RELOCATION: If you are moving to New Jersey advice is easy to find on the internet. There are many articles around. There are also many articles available on international relocation. You should definitely read as many as you can, to get up to speed on what to expect.
This article however, focuses on providing moving to New Jersey advice, specifically for the new expat.
Deciding on where to move to in New Jersey
Tip #1: Visit New Jersey before you relocate:
It may not be possible but if you can, visiting New Jersey will help tremendously in getting a flavour of life here, and help you see what the choices are for choosing a new hometown. There are a huge number of potential townships to choose from, as New Jersey’s population is decentralized a lot from the biggest cities. It’s always better to see a place in real life than choosing from static pictures online. And if you haven’t decided to move to NJ yet, a visit here will definitely help clarify your thinking. No matter what moving to New Jersey advice you get from others, seeing it yourself is the best possible way to be briefed.
Tip #2: Prepare thoroughly for any orientation trip beforehand
You would be amazed at how many location possibilities there are to choose from. To ensure you make the right choice, do your homework first. Try and prioritize your preferences before arriving, so you can focus on a shortlist of places to visit. Choosing a town to live in is a big decision so a shorter list of locations will be more practical. It will allow you more time to check out the best potential places properly.
Tip #3: Get a NJ resident who is familiar with more than one location to show you around
Often a relocation company will have a destination consultant to take you around. Sometimes these consultants are realtors (real estate agent). They can be very helpful in many ways with moving to New Jersey advice but be cautious. They can be understandably biassed towards the areas that they cover. After all, it’s to their potential financial gain, to ‘sell’ you on the location where they rent or sell houses. In some cases, the local American agents may not even know other areas very well. Many people in NJ do not even visit outside their own town and can have outdated ideas about other areas from when they grew up.
If you are limited to a realtor that only knows their own local area, you should use a wider range of agents who are knowledgeable on your other possible selections for towns to move to. In each area you review, try and get an agent who lives in the actual town you’re interested in and is similar to yourself e.g. if you have kids, get a realtor who has children in the local school system. If it’s at all possible, use someone who is not going to benefit financially from you choosing a specific area, and ideally has some experience with a range of locations.
Tip #4: Be careful of what advice you are given by all paid agents
As long-term New Jersey residents, all agents will naturally have biases towards or against specific areas or schools. If they are not expats, they may even find it challenging to understand what your expectations are. Many expats have told me that they ignored the advice they were given by their relocation consultants. This Is because the consultant didn’t ‘get’ what their clients really wanted. They tried pushing the clients to take a town they didn’t want. In the end you should make the final decision, as you know your family’s needs the best. You will be a better judge of what is the right fit for you.
Packing your goods for shipping overseas
This is one of the hardest things – deciding on what to take and what, if anything, you could keep in storage at home. Think about the climate and lifestyle you are going to move to. Store or sell any goods that are not going to be needed rather than just shipping the lot out.
Tip #5: Think about the season you are moving into on arrival
If your stuff is going by ship and will be unavailable for some time e.g. 3-6 months, then you need to plan on having appropriate clothing for the season you are moving into on arrival. Clothes are pretty cheap in New Jersey but finding things at the end of a season that fit your children, and they will wear, isn’t that easy.
We moved to NJ just at winter’s end and finding suitable warm gloves and hats to purchase was difficult. It would have been good to have our own, at least to get by till the end of the season but we had packed them in our container stuff. We didn’t realize exactly how cold ‘spring’ was going to be. Try to get your mind around the new locations’ weather conditions before you pack.
Tip #6: Leave white goods such as fridges, washing machines and dryers at home in Australia
These are generally not of any use in the US, as Australian goods are designed for an 240V electricity system which means incompatibility with the US electricity system of 110v.
Fortunately, in many cases you won’t actually need these because they are already provided.
Houses: Most rental houses in NJ come already stocked with a refrigerator, washing machine, clothes dryer and sometimes a dishwasher as well. Some, but not all, houses for sale will also have these or they may be negotiated as part of the sale.
Apartments: Rental apartments either have a common building laundry or in older places, there may be no laundry facilities at all. In this case, tenants will need to use a laundromat. Newer apartments however, do often include laundry facilities, as well as a dishwasher and refridgerator.
Temporary housing e.g. furnished apartments, nearly always have these whitegoods provided too.
Tip #7: Check possible dual voltage capacity on your Australian electronic products
If your electrical goods have this, then they can be often used in the US. This may include laptops and some TVs although you should check to be sure. In these cases you will just need an adaptor plug to fit US power points. To read more about this subject, see: Can you use Australian electrical goods in the USA? and What Australian electrical goods should you take to the USA?
Tip #8: Try to take a few Australian-US adaptors with you or buy them at the airport
If you are taking electronics that require adaptors, these will be needed when you first arrive and buying Australian-US voltage adaptors locally in NJ is pretty difficult. You can order them over the internet of course but it may be more convenient to just have a few extras with you.
Packing for the departure flight
You will probably have a lot of luggage unless you pack the vast majority away in your shipped goods, which arrive at a much later date.
Tip #9: Check what things are prohibited on flight as well as the luggage limits of the airline you will be flying with
We were lucky to be booked in as Platinum flyers with QANTAS, which allowed us to take additional baggage. Even though we met their guidelines, the airline clerk who checked us in was unsure and debated the whole issue, causing a long and unhappy queue of other passengers who were delayed booking into first class.
Tip #10: If you are taking a mountain of luggage, get some friends or family to come to the airport to help
Managing several trolleys with young children in tow is very difficult for just one or two adults. Remember though, you will probably have to manage this luggage at two places along the trip beyond your point of departure. There may be less help available at these places.
First, there is your USA port-of-entry where all luggage is offloaded and you go through customs and immigration. For example, QANTAS flies directly to LA where all travelers disembark. If you are moving onto another city, your luggage has to be re-loaded for your next flight. This may involve pushing trolleys up walkways and if you have several trolleys, it can be difficult to manage. There are sometimes large trolleys you can load much baggage onto, available at LA but these are fewer and harder to obtain. Ask a porter or airport staff if they can help locate one.
Then there is the end stop where you finally disembark. We found that at New York airport for instance, there were very few trolleys for luggage. There are however, a limited number of porters with larger trolleys that can assist with large baggage amounts.
Arriving at your new residence
Once you arrive in Newark Airport or JFK Airport in New York (QANTAS flights arrive here), you will just exit the airport like any other domestic flight since you have already cleared customs and immigration. Collect your luggage and off you will go to your new residence.
Now you are finally here and ready to get started on the settling in process.
What other moving to New Jersey advice can you provide new expats just arriving?