How do I know if relocating to this country is right for me?
The United States is the third largest country in the world. Bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, its vast land contains everything from mountains to plains. Many of the United States’ natural landmarks are considered wonders of the world.
Culture and population
The United States is home to over 329.5 million people across fifty states. No matter where they live, Americans tend to be curious, outgoing and forward-thinking people.
Economy and business
Despite the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in recent years, the US economy remains strong. In 2021, the country boasted a gross domestic product of $22.99 trillion, up from $20.94 trillion the year prior. The United States maintains its position as the largest economy in the world. California, the country’s most populous and economically prosperous state, is the home of Silicon Valley, the heart of the global tech industry.
Safety and security
The United States is so vast that it is impossible to speak generally about the safety and security of the country overall. The situation can differ greatly from city to city or state to state. The Global Peace Index ranks the United States 122nd out of 163 countries due to the nationwide homicide rate, the prison population, and the proliferation of firearms, amongst other issues. While daily life in most places carries on without issue, one should always keep their guard up. 703 people lost their lives during mass shootings in 2021 alone and 2,842 people were injured.
Public transport differs greatly state by state. Most major cities offer a variety of bus, rail, and ferry options. In more rural areas, people travel by car. Considering the size of the United States, it’s sometimes best to travel by plane.
How do you know if the United States is the right place for you? Let’s go into greater detail over some things you need to keep in mind to help you make that decision.
What to do before I move?
Here are a few step you need to follow if you want to relocate to the US:
- Discuss the possibility with your direct manager
- If there is a position for you, start the relocation procedure
- Then a Global Mobility Coordinator will contact you to inform you about the next steps
How will Grid Dynamics help me get there?
The Grid Dynamics Global Mobility program ensures the safety and security of our people and their families, so they can thrive in a location that enables them to focus on what matters most: safety, health, wellness, personal growth and professional advancement. We offer relocation guidance to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
For more details, please contact Global Mobility department: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal and financial concerns
As part of the Global Mobility program, the relocation guidance we offer includes legal and financial guidance from our team of immigration experts. Please contact HR or the Global Mobility department.
What to do after I move?
Once an employee has resided in the US for one year, the Company may decide to sponsor his/her green card.
Employment-based visa types
If you want to come to the United States lawfully to work either temporarily or permanently, you have to obtain a visa prior to your travel date. The type of visa you need will be determined by the purpose and duration of your visit.
There are three main employment-based visa categories:
Temporary visitor for business
A B-1 visa is your best choice if plan to participate in short-term business activities (up to 8 weeks) of a commercial or professional nature, such as:
- Consulting with business associates
- Traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates
- Settling an estate
- Negotiating a contract
- Participating in short-term training
If you seek to enter the USA to work as a nonimmigrant on a specific project you should apply for a L-1B visa. As an L-1B visa holder, you may be admitted for a period of up to three years (an extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years).
L-1B is meant for intracompany transferees in positions utilizing specialized knowledge. To qualify, the employee must:
- Hold an equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree in the occupational field (i.e. IT-related field). Some combination of incomplete degree and related work experience is possible;
- Generally have been working for a qualifying company abroad for one continuous year within the three preceding years;
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Open a bank account
Opening a checking account in the United States will allow you to better manage your finances. As a foreigner, there are a few specific documents and info you need to do so:
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill or rental agreement, which confirms your full name and address
- For L-1B visa holders: I-94, visa entry stamp, I-129S endorsed at the US Embassy;
- For H-1B visa holders: I-94, visa entry stamp (if available), I-129 or I-797A approval notice;
- Any secondary form of identification, such as your passport, your birth certificate (both the original and certified English translation), state driver’s license, etc.
There are several major nationwide banks to consider, most notably:
Apply for a Social Security Card
All US citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents are issued a nine-digit Social Security Number by the US government. Your SSN is used for identification purposes such as filing taxes. There is no cost to filing for a SSN.
If you are being transferred to the Grid Dynamics office in the US you MUST obtain a Social Security Number. You cannot receive a salary from a US company without the Social Security number. To apply:
- Complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
- Present original documents proving your:
- ID (passport);
- Work-authorized immigration status (L visa page);
- Print out of your most recent I-94;
- For L2 dependent spouse, please bring translated marriage certificate;
- Take your completed application and original documents to the nearest Social Security office. Photocopies and even notarized copies of documents will not be accepted.
Check your tax withholding
The USA has separate federal, state, and local governments with different taxes imposed at each of these levels. Common law employees are subject to federal income tax, state income tax, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), Social Security, Medicare, and, in states where applicable, State Disability Insurance (SDI). You can visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website to find out more about the US tax system, calculate your taxes and learn how much cash you get on hand after payroll deductions.
Everyday life in the city
Best cities to live
It might seem like an overwhelming choice to figure out where to live in the United States, and that’s totally okay–after all, it’s a large country. One way of simplifying your choice is to consider what kind of weather and pace of life you most prefer.
For example, people who love near-constant warm weather, beautiful nature, and a laid back attitude often choose to live in a state like California. By contrast, people who live in New York tend to prefer a fast-paced way of life and do things in a much more straightforward, candid manner. Those who are less inclined to coastal life yet not entirely open to the idea of a more rural one might choose cities like Colorado, a buzzing city located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
Here are some of the top U.S. cities to consider. By living in a major city, you’d have access to all major transportation hubs, making it much more convenient to get around – be it to another part of the city or another state altogether.
- New York, New York (population 19.3 million)
- Los Angeles, California (population 13.2 million)
- Chicago, Illinois (population 9.5 million)
- San Francisco, California (population 4.7 million)
- Boston, Massachusetts (population 4.8 million)
- Washington, D.C. (population 6.2 million)
- Denver, Colorado (population 2.8 million)
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (population 6.1 million)
- Dallas, Texas (population 1.4 million)
- Seattle, Washington (population 743 thousand)
- Portland, Oregon (population 651 thousand)
- Atlanta, Georgia (population 497 thousand)
- San Ramon, California (population 81 thousand)
Although Grid Dynamics has offices in San Ramon, CA and Dallas, Texas, depending on the assignment and project GD employees are most likely to be working from the client's site. The company will do its best to accommodate you at a corporate apartment or a hotel for the first 30 days upon your arrival.
Once the interim housing period is over you should find permanent living arrangements in the new location. Housing prices in the US, compared to the average wages, are relatively affordable. The cost will depend on location as well as the type of accommodation you choose.
The median rent of a single bedroom apartment is around $900–1,000. Typically, this price does not cover the cost of utilities (gas, electricity, etc). While the water/sewage/waste (~$80/month) service will be already pre-set in your apartment and the cost might be included in your monthly rental payments, you'll have to set-up all the rest of the accounts, namely electricity and gas account (~$60-$80/month) and Internet & TV account (~$50-$100).
Health insurance coverage in the United States is provided by several public and private sources.You can get health care coverage through:
- A group coverage plan provided at your job. Grid Dynamics employees are eligible for US Group Health Coverage on the 1st of the month following their first day of employment. Until then individuals relocating to the US will be covered by our GeoBlue Business Traveler's policy.
- A plan you purchase on your own directly from a health insurance company. When deciding on health insurance, your choices typically fall into one of three categories:
- Fee-for-service health plans allow you to see any health care providers you want to see. The insurance company either transfers funds directly to you hospital/doctor or reimburses you for paying for the services you get. It is usually the most expensive choice.
- Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) is a network or organization that provides preventive and coordinated care for a fixed monthly or annual fee. This insurance plan limits coverage to health services from doctors who work for or contract with the HMO.
- Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) is a subscription-based medical care arrangement that is similar to HMOs but gives you more flexibility in terms of selecting a provider.
- Government programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Unlike most developed countries, the United States does not have a universal health care system. Medical services are not free. The average yearly cost of healthcare is around $7,470 for an individual and $21,342 for a family. Many foreigners who end up going to a doctor or the hospital in the United States are shocked by their first medical bill – so that’s just something to keep in mind.
If you are relocating with children of school age it is very important to to familiarize yourself with the American education system. There is such a large array of schools, programs and locations that the choices may be quite overwhelming, especially for foreigners.
The American educational system is typically divided into three levels: elementary (Grades K–5), middle (Grades 6–8), and high (Grades 9–12). Children begin schooling around the age of six. They attend school for a combined total of 12 years.
In the US, you will be expected to take your children to a public school assigned to your zip code. It’s best if you check the school’s ratings prior to renting an apartment. You can do that by going on the Department of Education website or at the GreatSchools.org portal.
Private schools tend to be better than public schools in the United States, but they can be costly. Likewise, university tuition is notoriously high in the United States.
Although major American cities boast a good public transportation system, you will still likely need a car to go to the supermarket, shopping mall, or doctors. If you currently do not have a driver’s license consider obtaining one while you are still in your home country. It will greatly ease your transition to the US.
You can also get a driver's license once you are already in the U.S. You can obtain it through the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). Check the DMV website for instructions on how to apply for the US driver’s license in your state of residence. To get started with the application process you will typically need to schedule an appointment at the DMV office closest to you and bring along your passport, visa approval, and a proof of auto insurance.
Public transport differs greatly state by state. Most major cities offer a variety of bus, rail, and ferry options. In more rural areas, people travel by car.
Considering the size of the United States, it’s sometimes best to travel by plane. 674 million passengers traveled on American airlines in 2021, although this percentage is significantly lower than previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The four major US airlines are American AirLines, Delta AirLines, Southwest AirLines, and United AirLines. There are also smaller airline companies which operate domestic flights. All of these companies are private and therefore the US government does not regulate ticket prices.
For those who are looking to save money, you can go with an intercity bus service, such as Greyhound – but the journey will take much longer.
For those situated in the NorthEast Corridor (between Boston and Washington D.C.) traveling by Amtrak is a popular choice. This train route accounted for 4.4 million of Amtrak’s 12.2 million passengers in 2021. However the passenger train service operates in forty six of the forty eight states on the mainland. It offers first class, sleeper service, business class, and coach services.
Driving and traffic system
The majority of Americans use their own cars for public transport. The United States is connected by a vast highway system and thirty five of the fifty states have an electronic toll collection system.
Americans drive on the right side of the road. There are strict laws regarding speed limits, passing other cars, wearing your seatbelt, and not driving while intoxicated. Failure to abide by these results can result in hefty fines or even jail time in more serious cases.
Food portions in US restaurants tend to be much larger than in other countries. Americans also go out to restaurants more often, or they order take out instead of cooking for themselves at home.
A lot of Americans like to engage in what is known as “small talk”, which is surface-level conversations about the weather, sports, or the latest cultural phenomenon. They will even do this with strangers, such as when you’re sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office or standing in line at the supermarket.
These days, a lot of Americans are also concerned with “political correctness”, so one should avoid topics surrounding religion, politics, race, gender, or any other potentially controversial topics, be it in public or at the workplace.
Overall, Americans tend to be very friendly and curious people and are welcoming of people from other cultures. After all, it has long been known as a nation of immigrants.
Thanks to its size, the United States boasts numerous tourist attractions which are worth a visit at least once in your life. Many of them are true wonders of nature.
The Grand Canyon is a 277 miles-long gorge located in Arizona. With millions of visitors each year, it is known as one of the seven wonders of the world. Some of its rock deposits go back millions, even billions of years.
Niagara Falls marks the border between New York state and Ontario, Canada. Visitors can view the three legendary waterfalls from various vantage points including the Skylon Tower’s observation deck.
Yosemite National Park is located in California. It’s famous for its massive granite rocks and forests. Many visitors go rock climbing, hiking, bike riding
Yellowstone National Park is famous for being the first designated national park in American history. It is located on top of a volcanic hotspot, mostly in the western state of Wyoming, but also in parts of Montana and Ohio. The park includes breathtaking rivers, forests, canyons, and the famous geyser known as Old Faithful.
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