Sunday, September 19, 2010

Expat Experiences: USA - Rebecca Shine

Who are you?

Rebecca Shine - I live in Manhattan with my husband and 2 year old daughter.We are expecting our second child in October.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We took the plunge and moved to Manhattan, from London, when my husband was offered a transfer with his work. He had been employed by the London office for a few years and then received a call about the opportunity to transfer to NY.

We jumped at the chance since we had spent numerous long weekends in the city and had always said it would be an amazing place to live. Luckily it has turned out that way! We have been here 3 years now and have literally settled where we first landed; in Soho. We recently bought an apartment in the building where we were renting and our daughter was born here in the city, so it's feeling pretty much like home at the moment.

What challenges did you face during the move?

This is an interesting question! At the time it was like a big adventure. We had no children so we were literally flying by the seat of our pants and feeling our way in the dark. My husband's company arranged for the shipping of all our goods and provided us with temporary accommodation. The rest was left up to us. We had to find a broker who would find us a long term apartment, work out the health care insurance system once I was pregnant (I hardly knew what an OGB was since we don't get to see them in the UK on the NHS unless via a GP referral.) We had to try and understand and make sense of everything from cell phone deals to broker fees to NY State ID and driving licenses. In hindsight it was a steep learning curve and a valuable one.

How did you find somewhere to live?

We were lucky in that we knew the city well and had already decided to live downtown, preferably in Soho or The Village. We were given temporary accommodation in Nolita for a month which gave us a chance to sample the neighborhood.

We luckily found a good broker (on Craig's List!) who listened to our requirements and found us an apartment in an old (in NY terms!) converted grammar school in Soho to rent long term. It worked out well as we are still in the building now and love it. The whole process was a trial in terms of providing all the paperwork needed within the time frame to secure the apartment so they would take it off the market. Especially in terms of the 3 months down payment and the 15% broker fee. Quite a shock! Not having a credit score in the US makes thing very hard although they did manage to do some kind of international credit check on us and secure the information they needed.

Are there many expats in the area?

Our neighborhood is full of expats and so many of them are from the UK! I belong to a mother's group downtown and I would hazard a guess at 20% - 30% of the 1500 members being expats. New York is such a transient city which makes it easy to meet people as so many people, if they are not expats, are new to the city at some point or another and make an effort to be sociable and to network in order to meet like minded friends...


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