So you want to move to America, is it? It’s been your dream all your life, has it? You’re going to conquer the world, are ya?
Well listen up sonny Jim, it’s not quite as easy as back in the day when Irish infested the country like rats, no sir. American culture seems to have changed in the last 5 years. I have a lot of family here and have travelled here quite a bit for work over the last 3 years. But what has changed is that the almighty dollar is no longer king here. It’s all about credit!
So this is my scenario for all you potential immigrants to learn from. I moved here for a full time contract job. Not on a J1 visa or Temporary work visa. Because of this, not going for a J1. Everything has been left up to me to organize, I don’t get a mobile sim or any help from an agency. I took the risk of coming here and the agency did not give me any moving expenses.
So Before I came over the lady in the bank told me I should put a lot of money onto my credit card, as I could get cash from the card and use it over there without paying any sort of commision or charges. Sounded good to me, I put 1,500 dollars onto the card thinking that I shouldn’t put too much more on in case it got stolen and used. I would lose all that money. Now, I’ve travelled quite a bit for work as I said and when going for work I’d use my credit card because it was easier for claiming expenses, you got the exchange rate right on your statement and could use the statement for claiming the expenses. So I had learned from experience, you always tell your bank when you are going abroad. Otherwise they will lock your credit card after a large purchase abroad for security purposes. I told Bank of Ireland twice before I moved and they still locked the card. No sweat really, I had a week off before I started work, it was an inconvenience but not a show stopper.
So day 2, I needed to look for a place to live but to do this I would need an American phone as my own phone didn’t seem to work plus it would cost a lot of money for calls. So off to Verizon I went. I had researched phone companies from home and found that Vodafone (Who I was with at home) actually owned Verizon and so I thought perfect, I’ll roll up in there and get a sim card, only to be told, no deal our Sim cards won’t work in your phone sir. I said ok, I’ll be here for a year so I’ll gladly get a phone. I looked at the smart phones and picked one. Very cheap and good bill pay deals, only to be told…ohhhh you don’t have any credit history here so I can’t sell you any of those phones, here are the phones I can sell you. So I right now have an old Polyphonic ringtone WAP Pile of shit phone that cost $100. Now, here’s the kicker. A few days later my Irish phone picked up the AT&T network. I talked about this with my new work colleagues who are pretty tech savvy and ohhhh yeah, Verizon won’t work in your phone because it uses a different band that Europe doesn’t have, AT&T or T-Mobile should work.
Lesson 1.) for you Monkeys..if you bring an Irish phone, get set up for pre-paid on AT&T or T-Mobile. Do not buy a phone.
So, I got my phone and now it was time to find a place to live. I used some websites before I got out here to research. Yelp, Realtor.com and apartmentratings.com. Beware, the review website contains mostly all bad reviews, I wouldn’t pay much attention unless the reviews state something about bugs or break ins. A lot of people on the sites complained about management companies and noise etc. I looked at about 6 different places all over. I ended up going for a place that was 300 more than my budget but the cool thing about it is that there’s 2 pools and a gym in the apartment complex plus I got a garage parking space which I couldn’t find anywhere else. It seemed like you could haggle the rent, even when they wouldn’t haggle the rent itself they would do deals such as free Utilities for 3 months etc. It seemed every Saturday management companies would update their deals. So there’s a lot of choice for good deals.
Lesson 2.) Ask locals about the different areas, There’s free rental books outside Denny’s restaraunts and other local eateries. Realtor.com has lots of listings and has the management companies own websites linked for comparing prices. If your city of choice has good public transport, it would be a good idea to get somewhat close to a station or stop. Deposits are less than at home but beware, they will say you might only have to pay 100 or 200 but that is the average, if you don’t have a credit history in the country you will pay more. I paid 500. Also I tried to get a furnished apartment but the extra cost for a shittier apartment was not worth it to me. I took unfurnished and would slowly get my own stuff. Also an unfurnished apartment still has washer, dryer, dishwasher, fridge, microwave. So you’ll need a bed, tv, couch.
So I got my place. Pretty cool, everything was coming good. I used my Debit card (Laser card for my deposit and first months rent) Everything was going good. I went and got some cash but the max I could get was 200 off my debit card. The rental company would not take any cash, just like the car rental company. They said you must use credit card because it keeps people more honest 🙂 Apparently with broadband and this digital age where a credit card can be authroized right away and cash is easily stolen by disgruntled employees, credit wins. So, I figured trip to Wal Mart, I needed to go get a blow up mattress and some basics. While there I saw a 50 inch tv for 550 dollars, I thought I’ll need a tv anyway and could do with something to occupy my time. While I’m here why not. Then it happened again, My credit card said it was locked. The Credit card services in Ireland was closed and so no shopping for me or a tv. I used the cash to get a blow up mattress and a bit of food and went home pissed off at Bank Of Ireland. BOI!? Are you serious Bro!?
Lesson 3.) Bank of Ireland are a bunch of cunts. Don’t trust them with your money because you won’t get it when you need it. I wish I had brought more cash and put it on a pre-paid credit card for my first few weeks. But I didn’t. I trusted the bank.
So, I got my credit card sorted out again and decided ok. My back is killed sleeping on a blow up mattress, I’ll make a trip to IKEA and get a bed. IKEA’s beds sucked and were too expensive for what you got so I looked around more and get a bed and mattress for 50 more than IKEA. Paid with my credit card and happy out. It would be delivered the next day. So with that done I decided I’d go back for that TV. Tried to use the card again and boom. Locked again!! At this point, I was running out of cash and you can only take out the max of 200 on a foreign debit card every 24 hours. I tried to use my debit card to buy some stuff but it was declined even though I was told before I left that Maestro is widely accepted. American Debit cards are Visa cards and so Maestro isn’t accepted as much as you’d think. So fast forward to right now, I’m currently living on the brink. I’m eating 1 meal a day, not able to get to my own cash. What’s left on my credit card I need to leave there for my rental car and I can’t spend any money because I’m limited to 200 out a day and need a reserve for emergencies and petrol money and food. I probably could spend some more but thanks to all the issues I’ve had, I will not risk it. Instead I am subjecting myself to barely eating and walking to pass the boredom. I only have internet access when I find a WiFi spot on my days off or try to use the shit WAP on my American phone and I’m feeling kind of isolated.
Lesson 4.) If this shit does happen to you don’t worry. The cost of living here is much cheaper, I have seen that from looking around. The taxes are crazy low and the wages for the most part seem a lot better in relation to cost and quality of living. There is so much choice here, so once I fix my cash issues by getting paid into my American account (Which you can setup once you have a fixed address) I will have a lot more freedom and normality restored.
The variety and choice over here is amazing. The people so far have all seemed very friendly, though being in shops or service places they seem very demanding as customers (you’ll see that on the apartment review sites..that’s why I’d take the reviews with a pinch of salt), so if you are coming to work in that industry come with a thick skin. On the flip side of that, because it’s so service based the quality of service here is unbelievable. I never drove here before now and it’s great, turning right on red kicks ass and the interstates and highways setup make the entire metropolitan area accessible within minutes of any location. I lived in Salthill and commuted to Ballybrit in Galway, it could take an hour or more to get home some days and about 25 minutes to get in, in the mornings. Where as here, I’m about 8 times further away from my workplace and I’m averaging 28 minutes to and from work every day. My only worry for now long term is that I might find that I actually do miss having the season as where I am has sun all year round and that the people being so outwardly nice and friendly will grind on me because I’m a miserable prick but anyways, the next year will be fun and we’ll see after that.
Money wise I would suggest bringing a bit on a credit card and bringing some cash. Beware with your laser card you will get charged about 3 dollars each time you use it and can only get 200 out a time. Try to get a bank account set up here and if you are worried about bringing too much cash and the prospect of hitting the issues I hit, maybe try bringing the cash and on your first day put it onto a pre-paid credit card. I have spoken!