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Coming to America

By JustinF ·
My family and I are considering spending a year or more living and working in the US. It is more for the experience than trying to profit from it and we plan on using somewhere as a base and travelling to see the country when we can, (long flights don't phase us, we live in Perth & so are 5 hours from anywhere, Singapore is closer than some Australian cities).

I was looking for some suggestions as to where to base ourselves, what sort of casual/contract work is available for a Systems Administrator/Network Engineer type. What visas & work permits would we need?

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This may not be the best time to come to the U.S.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Coming to America

In case you hadn't noticed, we're in the middle of the worst economic downturn in several decades. I also don't know too many employers who go through the trouble of hiring a SysAd who plans to leave after a year.

Having said that, if you have any IT experience in a medical or health care environment, you may be able to find something.

Where to base yourselves? I'd suggest coming up with a list of those things you want to see, then base yourself as close as possible to the majority of them. Like yours, this is a big country.

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Stay out of the big cities

by jdclyde In reply to This may not be the best ...

as the cost of living will be much higher. Best to get about 30 miles outside of town.

Also, avoid resort areas as your home base as well.

As for jobs, as Palmi said, not a good time for it.

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The good jobs are usually in cities or the nearby burbs

by DelbertPGH In reply to Stay out of the big citie ...

If you try to work in a small town, you'll find you earn a lot less and the job situations are more limited.

American cities are ringed by suburbs, where most well-employed Americans seem to want to live. Cities are widely regarded as a convenient place to go to work, and to concentrate the poorer, darker-skinned elements of the population. Cities are where the best jobs are usually found, but in many urban areas great jobs are turning up in the suburbs. This is the case in Atlanta, North Carolina, California, and New Jersey.

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Nail down a job before you come

by DelbertPGH In reply to Coming to America

This land of opportunity is having some economic troubles, as is Australia, probably. Let me know if you're not. I could find myself immigrating in your direction, some day soon.

You'd need an HB-1 visa. Or maybe it's H1B. You'd better call our consulate; they'll readily tell you what you need.

The Washington, D.C. area is likely to stay prosperous longer in times of economic downturn, and there are lots of fascinating places to visit within a day's drive. D.C. (stands for "District of Columbia") is a great town, with maybe the last good free museums in America, and great night life, but rents are stratospheric and the schools stink.

Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, and Florida are getting hit hard by the recession. Other states or localities within states will be having a hard time soon. There will be employment opportunities everywhere, but you'd better pin something down before you make a semi-permanent settlement. Consider your wife's job, too, if she plans to work; some areas don't match certain employment specialties.

Americans generally like Australian accents and will be interested in you.

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Weather, terrain and sight seeing

by Geek3001 In reply to Coming to America

Would weather, terrain and sight seeing be parameters on your list of experiences you are seeking?

If they are, take a look at a map of national and state parks and see about locating where you can reach several of them without a lot of travel. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix would be good locations for this in the western part of the US.

If you have more urban interests, choose any of the metroplexes scattered around.

Another option would be to move to Canada and visit the US frequently. That might be easier when it comes to permits and such. I know that Canadian shoppers have been visiting my area more frequently because of the improved, for them, exchange rate.

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My 2 cents

by maxwell edison In reply to Coming to America

I'll assume that your finances and work skills are something you've already considered, and that even with minimal work while you're here, you can finance a year in the USA with little (or no) income.

If you want to explore the entire USA, then logistically speaking, a central and Midwest location might make sense.

Kansas City comes to mind. There are some charming neighborhoods in which you could lease a house for a very reasonable price; the airport, although not brand new, is laid out quite well for quick in-and-out travel (it has three separate terminals, which actually reduces traveler congestion); it gives you all four seasons of the year; and in your case, it has a football team that really sucks, and you could have some fun telling them how to play REAL football (Rugby?).

Or perhaps Denver, Colorado (my neck of the woods). Housing prices would be higher than Kansas City, but wages would also be higher, there would be more opportunities for your skills, and the airport would probably offer more direct flights to more places. And in my (biased) opinion, the Western United States has some great places to visit - a lot of national parks, mountains, etc. (And the words to the song, America the Beautiful was written from the top of the 14,000+ foot Pike's Peak, 70 miles south of Denver.)

Perhaps I selected those two locations because I'm intimately familiar with both, but they actually do make sense to me.

Chicago might be a pretty central location, but it's a pretty big city and probably more expensive. Maybe the Dallas Fort Worth area. Or maybe Austin. From what I hear, Austin, Texas is a very tech-friendly city.

A location on the east coast, however, would afford you closer proximity to the major population centers. Since I've spent so little time, myself, on the east coast, I can't comment on what might be the best location to serve as a base. But the REAL USA is more than just the major population centers. (The same might apply to the west coast.)

There's so much to see and do, that it would be hard in a year's time. Perhaps list the kinds of things you want to see and do, and make a selection based on that.

Visas and work permits - I have no idea. But a search of our State Department's Web site might give you some answers.

If I have more thoughts, I'll post later.

By the way, if you choose either Denver or Kansas City, shoot me an e-mail and we can discuss them further.

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Canada would be my choice

by JustinF In reply to Coming to America

If I were given the ultimate choice I would go to Canada but my wife knows I would spend the whole year hurtling down the side of Whistler mountain on a pushbike or snowboard according to the season.

I am Irish & will be travelling on an Australian passport, will that confuse immigration & get me sent to some sort of detention centre?

I wouldn't limit myself to just IT work, anything at all would suit, most of our expenses will be covered already and we will work for fun money. I've worked for an American company before and left on good terms so there may be an opportunity for work there, but oil industry based towns aren't where I'd prefer to live.

What about primary schools? Is it better to send my girls to a private school or are the state schools ok, (depending on area of course, much like anywhere)?

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Oil towns, schools

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Canada would be my choice

Oil towns (primarily Houston and New Orleans) are clustered around the Gulf of Mexico. Houston isn't bad; I personally wouldn't live in NO, but that's a matter of preference. I don't like living in tourist towns or party town (I lived in Las Vegas for years and spend a couple of summers in Myrtle Beach). The local economy is too dependent on attracting others, and many of the jobs are minimum wage service positions. Right or wrong, my perception is that NO hasn't recovered from Hurricane Katrina enough yet to for me to recommend someone else move there. Maybe some NO residents will correct me.

Quality of schools varies not just by state, but by county within a state, and often by school district within a county. If you can narrow down your options, then start another discussion, include the kids' ages, and we'll try to give more accurate guidance.

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