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Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Old Sep 22nd 2012, 5:37 pm
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Default Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to share my experience now that our move to Houston, Texas finally went ahead.

My wife and I moved over a couple of weeks ago now. Very smooth flight with British Airways direct into IAH and just a 25 minute wait at immigration to get in. We hired a car and checked into a hotel for a week.

We started apartment hunting the next day. We'd previously been over and knew roughly where we wanted to be in relation to my work location on the North stretch of 610. In the end, we'd managed to within a few days settle on a nice apartment right on the edge of Hunters Creek village on Memorial Drive. A really nice, quiet area, but within easy reach of Galleria and my work. Once we had an address, we were able to set up a bank account with Bank of America who were very friendly and efficient and didn't need a SSN. Then someone in the complex advised us on a good value furniture warehouse, so we had our master bed room suite delivered the day we moved in. We decided against renting furniture after investigating CORT and deciding that we would need to spend at least $500/month to rent, and it was better value even for a year, to spend around $5000 outright on furniture from some budget places.

Next up, we went to the Social Security office 11 days after entry. While the security guard was a bit over zealous, the administrator himself was very friendly. Unfortunately we didn't come up in the system. He suspected this was because USCIS didn't enter our middle names, but told us that manual verification should just take a few days and then they'd be able to get our SSN cards out to us shortly after. I'm a bit nervous about this bit, as I need this number to connect nearly all our utilities and to finance a car.

We also managed to sort out internet access. AT&T despite initially telling me that they could not place the order without a SSN or US driving license, eventually gave in. After speaking to someone a bit more knowledgable there, they said that I could fax in copies of my passport and UK driving license. After that they wanted to charge me a $450 deposit for the cable TV receiver - but the web sales guy actually suggested that fr $100 deposit I could get internet right away and within a few months I could probably switch to include TV also with much less of a deposit because by then I'd have a history with them. So the internet is being installed today, just four days after ordering, so at least my poor wife can help me do some research!

So now, we are spending the next few days getting the rest of our furniture sorted. I'm wondering what's next to do.

My list is:

File form AR11 to notify change of address to USCIS
Think about sitting a driving test here in Texas so to obtain a local driving license. Can anyone advise on what I need for this to happen, and how soon I should do it?
Buy a car and insure it somehow.
Cross fingers for SSN to arrive and if I haven't heard within two weeks start to chase them.
Get a credit card once the SSN arrives to start building credit history.
File for Work authorisation for my wife. Can I do this now, or do I need SSN first?

Can anyone think of anything else? There are so may hoops to jump through and this place has been a very valuable resource in keeping me straight.
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Old Sep 22nd 2012, 7:11 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Driving test:
You can do it anywhere in Texas. If you want to avoid the long queue it's worth a trip out into the country. From what I remember I took proof of ownership of car, insurance, passport for proof of being allowed in the country, a letter from Mr Weeze's company showing we were financially viable. You have 90 days to sit it. Study the driving handbook as lots of the written part of the exam focuses on fines for the under 18s. We went first and did written exam and then eye sight test. Then went back two weeks later for the road test-parallel park, reverse in a straight line, 4 left turns, 4 right turns.
Insurance: we went with the expat service were you pay $400 and they give you access to cheap insurance. Can't remember what it's called. It's been covered lots in past threads.
Car: we went to Texas Auto Direct. Test drive the car but then bid on eBay for it.

Last edited by Weeze; Sep 22nd 2012 at 7:13 pm.
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Old Sep 22nd 2012, 10:38 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Originally Posted by Weeze View Post
Insurance: we went with the expat service were you pay $400 and they give you access to cheap insurance. Can't remember what it's called. It's been covered lots in past threads.
International Autosource? To late for the OP if they're already here though.

Next thing to figure out might be recommendations for a doctor, depending on your medical insurance, find one taking on new patience and sign up as iti can sometimes take a while.

AR11 can be done online, within 10 days of moving.
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Old Sep 22nd 2012, 10:54 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

AIG inbound scheme for the insurance
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 2:47 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Thanks both. I had contact with Intl Autosource, but I was uncomfortable with leasing before we arrived here. We might only be here short-term(1 year) depending upon how my wife gets on and 1 year leases were obviously very expensive. Since arriving I've rather softened to the idea, perhaps taking on a 2-3 year lease with the potential to be able to "swap" it if we do just stay for the 12 months. I see most people recommend just getting an old car though.

We have medical insurance covered through bupa international. I've no idea how that works with regards to doctors. I presume I would check with the insurance provider (do they have a list?) and then make contact?
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 5:08 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

AIG was what I was thinking of. We more than saved the membership fee in the first 6 months of car insurance.
We didn't pre-register at a doctors. We just phoned when we needed them. In fact when I phoned to try to register in advance they had no idea what I was talking about. For our insurance you just go to any doctors accepting your insurance. The insurance they take is on their websites.
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Old Sep 23rd 2012, 8:53 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

For the EAD for your wife I don't think you need your SSN, we arrived about 3 1/2 weeks ago and I still haven't got an SSN yet but we have sent the EAD application. I would get moving on that as i hear it takes 90 days!

For our Electric and Cable we also didn't need SSNs, we did need to supply a copy of our visa though. I don't know about other utilities as these are all included in our apartment.

As for car finance, people I spoke to at a BMW dealership said finance could be done without an SSN too. I don't know how accurate the is as we decided to spend less and buy a 5 year old certified used from them for cash. The process without an SSN can take time they said.

As you can guess, I'm finding my SSN wait a bit of a pain, but there isn't really much I can do to hurry the process up.

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Old Sep 24th 2012, 2:56 am
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Post Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Originally Posted by godisaclog View Post

We have medical insurance covered through bupa international. I've no idea how that works with regards to doctors. I presume I would check with the insurance provider (do they have a list?) and then make contact?
I have my medical insurance with BUPA International. As it is a British insurance company, it is pretty much unheard of at most American doctors surgeries, clinics and hospitals and they look confused when you show them the BUPA medical card. However, unlike how they operate in the rest of the world, BUPA has an insurance company handling claims in the USA - it is United Healthcare, one of the major health insurance companies.....but it is not the 'domestic' arm of UH and medical bills are dealt with by a different part of United Health.

The BUPA helpline is excellent at helping with enquiries, I usually contact them on their website via IM (and you can get a written record of the correspondence) but I do sometimes call them as well. They will on request e-mail a list to you of all the doctors in your area (including specialisms) which are covered by United Healthcare for your plan. You need to register your membership number online with their 'Members World' and it's all confidential and then they can help you with all your medical enquiries.
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Old Sep 24th 2012, 4:25 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Thank you all. That is very helpful. I'm going to see about sitting my driving test sooner rather than later. I did a dummy quote for car insurance on the basis that I was a newly qualified US driver (but with 10 years previous experience) and it doesn't come out too bad at all at around $70/month. I'll compare with some others (I believe from reading other threads there is an insurance company that covers UK licenses, but I'd need to change it anyway).

The advice on the BUPA stuff is very helpful. We left just as the cover was being arranged so I only have a number at the moment, with the pack and card still somewhere in Europe. I couldn't believe how expensive it was for my wife and I (the company paid it fortunately).
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Old Sep 25th 2012, 4:55 pm
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Post Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Originally Posted by godisaclog View Post

The advice on the BUPA stuff is very helpful. We left just as the cover was being arranged so I only have a number at the moment, with the pack and card still somewhere in Europe. I couldn't believe how expensive it was for my wife and I (the company paid it fortunately).

The medical bills in the USA can be horrifying, that's for sure!

The BUPA International website is here:

http://www.bupa-intl.com/

and you will need to register with Member's World for making personal enquiries and claims. You may need to contact your HR dept for your BUPA membership number if you've lost your card and they can't trace you, especially if you are a brand new member. The BUPA enquiries staff are mostly in the UK when I contact them but the IM's and phone calls may go through to the Philippines or even sometimes India during odd hours.

https://www.bupainternational.com/membersworld/

Claims are dealt with differently for expats in the US as I mentioned before, it is United Healthcare International (UHI) in Texas where claims are sent to.....and they're much faster than Aetna who we were with before. You can scan in and e-mail all claims and invoices which sometimes doctors/clinics send to you, although they're supposed to send them to UHI.

I almost always contact BUPA Intl. by IM or phone call if I'm not going to my usual GP (in the US they often refer you to another specialised clinic) and they've always given the OK and a reference number which helps for speedy resolution of medical billing ie. directly to UHI.

It's a good idea to keep their 24 hour phone number in your phone - there is a free 800 number in the US; I called them once on the way to the ER - they were so helpful - and it smoothed everything out on arrival as few American receptionists have ever heard of BUPA and query who they are etc.
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Old Sep 25th 2012, 6:03 pm
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Default Re: Nearly two weeks into our move to Houston - what have I forgotten?

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
International Autosource? To late for the OP if they're already here though.

Next thing to figure out might be recommendations for a doctor, depending on your medical insurance, find one taking on new patience and sign up as iti can sometimes take a while.

AR11 can be done online, within 10 days of moving.
ExpatRide offers more flexibility on car options and can be taken advantage of even after US arrival. Check them out.
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