- How it all began?
- It is better to prepare for the move in advance.
- Learn new things
- Seek support
- Take care of your loved ones
- Adaptation in a foreign country
- Expat life during a pandemic
- Where does the money go
- The pace of life
- Moving with Parents: FAQs
San Francisco is a mecca for developers, startups, investors. How does it feel to go to San Francisco without a programming background, business idea, or start-up capital? Daria Sesitskaya from Belarus moved to San Francisco more than a year ago with her mother and lives there in the midst of a pandemic. How did the adaptation of both women go, what is the most beautiful and difficult thing in this city, and how does one live in isolation in the United States?
How it all began?
Daria fell in love with San Francisco while living in the city with a young man. The energy of talented, motivated people who come here from all over the world is especially felt by newcomers.
San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world: to move here alone, you need to be brave, know exactly how much money you need to earn, in which direction to develop and prepare well for the trip - improve your English, save up the means to live the first months in a foreign country.
To obtain a work visa in the United States, you need to be a highly qualified professional, and it is better to get an offer from an employer in advance. But Daria was lucky - her mother won the Green Card a year before the planned trip. Now the girl shares her experience of preparing for the move and life in the United States.
It is better to prepare for the move in advance.
The main points of preparation for the move:
- A plan for obtaining documents allowing you to work legally. The ideal solution is to find a job / internship with the possibility of relocation, because getting a work visa is not easy. A student visa, if you are studying at a local university, gives you the right to work no more than 20 hours per week, and studies require large investments even with grant support. Another option is the O-1 visa, a work visa for individuals of "outstanding ability". The number of O-1 visas is not limited.
- Time for preparation of documents - from 8 months to a year.
- Finding a job in the first months makes it easier to adapt and gain financial independence. Start your job search by creating a LinkedIn page, watch webinars to tailor your account to the local job market. A career coach will help you prepare for the interview. For freelancers, the first months of relocation are easier - they can continue to work in the same rhythm and calmly look for work in the States.
Learn new things
Daria switched from marketing to design, completed training at UC Berkeley in UX / UI Design. Education received in the United States will provide the knowledge required by the local labor market.
Find groups on Facebook for Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians in San Francisco, ask for advice, get an opinion of expats about the city's districts, the intricacies of renting, get advice about bank and insurance. Daria registered in these groups in advance in order to consult with local expats about which area of the city is better to move to, which bank card to open, how to get health insurance, how to rent the first house without a credit score.
Ask for help from those who have already lived or are living in the United States - for example, check the living conditions in an apartment that you rent online, and just be inspired by other people's stories.
Take care of your loved ones
Moving alone is difficult, but if you have a relative (adult parent, child) in your care, you will have to help them adapt: help them learn the language, find a job / study. Our heroine moved with her mother, and the difficulties were that the issues with banks, mail, visas, parking had to be solved alone. But my mother, despite her age and poor knowledge of the language, found a job as a social worker easily with the help of a job placement company. Working in a public social service is not easy, but health insurance and other benefits are provided.
Adaptation in a foreign country
At first, you have to study everything from scratch, but after a year you get an understanding of how local life works. A favorite coffee shop appears, a route for running, the skill to move without a navigator along familiar routes.
At this time, newcomers are ready to take risks, try to organize their own business. In San Francisco, the environment is sympathetic to the idea of starting your own business, even a bad experience will be a good addition to a resume.
Expat life during a pandemic
The restrictions associated with the pandemic have not yet been lifted in San Francisco: cafes work only in open areas, cinemas and concert halls are closed, but the most difficult thing is that the labor market has stopped. You have to work from home, and the only reason to leave the house is to buy coffee around the corner. In isolation, it is difficult to make new acquaintances, expand the circle of communication. Even freelancers here work in coworking spaces, where business meetings are held, useful contacts are made, and after the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, personal meetings were moved to Zoom.
For San Francisco, sports training is an important part of life, so moving them from gyms, swimming pools, from the beach home has become a serious lifestyle change.
Where does the money go
- Housing is the biggest expense abroad. Daria rented an apartment in Noe Valley, an area in the hills near Twin Peaks, there are 2 large parks not far from her house. Landlords ask for a bank statement confirming the income, the contract is concluded for 12 months. A popular rental option is an apartment with neighbors (3 girls / guys rent an apartment together, each has its own room).
- Transportation - Public transportation is well developed in the United States. In San Francisco, young people are abandoning private cars, but taxis have become popular during the pandemic, and their prices are rising.
- Medical insurance - permanent medical insurance is paid by freelancers themselves + add. insurance for an ophthalmologist, dentist.
- Sports training requires financial investments, and after the introduction of restrictions on the occupancy of the halls, prices skyrocketed.
- Grocery delivery - saves time, but costs more than shopping on your own.
- Local taxes account for about 40% of a freelancer's income
The pace of life
San Francisco is a highly competitive environment: life is built around a career, people work intensively, are ready to fight for jobs, ideas, funding. But most entrepreneurs tend to spend as much time as possible with their family or doing what they love. The phrase about the fact that you have to work not for 8 hours, but as a head, is realized here every day. No one chatting over coffee, eating lunch for three hours and not sitting in the nets during working hours - everyone works very intensively, getting up at 5 am is the norm. There is something to do in your free time, many sunny days, life on the coast attracts surfers and just relaxing on the coast + the city is famous for its gastronomic scene.
Moving with Parents: FAQs
- Show your parents the city: go to cafes, shops, museums. Adapting in adulthood is more difficult, so help your parents love the new place to live.
- Set small tasks to develop independence if the parent is unsure of their language skills. Enroll them in free language courses at your local library or college.
- Help older family members master technologies: Uber, food delivery, payment for transport, dictionary, city map with main routes. After a while, the parents will settle down and be able to live independently.