Getting a USA life

Sun, June 22, 2008, 11:17 AM under Personal
It has been a week since I used a one way ticket to move from the UK to the USA. Closing down my life in the UK was a strainful experience and now I need to open a new one in the US.

There are tons of things to do in order to settle in – it is what I call "getting a life". I am sharing this list below partly for my tracking, partly because it may be of interest to anyone else going through the same relocation and partly so those of you that interact with me in person know where the stress is coming from:

1. Rent a mailbox for a year (redirecting mail from UK)
2. Move into temporary accommodation for a couple of months
3. Rent a car for a month
4. Communicate with legal parties to finalise the L1 Visa process
5. Get acquainted with area e.g. grocery stores, how to drive to work etc
6. Receive the AIR shipment of personal belongings (10 large boxes) and unpack
7. Get a new mobile phone (number + device)
8. Open a bank account
9. Apply to get pre-approved for a mortgage
10. Start house hunting, make offer, buy, move (this can be a whole list on its own)
11. Get a Social Security Number (SSN)
12. Get a credit card
13. Have driving lessons
14. Take driving written test (after learning some new road signs)
15. Take driving test and hence driving licence
16. Buy car (do this via a loan in order to build some US credit history)

And last but not least:
17. Settle into new job / role

Another reason I am sharing the above is so those of you staying tuned on the RSS feed know why it is going to be a quiet summer... I can't wait to get through to the other side of all that and start sharing with you the coolest stuff coming in the next version of Visual Studio ;)
Sunday, June 22, 2008 12:33:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Where's "Write another book?" or "Revel in the fact that there's no UK community to tease me any more?" :D
Sunday, June 22, 2008 2:04:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
I wish you the best...

If you are working for MSFT I am assuming you'll be in Washington? UGH! There is some expensive property there. It truly is a seller's market there as opposed to a buyer's which is most of the rest of the country.

I almost moved to the Seattle area for an Avanade job. I stayed away solely because of housing costs. (and a little for being worked like a slave for Avanade, Go Gold Coast/MSP... sigh).

I am very curious to see how you settle in, let us know!
Anonymous
Sunday, June 22, 2008 8:37:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
I made the move from the UK to US myself. Unfortunately you need to be a permanent resident to qualify for a US based mortgage.

Best of luck!!
Monday, June 23, 2008 4:31:00 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Excellent! I wish you settle in your new job / role and area well and also good luck!
Anonymous
Monday, June 23, 2008 12:55:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
All the best Daniel. Do keep us updated with all the news and more channel 9 video's
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 3:25:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Well, the driving lessons wouldn't be needed if you guys had the stearing wheel on the right side :)

good luck on your US "adventure"!
Saturday, June 28, 2008 11:01:33 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
blowdart: I've already forgotten about the UK community :p only kidding.

Anonymous: Yes, Washington State, I plan to live in Seattle in Capitol Hill or Belltown. The prices are higher than what I anticipated (I've seen 18 properties so far with only one good candidate).

Mark D: You don't need to be a permanent resident. You start with zero credit points which means that you don't get the best rates, but you can certainly get a mortgage. If you are having trouble look at the FHA option as a worst case scenario.

Anonymous: Thanks, I need all the good luck I can get!

Arjun J: Thanks, rest assured there are more ch9 videos and blog posts and sessions in the pipeline. Patience until the end of the summer is all I ask for ;)

Luis Abreu: Don't get me started on that! They wouldn't be needed if Americans drove on the left rather than the middle ;) On a more serious note, I just needed one driving lesson for the driving company to be happy to let me use their car during the actual test.
Thursday, July 03, 2008 4:16:00 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
@blowdart - UK Community does make it to the west coast in large groups - it'll be "BBQ at Dan's place" and "Dan can you drive us here, drive us there", "Dan, we're ordering some stuff from a US web-site, can you look after it for us until we get there". You can run...but you can't hide!
Thursday, July 03, 2008 2:09:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Ah .. I'm a little late seeing this post. I moved to Bainbridge Island about 4.5 years ago from Canada. Have gone through many of the same things, except I had kids to enroll in school. The thing that makes it easier is that the people that I had to deal with have been super - really friendly and helpful.

It's amazing how many US residents think it's easy to move here and start working. "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses ..." (probably misquoted) -- it ain't that easy, is it?

You're on an L1 visa, so you're in a different situation than I was (H1-B). If you're planning on permanent residency, I suggest you start that process as soon as possible, because it is taking a long, long time. And it's expensive - thankfully my employer is covering that cost (including the use of the corporate immigration lawyers that handle this stuff properly).

Have fun.
GuyWithDogs
Friday, July 04, 2008 2:54:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
welcome. i've enjoyed yr posts, and esp the screencasts. Seattle area? Come to one of Mr. Hanselman's nerd dinners (Crossroads bellevue mall) and introduce yrself. I'm austin [avrashow.com]
Anonymous
Saturday, July 05, 2008 11:56:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
That's a great list. Welcome to the Pacific NW! I moved my family from Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon (that's a 3.5 hour drive south of Seattle) twelve years ago and have loved it here. We also have a great developer community in Portland (no hidden job offer -- just hoping you'll visit and talk to us sometime).
Monday, July 07, 2008 8:06:00 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
It goes without saying but the housing market here in the US hasn't been doing so well so be careful. Two of my friends have needed to move and couldn't get their homes to sell. Because they couldn't wait any longer they still moved and paid two mortages for quite a long time before their homes sold.

I am still renting, not because I don't want to buy, but because it is easier to move around if needed.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 3:20:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
You don't have to take actual driving lessons, especially if you drove in the UK. Your local DMV office will have a free booklet that will familiarize you with the various rules of the road and road signs. Read it front to back two or three times and you should be able to ace the written exam. If you're driving to work every day, by the time you get the driving test scheduled you should have fully acclimated to driving on the right side of the road (and I totally mean that as the "correct" side, haha).
Saturday, July 12, 2008 8:44:42 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Craig: Actually the condo that I am buying has a great rooftop for BBQ with nice views of the Sound, so you are all invited. You can also use my address for ordering electronics... The usual commission applies ($X = £X).

GuyWithDogs: Yes L1, and you are absolutely right about some people having no idea what is really involved (some think it is the same as simply moving cross-state.. sigh).

Anonymous: I live in Capitol Hill but good idea about nerd dinners in Bellevue – might do that if it is right after work.

Bob: Thanks! Portland is on my list of places to visit once I settle in – if I can find a business reason (e.g. do a presentation) to get my minimal expenses paid even better ;-)

Jonny: Yeah, those are the dilemmas we all have and ultimately nobody has a crystal ball to predict the future. I am just one of those guys that hates paying someone else's mortgage – so I'll give it a go. Thanks.

Sean: The driving lessons were needed in order for the driving school to feel comfortable letting me use their car for the driving test (their rules, not mine). I am very accustomed to not sitting inside the right side of the car ;-) because I actually got my driving license in Greece 16 years ago!
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