One of my friend asked me this question today
Why Life in USA is so complex? Why can’t they make things easy?
If you have to understand the above question, you have to know my friends background
- Just came to USA on L1B Visa. (less than 1 month)
- Long Term project (should be staying in USA for 1 year)
- Currently working in city where there is no public transportation
- Indian Grocery Store is 1 hour drive (happens when not living in metro)
Life is Complex in USA
Anyone new to USA is going to ask the same question. After landing in USA, it will be not long before you realize that life is bit complex and things doesn’t always go according to your plan.
When company is sending you to work at customer site, they will provide accommodation for couple of weeks. By then you should find your place to stay and find ways to get around the town.
Quality of life in USA is much better compared to India, but first few months are not easy. For some first few years are not easy.
Now, I have written over 200 word without saying any word about why life is complex and things your mom never told you about life in USA.
Settling Down in USA
After initial temporary accommodation, when my friend started to settle down, he started facing problems (that’s what he says), but what in reality he’s taking life head-on and learning to live new life in the new world.
Following list applies not only to my friend, but you will have the same issues too.
- First and foremost, you need a place to stay.
- Paying $700 in rent is expensive for someone who just came to USA.
- To save money on rental, find a roommate.
- If not, find someone who has a room for rent.
- Since you will not have any credit history, you will have to pay high security deposit.
- Apartment has to be located close to office, if not you need a car.
- Next you need to open a bank account.
- First few months are always expensive (100 Money Saving Tips)
- You don’t need SSN (Social Security Number) to open bank account.
- To get to the bank and daily commute, you need a car.
- To drive a car, you need driving license.
- To get Driving License, you would need SSN (unless you prove yo are not eligible for SSN).
- It can take 2 to 4 weeks to get SSN.
- Someone has to drive you to SSN office (or you pay for the cab)
- Someone has to drive you to Driving License Office, to pass written test.
- If you know car driving, then it makes things lot easy to get driving license
- You need to rent a car in your name (if you have international driving license) and get insurance.
- Someone with driving license have to drive you for taking driving test.
- After you pass the road test, you will get driving license. (no, you cannot bribe to get pass the test)
- You need help from others to buy used car (My First Car Buying Experience)
- Its always not possible to buy a used car in couple of days.
- Again, you need help from someone who can advise about buying used car.
- After several test drives, you will buy used car.
- Now, you have an apartment and car to drive.
- You need to have auto insurance to register the car.
- Since you don’t have driving history, insurance rates will be high (like $1200 for 6 months)
- After getting insurance, you can register your car.
- Next, you will need a cell phone. (mostly iPhone)
- Without good credit history, its tough to get iPhone
- Without credit history, cell phone account might be denied (or require high security deposit)
- Ask your friends to buy cell phone in their name for you (you can pay them)
- Now you have cell phone, car, place to stay.
- Next comes credit card, building credit history.
Did you see so many things are depends on SSN. What if it takes 2 months to get your SSN? Can you imagine how long it would delay other process?
Now, you have you car, a good place to stay and cell phone. You should get used to driving with help of GPS and maps. But, if you make one small mistake, its impact will be huge. Lets see how various things are interconnected.
Cars and Auto Insurance Rates
- Car Insurance rates depends on your driving history.
- If your have any at fault driving ticket (speeding or accident), then your car insurance rates will increase.
- Expect to pay 20 to 50% high insurance rates for next 3 to 5 years.
Credit History, Credit Cards and Payments
There is a complex link between credit cards, credit history and credit score.
- You need credit card to build your credit history.
- You need decent credit history to get credit card.
- If you consistently pay bills late, then credit score will go down the drain.
- Less credit score = high interest rates for any loans.
- You might now get an apartment with bad credit history.
- If you want to rent apartment in your name, then for electricity, water, gas connections need high security deposit.
So, don’t mess up with your credit cards and pay bills on time.
Back to the Story
Now, you can realize why my friend asked me the question – Why life in USA have to be so complex?
While you are at school, you would have enough time to get things done. There will be lot of friends and seniors to share their experience and help you. But, in my friends case, he’s working in city that doesn’t have public transportation, couldn’t find any Indian friends nearby to help him.
He’s getting things done by going to places in the cab and looks like his manager at work is giving him ride to his apartment. He’s very desperate to buy his car, but he never used to drive car in India. So, he has to now spend money going to driving school to learn driving.
Life comes as a package.
When you pack your bags to come to USA, your mom will advise you about staying safe, taking care of your health, but they will not be aware of such complex life in USA. Hopefully, you have learned something new form this blog post.
Do You have a story?
Everyone reading this post will have one such story. Can you share your experience. You an send your story using the contact form.
Did you face such problems with respect to SSN, Car license, Auto insurance, apartment rental, …etc and how you managed to solve those problem.