6 Essential Things You Need To Know Before Moving to USA

USA is a dream destination for many people and so it was for me. I lived there for 1 year and enjoyed every moment. For the foreigners, the knowledge about the United States is a lot of the times based on popular movies and classic TV-shows like Friends, the Fresh Prince, Seinfeld and Sex and the City, however there are some things that these shows simply can’t prepare you for.

If you’re planning on moving to the USA one day you should be aware of the 5 facts before relocating there and I will go over them in this blog post.

These 6 essential tips will help you feel a little bit less stressed when preparing for the move and also it will be easier to adapt to a new environment.

Here is the list of 6 things you absolutely need to know before moving to USA:

  • You will need a visa in order to move to USA

  • You will have less holiday

  • International calls are expensive

  • You need health insurance

  • Keep track of your credit score

  • Tips are a must

1. You will need a visa in order to move to USA

Without a proper visa you won’t be able to move to the USA and you have to remember that with a tourist visa you’re only allowed to stay there for 90 days. If you’re looking for a job there you will need to obtain either a temporary work visa like H1B or exchange visitor visa like J-1. Check out this visa guide to get more information about U.S. visas or read my article about J-1 visa application, if you’re more interested in internship opportunities.

Visa application process is usually very long and requires a lot of patience. You will need to deal with a lot of paperwork however if you start the process already armed with all the information it will be much easier for you. That’s why I would recommend you to do a thorough research about US visas and all the requirements before you take the first steps.

2. You will have less holiday

Moving to the USA usually means having less holiday. Under USA law, companies aren’t obliged to offer any paid annual leave. The average worker there is granted ten days paid vacation. Based on my experience you won’t get more than 10-15 days. Coming from Europe, where almost everywhere companies offer at least 21 days paid vacation, this was quite a shock for me. So make sure you really plan your holidays well.

3. International calls are expensive

I didn’t realize that in the beginning but calling back home from the USA is super expensive. Their phone plans will have your back when you’re traveling however if you need to call someone from the US be prepared to get a big number on your phone bill. When you’re talking to your family or friends from back home try to always use Viber, Skype or WhatsApp.

Another thing that you should know before moving there is the price of their phone plans. It’s hard to get a good one for a reasonable price and that’s why I found you a list of the best cheap phone plans that you can check before relocating.

If you’re going to stay in the USA for only a short time then I would recommend you to choose a prepaid phone plan because it’s more flexible and there are no contracts involved which means you can cancel it anytime you want.

4. You need health insurance

The US medical system can be quite a surprise if you’re coming from a country with state sponsored healthcare. Medical procedures and healthcare costs for even a single hospital stay can cost a lot more in the USA than in your home country. According to InternationalInsurance, the average cost of a day’s stay in the hospital costs around $5,200. If for example you have the inflamed appendix that requires immediate surgery, the average cost in the USA is $15,930.

You will also have to pay to be taken away in an ambulance and the costs of the ride to an emergency room are ranging from $400 to $1,800 depending on your insurance provider and where you live.

Yes, you’re probably in a bit of a shock right now. So was I when I was reading the numbers. That’s why it is really important to explore your insurance options before you move.

5. Keep track of your credit score

If you’re planning to stay in the USA for a longer period of time then you should definitely keep track of your credit score. Credit score is basically the borrowing and repaying history of debts in the USA. If you pay your debts on time, you will have no problem in any transaction or borrowing in the future. Good credit scores represent better credit decisions and can make creditors more confident that you will repay your future debts as agreed. Scores range between 300 and 850. A credit score of 700 or above is generally considered good. Score of 800 or above in the same range is excellent. Good credit scores will help you when for example you need to get yourself a credit card, buy a car or get a mortgage loan.

6. Tips are a must

You have to remember to always give a tip, whether you’re in a restaurant, bar, taxi, hairdresser or nail salon. Usually the tips are somewhere between 10 and 25%. In many European countries tipping is minimal, however in the USA is a must because for example for those who are working full time in restaurants or bars the total weekly salary is only around $85 so the rest of their income comes solely from tips.

Quick example: If you have a drink at a lounge or bar, expect to tip at least $1-2 per round per each drink. Usually you go there with a company and in that case a tip of $2-$4 is expected per each round.

Time to pack your bags!

Not yet. Know that you’re aware of all of the essentials things you need to know before moving to the USA, I would recommend you to do a research on your own and get even more information about U.S. visas, health insurance, accommodation and other important moving abroad related topics. You can always check my moving to the USA checklist that I wrote a couple of months ago. There you will find all the documents you need for visa application, accommodation options and what you need to do right after you settle in your new home away from home.