Things to Consider When Moving to the U.S. For Work
1. Lifestyle changes
An international move could involve a range of lifestyle changes. It’s important to carefully reflect on differences in climate, language, culture, work ethic, and quality of life when researching a move.
2. Establishing a social network
Any international move will involve a loss of one’s existing social network. It’s good to take into account the potential for building a new one when looking into a position. Are there regular social events that are organized by your new employer? Do you have any existing friends in the area? Will you be living in a lively or isolated location? Wherever you move, it is likely that you will need to be proactive for a while to ensure you meet new friends. Research ways to meet like-minded people through events, courses and leisure activities.
3. Visa considerations
The United States requires that you obtain a work permit or visa to work legally. Usually, you would need a firm job offer before applying for the relevant visa. Employers routinely apply for visa’s on your behalf, but this should be clarified before you accept a position. The type of VISA you apply for/get will determine the kinds of services you can apply for when you arrive – social security number, California driver’s license, bank account, etc.
4. Finance and the local cost of living
Once offered a role, you should be given a clear idea of what your salary and benefits will be. Ensure you negotiate your salary, in line with the local cost of living. Find out about local property rental costs, household and living costs that will need to factor in. Local bank accounts may take a while to set up and may require a visit in person.
5. Relocation and associated costs
Clarify with your employer whether they will cover any relocation costs. Find out what the budget is and what it includes (e.g., shipping furniture, travel costs, purchasing white goods on arrival). Ask if they are able to help you with temporary accommodation when you move, or alternatively refer you to a recommended agency who can. If they give you a lump sum and tell you to seek your own relocation assistance, you will want to research companies who can provide you with such things as home-finding, “settling-in” assistance – bank account set-up, social security application, and California driver’s license to name a few of the more important ones you might need immediately upon arriving.
If you want to visit your home country on a regular basis to see family, consider the ease and cost of travel from your new location in the San Francisco Bay Area. How easy would it be to get back in an emergency? If you have young family members who are relocating with you, you’ll need to look into options for local schooling, nursery and preschool. What are the options available, costs and how will your children integrate there? If your post is temporary, consider options for international schools that would match up with the expected levels upon your return home.
7. Researching the location
It’s key to visit a country and the precise location that you are moving to, so a pre-relocation trip might advantageous. Use your network and employer to gain insights into what day to day life might be like. What are the best neighborhoods to live in? What is the daily commute like? How does it compare to where you live now? What changes can you expect? You might look for expat articles for their experiences.
The process of relocating for work can be a stressful process due to the many factors involved. However, if you do your research, ensuring you consult fully with your employer, use your network and family, it has the potential to bring exciting changes, enhance your life knowledge and prove highly valuable for your career.