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Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Old Jan 1st 2024, 2:38 pm
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Default Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this website, so I hope I'm posting in the correct section!

My wife, our little daughter, and I are set to relocate to Los Angeles, California in February or March 2024. My wife will be on an L1 visa sponsored by her current employer. I have a few questions and would greatly appreciate any assistance from those who have been in a similar situation.

Here are my questions:

Car Lease: I've read online that moving from the UK to the US means our UK credit score won't be transferable, making it challenging to pass the traditional credit check for car leasing. Does anyone know of a company or broker specializing in assisting expats in a similar situation to make the car leasing process smoother?

Car Insurance: I came across some older information online suggesting that car insurance for expats can be expensive. Is this still the case, or have there been changes?

Driving Licence: I read somewhere online that I will have approximately 10 days to convert my UK driving license upon arrival. Is this information accurate?

Bank Account: Any recommendations for which bank to open an account with?

I would greatly appreciate your help with these questions. Please feel free to offer any additional advice on preparations for the move!

Giux
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 3:10 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

1. Car lease, can't help
2. Yes, its expensive for first year or so until driving history is built up
3. Yes that is the rule; but getting an appointment at DMV takes a while, so as long as you can show you have an appointment you can continue to drive on UK licence.
4. Don't think any bank is better than any other.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 4:07 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Many car manufacturers have a new immigrant leasing and finance program. I used the International Autosource broker, and have recommended them many times.

US Banks are very different from the UK in that there are a huge number of small and many "regional" banks (they're big in one or a few states, but don't have a national footprint). I personally wouldn't use the smallest banks as they have a limited range of services (there are also credit unions (CU) but they are often small and/or provide limited services too), but you can't go too far wrong with a regional bank or one of the "big four" - Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or Citibank, though Citibank has a very limited branch network these days. While someone will no doubt be along soon to tell you that a small bank or CU has lower fees/ free banking, the reality is that if you have a decent salary paid into any bank's "checking" (current) account you should be getting most if not all regular fees waived.

You'll have to do a road test to get a US license, and you may need to have received your SSN before you can apply. But in any case, you can shop around for the shortest wait time. .... I first arrived in New York, and the wait at the local DMV test location was over three months, but I was able to get a test the very next week by driving out into a rural area. YMMV.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 1st 2024 at 4:19 pm.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 4:12 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Thank you very much for your reply. Very useful informa! I will contact auto source.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 4:58 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Yes, California law has a requirement that one obtain a CDL within 10 days of taking up residence. That said, I do not believe it is strictly enforced. Also, even if you ended up before a judge, it is likely that you would be given an opportunity to get one.

Do note that California has two flavors of DL’s - RealID compliant and “AB60” non-compliant. Big difference is having a Social Security number.

Although DMV does prefer appointments, it is possible to do it on a walk-in basis if you are willing to wait. Do note that DMV offices in out laying areas tend to be less busy. For example, it it is often quicker to drive up the coast to Ventura.

Final note, you might want to be a little more specific on where you are moving to. From the view of the UK, Ventura and Orange counties will be “Los Angeles” but will be different in obtaining information.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 5:10 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Thanks for the info.
I will be moving somewhere near Westlake Village, either Calabasas or Thousand Oaks. Still deciding on the location. However the first 2&3 months we will book a short rental near Calabasas.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 5:30 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

International Autosource were much more expensive for us than going direct to the manufacturer. We got a VW through their expatriate program which was great.

And yes, car insurance will be expensive, cheapest we could find for our first year was $3600, although I'm in Boston where it's notoriously high so perhaps LA will be cheaper. But best to be prepared so you don't get sticker shock!

Good luck with the move.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 6:30 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Originally Posted by S Folinsky
Yes, California law has a requirement that one obtain a CDL within 10 days of taking up residence. ....
Giux I recommend that you don't Google "CDL" as that is the usual abbreviation in the US for a truck license (Commercial Drivers License), though I understand that it has some usage in California as an abbreviation for "California Drivers License".

On the subject of insurance, be sure you're getting adequate coverage as there are some insurers that focus on the low income sector, and provide legal minimum coverage, which in some states (I don't know about California specifically) can be inadequate to provide protection in the event that you're involved in an accident with bodily injuries, death, or even with a moderately value car - for example minimum third party property damage insurance might be $25k, but even if it was $50k you could still be in a legal mess if you hit someone's Mercedes or BMW, never mind a Ferrari.

"Umbrella insurance" is something to consider too, available as an add-on to a home, and I think renter's insurance policy.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 1st 2024 at 6:36 pm.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 6:43 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Originally Posted by christmasoompa
International Autosource were much more expensive for us than going direct to the manufacturer. ....
If you buy (sign the contract and pay a deposit) through IA before you arrive in the US you may avoid sales tax, which may make the difference.

But aside from that, I have always argued that having at least one car already bought and ready for you, has real value as when you arrive and have a laundry list of important things to do -: SSN, DL, finding a home, signing with a doctor, getting the kids into school, etc. etc., not having to also go car shopping is one major task already crossed off your list.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 7:01 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Originally Posted by Pulaski
If you buy (sign the contract and pay a deposit) through IA before you arrive in the US you may avoid sales tax, which may make the difference.

But aside from that, I have always argued that having at least one car already bought and ready for you, has real value as when you arrive and have a laundry list of important things to do -: SSN, DL, finding a home, signing with a doctor, getting the kids into school, etc. etc., not having to also go car shopping is one major task already crossed off your list.
IA was still far more expensive, and very limited choice too, IA couldn't provide most of the cars we were interested in (including the Atlas, which we ended up getting through the VW Expat lease scheme). We did the whole thing from the UK and it was ready for our arrival. SSN's, school and finding a home were also already done, so our to do list was relatively short thankfully.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 7:17 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Originally Posted by Giux
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this website, so I hope I'm posting in the correct section!

My wife, our little daughter, and I are set to relocate to Los Angeles, California in February or March 2024. My wife will be on an L1 visa sponsored by her current employer. I have a few questions and would greatly appreciate any assistance from those who have been in a similar situation.

Here are my questions:

Bank Account: Any recommendations for which bank to open an account with?
Might be worth ascertaining which bank your OH's employer has a relationship with. If they're a good client, their referral could be advantageous.
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Old Jan 1st 2024, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Thanks for your reply. I had a look on VW website and one of the document required to be eligible for the car lease expat program is the SSN which I guess we will not have until we will arrive to US. How did you manage to go around it?
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Old Jan 2nd 2024, 12:36 am
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Originally Posted by Giux
Thanks for your reply. I had a look on VW website and one of the document required to be eligible for the car lease expat program is the SSN which I guess we will not have until we will arrive to US. How did you manage to go around it?
You won’t get it when you arrive, you will get it a few weeks later after applying (I think you now need an appointment for SS Office, I was able to “walk in” back in 2010)… I popped over a few weeks before I “moved” to look for apts and apply for my SSN and get my HSBC account open so I would have checks to get my apt lease… did not need a car day 1 as I was in NYC, but did do Zip car to build my insurance record… you can always rent cars when you arrive (and ask the employer to pay). The best way to avoid credit issues is to buy a car cash, but that won’t help build your credit score…


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Old Jan 2nd 2024, 12:56 am
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Originally Posted by Giux
Thanks for your reply. I had a look on VW website and one of the document required to be eligible for the car lease expat program is the SSN which I guess we will not have until we will arrive to US. How did you manage to go around it?
I didn't have my SSN either until about 10 days after I arrived, but that didn't stop IA doing all the sales and loan paperwork for my car before I left the UK. I just had to provide my SSN to Ford Motor Credit when I received it.
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Old Jan 2nd 2024, 2:45 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Los Angeles California from UK. HELP!

Pulaski mentioned sales tax on car purchase. There is no avoiding that - California charges a “use tax” paid at registration equivalent to sales tax rates. If the dealer or lessor registers the vehicle at time of sale, then a sales tax is collected.

BTW, Los Angeles County sales taxes are quite steeper than Ventura County (10.25% vs 7.7%). Westlake is on the county line. Calabash’s is in L.A. County, Thousand Oaks in Ventura.
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