"In the US, you are nobody, everything has to start all over again": Russian woman about life in America
Maria Podolyak worked at Yandex in Russia and was engaged in independent marketing consulting, and four years ago she moved to the United States to advise Russian start-ups on promoting the American market. Maria told Rusbase about the main difficulties when moving to the USA and the specifics of doing business there, and also sounded how much money you need to prepare for an immigration lawyer, housing and transportation if you go to America "savage." ForumDaily publishes an abbreviated version of the article.
My move is an unplanned action from the “all went and I went” series. On the one hand, it was very interesting to try to promote startups in the new market. On the other hand, I had a feeling that the Russian market would “shrink”. The demand for marketing services and promotion in the USA began to grow, and, in fact, I went to where the demand grew, and did not fall.
I moved at the very beginning of 2015, when there was a new wave of Russian start-ups entering the international, including American, market. I planned to engage in the development of the Magtoapp project in the USA - a platform for creating mobile applications for paper magazines with clients mainly from Russia and the CIS countries.
At first, I moved to North Carolina: I decided to save the budget. But it soon became clear that remotely reaching customers in the US is very difficult, and the entire media industry is located in New York. And I moved to New York. Now I live in Florida.
It is important to emphasize: I did not go to the USA with empty pockets. I understood that I would have to spend money on the services of lawyers for obtaining a work visa, on renting an apartment, that I needed a financial airbag if something went wrong and there would be no clients.
If you are not moving on a work visa, that is, your employer is not waiting for you, then no one will help you with renting an apartment, and renting it in the US is not so easy, even if you have money: no credit history and a surety in the form of a stable employer, lack of understanding of the city, where it is better to live.
My advice: if you are planning to move, carefully prepare yourself financially and psychologically. Look for an apartment through close friends, acquaintances and do not forget that there are many scammers in the market.
Immigration love stage
It has been four years since the move. Scientists talk about the four stages of immigration - and I'm already somewhere at the end, at the stage of love for a new country, culture and people. I was very lucky all these years: I was deceived a little, I never sat without clients and money.
At the same time, at first psychologically it was difficult for me: many things were annoying or disliked. First of all, everything seems to be very expensive, the money goes into the tube. For example, for cellular communication I paid $ 45 per month for 4 gigabytes. For comparison, in May I arrived in Russia and paid 600 rubles (about $ 9,5) for 20 gigabytes of communication. Feel the difference.
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Top 5 Difficulties When Moving to the USA
- Housing problem - the biggest problem. Look for accommodation through Craigslist, Zillow, groups on Facebook.
- Visas After Donald Trump came to power, the immigration policy has undergone changes, and what worked before may not work. Therefore, carefully read the official documents on the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCSIS) website, and not on the forums.
- Health. Be sure to heal everything before the move, check your health so that the “gun” does not shoot at the most inappropriate moment: medical services in the USA are very expensive.
- Adaptation and integration. So that the Americans and Russians, who have long moved to the country, did not avoid you, stop whining, complaining and giving unsolicited advice.
- Business communication. Agree on all meetings strongly in advance, follow the agreement. Remember: if you want to be introduced to someone, you need to make a request in English in the form of a letter, explain the essence of the matter and what you can be useful. In this case, the double-optin rule (double opt-in) applies, which means that the person you are interested in must also agree to be presented. And sometimes it happens that people say no because they do not understand why they are wasting their time on you.
First expenses when moving
The level of costs depends primarily on the conditions on which you move. Have you been offered a job in a large American company or a start-up with a good salary, lifting money (sign up fee) and help with finding an apartment on the spot? Then you can not worry too much and go for a new experience and new acquaintances.
Are you driving "savage"? Then you should think carefully whether you need it, especially if you are a sought-after specialist in your country and the work follows you.
Do you want to go anyway? - prepare your money: you need at least $ 6 thousand for an immigration lawyer, and if you are refused the first time, then the same amount again.
Check the lawyer's testimonials on the Avvo website, and have a license in American bar association.
When you find a rented apartment, you will need to pay for the first month and a deposit in the amount of a monthly payment. That is, if an apartment costs $ 2500, then you must immediately give away $ 5000.
You will also need insurance for each family member. If you are insured against work, you will pay an average of $ 1300 per person per year over and above what the employer pays. But even so, you still have to pay from your own pocket for each trip to the doctor. No insurance - one trip to the therapist will cost somewhere in $ 150.
If you move with children, please note that in the US there is no concept of free kindergartens, they cost from $ 1000 per month per child.
In general, it turns out that a family of three people living in the United States will cost at least 65 thousands of dollars a year. And this is still very, very modest.
Florida, where I live, is a cheap state, especially compared to the same New York. But even though I have my own house here, a month it still takes about $ 600: a tax on real estate, a communal flat (gas, water, garbage) and services at the house: a swimming pool, tennis court, gym, and maintenance of the territory.
Transport and communications
In New York, the ticket costs $ 121, but you will definitely use the services Lyft or Uber, and on this you need to lay another three hundred dollars. In my city, Uber costs $ 10 – 15 to any end, in New York it costs at least $ 25.
I bought myself a car, pour a full tank on average for $ 25. The cost of gasoline in each state is different. In Florida, somewhere $ 2,57 per gallon, and in California - already $ 3,16. Gas prices in any state are convenient to look at the service Gasbuddy.
Communication, as I have already emphasized, is much more expensive than in Russia. Home Internet costs $ 100, and Internet on the phone costs at least $ 45. You can find cheaper, for example, MetroPCS: $ 30 per 2 gigabyte. But what is 2 gigabyte now?
American culture is very close to me. Most of all I like the general positive, support and encouragement, as well as respect for privacy: here no one asks inappropriate personal questions.
And I was surprised by the very good attitude towards me as an immigrant. I personally did not encounter any queues, nor rudeness. Everything is clear, friendly and exactly on time. When I apologized to the local traffic police for the fact that I need to wait an extra five minutes, because the printer prints a lot of driver's licenses, I laughed out loud, because I spent a total of minutes in the 15 unit. And this is without preliminary entries through the online portal. It's simple: came, got and left.
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About the importance of the mailbox
In the US, a mailbox is practically your world, a single window to the tax, bank, migration service, utility companies.
I generally like communicating with US government agencies by mail: you put a request or form in an envelope and in a box, you get the same answer, by mail, you don’t have to go anywhere and wait in a queue. Even original documents, for example, a license to carry a weapon or a green card, also come in your box.
About career in Russia and the USA
I soon realized that I was not a careerist - rather, an “anti-rockerist”. I’m not interested in “jumping” from one company to another, to reach the level of management. I like launching online projects, choosing my client and project myself, getting a good reward for it.
In the USA, I continued to do the same things that I did in Russia, and my clients mostly go on recommendations from Moscow.
And yet in the US you are nobody, an immigrant, and you have to start all over again. In this regard, life in Russia has its advantages: there is already experience, reputation in the market, a huge network of contacts, so all business issues are resolved very quickly. Nevertheless, I do not lose heart and now I do not plan to return to Russia, I am working to win a new market. But I had to adapt to it.
Marketing in Russia and in the USA as a service is sold differently. If there are full-cycle agencies in Russia, then in the USA they prefer niche. So I had to choose which marketing tool to sell in the new market, explore the audience and look for my product / market fit.
From a bureaucratic and tax point of view, everything in the American market is quite simple: no delays, the state gives you free money. Here, reports are less likely to be submitted, there are a lot of useful services, and opening a company is easier than ever: you do not need a personal presence in the tax office or notarization.
But the competition in the US is tough. If in Russia you are competing with the Russians, then in the United States - with all the nations that come here in "packs", as if smeared with honey. You will often be denied, but you just have to ignore it and move on.