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 Post subject: Moving to the US - Getting started
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:37 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:28 pm
Posts: 147
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Hey there,

on Sunday, I'll be boarding a plane in Hamburg which will take me to San Francisco. I'm going to work over there for a couple of years (or longer).
The first week, I will be staying at an (expensive) hotel, and I hope I can find a suitable apartment meanwhile. If that doesn't work out, I'll try to find at least a less expensive temporary place until then.
I will keep my German bank accounts and I have a credit card with which I can pull money out of ATMs from them with no fees, so I'm kind of liquid.
However, I want to establish a US bank account ASAP, because I expect checks for moving expense reimbursements and the sign-on-bonus pretty soon and I want to tap into my German savings as little as possible. Also, I think paying move-in expenses and buying a car would be easier with a US bank account.
Now my question is: Is it a good idea to give the hotel address when opening the account? Can I give my company's address as a mailing address? I'm worried that the mail containing the debit card and checks could be lost, or worse, stolen and abused. Is a proof of address required when opening a bank account? Are there banks that give out debit cards on the spot? I'm particularly looking at Charles Schwab and WaMu.

And not finance related: I remember having to give a proof of address when I got a CA driver's licence when I was there six years ago. Do they accept hotel addresses? If not, how am I supposed to get a CA driver's licence within 10 days if I can't find a "permanent" apartmend until then?

Any comments are welcome,
Lars


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 Post subject: Re: Moving to the US - Getting started
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:08 am 
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 11:23 am
Posts: 859
Location: Portland, OR
floppel wrote:
on Sunday, I'll be boarding a plane in Hamburg which will take me to San Francisco. I'm going to work over there for a couple of years (or longer).


welcome!

Quote:
Now my question is: Is it a good idea to give the hotel address when opening the account? Can I give my company's address as a mailing address? I'm worried that the mail containing the debit card and checks could be lost, or worse, stolen and abused. Is a proof of address required when opening a bank account? Are there banks that give out debit cards on the spot? I'm particularly looking at Charles Schwab and WaMu.


I would not give the hotel address. Either give your work address or get a post office box for a couple months until you get everything settled. This way you won't have random mail going to an address where you'll only be for a few days. Alternatively, see if someone at work would let you use their info to start. You will not get a debit card on the spot, at least I've never heard of that. It usually takes a week or two for them to process and mail the card. I'd also go with WaMu over Schwab since Schwab is an investment company, not a bank. They may offer banking services but they are not a bank. WaMu will give you more in the way of banking services and locations I would imagine. Personally I prefer credit unions and wouldn't do a big bank but I can understand the choice.

Quote:
And not finance related: I remember having to give a proof of address when I got a CA driver's licence when I was there six years ago. Do they accept hotel addresses? If not, how am I supposed to get a CA driver's licence within 10 days if I can't find a "permanent" apartmend until then?


Again, I would not use the hotel address. You will probably have to provide a lease and/or utility bills to prove your address. Why do you need the license within 10 days? Can you just wait until you get settled?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 8:43 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 6:30 am
Posts: 336
Location: Houston, TX
Post office box, no question. Despite the name, it doesn't necessarily have to be at a US Postal Office. There are many businesses that offer this service, probably in your neighborhood and much more convenient than the actual post office.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:54 am 
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Posts: 859
Location: Portland, OR
tinyhands wrote:
Post office box, no question. Despite the name, it doesn't necessarily have to be at a US Postal Office. There are many businesses that offer this service, probably in your neighborhood and much more convenient than the actual post office.


yes, I have mine at a UPS store because i work out of my home and don't want my home address on my website or business cards. it costs me about $70 for 6 months.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:06 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:28 pm
Posts: 147
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Thank you for your replies.
I'll see if I can find a post office box, that sounds like a good idea.

As far as the driver's license is concerned, this is from the CA DMV site:
Quote:
If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.
If you take a job here or become a resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days.


I really want to get this done quickly, because after those 10 days it can become a PITA if I have to take a road test (will I? I have CA license that expired in 2005), because then I need someone to take me there, because my German license would no longer be valid. I heard stories where people drove there and they refused to take the test because they drove without a valid license...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:26 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR
floppel wrote:
Thank you for your replies.
I'll see if I can find a post office box, that sounds like a good idea.

As far as the driver's license is concerned, this is from the CA DMV site:
Quote:
If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.
If you take a job here or become a resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days.


I really want to get this done quickly, because after those 10 days it can become a PITA if I have to take a road test (will I? I have CA license that expired in 2005), because then I need someone to take me there, because my German license would no longer be valid. I heard stories where people drove there and they refused to take the test because they drove without a valid license...


hm...I don't know. I haven't changed DLs in 6 years even though i've lived in 3 other states and 1 country since i got it....and i don't plan to until i buy a car. But if you're planning on getting a car it will probably be a bigger issue.

I'd call them and ask. They're going to want your RESIDENTIAL address for your DL and until you sign a lease you don't have one of those. And they'll want proof of your address in the form of a lease or utility bills which you won't have.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 6:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 6:00 pm
Posts: 260
Location: Chicago, IL
I'd say you're fine on the license until you sign a lease. You're not really a resident when you are living in a hotel.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 1:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 7:18 am
Posts: 20
if you are going to be in the san francisco area i would seriously consider NOT getting a car. amazing transit system, don't need one.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:15 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR
ladykemma2 wrote:
if you are going to be in the san francisco area i would seriously consider NOT getting a car. amazing transit system, don't need one.


I agree. You should at least try for a while without. But, depending on your job or where you live you might have to do it.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:35 am
Posts: 1444
which german bank do you have an account with? I'd be looking to open an account in the US with the same bank or a bank with a partnership agreement. will make transferring money back and forth much easier.

just a note, you will more than likely get charged an international transaction fee for the conversion. second, you will more than likely get charged an ATM fee from the ATM owner in the States. Another good reason to get a local account for you.

i second, third, whatever, getting a post office box and alleviating our postal concerns.

i'd use your work address for your driver's license and then just have them mail it to your post office box.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:51 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:28 pm
Posts: 147
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
googoo wrote:
which german bank do you have an account with? I'd be looking to open an account in the US with the same bank or a bank with a partnership agreement. will make transferring money back and forth much easier.

The only ones I'm aware of would be CITI and Deutsche Bank, the latter having an agreement with BofA so that their ATMs can be used with a Deutsche Bank debit card without a fee. Both do not offer free checking accounts in Germany, which is why I went with "virtual" banks.

Today, I rented a postal box ("Postal Annex", $10 per month). Then I opened an account with WaMu (I really should have listened to Mandy and skip Schwab, they require a $1000 activation deposit which must be paid by check or money order, which is difficult if you don't have a US account already), using the postal box as mailing address. I'll see if everything works out as planned.
Then I looked at a couple of one bedroom apartments, ranging from $1575 to $2188 per month. :shock: I could manage paying that much, but I'm reluctant to do so for plywood walls and the unevitable fluffy carpet. I'm really hoping I find something suitable, it's harder than I thought it would be... :roll:


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:29 pm
Posts: 19
Does your business have an address you can use temporarily? I was a student overseas, and the university had to vouch for our accommodation in order for us to get visas. We planned to live off-campus (in fact, we had to due to a shortage of residence spots) but the university was still really great about letting us use the residence address for our first few weeks, and once we moved out of the temporary accommodation, they forwarded all of our mail to us.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:10 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR
floppel wrote:
Then I looked at a couple of one bedroom apartments, ranging from $1575 to $2188 per month. :shock: I could manage paying that much, but I'm reluctant to do so for plywood walls and the unevitable fluffy carpet. I'm really hoping I find something suitable, it's harder than I thought it would be... :roll:


Have you looked at sharing a space. There are disadvantages, but the advantages are:

You can usually get into a space without a long lease which is good for when you might not be sure where you want to live.
It's cheaper
You don't have to get utilities in your name (because you have no credit yet you'll probably have to put down deposits)
It can be a good way to meet some locals

It's what I've done here in Portland and, while I don't love my living situation, I'm glad I did this first because otherwise I may not have figured out what areas i want to live in and gotten a lease somewhere I didn't like.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:02 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:28 pm
Posts: 147
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Credit history really seems to be a problem. Today I found a place I really wanted to rent, even though it's pricier than I initially planned. When it was time for the credit check, it came back with "No record". I thought I would at least have a record, as I've been here six years ago and had a checking account, driver's license, car insurance, Safeway club card :wink: and so forth, but I guess because I never got a credit card or a loan, I'm not on file? But then how come I received letters from credit card companies saying I was "preapproved"?
Now they want me to find a guarantor, they don't even accept an extra deposit (that is still in discussion with the community manager). So it's either a more private landlord instead of a professionally managed compound, or indeed a shared situation, which does have its advantages, but can also turn into a nightmare... *sigh* After that, I went straight to WaMu and applied for a "starter" credit card.
Tomorrow is my first day at work. I really hope that will go well...


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:29 pm
Posts: 19
What's wrong with a private landlord? Managed compounds have much less leeway for the terms of the lease. When I was overseas, I rented a room from a private individual and she was so sweet, took us out for dinner sometimes, bought us a dehumidifier when we were having mold problems etc. I learned my lesson. When I came back home, I looked for a private landlord. I now rent an entire basement (bedroom, large living area, kitchen, bathroom, laundry) from a local family, and the competition for good tenants is so fierce (especially in my lower-income neighbourhood) that they offered all sorts of perks. I got free cable, free internet, free utilities and hydro, free laundry, a new fridge, offers of furniture etc. And now that I am moved in and they see that I am reliable and keep it clean, they love me and every time she comes for the rent, she brings me little presents: two garden cucumbers, a basket of cherries etc. It is just so much better to be dealing with a person, imho.


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