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Moving to LA - the basics?

Moving to LA - the basics?

Old Apr 1st 2011, 3:27 pm
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Default Moving to LA - the basics?

My wife's new job has just been confirmed, so we're moving from London to Los Angeles for a couple of years. We're well travelled, but this is our first experience of being Expat's so we're pretty green.

I've got lots of questions buzzing around my head, but to start with I'd like to know about the basics of setting ourselves up over there. We're going to be renting, and ideally we'd like to get a place for a month (or so) while we work out where to live more permanently.

Renting an apartment:
A quick internet search keeps displaying terms like "subject to credit check and references". Obviously, we don't have any US credit history and I'm sure our Brit references don't count for much? So what happens… how to do we proceed?

Banking, Credit Cards, etc:
In the UK it's hard to open a bank a/c without an address, and vice versa. Where do we start over there?

Driving license:
Can we use our British DLs, do we need to transfer or re-test?

Car ownership:
I've heard LA without a car is virtually impossible, and public transport's bad. Whats the deal with buying a car: 2nd hand prices compared to the UK; tax & insurance; MOT; anything else?

How impossible is it – will we need to sort out a car immediately?

Any advice would be very welcome.

Thanks

Last edited by Wicky; Apr 1st 2011 at 3:30 pm.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 3:59 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

These are questions you should be asking your wife's employer who is sponsoring the Visa by the sounds of it. Get the company to document in writing the kind of visa, and dependent visas, the duration of the assignment and if permanent that they will sponsor the Green Card, number of trips back the to UK per year, what will happen if you decide you want to go back to the UK, etc. etc. Concentrate on the visa type and any conditions that might impact the ability for you, your wife or dependents to get a visa (specifically convictions, CIMT etc.).

In answer to your point on credit, yep when you land you are back to square one, you won't even have a social # for a few weeks and really means you don't exist in the US. You can't use your UK DL's if you live in the US, you will have to take a written and practical test. Not too difficult. Most companies will pay for a rental car for a period of time. If the company are basically saying it's up to you to figure all this out, I'd very seriously consider whether this move is the right thing to do, it is expensive for them to get the visas and if they are already penny pinching, beware!

Good Luck
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:12 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

There are lots of threads on this general topic and quite a few specifically relating to Los Angeles.

Is your wife's future employer offering any kind of assistance with relocation?

You will probably find yourselves staying in a hotel for the first 30 days or so - get them to pay for it if at all possible.

Yes, you will almost certainly need (at least one) car from the day that you arrive - so you will be looking at a rental before you buy one - again see if the employer will pay for this.

You can drive in CA on your UK license for up to a year as long as you are just a visitor, but you are supposed to apply for a CA license within 10 days of becoming a resident. (In practice this is usually impossible because, if you are eligible for a US social security number the you need to provide it in order to get a CA license but you will not be able to get that within 10 days of arrival - so just get the CA license as soon as possible - it is the de facto universal form of ID in the US so you really need it as soon as possible.) There are lots of threads on this topic as well - many of them inaccurate. Check the CA DMV web site for information.

What visa is your wife getting and what will you have? If she gets an H-1 then you will have an H-4 (aka the visa from hell) and you will not be able to work, If she has an L-1 then you wll get an L-2 and will be able to get employment authorization.

Other things to think about:

Any children? Proximity to good schools will affect your choice of where to live.

Health insurance - should be provided by your wife's employer - find out how much it is going to cost, exactly what it covers and when coverage becomes effective.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:14 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Yes if you're transferring the company will usually arrange corporate accommodation and car rental for you. We didn't transfer but we did rent a place month-to-month to start with. We bought our cars with International Autosource (you do that from the UK) but we had to rent a car for a while because the transfer of our money got cocked up.

Where are you going to be looking to live?
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:16 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
My wife's new job has just been confirmed, so we're moving from London to Los Angeles for a couple of years. We're well travelled, but this is our first experience of being Expat's so we're pretty green.

I've got lots of questions buzzing around my head, but to start with I'd like to know about the basics of setting ourselves up over there. We're going to be renting, and ideally we'd like to get a place for a month (or so) while we work out where to live more permanently.

Renting an apartment:
A quick internet search keeps displaying terms like "subject to credit check and references". Obviously, we don't have any US credit history and I'm sure our Brit references don't count for much? So what happens… how to do we proceed?

Banking, Credit Cards, etc:
In the UK it's hard to open a bank a/c without an address, and vice versa. Where do we start over there?

Driving license:
Can we use our British DLs, do we need to transfer or re-test?

Car ownership:
I've heard LA without a car is virtually impossible, and public transport's bad. Whats the deal with buying a car: 2nd hand prices compared to the UK; tax & insurance; MOT; anything else?

How impossible is it – will we need to sort out a car immediately?

Any advice would be very welcome.

Thanks
Hi, congrats on the move, we have just moved from LA after living there for 3 years, its certainly an experience

Look on Craigslist for rentals. We didn't have any problems renting with no history, I was just very open about it. Take along your UK Experian Credit Reports, last 6 months UK bank statements, US Credit Report (this will show you have no history, but not bad credit), your wifes offer letter.

If you have a UK Amex Credit Card you can transfer it to the US, do a search on this in the search facility, its been covered lots of times. Also lots of advice on how to open a bank account in the search.

California law gives you 10 days from becoming resident in the state to get your driving license, in reality this is virtually impossible, you'll struggle to get your SS number in this time. As soon as you have this make an appointment at the DMV to fill out the forms and take the written multi question test, this along with your UK driving license will get you a temporary lisense for 90 days. You then need to take the behind the wheel test in this time, its a piece of cake though, nothing like the UK one.

You will definately need a car, lots of dealers do pre-owned same as in the UK, although buying a car takes forever out here. You probably won't be able to get finance though. Annual license fees are around $200-$300, Insurance is incredibly high as you have no driving history over here. No MOT's

Hope that helps.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:18 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by N1cky View Post
. No MOT's
Which is why the freeways are periodically brought to a standstill by broken-down jalopies.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by Sally Redux View Post
Which is why the freeways are periodically brought to a standstill by broken-down jalopies.
It amazes me how many cars you see on fire. I probably saw 3 in my driving life in the UK, I would see 3 a month in LA
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:23 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Hi Wicky, congratulations on your forthcoming relocation! My husband and I have lived in LA for six months -- it's a great place.

A lot of advice will depend on your circumstances -- where your wife will be working, how helpful her employer will be, what your income bracket is.

For example, are you currently in Europe? If so, with regards to getting an apartment, you have a choice of:

a) organizing something in advance from abroad. You don't have to commit long-term -- some places do three or six month leases. I haven't seen a one-month, but I expect it's possible (maybe not in a regular apartment building).
b) visiting LA prior to your actual relocation, to check out places
c) staying in a hotel when you first relocate, and trying to find permanent accommodation from there

b) and c) are sensible and yet also expensive and inconvenient -- we did a) and luckily it all worked out fine. Be sure to do as much research as you can on rental companies -- lot of scams on Craigslist etc. There are often apartment reviews online.

Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
Renting an apartment:
A quick internet search keeps displaying terms like "subject to credit check and references". Obviously, we don't have any US credit history and I'm sure our Brit references don't count for much? So what happens… how to do we proceed?
- You may find you have to pay a larger deposit.
- You may find some places are reluctant to deal with you.
- Ring around and chat to the apartment rentals manager (that's assuming you're looking for an apartment. Most apartments here are in biggish complexes with an office on site that deals with current and prospective tenants).

It's not just the credit -- it's also that you probably don't have a Social Security number yet.

And you may have difficulty paying the deposit and first month's rent in advance if you don't yet have a USA bank account. We didn't find anyone who accepted international bank transfers; in the end we found an apartment complex who were prepared to take a credit card payment for first rent/deposit. (We paid once we'd actually arrived and seen with our own eyes that the apartment existed.)

So much of this depends on your income bracket. If you're coming over with a generous relocation package (possibly involving practical relocation help from your company) and a big salary, then it'll go a lot more smoothly. If, like us, you're on a modest income bracket and are trying to do everything yourself (from many thousand miles away) you'll have to work harder! If tha latter, I'd definitely recommend calling apartment managers rather than emailing, even though the time difference may suck -- it seemed to reassure a lot of people that I actually existed, and they were more willing to work out compromises. It can be done!

Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
Banking, Credit Cards, etc:
In the UK it's hard to open a bank a/c without an address, and vice versa. Where do we start over there?
We opened an account our first week here, in person at the bank. It was very simple. We did have an American address by then, but didn't have to show any proof of it -- only passports.

Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
Driving license:
Can we use our British DLs, do we need to transfer or re-test?
You need to retest. You can use your British DL for, I think, 10 days. There's a written test and a practical -- see elsewhere on this forum for details.

Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
Car ownership:
I've heard LA without a car is virtually impossible, and public transport's bad. Whats the deal with buying a car: 2nd hand prices compared to the UK; tax & insurance; MOT; anything else?

How impossible is it – will we need to sort out a car immediately?
Okay, the car: we've managed without one for six months, but not really by choice. Saving up for one now! Your public transport will depend on your location. Here on the Westside, the Big Blue Bus network is not too shabby -- lots of UCLA students use it. Elsewhere the bus can be somewhat grotty, but still usable; just inconvenient. Never ever see anyone going to an office-type job on it, which is surprising to a European accustomed to the public transport commute.

If you can buy a car, I'd recommend you do so! But don't necessarily worry that you'll be completely marooned until you do so. It depends on your circumstances and tolerance for inconvenience.

Last edited by MoshiMoshi; Apr 1st 2011 at 4:31 pm.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 4:36 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by N1cky View Post
It amazes me how many cars you see on fire. I probably saw 3 in my driving life in the UK, I would see 3 a month in LA
Shouldn't laugh

We had a really poor family come to our charity for help last week, their car was truly unbelieveable, completely smashed in on one side, it looked like they'd sneaked it out of a wrecker's yard.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by Wicky View Post
My wife's new job has just been confirmed, so we're moving from London to Los Angeles for a couple of years. We're well travelled, but this is our first experience of being Expat's so we're pretty green.............
How impossible is it – will we need to sort out a car immediately?
Any advice would be very welcome.
Thanks
LA? Piece of piss - just use this simple checklist for "learning the ropes" in this most wonderful Southern-West Coast city of lights and sperm-stains.

1. Remove, or have removed all traces of thinking from your brain (you won't need them for the duration and it just takes up space for a nice tan).
2. Start practising not using words of more than 2 syllables.
3. Work on a facial expression of complete vacancy and/or amazement.
4. Say goodbye to your friends before you go - it'll be the last time you have any for a while.
5. See #2 and begin to add-in lots of "errs", "uh's" and "huh's?" then go to 6.
6. Combine 3 with 5 and you won't get asked if you Australian / Indian / Klingon / Human for the %#@## time.
7. Oh, fu(k it - just stay where you are and rent a Bruce Willis movie and eat pizza. It amounts to the same cultural experience.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 5:19 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by Xebedee View Post
LA? Piece of piss - just use this simple checklist for "learning the ropes" in this most wonderful Southern-West Coast city of lights and sperm-stains.

1. Remove, or have removed all traces of thinking from your brain (you won't need them for the duration and it just takes up space for a nice tan).
2. Start practising not using words of more than 2 syllables.
3. Work on a facial expression of complete vacancy and/or amazement.
4. Say goodbye to your friends before you go - it'll be the last time you have any for a while.
5. See #2 and begin to add-in lots of "errs", "uh's" and "huh's?" then go to 6.
6. Combine 3 with 5 and you won't get asked if you Australian / Indian / Klingon / Human for the %#@## time.
7. Oh, fu(k it - just stay where you are and rent a Bruce Willis movie and eat pizza. It amounts to the same cultural experience.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 5:31 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by Xebedee View Post
LA? Piece of piss - just use this simple checklist for "learning the ropes" in this most wonderful Southern-West Coast city of lights and sperm-stains.

1. Remove, or have removed all traces of thinking from your brain (you won't need them for the duration and it just takes up space for a nice tan).
2. Start practising not using words of more than 2 syllables.
3. Work on a facial expression of complete vacancy and/or amazement. Or completely frozen as if in a strong wind current
4. Say goodbye to your friends before you go - it'll be the last time you have any for a while.
5. See #2 and begin to add-in lots of "errs", "uh's" and "huh's?" then go to 6. and 'like'
6. Combine 3 with 5 and you won't get asked if you Australian / Indian / Klingon / Human for the %#@## time.
7. Oh, fu(k it - just stay where you are and rent a Bruce Willis movie and eat pizza. It amounts to the same cultural experience.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 5:36 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

Originally Posted by N1cky View Post
Originally Posted by Sally Redux View Post
Huhhh ??????

Like, someone clue me in....dude.....I jes do-ooon't get it.......










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Old Apr 1st 2011, 5:45 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

This is brilliant:

Oh, fu(k it - just stay where you are and rent a Bruce Willis movie and eat pizza. It amounts to the same cultural experience.
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Old Apr 1st 2011, 5:55 pm
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Default Re: Moving to LA - the basics?

I liked the Oxford Dictionary adding La La Land this week, saw a couple of blogs that were very offended by it

la-la land n. can refer either to Los Angeles (in which case its etymology is influenced by the common initialism for that city), or to a state of being out of touch with reality--and sometimes to both simultaneously.

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