Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Old Apr 12th 2018, 8:53 am
  #16  
vtg
Just Joined
 
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 7
vtg is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Thank you for the post, which neighbourhood do you recommend for family with toddler and kids?
vtg is offline  
Old Apr 12th 2018, 10:31 am
  #17  
Lost in BE Cyberspace
 
Boiler's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2004
Location: Colorado
Posts: 34,861
Boiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

I do not have a doorbell, UPS guy just leaves it inside.
Boiler is offline  
Old Apr 12th 2018, 12:06 pm
  #18  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 7
Fivehals is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Originally Posted by vtg View Post
Thank you for the post, which neighbourhood do you recommend for family with toddler and kids?
To be honest I think all the areas are good in their own way! We looked around everywhere which was a bit too ridiculous commute to Santa Clara - we chose a house in Campbell but would have been happy with Los Gatos, willow glen, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, up to mountain view and Los Altos but you get less for your money that way it seems.
I know some people who live in Freemont and that’s lovely too, even up to Pleasonton but that was too far out for us
Everywhere has a little ‘centre’ high street, parks, libraries etc so I don’t think you can go too far wrong really. Just check out the schools.
Fivehals is offline  
Old Apr 13th 2018, 4:30 pm
  #19  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 8
SherlockFan is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Our main driving concern was schools - the problem we found with a lot of districts were that the local good schools were oversubscribed, and most seemed to operate an overflow policy (i.e if your local schools is full up, they'll shuffle you onto another one with space).

Most districts seemed to have good schools, but a few poorer ones in a sub section of the area, so the overflow policy meant that we couldn't guarantee a good school, and the school districts seemed to be unable to tell us in advance whether the local school was oversubscribed or not in advance.

Our conclusion was to then move into a district with only one elementary, thus guaranteeing a place (despite it definitely being more expensive)

I got the impression this overflowing of students was a relatively new, and probably doesn't apply to all grades, and it probably doesn't apply if you are intending on starting children at the start of next year.
SherlockFan is offline  
Old Apr 18th 2018, 12:43 pm
  #20  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 227
NYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond reputeNYer has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Originally Posted by GeoffM View Post
Interesting viewpoints. One thing I'd like to point out is to rarely take anything somebody tells you in an "official" capacity as true at face value. I think you've been misled a couple of times and assumed it was a fact.

An International Driver's License is a waste of money and time. CarMax might have liked one but it's more likely to be an ignorant salesman. All the information is on your DL already so getting an "English" translation is pointless.

UPS/Fedex/USPS/etc all ring the doorbell when they leave stuff here but yes, parcels at the front door.

Chicken: bear in mind that here when you get "fresh" chicken from the supermarket, it is likely to have been down to -3.33c - but they claim it's not frozen. Yeah right. Thank the likes of Foster Farms for that legal technicality. Add to that the supermarkets' ability to keep it (not) frozen seems somewhat suspect.

Talking of storage, that fresh, shiny apple you bought? Likely to be a year old. You'd think the food bowl of American could bring us our veg to the supermarket in short order but no, a lot has been stored for a long time - and I'm not even talking about strawberries in March but things that are in season. Ironically 99c stores and the like sometimes have vegetables that are way more fresh than the supermarkets. Try to locate a decent farmers' market - there seem to be two types: those that sell fancy crap for fancy prices; and those that sell mud-encrusted carrots (but fresh) for a fraction of the supermarket price.

Deposits for lack of credit vary widely. We've had anything from $50 to $350. Even after 5 years and switching to a new water company, we still had a $200 deposit. We just passed the six year point and still get a ding on our credit report for lack of history length.

Incidentally I had fraudulent direct debits set up on my account in the UK no less than six times, two sets of three. The second set was after I insisted on a new account number - but they stupidly linked the accounts so anybody with the old sort code and account number could - and did - set up DDs on my account. I switched banks. But yes, exactly the same can and does happen here in the US with the same information.

Talking of salt, I had an Arby's last week. BBQ sandwich and loaded fries, just regular portions. Tasted salty so I looked it up: 1.2x my daily sodium allowance in one meal!. Yoy have to really watch the dry seasoning mixes / Schwartz spice jar kind of things as often the first ingredient on those is salt. Go GF like I did for a couple of months (IBS experiment) and you'll be shocked at the additives added to a lot of those foods to make them palatable.

I find US call centers can go both ways. Some can be extremely helpful and will just refund/credit you for a mistake, no questions asked. Others can be "computer says no" even when you know you are in the right. Fight. Fight for everything. When spelling my name, or anything else, it's easier to use simple terms like "A for apple", "M for mother" for US call centers; while Asian call centers often understand the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Charlie, Echo etc). "I'll call you back" from a US call center is usually code for "you won't hear from me again".

When you get your mystery medical bills, fight. Question everything. We've had so many that were just plain bullshit - but they won't fix them unless you really fight. I had two separate bills from doctors that I never saw, yet took 15 months each to fix. Misdiagnosis also seems common: our son went for an updated autism evaluation now he's older, with a insurer-suggested doctor who decided there was nothing wrong with our son (his other doctors have him on meds, he's in special ed, he's got medical records to show "problems", and we get respite care, yet this doctor saw him for an hour and decided we're barking mad).

Keep good tax records. It'll be easier when you come to do your taxes if you've done some organisation during the year. Products like TurboTax can ask pertinent questions but you'll still do well to research what you can and can't claim beforehand. I find my US tax forms much easier to complete than self assessment in the UK, but still takes a couple of days (including a business).
I'm not sure why anyone here would buy frozen chicken. The "fresh" aisles are filled with chicken, whole and parts. I always advise to buy kosher or organic chickens which are much better. Empire, which you can generally get at Trader Joe's, is excellent. I buy my chicken at an Amish market near Princeton so it is always wise to look around for smallish suppliers. The Bay area must have wonderful farmer markets. After all, it is the land of Chez Panisse.

Apples are generally harvested in the fall and stored for all year-around use. I find them fine, generally, and not mealy. You simply can't eat strawberries year round. They are a two week treat in June. I bought some beautiful ones last week at the Curb Market in Montgomery, Alabama. They were terrible, lol! Never again. Seasonality is key; asparagus season is upon us but don't buy it from Mexico. Look for local.

I'm afraid with food, you just have to spend the cash to eat well.
NYer is offline  
Old Apr 18th 2018, 3:38 pm
  #21  
Concierge
 
Rete's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 44,806
Rete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Originally Posted by NYer View Post
I'm not sure why anyone here would buy frozen chicken. The "fresh" aisles are filled with chicken, whole and parts. I always advise to buy kosher or organic chickens which are much better. Empire, which you can generally get at Trader Joe's, is excellent. I buy my chicken at an Amish market near Princeton so it is always wise to look around for smallish suppliers. The Bay area must have wonderful farmer markets. After all, it is the land of Chez Panisse.
But usually "fresh" chickens were flash frozen for transport and defrosted at the market for sale. Even when I was a NYer I found I didn't like Empire. Their poultry was tasteless. However, I won't buy anything but Hebrew National hot dogs for a cookout. I lived just outside of midtown Manhattan. I wouldn't think about driving to Princeton which was over a 100 miles away just to buy chickens.

Apples are generally harvested in the fall and stored for all year-around use. I find them fine, generally, and not mealy. You simply can't eat strawberries year round. They are a two week treat in June. I bought some beautiful ones last week at the Curb Market in Montgomery, Alabama. They were terrible, lol! Never again. Seasonality is key; asparagus season is upon us but don't buy it from Mexico. Look for local.

I'm afraid with food, you just have to spend the cash to eat well.
Strawberry season is NOW here in MS which abuts Alabama and is only a 1/2 hour drive away. I have strawberries on my plant and they are delicious. We do eat strawberries for at least six months of the year. Growing seasons are different through the US and they railed and/or trucked in daily from the north, west, etc.
Rete is offline  
Old Apr 19th 2018, 5:30 pm
  #22  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 417
bewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond reputebewildering has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Food
We're still getting to grips with where to purchase and buy food, and being honest, I missed the trusty Tesco. All the convenience food that we use as emergency standins always seems to have a lot of extra added salt or sugar. We've yet to find frozen chips that don't taste too salty, and the frozen chicken breast we purchased from Safeway was horrible and obviously injected with lots of water. My current impression is that rather than shopping in one place, people mix where they shop to maximise quality and minimise price appropriately. I.e. buy cupboard essentials/bulk buy from Walmart/CostCo, get meat and veg from Trader Joe's/Farmer's markets. Safeway seems to have a reasonably wide selection but is bad on price and quality.
I just got back from Belfast. This comment really hits home.

I do not understand why USA grocers are so bad compared to Tesco, Sainsbury, even ASDA? Like you say, you have to go to 3 separate shops to get everything you need. And it is far more expensive in the USA, for worse quality. As an example, the rice Krispies that my kids eat in the USA are simply worse than the UK equivalent.

I really do not get why Tesco did not simply replicate their normal stores in San Diego instead of trying the Fresh and Easy brand.
bewildering is offline  
Old Apr 19th 2018, 10:27 pm
  #23  
BE Forum Addict
 
BenK91's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2015
Location: Denver, CO.
Posts: 1,518
BenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond reputeBenK91 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

We mostly shop at Whole Foods due to my wife being Vegan but I get all of our cupboard essentials (and sometimes meat) from CostCo however I've noticed King Soopers seem to be getting more Vegan stuff in stock even though it's still really bloody expensive.

Meat seems to be a bit hit and miss... I've got some really nice cuts from King Soopers and also some terrible ones.. Same thing goes for Trader Joes, Whole Foods etc etc. My wife is also a bit excessive on coupons, I thought it was hilarious/weird when we first met but it does actually save us a fair bit each grocery trip so certainly worth looking into.
BenK91 is offline  
Old Apr 26th 2018, 5:25 pm
  #24  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Apr 2018
Location: Bay Area, California
Posts: 5
me_gustas_tu is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Plus one vote for the Milk Pail, particularly if you're buying fruit or vegetables, which seem to be fresh and cheap here. It's a quaint little place and I'm consistently surprised that it's survived with all the construction going on around it. Whether it will be able to sustain another five or ten years, I don't know.

Whole Foods is our usual go to (also buying predominantly vegan), and it has pretty much everything we need from a food perspective. Yes, it can get expensive, but (a bit like my experience previously shopping at Waitrose) I think that to some extent this is because they have a selection which includes more naturally expensive products, rather than necessarily being all that much more expensive on a pure like-for-like basis.

My wife (who is American) is a big fan of Target, and so pretty much all of our household supplies (toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.) are sourced from there.

Safeway is a last resort for me, for a couple of reasons: the quality isn't great (particularly on the fresh bread side) and the checkouts (at least in the Mountain View - Shoreline location) are terminally understaffed, meaning long lines and slow progress.

All said and done, we actually don't do *that* much grocery shopping, as we subscribe to Green Chef (very similar to Blue Apron, but with a vegan option) which takes care of three meals per week, plus we eat out a few times, and so only have to shop for a few meals each week. There is a little one on the way in the next month or two, so this may change somewhat...
me_gustas_tu is offline  
Old Apr 26th 2018, 5:59 pm
  #25  
BE Forum Addict
 
kins's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Maine
Posts: 2,043
kins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Thoughts month after moving into Bay Area

Originally Posted by bewildering View Post
I do not understand why USA grocers are so bad compared to Tesco, Sainsbury, even ASDA? Like you say, you have to go to 3 separate shops to get everything you need. And it is far more expensive in the USA, for worse quality. As an example, the rice Krispies that my kids eat in the USA are simply worse than the UK equivalent.
I think it depends on where you are. We have Hannaford which is excellent - I can get nearly everything there, and it's all good quality.

When I say 'nearly everything', I go to Trader Joes for certain things like pre-packaged meals, meringues, frozen leeks, certain yogurts my kids like, some prepackaged meats that we prefer from there.
kins is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.