Resettlement in the United States of America
Moving to the United States can be a true adventure; there is a tremendous amount of diversity in the country, from culture to the climate. Being prepared for life in America and finding the right place to settle is key to helping ensure a happy relocation.
What to expect when you arrive in the United States
Remember that it is likely that you'll arrive before your belongings do. Make sure you don't ship the absolute essentials that you'll need from day one - take those on the plane with you.
If you're not going to be living in corporate housing, you will need to find a temporary furnished let before your furniture and belongings arrive. Furnished houses and apartments are not common in the US, but it is possible to find them, particularly in larger cities.
So much will depend on where you will be living in America. If you're settling down in the north east, such as New York City, you'll have a very different experience to someone settling in Florida, North Carolina, Texas or California. While there are some broad generalisations you can make about life in America, this will vary considerably from region to region.
English or, um, English?
Although Americans speak English, and you may have seen a lot of American television programmes and films, you will find it is a very different flavour of English spoken than what you're accustomed to. Be patient, and don't be offended if you're asked to repeat yourself even when you think you're speaking slowly and clearly! But also be prepared to have random strangers stop you to say they love your accent. American accents also vary wildly between different areas of the country, and it is sometimes difficult for born and bred Americans to understand people with thick regional US accents.
Driving (on the) right
Driving rules are very different from the UK, as are road signs - and, of course, in the US they drive on the right side of the road and the left side of the car. It is recommended that you have a couple of driving lessons to help you adjust to the differences before you take your driving test as chances are you won't be able to exchange your UK driving licence for an American drivers license. The tests vary state by state, but they are not as rigorous as the UK driving test. Most cars are automatics, although it is possible to find a manual (or, as the Americans call them, stick shift), but taking your test with an automatic doesn't restrict you to only driving automatic cars.
Aboard the yellow bus
The educational system in the US is quite different from the UK. Investigate the school districts in the areas you're considering living in, as your child will most likely attend the local school, even if it isn't the most suitable for their interests or academic level. Fee-paying private schools are available, as are international schools, but both can be expensive.
Those big yellow busses you may have seen on television or in the films are the most common way that students make their journey to and from school if they're not close enough to walk, even for high school students.
Medical care in America
Medical care is top-notch, but does come at a price. Despite recent reforms in health care coverage, it remains expensive and universal care is a dream of the future. Employers provide health care coverage for their employees, and some insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. It is always wise to check with your employer to ensure that your health care needs will be covered. You pay for insurance normally through deductions from your salary, and costs can be quite high. There are several different types of health care coverage available, depending on your employer. With virtually all insurance plans, you will pay something each time you visit a doctor or hospital - be it a co-pay (a fixed payment amount) or the entire bill which you claim back from your insurance company.
Mix with the locals
On the whole, Americans are open and friendly, and curious about people from other cultures.
If you have children, find out about the local playgroups available - it will help both you and them to make new friends in your new home. If you don't have children - or they're too old for playgroups - you'll find groups for nearly all kinds of interests and hobbies are on offer.
Get support for your resettlement in the United States
Sign up for expat, social groups and playgroups for your children to help you get adjusted. If your company is moving you, find out if they offer courses, groups or other assistance with settling into your new country. If your children are in school, sign up for parent groups like the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and if your children are interested in scouting or sports, offer to be a volunteer. Housing developments will sometimes have neighbourhood groups or housing associations, where you can meet your neighbours, socialise and help with community events.
How can we help with your American removal?
Britannia Bradshaw can help your removal to America go smoothly. Contact us for a free, no obligation quote or call 0161 877 5555 (Manchester), 0121 504 0966 (Birmingham & Coventry) and speak with one of our international removals specialists.