Blog Post

Five Must-Dos When Moving to the U.S.

Moving to another country can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re moving for a new job, a spot at your dream school or just for a change in scenery, moving to new country means uprooting your life and embracing an entirely new system.

We, at Rayo, understand how difficult moving may be and have come up with a checklist of must-dos if you are moving to the U.S.

Bonus — we have also added some RayoProTips to help you navigate these items.

1. Opening a Bank Account

One of the first few steps to building a new home overseas is to establish a new bank account. Opening a bank account in a completely new country may seem like a tedious task since you may have no prior credit history established. Generally, to open a bank account in the US, you’ll need to ehave your identification documents on hand, such as your passport and perhaps a reference. Most banks, however, require you to have a US Social Security Number (SSN) for the application. While you can apply for a Social Security Number as part of your Visa application, it might take a while before you get your SSN issued. Unless you’re comfortable going without a bank account for months after your arrival, you’ll need other options.

Here’s the good news — digital alternatives like Rayo allow you to apply for a bank account without a SSN. This means you can start setting up your bank account before you even arrive to the US! Keep in mind, once you arrive, you’ll have 30 days to provide Rayo your SSN, so we can continue to keep your account open. Upon approval of your visa permit to the US, simply apply for a bank account on Rayo by providing some basic information about yourself, and you can be on your way to having your bank account set up even before stepping onto US soil!

2. Building Credit

When you’re starting to do the financial prep work for your move, you may have noticed that everything revolves around one’s credit history. Although it’s possible to use cash to pay for services when you’re in the US, establishing a satisfactory credit score is sometimes necessary when applying for essential services such as phone contracts, property rentals, and more.

The prerequisite for building credit is getting a SSN, which can be a relatively hassle-free process. The tricky part, however, is that establishing credit requires you to have a good credit score, but credit from your home country isn’t recognized in the US. This is mainly due to existing regulations prohibiting the sharing of credit information overseas.

So how do you start to establish good credit history?

A good place to start is through getting a credit card. Traditionally, getting a credit card as an immigrant may take some time as this too generally requires a SSN. However, digital alternative providers like Rayo, allow eligible immigrants to apply for a credit card immediately, without needing a credit score or having to wait in queues at a bank branch. All you need to do is click “sign up” on Rayo’s website, input your details, and that’s it! Rayo’s Credit Card partner will do the work to determine your eligibility in almost no time.

Once you’ve gotten your first credit card, a RayoProTip is to work towards a good credit score. A credit score is based on some of the following criteria:

  • Payment history: Do you pay your credit card bills on time?
  • Credit utilization: How much of your credit limit do you use?
  • Length of credit history: Length of time you had the credit accounts open
  • Credit mix: How many credit accounts (or cards) do you have open?

Your US credit score can range from 300 to 850. Most people have a credit score between 600 and 750. The higher the score, the better it is. An “excellent” credit score is 750 or above. People with excellent credit scores can usually get the best interest rates on things like car loans and mortgages.

3. Finding a home in a neighborhood of your choice

This may be one of the most important items on your must-do list, as home is where you spend most of your time relaxing after a stressful week at work. Being new to the country, your neighbors will also be the first few people you get to meet, so this can be an exciting but also stressful decision. For expats with children, there is the added complication of finding a home within a good school district.

It’s important to start this process early. Before you arrive, start browsing online and shortlist neighborhoods you’d like to stay in. Safety, proximity to grocery stores and public transportation and presence of a community to socialize within are important factors to consider while assessing the suitability of a neighborhood.

Contact a real estate agent or put a property management company in charge of your home rental process so you can start viewing properties as soon as you arrive. Here are some popular and credible real estate listings you can browse through to ease your process: Real Estate Listing and Agency Sites

You may be asked to show your international credit score or proof of employment when applying as a non-citizen. RayoProTip: set aside 30% of your salary for your rent.

If you’re moving as part of your job, relocation experts may help make your move smoother. It’s still a good idea to shortlist the neighborhoods you would like to stay in and let your relocation specialist know.

4. Getting the right health insurance plan

Access to healthcare facilities is one of the biggest concern immigrants face. Medical costs in the US are known to be among the highest in the world. Find out if your employer will provide healthcare coverage for you and your family. If not, make sure you pick a suitable health insurance plan after carefully studying the in-network coverage, co-pays and deductible. RayoProTip: Review this step-by-step guide to better understand the ins and outs of US Health Insurance. — Health Insurance Guide.

5. Obtaining a driver license

The US is a huge country, and driving is the most common mode of transport — make sure to get a driver license as soon as possible. As a new US resident, you can use your license from your home country or an International Driving Permit for 30 to 90 days, depending on the state you reside in. After this period, you will need to obtain your a US driving license. RayoProTip: Details such as required documents, fees etc. differ from state to state, but the general process remains the same. Read more about How to Apply for a US Driving License.

There are two means of identification at the state level: the ID card, and the Driver License. The former allows you to identify yourself to the authorities or anyone that may need your identification. The latter accomplishes the same purpose, but also indicates you can legally drive a motor vehicle.

For expats moving to a city and do not foresee themselves driving, you should know that a driver license can be used for certain applications and is commonly used as a form of identification. It’s also always handy to have one should you decide to embark on a cross-country road trip! So why not just apply and keep it, just in case?

Starting a new life in a new country can be overwhelming. If you’re relocating to the US, we know you’ve got plenty on your plate, so leave the banking to us! At Rayo, we strive to give you financial peace of mind with a tailored, seamless and borderless banking experience. Our financial products and services are here to assist you at every step of your journey — so you can land smoothly and hit the ground running.