The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

The family flew over the green card to Philadelphia, but not sure if it was worth changing their homeland to the USA


A source:

Belarusians Ivan and Yana won the green cards and decided to live in America for the sake of the experiment, since the chance turned up. About the first impressions, smiles, expenses, earnings and plans (among them there is an incredible one - come back!) - their story to the publication

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USA? Why not!

Ivan: I have never been “sick” by the States, never dreamed of the American dream and did not think that I would live here. Everything happened by chance.

Yana: And I, like all students, wanted to get to America under the Work and Travel program. As soon as we met, we had a conversation: they say, it would be cool to go to the USA for a couple of months. We talked and forgot. And after a couple of years, Ivan unexpectedly suggested: “Let's play the lottery!” Why not? We took pictures, sent applications. And it so happened that I won the first time.

Ivan: Lucky! If possible, why not try? I am a programmer, I can find work everywhere. Yana is an economist. At that time, we were not yet husband and wife. Got married. I started learning English because I didn't really know it. The process of preparing documents took two to three months. We flew to the States in the fall of 2014.

First American Warning

Yana: There are a lot of myths about people about America. In all forums they write that those who enter by the green card are almost met with open arms. We did it differently. As winners of the program immediately upon arrival at the airport in New York, we had to go to a certain room. Before getting there, they defended themselves in two long lines, where smiling Americans incorrectly sent us. Finally found the right door, and behind it - an unpleasant type.

Ivan: The officer was wearing a mask, and he behaved strangely. He didn’t answer our questions, was silent, then blew up, grabbed a folder with documents and waved his hand: wait. Took my fingerprints, then Jan came up.

Yana: It’s worth it, turning its back on me. I’m taking a step - the officer turns sharply and grabs the weapon: “You have the first warning!”

Ivan: Maybe he had a bad day, although he did his job to the end. Checked that we found a way out, poked a finger. The mood was slightly spoiled. Also, the airline lost a bag with documents. Fortunately, then she nevertheless found it and even delivered it to our home.

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In New York, we spent the first week. New York, I tell you, is a big Crimea! Everyone yells, gulps, trying to push something. We traveled a lot in Europe, we have something to compare. In terms of traffic, it’s worse, probably, only in Milan.


Yana: For a long time, we did not dare to cross the street to red, until we saw how a couple of cops go to the prohibiting signal. Everyone goes to red there.

Ivan: These are the first impressions. Times Square is really small, crowded, there is no buzz from it. But Central Park really liked, this is the coolest park in which we were.

Searching for a job

Ivan: As you know, in America, in order to live normally, work, own property, you need to get a Social Security Number. Those who received the "green card" number should be sent by mail, if you put down the address in the application form. Here we had a hitch. First, they stayed in New Hampshire with friends. Engaged in a job search. There were options, but without SSN in any way. And it is not all. Received an offer from Philadelphia. We arrived there, went to the social service office to clarify when the number would finally come. It turned out that no one had filed it, the process was not even started! The consultant advised: "You can apply now, and the day after tomorrow I will dictate your numbers to you."

Yana: And that was our main problem, because of which we couldn’t find work and housing for a month! The moral is: here everything is the same as ours. Much depends on the person you are running into. If a person does not want to work, he will not help you.

Ivan: Looking for a job in America is a job. The day came before 50 calls and a bunch of e-mail. You sit eight hours in a row, sort through it all, talk to everyone. My search lasted about three weeks. And it is also believed that I was lucky. I work for a large multimedia holding, and Yana works for a medical company.

Yana: Americans do not need Belarusian economists, so I went to the courses for testers, graduated in February. But at first she did not earn anything.

- In Belarus, you were the middle class. And in the USA?

Ivan: Now we are here, probably, the middle class.

But before that, for four months, they probably only looked at the restaurant two times. We did not go to the cinema, did not go anywhere. I was uncomfortable, I was not used to counting money in the store. And here it was necessary.

Because in the American store you need to look at what you take. There is a pepper for 99 cents a pound, and there is with the word "eco" - many times more expensive. My friend once bought an apple for $ 5. The first apple in America! And the most precious thing in his life. He also told how he went to the farm, where the apples themselves should be harvested. Gathered on $ 70 in the end.

The structure of household spending in the US

Yana: When we received our husband’s first salary, we thought: now we are ghoul! But it turned out that it was not time for festivities.

Ivan: Salaries are big here, but expenses too. Let's count. We pay $ 1645 for an apartment (we rent apartments in the very center of Philadelphia). The communal apartment in the last months was $ 250, on average it is $ 180. We pay only for electricity and cold water.

Ivan: Let's keep counting. Mobile phone for two - $110. The Internet used to be $120, but when they told me how to save money, we reconnected - it became $30. It is impossible without parking, so we add another $125. Car insurance per month - $130. Train-bus pass - $160. Medical insurance for me is $150, for Yana - $120. You will get about $2500. And that's without food.

Yana: On food prices are on average the same as in Minsk. This is noted by all emigrants. Meat, fish, beef and a half cheaper. Our turkey is expensive, and here $ 2 per kilo. But fruits and vegetables are much more expensive. In general, the monthly cost of everything (no entertainment) is about $ 3000.

By car

Ivan: I took the Nissan Versa 2009 of the year for $ 5700 (without tax). A simple car, local, when they see it, almost do not crook. Of course, if you buy a car from here home, it will be cheap. But it should be borne in mind that the purchase will have to pay tax - up to 30%. Plus, put on insurance, and if you take a loan, it can be up to $ 600 per month. And repairs are much more expensive. It turns out, cars are cheap, but the associated costs are high.


Yana: A bit about that annoying. We live in a kind of cool apartment. A neighbor is a lawyer; he loves to listen to music in the middle of the night. They nodded a couple of times at him - appeared to “get acquainted”. She smiles, invites to a beer, asks when it is possible to turn on music. They said before 23: 00. Okay, he says, got it. Smiling again. And after a couple of days at three in the morning the music rattles, as if there was no conversation.

Ivan: I did not want to suffer, so I wrote a very long letter to the most important building manager. Cited the facts, which can lead to lack of sleep - up to death behind the wheel. Yana translated the letter. The music is over! The neighbor is still smiling, but somehow it is no longer possible to believe in sincerity.

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Yana: I get to work by public transport. First by train. And they are gorgeous here! The first cars are usually quiet, everyone reads there. Beauty. But after the train you have to change to the bus. And this is the worst thing that happens to me in America.

Buses are old, like our loaves. 90% of passengers are African-Americans who look at you incredulously. And drivers drive at such a frantic speed that you feel like a bag of potatoes that hangs around the cabin. There are no normal stops, where to go - it is not clear. No names, only numbers, and the schedule for all numbers costs the same time.

Wacky laws

Ivan: In regular stores in Philadelphia, they do not sell beer. Well, okay, there are specialized beer points. I went somehow to one store, Yana stayed in the car. Beer bottles do not sell, only boxes. They say to me: “Well, do you want to take the two boxes yourself? You can not do it this way. We can give only one. ” Say, the law is. Call Yana. She enters the store. I take two boxes, we leave. Sellers stop: "You can not! Each of you should take a box in your hands and only leave the store in this way. ” Some local feature, in general. Only in one place we saw this.

Absolute freedom

Ivan: A funny paradox: in America there really is a lot of freedom, but for some reason, over time, you begin to notice its negative manifestations. For example, in the evenings it’s scary to appear on the streets. I'm not a coward, but I'm afraid. If it’s cold, some people are lying on bars, drinking coffee and tea, trying to collect money from passers-by. Friends came from Los Angeles and said: there are so aggressive homeless people that girls do not go to the center alone. Maybe an exaggeration, but there is a reason for fear.

Consumer Paradise

Yana: America's biggest plus is the complete availability of any thing. A new camera came out, a phone appeared - right there you can order. There are cheap clothes that we have are many times more expensive.

The very concept of trade is different, as is the attitude to the buyer. Once we bought pillows, and the next day we saw the same place elsewhere, but twice as cheap. They went and took the money, and did not invent anything, they said that they simply changed their mind. And no problems!

Ivan: At first, when we had no money, we handed over the mattress, on which we slept a month. In the rules of the store it was written that such mattresses cannot be returned. The workers called the manager, he shrugged and gave the command to return the money. In this regard, they really have everything fine.


Ivan: My earnings are higher than the average for Pennsylvania - and this is somewhere around $ 70 thousand a year. But we still could not go anywhere, we were saving. Friends wondered why we live in such an expensive complex, but it's just the only place where we would like to live. In many houses there are bad windows, there may be poor-quality heating, or the view from the window is not on the street, but on a blank wall. Simply put, I did not want to worsen living conditions compared to Minsk. That's not what we went for.

Yana: It is also important that as long as we do not live by the American rules. That is, we do not want to live on credit.

- What's next: get used to the rules and be fixed forever?

Ivan: At first, we decided to go for six months, and then return. But then in Belarus there was an economic collapse, as it were, to put it right. Therefore, while we are sitting here. Let's wait until the fall. We are not going to stay in America for life, but of course I will not promise. The main attraction here is that you can take out a home loan at 3,17%. It’s very cool, in Belarus there isn’t such an alternative.

Yana: Anyway, no one will convince me to stay here for a long time ...

Ivan: After Yana went to work, the question of money is not so worried. We can buy what we want, not what we need. But here that it would be desirable to note. Very many who come here on the green card (if they are not programmers and other well-paid employees) will earn much less than us. And it’s far from a fact that, in general, they will live better than in Belarus. It also puts pressure on what you constantly think: what will happen if you are fired from your job? Everybody holds their place here tightly, it’s not like that at all. In Belarus, programmers are such "kings" who dictate the rules, and here - ordinary hard workers, to whom no one bows.

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