If you arrive in the metropolis of Atlanta like I did with no support system to help you get a place to live, get your paper work straightened out, the first few weeks could be pretty daunting. As promised in my previous blog, I would like to share some tips and tricks to help you settle in to your new home with a little more ease.
Step 1: One of the first things that you should do before you even plan to cross the Atlantic is to immerse yourself into information about the city you are going to. Have an idea on where you want to live and use some metrics to determine your location such as:
- – Do I want to drive to work?
Atlanta has the third worst traffic in the US and if you can avoid it, you are saving 3 hours of commuting every single day. Read up on the area that you will be working at; look up properties in the proximity of your work.
- – Am I open to taking MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) if that is possible?
People from Europe are very comfortable with public transport as opposed to most Americans outside of certain cities. Inside the perimeter of Atlanta, I personally take Marta everywhere as it is cheaper and you avoid the frustration you feel waiting in traffic for hours. The only time it might be a little uncomfortable is when it gets blazing hot in summer and then you might want to switch to a car. That being said, the network of trains are pretty limited, however, the city of Atlanta is building a tram network within the city centre. There is a social stigma among people who commute with Marta that it is for the economically challenged, which I personally think is a cultural prejudice. Go to www.marta.com to see the complete list of connections you can take.
- – Can I open a bank account before I arrive in the US?
No, this is not possible prior to arriving in the US and you must be in possession of a Social Security Number to be even considered to get a bank account
- – How do I get my Social Security Number?
Visit the above stated website and my suggestion is that you go there bright and early; you will go through security check like you do at an airport and you will take a number and wait your turn. Make sure that you take your passport, a copy of a lease agreement, print out your I-94 card (without this, you will be turned away). Once you get your turn (which can take about 2 hours if you are lucky) it literally takes 5 minutes for them to make copies of your documents and enter your details in their system and they will give you a copy of confirmation that you have applied and will be told that you will receive your card in original in a week or 10 days.
- – How do I get my local driver’s license?
Firstly getting your driver’s license would take you a while. If you have a foreign driver’s license, you can walk into the nearest DMV close to your permanent home in Georgia with supporting documents and they will take care of the switch of your foreign license to a Georgia licence (you need your SSN for this as well). If you need a brand new license, you would need to take a two part test, one with the rules of the road (which is the theoretical test) and a road test. You have two options to take your road test:
- – Walk-in- tests: Go to your nearest DMW as early as you can, some people wait outside the doors as early as 6am. This is a gamble as they will only take the first 5 people in line and sometimes, they will turn you away with no explanations at all. The word that comes to mind here is ‘chance’.
- – Make an appointment: You can call the DMV’s number and make an appointment to take your road test (more reliable option); the downside of this is you may have to wait for a month or two to obtain your appointment.
Visit: http://www.dds.ga.gov for all information on obtaining your driver’s license.
In my next article, I will walk you through each item on this list and share some of my tips and tricks.
Happy researching till the next time!