So, you’ve done it. You’ve committed to the move to the USA: for the adventure, for the fun, for the money, for whatever reason. You’ve got your visa issues handled, and now you’re looking into what else you’ll need to adjust before migrating to the States. Here’s a quick guide to some perhaps seemingly minor things you might not be aware of, things that make life in the USA a bit different than life in Oz.
Long story short, it’s expensive. While the USA leads the world in many areas, you’ll find their health care system a bit baffling and pricey compared to Australia. Private insurance is a must and is a benefit included or subsidised by many employers. Even with private insurance, expect to be out of pocket a bit more than you’re used to if you’ve got to visit the old M.D., as there is no public option in the USA.
While rental prices in Australia are normally quoted by the week, in the US rent is quoted by the month. Depending on what area of the country you’ll be living in, you might find things significantly cheaper (things get cheaper the closer to the middle, generally) or be shocked by the prices… if you’re moving to San Francisco, expect sticker shock. In addition, landlords often ask for the first and last month’s rent as a deposit – or in addition to a deposit.
Surveys have shown that many Americans are vastly unprepared for retirement, as retirement contributions are not so standardised as they are in Australia. If you’re bringing your super over, you can look to put it into one of the most common forms of retirement accounts – 401k funds – though some use what are called Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs. A good employer will offer matching contributions to your retirement, but again, this is not as common in the USA as it is in Australia. There are some great tax breaks for retirement saving, but be sure to speak to an expert who can help lead you through it all.