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Your Top 10 Questions About Living in the U.S., Answered

Moving to a new county brings a lot of nerves — and a lot of questions. These are answers to some of the most common questions we receive from new residents to the U.S.

Can you buy a house in the U.S.? Qualify for a home loan?

Non-citizens are free to buy and sell real estate in the U.S. Lawful permanent residents have the same mortgage options as citizens. Talk to Realtor Lauren G. Tizabi for help understanding your mortgage options.

Can non-citizens attend U.S. public schools?

Yes! Kids can attend free public school regardless of immigration status or enroll in private school.

How do you set up a U.S. bank account?

An International Taxpayer Identification Number is required to open a U.S. bank account. However, you may need to visit a branch in-person to open an account with an ITIN.

What’s the cheapest way to send money home?

Bank transfers are the cheapest way to send money internationally. Online services transfer remittances directly from your bank account to a family member’s account in Nigeria and dozens of other countries. Services like Remitly also allow you to send money within a few minutes, although you’ll need to pay a fee for this.

How do income taxes work?

Resident aliens must report all income to the IRS, even if it was earned overseas. You may need to file additional tax forms the year you arrive in the U.S.

What are copays, deductibles, HMOs, etc.?

Read this guide for help navigating the U.S. health insurance system including key terms to understand.

Do you need a car?

Los Angeles ranks 36 among large cities where you can live car-free. Between public transit, rideshares, and biking, it’s possible (but not always easy) to live without a car in LA.

How do you get an American driver's license?

If buying a car or planning to drive in the U.S., you’ll need to pass a test and apply for a driver’s license at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

Can I bring my international cell phone?

Most international cell phones are compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T as long as you have an American SIM card. However, you’ll have more options and better service if you buy a new phone in the U.S.

When am I supposed to tip?

Tipping is a big deal in the U.S. 20% is the standard tip for bartenders and restaurant servers. Coffee shops, salons, spas, and taxis are more places where tipping is expected.

Have more questions about living in Los Angeles? Contact Realtor Lauren G. Tizabi for more information on moving to LA from abroad. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lauren has exclusive insights into buying, selling, and living in LA.


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