RELOCATION: When you’re relocating, there always seems to be an endless list of things to do. This applies to before you move, when you are moving and of course, just after. It may be tempting after moving to New Jersey and actually settled into your new home, to think ‘Woohoo!! It’s finally over!’
Well, not to rain on your parade but you are not quite there just yet.
Aside from the important steps of getting your Social Security Number, Driver License and other key things in place, there are a number of other little details and tasks that you should not miss out on doing. Some of these depend directly on where you have chosen to live, and what services, systems and guidelines your local NJ municipality has put in place.
What Expats Need to Do When Moving Into a New Town in NJ
1. Notify the USCIS of your new address within 10 days
Most non-U.S. citizens must report a change of address within 10 days of moving within the USA or its territories. The notification needs to be given to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services.) Unless you are a diplomat, international government official or a temporary visitor without a visa, this applies to all non-American expats.
You can find the form at this website: http://www.uscis.gov/addresschange
2. Set up any necessary Utility accounts with Municipal Services
Many municipalities manage their own sewerage, trash, water and sometimes even electricity service for residents. Before you move, check with the house owner or realtor, how utilities are handled. Every town does their own thing, so you need to understand what the details are before you can action anything. It may be that you need to switch accounts, start up your own account or sometimes the previous account holder has to action a switchover to the new name.
3. Find Out the Trash Pick Up, Recycling and other Waste Disposal Requirements
Recycling and trash pick-up are almost universally provided in NJ. What is different is who provides the service. Lots of municipalities provide their own service, and will have particular days that the trash is picked up as well as recycling. Check the guidelines on what is recyclable and how it is to be organized. You may need to ring the service provider for new trash/recycling containers. Most times there is a calendar provided to households with this information or look on the municipal website for details.
4. Have Your Mail Forwarded
A no-brainer but an important thing to organize via United States Postal Service (USPS) if moving from somewhere else in the USA. You can do this via a form or online at:
If moving internationally, there are particular mail forwarding service companies that can do this or you may need to line up a friend or family in your home country to help.
5. Register Your Children at the local BOE
This applies to families with children attending the local school district. In nearly all cases, your children can only attend a public school that has a catchment area including your address. You can choose what municipality you want to live in, however the address you choose, will determine your child’s school.
To find out what that school will be you will need to talk with the local Board of Education (BOE). Sometimes the information is available on their website but often you will have to ask. You will also need to register your children for school. This has been detailed in a previous blog post ‘Eight FAQs on How to Register Your Child in a New Jersey Public School’.
For private schools, you will also need to register your children, however your address does not matter. There are often long waiting periods to get into many private schools in NJ, so it is advisable you make enquiries about this well before you plan your move.
6. Register Your Cat or Dog
It is usually compulsory to register your cat and/or dog at your local municipality. Each town will have their own requirements. Most have a particular date annually when registration must be done. This is usually a recurring charge at the same anniversary every year. Details are available on most municipal websites. If the information is not found easily, check with your municipal administration, so you are not breaching any local regulations.
7. Register Your House Alarm
Many municipal police departments require any home alarm systems be registered with them. Check on your local municipal website.
8. Check out Township and/or School Alarm Notification System
One of the benefits of this electronic age is the ability to get instant communication. Municipalities and schools have adopted this idea in varying amounts. Many towns have an alert notification system that you can register for. This can be a very useful, and is highly recommended so you can stay up-to-date in storms or hazardous weather.
Schools sometimes have their own system, which is also very useful and highly recommended. If something potentially alarming is occurring, you are aware of this instantly, and have details.
9. Apply for Parking Permit and Understand local regulations
To park your car at the municipal car park downtown for catching the train or bus to work, you will likely need a parking permit. In some towns there are limited permits allocated and you may need to get on a waiting list. In any case, you may need to register your car and perhaps a second car to obtain a permit from the municipal administration office. This may be a sticker or hanging receipt for your car rear-vision mirror. Parking may just involve meter payment at the parking lot.
You will also need to find out where you should park as there is usually an allocated parking lot(s) for public transport commuters. Shoppers will probably have different requirements for parking downtown. Again, this detail is usually available on the municipal website.
Parking regulations are strictly enforced in nearly every location, so read the parking signs. Overnight parking on streets for instance is often prohibited, even for residents, although this does not apply to all towns. Watch out for painted curbs (yellow, red or white). This usually means no parking.
10. Check Other Permit Requirements
It may surprise you to find that permits are required for lots of things in NJ towns even beyond parking. To have a party in the local park, to use the local sports venues e.g. swimming pool or tennis courts or golf club, requires a permit or registration. If your activity involves public grounds or impacts the other residents, you may need a permit, so check beforehand.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of some of the things that are done in NJ that you might not ever know about or worse, find out the wrong way. I would never have realized for instance that I needed to have a permit to throw my child a birthday party at the local park. I found out afterwards that we were supposed to have applied, and that only one person can get such a permit for the park. No wonder that other family having a birthday party were looking at me with knife-eyes….
Many of these things only need to be done once, so afterwards you can rest at ease. There will be a time soon, when all this annoying ‘to-do’ stuff is over, and you can settle into your life properly.