checks from my checking account. I use them (perhaps 30 a year) for sending to charities who send calendars or holiday cards from the veterans, disabled veterans, etc. and for sending gifts to my family. Prefer checks rather than gift cards which sometimes carry hidden charges or store gift cards that limit where they can shop or how they use the gift.

First 100 are free from the bank. Subsequent checks must be ordered and paid for.

I would say budget for:

Cable television
car insurance (if you are going to buy a vehicle)
Utilities / gas / electric
Deposits for opening a utility account to have the lights turned on
More than the first and last months rent as your security deposit. As you won't have a credit score, you might be required to pay 3 to 6 to 12 months rent upfront.

You are working with a relocation specialist and if you feel they are not doing enough to assist you in the move, go to your HR department and lodge a complaint. No sense in their paying for antiquated advise and your having to do the work on your own.

Last edited by Rete; Oct 27th 2017 at 4:30 pm.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 4:41 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Welcome to BE!

You might want to make it clearer that you're moving to Boston. Many of the answers to your questions vary a lot with location in the US.

A few answers for you:
Banking - I wouldn't recommend Bank of America, as service is mediocre at best, or Wells Fargo, given their involvement in several recent scandals. By "Bank One", do you mean "Capital One"? They are a multi-region bank, not across the US, and it looks like they don't have branches in Boston. For info on banking, look at this link. Scroll down to the statistics - Boston is included in "New England". The two larger banks that are shown as above average in the list are Chase (a huge institution), and TD Bank (who are multi-region), the other banks above average there are more regional or local, but may still work well for you.
J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study | J.D. Power

Not sure why you'd need lots of cash with you. Banking in the US works fine, even if they are behind the UK in some aspects. ATMs much more often charge fees if they aren't in your US bank's network, though.

Yes, checks are used more than in the UK, but not that much more. Credit cards are used a lot, and you will need to build your US credit rating. This usually starts with a secured credit card for a few months, before moving to a more normal card, and gradually growing your credit limit.

Last edited by Owen778; Oct 27th 2017 at 4:46 pm.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 4:43 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
First 100 are free from the bank. Subsequent checks must be ordered and paid for.
Not necessarily. It varies by bank and by which account you have. Some accounts provide unlimited free checks, but you're usually paying for that through a monthly account fee or being required to hold a minimum balance in the account.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 4:48 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Originally Posted by Owen778 View Post
Not necessarily. It varies by bank and by which account you have. Some accounts provide unlimited free checks, but you're usually paying for that through a monthly account fee or being required to hold a minimum balance in the account.
The Bank of New York; Citibank and now my current community bank have all charged for the printing of checks after the initial 100 were used up. Guess I've just been unlucky over the last 50 years or lol poor enough to have the wrong bank balance/account.

Thanks for the information.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 5:21 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
I would say budget for:

Cable television
car insurance (if you are going to buy a vehicle)
Utilities / gas / electric
Deposits for opening a utility account to have the lights turned on
More than the first and last months rent as your security deposit. As you won't have a credit score, you might be required to pay 3 to 6 to 12 months rent upfront.
Thanks, I was expecting to have to pay rent up front but hadn't thought about deposits for utilities and other such things. I'll leave cars and associated costs until next year I think!

Originally Posted by Owen778 View Post
Welcome to BE!

You might want to make it clearer that you're moving to Boston. Many of the answers to your questions vary a lot with location in the US.

A few answers for you:
Banking - I wouldn't recommend Bank of America, as service is mediocre at best, or Wells Fargo, given their involvement in several recent scandals. By "Bank One", do you mean "Capital One"? They are a multi-region bank, not across the US, and it looks like they don't have branches in Boston. For info on banking, look at this link. Scroll down to the statistics - Boston is included in "New England". The two larger banks that are shown as above average in the list are Chase (a huge institution), and TD Bank (who are multi-region), the other banks above average there are more regional or local, but may still work well for you.
J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study | J.D. Power

Not sure why you'd need lots of cash with you. Banking in the US works fine, even if they are behind the UK in some aspects. ATMs much more often charge fees if they aren't in your US bank's network, though.

Yes, checks are used more than in the UK, but not that much more. Credit cards are used a lot, and you will need to build your US credit rating. This usually starts with a secured credit card for a few months, before moving to a more normal card, and gradually growing your credit limit.
Thanks! "Bank One" was based on Fatbrit's_Guide_to_Credit_and_Finance on here (not allowed to share the URL) but your link is really helpful. RE: cash, I've got a UK-based MasterCard with good exchange rates for travelling (I use it a lot when visiting) that should get me off the ground, was just wary of anything I might not be able to use it for before I start getting paid into any US account I open.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 5:26 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

We've just moved out here to Philly in August. Bank of America? In a word - Shocking!
Go somewhere else unless you have to use them.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 5:30 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Also, I'd be inetrested to know who your relo. consult. is. We were also advised to come with loads of cash. Advise that really needed clarity in our opinion.
Again, Bank of America...really archaic.

Oh and if I sound like I'm still smarting about it? I am.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 5:50 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

No issues with bank of america myself, but as you can see, experiences differ. Yes, cheques are used more than the UK. You can however, do fun things like pay in a cheque using the photo feature on the bank of america account app- no need to visit an ATM or branch to pay it in.

For transfering currency once you have your bank account set up, transferwise are very good, and they deposit domestically rather than via international wire (the latter of which carries a fee from your US bank to receive)

Regarding credit, a secured card with your bank is one option.
A good way - if you have an Amex card in the UK - is to use global transfer to have them issue a US card.
You need a US address and a US bank account, and can do it before you have a SSN.
The advantage of doing this is that you will have a US amex and credit history backdated to when you opened the UK card, so in most cases it gives you a superb credit score right off the bat. You can also keep your UK card open if you wish.

Last edited by 212; Oct 27th 2017 at 5:53 pm.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 5:58 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

PAL v NTSC went away, but the US implemented a different digital TV standard from the rest of the world!

I don't have direct experience, but I understand some things like game systems and digital TV boxes are dual standard, you can't bring a British-bought TV over and expect it to be fully functional. Also the TV and media apps are different.

When you can buy a decent 50" TV for $300 and a Samsung 4k for $600, why bother shipping one from the UK?
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 6:04 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

for electronics, what we found was that:
a) if it has a motor it won't work properly
b) lamps won't work
c) TVs better off buying here
d) anything where the power cable is detachable should be ok and you can buy the US power cords over here
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 6:11 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

We were given a couple of transformers before we left the UK.
So therefore Mr Jazz has been able to set up his rack. He very pleased he did now, given the fact the house is like a barn with a vaulted ceiling.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 6:31 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Originally Posted by RollingStones View Post
We were given a couple of transformers before we left the UK. ....
Be very careful about leaving them plugged in when you aren't around - they are likely in violation of the small print in your insurance.
.... So therefore Mr Jazz has been able to set up his rack. ....
I didn't realize that electric racks were now available. I am only used to the hand-crank variety.

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Old Oct 27th 2017, 6:35 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post

I didn't realize that electric racks were now available. I am only used to the hand-crank variety.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/lowres.cart...han252_low.jpg


I'm nervous of the transformer too. It's only on when he's around.
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Old Oct 27th 2017, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Got my L-1, moving in Nov: advice appreciated

Originally Posted by 212 View Post
For transfering currency once you have your bank account set up, transferwise are very good, and they deposit domestically rather than via international wire (the latter of which carries a fee from your US bank to receive)

Regarding credit, a secured card with your bank is one option.
A good way - if you have an Amex card in the UK - is to use global transfer to have them issue a US card.
You need a US address and a US bank account, and can do it before you have a SSN.
The advantage of doing this is that you will have a US amex and credit history backdated to when you opened the UK card, so in most cases it gives you a superb credit score right off the bat. You can also keep your UK card open if you wish.
Thanks, unfortunately I don't have AmEx here and from what I read you need to have had a product with them for at least a year to do this

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
PAL v NTSC went away, but the US implemented a different digital TV standard from the rest of the world!

I don't have direct experience, but I understand some things like game systems and digital TV boxes are dual standard, you can't bring a British-bought TV over and expect it to be fully functional. Also the TV and media apps are different.

When you can buy a decent 50" TV for $300 and a Samsung 4k for $600, why bother shipping one from the UK?
Because the shipping is covered by my relocation company, but a new TV isn't I'll bring a game system too from the UK that will work with it and both do 110v and I can get US plugs. So what you're saying is, any cable TV box or similar that I get probably won't work? I might just have to make do with streaming...

Originally Posted by cjdrum View Post
for electronics, what we found was that:
a) if it has a motor it won't work properly
b) lamps won't work
c) TVs better off buying here
d) anything where the power cable is detachable should be ok and you can buy the US power cords over here
I'll move my TV as it's "free" to do so but I appreciate the point. I've got some UK voltage stuff (coffee machine, blender) that again, is "free" to move so therefore cheaper to buy a power converter to use them with than to leave them here and replace over in the states I think?

I put "free" in quotes because technically I could pay for this if I voluntarily return to the UK within two years.
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