What you need to know before moving to the USA.
Updated: Jun 2
This is the first and most important thing you should take care of before your trip to the US.
While it is quite expensive to get covered, it can be extremely expensive taking the risk of not getting it.
You’ll need travel insurance for your journey and health insurance to cover you the whole time you’re in the US.
If you are uninsured and hurt yourself or get sick and end up needing medical help, you will have to pay 10’s of thousands of dollars. Healthcare is not funded by the government in America and is run by private companies, so any trip to the doctors or hospital will cost you money.
If you’re planning on staying in one place for a while then i would suggest looking for a job that offers healthcare coverage as a benefit, as this will save you $100’s of dollars a month.
I used STA travel insurance and got the comprehensive package. It cost around $1000 USD to have unlimited coverage for 12 months. Which is pretty good considering health insurance alone is minimum of $200 USD a month in the United States.
Follow this link to see their insurance options:
Where to find jobs
If you’re a traveller you’ll likely have an ESTA which you are unable to work on, however there are tons of ways to make money online as a traveler so that doesn’t matter. Check out my tips here.
But if you’re like me you’ll have a work/travel visa or just a working visa. Sometimes this requires you to have a job organized prior to you arriving in the US, which can be really hard as it forces you to pick a city to live in before even getting to the US.
Luckily, not all visas require you to have a job pre-organized. So you can take your time to explore the US a little before you decide which city you want to live in. Then, go about searching for a job.
It is a requirement of most visas to have a physical job, you can not just rely on online income sources as they want visa holders to experience the American workforce.
There's so many places to look for jobs it can be overwhelming, a lot of places are reluctant to hire people on visas as they know they are only able to stay for a certain amount of time.
This makes looking for temporary work a great option. It allows you the flexibility of trying a job or a city for a short time, while earning some money. Before committing long term to living somewhere. Plus its the best way to explore different parts of the country on your stay, as you aren’t tied in to one job for the whole time.
While traveling you’ll probably be using your debit or credit card from your home bank. Be sure to compare a few local banks exchange rates and fees for overseas transactions before you travel. This will save you a lot of money, it adds up quickly.
A cash passport is another option while traveling, it works well and is accepted almost anywhere but over the long term it gets expensive.
Once you settle into your new job and have a place of your own to live, you'll want to open a US bank account. This will save you a lot of money of bank fees and exchange rate fluctuations if you were still using your home bank.
Most employers will pay you by a local bank cheque or by direct deposit into your US bank account. So if you want to get paid, you'll need to open an account.
It's not difficult to open a bank account in the US. In fact, some banks like CIT Bank let you open your account online. Which is great if your traveling around or even if you can't get to the bank during opening hours because you're at work, which can be a common issue.
It's a good idea to have a look at your options before opening an account. You'll want to see the different types of accounts that you have available to you, and which banks offer the best interest rates and lowest service fees, as these can vary greatly.
US banks are not always nationwide, so if you receive a cheque from a local bank, be sure to cash it in the city or state that you received it. Most banks offer debit and credit cards that can be used at 24 hour atms. The Cirrus and Plus networks are both available throughout the country. Be sure to get a card that suits you the best. Nationwide banks in the US are:
To open an account, you will need:
Passport (with Visa and work permit if you have one)
Social Security number (or proof of application if still in progress)
Proof of Address.
Since I moved to the US, I made an account online with CIT bank. They make it extremely easy to bank online while I’m traveling. Plus they offer great interest rates on savings accounts so your money is working while you aren’t.
Check out their interest rates and account options below.
Car Licensing + Registration
The first thing you will need to get before arriving to the US, is your international driver's permit. These are really easy to get, all you need to do is apply online at your home countries licensing/registration websites. For New Zealand its AA.co.nz.
Depending on the date that you got your foreign license, most states will recognize it as valid for up to a year. If you are planning on being in the US for a period of more than 12 months, then you will need a local state drivers license. Which means a trip to the DMV, which can be a painful experience in itself.
Rules and regulations surrounding licensing and registration differ from state to state in the US. But they are very strict with their policies, so it's important to know the states laws to ensure you don’t have any issues when buying or selling a car, or get pulled over by a cop.
There is lots of information about licensing and registration for each state here.
A lot of popular locations on travelers bucket lists these days are becoming more and more expensive to live in. Just look at London, California or New York’s crazy rent prices. Finding affordable rooms to rent, AirBnBs or hotels can be extremely difficult. So you want to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Check out Rent.com, Apartments.com, Craiglist and Trulia. These sites all have thousands of rooms available around the world. They will give you a good idea of what options are out there, how much on average it costs to rent in the area and hopefully help you find some decent roommates.
If you’re on a tighter budget, there are so many options for staying somewhere for little to no cost. Housesitting is on of the best ways to live rent free and have a place to yourself.
Trusted HouseSitters is a great site for finding potential house sits. They have House Sitting opportunities available in over 130 countries around the world. With thousands of homeowners looking for someone to look after homes and pets.
Check them out here: