Narrating everything from the decision to move to the US, getting the visa, planning the move, and the early days of living in the Bay Area
I often get asked if I like living in the US yet. I'm still buffering.
My partner and I decided to move to the US as a shot at the next big adventure in life. We've chosen to be child-free and after 7+ years of being married, we were looking for a new life experience (while still staying together, lol).
My partner worked with a company headquartered in the US and after a 3 month-long interview process, he got the much-awaited offer letter. This was in December 2021. We tamped down our excitement when we realized getting a visa appointment was not straightforward.
Thanks to a colleague's recommendation, we joined multiple groups on Telegram where similar-minded folks discussed slots for appointments, the ones who succeeded at getting one advised others. The slot we did manage to get was for November 2022 (for the visa appointment). Granted. My partner is a gem of an employee to have, but we knew no company would wait that long. I mean, companies would settle for The Hope Diamond when the Kohinoor wasn't available right? :-)
Getting the Visa!
We were told that new slots for the US visa would be made available soon, but no one knew when. I must say the Telegram groups were mighty helpful at this time. The last bunch of slots was made available in the first week of December 2021 and Telegram groups were abuzz come the first week of January 2022.
I still remember the look of astonishment and joy, in equal parts, on my partner's face and I knew we had just won the lottery. We knew exactly what we would be doing on Valentine's Day 2022 - get in line for the US visa interview! The process itself (of biometrics and the visa interview) was quick and simple. On day 1, we went to the VFS center for the biometrics appointment. We were done quickly. On day 2, we walked to the US consulate for the visa interview. In both places, the queue was well managed, and masks and social distancing were mandatory. The interviewer (at least the one we had) put us at ease. We walked out smiling in just about 45 mins
Barely a week later, our passports were mailed to us with the prized US visa stamped on them!
The planning involved in uprooting life
What began next was the pinnacle of my partner going into overdrive mode to plan every last detail. The overdrive was required. I realize I can finally admit to it.
(Does anyone get how hard it is to admit publically that your spouse is, right?)
We had moved in with my parents for various reasons and so we had given up our flat in Bangalore. We had put things in storage, moved a few things to my parent's place, and sold/gave away the rest. Sorting through a lifetime of possessions is no easy feat, especially when you can't keep everything. Suddenly you realize everything sparks joy. Marie Kondo - you got nothing for me!
Well, it had to be done, so it was done. (Have wiser words been spoken?)
We decided to take only our clothes and essentials to the US and so the next thing on our list was to get our possessions out of storage and SELL them all. This, because we concluded (after some Math) that it was prudent to buy everything we needed in the US than move everything from India. Now the idea was not to get the best deal on everything but to get rid of everything. We planned to move in 5 weeks and so speed was crucial. So hello OLX and our friend network (which was and is awesome). One of our closest friends even agreed to let us use their house to unpack everything so that we could list things to sell!
The relief of selling everything was phenomenal. My shoulders had never felt lighter. Maybe in my next life, I'll give minimalism a go. :D
Getting your financials in order
Actually going to the bank and dealing with the staff can be an atrocious experience.
Not naming any banks here but multiple visits to the bank were required to have everything in order and get the required NRE and NRO accounts. Not everyone does this. Some people leave their Indian bank accounts as is (so I hear). But we didn't want to do that. Shifting investments from one bank to another took a whole lot of time. I wouldn't want to do that ever again.
We also kept some dollars on us - you know, for security.
And some Indian currency - you know, for memory.
The final weeks in India
We spent a whole lot of time with our parents. I was lucky enough (arguably - IYKYK) to spend almost 6 months living with my parents before the move to the US. We also met our friends and extended families. A few tears were shed. A lot of laughter was induced. A magnificent amount of fun was had.
The last jolt we got was this: Our flight to SFO was from Delhi. Our luggage (100 kgs of it) was to arrive through Agarwal Packers and Movers but it did not reach Delhi until we left to the US (gasp! the horror). We, of course, had a part of our belongings with us which we took with us on the flight to the US. We had to arrange for our luggage (100 kgs of it!) to be shipped internationally. Yes, it cost a lot of money. But it would cost more to buy it all again.
Flying to and Landing in the USA
We flew business on Qatar Airways - only because the company footed the bills, of course. So luxurious, so much like royalty. The food was unparalleled. And the seats, so comfortable. Honestly, we didn't want to leave!
But we had to. Sigh.
We arrived (tada) in the US at SFO in mid-March 2022. It was sunny when we landed and we took a cab (converting dollars to INR furiously and feeling flabbergasted at paying $100 for the cab ride. Easily the most expensive cab ride I'd had so far).
The temporary accommodation the company had generously provided for 2 months was in the heart of the downtown area in Sunnyvale, CA. I remember the 2 of us exploring every room in the apartment and finding it all unreal. It might partially have been jetlag. The other part was just us loonies expending our last bit of energy before falling asleep.
The first few days, I was perpetually fascinated to see the wallpaper-like clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds floating like in a dream. The gigantic supermarket we went to was a revelation. Way too many brands and all of them unknown to us. Imagine being bamboozled while still jetlagged.
5 months on, I'm still figuring out a whole of things. And I have a lot on my mind. So there will be more posts about life in the United States of America.