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  1. Hi, thanks for linking my post! FYI, I live in Adelaide, not Sydney.

  2. […] NJ Relocation Resources […]

  3. […] in our first year, as well as the mini disasters written about in my earlier post (Three Relocation Lessons Learnt Early On), these two hiccups were the relocation prize-winners for […]

  4. Great post! For me it was the worst part of journey so could have done with reading something like this beforehand. I remember completing immigration here in Australia and taking a deep sigh of relief!! Pleased to say there were no dramas and I was carrying seashells in my handluggage!!!
    mummi g

  5. Sounds like you had a fab time and at least you had some snow even if it was slightly late in arriving! Glad to hear that you had crackers, we certainly went through the hat, rubbish joke and naff toy motions over here in Oz during Christmas lunch! All the best for 2013 mummi g and mummi h xxx

  6. Hello there.

    Hope re wll. i enjoed your post about xmas overseas. I libved in Oz for 6 years and always found it different to celebrate the Aussie way. But now, australian culture and chrissie is part of me and this years Slovak Christmas were with Pavlova as well.

    Happy new year. sonishka.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for your good wishes Sonia! Glad to see a bit of Australian culture spreading far and wide. Very impressive that you made a Pavlova! This is one of the rare times mine has worked OK! You may have to give me lessons:)

  7. Hello – I’m from NJ and currently an expat. Send me an email and we can chat !

  8. Hello PRM! Lovely to meet you:) I’ll email you seperately.

  9. we are missing the snow! 🙁 but we’ll get over it 🙂
    Lovely pictures especailly ‘More than usual snow fall in a December’
    it looks beautiful!

  10. Loving all this having just returned from our six week visit. Have you noticed that ALL the bread has high fructose corn syrup added to it?
    The meat tasted delicious every where we went. Diners were the best!

    Keep them coming please.

    • Lovely you could drop in Claudia! I haven’t checked the levels of corn syrup but suspected it by the taste. the bread has been one of our bugbears since we’ve been here-it’s just so different to back home. However, we’ve now adjusted to eating Italian bread which is just that much nicer… Will be doing an article on diners very shortly actually! you read my mind!

  11. My tip, particularly as I’m getting older, is to shovel little and often during the storm. We were out 3 times yesterday. Tempting though it may be to say “we’ll just leave it and do it when it’s stopped snowing” that means the snow is much deeper and heavier and you’re more likely to injure your back.

    • Thanks for your comment Judy. You know I have seen others doing just what you described and thought they were probably a bit mad for shovelling snow while it was still snowing.But what you say now actually makes a lot of sense. Particularly after yesterday’s effort with both the snow and ice from street snow ploughs that used out driveway as a dumping spot. I did find the shovelling very heavy.I just have to convince my husband now! Great tip!

  12. Hi,
    We are a Sydney family about to do what you have done ie. move to USA. We also researched and found Montclair seemed a good choice. Btw what school did your kids go? I will have a kindergartener. Do you recommend the apartment you stayed? How hard is it to rent there? Looks a bit of a shortage. We’d be keen to buy but realise about credit history… are you guys at that stage?
    Believe me you aren’t missing much in Sydney. Ok the summer was warmer but the cost of living is thru the roof,and top 3 most expensive cities to live in.

    • Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for the comment. So glad you found my blog!
      First off Montclair is a great town. Certainly not sorry we went here. However, rentals are a bit scarce in both houses and apartments, and Montclair is expensive to rent in! If you are looking now, there are probably the least number normally available as it is the off season, due to winter. Come spring and summer, and there will be more but still they go fast.

      Our first apartment was organized as temporary accomodation by my husband’s company, so we didn’t do any looking around for this-they just said ‘here it is’. It’s very nice actually, has pool in middle, gym, internet cafe downstairs and pretty nice people. You may find it expensive though compared w other apartments. I will talk to you offline about schools here but nearly all of them are very good. Can’t go too wrong no matter which you pick. Depends on what your child is like as to picking between them.

      I’ll email you seperately about the rest. A bit too much to fit in the comment box probably.

    • Feel free to contact me for help acclimating.
      I’ve been a world traveler and am native to nj. North central and south.
      Donna at donnascoffeehouse@ gmail.com

  13. You live in a beautiful neighbourhood – the snow on the trees is just gorgeous. When we lived in the Middle East the one thing I truly missed were large deciduous trees. For me, big old trees=home 🙂

    • Thanks Judy:) Montclair is truly a beautiful town. Picking a good place was one thing we got right. The snow does make the scene look more beautiful than it does normally but the trees are gorgeous here. Better than at home really!

  14. Hi,
    We relocated to Northern NJ 12 months ago, and have been in Montclair since June 2012, love the town.
    If I could add my 10 cents worth regarding the food in the forum.
    The meat is good quality (especially if it is certified, beef that is at least), pork is plentiful and cheap, I have recently discovered pulled pork, at about $1.50 per pound, a shoulder of pork goes a long way, check is fine, lamb is cheap at Costco (Australian boned legs, about $6.00 per pound, cheaper than Aust).
    I hear you on the sausages, everything is sweet italian, or hot italian (not that hot), but both laden with fennel seeds, nice but after a while get a bit boring.
    I have not bought a loaf of bread in 6 months, as I make my own, but had a disaster with hot cross buns, so might be buying those!
    I’ll check the other posts and add some comments. I just came across this site, and it is a breath of fresh air.
    Well done to you.

    • We’ve been here 3 years now, and still haven’t found out all there is to know. I’m constantly drilling for more info from local and expat friends here. We love the town too! Absolutely great place in so many ways. Unfortunately our kids don’t like pork too much and since the older one is a vegetarian it just makes it that much tougher.Thanks for the Costco tip. I think that’s a place we should have been going to but haven’t, much to my shame. Heard good things from so many people. We like lamb so I think Costco’s going to be on next week’s shopping agenda. I am yet to rty out Trader Joes which my lovely American friend (thanks D if you are reading this BTW) has also told me about. I am planning on hitting Clifton for these as I know both are there. Really enjoyed all your comments and hoep you’ll come back for a chat again! Cheers:)

  15. We participated in the maple sugaring a few times.
    Once at Basking Ridge (Lord Sterling Road, nature reserve), once at Chatham (mentioned above), and also at Van Vleck House Montclair. We became “friends of Van Vleck” members, and they offer lots of activities. We have a 3 year old and every fortnight they have a nature centered activity for 3-5 y.o. age group, so I can thoroughly recommend Van Vleck. Come summer there are concerts etc in the gardens, which, come spring and summer should be beautiful, it is all on a few acres (maybe 10 acres) in the middle of Montclair.
    But back to the maple sugaring, you really appreciate why it is as expensive as it is when you see what goes into making it.

    • Thanks for the heads up on Van Vleck and Basking Ridge. We haven’t checked out van Vleck house even though I’ve passed it a few times. Our kids are older at 9 and 14 yrs but still worthwhile going there to see what’s on. Our kids already spend too much time indoors, so a good reason to get them outside in the sun and fresh air. Always looking for options to do this. I am using my blog as an excuse with them now on why they have to go somewhere. Often they end up having a good time so well worth while. And you only get these chances once while we live here. Pretty sad if you just spend your time at home-might as well be at home in Sydney! Our daughter had a hoot of a time at the maple sugaring so I’m glad I dragged them out for this:))

  16. Our daughter is in a pre-school, and we received a note with all of the childrens’ names, saying that if you are giving a Valentine, you need to do to all, not selectively. My duaghter ended up with 16 valentines (from a class of 23), a lolly pop usually with a card/note attached. I am sure the party shops trot out these gifts each year (a bit like the Halloween shops that are around for 6 weeks of every year).
    I was surprised at how big halloween was (even though it was punctuated by Sandy, and I believe 2011 was cancelled due to a large dump of snow), maybe 2013 will go off without a hitch. I must say the anticipation for a 3 y.o. to dress up and go “trick or treating” was fun to see.

    • Our elementary schools have done the note thing too and I like that idea as the kids do feel hurt if someone leaves them out. One girl in our class was hurt because she had no writing on her received card when others did, so it’s a sensitive thing. But amazingly every kid in the class had something to hand out, even hand made notes, if not the bought ones. On our first valentine’s day here, I spent all night making individually made and decorated cards for each kid, only to find out that most were shop bought cards with a lollipop stuck on, so that was the last time I did that! The shops are full of little commercial cards (about baseball card size) that are tailor made for this, which makes it easy if you don’t have the time. Most people here are pretty time poor, even the stay-at-home mums (explains the impatient driving I guess), so no doubt that’s why these commercial offerings are so popular.
      And yes Halloween is major big time here. All so different than home though… but really interesting to experience how others live:)

  17. Some insightful comments here, somne that I actually forgot about over the last 12 months.
    I have not gone for the passenger side of the car in 6 months, so I must be getting used to it, but seriously, I think I am more confortable now on this side of the road that the left side, well see when we return to Aus in a few months time.
    One ommission above is the “4 Way” stop sign, one of the most stupid traffic regulators I have ever seen. I have asked many people on the rules in such a traffic system and have not had a consistant answer (one of them was a policeman!), even the NJ drivers book skirts around the issue. I believe cars go in the order they arrive, except if you are turning across someone,not sure what happens when 2 cars arrive at the sae timne, but in the end it is normally the largest SUV that goes first, (oh, and of course the driver has a coffee in one hand and a mobile phone in the other!).
    The right turn on a red light is fantastic though.

    • Hi Chris! Thanks for your comments – very much appreciated:) Our last trip to Australia had a couple of near misses when we drove on the right side by mistake. My husband and I were both mouthing some unworthy words at the person coming straight at us when we realized much to our shame, it was us on the wrong side. Then we cringingly swerved back to the LHS while apologizing profusely. Lol:) I completely agree about the 4-way stop sign. Can’t ever work out what the rule is but just try and do ‘the first there has precedence’ way. Seems everyone has different viewpoints from driver’s reactions. My biggest bugbear to this day though is the way drivers still pass you as you cross the road on pedestrian crossings, even when you have kids with you! It really makes me see red!!Nearly as frustraing is when you stop for someone who is crossing and the SUV, coffee drinking person behind you toots you in annoyance. Feel a little less neighbourly on these occasions:(( Love the right turn on red lights too:)

  18. I too am a Expat living in New jersey. Further south than where you are. I enjoyed reading about your food comments, I found your blog looking for spearmint syrup. How hard is that to find in the US. Very!
    You are fortunate to at least be close to New York City, where there are so many Australian restaurants. Some great and some not so great. But they are using USA regulated food so it all tastes different, just as the choccies here taste different.
    Have you tried Tucks for the take out meat pies and sausage rolls? I really like Eight Mile Creek restaurant as well. Their meat pie was a bit gourmet but delicious. I am going to have to try Pie face, I haven’t heard of it before.
    My husband and I spent a weekend sampling as many Aussie restaurants as possible. And to be Quite honest I didn’t expect so many. Philadelphia has an Expat community but there are no Aussie restaurants to be had in Philly. But they do have their own Footy team and gather weekly.

    Well, off to do more research on Spearmint Syrup.

    Thanks again for sharing.



    • Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting:) Know what you mean about getting the hard-to-find food ingredients. I managed to find a website with US ingredients (swapped other thingsthat weren’t available here) for making a few Aussie faves like chocolate crackles etc and that helped. We buy our vegemite from a British pie shop at exorbitant prices. Every time we bring one back in our luggage it seems to get kept by the customs guys! We haven’t tried too much of the Australian offerings in NY, just the TuckShop kiosk in Chelsea. I was pretty unimpressed with their meat pie to be honest. Had better at a soccer match kiosk. However, I hear Pieface’s stuff is superb from Americans and Australians. We don’t go in to NYC too often as kids don’t like it too much: they find it smelly, smoky and noisy. We do too but don’t notice it at all b/c there’s so many things to enjoy. Next time we go in we will have to try one these. Any suggestions besides 8mile creek? Have you tried Sunburnt Cow/Calf or Rubys?
      We haven’t met almost any Aussies here at all. V. hard to find it seems but have made friends w Americans or other expats. Thanks for the nice comments:) Very much appreciated;)

  19. Hi there again,

    South Jersey is less expensive to live in and there some areas with very good school systems if anyone is interested I would love to help out. We lived in Center City Philadelphia while our children were younger, recently moved to New Jersey because their school systems are much more superior. Unless you live in certain suburbs of Pennsylvania. They too have Blue Ribbon schools. We chose a beach town because all three boys in the household like to surf. No brainer.
    Anyway, I have a lot of resources if anyone might be moving to southern New Jersey, My husband is also a Co founder of a successful Charter school in Philadelphia. So we have a lot of knowledge after doing all the research for the school.

    Sorry for the interjection. Just want to help.

    Off again to look for syrup and cordial. Your blog keeps popping up and distracting me. Ha, ha…

    • Thanks for the info! I might pick your brain if that’s OK sometime down the track, as I am trying to write about as many things as possible to help any Aussies or Brits who are coming here to work out what’s what. We found it very hard initially which inspired me to start this. Just wondering if you are a fulltime mum like me or if you managed to get work here? If that’s too personal a question (forgive me), feel free to ignore it! Thanks again for dropping by and hope you come back for another chat:)

      • Hi there,
        Sorry for taking so long in getting back to you. Summer’s in a beach resort can get quite crazy.

        Absolutely you can contact me any time to pick my brain. I would be happy to help out.

        I have lived here in America for some time now. Before kids I worked full time in various hospitals in Philadelphia, then after my second, I stayed home for about 2 years then went back to work part time.. By trade I am a Retinal photographer in teaching hospitals… Small towns don’t have teaching hospitals so I took a different route since moving out of the city.. Forever evolving. Now I work part time cooking in a cafe here at the beach and I have a small business with my jewellery in Cape May, Nj. just a bit down the Parkway from Ocean City..

        Feel free to reach out. Just inbox me. I promise I will reply sooner…

        Have a great day.


      • I could have sworn that I returned your comment but it doesn’t seem to be here now.

        I just wanted to say that you can pick my brain anytime. Just send an email.

        Have a great day



  20. Wow, that’s a really comprehensive list! When we lived in the Middle East I often found myself interpreting between British and American friends and food was the most common source of confusion. I guess Australian English and British English have the same issues?

    • Thanks Judy! I think there are still some I haven’t captured but I think it’s a good basic list for a new person to use when they arrive here. There are just as many different Australian words for things compared to US vocab, as there are for British folk. Fortunately, as one of Britain’s prior colonies (ahem!), we have many words in common with them, so we have very little trouble understanding Brits. But even so, there are quite a few Australian colloquial words and eccentric phrases we use that many expats coming to Oz would struggle with, as well as our accent.

      You would have been perfect as the translator as you have been exposed to both English and US influences no doubt. Or perhaps the USA was influenced by Canada…

  21. This is a wonderful description from one newcomer to another. We moved here from Atlanta last year (which may as well be a different country in comparison to the Northeast US) and love MC thus far. Thanks for this post – I will share it when faraway friends ask about my “new hometown.” -Azie

    • Thanks so much Azie! I guess I am a bit biassed when it comes to Montclair but it really does have a lot going for it. When we chose it, we didn’t know of all the other town options we could have picked but even now, we still think it was the best choice:) Both of us feel we were lucky big time! How did you, as a newcomer decide on Montclair to live in? Always interested to find out how others research a place when so many available.

  22. Great article, thanks! I’m just the opposite of you – a New Yorker who moved to Australia. The lingo and culture are the biggest daily challenges. Nothing like being in a discussion where everyone laughs and you have no idea what was meant by a slang phrase…or realising that Friday is a public holiday and everyone but you knew that…but wht’s gorgeous is how everyone laughs with you and tries to help you along. Love that about Australia. Forums are great as well. Love Expat Women and its lovely founder, Andrea, who lives right here by me!

    • Thanks Laura. It is amazing how even though we western countries (UK, USA, Australia) all speak English but it’s still hard to understand the meaning of things. It’s good to know that my compatriots are helpful. They do like a good laugh but prefer that everyone understand usually, so they can laugh along with you! I have exactly the same problem with public holidays. I think hubby is getting Good Friday off, because we are used to it being a public holiday, and start making plans, then for him to remind me ‘No’, not a holiday after all. I intend to write an article about Aussie slang in the near future. Perhaps to remind myself what our phrases are, and for a laugh:)

  23. Lots of good advice there!
    I am a UK expat living in the daunting and strange world of the USA.
    One tip I always say to other expat spouses is not to try and be superwoman (or man). Go easy on yourself – give yourself time and the space you need to settle into a new country.
    Also, it takes about 6 months to a year to start to feel fully settled.
    Great Blog!

    • Hi Emma! Thanks very much for your kind words and for dropping in to comment. Your advice is very sound and helpful. Wish someone had told me that when I first got here. For people in the dark who aren’t reading expat blogs or talking to other expats, you have no idea what to expect, and if it’s tough, it can be very depressing. It actually has taken me much longer to feel settled but that’s more to do with finding an alternative to my previous employment.Cheers!

  24. Hi there! Just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your blog and reading ‘back’ to things in OZ. We were expats for over 10 years of which 4 in Sydney. Wish we could have stayed and after 3 years in the US, I still miss it each and every day.Hardest transition of all transitions, especially as we we lived in the South first 2.5 years. We moved to South Orange NJ this Jan on a local contract as our kids are getting too old we find to keep relocating like this.
    Anyway, just wanted to say a quick hello and let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. Who knows, we might meet one day! 🙂

    • Hi Again Sharon!
      Just sent you an email on Expat Blog, so read that first before you read this:) I would be very interested to know how you found reexpatriation, as some day in the future, we will go through this and it’s very hard to know what to expect. All I have read so far makes me think this is a hard experience to go through but it would be great to know more about it. If you are interested I would love to catch up and talk over a coffee.

      Thnaks again for your kind words about the blog. It’s very helpful for me as a beginner, as you are guessing a bit the beginning about what people might like to read:)

  25. Hi

    Great blog, thank you!

    I currently live in Perth (Western Australia), but was born and raised in Jersey (Channel Islands) after which your state takes its name.

    As corny as this may sound, my boyhood dream has been to live in the USA (New England region, or there about) but after a 3-months exploratory trip to MA and FL in 1990/91 I met my ex-wife and got sidetracked to Australia for 20 Years. Over Christmas and New Year I visited New Jersey and basically my boyhood dream was re-awakened, which I intend to fulfil this time.

    I have worked in the Environment, Health and Safety field for the past 15 years and have been advised by a NJ immigration attorney that me best chance would be for an employer to sponsor me (How many times have I heard people who want to move to Australia say that).

    To this end, is there any recruitment agencies that you can recommend that work with people like me who want to move to the USA.

    My preferred location is Morristown, but I am open to living and working anywhere in NJ.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Ta ta

    PS. Keep up the helpful blog.

    • Hi Mark. Thanks for the very nice comments:) Good for you that you are following your dream! Morristown is a very nice area but as you probably realize, there are lots of nice areas in New Jersey to live in when you relocate. I do not know of any agencies personally as we came here as sponsored expats like many on L1 and L2 visas, through my husband’s company. I think your immigration lawyer sounds like he knows what he is talking about re: sponsorship. I will email you seperately with some other suggestions.Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment:)

  26. If you are so inclined you can keep the pumpkin seeds and roast them in the oven. Makes a tasty snack.

  27. If I had a dollar for every small appliance I’ve given/thrown away …. 🙂 Moving back and forth between Canada and the UK/Central Asia/the Middle East we quickly decided the best solution was just to buy new each time, wasteful and expensive though that is. Fortunately at least the “white goods” (fridge, stove, washer & dryer) came with the apartments we rented. Even leaving small appliances in storage in Canada until we returned wasn’t a good idea, as we usually found they either looked rather grungy or were outdated by the time we came back. The only thing that has worked successfully (apart from computers) is the “region free” TV & DVD player we brought back from the Middle East. Even cell phones can be a problem as the frequencies are different in North America compared with the rest of the world. As you say, the whole issue is very confusing unless you’re an electrical engineer. Thanks for this valuable post.

    • Thanks Judy:) I hadn’t thought of cell phones but that’s another puzzle to add to the list. We also gave away all our appliances and it felt really wasteful. Can’t imagine how it must be to do it several times like you! It’s a shame there isn’t some sort of expat appliance pool that people can exchange with each other to save all this extra cost and wastage. The region free TV and DVD player seems to be the only way to go, so I will mention that in my next post Part 2.

  28. hi your blog is so nice and full of the new information.

  29. Interesting- we bought our lamps from Australia with some picked up along the way in both Hong Kong and South Africa and they work here without any converters, just with plugs changed. I usually find that things from elsewhere work OK but never trust anything from US in another country because nearly everywhere else has higher voltage and they don’t seem to make dual voltage things here. Friends in South Africa were thrilled to get a ‘white noise’ maker on a trip home (to the US) but forgot about the voltage difference and on the first night nearly caused a little fire in their house in Durban. We also have our HK tv here – just connected to cable and gaming devices, although one is a US one. I cringe though when I think of the appliances we have bought and where we may move next and cannot take with us. Ahh time with tell.

    • Thanks for the comment Nikki:) We tried our lights w’out the transformer but no luck. It seems hit and miss what can work when the frequency rating is different at 50Hz vs 60Hz. I tried using an Australian hairdryer a while back here. Although it turned on, it just ran at the wrong speed and did nothing pretty much.Fortunately I picked up a dual voltage one (has a switch);more of a travel hairdryer but it works fab. I was also suprised to find a couple of appliances yesterday in Target that were dual voltage/frequency but as you say it’s rare.

      Shame that there can’t be some sort of unified standard worldwide as the waste in appliances feels sinful. Each time you move, you throw away a heap it seems. Not looking forward to laying out the cash for more new ones whenever we move home, with Oz being so expensive! Wish there was some sort of expat appliance pool where they could at least be recycled. It amazes me how there can be so many varying combinations of voltage and frequency around the world though-just crazy!

      It’s great you can use your other TVs etc. I’m really glad we hauled our Aussie TV over-it’s got lots of use. I’m assuming that anyone moving from a 220v place to another e.g. UK, SA etc probably doesn’t have the voltage issue, at least with appliances.

  30. Great article once again!
    Also, 1 of the most important things we should do is let our own ‘standards’/ways go.By that, I mean, to not always ‘judge’ situations from our own culture/background given the fact that we are now living in a different culture with different ways/traditions whether it’s living in a so called western society, where you wouldn’t expect a lot of differences from any other western country, but they’re always there. From experience I know that many expats expected to struggle in maybe strong developed cultural countries like the Arabic countries, Asia etc ,but never in ‘fellow’ western countries.
    Becoming acceptant of our new surroundings, the new traditions, new ways is key. You might not necessarily agree or understand everything, but to not judge and take it all in with the most open mind,is very important in our journey to settling in.:-)

    • Hi Sharon! Thanks for the nice comment. You certainly show great insight with this comment. We too, thought that as a western place, the US would not be that different from Australia. We were very wrong, and the refusal to accept the differences with an open mind certainly made it a lot harder for us to integrate and settle down in the beginning. Thanks for a very useful addition that might otherwise escape many would-be expats moving here:)

  31. I have yet to experience all seasons here. Have to say though that I struggled quite a bit with winter. It’s been 8 years nearly that I’ve lived in a country/place this cold! I’m ready for beachweather! Loving all the pop up colors though!

    • Hi Sharon,
      Thanks for your comment and apologies for the long delay in answering. The cold weather here is a bit of a shock I think compared to Australia or other hot climates that people may have come from. Perhaps not too much of a shock for Brits though. I actually love the cold weather as I am finding hot weather unbearable as I get older. But even for me, there is an intense cabin fever you get from being indoors so much over the long winter and early spring. Just glad to have those sunny days and beautiful blooms around. Although the hayfever is a bit of an annoyance. The beach weather isn’t too far away. Is there any special beach you would recommend or heard that is good?

      • NOw, I have to apologize for the delay…:-) Visitors!
        Spring Lake came highly recommended. Only thing is, the boardwalk got washed away by Sandy and it’s not looking as if it will be up by Summer. However, the town, quite lovely and peaceful, looked very well intact. Beautiful homes. Very popular with families as it doesn’t attract the young ‘loud’ crowds. 🙂 We ‘ve also been to Cape May. LOVE that town! And the beach. However, in contrary with Oz, where you can have beaches to yourselves practically sometimes, I realize it’s going to be crazy busy and quite a different look over Summer. They say though that during the week should be ok. Next week, Memorial weekend, we will be staying in Ocean Grove a couple of days. Also came recommended. More lively then Spring Lake, they say. I’m very much looking forward to it. I think Spring Lake and Ocean Grove are just a very friendly distance for a quick day trip. Cape May is better overnight. Also, have you been to Lake Greenwood? You can rent a boat, there’s a nice beach and just such a lovely atmosphere. Great hiking too around the area! Great day trip too on a hot day.. Have a great weekend!!

        • Thanks for those suggestions Sharon:) Well funnily enough, Cape May is where I went on the weekend. We left on Thursday after my daughter finished doing the NJ ASK exams, and took our time on the way down. We stopped in at Seaside Heights to have a look at how repairs are coming along. They have put replaced most of the missing boardwalk but it is not finished yet by a long shot. The amusement parks at Fun Pier and the other end are going to take a lot of work, as they are still in ruins. However many of the boardwalk shops/eateries etc are open so they can start making some income again fortunately.

          We found Cape May very pretty and different in many ways from much of the Jersey Shore. It wasn’t all that crowded on the beach but there were still lots of people there. Can’t imagine what the place will be like on Memorial Day or in summer. packed to the rafters I guess! I have heard of Spring Lake before so that will now be on my must visit list, and a much easier drive than CM for the kids. Thanks for the tip on Lake Greenwood.. I haven’t heard of this one at all… will definitely look it up for a summer drive on the weekend. Hope you have a great weekend too at Ocean Grove:)

  32. Hi,

    Is there some international relocating article/blog in particular – among the huge amount you can find on the Internet – that you have read and you’ve found particularly interesting, or thorough, etc.? Other than your blog, of course!
    I’m an expat myself and write–among other things–about expat-related issues. Unfortunately not with the same frequency like you, for what I can see.
    Glad to have found you.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for dropping by and your comments. I review a lot of expat sites to try and find good articles to retweet for my Twitter account @ExpatAussieInNJ. We have just connected there too:) There are only a few sites where I Retweet from often, as most expat bloggers focus on one aspect (which may not be relevant for my interest: expats moving to New Jersey) or several (then the relevant articles are less frequent). One excellent blog though I can recommend, as it covers a wide range of expat topics, is Expat Child (http://expatchild.com/ ). It has many good articles which you might find useful.
      I hope you’ll drop by again in the future.

  33. Cathy Wilson says:

    I think the fact most electrical stuff is big and heavy to ship and cheaper in the U.S leads me to think we are better off buying it over in the U.S.
    Funny I brought a hairdryer home from the UK years ago and had to use an adapter plug for it but it worked perfectly for a long time. But I bought a sound system in the U.S and it must of been a different voltage and i blew it up pretty quick back in Australia.

  34. When you say that American society is just a bit different in one way that you’ll never accept, how would you call that? Paranoid attitude?

    • If they are paranoid, then that includes me too as I worry about shootings in school as much as the next person. It is a bit of a complex situation here to explain but I’ll do my best.

      On one hand you have schools increasingly vigilant and security conscious about anything remotely linked to weapons and firearms-our school locally here has had a huge 2 week crisis over a student bringing in an airsoft gun (sometimes called bb guns), over which the principal resigned. Amongst other reasons, there was a failure to notify police immediately when the firearm was taken off the student, as police are supposed to come immdeiately and the school goes into a lockdown. That’s procedure. This seems a bit over the top to me, all over an airsoft gun but that’s their procedure. Now, they are considering upgrading the security to have video cameras in all the buses. This will add to videos outside the school and within all the corridors already. This is not unusual from what I read and hear.

      On the other hand, you have Congress voting against any gun reforms at all, so that automatic weapons are still freely available, and no serious checks are required for anybody in most places to obtain the sort of gunware used in the extremely tragic Sandy Hook shootings. Individual rights are very important to Americans, which I can well understand and empathise with. However, it seems from my admittedly, ‘culturally-ignorant’ view, that the need for individual liberty, including ownership of guns without any holds, comes before the safety of schools, in priorities. To me, its very paradoxical and hard to understand, although I have tried. This is what I am referring to in the article. Sorry for such a long answer:)

  35. Terrific, terrific post as is the other one which led me here (the FAQs) — spot on from my ‘reverse’ experience to yours — minus the increased security measures since we left US In 1995.

    I grew up in suburban NJ schools (K-12, different schools as you described) and my son went to elementary K-2 and then 3-4 in suburban CT before joining his Year 4 class in Sydney.

    The differences you describe are so well-observed and written, from the uniforms we found in Oz (love, love, love them — sooooooo much better than the alternative, IMO) to the regular bus vs. yellow school busses and so on.

    I’m sure your posts will help ex-pats from Australia and other countries. Well done and keep writing 🙂


    • Oh thanks for the encouragement Carolyn! It means a lot to me;) I try and be balanced on what I see, without making too many judgements but it is impossible not to compare and contrast, no matter where you come from. I’m glad you think the uniforms is a better way to go-it’s certainly less expensive too vs shelling out for fad clothing every season. I’m also sure though you saw things in Australia, that we could improve on a lot too. My next post tries to cover that off because, it’s always a mixed bunch, when you go anywhere else from what you’re used to mostly. My aim is to try and help lessen the culture shock people coming here might feel, so if I do that, then I’ll be super happy! Cheers and thanks again!!

  36. American formality seems to be pretty far away from a warm “G’day mate!” 🙂

    • Hello:) I have been away in Cape May for the last four days so apologies for being tardy in my response! At some schools, I would definitely say this is true. But at the school where I knew the staff, they were very warm people, even when they called me “Mrs. Watson.” They were the kindest, most caring school staff I’ve ever come across in any school (including Australia). But it did just seem that little bit different that they couldn’t call me by my first name. By the looks of it, this like many other things, appears to be one of their strict protocols. I imagine the staff are not allowed to call me by my first name as they do in Australia. A cultural difference but not really a problem, just different:)

  37. Great list – well done you! great, accurate summary. As your antipodean opposite – I’m a New Yorker living in Australia – the marinara one gets me every time. I’m used to marinara being a ‘red sauce’ back in NY and when I mistakenly order it here in Queensland, and get seafood in my sauce, I just shake my head [at my own silliness for forgetting the difference].

    In the ‘hoagie’ category – FYI it is also called a ‘wedge’ in parts of NY and a ‘grinder’ in parts of New England.

    • Thanks so much Laura! Even though the list is quite long, I’m still discovering words I could have added. I hadn’t heard of grinder or wedge, so they can get added to my next list-thanks! Just goes to show it is a constant learning and unlearning process. I still also have to think when looking at marinara sauce. No matter how much I’ve seen it, seafood in tomato comes to mind immediately when I go to grab a bottle of pasta sauce off the supermarket shelf. Must be annoying though when you end up ordering it as well. You have a wonderful sense of humour which must stand you well as a multi-country expat and all these confusing experiences that naturally occur:)

  38. In Dubai we had regular debates about this as frequently you’d have an Australian (who come from a non-tipping culture), a Brit (who tips 10%), a Canadian who tips (15%) and an American (who tips 20%) all sharing a meal and again low wages for service staff. What made it worse was that there is (or was) a Municipality fee of 10% which would usually be described as “service charge” on the bill, which many took to be a tip. Usually expats ended up tipping what they tipped in their home country, which is the wrong way to go. When in Rome and all that. I’d rather over tip than under tip. Unfortunately due to overwhelming number of expats from so many different countries, there didn’t seem to be a local standard. I used to pity the poor wait staff who never knew how much tip they’d receive – anything from 0-20%.

    • Wow, and I thought it was hard just working it out from an Australian point-of-view. That must have made paying the bill an extra long discussion at the table. So different than when you just have everyone on the same page and you just split the bill, heh! At least here, there are some standards, albeit a bit variable. the hardest thing I think is learning where to tip, as well as how much. I imagine that it must be much harder when in Dubai. Is it normal there to tip for other services? When we were in Egypt, we ended up tipping for almost everything imaginable. Because we were tourists though, you are much more vulnerable to misunderstanding what is really required. But as you say, I’d rather overtip than undertip, especially when you know the level of pay that the workers involved get.

      I also find the whole thing of a service fee, gratutity or municipality fee confusing. It’s hard to know who gets this money, when you want to make sure the actual server gets the tip you leave. Thanks for dropping by to comment!

  39. So interesting! For me, the first and real diner is a fictional one: Arnold’s in Milwakee of the sitcom Happy Days!

    • Thanks for the comment. I too had only ever seen Arnold’s diner until I came here. Funnily enough, there is still a lot similar in many of the retro diners with their booths and deco interiors. Perhaps the jukebox is less common. certainly a bit of ‘Jersey’ that will exist here happily for a long while.

  40. I’m sure you, as an Australian, are well used to grilling. Every time we rented an apartment down under we knew that it would have most likely had a grill on the back!
    My favorite part of the US summer is September in Southern California.
    Your blog is a rather thorough source of information about NJ.

    • So true. Grilling is huge downunder particularly because we have a climate that allows outdoor eating for a good part of the year. The only other difference is that we call it barbequing. Southern California sounds very nice. Unfortunately I haven’t been there yet but on our ‘to do’ list. Not sure if all states are so humid as here. Florida would be far more challenging I hear from other expats. Just part of the climate you have to live with although this season is particularly bad for humidity with a lot of rain and thunderstorms. At least we don’t get ‘hot oven’ days over 40C like Australia had last summer. Not missing much there:)
      Thank you for the kind comments about the blog. I am aiming to make this a very handy resource for anyone moving here, especially expats, so it’s good to see I am going in the right direction! Much appreciated!

  41. Scotty’s diner! Great food that wasn’t junk. We were able to get home cooked meals and amazing milk shakes. Cnr of Lexington and (32,33 or 34th). New York.
    Loved it!!

  42. Thanks for sharing these photos of before and after the storm. It’s so wonderful to see how things are starting to return back to normal.

  43. I learnt a lot from your insights above, but I still struggle to understand how, in a supposedly rich first world country that the wages mentioned above can be paid legally.
    My time here in the states has made me realize that we really do some things well in Australia (safety net for unskilled workers, as well as school and higher education, and healthcare to name a few, we’re maybe not perfect, but a hell of a lot better that the USA).
    Essentially the tip is to supplement the wages for the staff, so we are actually helping out the business owner. I do begrudge tipping restaurant staff that are rude, untrained and uncaring, but “when in Rome”.
    My solution is to increase the prices, decrease the portion sizes and pay the staff a decent wage, seems to work in Australia.
    I wonder how most of the Washington DC and state pollies sleep at night sometimes.
    Anyways, our 18 months in Montclair has come to an end and we move to Singapore at the end of the week, no more tipping to worry about there, and closer to Aust.
    Thanks for the website.

    • Hi Chris. Sorry to hear we are losing you to Singapore but that’s the expat life I guess. I think much the same as you in wondering how workers are supposed to get by with such a low level of pay and very limited or worse, no safety nets. Makes the working man’s lot seem a very hard one in the USA. While Australia is no idyll place by any means, there’s definitely a smaller gap between rich and poor in my mind, and there are many more nets to catch those who are slipping before they hit rock bottom. There doesn’t seem enough here done for worker rights but I think that’s the way it has been since way back when. I used to feel frustrated at tipping so much but once I learned the facts, I feel obliged to help out the workers. As you say, it is helping the business owner but it seems hard to make an example by punishing those least deserving of it.

  44. I liked the diner experience, food turnover is high, so you will always get a fresh meal.
    The Nevada Diner in Bloomfield is great. The dessert display is one of the best I have seen in any diner, and would put some good restaurants to shame

    • We haven’t tried this one yet so will get the family onto going here for a change. I like diners too mostly. The good ones actually provide quite tasty food considering it’s not gourmet cooking exactly. It always helps to know which are the best. We’ve been to a few but at least two were pretty stinky regards quality of food:)

  45. I was a Stop and Shop fan, good member discounts, and nice laid out store, that was consistent across many stores, the ability to pre-order deli items while you shopped, and they would announce (or text you) when the order was prepared. I loved whole foods, but not on our budget on a regular basis anyway. Nice variety of sausages (without fennel seeds).
    Also I liked the self check outs

    • I am a Stop and Shop fan too. They seem to do it the best usually. Funnily enough we are in Cape Cod right now, and the local Stop and Shop is dreadful compared to the Clifton and Bloomfield stores. Poor choice of products and staff are pretty off the planet. Just goes to show that even the successful retailers don’t have every store perfect.

  46. We narrowed our search to Montclair on our “familarisation visit” in Jan 2012. Walked some streets between Grove and Ridgewood, and Oxford and Watchung, and ended up in one of those, close to Walnut Station.
    I liked the town, the transport, the “high Street” shops and feel, great library, great restaurants, and Egans Irish pub.
    The saddest thing about leaving (moving to Singapore) is leaving the house (only owned it for 14 months) and the area, very convenient to NYC and Parsippany for work

    • Sad about the house… It’s always hard to know when you’re and expat whether to buy or rent. We have never been given an exact date with this posting so as risk averse people, we were loathe to rush out and buy and having no credit history didn’t help. We seem one of the few who haven’t sold our house back home (Sydney), so we had the additional problem of not being cashed up when the expat offer came through.

      Although we didn’t get to know all the likely town options before choosing Montclair, I have never regretted moving to this town. It’s one of the best moves we made coming here, and will always have lovely memories of a pretty town in all seasons. Hope you have the same!
      The very best of luck with your move to Singapore and I hope you will keep in touch some how. I am on Twitter @ExpatAussieInNJ if you get the chance to look me up. Don’t be a stranger!

  47. I plan on moving to Montclair in the next eight months with my 11 year old son. I wanted to l know, where would I be able to find a nice house to rent (for right now) that’s is safe and inexpensive and what school is good for my son, who will be going to middle school. Any suggestions, please help.

  48. Great article about a very controversial topic. I remember being very annoyed at first for the constant reminders and pressure to tip everywhere for almost everything. In Germany we usually round up to the next Euro, so I was a little irritated at first having to add 15-20% to a restaurant bill, that would have been less for the same meal and service in Germany.
    Unfortunately the food and service industry is taking full advantage of the American tipping mentality while still charging full price and not having to pay their staff properly. And still people are eating out all the time.

  49. Love your list of school terms! The “Moving Up Ceremony” is really funny and it all starts as early as daycare. I go to the “Graduation Ceremony” of my daugther’s daycare every year and it’s too funny to see all these 5 year olds in outfits and hats like college graduates. They even get a little rolled up certificate and are getting called up by name one after the other. Americans for sure love their ceremonies…

    • I can truly believe the graduation ceremony thing. If nothing else, it gets the kids thinking about their achievements and goals but one suspects it is more for the parents benefit to see their kids all dressed up. At least you will be prepared for the next ones that come in elementary school. Every culture has its little idiosyncrasies! Can only guess what people make of some Australian events and ways of thinking:)

  50. Hi there,

    Just wanted to let you know what a great help your blog has been to me over the last few months. We have recently arrived in America from Sydney for an expat adventure, and are now settling in to life in Yardley PA. Particularly enjoy your posts with school info. We haven three kids all of whom are starting school next week.

    Thanks again,

    • Hi Megan,
      Thanks so much for your lovely compliment! Very much appreciated. Good luck with settling into your new home. Buck’s County is very pretty and seems to have quite a lot of history associated with it. Sounds very nice. Hope you’ll keep reading and please add in your own experiences as an Aussie expat, as they’re bound to be at least a bit different to my own and that will make the information useful for other new expats who are thinking of coming over.

      Thanks again:)

  51. A very important topic in expat life. A central one. It makes the difference between happiness and misery.
    As for us, we are in the middle of the transition, I guess.

    • Thanks again for your comment. This is a really hard topic. I am probably still in transition too truth be known. I seem to have swings back and forth sometimes very unexpectedly. Not always sure what it is that makes me feel suddenly homesick but sometimes it wells up for a short while then disappears. Not sure if I’ll ever feel like a real New Jerseyan.

  52. Very nice article and I have to agree. At some point your new country or city of choice becomes your new home. For me this goes very fast, because I feel home where my wife and daugther and all my stuff is.

    • Thanks for your comment too:) I think my family being here and our stuff definitely has a lot to do with me swinging away from home to NJ. As I said in another comment, I do still feel a little mixed at times. Not sure if that is ever going to go. That’s the hardest part for me is having swings. Then again it could just be menopause lol:)

  53. The New Jersey Relocation of the employees to the unfamiliar locations is not only to shift the employees, but their family members are also transferred. The agencies engaged in this purpose are responsible for the arrangement of the educational institutions and jobs for the employee’s family members.

  54. windmillfields says:

    Thanks for joining in, funny how we bith experienced this recently, i realised it too on a hol to the UK. It just creeps up ans then suddenly hits you doesnt it.
    Hope to see you bck joining in again soon and great that i have found another expat blog to read f

    • Thanks so much! Appreciate your comments and I too feel like have got another great blog to read. It seems the transition thing is a really individual experience that can be quite different depending on who you are and what you left behind in your last home. I am surprised though, most of all, that I would even feel this way because I have always loved Australia very much, and had rose-coloured glasses for the most part about things at home.

  55. I stumbled onto you blog by accident.. I was looking for an Aussie tree guy in NJ :/ I’ve been in Jersey for the last 4 1/2 yrs…..The weather takes a bit of getting used to after living in Melb, then Adelaide.


    • Thanks so much for joining in and commenting. Thinking about the weather again today as it’s 31 and humid. I was hoping for a quicker move to fall weather without any hangovers from summer but that was being very optimistic! Definitely over the hot weather so com on Fall!!

  56. Informative article! I am going to go and put our rego papers in the car right now and watch out for the Jersey drivers. After driving here a few weeks I think they are bad drivers in general, we saw three accidents in one morning and one lady backing into a parked car in a parking lot.
    My chant as I am driving and coming to grips with the other side of the road driving is what my father in law told me ‘loose left, tight right’.

    • Thanks Cathy. I have this irrational fear that I will get picked up for some driving offence and not be able to find the papers in my glovebox or something like that.

      Not everyone is a bad driver but an amazing amount of people don’t have any clue that anyone else is on the road behind them or near them. I assume this because they throw left-hand turns from the middle of the road, stop to turn right without any indicator or just stop anyplace they need to whether it holds up everyone else or not.

      Probably a lot easier than driving in Rome or Paris though. One of my friends is French and says she notices nothing odd here. Drivers not stopping at pedestrian crossings while you are on them is pretty normal in Paris! Depends on your experience I guess:)

  57. You are a great photographer! A picture really does speak 1,000 words when it comes to visualizing yourself in a new location.

  58. Your photos make winter here look like a walk in the park compared to where we just moved from. We won’t miss the very intense winters of Montreal!

    • Well, they probably do look a bit weak compared to Montreal and other snow laden places but for us from Sydney, it was still a big change and very novel. It still is though. We get just as excited about when it’s snowing as our kids!

  59. Beautiful photos!! We moved to the area at the beginning of October and have thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant display!

    • Thanks for the comments Melissa! It has been a superb season. I don’t whether I’m imagining it but this year seems to be much brighter than the previous falls I’ve seen. Perhaps now I have a slightly better camera, I’m appreciating it more. Certainly there’s nothing like this at home..

  60. I have really enjoyed reading your Blog. It has helped me settle in a bit as I have just gotten the news that we will be relocating to the US from Germany. We need to be in Bergen County and of course I know nothing about life there. Schools, communities etc. I’d love to hear your opinion on nice communities in Bergen County if you have any knowledge of them. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Marian! So glad my written meanderings are helpful! I can tell you quite a bit about Bergen County. There are a large number of very nice towns. Just like other counties here, they do vary a bit in their personality due to demographic makeup, history, etc. I will email you separately to talk about this more.

  61. Melissa Clulow says:

    Having just been through the whole driver’s license palaver (finally obtained today!), a related topic I would add to this list is the importance of shopping around for insurance coverage if one plans to purchase or lease a vehicle. As “new” US drivers, we obtained quotes for annual coverage in the $2500-$3000 range from companies like Allstate, State Farm, and Progressive. A little more research and we were able to secure a rate of $1500 from Geico which seems like a bargain by comparison – though still a far cry from the $600 we were paying in Canada… 🙂

    • Hey Melissa, Congratulations! Wonderful to have your own piece of individual plastic with your name on it! It is a bit of a process they go through here. Makes our NSW Motor Registry look like a Sunday picnic. Yes, that is great advice on insurance because we, and other Aussie expats have had that same experience. Our friend was actually quoted $6000, can you believe it? He thought they made a mistake when he got the quote (put one too many zeros on it). By looking around though he lowered it a lot but like you we are still paying a lot more than back in Oz. I heard that NJ insurance is higher than elsewhere in the country because New Jerseyans have more accidents than other states (lol). I find that easy to believe, looking at how people drive here but don’t know if it’s actually true!

  62. Hi. We are repatriating to NJ after a three year stay in Bangkok (and before that we lived in various places around the US – Boston, SF, Atlanta). We are looking seriously at Montclair. Sounds like you have been very happy there — wondering about the social aspects of the town. Are there good opportunities to meet other families? Did you find that there are lots of new people moving to town? Thanks. Our kids are ages 8 and 4. Even though the US is our home country, the move still feels daunting – we joke that it was actually easier to move to Bangkok. Thank you!

    • My apologies for taking so long to answer. Just before Christmas I was down with a bug I caught from my daughter, so missed a few things over the last month.

      Montclair is a great town. There are a few people who move in and out, including expats. Having children does make it easier. Going to school functions, sport things, being a class mum, all help this. Most people from Montclair are pretty friendly and there are a large number of families, so meeting people shouldn’t be hard. Please send me an email or ask more questions if you need. I can provide much more info if it helps.

  63. An open mind set is a must for an expat! With out the open mind you will be daunted until the bubble has burst! Great post, thoroughly enjoyed read it!

    • Thanks for your kind comments and thoughts. I think as an opinionated person, having an open mind set is sometimes a huge challenge. But without this you have a good likelihood of hating where you end up.

  64. We LOVE maple sugaring each spring with the kids! Such a great way to get everyone off the iPad and outside. Last year we picked up this kit: http://www.amazon.com/Maple-Syrup-Spile-Saver-Lines/dp/B00B5579E4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1388355717&sr=8-3&keywords=maple+taps

  65. Oh tell me about it! Canada is somewhere between British & US when it comes to spelling (leaning more to the UK), but with a son educated in international American schools, I had to do the switch in order to help him with homework and now I’m totally confused. And don’t even get me going on pronunciation … shedule, skedule?? …..

    • Yes, pronunciation is another entire post! Our local school calls the chorus -the CAWS- and boy I could add and add to this list. For both spelling and pronunciation, I don’t think I am ever going to get straight for just one country. It’s just a mish-mash that doesn’t get better with time. I guess there are worse problems. Hope you are staying warm up there:)

  66. Totally with you on Mum – I insist on it! I also spend far too much of my life being a little bit indignant towards Americans about spelling of English words in ‘not America’. I was already muddled by my Chinese English from Hong Kong and the mix of US and UK spelling they adopt in South Africa. Yesterday I was mortified when my son wrote a poem for school and asked could he use the US spelling of Mom because he thought his teacher would prefer it. grrrr

    • Yes. It’s just the last straw being asked to accept that. My kids avoided it at first which was great. My son was even corrected by his narrow-minded teacher for wanting to spell his version of Mum on the Mothers Day card!! A bit rich I reckon. Sadly my daughter, being much younger when we came here has acquiesced to US spelling and the local accent. The hard part for her will be readjusting whenever we get back to Oz and we go through the reverse in Australian schools.

  67. I would like to add from my experience:

    1. The first year is the honeymoon phase. Everything is interesting and an adventure. Second year is tough .. One settles into the hum drum of life and reality really settles in. Third year things start looking up and places/roads start feeling as familiar as home.

    2. Relocation has been the biggest challenge on our marriage. Before relocating, agree reasons for going and what you aren’t willing to sacrifice. What happens if one wants to return but other doesnt?? A relocation ‘pre-nup’! Write it down. Turns out my husband and I had different motivations to relocate resulting in one being happy and the other wanting to return.

    • Excellent advice Lulu!! I would have to say this journey has been the biggest challenge on our marriage too. And it’s very hard to work out a mutual solution when one wants to go and the other wants to stay! There are so many complexities sometimes to relocation-almost impossible to forsee them all beforehand but I like the pre-nup idea.

  68. Hi,
    I am SO glad I found this blog! My hubby and I, together with our 3 children ages 13, 10, and 8, are considering a move to Montclair in April. We have been overwhelmed because apart from looking for a place, we have to consider the schools – elementary, middle, and High. I guess my first question would be what side of town would you recommend. I want to be close to work (an academic at MSU) and close to my children’s schools. We are looking to spend about 2000, for a nice apartment atleast 2bed, 2bath.

    I am looking for a neighborhood with a community feel, close to my fav shops such as Whole Foods market. Also looking for amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, skating rinks, and rollerblading paths for the kids. What are the places to absolutely avoid in Montclair due to crime or just sloppy neighborhoods? I know these are many questions but would absolutely love to hear from a resident, ant information would be greatly appreciated, feel free to email me. Thanks.

    • Hi Nyangi. I think I will email you separately as there are a lot of comments I can add which will take up a lot of space here. Thanks for dropping by to read the blog!

      • Hi Anne-Marie

        Thanks so much for your blog, it’s a great place to start when considering a move! I am Australian but I live in Toronto and have all the same questions as Nyangi more than did 2 years ago. If you happen to have the response you have her that you could send me that would be fantastic! Thanks again, Simone

  69. Breathtaking images…you truelly have an eye for beauty. I enjoyed viewing these pictures and can’t wait to visit with my family! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for the very kind words! I’m not sure my camera skills seem to et the most out of the beauty that is here but it’s good to know that others see NJ like that too! A lot of people are just unaware how many lovely places there are here to see. Spread the word!

  70. Hi,

    So sorry it has taken me so long to comment.

    I agree with you about Tucks and I did hear good things about Pie face. They have a French Pastry guy for the pie crust. Yum.

    Yes, to Ruby’s. Cute, but very small. Just walked by it yesterday. The others, I have heard of but have not tried. Eight Mile Creek is now closed. Unfortunately. Was a very nice space and good food.

    As far as meeting other Ozzies. There are footie teams practically in every state. Philadelphia’s team is the Hawks. And I forget the New York team. And they gather for b-b-ques on a regular basis. They also have websites that you can become a member and follow for updates, fundraisers as well. there is also a group on facebook that I am a member of. But most of the meetings are in New York and that is not an easy commute for me either. Try Advanced Global, they are for Australian professionals in the US. Their office is across the hall from the Australian Consulate. They send you a list of things that are going on here in the states.

    I just recently lucked out and can now buy vegemite in this small beach town that we live in. Very excited. And this woman’s other store has just about everything, including meat pies, sausage rolls, etc. Although she didn’t have violet crumbles or Cherry Ripes. But she is looking into it. Very exciting. she is also relocating closer to where I live. Could be dangerous.

    As far as other Australian’s. For me there is one on the island. Very nice and funny but we only bump into each other on occasion.

    Hope you have been adjusting to your new homel.


  71. As a potential relocator to NJ your blog has provided much needed information. Irish quite similar to aussie way of life so it pretty much all applies. Have lived in Aus and enjoyed it immensely and just trying to make a decision now as to whether I will like NJ. The specifics of life in NJ, holidays, weather, towns, renting, etc from an outsiders perspective is exactly what is needed.

    • Thanks for your comment Denise! I am glad the information I’m providing is useful, as that has always been my intent. While NJ is definitely different to Australia in a huge number of ways, I am not exaggerating when I say there is a lot to offer here. No matter how pretty Sydney is, I can’t say that I am less than an hour away from ski fields in the winter, while still being just an hour away from the beach back home there. Australia for all its beauty, also can’t offer the NJ extremes in seasons which provide gorgeous vistas year around. There are always lots of things to do here as well: lots of festivals, food celebrations and NY is just down the road. Let me know if there is any information I can help you with in deciding to relocate or not. Good luck with the decision. It’s certainly a big one.

  72. My husband and I were looking for a town to move to from NYC which had a lot of what urban living had to offer but yet space and privacy. We came across Montclair and we loved the town but once we started seriously looking at homes we quickly realized three things:
    A: Most sellers were moving out of their homes once their children became “school aged”. I guess the school lotto system (similar to China) is a turn off? Or maybe it’s the poorly rated school system?
    B. The prices of homes were inflated for the fact they hadn’t been remodeled in over 40 years some cases. Many homes still have buried oil tanks! Builders are coming into this town and buying decrepid homes for $100K and cosmetically refurbishing the existing homes with cheap materials and selling them for $499K. Our joke is if you see a home in Montclair listed for $499K run.
    C. A lot of the A-holes we were trying to get away from by moving to NJ were suddenly also moving here!

    Anyway…we decided in the end that many other towns in NJ had a lot of what Montclair had to offer but for a better price tag and more bang for your buck. We are now moving to Summit at the end of next month and couldn’t be happier.

    • Summit is indeed a very nice town, and as a relocation agent, one I recommend to many expats who are looking for an upmarket yet still urban experience. The Summit school system is also one of the better districts in Nth NJ. However, there are many other wonderful towns that are ‘Great Places to Live in NJ’, beyond Summit and Montclair. People look for what fits best with them economically, socially, culturally and politically, when choosing a place to live. There is no ONE town that suits everyone. In defense of Montclair, I would say it has a unique character and a school system to match, being a magnet district, that offers performing arts study in many of its schools. For many parents this, plus its very diverse social/economic nature, makes it a very attractive option. The school system here faces challenges that almost no other town in Northern NJ does, so perhaps it is unfair to summarize it with a throwaway comment. Housing prices are very high, and people selling are often moving away for property tax relief, which is very burdensome in Montclair compared to many others. Montclair has its downsides. But personally, I still love this town for its many plusses which include welcoming my self and my family as strangers, who now feel part of the local community.

  73. Hi folks,
    just happened to stumble by today randomly to this blog.I saw it was about tipping and could not help writing about my amazing experience with an Australian guy.I don’t even know if anyone will see this,but what the heck….
    In 2004,I was a pre-med student,working my way through school.
    Anyhow,I had just started working as a server at this restaurant in los angeles.
    It was lunch time,the place was packed to the gills.So this guy walks in,he’s seated and I hand him the menu.I took down his order.
    The food was ready and I bought it to him.I’m a friendly person by nature so even though I was slammed,I spent a couple to minutes chatting with him.
    He said he was from Australia and had just arrived in the US.His plan was to travel through the US on a month’s vacation.
    Anyhow,after he was done I presented him with the check,thanked him for his business and started to remove the dishes from an adjoining table.Then I checked his receipt folder to make sure the check had been settled.
    He had left a 79 cent tip on a 23.21 dollar bill.79 cents!
    I felt so disrespected and slighted(did not know at the time that there is isn’t a tipping culture in Australia).The look on my face must have given me away,as the manager immediately came and took a look at the check.When he saw what the guy had tipped,he did something neither the Australian gentleman or I will forget for the rest of my life.
    He picked up the loose change and jangling the coins loudly he ran after the patron,who was just making his way out.Then still moving towards the patron he said” sir you forgot your tip” loudly a few times!OMG,there was total silence for a second and then the other patrons started snickering and smiling furtively.
    The Australian gentleman turned a shade of red I have no words to describe.Redder than the ripest of tomatoes would be doing it no favor.He spluttered for a few seconds and then tried to tip me 20 dollars for the meal!It would have been funny if I did not feel so sorry for the guy.I refused the tip and reminded him in a soft and gentle voice that this is America and you HAVE to tip at least 15% specially as I had taken such good care of him.
    He was profusely sorry and I told him it was no biggie. We shook hands and he was off on his way.
    Wow!Wow!It was only when I checked later that I saw that tipping is not a tradition in Australia.
    My advice to people coming to the US or any other country for that matter is to do a little research before heading out of home.It will certainly save one from cultural and social faux pas.I will certainly do some research before I head down to Australia later in the year.Certainly don’t want to be faced with a situation that the guy found himself in.
    I hope I did not offend anyone,just wanted to share my experience.

  74. endlessnitemare says:

    Finally someone who can confirm the last 11 years of my life since moving to nj. The chopped disasters of a hair cut and chemically damaged nitemares continue. I have spent a fortune for ruined hair which has taken years to grow what used to be long beautiful curly or straight hair. Not to mention a base of orange chemically damaged hair that I know have to color dark every 4 to 6 weeks. What a scam and sad situation. I am trying a new curly hair specialist Ricky pennisini of rici hair products and cuts. II pray my 11 year nitemare can finally end

    • endlessnightmare says:

      sorry for the rambling on my previous post but Miss Aussie couldn’t have said it better. It sadly brought up the very upsetting 11 years of getting my hair butchered, fried and colored orange for god knows how many $1000s I’ve spent w these frauds.

      Since my previous post i had it chopped even worse by this supposed expert and founder of Rici hair cuts and products. An 11 year nightmare that just got another good couple of years added in growing it out again and then what!!! This has been my the rollercoaster ride I want to get off once and for all. I guess that’s leaving NJ for your hair. I may consider exploring PA or NY at this point.

      NJ has some good qualities but hair salons/stylists are ABSOLUTELY not one. I have also been to the gammit of salons like Miss Aussie and can not tell you how much networking and research i’ve done each time it was time to find someone else.

      I realize some may think i’m being very superficial but I’m not. I take pride in my appearance. I just can’t understand what the problem is, especially with the prices you pay here. I’ve spent the extra for so called top stylists and colorists thinking that would ensure good results. NOT!!!! Thanks for letting me whine and vent

  75. Having lived in the U.S. my whole life, I use some of the spellings listed as English here, but I’ve noticed a pattern in which ones I use, l prefer the letter c over s ie licence and the letter c over k ie disc and l prefer the double ll ie cancelled over the single l.

  76. I would also recommend South Orange. It is the town one south of Montclair – has a nice little downtown, trains to NYC (shorter commute than Montclair), large homes with yards and swimming pools and a large expat community of Brits and Aussies. This is where people move to from Montclair after they have been in the area for a few years – and realize how much more they can get for their money by living in the adjoining town.

  77. Hi,

    Do expats have to go to any specific DMV to get the permit prior to the vision/knowledge test? I’ve been told that we have to go to one of the main offices and that there is a limit of them issuing foreigners license so we have to turn up by 7:30 am. I’ve not seen this mentioned anywhere and as your article is fairly recent I thought I’d check 🙂 Ideally we’d like to try a more local office as it may be slightly less busy but I’m sure it will still take time.

    Great website by the way !t’s helped loads in the first few weeks of being here.


    • Hi Neil,
      There are only some DMVs that actually do full testing of vision, knowledge and road (driving) tests. A while ago they reorganized, so that there is only one DMV per county provides the full service range, the rest of the offices are ‘agency’ offices or inspection centers. For example, in Essex County, it is Newark MVC, in Morris County it is Randolph, in Passaic County it is Wayne MVC, etc that provide full driver testing. There are a lot of MVC agencies, however only a Driver Permit can be obtained here, not the full license, as they do not do testing. I have never heard anything about a limit of licenses given to foreigners, and I have taken many people to MVC offices in NJ, in my job as a relocation agent. You can always get a permit from an agency but you will still need to go to a testing center for the full license. I just like to try and limit it to one visit, so I always take my clients to a full licensing center. Getting there early, is a good idea, only because you miss the crowds that come later, especially on a Saturday morning. Here is a link to a website that lists all the locations by township and whether they are an agency or testing center: http://www.dmv.org/nj-new-jersey/dmv-office-finder.php#New-Jersey-MVC-Office-Locations

  78. We’ve moved from Spain to North Arlington NJ, I tried to register my children in School, but because we don’t have bills yet at the new place they cannot start school until I get them. Also my kids reports are in spanish and until they get translated, can’t start school either. The translator hasn’t call me yet with the transcripts an I have not recieved any bills yet, so my question is, is it ok that my children can’t start school till then? Will they or I have any problems for not taking them to school? They won’t let them start anyway.

    • Hi Rita,
      Sorry for the late reply. From my own knowledge of NJ schools, it is normal in most USA public schools that they request the proofs for residency such as utility bills before your child starts school. It is in the hands of the school, but I would hope they didn’t make your kids wait too long. On your side, if you can organize online payment for utilities, you may be able to print out paper copies instead of waiting for them to arrive in the mail. Bank statements are another type of proof you could try using, and they can often be obtained online as well. As it is very early on in the year, most classes probably do revision rather than any new work in the early weeks of the year, so I wouldn’t be too worried. It may be useful though to find out what school supplies are needed so you can at least get your children as completely prepared as possible. If you talk to the school, I am sure they will be supportive.

  79. Robbie Dickinson says:

    Thanks for this site … I just moved from Bermuda to Jersey City. Trying to figure things out and your posts are real helpful!

  80. Hi, do you have any advice on obtaining car insurance here? My husband and I have been here two months, he just recently got his NJ licence and we’re looking to buy a car. We called up some insurance companies to enquire about how much it would cost and it is through the roof!

    • Hi Susanna,
      Car insurance is unfortunately, very expensive in NJ. There are some things I would suggest:
      1. Get lots of quotes from different companies – they do vary
      2. Try varying the deductible amount- if you offer to pay a bit more deductible, then your premium will likely go down.
      3. It is always cheaper for two cars versus one for insurance premiums e.g. two cars cost us ~$3,000 per annum while 1 car cost ~$2000/annum.
      4. You can bundle other insurance together to get a better deal.
      5. You can check out different quotes on this website: http://www.carinsurancecomparison.com/

      I hope this helps a little.

  81. I have had a number of my Aussie clients report some embarrassing difficulties with the word Coke in the USA. Such embarrassment that they have taken to ordering a cola or pepsi instead….

    • Hi Trisha. That’s pretty funny from an outsider’s perspective, perhaps a bit embarrassing for them though! I would never have guessed that would be a problem either but I usually ask for brand names like Diet Coke of Pepsi, so it’s probably clearer:)

  82. So glad you tweeted about this one and brought it to my attention. I blogged about Changing Climates in July -( remember mid-winter back here in Sydney..)
    I think the challenges of managing in a different climate can be one of the supposedly “little things” that can completely overwhelm people when they move. Good on you for adapting well and becoming a snow shoveller!

    In my post I said “Don’t forget to ask the locals for advice. They will know how best to heat or cool the house, clear the snow, or when to watch for the cooling sea breeze.” I’m going to add this blog link to my post for those who need to learn how to clear the snow!

  83. Head over to Philly for your hair cut. The salons there are SOOO much better than in the suburbs and much more like what we have in Australia. Let me know if you need some suggestions. Cheers, Lauren.

  84. Great post. As an American living in the U.S. I forget about some of the things you covered. Take for granted not to buy a dryer. For anyone looking for new jersey apartments, make sure to visit Harrison Apartments. It is a beautiful building with a tennis court, pool, doorman and fitness center. Additionally, it is close to Rutgers University, The New Brunswick Station and St. Peter’s University Hospital. Close to parks and shopping. The setting and quality of life at Harrison Apartments can’t be beat.

  85. Italo Marchini says:

    Beautiful pics. Thanks! Sometimes you have to get away (Paris) to appreciate where you came from.

  86. Dear Expat Aussie in NJ,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in New Jersey, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,

  87. We’re in even worse situation – I need to register two kids (8 and 9 years old) in Kearny, NJ. We’re coming back from Poland, and my children, athough both are citizens had never been in US school system. I’m not sure if they can be registered in February, or will they have to wait till next school year. Another thing is the English level. They took ESL classes at their school, but the level is much lover than expectations for their age. How schools will deal with that? Is there any programm for kids speaking other language?

    • Hi Norbert.
      Thanks for the comment and I think I can help with your questions. You should be able to enrol your kids in February or even March when you arrive as long as you will have the documents that they require; and of most interest, will be the fact that you are living in the school district you are applying for. You will likely need some proofs of your residency but basically, if you live there, then the school has to provide places for your kids. We registered in our town in March, and the kids started in April, so I am pretty sure that you won’t have to worry about waiting for the next school year. There are NJ regulations that require children to have schooling provided once they reach a certain age, so I am sure the school district will accommodate you somehow.

      Regards ESL, in my work as a destinations services consultant, I provide assistance to families relocating into NJ regularly. Many families come here when their children speak no English, and sometimes the parents English skills are not that well-developed either. All NJ public schools have some sort of ESL support they can provide. However, depending on the school budget, the service level may vary in quality and depth. I would recommend that you try to get an appointment to meet with the ESL teacher at your intended school asap on arrival, to see what they will be doing to help your children along. For the most part though, schools find that young children learn the language very quickly as they are immersed, which is the recommended way to learn fastest. The ESL teachers provide some support but most of the time they will be in their normal (English-provided) classes.

      It will help of course, if the schools are multicultural and any other children are there who know Polish, at least at the beginning. If you can, it might help to get extra help for the kids by enrolling them in English lessons outside the school as soon as you arrive, for perhaps a few weeks, and then continuing on weekends/after school. The fact that you speak English fluently already should also help them too. Two good language schools that are used by many corporations for helping families with English lessons, include Inlingua (http://www.inlingua.com/)and Berlitz (http://www.berlitz.us/summit/) each of which has offices at Summit, Ridgewood and NYC.

      I hope the above helps. Let me know if you have any questions and Good Luck!

  88. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I rented in New Jersey from three different landlords from 2006 up until I bought my own place toward the end of 2014. During that time…..

    1. I never carried renter’s insurance, nor was it required in the terms of any leases that I signed.

    2. Prior to each move, I paid the first month’s rent and security deposit with personal checks. Bank checks or cash was never required.

    3. The landlord paid the real estate agents’ commissions, both for their agent and for mine (when applicable, I don’t always work with an agent). In each case, the combined commission for the two agents was equal to one month’s rent. I would write the checks myself and, like you said, they were not necessarily divided equally between the two agents. Since I was writing personal checks, though, they just told me at the time of the lease signing how much to make out the checks for each agent. These payments were made in lieu of paying the first month’s rent to the landlord. So in effect, I paid the first month’s rent to the real estate agents instead of the landlord and then I started paying rent to the landlord at the start of the second month. So I guess I technically paid the agents’ fees, but it is the same net result as me paying the first month’s rent to the landlord and then the landlord giving that money to the agents…….so I really didn’t pay the agents’ fees in practice. The security deposit was 1.5 months rent as you stated.

  89. What about towns with ferry access to NYC- hope this is a series of town reviews that continues as it is excellent reading the post and the comments for an Aussie expat looking to move out of Hoboken.

    • Hi Bailey,
      Thanks for your comments. I do intend to extend the series on Great Towns to Live In but just have been diverted by my work as a destination services consultant which has taken up my previous spare blogging time. Hoboken does have great ferry access to NYC as you would probably know. Other towns that have access to NYC by ferry include Weehawken, Edgewater, and Jersey City. Like Hoboken each of these has a quite different nature, and where you live (how far away from he river edge) can make a big difference to time and convenience of the ferry transport option versus other options like the PATH train, etc. I am not really clear though whether you are interested in knowing more about towns that are NOT on Hudson River, but that still make a good lifestyle option if you have to commute to NYC. If you do indeed need some assistance with information on towns, please feel free to email me with more specific questions. There are a lot of options for expats that have good lifestyles. Some of the best towns include Montclair, Summit, Millburn, Chatham, Madison, Morristown, Ridgewood, Allendale, Tenafly, Westfield, Cranford, Mountainside, Warren, Somerville, Basking Ridge just to name a few! Factors to guide your choice include max distance to travel to work, need for a train line, school quality (if applicable), and other lifestyle preferences. Happy to help if needed:)

  90. Hello, I’m really glad to have come across this website- thanks! We’ve lived in the States before for 2 years in San Fran and then Seattle. That was over 10 years ago before kids. Now we’ve got two kids (primary school) and my husband has some opportunities back in the States this time either mid west or North East coast. We’re a multi-racial family so respecting diversity is important to us hence choosing NJ also for the proximity to NYC. Just wanted to ask what your thoughts are on towns like Cranford, Summitt and Westfield? We are ideally looking to be close to Newark airport as interstate travel will be required for work. We currently live in Sydney so am use to expensive real estate, lots of traffic and lots of people- a change from this would be good! Interested to hear your thoughts, thanks.

    • Cranford, Summit and Westfield are all very good towns, although they are not hugely diverse. Out of the three, Summit is probably the most diverse with an Asian population (6-7%) and a Hispanic population (13-14%), with African Americans making up only 4% or so. That said, the public schools in these towns are great. Westfield also has a very good range of restaurants, and all 3 towns have a very nice upmarket downtown area (town center). The Summit commute is quite reasonable, with Midtown Direct line going to Penn Station in about 45 mins or so. I am told by others that the rail line that serves Westfield is not very efficient but according to the NJ Transit schedule, the ride should be very similar to Summit but perhaps a bit longer. Please email me if you have any more direct questions, I would be happy to help:)

  91. Hi,
    My family and I are moving to NJ in June, from Australia. I was hoping that you could advise me on what grades they might be placed in when they start school in September 2015 🙂
    My eldest was born in December 2000, my middle child was born in September 2006 and my youngest was born in March 2008.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Im feeling very overwhelmed, lol! Its all so different.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Maree,
      Thanks for your question.

      I truly understand how overwhelming it all is, and having the school year here run at different times to Australia is very confusing, and can be daunting for the children a bit too. The decision of what grade they will be in is not something I can answer in black & white nor guarantee, as it depends much on whether they will go to public school or private school; which township you are in (as they have different rules and age benchmark dates for school start e.g. children need to be a certain age by September 1st in some, October 1st for others), and what grades your children are moving from in Sydney. Initially, they will start by looking at their ages and grade completion and how that translates to the NJ system.

      Some schools will use their school academic records, school reports to work out what level they are at, and some will test the children (in addition), if it is not clear and in the case where your children would have a significant age gap between Sydney and NJ when starting school here e.g. if they were enrolled young in Sydney for instance.

      From what I can estimate, your children would mostly likely start school in September 2015 at 9th grade (Dec 2000 BD), 4th Grade (Sept 2006 BD), and 2nd grade ( Dec 2008 BD). This means you will have the eldest starting first year of high school here (high schools mostly go from Grade 9-12), which is called freshman year. The other two will be in elementary school (most of these cover K-grade 5). There are exceptions to how schools are set up but the K-5grades (elementary); 6-8 grades (middle school) and 9-12 grades (high school) are the most common organization used for public schools and many private schools.

      If you are looking to get your children into a private school starting here in September, I would encourage you to investigate these options very quickly as most good private schools have waiting lists, and will test the children, interview the family well ahead of the school year start date, so to have a fair chance at getting in, you need to be well-prepared in advance.

      Public schools in comparison, have to cater for the children in their township, so you don’t need to book ahead. However, in the vast majority of cases, the township you choose, to live in and then the actual section of town where your home is located, will determine which school you are allocated. In some popular towns, it is not easy to get housing at short notice, so it is advisable to look ahead and organize housing further out than the school start dates.

      If you are able to, a pre-trip is very advisable, so you can do some homework on where you might want to live-there are a lot of location options, and choosing is very difficult from afar.

      Let me know if you have any further questions-don’t hesitate to email me as I well remember the confusion and challenges of our move here, and happy to help.

      Kindest Regards


      • Natasha shestakov says:

        Hi I am moving to Wildwood nj this week with my 8 an 10 year old do u think the process of getting them in school will be of any problem

        • Natasha shestakov says:

          Hi I am moving to Wildwood nj this week with my 8 an 10 year old do u think the process of getting them in school will be of any problem can u please contact me at 215 349 0626 thank you

  92. Hi,
    Thank you so much for your detailed response! You have certainly made things more clearer 🙂
    I will definitely email you closer to the move date. We are still waiting for further details from my husbands employer.
    I have to admit I so was excited to find your blog. Its such a wealth of information and I’m really grateful to have found it!
    Many thanks 🙂

  93. Catherine Wilson says:

    I’m over it already! And we spent a good part of it in Aus.

  94. Hey there,

    After reading your fantastic articles in your blog, I went out to experience the via dolorosa of getting a license in MVC/DMV yesterday (March 2015).

    I’m a 30 year old expat who lived in Israel his entire adult life, thus having a valid Israeli license for the past 12 years or so, but never any American license.

    I made sure to get all the right papers and documents- my passport, SS card, a current bank statement, the addressed envelope I got my SS card in, and my Israeli license.

    I went to the MVC in Lodi, NJ, and as I’ve expected, there were quite a few people waiting on the various lines. My documents were checked at least 6 times throughout the day, each time by a different person, but happily they didn’t find any problems with them.

    After 3 document checkups, filling out personal information, taking a horrible picture and paying the $10 for the permit, I went to do the vision test and the written test. As you’ve stated, people taking it should make sure to study the material, as they ask a few questions that you’d never know without studying (such as what kind of fine would someone get of s/he does X, etc). I guess without studying any experienced driver with common sense could answer easily 30 questions correctly at least, but you don’t want to take chances. The eye checkup takes about 10 seconds, where I guess anyone without vision issues should pass it.

    After I successfully completed both tests, I went over to the lady at the desk, and she told me to go back to the main building to get my license. I was quite shocked to hear so, as everyone whom I spoke to told me I would have to go through a driving test. She put on a shiny sticker on my permit paper I received earlier that day, and before she was able to change her mind I ran out the the main building.

    At the main building I waited on line again, and happily the lady at the counter didn’t argue with the paper and issued me my very first NJ license on the spot, sporting the horrible picture on it.

    All in all I spent about 3 hours at the MVC, mainly waiting on the various lines, where I showed up at 12PM on tuesday noon. The employees were mostly unfriendly, but most were not as hostile and mean as I expected.

    I just wanted to thank you again for your elaborate articles, and I wish all the other expats lots of luck with dealing with the American bureaucracy.

    • Thanks for the feedback Yitz! So glad you found the articles useful and that you eventually got your DL. I cannot explain the reason that you did not have to do a road test but at Lodi, in my job as a destination services consultant, I have taken several people here, and quite a few Chinese expats have likewise NOT been asked to do the road test.

      Yet at a different MVC, a Chinese expat I took there was required to do the road test. As I mentioned, there are different interpretations of the requirements, between branches, and even between different staff sometimes. Perhaps because there are so many requirements, that they become a little unclear? Who knows!! Main things is, you got through it all without any problems. Congratulations:)

  95. Your education system is good as I am interested to be part of it. My son is 6 year old wanted to get admission there in new Jersey . we are from India pls reply us thank you .

  96. Thanks for this post – on some level its good to hear of similar struggles from other expats in the area. I live in SE PA myself and miss my meat pies…but your post has just made me miss many other things now! 🙂 I recall the pizza places in Haberfield and Leichardt area growing up (in Strathfield)…especially the cabanossi – why is that not available here??! Admittedly I have not done as much research into the foods and their differences, which may provide a reason for their absence here I suppose… I look forward to trips into NYC (more frequent with my old job, and now with kids only as day trips in the summer) and eating at The Australian in midtown. I have to check out these other places as well this year. I wish there was something in Philly though 🙁 I have met one other Aussie near me during the recent Soccer World Cup in fact, but otherwise not much else. Anyway, I am gonna go off and daydream of my meat pie and Flake bar…and dont get me started on the milk bar hamburgers (with salad and egg)! Its also a rare treat to see my Bulldogs play in the NRL on TV…but I will keep searching.
    Take it easy

    • If you are in NYC, you should check out the Pie Face stores for sure. I look forward to going there too one day this year. Going home in June for a visit, so may be able to refresh our memories on those foods then. I think with time here, you do adapt to food much better. I am even now surprised when I hear Aussie clients and friends comment on how urk they think American bread is. I have even adapted to that although it is not my favorite food.

      This whole expat experience does make you appreciate back home those simple things like bread etc that you took for granted all your life until moving away!


  97. Having lived through a few hurricanes – most notably Hurrican Ivan, a force 5 that just chipped the edge of Jamaica when we were living there – I can vouch for how important it is to be prepared! We had no electricity and no water for quite a number of days afterwards. And in St Lucia, our house was flooded when the island was hit by Tomas. Fun days….!

    • I think my experiences have been really just a small affair compared with yours-level 5 sounds hair raising! When Hurricane Sandy arrived here, I went outside for a brief moment to experience it, and the winds were roaring so loudly, it sounded like I was at the airport listening to planes take off and land next to me. Can’t imagine what it would be like to actually be in a L5! Thank goodness you survived unharmed by the sounds of it, and have a great tale for your friends back home!

  98. Hi I an Aussie from Melbourne. I am an on an L -2 visa holder and have been here for 6 weeks. My wife the L-1 has a SS card. However I am about to get one too, as I will eventually need one and require it for my NJ Drivers license. I have applied for the I-766 however is still 3 months away. My question is on point 5 on the form do I check the box “illegal alien allowed to work” or “illegal alien not allowed to work”?
    Thanks darren

    • Hi Darren,
      Sorry for the long delay in answering. As an L=2 you are legally allowed to work. Once upon a time, you had to wait for the EAD to come through to be able to say that but now all l-2’s are considered legally allowed to work from the start out. As soon as you get your SS card (which will say you are allowed to work on it), and as long as you have your other documents, you can apply for your DL. You will need the EAD though before getting a job though, the SSN isn’t proof of that by itself.
      Good Luck!

  99. I cleared the knowledge test and is exempted from driving test because of my home country driving license. HOwever, I have not been given the DL so far becasue of ongoing SAVE case check. Its more than a month now and still the DMV office has not received the verification from USCSI/Save. How long does it takes ? Is there a way to check with USCIS for the delay in verification ?

    • Hi Adrishya,
      Sorry to hear about your DL delay. I understand how frustrating these delays can be. Taking a month is sometimes to be expected but rarely. I would follow up with the MVC branch where you were having your status verified originally, and just check hey haven’t notified you or misplaced the notice. Some staff are better than others at follow up and handling expats. To be fair, sometimes Homeland Security does take a very long time. Ask at the MVC if they still report your status as unverified, to see if they can recommend a way to try and address the problem. Tell them you have been waiting over 1 month, and need your license. If the person is unhelpful, ask to see the manager (politely), and see if they can add anything. Knowledge levels amongst the staff vary, so asking the branch manager may help. Other than that I can’t recommend anything. Once your verification check is with the DHS, it is not very transparent to anyone, and it seems they prefer it that way for security reasons. Best of luck!!

  100. Fetus – American
    Foetus – British

  101. I’m a New Jersey resident of Italian descent and “Eye-talian” is definitely not the common pronunciation. On the other hand, my family pronounces “Italy” as “Itah-lee” not “It-ly” or “It-lee”. I think those pronunciations came from Brooklyn, New York.

    • Hi There,
      Thanks for your reply and thoughts on pronunciation. It helps all of us to know the right way to say words here, so we can be understood too. I still struggle with some words, as the puzzled looks on other faces tells me but luckily I know now to think about how I say it and to slow down when speaking!

  102. Whinging Pom says:

    That’s my cart!

  103. Sometimes stores will try and work something out if you let them know.

    My stop and shop didn’t carry 2 varieties of baby food brand that I used, so I asked the grocery manager if he could help.

    He was able to get shelf space to make one a regularly stocked item, but not both.

    For the second, he would order a case (it was 10 or 12 jars) of it for me and call to let me know it was in the back room next time I came shopping.

  104. Hello,
    I am very happy I discovered your blog, I’ve already found a lot of good tips. Then, I’d like to have some advice for some concerns I have.
    My husband and myself, are going to move to New Jersey this 20th July. We are a young Belgian couple and wanted to discover some other horizons and I really wanted to learn English. We started by moving to London because that was close from our home country, we have been living here for these last 10 months. In January, my husband went to NYC for his job and enjoyed his time. The dream was growing and we decided to try to live an other adventure. And, there we are.

    My husband is transferred by his company so he has a job but, that’s different for me.
    I got my Psychology degree in Belgium in September 2014. As soon as I got it, we came to London. I started by taking some English class because I was unable to understand and speak neither. But because of the price I couldn’t follow these classes for ages, then I stopped. I wanted to find I job but we had to travel several times between Belgium and London to get married, so I couldn’t. I’m aware I need to work to keep improving my English. However, this is not my only purpose, I also want to get a job to meet people. So this is my first aim when I’ll arrive.

    Would you have any advice to find a job in New Jersey. Of course, as you probably understood I’m not bilingual, I can’t work as a Psychologist. I’m really motivated to work whatever the area. I just want to get involve in the society and improve my English to be able in the future to start my Psychologist career.
    I really would appreciate your advice, feel free to email me.


  105. So many good advices! I’m going to need them because next month I’m starting planning my move to Spain and although I have a job waiting for me I’m quite nervous. Thank you so much for sharing!

  106. Lisa Amores says:

    I love your blog! We are relocating from Florida because of my husband’s job. We have 3 small children. I homeschool my 6 year old and was looking for a very safe place (we currently live in a gated community). So safety, homeschool community and close access to stores such as Target, Whole Foods and Trader Joes would also be nice:) I keep coming back to Montclair with my current research. Although I have to say, we started with Edgewater. I was wondering what your thoughts were in comparing Edgewater with Montclair and having small children.
    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Lisa,
      I can certainly comment on both towns as I live in Montclair and visit Edgewater frequently with my work as a destination services consultant. My answer will be quite detailed, so I will send you an email instead of taking up a page or so here.

  107. Hi,
    I’m so glad I found this while searching endlessly for help! Luckily or not, I’m returning to the U.S. From India after 2 yrs of trying to settle back in India with 2 kids. No luck there! Too many health issues and man is india expensive to live in.
    Anyway, I’ve looked and researched the best I could to find good school districts and safe communities but seem to get nowhere.
    My kids have had experience with U.S. schooling (WA) so I have sone basic idea there.
    My husband will be working in Weehawken NJ so I’ve narrowed down Rutherford, Ridgewood and Parsippany.
    Any pointers to a good middle school and primary school in the same area will be helpful.

    • Hi Richa,
      All these three areas seem to have good public school districts. Parsippany has 2 middle schools which you can look up on the website http://www.greatschools.org: http://www.greatschools.org/new-jersey/parsippany/schools/

      On this same website you can look up the schools from Ridgewood (which have an excellent name), and Rutherford (no middle school here but two good elementary schools covering Grades 4-8). Depending on how long you are going to stay in NJ, you may want to think about how good the high school is as well, to avoid unnecessary moves later. In Rutherford, the high school is not so wonderfully rated, although Parsippany and Ridgewood seem to have a better rating.

      If schools factor comes out equal, then you will need to consider commute time, expense of housing (Ridgewood is very expensive vs the other 2 but very nice aesthetically). You may want to consider cultural factors such as type of community you want to live in. Ridgewood is a very wealthy town and not very diverse, where as Parsippany is much more diverse culturally and socio-economically. Rutherford is closest to Weehawken but much, much more urban than the other two. Many things to consider although schools needs to be considered first. On the great schools website, you will also get a good feel for the demographics of school population, which may need to be considered. Also remember that while you can pick the town/municipality, your address will determine which school the children go to , which is hard to control absolutely whether renting or buying.

      Hope that helps,

  108. i find this article funny.. most of the american pronunciations on this list are harder to say than the australian ones. and im american!!

  109. Who the hell in America pronounces offer as ARF-ur. I’m going to make you an ARF-ur you can’t refuse.

  110. “Too sweet”? “Too chocolaty”? Said no American kid EVER. What the heck is wrong with fussy Aussie kids? Too sweet and too chocolaty is a GOOD thing!

  111. Haha, I grew up in Tenafly! Right by the nature center, too. I was wondering if it would come up in your blog. I live in the midwest now. It sure is fun reading about my home state through the eyes of a foreigner. I read some blogs of American ex-pats, and am now reading of ex-pats who came to America.

  112. Great ‘to do’ list and links, Thank you! Really enjoy all your posts, they give a great insight of living in NJ that the promo video’s and real estate pages don’t. Please keeo posting!

  113. Dr. Walter Coffey says:

    My mother & grandmother were born in Englewood, New Jersey.

    Thanks for the great photos.

  114. Zelle Ochoco says:

    My son (born Feb 12,2009) is currently a Grade 1 student in an International School (with IBS curriculum) here in the Philippines. His school year starts August 2015 and ends June 2016. I am planning to move to New Jersey this year. My dilemma is that I see the registration for Grade 2 will happen on Feb 2016. One of the requirements is his school card which will be completed come June 2016. What do you advice that I should do? Should i bring him to NJ for registration in February, then have him come over again after June? How about the requirement for a complete school year card? Can that be to follow once he has completed grade 1 here in Manila?

  115. Your website is great – nothing can equal a practical lesson like what you have put up. I have a particular question. My husband has come out on an L1 visa and I am therefore a dependant on L2 status. I am not eligible to apply for a Social Security number but do obviously need a licence. How can I address NJ DMV requirement for a SSN?

    Your reply would be apprecaited.

    thanks, Suresh

    • Hi Suresh,
      Sorry for the late reply but in case this helps, you are entitled to an SSN as an L2 dependent-all L2 visa holders are entitled to apply, whether they work or not. To get a DL without an SSN from the NJ DMV, means you must obtain a letter of denial. This is what the SSA will provide you with, IF you are NOT entitled to one. The letter counts as 1 point, the same as an SSN would towards the 6 Points of ID required at DMV.

      However, I know from my work with other expats that the SSA will NOT supply a letter of denial unless you qualify for one. Whether you want it or not, you must apply for an SSN as an L2, if you want to get a NJ driver license.
      If you have any questions, please let me know,

      • Hi,

        Are you sure that SSA letter of denial would count 1 point toward driver’s license?

        Because, this link


        from the state of New Jersey it says:

        “Special Note on Social Security

        To be eligible for a New Jersey driver’s license or renewal, non-citizens who are legally in the country but not permitted to work and do not have a Social Security card should go to their nearest Social Security Office with the documents from the INS that establish their legal status in the United States.
        The non-citizens should request a letter from Social Security confirming that they are not eligible for a social security card. This is a routine request, but must be made in person by the applicant seeking the motor vehicle license.

        This Social Security letter will not have a point value toward the license.”


        • Hi Michael,
          My information comes from the MVC from a few years ago. It is always possible that it is different so I would recommend you call the MVC general enquiries line to check. I would take their advice over another department’s to be certain.
          Anne Marie

  116. Hi,
    We are planning to relocate in NJ near Short Hills. May I know where is the most suitable location to relocate near to public school with good neighborhood or downtown for family with teenage kids?
    Thank you

  117. Helli, my question is what happens if a child doesn’t register at all?. My neighbor kids are home all day n I know they are of school age.

    • From my understanding there is usually follow up by either school or police but I am not sure. Not wanting to go to school isn’t usually a problem with most expats or even American families as education is highly valued. Its a shame for these kids whoever they are as NJ schools are actually very good quality.

    • Maybe these children are homeschooled. Get to know your neighbor. It’s always good to be concerned. Better to be cautious and not jump to unnecessary conclusions.

  118. Amazing advices! Preparing your children for culture shock is essential. Kids understand things differently. If they want to feel sad leave them. If they want to feel angry leave them, too. It is important to give them space to express their emotions. Best regards!

  119. Hey NJ resident here! The problem with 4-way intersections is that lot of NJ drivers don’t even understand how they work to begin with. So, you will see a lot of them not obey the rule of the road.

    In NJ you can turn right on red at any traffic light unless it is specifically posted that you cannot. Look to your right and above for a sign indicating this. “No turn on red”. Some crazy intersections allow it only during certain times of day.

    Yup, we take the fire hydrant rule very seriously. Tickets are written almost immediately for parking in front of them as they should be. Delaying the fire department from hooking up to one in case of a fire could mean death or serious injury.

    Never park where the pavement or the curb is painted yellow.

  120. Kathryn Simpson says:

    I have a 14 year old high school son and I’m waiting for my home to be sold in East Windsor prior to the loss of my husband on June, 8th, 2015 I’m looking for nice, safe and change of life place to live and I have people overwhelmingly visiting that were never there for me for years with his illness and I’ve been praying that God send me a nice place, with nice people. I’m not racist but, are there African Americans in the area because I’m African American. Thank you

  121. Kathryn Simpson says:

    Also, I’d really like to rent to feat feel of the area. Are there Any town homes or homes for rental and is the school system pretty could. I’m a nice person and desire peace. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

  122. Just stumbled across your blog….thank you!
    We are relocating from Sydney to NJ in the new year. We need to be commuting distance to Basking Ridge – what are your thoughts on Bernards, Morristown? We are looking for an area wit good elementary and middle schools and are trying to compare Catholic and Public – do you have a blog on these? What has been your expeirence, we are coming from the Catholic System in Oz. Did you go over to the US sans kids to check out schools etc, we are not sure we’ll get the time, so may need to do our ‘discovery’ with them…..would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

  123. Hi Anne-Marie, I’ve read all your blogs now on schooling and I must say I’m so confused, not by your writing, but by the choices and what’s best for my children. You mentioned in another post you made the wrong schooling choice initially and then swapped, can I ask what choices you made and how you found the different systems, and how they compare to Sydney’s systems? Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Anna,
      Sorry to reply so late. I have not written any blog posts on comparing the public and Catholic school systems as yet-perhaps an idea for the future. Schools in Bernards area are extremely well-rated and better than Morristown, particularly for high school, although Morristown HS is not a ‘bad’ school overall – it has a diverse socioeconomic group including a large number of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, which provides the school with different challenges to Bernards (much more homogenous socioeconomically and culturally). That said, Bernards is one of the highest rated school systems in all of NJ. Other very good school systems nearby include Madison, Chatham, Millburn, Summit and Westfield-all in commuting distance but further away to varying degrees from Basking Ridge. Very few school systems in NJ are considered poor to be honest, so as well as commuting distance you may want to think about how well you may fit into these towns which vary quite a bit in ‘personality’ and local culture. Choosing this part is much harder as there is not a great deal of available information to judge differences. I will email you separately to see if there is anything else I can help with.

  124. Hi..
    Saw your blog post on ‘The NJ Explore Daily’. We just posted it as well.
    Reach out as your time/interest allows.
    Thanks & kind regards!

  125. This is great information, thank you! We are trying to work out our finances….Can you tell me if there are additional property taxes or are these included in the rent? Are there any other fees additional to agents fees? how much are these usually? thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hi sorry for the very late reply!
      Property taxes are only charged to the house owner but they will be indirectly included in your rent (you wouldn’t know how much is property tax versus other though). However when property taxes go up in a town, the landlord will probably want to increase your rent to offset his/her increased expenses of managing the house.

      Fees for renting include:
      1. 1-1.5 months security deposit paid upfront
      2. 1 month agent fee (paid by tenant). In some areas the agents charge 10% of annual rent cost but this is limited to specific areas. I have only experienced this in Union County so far.
      3. 1 months rent up front
      4. Possible credit check $30-$40 usually but more if renting apartment in rental building – usually called application fee and includes credit check or criminal check, although total cost can be a lot higher e.g. up to $100 or more. The more modern the apartments, the higher the fees often!!
      5. Despite a previous commenter saying that renters insurance is not required, it nearly always is, as NJ real estate standard contract used by most realtors includes this as a standard clause. If not required, would still recommend getting it. Can vary between $150 annually to $250 upwards depending on amount of goods insured.
      6. Sometimes rent can include water, sewerage and/or internet but nearly always this is for apartments only, not rental houses
      7. Additional costs for houses beside utilities which might include gas, electricity, sewerage, water, internet, cable TV, phone (landline), trash removal; would be snow removal and gardening costs. These last two are usually optional depending on whether landlord has a contract for maintenance with external supplier which you are expected to keep up. Rarely there may be a home security fee for security services patrolling, house alarm maintenance etc.
      8. For apartment rentals only, in managed buildings, there other fees that can be charged including amenities fee, moving in fee, pet fee (if have pets). Apartment buildings like this are a bit like banks – good income stream from applying fees for every possible thing. Mostly these are not negotiable but always question if really applicable.

      Hope that helps!

  126. You’ll see a lot more variation among the ShopRite stores than you will with any of the others, because ShopRites are independently owned, whereas Stop & Shop, Kings, Whole Foods, and A&P stores are all owned by the corporation. For instance, the ShopRite in these pictures is the Bloomfield ShopRite, owned and operated by Brookdale Supermarkets, which owns this store and the one in Newark. The ShopRite in Nutley, however, is owned by Nutley Park Supermarkets (Nutley and Belleville); the ShopRite in Passaic is owned by Cuellar Family Markets (which owns just that one).

  127. Somshri Patnaik says:


    The above article is undoubtedly the best guide for applying for a NJ DL. I have got all my documents ready based on your article. I have 2 questions. 1. Do we have to submit our Original documents? If yes, when are we going to get it back. and 2. Where can I find the list of MVC approved translators.


    • Sincere apologies for the later reply and possibly too late to help you now:
      1. Original documents needed
      2. On this page in the NJ MVC website, there is a link on the right hand side of the page to another website which lists the translation agencies approved by the MVC http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Licenses/6PointID.htm. The link goes to the NJ Judiciary website which has approved translators, that the MVC also uses: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/interpreters/registry.html
      Apologies again!

      • Somshri Patnaik says:


        Thank You for your response. I visited one of the DMV and found it easier to just go for a new driver’s license. Passed the written test and showed the license of my home country for driving experience to avoid any restrictions on the license. Then the driving test was pretty simple at Wayne.

        I found your detailed information on immigration status check very accurate. I had to wait a week before my written test and also before I was issued my DL due to immigration status check. Both times a case was opened and I was asked to come back after a week.

        Thank you once again for helping me navigate the process.

        Best Regards.

        • You are very welcome!

        • Hello,

          I am on L2 visa, and I visited the Edison MVC today. I have a valid license from India and also an International permit. I passed the vision and knowledge test. However at the final counter, the lady said that my India DL “is no good”, and I still have to do a road test. To make things worse, I have been given a supervised restricted permit, and I cannot take a road test until 3 months after today. So pretty much I cannot drive anywhere alone! Is there anyway I can appeal/contest this to atleast get to give the road test immediately instead of waiting 3 months?

          I am also told that with an international permit I am only allowed to drive for 60 days after landing here, and 60 days expires next week 🙁

          What is your advice?

          • Hi Ram,
            Sorry to hear about your DL problems but the DMV are known for giving people unwanted surprises like this. Do you have any idea why they said your license is ‘no good’. Usually expats from India are allowed to skip the road test as their home license is recognized. Is there something different about your license? Is it expired or in a different name that doesn’t match your IDL? Not wanting to sound negative but you will possibly find it challenging to get someone to listen at the DMV. If you wanted to, you could ask to see the supervisor or DMV office manager to discuss, and see if they can countermand the decision. These places though are like tiny little empires where they don’t like anyone questioning them, so I have found very few symphathetic ears in all my dealings with them as a relocation consultant. If that fails I would try ringing the MVC and ask them if the matter could be reviewed again by someone else. The MVC has a Legal Dept which you could try as a third option.

            Lastly, don’t worry about the 60 days. From my understanding, as long as you have a valid home country license, IDL and have ‘started’ the process of getting a NJ DL, you should be fine. There is nothing more you could have done than this. Make sure though to carry all these documents when you drive in case you are stopped by police (Home license/IDL/NJ Driver permit-DMV paperwork). Not sure if you are supposed to have decals also for you car?

            Good Luck with the whole thing:)

  128. Mahesh Khuspee says:

    I am staying in Bridgewater, New Jersey and visiting my friend which is in Jersey City on next weekend. Can i apply driving license in Jersey City

  129. Dear ,

    i am moving my children 7th grade and 9th grade from a school in Saudi Arabia to new jersey USA , and my children transfer time will be in the time of midyear school , what is the best procedures to make to move the kids without losing any academic year ,

    your prompt Reply will be highly appreciated ,

    Kind Regards

    • Hi Tambi,
      This is a very good question and not easy as most relocations cause disruption in your life as well as for your family.
      Firstly, timing is very important if around mid-year. Remember that most public school districts in NJ, finish their school year in mid-late june. So if you are arriving after that, then you will not have to worry about registration at schools until a few months time when schools resume in September for start of new school year. To start school though, your children need to be registered prior. In nearly all cases, you will need to prove that you reside in an area to register your children at the local public school where you live. Depending on the school, they will need specific proofs which may take a little time to obtain e.g. rental lease, utilities bill, credit card bill, NJ license all showing NJ residency where the children will attend school.

      So to answer your question, I would try to arrive in summer vacation to allow you time to adjust to life here before starting school, and also get housing settled first, then obtain the necessary documents to allow you to register in time for new school year. You should try and register them at least a few weeks ahead of school start in case there is a delay in getting approval or your documents aren’t accepted (that would be unusual).
      Let me know if you still have any questions,

      • Hi
        My children are 6 and 7.5 yrs old and will be moivng to NJ from India. They are currently in kindergarten (KG2) and primary school (grade 2). We plan to move by early Jan to NJ. Will they be able to secure admissions soon enough, if yes, will be they be able to join at the same schooling level/ grade?
        They are at present studying in English Medium school here (ICSE board).
        Or is it better to wait and get them admissions in next academic year?

        • Hi Pady
          Sorry for the delay in answering your question. Your children should be able to join a NJ school in January without a problem. However, it is difficult to say whether they would continue on in their exact same levels in NJ at January, as this is around the time when half the NJ academic year has already been completed. I would expect the school to test them to see whether they can continue at these grade levels without any real issues, as that is what would be preferred-assuming the Indian levels are the same as NJ. Certainly if that is what you wish for the children, you should make it very clear to the school when enrolling them. If you have some flexibility regarding moving dates, it is always better to start a new school at the beginning of the new academic year which is September in NJ. If I could choose the best time to move, it would be June, when summer vacation starts, and children have a few months on holiday to get used to American life before starting a new school. There are more options for finding housing in summer than winter (January) as well.
          Hope that helps!
          Best wishes and Good luck
          Anne Marie

  130. Hi,
    My 16 year old daughter is moving to NJ from the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a US citizen, but I wanted to make sure if she would be able to register in a high school at this time of year when she gets there, or is it too late. Also, there isn’t an exact date on when she is leaving since we really want to know when the best time is and if she can get into a high school when she gets there first. When do you recommend that she register/transfer to a high school in NJ or would she have to wait till the next school year starts? By the way she is already a senior, and she will be staying with my sister in Paterson, NJ. …. One last thing, if she is able to do so, what documents or papers does she need to take with her from here.

    • Hi Nancy,
      My sincere apologies for such a late response and perhaps this is not needed now but I will try and answer your question.

      To register at school, your daughter will need to have proofs of residency that the school district requires. Every school district is different but mostly they like to see leases, utility bills etc. They will possibly expect her guardian (your sister) to supply these, and sign any paperwork confirming her guardianship etc. She should bring her birth certificate, passport and school records from the prior school, which will prove her status as a senior and helpfully allow a smooth transition into the same year here. There may be lots of other issues to address as well, as including how the Paterson high school interprets her existing credits completed so far towards completion of high school in Paterson. Not sure if total credits required is the same in every high school but unlikely. Also if she is moving mid-way from classes in Virgin Islands to a new schedule here, then how will that work out? Are the subjects in Virgin Is the same and recognized by Paterson NJ? I would think she will need to spend some decent time with the guidance counselor to try and make sure her schedule is appropriate and suits her needs considering her change over. A lot of challenges! I would be talking to the Paterson School district registration personnel asap to get a full idea of what is involved with a transfer like this.
      Sorry I couldn’t be more useful!

  131. Thanks for the article and comment Judy.
    We are moving to the USA in 6 weeks and are trying to figure out if buying a continuous step up converters for our fridege, washing machine, TV, stereo, computer, etc is going to work. We are taking our stuff over in a container, so buying a $100 step up converter seems a much better option than getting rid of a $1000 fridge and then buying another when we are in the USA. Have you used a step up converter with success? Is there one you recommend? What is your experience with various white goods and applicances? Would you recommend it?
    Thank you

  132. I’m from America, and I pronounce these things differently from the way you said we do:
    Anti (interchangeable), reptile, harassment, cordial, car, futile (interchangeable), mobile, gala, offer, aunt, cement, bouquet, kilometer, route (probably because I mainly watch British youtubers), nuclear, missile (interchangeable), fragile (interchangeable), australia, Italian (I have never heard anyone ever pronounce this word with the “Eye” sound), Italy, pasta, taco, yoghurt, caramel, and oregano.

    • Thanks for your comment Ethan. I should have made it clearer that there is not just one way to say words here, and even within one state there are differences depending on whether Americans were raised in NJ or came from other parts of the US such as California, Massachusetts etc. I have heard these words pronounced this way where I live from a variety of people. My husband has had different word experiences in the south as well but I did not include these. Perhaps there is no ‘single’ way that applies to all but hopefully my experiences benefit other expats.

    • I always thought that pronouncing it as “EYE-TALIAN” is considered rude or offensive even. So I totally agree I’ve never heard anyone pronouncing it like that unless they were using it as some sort of insult.

  133. We are moving back to nj after living abroad for 4 years . My daughter is 13 and in 8th grade. She is very young and not as mature as other children . She struggles with school a bit.I m having her evaluated for learning difficulties. I would like for her to repeat 8th grade in NJ. Is it possible? What is the process like in Monroe twp NJ?

    • Hi Julie,
      I don’t know much about how the school district would approach this but I would contact them asap prior to your move and ask them. If you know your new Monroe address then perhaps you can check on what school she would likely attend, as I would think they would make the decision: http://www.monroe.k12.nj.us/domain/1362

      However, perhaps you could get some general information from the Board of Ed. registration person as to whom you can approach for more specific requests such as this. I would imagine they might consider your request but either test her themselves or examine any external testing info you can provide to support your case. It may not be that difficult to do, and while repeating is not great, it will giver her a chance to make some local friends and build her confidence before she moves onto high school, which is a bit of a challenge for all kids really.
      The best of luck to you and let me know if you have any other questions.


  134. I’m a Stop and Shop fan too. While their prices are a tad bit higher than Shoprite, their stores are bright, clean, and organized. Plus, in Shoprite, I have OFTEN picked up produce and found mold growing on it. You have to search very carefully to find produce that is “somewhat” fresh.

    • Hi Deserie,
      Thanks for your comment. Funny that you mention it but I just purchased cheery tomatoes from ShopRite this week and they included a mouldy one in the middle of container that I didn’t see. These are meant to be fresh!!! You are so right about checking produce, and it is quite annoying when you pay so much for it in the first place!
      I would go to Whole Foods more often but their prices are rather high for my liking:(

  135. […] I’d read about Jersey’s summer humidity before we got here, so was ok with that. But now in winter, it’s crazy dry in our furnace-heated house, so a good humidifier is the only bastion between us and the North East’s nasty viruses. I’ve learnt way too much about humidifying recently. For example, I probably read 97% of this ridiculously detailed product review before purchasing the latest fix. […]

  136. Hi,

    We are moving into New Jersey by Jun, 2016 and I am hoping that you could advise me on what grades they might be placed, when they start school in September 2016.

    Our kids were born in Dec, 2007 and Sep, 2009 and they would have completed their 3rd and 1st grade respectively, when they reach US. I am afraid whether they would be required to repeat their grades in NJ, due to the age restriction or whether they would be joining 4th and 2nd grade during Sep, 2016 in NJ. Your valuable inputs and comments will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hi Rajkumar,
      Welcome to NJ and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have so far!
      The decision on what grades the kids will be in does rest with the school. They usually have a cut off date for acceptance into a higher grade of being the right age by 1st Sept or 1st October. If your children are below these dates as they seem to be for the grades you mention, then it will be up to the school to recommend their grades. My experiences so far have been that most schools will try and continue the children onto their normal school program which for your kids would mean go onto 2nd and 4th grades instead of repeating. Sometimes this is just assumed by the school as they don’t want kids to repeat unnecessarily. Where it does come up or the school is not sure whether they should go ahead to the next grade, they may test the children to assess their ability to do the next years work.

      I would contact the school district where you are likely going to live and check what their policy is. I am pretty sure your kids would be fine but in the case where the school wanted to keep them back against your wishes, you can protest /request testing to show the kids are better off in the higher grades. I don’t think any school would try and make them repeat just because of their age being past the cut off date by such a small amount as a few months like your kids. Best idea though is check!!
      Let me know if you have any other questions,

    • Also Rajkumar – make sure you bring their school records to prove they completed the prior school years – this may help and the school prefers to have these anyway for their records.

  137. […] name, or get an MVC employee misinterpret them and turn them away, because according to the blogger Expat Aussie in N.J., it happens pretty frequently. Crikey! A School/College ID can cover another two points, or you […]

  138. Hi Madam,

    I am from India I have a 6 year old son (In 2nd grade here) & would be moving to Edison, NJ in June 2016. From what I’ve gathered uptill now, sessions start in Edison public schools on October 1 2016 & new enrolmets have already started. My biggest concern is if I bring him in Sept/ October (that is when I can bring him here soonest along with my wife), would I be still allowed to get her admitted at that time. I am afraid of seats fetting filled by that time.

    Also if I admit her in October, he would be admitted in 1st grade. He turns 7 years on 12 Dec. So if I admit him after that he would be eligible for grade 2 in Edison which is his current class & would not lose a year.

    Many thanks.

    • Hi Vivek,
      From my understanding the Edison school district does not operate the way you have described. I understand how worrying it is from afar trying to understand the school system but I do not think you need to worry too much. Here is what I would assume after looking at the school website which can often help provide some information : http://www.edison.k12.nj.us/edison
      1. The normal school year starts in September. Here is a link to the school calendar: http://www.edison.k12.nj.us/Page/2. Here you can see that around the 1st week of September in 2015, all classes started the new school year. This is the same in nearly all school districts in NJ. This calendar does not state what the 2016 start date is but it is not usually October.

      2. If you have a residential address in Edison, the school district is required to provide your child a ‘seat’ regardless of when you arrive. The only thing that the school may not guarantee is possibly which school your daughter will attend. Many expats have this same problem of arriving after the official date of school start and it is not usually a problem. If you are concerned, you should endeavor to ring the school district Enrollment Center to confirm what the situation will be. The phone number is +1 732-452-4570. Here is a link for enrollment information: http://www.edison.k12.nj.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=1372

      3. You will need to prove you live in Edison by supplying specific proofs to the district to meet their requirements. This is also listed in the website.

      4. All school districts have cut off dates for determining what school year a child should likely move into, starting with Kindergarten. Every district sets its own dates but these are usually 1st September or 1st October. This is possibly what you are referring to in your question. Although this is a guideline they may use, if your son has already completed Grade 1 in the current school year, and is due to continue onto 2nd Grade in 2016-2017 school year, the district is most likely to put him in 2nd grade. If however, he is considered too young because of his birthday, and they want to put him 1st grade, to repeat, then you have a right to negotiate/argue this point with the school. In these cases, where a child gets put above his age group, they can test him at the school to ensure he is on par to do the higher grade work without problem. If you have good cause for your son to go into a higher grade than what is recommended, you are entitled to push your own case, not just accept what the school says.

      5. Whatever date you arrive should not impact any of the above. Your son should start his school year in the right grade from the very first day of school, once this is agreed with the school (assuming they did not just automatically put him in 2nd grade which is likely anyway I would think).

      Hope that answers all your questions and concerns. Feel free to email me personally for more information if needed.

      Good Luck!

      Anne Marie

  139. This is great thanks, found it through Google. We (family of 5) are about to move to NJ for work in New Brunswick and are also Aussie’s from Sydney so looking for all the help we can get! Any other tips you can give us would be fantastic! Thanks again…

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Very happy to help however I don’t quite know where to start as there are a million bits of information I could supply that you may/may not find helpful.

      However, whatever questions you have feel free to email me through the website or directly at expataussieinnj@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you answers.

      One thing though straight off is to check your name spellings and presentations in your visas match your passport and Australian driver licenses. This is very useful for when applying for documents like SSN and Driver licenses here. The smallest differences cause problems sometimes. Ask the embassy/immigration lawyers to make sure they use exact copy of names in all documents including work permit if you are getting one of these as well.


    • Hi again,
      Let me know if you have any questions about schools, where to live, renting etc. Happy to help!

  140. Hi how did the step up divice work? Australia to USA, ? Did you require a step up device for each item? Did it even work? Any advice would be helpful when deciding what to take in a container to USA?

    • Hi Charlotte.
      Yes the step up devices do work. We purchased several because we took our own lamps, Aussie TV, computers, printers and the odd other electronic device. We did not take fridge, dryers washing machines (as often provided already in the US with houses/apartments) or any kitchen devices, as the cost of a step up would be prohibitive to have them everywhere. Many kitchen accessories are cheap enough here that it seemed unnecessary to take everything. Also you need to be careful about things like hairdryers, irons, electronic drills, etc that need high wattage as they do not convert very well-as mentioned in one of the articles. Many devices these days have dual voltage, so all you will need is a adaptor plug for US sockets. Anything else though needs the step up. You need to purchase different sized step ups depending on the voltage per electronic appliance or device- usually there is a recommendation with the product on what it can handle. We purchased them here in the US online from Amazon, as this seemed cheaper and you need the devices to be accepting AUS appliance plugs but plug into US sockets to work. Hope that all makes sense? Cheers Anne-Marie

  141. Hi,

    I too have similar query. My daughter she is in 7th grade now and 12.3 yrs (in April) we will be moving to NJ in month of May. I am having tough time as not able to decide if to move or not only coz of age difference.

    As I have read so far required age criteria for 8th grade has to be 13 to 14 yrs by September but she will be 12.8 yrs only. I am ok for assessment-ESL to be done but don’t want her to repeat her year. What if after assessment they put her in 7th grade only?

    She is has completed her 7th grade in India. If you can help me understand what to do in such case?


    • Hi Raj,
      I replied a few minutes ago but somehow my reply just went into the ether so I will try again:)
      I know the whole situation of getting your children into a good school and making sure it is right for them, is usually a parent’s largest concern when moving. No matter how bad things are, as long as our kids are happy and being looked after, the rest is not so bad.

      As mentioned to Rajkumar in his above questions, it is the school who decide what level your daughter will go into.
      Don’t be too worried about the cut off birthdates though-as long as she has finished her 7th grade year in your home town, she is very likely to just get enrolled into next logical year-8th Grade. For Kindergarten they look at the age cutoffs (no schooling done prior) pretty rigorously. However, once the kids have already started into the school system, it wouldn’t make sense to make them repeat a whole year just because they are a few months ahead of the school’s normal age. I would not be too worried if it was me.

      However, the best thing to make sure what their approach is, would be to ring the school district where you are headed. If you do not know, perhaps you may at least have some idea and try to ring at least one or two different school districts to put your mind at ease.

      If for some reason, you found they did want to make your daughter repeat, you can push back and query what they are doing. You may need some independent testing to support your case but hopefully the school records showing completion of the previous grade would be enough. However, keep in mind that repeating is not the death knell for your daughter. If she is younger than the other children, repeating would allow her to mix with girls closer to her age. I would expect that if testing by the school showed she needed to repeat, it may also be highlighting some real issues that your daughter would face going onto 8th Grade. Curriculums taught in the US can vary a bit to other countries, and you would definitely want her to be well-grounded before moving onto high school which is pretty intense here and can entail children doing college /university level subjects as early as 10th Grade (if appropriate schooling courses completed prior). Sorry I cannot give you a straight answer as you will only get that from the school you intend to register with. Hope this helps a bit though!

  142. […] Hero (Top) Feature Image: © gary718 / Depositphotos, Inc. Additional Body Images (In Order) Courtesy: © Jenifer Studio Photography © WordPress/Jersey’s Fire © Light Rail Now! © L. Michelle © Advameg, Inc. © Newark Office of Film + Television  © Wild New Jersey © Shlptrip.com/Dr. Sing H. Lin © PLANET CHOCKO © Expat Aussie in NJ […]

  143. They ask to do road test when I have valid pakistan licence for more than 5 years I passed my written test . What should I do ?

    • Hi Hussain,
      Unfortunately the USA, and specifically NJ in this case, only recognize foreign licenses from countries that are signatories to the UN Convention for Road Traffic. If your home country is not on this list of countries, then you are expected to do the road test, no matter how much experience you already have driving. So foreign visitors to the USA from Pakistan, along with China, Thailand and a handful of other countries that are not on the signatory list, will always be asked to do a road test, until their country signs the Convention. There is almost no way to get around this. However, if you have an International Driver License from home, you could try and see if a different DMV branch lets you through without the test. I have heard that sometimes people find the Lodi branch a bit more flexible. However, it is most likely you will need to do the road test so you may need to just accept it and prepare. I recommend a driving lesson or two with a local instructor who can give you some tips on what areas the driving testers look at the hardest, to give yourself the best chance of passing. Also do not be put off if you fail at least once. This is pretty common amongst overseas folk:)

  144. Jayesh Patel says:

    My Son Birth date Is Nov. 05 2006, We Move In NJ Iseline In 31 March 2016, My Son Passed 4 th Grade In India, Now woodbrige School granted Him 3 Grade, How Can I Change This Decision Because He Go To 5 Grade And Now He is In 3 Grade. Can You Suggest Any Suggestion To Solve This Problem, In US Any Upgrading System Is Working If My Son Pass Both Exam 3 And 4 , Then They Upgrade him to 5 Or NOT ? Can My Son Give Both exam ? Tell Me ……..


    • Hi Jayesh,
      Two things are important to remember for NJ schools
      1. They try and place your child in the most logical year to follow from where they have finished from before moving there.
      2. The NJ school year goes from September to June every year

      If you arrive between school year start and finish, as you have ( and my family did as well), they will place your child in the most logical place. Even though your son finished third grade, if he was placed in fourth grade NOW, he would only receive a tiny amount of the full year’s teaching between April-June. Most of the school work is done prior to May, so he would get a very small amount of 4th Grade teaching, and probably not enough to justify he then move onto 5th Grade in September. So to avoid this, the school places him with the children who he will be doing 4th Grade with starting September which are most likely going to be his age as well. Unfortunately he now will be repeating a small amount of school while waiting for the 3rd grade class to catch up to him, since your home school has timing ahead of NJ school (same as my children).

      At worst, he will possibly be bored for 2-3 months but this is better than being thrown into a class of older children who have all completed work your son may not have covered. This may even be another stress to place on him, in addition to the stress of moving here and leaving family and friends behind, which children suffer as well as adults.

      If you still feel that he would have been better off being placed into 4th Grade, you will need some good arguments to support your request and the school will have the last say. In this case you would need talk if possible to the principal (or their intermediary) of the school where he is being sent to start. Call the school office and explain you want to discuss the grading given your son. Without downplaying the situation you face, I can see why the school would prefer he finishes with the current 3rd grade before starting 4th Grade in the new year.

      But if he is way ahead of normal 3rd grade standards, you could request he be tested to ensure he is at the right level. If he does not speak English, this will give the school additional reason to want to allow him some time to acclimatize which he would have, by repeating the last two months of 3rd Grade. I hope this is clear but feel free to contact me again if you have further questions. Understand the school will be trying to do the right thing for your son in this case I believe:)

  145. My son will be 5 on August 5th. I know he is eligible for kindergarten but I do not think he is ready. Do I have the ability to hold him out of school until next year and register him for kindergarten as a 6 year old?

    • Hi Mike,
      This is a very good question and one that is not easy to find a clear answer on. Both state and municipal governments have regulations governing age requirements. I am not an expert on school issues but my impression is that your child would probably be OK at 6 to enter Kindergarten, noting that this is the age when school becomes compulsory in NJ. Also local districts are allowed to decide on whether they will provide a Kindergarten grade or not except in poor income districts (mandatory there). In practice virtually all districts do provide some type of K grade albeit half-day sometimes vs full-day.

      To confirm your child’s requirements, I would contact the actual district where you live or are moving to, and get their confirmation, as each district varies in their own regulation of several aspects of schooling. Sorry I couldn’t be more useful

  146. Thats interesting to hear about how much you miss Aussie food. If you are interested there is a shop called “The Australian Shop” which posts food from Australia World Wide, you could certainly get your Auusie Weet-Bix and anything which can be found in a grocery store. The Shop can be found at http://www.theaustralianshop.com

  147. Ok this is infuriating because first of all lots of the American pronounciations had an “r” where there shouldn’t have been and some were just plain wrong. A few of the words are pronounced the same as the Australian pronounciations even though you had them as different. The most horrid part of it all though is that you are spreading the pronounciations of aunt as “ant” THATS WRONG! An ant is a bug NOT SOMEONES PARENT’S SISTER! It is pronounced “on-t” only people in the stupid parts of the country say “ant” and they are WRONG!!!!

  148. Esha gupta says:

    My daughter will be 5 years on december. She is good in study. Is she eligible for kindergarten in this year?

    • As with previous replies, the public school cut off dates for kindergarten require your child to be 5 years old usually by a specific date that the school district sets for all enrolling children. Most public school districts choose September 1st or October 1st but you should check on the school you are planning to send your child too. If your daughter is only 5 in December, then she would also be only 4 years and 9 months old by September 1st. This means she most likely will not be old enough to start school this year but would start next year in September when she is 5 years 9 months old.

      Always check the specific school district’s own policy but my experience is that they are not very flexible about the cut off date, even when your child is just a few weeks short of it.

      Hope that helps.

  149. Hi my son born in the month of December 2011. We moved in new jersy.He will be 5 years by the end of December 2016. Will he be eligible for kindergarten?

    • Hi,
      You really need to check with the school you are planning on sending him to. From my own experience though it is likely he will not be able to enroll until the September 2017 school year starts when he is 5 yrs and 9 months old. Every school district makes its own cut-off date but I do not know of any that are flexible with Kindergarten cutoffs which usually require the child to be 5 years age by September or October 1st in the school year they are enrolling. Your son would only be 4 years and 9 months at school start in Sept 2016, so therefore likely to be rolled over until the next school year.

  150. Hi!
    Is my expired ID enough for the 4 points? I can’t find my Birth Certificate anywhere and I don’t have a passport.

    • Did you happen to get an answer to your question?? My license expired on June 30 and I am going to renew on Monday. I am hoping a “current” license doesn’t mean non-expired! Thanks so much

      • Hi Tom,
        My understanding is that you should be fine to still get your renewal but assuming you are an expat you will still need to bring your ID such as passport, immigration papers (I-94), SSN card, US bankcard with your name matching, plus proof of residency. You may get charged a surcharge/late fee as well. However you will need to visit the MVC to renew, it is not something they will allow you to do online. This my understanding but you should check with the MVC yourself-you can call them beforehand to get some advice if concerned or just visit the reception desk and they will inform you of the process.
        Good luck

  151. My mother in law just moved from WA state to NJ. We wanted to change her driver license and they rejected the change. She had middle name initial on Certificate of Citizenship, on current WA driver license but not on Social Security card. According to ssa.gov site they don’t consider middle name as part of legal name, so was that rejection even legal ad MVC office (https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0110212001) ?

  152. Hi.

    My name is Rejina and we are in voorhees city NJ. My daughter has completed her 8th grade in India. But when we tried to enroll her in 9th grade , they said like she is little under age for high school(she is completing 13 years and 3 months in sep 2016). We did not want to wast one year .So We tried in Philly , they also said the same thing.
    My question is , is there any middle school with 9th grade?(heard that some schools have).

    How to know the school names? If I google , it is very confusing.
    Pls Help us. THANK YOU.

  153. Bhavesh Rathod says:


    My son was current on 6th October 2011, will he be eligible for current academic year. Please let me know if there are any schools in Ney Jersey who can give him admission.

  154. Bhavesh Rathod says:


    My son was born on 6th October 2011, will he be eligible for current academic year. Please let me know if there are any schools in Ney Jersey who can give him admission.

  155. Hello,

    I came to USA on 1st of April. I have visited Rahway MVC with all the required documents to get the NJ DL after one and half month. Unfortunately during the ID check process, MVC is not able to verify me in the SAVE system. They took a copy of my I94 and raise a case with SAVE to verify my details. They gave me the case number to verify the status online from SAVE website. They told me that they will call me once verification is done. They got my number. After 2 days, I checked my status and the status showing as ‘SAVE has returned your case to New Jersey – Motor Vehicle Commission’.

    To my understanding, SAVE is able to verify my details and send the information to MVC. I have visited the Rahway MVC to get my DL but to my surprise, they told me that the verification is still pending from SAVE side. I am confused now. Not sure the status in SAVE website is correct or MVC is doing something wrong. Anyone has any idea how long it takes to complete this verification process and what are the steps for the verification.

    Please help me on this.

    • Hi Aziz,
      I imagine this must be rather frustrating or at least I would find it so. I have always found the verification part rather hard to get clear information on, so I probably won’t add anything useful unfortunately.

      If you have checked the status yourself, as directed, can you take a copy of this to show MVC staff? A screen print for instance?

  156. This was really enjoyable
    I’m a Perth Australian expat living in Las Vegas Nevada.
    California didn’t have blue skies it was mostly cloudy so we moved to Vegas and it’s much more blue but I do miss Perth beaches!

    I’m a professional photographer and videographer!

  157. Klaus Kaulfuss says:

    Thanks to Expat Aus in NJ
    The information given in the article saved me from buying a 110 – 240 V transformer.

  158. Thanks for your blog! Yeah it’s funny how it sneaks up on you. We have been in Singapore for 6 years after Sydney and Brisbane and the same thing happened to us after about 2-3 years.

  159. Luciana Quinonez says:

    Hello my newphew is coming from Brazil to leave with me he is from 12/18/1997 so 18 now and also an American citizen that leaved here until 3rd grade ! He is there in his senior year ! But here should start senior year on September, went to a public school and heard that he may not be able to attend because he is already 18 !!!!! Is that true ? Is that legal ???

  160. Simone Saboya says:

    Hi my name is Simone And my son CHRISTOPHER is 18 from de 18,1997, citizen and he was already in NJ school system until his 3rd grade And Now is going back to livre with my sister who is a citizen in Springfield NJ and today she went for application and they said cause he is 18 already a senior he may not de allow to go to Dayton School cause his age … My question is this is by the law cause sound me as a discrimination cause he still need the 12th grade to complete…

    • Hi Simone,
      Sorry for the late reply,
      I am unsure of these regulations but I would definitely complain or pushback as it seems unfair by all means. However my own son told me that he thinks that his school has the same regulation-they won’t let anyone who is 18 start a new school year, if not already enrolled I believe. The only option is to complete high school via the GED system in the US, which I think you can take almost any location.
      Sorry I couldn’t be more useful:( Good luck and hope all goes well with your son.

    • Hi Simone,
      I found some interesting information on school age laws in NJ on a legal website I cam across by accident. Perhaps you can read this and check out if you have a case for discrimination:
      It says here that children up to the age of 20 have the right of education at a public school where they live. Perhaps there is a chance you can argue this or contact a legal office for an opinion?

      Good Luck and I would be very interested to know how you get on:)

  161. Somshri Patnaik says:

    I got my DL when I was on F2 visa. MY DL is valid till September 2016.

    I returned home to get F1 visa as Im starting school in August 2016.

    My question is when I return to US on F1… will I be able to drive using my current license? or Should I update my new visa information with the DMV before I can drive. My address and other details will remain unchanged.

    • Hi Somshri,
      Wow you ask a great question! You and I are in the same boat as I just changed my visa from L2 to E3 so have to do same process, although I am uncertain just now of what exactly is required. I am finding out today Somshri, so will reply with any information I find later on. Sorry for my late reply,

  162. my daughter attends a school that i would like to change i want her to go to another district how can i do that.

  163. Hi Aziz,
    I am a H1B holder working in NJ end of May. I worked in California for 4 years and moved here. I went to MVC in first week of June and they told me that my status has not able to verified in USCIS and will call me later. I updated my NJ home address through AR-11 form after I rented an apartment 2 weeks ago. I also went to Canada last weekend and returned to NJ. Should I go to MVC this week or wait for one more week to allow all info updated? It is very frustrating as my California plate also cannot be changed due to my drive lic has not been fixed.
    Do you have any advise on my situation?

  164. Hi there,

    First of all thank you very much for spending time in putting all this things together.

    I am planning to give the Vision and Knowledge test in next few coming days. I just have one query related to 6 point Id verification. I am planning to show my Bank records/statements to earn one point in verification process. My query is as follows: Do I need to carry original statement from Bank or E statement (downloaded from bank website) will work?

    Truly appreciate your help on this.

    Anil Kumar

    • Hi Anil,
      They prefer original statement that is posted to your home or you can visit a bank and they will print out a statement for you from your account. The name and address needs to match all the other documents,

  165. My daughter will be starting kindergarten she is a us citizen but i am from another country. How can i provide 4 forms of proof of residency when we are being allowed to live with a friend? I dont have utilities in my name or paystubs or insurance ofcourse…the administrator who handles registration is saying they wont accept the application if i dont have those 4 forms for proof of residency.

    • I only have access to 2 proof of residency. Lease and mail from welfare

      • Hi Lala,
        You should check with the school exactly what they need. Every school has its own list, often spelt out on their website but if not, ring the Board of Education to ask. Usually as relocating people are often in the same situation, having few documents at the beginning, with name and address, the schools give you a bit of time to accumulate the needed documents, Don’t be too worried but keep the documents you get safe-don’t throw anything out and always try and get an original is possible.

    • Hi again Lala,
      Sorry I didn’t see your first entry with this information, which sounds extremely frustrating from your point of view.
      Your two documents sound very legitimate, and perhaps you could get a Driver license changed to get a third, or an ID if you don’t drive.
      I would not let the school’s response discourage you. If you are legitimately living in someone else’ s home as many people do, your child has a right to school education at the public school from what I understand, although please know this is my opinion not a legal advice.

      I found this article which talks about your situation and perhaps you can use the “Affadavit” approach according to this, although it also states that schools must accept other types of proof if you cannot provide the type they request.


      I hope you can get through with this info and I would definitely stand my ground with the registration people. Often it seems they are the officious type who love to have regulations and are overly obsessed with doing things one way only! The registration person has a boss, so I would insist they meet you if the registrar isn’t helpful. If that fails, I would go to the County and at worst the state (NJ Dept of Education), to make an official complaint and seek redress.
      I would love to know how you get on if you have the time to drop me an email:)


  166. Bhaveshkumar PateL says:

    I went to NJ dmv with all necessary document . but they did not allowed me for computer test because my middle initial name was missing in Homeland Security Record. could you Please help me guiding how can I fix this issue

    • Hi,
      This is one of those annoying things that are hard to comprehend but to get your DL all your documents must have exactly the same presentation and spelling of your names (first, middle and last). The Social security card is supposed to match the Homeland security entry, so if it does not match, then I would revisit the Social Security Administration office where you obtained it, and ask them to adjust it or to advise if Homeland Security should be seen to adjust their records (which is probably the answer) given that they didn’t include all your names correctly when you first arrived. I understand that this is going to require more time and probably frustration but unless you fix the issue with your names, it is unlikely you will get the DL.
      Let me know if you have any other questions and Good Luck 🙂

  167. I am Canadian (close enough to American) and know very well how most Americans without huge regional accents that differ speak. Most of these are quite wrong. While us Canadians also have a few words that we say differently from America (route for example), I can tell you are misinformed about quite a lot of these. I know that there are different pronunciations around America, but the ‘most common’ or most understood and widely broadcast accent/pronunciations of a lot of those are wrong.

  168. We will be relocating within NJ during the month of September. My children (entering grades 5 and 7) currently attend a charter school. I am assuming they MUST attend the charter school for the 3 weeks we will be living in our current location before we move to the new location? I wasn’t sure if they could just wait to begin the school year until we have officially moved to the new location as long as I am in the process of enrolling them in the new school as soon as we can provide documention of our future address?

    • Hi Staci,
      I am afraid I am unable to help on this issue. I would check with NJ State Department of Education to see what is legally required before making any plans. I am not sure that much actual work is done during the first month of school but personally I would be trying to get them into the new school asap, so they can make the changeover as fast as possible psychologically, and to catch the revision work that seems to occur upfront, to make sure they are up to the same levels at the new school. Hard to do though if there are timing issues I know! Best of luck to you,

  169. Ursula Hemard says:

    Thanks lot for this info!!
    I was just freaking out because the movers just told me that I cannot take with me our LG Led TV nor the Klipsch sound system nor the Denon.

    But checking behind the these machines I could find always ‘110 – 240V’, which, as I have understood rightly in your article, is OK for the US.

    I assume toaster and other kitchen appliances won’t work, but at least the expensive things will.

    Is that right?

    • Hi Ursula,
      That is correct from what I know. The different voltage is covered with the range you have so as long as they are not high wattage users, it should be OK. You will need to have a converter plug for Australian plug to US which you can buy at the airport on the way out of the country or on the internet. We still use our Aussie TV and computer here with no problems after six years. However, remember that voltage is only part of the conversion, there is also frequency to consider, so not everything will work well. While our lamps work OK using a transformer, the Aussie bulbs blow on the lamps frequently, which is frustrating so I am assuming this is to do with frequency problems.

      I am not sure about how high wattage sound systems or the other machine you mention is. I would refrain from anything like heaters, hairdryers, electric drills, most kitchen appliances etc. I am not sure what the movers actually know about the subject unless they lived overseas themselves to be honest. Sorry I can’t be more helpful as there is no way to know for sure. Good luck with your move!

  170. I didn’t verify in save either, but I’ve been in the country for months. Not sure what’s going on with that, but apparently I’ll be contacted withing 6 business days.

    Thanks for the useful information yet again! 🙂

  171. Hi There,

    My name is Andy, I am an Australian Citizen and on E3. I had my QLD license for more than 2 years, do I need to give a driving test to get my NJ license or just the Knowledge test. Thank you.

    Kind Regards

    • Hi Andy,
      You shouldn’t need to do the road test at all as Australian licenses are recognized by NJ as part of the UN. Road Traffic Treaty. Make sure though that you have your International Driver license with you when you go to the DMV as even though its in English, sometimes staff use the absence of an IDL to decide if you need to do the road test – in other words they don’t check the list! Good luck with the knowledge test!

  172. My parent in law name got totally f’d up at the flemington d m v. First of all her given name has 2 characters in Chinese like many people in this world which meant the spellings on her green card and passport had either a dash or space between the 1st names but her bank statement had the 2 1st names combined with no space or dash. The lady at the dmv couldn’t do the dash or the space but sh can use the 2nd 1st name as a middle name and I had to explain to her we don’t have middle names as if she cares. So we settled on combining the 2 1st names without a space cuz that’s what many people in this case does.

    Regarding her last name Cheung Chan was on her green card and SS card of which Cheung was her husbands family name and Chan was hers. To avoid confusion she wants to put down just Chan on her dmv application only to find out the license came out with just Cheung on it which don’t match any of her docs. So we had the lady who took the picture change this and she agreed but it had to go with the green card and she has to take her picture 1 more time. Then we had to find out the ridiculous result that they combined the 2 surnames with no spaces. We were like WTF. . .this doesn’t match any of her documents so her name was all f’d up. This day and age with the advance technology in this world they can’t get the stupid computer and their workers to record the right names of people how that’s possible is really beyond me.

    • I am totally with you on this one! Wow that is a crazy outcome that will make your mom’s life a nightmare every time she has to use her license for ID. I also don’t understand why their technology is so limited that they can’t all use better software that avoids all these problems. My experience was not so bad but it is kinda annoying that they can’t let me run with my one First name Anne-Marie: all because their visa software doesn’t accept hypens. Not only does that seem daft but the DMV examiner I got checking my license at the end demanded to know why ‘I’ had this problem-as if I would choose to mess my name up…. Amazing!!

  173. Hi,

    I went to NJ DMV to get my license renewed today . I took my original I797A copy. They said, they could not verify my immmigration status and will have to do a SAVE check. I checked your website and figured that I did not print out my latest I94 from the CBP website. They went with the I94 on my I797A document which was probably why they couldn’t verify my records.

    Would it help if I go submit that on Monday in DMV? I am just too worried now as my drivers license is only valid for less than a month and I need to drive. Please help.

    • Hi
      Not sure if I am too late for your question but I wouldn’t bother trying to re-submit anything, as you would probably won’t get your SAVE review back any quicker-they still review SAVE regardless of how recent your I-94 is. Unfortunately once you start this process, you might as well wait till they finish the checkup, as I doubt you will save any time. If your license runs out you still have some period of grace to get renewed – you will get your SAVE check done before the grace period ends. If you are concerned, try calling back personally at the MVC to check out where the case is status-wise. The only real worry might be if the police stop you with your license expired before the SAVE case is finalized but since you have a month before expiry, it is highly unlikely you won’t get an answer back from SAVE within a month. In short you should be fine,

      • Thanks for your response. My license expires September 23rd. They have given a Save case #. The website says 3-5 federal working days as the processing time. However, it’s been more than 5 days and the case status hasn’t changed. NJ DMV said 3-10 business days when I went last week for my renewal. Save check website has posted that if we don’t see a change in case status after 10 days return to the benefit granting agency. I am just too nervous now as I need to be able to drive and my license is expiring soon. Has anyone had this experience earlier?

        • Hi Anna,
          Honestly, I wouldn’t be too concerned just yet that they are taking unusually long-it is common for the SAVE verification to take more than 5 working days and less usual but it is possible to take 2-4 weeks (when there is an issue of clarification needed with your name i.e. spelling etc or other).
          Most likely you will hear back from them within 10 working days, and be in time before it expires. My husband let his license expire accidentally by a week or so and had no problem re-newing it, so that part is not an issue. And technically your license is still valid until 23rd so there shouldn’t be a problem driving now. If however, you are by remote chance still waiting by 23rd Sept for SAVE, I would carry my SAVE case with my expired license, if you are going to drive but maybe a call into the MVC would be worthwhile to check this will save you any tickets from the police if stopped (after 23rd Sept). You still have some time yet though!
          Hope it all comes through soon,

  174. Hello!

    My partner and I are moving back to NYC area from Hong Kong, what are your thoughts on Weehawken? We like restaurants, downtown feel and walkable.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Randal
      Based on what you mention, I would most definitely prefer Hoboken because it has everything you mention: a nice downtown, a great array of restaurants and it is all pretty walkable being only 1 square mile. No matter where you live you have some part of the downtown southern/central/northern parts of Washington St all have some concentration of restaurants, and even so there is an option of walking or catching the town jitney bus around the township itself.

      Weehawken is not quite the same. The area where most young couples are is along River Rd and there is no downtown here, just little centers of concentrated commerce between large apartment communities. Certainly not a ‘walkable’ downtown in that sense. The real Weehawken downtown though is OK but quite away (west of River Rd) from where all the apartment action, ferry crossings, and Hudson Bergen Light Rail is along River Rd, which many younger singles and couples want to commute to NYC. The only problem with Hoboken is that it is pretty expensive for NJ although still a lot less than NYC with the advantage also of having some larger apartments.

  175. Anathea ruys says:

    Have you been able to buy bulbs with the right attachments for your Australian lamps? We don’t want to leave our lamps behind but I’m not sure what bulbs are available in states. Thanks

    • Hi,
      No we could not buy the right globes here for 2 reasons: 1. they don’t do bayonet globes which my lamps require-they only do screw-in bulbs; 2. US bulbs only work on US lights due to different voltage and frequency used in Australian lamps. We brought bulbs with us and re-fill on trips back home to Oz but even then with a transformer in the US, the bulbs short out much quicker than normal, so this can be a bit trying. Lamps are cheap here relatively, so may not be worth taking with you. If I had my time again, I wouldn’t have taken them to the USA.
      Hope that helps

  176. Thank you for your response and suggestions. As far as I know, my name etc., is perfect in all records. I have checked the USCIS website myself and my latest I94 etc., reflects the real date etc. I am not sure why SAVE is taking longer. However, they have posted in their website that due to high volume of SAVE verification cases, their response times have slightly increased. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Hope it all comes through soon!

  177. My wife and I recently moved from TN to NJ. My wife’s driver’s license expired two weeks ago and we want to have her license renewed in NJ.

    We went to a MVC on 9/8 with all necessary documents. Yet, we were told that we need to print out a recent I-94. We switched from J to H visa but haven’t gotten a visa stamp yet. We have I-797C (approval notice). We got I-94 when we were on J visa and its status is D/S.

    Anyway, we visited US CBP website to get a recent copy of I-94. Yet, although we entered correct information, the website says it is not found and suggests us to go to a deterred inspection site. The nearest site from our place is Philly’s international airport. We’re very irritated and frustrated with this. Do we really need to go to the airport to get the most recent I-94? We didn’t go out of the country since we got the I-94 on our passport. Will our I-94 be updated when we switched from J to H? We are not sure what kind of I-94 we get?

    Any idea?

    • Hi Hama,
      I understand how frustrating this can be. I have also had to revisit the International airport to have details fixed by the Immigration/Homeland security people just to have my I-94 with right details! Just what you feel like-another little trip to the airport but without any holiday as reward:)

      I am not a trained immigration lawyer so all I can do is give you my opinion, for what its worth. I suspect that because you are in between visas i.e changed from J to H but not documented in all places yet e.g. need the stamp on visa/correct entry in SAVE database, the government is still in the process of changing everything over. This is why you are not getting an I-94 from website now. You do need a new one if your visa has changed, and since the system has started to record the change, you cannot use the old one no matter when it was generated.

      If you want to do something about your wife’s license, you will either have to do as they suggest (visit airport so an I-94 can be generated on the spot or fast-tracked by your visit) or wait until all details settled but your wife’s license will be getting more out-dated. They do give a grace period for out-dated license-not sure how long this is perhaps 60 days? If you feel uncomfortable about driving with the expired license, personally I would do as they recommend. Anything to get the NJ license changed over. The last thing you want is to be forced to do a full application- I am sure your wife has already been through this fun and games already in TN. I hope what I have said helps but if you need specific advice, you may be better off speaking to an immigration lawyer.

      Good luck



      • My wife and I could recently renewed our licenses. It turned out that we need the actual approval notice with I-94. The receipt notice is not sufficient.

        Now, we are waiting to register our car and get a tag number.

  178. Hi,

    Your article is very helpful! I have one question though. I am a permanent resident living in Jersey City (originally from South Africa), I have a valid South African drivers license, but it is in my maiden name. All my other documents (Green card, SS and prove of address) are in my married name. Would I have to take my marriage certificate with? Will they accept that? I would much rather just do the written test as I do not own a car, but need a drivers license for my new job.

    • Hi Coco,
      It is always difficult to predict what documents are acceptable to any particular DMV as I have perhaps ironically referred to. Some are more demanding than others and it is not well delineated in more complex cases such as your example.

      This would be my approach, albeit this is just an opinion-I am not a trained expert such as a lawyer etc. I would take all the documents you have. Check that your SA license is still valid. If you have an International Driver License I would also bring that and my marriage certificate, and possibly my birth certificate if available. If any of the documents are not in English, you will need to get them translated by an MVC-approved translation agency before going to the MVC. I have the link to the list of such translation agencies in the article I believe. I cannot guarantee it but based on having a Sth African license, you should be able to miss the driving test as your license is recognized under the shared UN convention on traffic. So just the eye test and knowledge test needed most likely:)

      Take all this and see how you go. Stay away from the office at Bayonne. perhaps try Lodi (if convenient).
      Good Luck!

      • Thank you for your response. I went to the Lodi DMV yesterday with all my documents (marriage certificate and birth certificate included). The wait for the ID check was 2 hours. After that, I paid for my permit and was sent to the testing center. Once there, they asked to see my South African drivers license. I told them it was in my maiden name, and they did not seem bothered by it at all! They didn’t even want to see my marriage certificate. I did the eye examination (much easier here than in SA) and took the written test. I passed, yay! They put the silver sticker on my permit and told me to go and get my license!! I could not believe it was so easy! I was dreading having to go through the process again, because in SA it is a hard process to go through. This was so easy and I had my license in my hand within 3 hours of entering the DMV. Thank you for your blog. It really help make this process go smoothly.

  179. Well written. This coming from a native jersey girl! Lol

  180. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your article seem too be
    running off thhe screen in Firefox. I’m noot sure if this is a format issue or something
    to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to leet you
    know. The style and design look great though! Hope yyou get the problem
    fixed soon. Cheers

  181. Hi,This is Senthil.My son will be moving to Jersey city on September 30th.He is in 4th grade in India now.He will be supported by his mother who works in jersey city since April 2015.Will he be allowed to get admission in any nearby public schools?His mother arranged multilingual assessment appointment on October 4th.

    • Hi Senthil,
      Any family living in a school district with school-aged children is entitled to a place at the local school district’s school. Usually this will be the neighborhood school which is determined by your address. As long as your wife has the following:
      1. Proof of residency (PSE&G electricity or gas bill or a telephone Bill) from her Jersey City address
      2. Proof of age (Birth Certificate) – your son’s birth certificate,. If in another language, you will need to have a translation with this in English.
      3. Immunization records (need also to be in English) – very important so the medical staff understand what your son has already received, so they do NOT double up on immunizations. Then there should be no issue in getting registered. She should also bring if possible a transcript of your son’s school record from India or at least a copy of his most recent report card (desired but not compulsory).

      You may be aware of this but Jersey City public schools do vary a lot in quality. if you want to see what I mean, look at the following link where the schools are reviewed: http://www.greatschools.org/new-jersey/jersey-city/jersey-city-public-school-district/

      Here 10 is the best and 1 is the lowest. As you will see, some schools are wonderful, and others are scraping to get by. If you are interested, check your son’s school against this. If your wife stays in Jersey City, the only way to get around the poor schools is to move near a good school e.g. Cornelia Bradford Elementary or other. Other options are to move to a town with better schools which of course is much harder logistically and financially, so it may not be possible. If you need any more information, feel free to email me or drop me a line in the contact page.
      Good luck,

      Anne Marie

  182. Hello,

    I just had query regarding admission of child into kindergarten which says after age 5. My kids birthdate is 14 September and I read few articles which say child should be of age 5 before 1 September for admission. Is it like my kid won’t kid admission for just 14 days, will he need to wait for 1 long year to get admitted to kindergarten? Can you please help me with my query? Let me know if there is way we can get exception for 14 days as he will complete 5 year next year on 14 September and I wanted him to get admitted to Kindergarten…

    • Hi,
      The September date is quite common but each school sets its own date, and some actually use October 1st rather than September 1st. To find out which one the school uses, you would need to know the school you are applying for and then check their website for registration details for kindergarten or call them via phone. The schools set the rules but I have yet to find one that has any leniency with the set date, no matter how close your child is for Kindergarten (14 days included). The only way to know though is to call them and ask.
      Hope that helps,

      • Hello Anne,

        Thanks lot for your reply…

        Do we have some link or list of schools schedule. We will further plan to move to that location where the school starts in October or has leniency with the set date?


        • Hi,
          I wish I could give you a list of such schools in NJ but it doesn’t exist to my knowledge. You may want to try looking at some possible locations that might suit you for work/transport/cultural reasons, and then get a short list of the school districts (one school district per township usually) and try looking at the school district websites or calling them to ask (if information not available on website). It really is a town by town decision.
          Hope that helps!

  183. Hi! Love your website. It’s really useful. We’re Australian, currently in the UK and getting ready to move to New Jersey. My husband is going to work in New Brunswick. We’re currently looking at either Hoboken or Princeton….I have two children (6 & 8) and think maybe Princeton might be a better option for us. Schools in the area seem very good. However, I was hoping to work and thought there might be more opportunities for be being closer to NYC but seems like people do commute okay. Also, my main priority is getting the kids settled after another move. And the property seems more affordable in Princeton than Hoboken. Any tips you have re: Princeton v Hobken for a family would be gratefully received 🙂

    • Hi Kate,
      There is a lot I could tell you about both towns as these are both places I take relocating people to often but I will try and keep my comments to a readable level for a blog.
      1. Safety – these towns both have night life and lots of young revelers visiting/living here, Princeton has college students and Hoboken is a young single person’s dream destination in NJ. This means the crime levels are not going to be as low as more sedate areas such as Madison, Chatham, Basking Ridge etc. Both towns are rated as ~32/38 for Crime Index which means safer than 32/38% of US towns-thus more than 69/62 % of towns are safer. Hoboken has more violent crime but both have comparable property crime. Crime is concentrated in the most crowded commercial areas of the downtowns in both places unsurprisingly.

      2. Schools – public schools in Hoboken are known to be poor/low rate while in Princeton they are the opposite. Even if using private schools in Princeton, then there are a wealth of choices.

      3. If you want public schools in Princeton, then you actually have to live in borough borders. many people use Princeton name (referring to greater Princeton) but they are sometimes in another borough, which then determines school choice. For private schools it doesn’t matter.

      4. The commute from Princeton borough to NYC is long, although people do it. Usually choose bus or trains (shuttle train to Princeton Junction, then major NJT train). For such a long commute you may need help w the kids, if there is an early dismissal called due to snow day or else, as you will be a long way away to be very responsive. Nannies/babysitters are available though.

      5. I love both towns but Princeton is perhaps a better family choice due to an abundance of reasons including schools however, it is a long way away. Philly would be closer for work than NYC. Alternative options exist in between but if you have set your heart on this Ivy league town, so be it!

      Let me know if you need me to clarify anything. Don’t forget Montclair where I live is both a neat college town with better safety and also close to NYC-No joke, it is full of media types (lol)

  184. Thanks for sharing! they are great tips! I have just started working in a new country and started to read different expat forum and joining different groups to expand my social circle!

  185. Saheli Mukherjee says:


    The above informations are really valuable.We shifted to New Jersey on 24 Sept,16.
    My son ‘S birthday is 31 Jan , 2012. He is a 4 yrs old but was going to Kindergarten in India. Please advise when is the right time for us for registration . Following the informations I found out that he has to wait until next year to start school.

    We would be locating at Edison .Please advise which school we should send him.

    Thank you in advance ,

    • Hi Saheli,
      Now that you have moved here, you can register him technically, whenever you want before school starts, as legally, once you are a resident of a township, the public school district has to find your child a place in their school system.

      That aside, you will possibly find that the school district which includes all the schools in your township, will have a specific registration time for new kindergarteners-often in February before the school year starts. For your child it would perhaps mean February 2017. However, you should contact the school district to find out how they will approach registration. When you move to a township like Edison, the district allocates you a particular school-you don’t get to choose it. It will usually be based on your address in Edison-each school usually have their own area in the town which they serve.
      Let me know if you have any other questions,

  186. Hi,
    My wife recently changed her passport name from Maiden to after marriage and we came to US. The Visa was done on Maiden name so the I -94 reflects the old name. But rest documents we have new Last Name . Since we were in US before she also has SSN in her Maiden name.
    Now we want to have her License done in new name. Please suggest if there will be any issue.

    • Hi Mandar,
      I would think that your wife’s SSN must be changed first to match the I-94 so that your documents are matching, It must have the exact same name spelling and presentation if possible as the I-94.

      Her home country license would also need to be in her new name if possible, although many DMVs accept a marriage certificate to broach that issue. Any supporting documents like the marriage certificate should be in English, and if not then they need to be translated using an MVC APPROVED translation agency as listed in the article. Bring the original document with you.

      Other ID proofs and proof of residency must also use the same name you have in your I-94 and the new (changed) SSN.

      I cannot promise that having your wife’s passport in her maiden name still (while visa is different) will not be an issue but I wouldn’t expect it should be, as long as you have the marriage certificate in English.

      Also when you go to the SSA office to change your wife’s name, you need to take your original marriage certificate with you then too.

      Lastly, when you go to the DMV, do not go to a small agency, try going to Lodi if that is near enough-they are one of the better ones, usually.

      Good Luck, and please let me know how it turns out!


  187. Lindsay Rolls says:


    My husband and I and two children (3 & 9months) have just moved to Princeton from Sydney. Your blog has been super helpful to us so far! I’m actually wondering if you can point me in the right direction for some playgroups etc or know another blog/person who might be able to?


    • Hi Lindsay,
      Thanks for the nice comments. Princeton is one of my favourite towns ever! When it comes to playgroups, I don’t have a lot of info unfortunately, although I would have thought there would be a reasonable choice available. There’s a ‘Mothers & More’ Chapter in P and you can read up on this athttp://www.princetonol.com/groups/mothersandmore/.

      There is also a Baby Playgroup at Princeton Library but this allows only babies/toddlers up to 17 months, so maybe not suitable for you.

      There is a Meetups website that often includes organized groups – here is the link for Playgroups near Princeton: http://www.meetup.com/topics/playgroup/us/nj/princeton/. There may not be many suitable here but depending on where you are, one or two may be suitable.

      There is also the Moms Club, a national association with chapters across the country. There doesn’t seem to be one in Princeton but there is a chapter in adjacent towns of West Windsor and Lawrenceville which are known as greater Princeton. Here are links for the national club: http://www.momsclub.org/; and Lawrenceville Chapter: http://www.freewebs.com/momsclubeast/. Not sure if they care whether you come from Lawrenceville or Princeton but should check.

      Lastly here is a list of groups for mums that serve Central NJ : http://www.mommyhoodcentral.com/?p=1325
      I would also do a search on Facebook as many playgroups have set ups here. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

      BTW if you are looking for things to do outside playgroup, I just listed an article on Princeton on my own Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ExpatAssistNJ/.

      Good Luck


  188. That’s a good list.
    I just recently moved to Seattle, WA from Sydney.
    Apart from the obvious I think two things I’ve missed like crazy would be chicken salt! Every chip shop (“fries” for our US friends) would have a bottle of it on stand by.

    Also chicken flavoured chips (chips for our US friends this time… confusing, I know) seem to be non-existent.

    However, I’m spoiled for meat pies, a couple hours north of Seattle in a town called Bellingham is a store called Man Pie. The owner lived in Melbourne for several years and opened an Aussie style pie shop when he came home.
    It is amazing and FAR better than Pie Face 🙂

  189. […] with the usual SSN application, passport and visa. This process was written about previously: How to Apply for a Social Security Card in the USA. During your application visit, the SS officer will check the S.A.V.E. database to see if your […]

  190. […] of the last documents that expats relocating to the USA have to apply for is their DL. As highlighted in earlier posts, this can be one of the most frustrating things any expat goes through. This is partly due to the […]

  191. Hi,
    This is Rajneesh .we will be moving to New Jersey near Near Moorestown nj.
    My son is in 2nd studying in Bangalore expecting his travel on first week of December please help me with the following information to get admission in 3rd .
    1-session ends in march in Bangalore Halfyearly exam result TC migration certificate is fine to get admission in 3rd ?
    2- When session starts in NJ public school ,is it possible to get admission in between ?

    Please help since we are new and do not have idea about USA NJ admission system

    • Hi Rajneesh,
      The school year for most NJ public schools has already started, with September being the usual time it commences. The exact date will depend on which school district you are going to be sending your child to. School registration is often done via the School District Registrar. Any information required by the district to enroll your child will be provided to the new students parents. Often the district will give you a group of papers to complete (called a packet), and these need to be filled in by the parents before registration can be completed. As per my article, the school district usually requires several proofs that you will be residing in their geographic area. As you can see from Moorestown School District’s website at http://www.mtps.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=255011&pageId=1057567#NewReg, they require 5 proofs of residency which will be needed for your registration. If you are attending a different school district you must find out exactly which one it is, and then look up their requirements online as I have. If these are not listed, then contact the school district administration office and they will provide you with any information needed.

      Registration is usually required before any decisions are made about which level/grade your child will be placed in. This is decided by the specific school that he will be attending in the school district. They may ask for evidence of school completion in Bangalore but they may also need to test him to assess his school skills versus the NJ school requirements. If you feel he should be placed in 3rd Grade and they are intending to put him in 2nd Grade, you can ask that they assess him to see if he can manage 3rd Grade but this is a school decision. All you can do is to query the results if you feel they have underestimated him. However, be aware that schooling skills vary between countries, and even between states. Even if he does repeat-have to complete Grade 2 here, remember that he will already be readjusting to a new country, new house, new town, and perhaps a new language. In these situations, repeating some school may make at least his school work easier when there are so many other adjustments to make.
      Kind Regards


    • Hi again Rajneesh,
      I realized that I didn’t answer all your questions. You can register you child at any time during the school year, which lasts from September-June approximately. As soon as you have housing organized in the school district area where your son will attend, then contact the school district for registration requirements. It may take some time to get all the information required by the district. Bring all the certificates and information possible from your son’s old school to show the school here. However if your school information is not in English, it will need to be translated by a recognized translation agency. Your child’s immunization records also need to be brought along, and again if not in English, these should be translated-these are best done by your doctor or medical colleague who can understand the medical language used in any local certificates of immunization. You will need your child’s passport or birth certificate, and lastly you will probably be required to get a full medical exam by a local NJ doctor, who will probably need to complete the school district’s own medical questionnaire for your son. This is often required for all new students, regardless of where they come from in the US or elsewhere in the world.

  192. I have a friend who works at comfyco.com and honestly got all my furniture within last 5 years from those guys. They deliver pretty fast and most importantly – they have one of the best prices around. Selection is not that great, but you cant be perfect in every way, I guess.

  193. Hey,

    Thanks for writing such a helpful blog post. I’ve 4 year old son (Sept 2012 born) and I moved here last week. I’m looking for school for him, provided details to Dept of Education and still waiting for appointment. Couple of questions:
    1. Whether 4 year old (pre-K) is eligible for public school?
    2. Generally, How long I may need to wait for confirmation for admission?

    • Hi Pandu,
      Many public schools in NJ do provide pre-K, although not all. To find out you need to look at different school districts to see if it is offered by the school district, and if there is a particular school that offers it. There is no general NJ state rule, as each school district (usually one per town), sets their own classes, often based on whether they have funds to cater for pre-K.

      Also, it is important to know that many districts offer pre-K classes preferentially to children with specific/special learning needs, over those who would be considered average, so that they have an opportunity for extra learning before Kindergarten starts the year after. This means there is limited to no places available for other pre-K children who are expected to be catered for at home or through a private pre-K which the parents can choose to pursue at their own cost. Not all school districts follow this approach but many do. Of course, there are usually a number of private kindergartens or preschools that are available in most areas in NJ. These will charge fees for attendance, while public schools are usually free or limited costs.

      Places in public school pre-K are often allocated a long time ahead-perhaps up to one year ahead or at least several months in advance. Like kindergarten registrations, parents must prove they live in the area that the public school pre-K caters for. This like in previous answers means having between one – five residential proofs e.g. some proofs may include a signed lease, electricity bill, driver license, again something the school district controls. You will likely need to apply to a school district to get into pre-K but if your son is 4 now, then nearly all school pre-K classes will have started (school year begins in September) and you are likely too late. Your best option is to try and register your son for kindergarten starting in September 2017, and get him into a pre-K that is privately run beforehand.

      I hope that answers your questions,
      Kind Regards


  194. Hi Anne-Marie,

    This is Seema and we will be moving to NJ in Jan 2017 and we have a daughter who is Oct 2011 born. I have few questions which are as below:
    1. Will the schools accept admission in the middle of academic year
    2. Also my daughter has not received all the required vaccinations. So will there be any complications in her admission. And what can be done now.

    • Hi Seema
      1. I think its unlikely that a public school will allow your daughter to start half-way through the year in her first year of school in kindergarten, as January is approx. half-way. The only way to know for sure though is to ask the school district of the town where you are relocating to. I suspect they will ask you to defer to Sept 2016 instead, however I am making a guess. Best to check yourself when you arrive.

      2. Vaccinations are expected to be complete before school starts. NJ immunization requirements can be found at: http://nj.gov/health/cd/documents/k12-parents.pdf
      You can either get these done at home or after you arrive in NJ. The other important thing is that the records showing your daughters vaccinations (from both in NJ and back home) be in English. If not in English, then they must be translated by a reputable source, such as a doctor or specialized medical translators.

      I hope that helps

  195. Interesting read! I moved with my family to SF a year ago and even though there is a great choice of healthy options here the portion sizes are sometimes so big that I can share the kids meal with my two daughters!

    • Thanks for your comment! We also share some meals to avoid overeating. I often order a child’s meal to get a more suitable portion size. I guess that’s why doggie bags are so prevalent here. One place I went to has them stacked up to help yourself at the hostess welcome desk. It looked like they were being dispensed pretty freely 🙂

  196. We have nearly filled our house with second hand furniture from Habitat for Humanity Resore in Wayne. It’s in good condition, bargin prices and money goes to a good cause.

  197. Pallavi sinha says:

    I am Pallavi and we will be moving to NJ by mid December. I have a daughter who is May2007born. I want to know will admission be possible for her in public school in mid session. Also all her vaccinations are done except one pending which is at 10years. Can it be done after shifting to NJ..will it have any problem in her admission?

    • Hi Pallavi,
      Once you are a resident in any NJ town with school-aged children, the local school district must find a place for your child in their school system. Many children start mid-year including my own so this is not usually an issue. If you have all the necessary immunizations for your daughter’s age, then there should also be no problem. Your daughter should be given a place but you may not get a choice in exactly which school this is, if for instance there is more than one suitable school.

      For the new vaccination required e.g. the one required at age 10, you can get this done in NJ at a doctors surgery. The school nurse will also check your child’s immunization records once she starts school and will notify you when the next one is due. So don’t worry about it til then. I have listed the link to the NJ school immunizations list in a previous answer, so you can also check her records against this to be sure you have everything done.
      Good luck and I hope your family enjoys NJ

      • Pallavi sinha says:

        Thanks for ur reply…one more concern is do I need to take TC transfer certificate from school she is attending in India or just a printout of her marksheet is sufficient.As she will be midway class 4 so only recent grade sheet of half sem required?

        • I would take both with you. The more information the school has, the better they can assess your daughter to see what grade she should move into in her new school.

  198. Wtf is this list? Had me “larfing” so hard. I’m American and I couldn’t even read half of your “American pronunciations”. Seriously? What the heck part of America are you talking about? Have you even ever been here? lol

    • Hi Sarah,
      Actually if you read the article you would know that I live in NJ, and have lived there some time-nearly 7 years now. I do make a point in the article that these pronunciations do NOT cover everywhere in the US. I stand by what I have written after reading this list again several times, I would change nothing on here. I don’t mind comments, even those that disagree, as you will see from earlier entries. However, surely it is not too much to ask for you to be polite in your disagreement. I have written this from my own experience-something you are not really able to critique I think. Keep ‘larfing'(spelt laughing, in case you need some help) as you will need your sense of humour in the next few days!

  199. Would be curious on your opinion on this one, we are both Australians who have relocated to NJ. I completed the whole process and got my NJ Drivers licence without a road test, my wife completed the whole process but requires a road test. Both of us have exactly the same licence, but my wife’s was considered void and mine wasn’t…

    Logic was because there was no donor code or conditions on the licence (e.g. spectacles) and therefore void as described in the book. I will probably go back to the MVC in Newark to understand the difference and I also curious if we wait until the road test what licence she will get when she passes the test…

    Any opinions / commentary would be appreciated.


    • Hi Anthony,
      I am quite surprised to hear about your experience-the first time anything remotely like this but it is common to get different outcomes from different people in the same MVC or between different MVCs. It is not easy to protest or query these decisions-best done at the time rather than later. However, I certainly believe you have a case to argue for your wife to avoid the road test, when she has same license as yourself. My NSW license doesn’t have donor codes or glasses indicators on it either so that’s a strange judgement they’ve made! Then not unusual behavior for any MVC in my experience. I always tell people to go to Lodi if in Northern NJ, as they can be more on the ball but not perfect either. Stay away from Bayonne or any small agency. Newark should be relatively large and therefore sometimes has the more experienced people.

      I would ask to see the Manager of the MVC and take all your documents w you. If you have no luck, you could try another branch like Lodi. Failing this-you could ring the MVC telephone enquiry line or ask for the MVC legal Dept-then try discussion there-as they are the ones that know the most.

      Your wife’s license shouldn’t be any different to your own except she will have ‘wears glasses’ marked on it. I am wondering if this is the issue that has created the problem-your wife wears glasses now and didn’t in Aussie License ID pic?
      Anyway, let me know if you need any other info. Good Luck!

  200. Hello Anne-Marie,

    My son was born in NY and is an American Citizen, but we live in Istanbul Turkey.

    He has never attended any school in USA as we came back to Turkey when he was two (now he is 15).

    We are now planning to enroll him in a public high school in NJ for 2017-2018 school year starting from 11th grade.

    However, we cannot move to US but we know a family who currently resides in NJ, who are also ready to become my son’s parental guardian by signing caregiver authorization documents.

    I know that my son can enroll in a public school, but my question is; if he stays with the non-relative family in NJ, do we have to pay a tuition fee to the public school or will it be free.

    Thank you so much in advance.


    • Hi Mehmet,
      This is a great question. I would expect that as long as you have legally bonafide authorization documents showing the NJ family are his guardians, and they provide all the required proofs showing residency in the school district he will be attending, then in principle, he should be entitled to attend the school as per other residents children (no tuition fees but some ancillary costs for field trips, etc). There are different categories for school administration to accept children, and it seems if you have legal guardianship, then this is more straight forward, than other options.

      However please be aware of the following:
      1. This is just an opinion, I am not a lawyer, so my opinion may not be correct. You should in fact contact the actual school district he is planning to attend, and check if they have any special criteria that may affect your son’s admission outside normal requirements.
      2. Normal requirements for registration can be rather complicated in the number of documents needed to be signed, as well as other documents needed to bring as proofs. I am including some links to NJ school info to help you grasp what’s likely to be needed. However, every school district has their own way of approaching registration, including the parents/guardians giving proof of residency. Residency proofs are usually needed first before registration. Again, you are better off checking with the actual school district he is applying to attend. Best to ring ahead early to see if there are any likely issues that you are not aware of.
      3. From what I have read, there is a 6-month waiting period between the granting of legal guardianship and then the child’s school registration being even considered. I do not know if this waiting period requires your child to live with the guardian for the 6 months at the guardian’s address. This would complicate things for you I am sure, so that will need to be clarified. Also you will thus need to plan ahead for getting the guardianship established at least 6 months before your son’s intended start date.
      4. You will need to make your friends/guardians aware of what is involved with the paperwork, so they are not unpleasantly surprised by this, and can be prepared.
      Here are some links for you:
      Example school registration requirements: Madison NJ School district: http://www.madisonpublicschools.org/domain/58
      Example school registration requirements: Woodbridge NJ School District: http://www.woodbridge.k12.nj.us/cms/lib010/NJ01913008/Centricity/Domain/88/HIGH_SCHOOL_RegPkt.pdf

      If in the unlikely case your son is denied acceptance, the school should notify the guardian by letter. You can it seems appeal this decision, and if so you only have 21 days in which to lodge a petition to the Commissioner of Education. Hopefully that will not be the case but just as a back up, some information on this is included in the document at this link on pages 11-17: http://www.nj.gov/education/code/current/title6a/chap22sample.pdf

      You will need your son’s greencard, school records (translated into English), health and immunization records (also translated into English by a suitably trained person e.g. a family doctor). He will be expected to meet current NJ immunization standards which are located in the school information in the links provided-you will need to go through all the packet to find it unfortunately. Also he will need a health examination before school enrollment, at which the doctor completes a provided health form from the school. There will be questions on the forms that only his parents will know the answers to, so perhaps try and help out by reading the forms first and providing any info to the guardians. Missing info may hold up your son’s enrollment so hence, good to see what is required at the beginning.

      I hope all that helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  201. My license requires renewing, so I went to the local DMV with my 6 points of ID, one being my UK passport with visa and I-94 form printed out by the Global Entry Booth at Newark Airport when I last arrived in the country after a business trip. The TSA officer who issued my GOES approval repeated many times “Keep the I94 from the booth it is the only official proof you are entitled to be in the country”, so I take this as a formal official I94 form. When they checked my ID at the DMV they told me they needed an Admission Number from my I94 and this GOES version did not carry that number, this admission number is used to check my immigration status with the DoHS computers even though this is the official I94 issued by the DoHS system!!! So I had to go home, login to the CBP website and print off the current I94 (complete with Admission Number). I returned the next day, the ID checker remembered me, she said “Oh so glad you brought the right form, but sorry the DoHS website is down today so we can’t check your immigration status, come back tomorrow”…. I’ll update you on tomorrow’s visit…

    • Hi Garry,
      Aah… Nothing ever changes it seems with the DL process. There are always pitfalls to contend with no matter how well it seems you try to be prepared.. I do emphathise!
      I hope you did not then return and find out you are not verified and have to go back again for another time?

      I am currently in the neverland of the S.A.V.E database, awaiting to be verified like so many before me. Took 1.5 hours to just get to the immigration status check, only to be sent home with sparse and useless instructions on next steps. The DMV never fails as a lesson in patience and forbearance it seems!!
      Let me know how you get on:)

  202. I am so envious of you guys, Brisbane expat living in Indianapolis.
    Other than tim-tams in the Kroger and tiny vegemite at the ‘international store’ there is no such thing as a pie or sausage roll here, let alone beef sausages!

    I miss musk sticks something chronic and proper australian Milo (South am Milo tastes and is textured odd)

    • Yep it’s hard to get by without missing at least one or two favorites. Not to be too insensitive, I just returned from an arduous trip to Australia for a sick parent but managed to snag some real Aussie lollies such as caramel buddies, milk bottles and teeth, and a huge block of Cadburys for the kids back home in NJ. I couldn’t resist helping sampling these once home and then I realized how much I missed these little pleasures. Needless to say, the food plunder didn’t last long!

  203. Thank you so much for such a clear and helpful reply.

    Yes, I will also check with the school district accordingly, and in case need more advise, will write you back.

    Best regards from İstanbul

  204. You are spot on with these words. I’m also Aussie and have spent time in the US. They use different pronunciations all over the country. Many words from Boston for example sounds very similar to Aussie pronunciation ‘Shark” being an example of this. These Americans complaining have probably never left their state which is also something I found quite typical in my time spent there.

    • Thanks Mick! It is certainly reassuring to have someone else’s view like yours. I know what you mean about not leaving their home state-have come across many people in NJ who are the same. Cheers again:)

      • I think the issue here is how you interpret the phonetic spellings you wrote. For example, as a well-traveled American who has lived in NJ for 20+ years, I can say with confidence that no American without a foreign accent pronounces ‘Can’t’ like ‘KAIRN’T,’ or ‘Glass’ like ‘GLAIRS.’ In fact, 23 of your pronunciations are incorrect for any regional American dialect. Surely there is no way you mistyped 23 times and so I’d have to make the guess that you truly hear the words as you typed them. I promise, though, that there is no “r” sound at the end of our pronunciation of Australia!

        • Hi Mike,
          Thanks for the comment:) I think you are right in that how the phonetics are spelt out is what all the ‘controversy’ is about. The problem is though, that for me as an Aussie, that’s how I hear the words sounding. I am not sure that Americans will understand how I am trying to sound it out, as we say and hear the words differently. The article is directed at Aussies. I can’t phonetically spell Aussie pronunciations for Americans either but I wouldn’t even imagine trying. Thanks though for trying to politely explain the points of contention!

  205. Clifford M Blackwell says:

    I’ve worked in this town the past 7 years… absolutely love it!
    I’m a song writer, just wrote a song about this beloved Montclair and can’t wait to release it to the public. The title: “My Old Town Montclair”

  206. Thanks for such a informative blog!

  207. Thanks for keeping up your blog. Really enjoying it, and relating to it, although I’m 4 years newer to “the project” than you are. I’m curious, what sort of swear words do you find don’t even register here…. first letters will probably do, so as not offend the Aussies reading this 🙂

    • Hi and thanks for your kind comments!
      The only words I can remember people saying here are probably more vulgar, than swear words. These include cr*p, scr*w, t*rd and B*tch. I just find it amazing that these words are so happily accepted when “damn” makes some people gasp and say ‘NO CURSING”!

  208. Well I never knew..I’m a former Aussie living in Portland Oregon the past 17 years an all this time i thought the weetabix was the same as back home weetbix.didnt even notice name diff.i also thought the British Cadburys was the same which brings me to ask the question how much does the milo tins here differ in drink.? I love milo.

    Australia def has better food in my opinion.

    • Hi Sammi,
      I haven’t tried Milo here- not sure if it is the same or different. I feel after all this time, I am starting to forget the differences as much. Amazing how you get used to something over time!

  209. I got married a couple months ago and changed my last name at the social security. I changed my name at other smaller agencies too. The SS did not have any issue verifying me I assume bc I was able to get my new social security card with my new last name that day. I arrived at the DMV to change my license after changing at the SS. They could not verify me?! They said I needed a 2nd verification. I had everything. My expiring ID, my marriage license, my EAD, mail, SS, etc. They could not verify me, but the SS could? That doesn’t make sense. So I did my ten day wait, and the system had verified me. I went back and they said it still shows “in review” why is that? When on my end its verified. I need to drive and now I have these two last names. My legal name is changed through marriage and SS but not my drivers license and I feel like this is ridiculous. UGH.

    Help. Any advice?

    Texas Girl, bridget

    • Hi Bridget,
      Oh I do feel for you! This is a problem I have heard before but not experienced myself. Verification should be renamed horrification!
      Is it possible that you may have misadvertently read the SAVE screen? It is a touch confusing on the first screen where it shows an icon for both case-in-review and case-returned. The first time I looked at this, my eye was drawn to the tickbox icon, thinking it was OK. It wasn’t until I clicked thru to the 2nd screen I realized it was not OK but still under review.

      Other than this, I cannot really explain why your SAVE screen says case returned, while DMV screen says still under review! It is common for people to get an extended review such as people who travel a lot, people who travelled recently and I think just some names get examined more thoroughly. However, I wouldn’t expect your SAVE entry to disagree with their screen entry at DMV. However, as you would know, nothing is beyond belief at this agency really…

      Sorry to hear of your frustrations:(

  210. […] Six fundamental FAQs on New Jersey Public Schools: for new Aussie expats […]

  211. Hi,

    We are moving to NJ in April 2017 from India. My son will complete 2nd standard in India. Now iam worrying that in NJ for 3rd grade by september he should be 9. But he will was born on November. Three months difference is there. Will they allow him for 3rd Grade in NJ?

    • Hi Venkat
      I can’t predict accurately whether your son will be placed in 3rd grade or not unfortunately. This decision will be made by the specific school which he will attend. My viewpoint, for what it is worth, is that if he has already completed 2nd year/grade in India, he is likely to be put into the next grade at the start of a new school year, even if his birthday is a little different (November is only 1-2 months after most school cutoff dates) than American children. They use the cutoff as a hard rule mostly for kindergarten.

      However, the question you will face is more where he will be placed if he arrives in April with you. This is part way through the NJ school year. I suspect if he starts school in April here he will have to go into 2nd grade until the school year finishes in June. Then assuming he would be passed by teachers, he would naturally proceed onto 3rd grade. If however, your son is not joining you until after the NJ school year ends (June onwards), then he would start the new school year in September.

      If the school recommended that he repeat Grade 2 in September because of his age etc, then you have the right to push back and request the school do testing to help decide. You do not have to accept their decision without arguing your case. However, in the end, if testing is done and it proves he is not at an academic level to proceed, then perhaps it is not a bad thing.

      If I were you, I would bring from India, all information available about his school results, curriculum and school reports in case this is needed. Even bring examples of his tests to show what level of work he has done, to help build your case. The school has the ultimate say but you have a right to protest/argue against it.
      Best of luck to you and your family

  212. Hi
    I think my case is kind of different from others. Firstly i am an f-1 student from Missouri were i passed my driving test but did not received my DL card. The reason from Missouri motor is that i need to submit my most recent I-20 and it took like almost 3 months for my university to generate my new I-20 because its holidays reason and they are kind of busy but by that time i moved to NJ. But now my DL test paper from Missouri has been expired so do i need to take test here in NJ again or DL paper from Missouri can help here to get my NJ license.

    • Whoa! That sounds a wee bit complicated indeed! I am not really sure how that would be viewed. It sounds likely you may have to do it again but perhaps not. I would try and ask about it as soon as possible, in case you can avoid the driver test in NJ. They may just make you do the knowledge/eye test indeed. Sorry I can’t be more helpful but good luck with it all!

  213. I have a class D coach licence from UK what do I need to do in order to drive a bus or coach in New Jersey USA

  214. Hi, Loved your article. I went to the DMV to renew my license and get plates. Had my 6 points and filled out forms and submitted them. Computer came up with a error on my Social Security number of. NJ not State of Record. “NJ not state of record.” She told me to call social security to fix this issue and that shes seen this before with a bunch of others. No biggie. Can anyone shed some light on this computer issued error. NJ not state of record.

    • Hi John,
      I am not sure as I have never heard this phrase but would guess it meant that you are applying for a license in a state that is different from where you applied for your SSN originally. Might this be the case?

  215. Bread, bread, bread!! I’m sick of eating stale, sweet sandwiches. I miss visiting my local bakery and getting fresh baked bread. The chocolate is a biggy too. Hershey’s tastes like vomit. My American husband had the honour of trying Cadbury and now is as big a snob as I am. I refuse to subject my kids to low quality chocolate. Pieface is an embarrassment to pies. No good. The pie got Americanized and ruined the whole thing. Whistler has the closest thing to a pie and sausage roll if your ever out that way.

  216. Indian Expat in NJ

    My first name matches in India driving license but last name in India driving license is like letter but in passport its expanded.

    In such case after clearing online computer test will it be possible to get DL from Lodi ?

    My India International License shows correct Full name first and last, not sure if DMV conside International License because its book and paper type chip based like Indian driving license

  217. Hey

    We moved over from Australia in April last year & when I was browsing your site this article caught my eye.

    Like many people would, we brought our phones with us from our previous country – in our case 2 iPhone 5s handsets from the Telstra network in Australia. At first I was wooed by the coverage map of Verizon so I headed straight to their store to buy some new SIM cards.

    After the usual conversation about SSN / lack of credit score I decided it would be easier to get a pay as you go plan & handed the phones over to the sales girl for activation. No dice. Nothing. Nadda. Turns out that Verizon uses the CDMA carrier network, whereas most of the rest of the world uses GSM.

    Luckily I was able to back out of the Verizon deal without any cash being held & found success with an AT&T prepaid SIM instead.

    The AT&T Go-Phone is a good enough deal. I have our phones set on auto-renew each month (around $30 / month a phone for their unlimited plan & have also added a $5 / month bolt on for 200 minutes of talk time to land lines back home in Australia. Not bad compared to what I was used to paying back at home.

    I have come unstuck at times when I’ve been on international travel since the Go-Phone options for international roaming are almost non-existent turning the handsets into a useless lump pf glass & plastic when abroad & off wifi.. I get around this by buying another SIM when I get to where I’m going though.

    Hope that helps.

  218. This is great to know. i moved to http://www.drhorton.com/New-Jersey/New-Jersey/Glassboro.aspx and my sister just passed away and her son is moving in with me and i didnt know much about the schools. thanks so much

  219. Hello!

    My brother goes to school in Newark and my mother lives in Jersey City and that is where we plan for him to go to high school. There was a miscommunication in what school he should apply to so he ended up not applying to any Jersey City high schools. He was accepted to Marist but we cannot afford the tuition. How should we approach this? We are looking into Dickinson, County Prep, and McNair and I am well aware that their deadlines have passed…

    • Hi Alyssa,
      Unfortunately I am not sure I am going to be of much help. If you missed the deadlines of the public schools you were looking at e.g. magnet schools or those accepting students outside standard catchment areas, then your choices are perhaps limited. See if there is anyway you can get on a waiting list for those schools you missed-do they have a second offer approach or perhaps their applications are shut tight until next year? I am not familiar with these actual school requirements.

      If you cannot find a private school (affordable) or a public charter school in J City that you can still apply for, then your only choices are to accept the high school which your brother would be normally scheduled to attend in Jersey City (the JC school district has to offer one high school place) or move to a different catchment area in Jersey City for a better high school, although that is not a very promising option either.

      The two schools you mention: County Prep and McNair are very well rated and get consistently good results from what I can see. These really would have been the best. However, there is also Infinity Institute which is extremely well-rated. Outside Dickinson and Liberty High School there seem to be no public high schools that offer much for your brother in that they are rated poorly.

      The only other option you might have is to see if Marist Brothers have any options for getting help with fees or fee relief? Are there scholarship options? Even if you could just get him through one year of Marist College until the application dates for the same JC public schools came up again or look for transferring to these schools after starting at Marist? It is all pretty messy and not too sure how easy it is to transfer to these type of schools either.

      I am truly sorry I could not be more helpful but let me know if there is something else you need info on.
      Wishing you the best of luck,

  220. rodney vivanco says:

    hello. My foreign driver license is expired. Can I still use it to skip my road test?

    • Hi Rodney,
      That is a great question but I am not sure of the answer. Normally I tell people to arrive here with valid licenses from their home country. if it is just a NJ license renewal, there is no problem as they won’t ask for your home license. For new NJ driver licenses though, normally they expect it to not be expired.

      I would try it and see. They can only say ‘No’.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful,

    • No you cannot. I sent mine off to the UK for renewal, but because I didn’t have it they had to put me down as a new driver as oppose to experienced driver (of 15 year argh). I have to do my road test.

  221. Corey Cananza says:

    I am writing to you to inquire as to whether you have any jobs or work that I can perform in the fields of Data Entry or Virtual Assistance. My other areas of skills are in Writing and Editing.I am an American expat presently living in New Delhi, India. I have experience in Data Entry, Virtual Assistance, and I can perform any work that you may require as long as it can be done online or remotely. If you would like to see my resume please let me know and I’ll gladly send it over to you. Or you can check my online resume at my own site at http://www.CoreyCananza.comThank you for your consideration.Warm Regards,Corey Cananza

  222. Hi Mike,
    Have only been to America on holiday and it was great. Found Americans very nice but surprisingly innocent. They literally cannot pronounce “Canberra”, (Can bra) our capital. Their mouths can’t form the sound; looks like they’ve had a stroke. Also “Antarctica”, they say Anarctica like its a kind of appendage to the Arctic.

  223. Hi,
    My son was born on Oct 10th 2012 and misses the NJ School District cut off by 9 days for Kindergarten. From what i read and hear (from talking to our local elementary school principal) is that this is a strict deadline. But I also read in several sites the use of words like “usually” not flexible which leads me to believe that there may be some exceptions made. Can you suggest somewhere to find if historically any exceptions have been made? Our son appears to be academically and socially on track for KGN and I want him to be in an environment where he is challenged. He is certainly not going to be intellectually stimulated enough if he has to do one more year of preschool.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Hi Niki,
      Unfortunately I have not come across one person who has had an exception made for them, and the strict rule on cutoffs is what I have heard generally. I do not know how you would get around this other than trying to do Kindergarten in a private school which might be more flexible, as you are paying. I understand what you mean about another year in preschool being too long, as my son was similar and I could not have coped with another year but in Australia we were within their cutoff dates luckily. If the private school is a no-go, I would try ringing the Department of Education to see if they can be of any assistance or make suggestions for you. Unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions beyond this, Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful,
      Regards and Good luck,

  224. Hi, I recently moved from Aussie to USA. Can you recommend a sugar free / no high fructose corn syrup preferably white bread? I just can’t seem to get a taste for American bread.
    Also. I really miss Aussie sausages too

    • Hi Tania,
      definitely with you on the sausages thing. I have barely eaten any US bangers since arriving, and only get the Aussie ones on home trips on rare occasions. I do not know of any bread that meets your request. Best idea would be a search online or ring a dietician. They can usually tell you healthy types of bread available. Otherwise its a search by product instore. We dislike the sweet taste but put up with it out of necessity. Personally I have taken up eating spouted bread which is lower in carbs overall and I think has at least less sugary taste. They sell this fresh (that’s a relative term here-means unfrozen) in Trader Joes and less commonly in the major supermarkets.

      I do not eat as much bread here anymore due to this sugary taste, and makes vegemite on toast a different experience as well-less pleasant:( You adjust though over time and appreciate home all the more!
      Anne Marie

  225. Hi,

    I’m not sure if others have had this issue, but just today I passed my knowledge test and when the woman at the MVC attempted to validate my UK licence, the book they use to do so had an outdated image of the UK licence, without the Union Jack flag which has been on all UK licences since July 2015.

    Because the licences look different they insisted I must now return in 20 days to do a road test. I tried to show her the UK government website on my phone showing my licence is indeed valid but she was sticking to policy:”If it isn’t in the book I can’t validate it”.

    I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this and if they managed to resolve it?


    • Hi Simon,
      What a nightmare for you! I have only heard this happen once before with someone from India who had a very old license. I would be tempted to ask for the supervisor or just go to another MVC to see if they let you through! Can you say which location it was at?

      • Interesting. My husband’s UK Driver License was issued in 2013, so it doesn’t have the union Jack flag. I am not afraid that if they updated their book and the new book shows the one with the Union Jack flag but his doesn’t have, it will be the reverse situation… I will keep you posted.

        • I truly wish this part of the process was transparent because of all the documents one has to provide, this area seems to create the most inconsistent rulings. According to the NJ MVC handbook, licenses from countries that have signed the UN Treaty on Road Traffic, should be exempt from doing the driving test, as those countries have some uniformity of rules and driving requirements that may be comparable to the US. These countries are recognized by provision of a version of the International Driving License to their natives to use overseas.

          However, the NJ MVC told me that if you for some reason didn’t have your IDL, even if from a known signatory like UK, Australia etc., you would then have to do the driving test!!!! This is not truly providing equity of treatment at all! In fact I know of some clever expats who come from a non-signatory country who purchased an ‘IDL’ over the internet, who then were allowed to avoid the driving test because they had an IDL. No checking was done of their country against the UN treaty list. This seems an example of poor training and ignorant administrative staff, who have been using a simple way to avoid extra checking that is now abused by the smart ones.

          It truly is a like a box of chocolates… always a surprise what is acceptable!!

    • Hi Simon! This happened to me on Saturday! I am so annoyed, my license is perfectly valid in my country but the NJ DMV won’t accept it because the version I have “isn’t in the book”. Ridiculous. On top of that, I also had another valid license from another country but they wouldn’t look at it because I had already shown them a license they wouldn’t accept. I can’t believe the stupidity of the system, it just doesn’t seem to be in the hands of people who have a brain. I also have to take the road test now. Absurd.

      Thanks, Mily

  226. Home schooled to public/private says:

    My niece has been homeschooled, now 8 soon to be 9 and is thinking about going to public/private school. What requirements are there for homeschool chilren entering public/private school?

    • Hi Eileen,
      Unfortunately I have little knowledge of home schooling or its requirements but you can look up this information on state education websites, assuming the child is in NJ. There are several Frequently Asked Questions listed on NJ State Education website: http://www.state.nj.us/education/genfo/faq/faq_homeschool.htm

      One of these says the following:
      13. How will grade placement be determined for a child educated elsewhere than at school who returns to school?

      When a child returns to school following a period of homeschooling, the local board of education treats the child as any other new or returning child (i.e. assessed as to the acceptance of credits and the appropriate grade level for purposes of placement). There are no special provisions made for the child who was educated at home. Placement should be based on an objective assessment that is given to all students for that subject or grade. In assessing the child educated elsewhere than at school, the child may not be held to a higher standard than similarly situated students within the district or transferring from other public or nonpublic schools. Also, if a child educated elsewhere than at school re-enrolls in the public school in order to obtain a high school diploma, an assessment is made as to the child’s compliance with state and local requirements, as the board of education would with any new or returning student, since no diploma can be issued when such requirements are not met. A determination on a student’s grade placement may include scores on the state assessments applicable to the proposed grade of entry.

      Here is another article that may be useful:
      http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/homeschooling/reentry-when-homeschool-students-enroll-in-traditional-schools/I would probably call the Dept of Education to speak to a staff member if you have specific concerns or failing that call the local Board of Education at the public school where your niece is headed. They should be able to answer most of your questions.

      Sorry I can’t be of much use to you 🙁 Good luck to your niece and her family!

  227. Jason Denver says:

    Thank you for taking the time to provide great insight of what to be mindful about our choices in NJ. My wife is going to be having a conversation of opportunities she may have with her company of 25 years. The main head quarters is in Flemington NJ. With this conversation, there may be the opportunity for use to move to NJ. My wife is a logistics manager and I am on my senior year receiving my bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management with the desire to get my masters in managerial and leadership. We currently live in Washington state and are eager to discover the area that would fit for us if the opportunity comes about to move. We are both in our mid forties and don’t have any children. I’m trying to exhaust all avenues to help us to make the right choice of township and housing for our life style. Any information that you can provide would be a wonderful asset in making the best decision if we decide to move to NJ. Thank you for your time. Blessings…

    Very Respectfully,
    Jason Denver

  228. Получение водительских прав в Нью-Джерси — sealtravel says:

    […] необходимые документы (весь процесс неплохо описан тут), я ответил на каверзный вопрос про дату свадьбы ? и […]

  229. Hi Anne-Marie,
    First, thank you for putting up such an exhaustive guide for expats. Have gone thru quite a few of your post in past couple of days as I plan to relocate to NJ early of May17. Much appreciate you putting your experience as an expat.

    I will be relocating along my 8 year old who has just completed his 2nd grade here in India.

    Regarding my queries,
    1) By age and his current grade, he should start with grade-3 in Oct’17; but given we will land in May..would you suggest getting him enrolled in May/Jun itself for Grade-2 or just start with Grade-3? Does school allow such a late enrollment May/Jun? Don’t want him to be at home for 3-4 months and lose rhythm.
    2) As I will be working in NYC and living in NJ, my primary consideration to pick a locality/township will be good schooling.. based on your experience..pl suggest public school that should be high on my priority list.

    Much appreciate your insight.

    Thanks, Puneet

    • Hi Puneet,
      Thanks for the great comments. You ask two very good questions.

      1. Schools normally finish their school year in mid-late June. I don’t know if there is a cut-off date where it is too late to enroll for the year. Whether to enroll your son may depend on whether you arrive in early May versus late June. The earlier you get here the more sensible it would be to enroll him. Plus there is an advantage in having him go to the school to get used to it and adjust somewhat, when he can have a break away after only 1 month or so. I would be tempted to do that myself but it really depends on how practical it is.

      One thing I would suggest is to enroll him in a summer camp if you can afford it. This is like daycare for school children during the holiday period when parents are still working and can’t get enough vacation leave or time off to be with their children for the entire 8-9 week summer break! It also keeps the children engaged and depending on the type of camp you choose, it can be sports focused, academic focused, activity focused or something else etc. Parents usually try to choose one their child has an interest in. The schools often receive information about what camps are offered in the local area. Many are run in the public schools during the vacation period. Most only go from early July to 1st week of August. A limited number continue during August until school resumes, as most people take some vacation time in August. Not sure if you had thought about this but just a suggestion. Having the kids go off the boil academically is a common problem that occurs as it is a very long break. Many schools give their children a reading list over the break, to encourage keeping up their skills.

      2. Where to Live is a really big question. There are so many things to consider and nearly 500 towns in NJ to choose from, albeit only 100-150 would really be suitable since you are commuting to NYC. A good school district is critical but you need to consider other issues:
      a. How far away from NYC will you be happy to be-is there a commuting max time limit? This is often a starting point for many people and important to work out as it determines your quality of life-how much free time you have when you get home from work etc.
      b. Are you planning on catching public transport to work? If so, perhaps being on a train line is important. If driving, then it doesn’t matter but I will assume you would catch a train or bus, like many others.
      c. What type of town do you wish to be in? One that has groups of people from you home country, or multi-cultural or it doesn’t matter. I am assuming you are coming from India (apologies if I am assuming too much!!). if so, will you need to be near Indian grocery stores versus American supermarkets or perhaps that doesn’t apply?
      d. Will you be planning to rent or buy a house? Some towns have almost no rentals but many do, especially if they have high numbers of people from overseas or students etc.
      e. What level of housing will you be able to afford? North NJ is horribly expensive in some areas, and the pricing can sometimes be rather shocking for new expats arriving, regardless of where they arrive from.

      Start with answering these questions, and then you will have a basis for picking a place. I can recommend almost 50 different towns that would suit various needs but they are not all suitable for everyone.
      Let me know if you still need some further help.

  230. Well Traveled Sam says:

    I have lived in five different states in four different regions of the US during my 60 plus years on the planet. Many of the pronunciations in the supposedly American column of the table are merely the New Jersey dialect. The best way for a newcomer to learn the national “average” pronunciation would be to watch television shows that are produced for a nationwide audience, such as network news shows or multi-episode prime time dramas.

    • Hi Sam,
      What you say makes much sense. It would be rather difficult though to list all the different pronunciations possibly in the US, so I did make mention that this was NJ experience. I have lived here over 7 years now, and revisit my list regularly-there’s still nothing I would change but I take your point that this list is perhaps limited to locals around here.

  231. I grew up in Montclair and moved out after thirty-five years because I needed to find a less stressful, congested and friendly environment in which to raise a family When I lived there it was a wonderful place with residents who had deep and long roots in the community that went back generations. Although it was clearly run by people who could be described as WASPs, the blacks, Italians, Irish, Jews all co-existed and over a hundred and fifty years, built a superb place to live. As Zana (previous comment) points out, today there are a lot of transplants living in Montclair. Many are OK, but most seem to be aggressive, obnoxious and self-centered New Yorkers, albeit economically well-off, who think the world owes them a living. While the town has never looked better with homes being renovated and an interesting mix of artsy-types including restauranteurs constantly being added, beneath the veneer, the soul of Montclair has been lost. The new resident is the type who pushes in front of you on a Saturday morning when your waiting in line to buy stamps at the post office, while their Land Rover is double parked outside blocking traffic. They proudly bore you with pictures of family trips to Europe in the summer and skiing in Switzerland over winter break but their children are largely ignored, non-supervised and are essentially raised by wolves, growing up with all kinds of emotional baggage. Unlike in the past, the town is very transient with many living beyond their means and never staying long enough to add value, character or history to this previously wonderful gem.

  232. Hi there,I check your new stuff named “Great NJ Towns to Live in: Millburn Township in Essex County – Expat Aussie In NJ” like every week.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about proxy list.

  233. Oh Shoot! We are about to embark on this same journey as you in a few months. We have had to reign in our swearing for the Japanese but looks like we will be doing more pruning when we get there!
    Just found this blog, thank you so much real insight particularly being a family and not a single. It has been really helpful for many questions I had and things I hadn’t even thought about. Lots of tips in here, I am looking forward to your next blog article.
    Noted – stock up on coffee around Thanksgiving or suffer the consequences.;-)

    • Hi Charlotte,
      Good luck with your move and thanks for all the great comments. If you have done it before, moving again will no doubt be a lot easier and the locals speak a pretty close form of English. Let me know if you have any specific questions, as always pleased to help:)

  234. I just stumbled across your blog and I’m so glad that I did: such great information!

    My wife and I are moving to NJ from Tokyo this summer and have recently started the visa process. Having gone through all the trials and tribulations of getting visas then permanent residency, a driving licence, insurance etc in Japan, I can appreciate how important it is to have all personal information recorded correctly. At least this time around, the officials will (sort of) speak English!

    Keep up the good work!

  235. Malathy R Krishna says:

    We are residents of NJ moving from one district to another in June 2017. My son is a special ed student in an out of district placement. He is going to finish in one district and start afresh in another district in September. The period during the summer where he receives ESY (extended school year) is in question as he is going to be moving from one district to another. The district he is going to be moving to will do the student registration only in mid July for september and by the time he is registered he would have missed most of the ESY. Please advise us as to what we can do for him to receive ESY services this summer.

    • I am sorry to take so long to answer however I am not certain that I know how to help. If you are still living in your old district, then could that district not help provide schooling (via the out of district placement, until your new registration is done in mid-July. I guess it may depend on whether you have to move to the new district earlier but are prevented from registering until mi-July. if that is the case and your son misses out on a critical time period, I would be talking to my new school district to discuss how they should address this, if they are at fault for him missing out. It should be either your old district or the new school district who is responsible for the lapse, and thus they should be approached for a solution, so your son doesn’t suffer as a result. Stand your ground and persist, but keep your conversations polite. Don’t let them steamroll you. If they persist in not covering your son, then consider getting a professional opinion (e.g. legal) about your rights. Also consider contacting the county and/or state department of education for any recommendations.

  236. Thank you so very much for providing this information. Has resolved a lot of the questions I had only just started to ask. Time to sell some electronics before the move to L.A.

  237. Hi Anne-Marie,

    Thanks for putting this exhaustive guide for newcomers in NJ.

    We are moving from Montreal, Quebec, Canada to New Jersey. Historically, my son completed grades 7 and 8 in Singapore. Did not finish grade 9 in Singapore.

    Have to repeat grade 9 upon moving here in Montreal. Will soon finish grade 10 before moving to NJ this summer.

    My questions are:

    1. Will there be any difficulty for my son entering Grade 11 in NJ?

    2. Any chance of repeating grade 10?

    3. Will NJ school credits all his grade 9 and 10 subjects taken in Montreal, Canada to comply with the high school graduation requirements?

    4. Will he be re-assessed again?

    My son was born on October 2000 and we plan to relocate on July 2017.


    • Hi Antler,
      I am not really an ‘expert’ in how schools assess children entering from other countries into the NJ public school but I can give you my best guess, for what that is worth. Remember though that every school makes its own determination, and there is no real way to predict for certain what the school’s attitude will be. You will need to find that out from the actual school where your son will be attending:
      1. If Canada has approximately the same start and finish times for school years, there is no reason to think that if you finish Grade 10 in Canada this year, there would be any issue with moving onto Grade 11 in Sept 2017. This assumes your school is a K-12 school, starting in Sept and finishing June.

      2. The only mitigating factor I can think of would be if Grade 10 in Canada was not the same as Grade 10 in USA, as occurs in some international countries. I cannot say if the that is true but I imagine you have a better idea. If the grade 10 completed in Canada, is comparable to USA, then I can’t see why your child would need to repeat. If they don’t offer to assess your child, then perhaps request it if you feel that he would benefit from repeating. An assessment should help establish where he is placed versus NJ curriculum/expected progress at this stage.

      3. I have no idea if they will but I would think so, as long as the Canadian K-12 system is very comparable. I would ring the department of education to see if there is a state guideline for how they treat incoming overseas high school students.

      4. I am not sure how often they assess students, that are new. I suspect its only the once. When he arrives though he will be able to take the pSAT and that will give you an idea of how he is progressing. Once he starts it will be important to talk with his teachers and guidance counselors about how he is managing and how you can assess it. Keeping up an open dialogue with the school is very important. Most of the schools have electronic reporting systems that you can see daily and weekly what grades your children are achieving.

      Be aware too that there is an age limit to when children are allowed to continue high school to, which I believe is 20. That means there may be room for your child to do one repeat year but possibly not two (??). I imagine that it is unlikely you would need to be too concerned about that but it is a good thing to know (check with the school about age limits).

      Good luck with your move. I hope my information is useful but to be certain check with your new school,


  238. Diane Johnson says:

    There is a very good article about this subject here:

  239. Alex Williams says:

    Hello, I need to check whether the foreign Marriage certificate can be used to get points in MVC NJ, coz my passport just got expired. I have an work authorization card, Social Security Card, Debit card and other address proofs. And application for asylum is pending. Not sure what to do next.

    • Hi Alex
      I doubt your marriage certificate would be of any use as an ID, however keep it with you when going to the MVC just in case. It sounds like you have a special case that might need MVC feedback. If you cannot get your passport renewed (I assume this is due to seeking asylum), then you should ask them what other proofs they could accept. You can ring them and ask this advice on their general number Ph: 888-486-3339 or go to an MVC office and ask at reception for a supervisor to see you. If you feel their answer is not clear or helpful, the MVC also has a legal department which you could try calling on the phone.
      When I look at the MVC list of ID’s, there are some alternative’s for people without passports: an ‘I-94 stamped Asylee or Refugee or Notice of Action’ etc., or ‘Refugee Travel document’… Only an MVC employee is going to be able to confirm what exact documents they will accept. I am sorry I cannot be of much more use.
      Good Luck to you:)

  240. I have students coming from Asia and the school year is different where the school year begins in March until Jan of the following year rather than the Sept to June. My question is that a child born in 2006 would have finished 1st semester of 5th grade and child born in 2004 would have finished 1st semester of 7th grade but would like to enroll them into 6th and 8th grade respectfully, would that even be possible with the Tenafly school district or will they have to repeat the 5th and 7th grade? I would like them to attend class with peers their age.

    • Hi
      I think you need to ask the school at Tenafly for the best answer. I think they would like to put them in the same class as peers their age as well. However it is possible having missed half a year of equivalent school in their home country (assuming you are talking about of 2 semesters per year at home) that they will be significantly behind their peers at the beginning of the new US school year, which would be a big disadvantage. Here the school will probably make their own decision weighing all the factors to see what the best net outcome would be. You may not get to make the final decision but you can certainly discuss your preferences and ask for them to be tested to accurately ascertain where the children would be versus NJ class levels. Definitely mention your concerns and push to get what you want but understand the school is in a good position to make an assessment. Tenafly is a very good district as well. Other than that I can’t really contribute much.
      Good Luck-I know it is difficult doing this, as my children had to do the same thing coming from Australia to NJ. They ended up repeating part of a year, which was hard at the time but made no difference at all in the longer term.


  241. Carla Seminario says:

    I really need help, my son is 6 soon to be 7 in November and is in kindergarten, teacher is recommending retention, he goes to school #5 in garfield nj, he would be 8 when he goes to 1st grade, my question is if I move to another town, can he go to 1st grade in another school as normal, or the new school would ask me for report cards from last school? Or does the schools are able to see if a child attended kindergarten before, please help me, I’m a desperate mom,

    • Hi,
      Wow this is a tricky situation, and I am not an expert on schools, so any answer I give is just my best guess. I do think if you went to another school district that your son’s records would be obtained and any recommendation for him to repeat would probably be followed at the next school. I don’t understand exactly why you would want to avoid your child repeating if the teacher’s recommendation is accurately based on your son’s progress. Normally they do this only when it is needed.

      If you feel the recommendation is not warranted, then I would take this up with the school principal and school district to demand that they test your son to see what skill level he truly has, rather than just make him repeat. Is it a problem with that particular teacher not working for your son-some teachers do not click with some students or worse, can pick on them, resulting in failure for the child. Don’t know if this applies or not. Does your son need to repeat because of problems passing in just one area or is it across the board? If it is in one area, could he move up to 1st grade and then get remedial help from the school in just one subject?

      If the recommendation to repeat though is warranted and you are concerned mostly because of his age, then I am not sure how you could avoid this. If you were able to afford it, could you have him tutored over the summer break to upgrade his skill levels before school resumes-then you could ask that he is tested again at school start as part of your conversation with the school district. If you cannot get him any help during the summer break, then it will be hard to see why he shouldn’t repeat as suggested. That will mean he is perhaps 19 when graduating high school. That is not unusual. There are always a small number of kids who are 19 or 20 yrs old in 12th grade. If the school district is failing you all-round which does also happen sometimes, then a move to another town may help but it may not stop him repeating.

      At worst, you may even try contacting the NJ Department of Education at Trenton via their website to ask them for assistance if you feel that your son is not getting fair or the best treatment at your district: https://www.state.nj.us/education/parents/contact.htm

      Here is a link to some basic resources that you may find useful: https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/hyc.html

      I am not sure if any of this has been helpful!

      Good luck!
      Kind Regards


  242. Hello Anne-Marie ,
    Thanks for all he info you are providing here for nj newcomers.
    we are expected to arrive to New Jersey by jan 2018 , from Germany , my daughter will be exactly 6 .
    The problem is she doesn’t know any English. So what’s the situation then , will she attend kg untill october 2018 to be in 1st grade ? Or should she wait to the following year ?
    And would a school accept her with no English knowledge? And does the school provide any kind of English classes to such cases ?
    So sorry about all this questions , but i’m really worried from the impact of language change on my daughter.
    Your reply will be much appreciated

    • Hi
      Children regularly start school here in NJ without being able to speak any English-children from many other parts of the world. They always get by, as they are nearly always able to absorb a new language very quickly. They also get special ESL (English Second Language) classes at public school from an ESL teacher, which are not exactly the same as ‘English classes’ but they are intended to support foreign speaking children.

      Kindergarten is the first formal year of school in NJ and it is not optional (starts at age 5 years). If your daughter arrives here without any previous schooling, she will have to start Kindergarten in September 2018. This means she would be 6 and 1/2 when starting school and older than most of her peers.

      If your child has already started Kindergarten in Germany before arriving here in Jan 2018, then she would probably continue here and if passed her grade assessments, tests etc, would likely then move onto 1st grade in 2018/2019 year. While it may be optional to do Kindergarten in Germany, it is not something you can avoid in USA (at least in NJ). So to fit into life here, I would seriously consider enrolling your daughter in a suitable school to assist her transition.

      Also, it might be helpful to prepare her to start getting exposed to English, with books, movies/TV, and if you can afford it, pre-arrival English lessons would be a very useful addition.

      Hope that helps

  243. Dhimant Bhundia says:

    Hii, I see many related posts/questions here. Mine is similar but not exactly same. Your advice or help is greatly appreciated.

    Let’s say my first name is “ABC”, middle is “PQR” and last is “XYZ”. My name is same in all the documents and in my CA driving license. I just moved from CA to NJ. and I’m here on H1B visa. So, my name correctly appears in all the documents and in CA driving license as “ABC PQR XYZ”.

    Now, in NJ, they are giving me license as “ABCPQ XYZ”. They are truncating the middle name and adding it to my first name. There’s no space between my first name and 2 letters of my middle name”. That completely changes my name. When I asked them, they are like you can change you name in USCIS. I tried calling them a lot but they are not responding at all. What should I do? Shall I accept license as “ABCPQ XYZ”. It will not help me to use my driving license as id anywhere.

    Please advice. Please help.

    • Hi,
      These systems really are designed to drive us all mad I think! Oh how frustrating for you. Seems like California got it right but NJ don’t understand. You should get this fixed as you will end up striking difficulties elsewhere when your documents don’t match, whether at license renewal or other situation. Your Driver ID is important and should match all your other documents, and preferably be your real name-not the new name they seem to have designed for you! I feel frustrated on your behalf:)

      Firstly, I don’t understand why if your I-94 record and Social Security Card both differentiate your first name ABC from your middle name, PQR, the DMV have overlooked this and melded them together incorrectly… It sounds as if something different is in your USCIS file online, which is crazy.

      To get a change for your names at the USCIS will probably require a visit (by appointment made prior) to their offices at Newark or Philadelphia Airport but you need to find this out on the phone first.

      Before you go down that road though I am going to email you directly, to see if I can assist you, so expect an email from me as ExpatAussieInNJ.
      Speak to you shortly

  244. Hi, My passport from my home country (Costa Rica) expired 4 months ago and it is under my Costa Rican name (with surname and two last names).
    When my wife and me did the immigration process and we request an Employment Card and then a SSN I changed my name and I used just my name and my first last name.
    With this two inconvenience, the expired DL and the mismatch between the name in my SSN and EC do you think I will need to do the hole process of the NJ license?

    • Hi
      I am confused because you state that the passport is expired first, then you mention your DL is expired in the 3rd paragraph?

      I have never been to the NJ MVC to apply for a DL with either an expired passport or home country driver license. Even if they were NOT expired, you would still need to go through the entire driver license application process which applies to all aliens regardless of which country you come from. However, I would not personally consider even trying to apply for a NJ license without a valid passport and home license, as these are two basic requirements. I cannot see how you can make it to 6 points of ID without your passport, even if you have an EAD and SSN card.

      The bottom line is that you need to get all your documents matching with your names. If the passport doesn’t match, then maybe you can get this changed when you renew it. Otherwise you will have to get USCIS to change your name to match your EAD and SSN. As long as you have a valid Costa Rica license to take with you, it may be possible that you won’t need to do the Road test portion of the application, as long as you pass all other requirements. My understanding is that Costa Rica is a signatory on the Road Traffic treaty that recognizes other countries licenses, meaning you may avoid the road test. The final say is up to the MVC though, as there can be exceptions.

      While its all inconvenient, its best to follow their process to avoid more problems overall-there is no way to shortcut the system here.

  245. Hey, I was wondering if you had any recommendations for snacks from the USA that you would want to send back to Australia for people to try. I am looking to buy some food items for a friend in Australia but don’t want to buy something that they could easily get themselves!

  246. Monita Bacchus says:

    Hi my sister is 18 an coming from south america to newark new jersey would it be possible to enroll her in high school? She jus turned 18

    • Hi Monita,
      I am not sure but if she has residency in Newark and has not completed high school in South America, I assume this might be possible. Be aware that school districts do have age limits. From what I know, the age of 20-21 is the normal limit but you should check with the school district that your sister is likely to attend.

      Good luck

      Anne marie

  247. Julienne Pape says:

    What is the shop in Montclair where you buy Cadbury chocolate?

    • Hi Julienne,
      I go to the Pie Shop on Watchung Ave, near the station: https://thepiestorenj.com/
      They stock a variety of British goodies as well as vegemite and English Cadburys choc plus more. They are the only place I have found that stocks chocolate Easter Eggs that the kids know and love. Although it can be an expensive exercise, it is well worth it and their range of fresh baked goods is wonderful!

  248. BIANCA, a Romanian (in Europe) moving to Seattle.

    Hello to everyone and thank you for the shared information.
    I am 25 y old, never had a driver’s license and i would like to begin that process as soon as I’m established in the US. i will be coming on a L2 visa (as a spouse).
    Can anyone tell me if i will be eligible for a driver’s permit and what kind of documents i will be needing? Also, how much does the driving school cost and what does it really include for a beginner like me to learn; How much will the writing/driving tests cost?

    Keep being amazing and thank you again,

  249. Hi –
    for non us citizens- would an expired drivers license suffice as proof of driving experience?

    What if the license expired 4 years ago? Is this still considered as driving experience? Or I need to go through the entire process as a first time driver?

    • You could always check but in my experience, they never accept expired licenses at the NJ MVC as proof of driving experience. I guess I could see why – for instance, if you have lost your license for other reasons such as bad driving record etc., they have no way of knowing it was this reason versus that you just missed renewal deadline. At least a valid license tells them you meet your home country driving standards. So I believe you will have to do the full driving license process, unless you can get an expired license renewed back in your home country, wherever that may be. Sorry I don’t have more positive feedback:(

  250. What can I do if DMV made a mistake in my name when they issued me a license? This is not a legal name change request. This is when DMV left out
    my first name from my birth certificate. I don’t know how they did that. Maybe
    I talked them out of it (this occurred in 1994). Yet I still got a driver’s license.
    Is that impossible? What can I do now?

    • Hi James,
      I imagine license procedures were completely different back in 1994 and pre-Sept 11 crisis, as this changed the whole world, including security measures and checks done at the MVC in NJ. It may be a simple matter if your other documents match the name you want to change to, such as birth certificate, SSN etc. If you visiting to apply for this, I would take along original copies of all documents, including proof of residence, and make sure your birth certificate carries the required state or municipal seals. If it is a copy, you need to have this certified prior. I would either ring the general MVC enquiry line to ask what is needed to change your name first to get all the info needed or drop into a branch with all your documents and see if they can start the process for you. Hope that helps! Good luck:)

  251. Hello, I am thinking about moving to west orange NJ next year 2018. My daughter will be starting full day pre-k in NYC this coming September. She has a Nov 10th 2013 birthday. In NY she would qualify for kindergarten next school (sept 2018) even though she wil still be 4 when the school year begins. Do you think it would be possible for her to start kindergarten in NJ even though the cut off is Oct 1 if she has school records from New York that states that she has completed a NYC DoE pre-k and that she is registered for Kindergarten in NY. I would hate for her to complete pre-k in NY and then move to NJ and have to repeat Pre-k again.

    • There is no black and white rule that every school follows so you will need to call them first to check, however my prediction would be that if that their enrolment deadline for birthdates is October 1st, then they will not likely accept your child at 4 years of age, to enter Kindergarten. Perhaps being enrolled in NY state kindergarten carries some weight with NJ school districts but I am unaware of that, so it may just be my lack of knowledge. The only way to see is to ring them and ask-ring BOE and speak to the registrar, and see what they say.

      Another option would be to enroll your child in a private Kindergarten, then switch her to public school 1st Grade the following year. They are more flexible with older grades I believe, so this may get you around the problem… Some preschools offer the K year as well as pre-K so it may be a good possibility. Good luck with your application:)

  252. Greg Nicolson says:

    Yes Americans misspell and mispronounce a lot of the English language, and that does REALLY annoy me, but I’m Australian and I don’t think Australians say some of those the way it says Australians do.

    Two examples

    The word is actually correctly pronounced KILL-o-meter and not kill-OM-et-er. If Australians say kill-OM-et-er then they are mispronouncing it.

    Americans don’t pronounce car as kair(which from the spelling I assume is the same as care). Americans actually pronounce car as carrrrrrrrrrrrr(and I don’t know if I’ve added enough r’s)

    • Thanks for your input! I guess I wouldn’t like to characterize any body’s version of spelling, whether Australian, UK or American as misspelling or mispronouncing words. I think they are just different and this is the point I am trying to make, that this is one of the adjustments, just as other cultures have to adjust to Australian pronunciations if they relocate there- just a funny, quirky part of expat life!!

  253. Tuesday Morning always has a good selection of home goods, lamps, rugs, bedding, occasional furniture like lounge chairs, small cabinets and tables, and miscellaneous accessories. They have several locations.

  254. Sulakshana Singh says:

    This is Sulakshana from India, we are planning to move to New Jersey in April 2018.
    I would like to enroll my son into kindergarten, his date of birth is 19/11/2012 and currently he is studying in junior kindergarten in India and his session will be finished by March 2018.
    As mentioned in this blog that sessions for kindergarten starts from September and registration should be done by Jan – Feb.
    So I would like to know for registration presence of kid is essential or not?
    As I discussed we will move by April so he will sit idly for 4 months so what can I do to make him engage, can i enroll him into play school?

    Thanks and regard,

    • Hi Sulakshana
      A few points to make:
      1. It is not mandatory for you to enroll your child for the new school year in Jan/Feb prior, although it is possible if you have all the documents needed to complete registration. If you are a resident in the school district borders, you can enroll anytime before September, assuming your child will be the right age to start school.

      2. If your son was starting school in September for the first time, he would go into Kindergarten, and if he has been attending your country’s version of preschool, then it would make a lot of sense to enroll him in a private pre-K class where you will be living, once he arrives. It will be nearly 5 months between arrival and public school start so, to keep him occupied, and continuing to learn, pre-K is a great idea and what virtually every other child will be doing before starting Kindergarten. It is also a great way for him to make friends with some kids who will be starting school in September possibly in the same class/school if a local preschool, which always makes the process a bit easier.

      3. To enroll, there are a lot of documents needed, including immunization records, passport, completed medical history forms and medical examination, done by a local doctor in the US. It may take a while for you to gather all of this, together before you can enroll, so it may be easier to do enrolment once your son is here, a couple of months later. Perhaps make an appointment to meet school registrar in Jan/Feb so they can explain what the school needs to complete the process. It will also take a few months to gather all your proofs of residency such as utility or credit card bills showing your home address in the school district. The school will need to find your son a place, as a resident, no matter when you enroll, so you can be flexible about the time. Your son does not need to attend registration meetings or the process but he needs to be available here to do the medical exam the school will request.

      I hope that answers all your questions and I wish you the best of luck in your move here-it is a wonderful place to live!

      Kind Regards

      Anne Marie

      • Sulakshana Singh says:

        Thanks Anne for reply… yes definitely it helped me a lot… will gather all the documentation required once we reach there. I hope my kids will like the place ?.

        • Hi again,
          Just wanted to say that I have now found some schools here DO require your child to be at the registration process. Apologies if my last information was incorrect. It will not matter too much in your case, if you wait til your son arrives to register for school, as they will allow you to register anytime, as long as you have the right documents,including proof that you reside in the school district,

          Let me know if you have any other questions,


          Anne Marie

  255. My son is an expat and I have been looking for food gifts to order.with everyone these days having so much stuff/clutterI would rather order them foods or experiences. In my searches I have found the following :
    I had attempted to make sausage rolls and pies when I visited but failed unfortunately. However, I know of a few places that can help you all-
    1. https://www.facebook.com/TheGreatAustralianBite/menu/# It’s an Australian restaurant in Aurora Colorado. They sell pies and sausage rolls too.
    2.www.dubpies.com ship their pies and sausage rolls across US from Brooklyn NYC.
    3.www.aussieproducts.com are good for other stuff like mustard pickles, solo soft drinks,biscuits,Bundaberg ginger beer, cereals, Cadbury chocolates,fan tales lollies etc.
    Btw I agree about US bread it is the pits! I ended up buying the more expensive wholegrain breads just avoid the sugar breads.
    I hope this helps someone out!

  256. You have the pronunciation of yogurt all wrong. It’s pronounced YOE-GURT in America or YAW-GURT in the UK. The “R” sound definitely does not get thrown out.

  257. Hi Anne-Marie,
    Hope you are doing well!!
    Need your suggestion, As I have been moved from India To USA four months back and staying Columbia Ave Jersey City, now my family is joining me on 27th Sep 2017. I would like to know what would be procedure to take admission in PS.
    Do I need to take any appointment or directly I can go or is there any site where I can enroll.
    Your early response will be appreciated.

    • Hi
      For registration, it will depend on whether your child speaks English as a first language or not, and what grade they are going to be in for me to recommend whom to contact.
      Almost no schools allow registration online, however you can download some of the school’s required paperwork prior to going to register, and complete if beforehand to save time.

      To register, Parent/Guardian must bring:
      1. Proof of student’s age: original birth certificate/passport
      2. Parent’s photo identification (driver’s license, passport)
      3. Proof of address (telephone or gas/electric bill)
      4. Original school documents from foreign country indicating grade and promotion (report card,
      promotion certificate)
      Student must be accompanied by a Parent/Guardian in order to be registered.

      There are several options that are listed on this website page:

      You need to work out which one applies to you and your child. You must have proof of residency, and your child’s immunization papers as well as the things listed above.

      Try to enroll as soon as possible, as the school years has already started here.

      Good Luck!

  258. Hi, I passed my written test at Rahway on Tuesday and when I went up to collect my license the lady told me she couldn’t give me my license because my home license( South African btw) doesn’t have my full name on it. It has the initials of my first two names and my surname, she said it doesn’t match the name on the system and when I tried to tell her that the initials are my first and second name not my last name she refused to listen to me and said I have to do a driving test. Could you please advise me on what to do because the driving test is really unnecessary and even if I pass it, it won’t make a difference because my name will still remain the same on my license.

    • Hi Fay,
      Sorry for the delay in answering your question. Their response is not unusual even if it seems unfair. I have seen something similar just when the license was very worn and a bit dilapidated-they refused to acknowledge it. The only things I would recommend doing to avoid the driving test are:
      1. To ask to see the MVC branch/office manager to discuss your case (at the place where you did the test) and see if they can give you a better answer.
      2. To ring the legal department in NJ MVC administration – never spoken to them myself but others have for a more comprehensive review of circumstances. Not sure of the specific phone number but try 609.292.6500 to start with.

      Otherwise there may not be any way around it. They do make it clear that they have the right to request a driving test if they consider it necessary-terribly frustrating I know. If you do end up doing the test, make sure you get some tips from a driving instructor prior. Just one lesson can help you understand the things they will be looking at like reverse parking etc.

      Good luck!!
      Anne Marie

  259. The last two pics are from the street I used to live on, Cambridge Rd. I now live in Texas, so it was great to come across these by chance. So glad you posted them and in hi res. Thank you!

    • Hi Keith,
      Lovely to hear from you! We were neighbors and I didn’t even know! We live on Grove St…
      The landscapes are still beautiful after snow here but I bet you don’t miss the shoveling and muddy water that gets into your car and house:)
      Haven’t been to Texas yet but I bet it is an interesting place with lots happening. Many expats move there to Houston and Dallas.
      Thanks for your comments too-much appreciated:)
      Anne Marie

  260. New Jersey has an out of control traffic problem. Allowing people licenses without a road test is absurd. Your licsence is a privlage not a right.

  261. Hooray For NJ says:

    Interesting article! I never thought about a few of these. #9 Goodwill is an actual thrift shop. They accept donations, and resell the items received by donation. Some people consider Goodwill a charity, others do not — it’s political. Here’s the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwill_Industries Salvation Army is similar.

  262. Ari Coolowitz says:

    I highly recommend Urban Natural Home Furnishings in Paramus, NJ – they have only American Made, modern, high quality furniture that’s built to last. They also have organic mattresses that are super comfortable. Check them out you won’t regret it http://www.urbannatural.com

  263. Tyler Picard says:

    As some kind of credential, I’ve lived at the forks of Long Island, NY since I was three (currently 26), and a few of these pronunciations had me thinking I’d been living in “Brizben” or something. I mean I knew people in New Jersey spoke a little funny but this is making me think we need to send some dialect coaches down there ASAP!

    In your defense, a lot of these words would be on a “East/North vs. West/South US” list. I can’t even guess how this would have turned out if you went north of NY instead of ever so slightly south. I’ve heard comedians give the British shit for developing such wildly different accents over such short distances but us Americans (and, as I’ve heard, you Aussies) aren’t that different. I can tell you now that if it wasn’t for quick trips into NYC over the course of my life, as a sort of immunization, I’d likely stumble a bit trying to understand your basic Brooklyner!

    For my own sanity, I’d like to list out the things I seemingly (although probably not) say like an Australian;



    (You must’ve been in Little Britain when you heard that one)



    (only hicks should be saying eye-tal-yen, you’ve been warned)



    (A mo-beel is what you put over a baby crib. I’d personally say mo-bill is close to how most Americans say it. Although we, or I, seem to randomly switch to mo-bile)



    PSS – Congrats to me for being the first 2018 commenter on this 2014 post! 😛

  264. Hey There,

    We live in Brisbane, and are relocating to NJ 30 July 2018 – husband will be working in Mahwah, and we’ll be initaly staying in Montclair. We have two boys aged 9 and 7. Schools are a concern (I understand we will be too late to put then school preference forms in for Montclair township which need to be in by June 1) and also concerned there may not be many rentals at that time of year. We are also considering Ridgewood and possibly Ramsey or Mahwah, but think we would have a better “experience” somewhere like Montclair for its diversity and proximily to NYC.

    Would you be happy to do a phone consult with me? I understand you at are back in Sydney, but that’s not a concern for me – I can still benefit from your advice. Please advise costs and timings.

    Regards, Cath

    • Hi Cath,
      Congratulations on your big move!
      I love NJ, so I hope you will enjoy it as much although you may suffer in the cold a bit if used to sunny QLD.

      I would be happy to answer any questions you have about Montclair but also on Ridgewood, Mahwah and Ramsey, as I relocated people to these areas as part of my various jobs as relocation consultant.
      You can email me direct through the email function on this website or at expataussieinnj@gmail.com. I am recently arrived here in Oz but over jetlag so let me know a time that suits you and then I will email you details for payment.
      Looking forward to talking to you!

      Anne Marie

    • Amanda Collingwood says:

      Hi Cath,
      We only recently moved to Ridgewood from Sydney with our 2 yr old son and 5 yr old daughter (we’re both originally from Brisbane though). My husband is working in Mahwah so the short commute, big houses, great schools and good downtown were the attractions for us. We’re still settling in as have only been here 10 weeks but happy to help out if you have any questions about Ridgewood!
      All the best with your move!

      • Hi Amanda – I must have missed your initial comment back in March but have been revisiting some old info to help us settle into NJ. We’re currently staying in Montclair but
        are looking for a house in Ridgewood or Glen Rock. Hope yiu ar settling in well. Would love to make contact. All the best. My email is cath.curry@hotmail.com

  265. Hi Anne Marie,
    I look forward to reading your new blog on repatriation, as we are about to embark on the same journey after 4 years in New Jersey! Your words of being “a different person from when I left ” resonated with me, as I feel in 4 short years I am very different to the me that left and how will I adapt to a very different lifestyle of a “non-expat”.
    Thank you for being a wonderful source of information whilst I lived here in NJ.
    Best Lynette

  266. […] Aussie, E., 2015 Five places to live with great downtown in nj, Retrieved from http://www.expataussieinnj.com/five-great-downtowns-in-nj/ […]

  267. This page was really helpful to me, so I’ll leave my experience here in the hope that it helps others. I already had a driver’s license from Austria, so I wasn’t required to do the road test. For the 6-point ID I presented my passport, green card, SSN, and a bank statement. The knowledge test had several questions (more than five I believe) about learner’s permits etc. which I didn’t study well because it doesn’t affect me. I still managed to pass albeit with six wrong answers. The vision test took literally 30 seconds. All I had to do was read a line of letters and five colors. I spent around two and a half hours at the DMV and after that I had my driver’s license!

  268. Good luck on your move back to Australia, my family and i have moved from NE Victoria to Morris County NJ.
    We have been here just over a week now, things are obviously very busy trying to settle in, but just wanted to say thank you for all the help that your blog has been in preparing us for this move! Googling the main points of interest/advice is easy, not it was the little things that have really helped so far! So thank you and good luck !

  269. Or for a signature look and terrific quality try British Cottage in Red Bank, NJ.

  270. Hi! Very helpful website! I have a specific situation I think not previously covered if you can help. I am in the US on an O-1 visa, which has just expired. I have applied for my green card application just before this expired (I am married to a US citizen).
    – As my visa has expired and I don’t have the green card yet, what options do I have to renew my now-expired Drivers License (it expired the same day my visa did). Will the new application (that has been acknowledged as ‘received’ by USCIS) be enough? Do I have to wait to receive my “Advanced Parole” card (that allows me to travel internationally while I wait for green card approval)? If so, do you think that would even be sufficient to be granted DL?
    Thanks much!!

    • Hi Alan,
      Sorry I couldn’t reply earlier but I am just one week out from moving into our house in Sydney with many needed jobs to do before deadline arrives. I think you will need to ring the MVC enquiries line to get their view but I would expect that they would not let you proceed to get the license, due to expired documents such as expired visa and expired DL. You don’t say if your expired license is a US or home country version but if it is the latter, then this would probably be an issue.

      Until you have paperwork that shows you are in the country legally (green card/visa/interim -not sure what Advanced Parole Card means?), then you won’t get past their first checkpoint. Then, even if you do have this paper, then you need to have a valid DL to prove driver experience. For those with legal visitor/residency status, if they have no DL to prove this, they are usually treated like a new driver and start the same path that teenagers go onto at 18 years old.
      I am guessing of course but I hope this helps. Sounds like it would be worthwhile obtaining a re-newed DL from your home country to avoid being treated like a beginner driver. If it is a US license, then expiry is not too bad but ask them what you can do in the interim til your green card is available.
      Anne Marie

  271. […] our delightful Sydney chapter requires substantial time and brainpower. 99% of our electrical items will not work in the U.S.A., and our car is right hand drive. We won’t store our belongings (use it or […]

    • It is illegal to drive an Australian car in the USA
      within a couple of years they require you convert it to American left hand drive. I had to sell my 4 year old car which I adored because converting would have cost more than the sale value of the car

      Computers are dual voltage
      Phones are fine

      it’s only my super nintendo and playstation I’ve been unable to use
      I run an ‘australian expats in the USA’ facebook group. feel free to join.

      • Rural Letter carriers (“Mailmen”) in the USA often buy right-hand drive vehicles to use on their mail routes.

  272. Jessica Forrester says:

    I find Italian Bread from Walmart is the most like Aussie bread, not sweet and has a nice chew.

  273. Hi there,
    We are in the process of moving to New Jersey from England, UK. We have three children in the age group of 17 (Year/Grade 12 A levels), 15 (Year/Grade 10 GCSE) and 8 years (Year/Grade 3). My eldest is reading Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics as his subject choices in A Levels, and he is currently in first year of two years A levels. The second one is doing her first year of two years GCSE (Year 10 and 11). We are expecting to be in New Jersey in June 2018, we would like to know the following;

    1.Cutoff date for the application or admission into High School in NJ
    2. What Year/Grade would they be admitted into?
    3. Subject choices: Can they continue with their Science and Maths subjects? if they wish to study Science and Maths, do they need to goto a specialist school or any High School in NJ offers these subjects?

    We understand that in USA the Grades 9-12 is considered to be High School where as in England it takes slightly different route where kids study 2 years of GCSE (called Year 10 and 11) and 2 years of A levels (called Year 12 and 13) and then they goto University for an Undergraduate Programme. In A levels students pretty much focus on the choice of subjects they want to proceed further in their Undergrad programme.

    Please throw some light and help us with the advise and info


    • Hi Bob,
      This is a challenging question that requires a detailed answer so I may not do it justice via this venue however I hope I can clarify it a bit.
      Firstly I am unfamiliar with the UK schooling system so will not be able to give meaningful insights other than below.

      1. There is no cut off date for public high school, as any resident in an area can register their children in local school district including the local high school and expect them to be accepted. Proof of your residency in the local area though is nearly always compulsory, requiring often between 2-4 different proofs as per individual school district requirements. Private high schools however are different, as they will have a cut off date to apply by, again which is set individually by the school. This can often be many months ahead so you should make enquiries now to see what your situation would be like at the particular private school you may wish to apply for.

      Although there is no cutoff point for your children in public schools, it is really a better idea to avoid arriving at the last minute in August/Sept, as your children will end up possibly with less options for subjects they want to pursue if they arrive after the first semester schedule is developed. This is when some classes may fill up, and latecomers miss out on or have an unattractive schedule as a result. To avoid this, it is better to try and arrive in early summer e.g. June/July, but visit/talk to the schools guidance counselors well before then to see what their planning is like and to get your children to understand what their subject choices are, so they can choose wisely the first time around. Changing your schedule after the first round, is difficult, messy and often disappointing.

      2. I really would have to guess but I think your 17 year old sounds more like a Junior (11th Grader) or perhaps a Senior (12th Grader). The second child sounds like a Freshman (9th Grader) or perhaps a 10th Grader. The school will have to assess what their academic standing is then decide how their current study translates to the NJ version of high school and consider their age as well. The last one sounds like a 2nd Grader or possibly 3rd Grader but would be attending an elementary school, separate from the other two. The school district chooses their levels but be sure to bring past school reports, examples of work done etc to argue your points and help the school understand. They would probably test the kids to assess them individually. Again, this would be ideally done well ahead, so you can plan their schedules more effectively.

      3. Science and Maths are offered at every school in some form but most general public schools offer both at various levels. The closest thing that sounds comparable to the UK’s ‘A’ levels in NJ/USA is the Advanced Placement class levels which are equivalent to undergraduate university level. In fact sometimes, the successful completion of these in high school (with a high mark) will obtain a credit at some universities (undergraduate level). Nearly all schools offer a good range of AP classes however, some offer a very wide range, including Math at several levels and specialized Science classes in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and then more specialized beyond this i.e. Anatomy/Physiology; Medical Science etc. Math tends to be taught in the USA in a more single strand oriented way e.g. Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus Trigonometry etc.

      There are also selective STEM schools in NJ, as well as County Prep High schools (also selective), which require some assessment to gain entry. These schools tend to be rated higher than standard/general public schools. However, there are some excellent public schools in NJ, so don’t be worried your choices are limited, as they are not, as long as you relocate to a town with a good school district.

      Hope that helps,
      Good Luck with your move!

      Anne Marie

  274. Thank you for helping me demystify the mysterious cute animal that I saw the other day in my front yard.

    I have just moved in Oakland, NJ. That day I stepped out of my front door, and to my surprised facing a cute strange animal walking up the cement steps in the front yard. After a second or two, the animal saw me and was kind of shocked it quickly turned its back and disappeared at the corner of my house. It all happened so fast I didn’t have a chance to take a picture. It was the first time I see that animal and I kept wondering what animal it was. Now reading your article I know it’s a groundhog! So lovely!

    Thanks again and have a good day in this beautiful peaceful land! 🙂

  275. I’m confused
    do I need to step up because of the hertz?
    or step down because of voltage? Everything I have read suggests the latter

    Cell phones are FINE moving country to country. Back in 2011 an American sent me a US cheap flip phone to Australia. It worked fine in Australia..
    2011 I took my Australian iPhone 4 to the USA and it worked fine.
    I have used iPhone 4, 5 and 6 in both countries regularly switching between with no issues and no issues with the crappy flip phone either.

    If you have problems I’d say you are using items from the 1990s?

    Now when it comes to the 90s.. here is my problem
    All my computers are dual voltage BUT

    it’s my Super Nintendo and my Playstation 2 from my childhood that I’d like to plug in in America.. I need to figure out how
    please help

  276. Hello! Not so long ago, finally completed repairs in our apartment, and now choose beautiful furniture for our interior. We liked the corner sofa in the store https://casaeleganza.com/collections/living-room and still looked at the coffee table.

  277. I’ve just returned from a trip to the MVC on Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ, and I guess I was one of the lucky ones similar to the poster ‘Yitz’ above, in the sense that I managed to walk out with an NJ drivers license – in my case within only 2 hours. Probably because it is a Friday morning, and although the queues look pretty long, are perhaps not as long as other days.

    I also didn’t have to do the road test. Again, I think I was lucky and it depends on who you see. I expected after reading this blog my Spanish license would be an issue. Nope. The guy cross-checked it in his special book of foreign licenses and stamped his paperwork with ‘valid’.

    Some advice:

    1. Practice online tests A LOT in conjunction with reading the manual. The online tests at https://driving-tests.org/new-jersey are excellent – I cannot recommend them more. It covers about 80% of the questions I was asked, the rest were a little newer but if you can nail the online tests well (I think aim more towards 90% than just an 80% pass), then you should manage the theory fine. But keep practicing – I suggest doing a 10-min online test at least 4 times a day for a week, cross-checking against the manual as you progress. This is my number one advice.

    2. Go to the reception first, and explain very clearly what you are there for. In my case, I have recently arrived to the US with a Spanish Drivers license and wish to obtain a New Jersey Drivers license. Depending on how knowledgable the receptionist is, s/he will give you the correct paperwork to fill. I mention this as I visited the MVC before, and was given different papers at that time, possibly because I was not clear. As it happens, at that earlier time their systems were down so I didn’t finish the process and left after an hour.

    3. Indeed really make sure you have all the paperwork to cover the 6-point ID, and more if you can; I had my passport, DS-2019, an up-to-date I-94, gas bill, US debit card and social security card all ready. The receptionist asked me in yes/no questions about my paperwork which I could answer in the affirmative, and that helped a lot getting through.

    4. The staff may sometimes be terse and rude. Try to be polite and accommodating at all times and keep answers short if you find that staff member being of that type. I’ve been to the MVC a few times now and the staff seem to be a mix of rude/professional-yes-or-no-answers-please/very friendly. Really don’t kick up a fuss about anything as they could make things less smooth (although if you have questions for clarification of course you need to ask those).

    • Hi Hsn,
      Thanks for your comments. These are also extremely useful tips. I hope any expats who go to visit the MVC do indeed follow your common sense advice, i.e. to be sensitive, polite, not too reactive, and above all, patient. These useful approaches will only help expats get a faster and more successful response. However, it is important to note that even when following these approaches, people can still experience difficulties, which are not always easy to overcome. There is a lot of luck involved with visiting the offices at the right time and definitely in getting someone who is not difficult. There are a variety of people whichever office you visit. One of the previous commenters also went to Lawrenceville and experienced a very difficult time. Being prepared though is another way to avoid common downfalls.

      My apologies that the countries listed in the blog is now out-of-date. I will correct this asap, so it is current. Thanks again for your instructive comments! Cheers Anne Marie

  278. My wife and along with my 4-year-old boy are planning to migrate to the USA, and live in the NJ area around Montclair early 2019.
    Currently, I work as a Senior Manager in one of the banks here in Sydney, Australia.
    One of the questions that come to mind is how difficult will be for me to find a job out there. Can anyone share their thoughts on this please.

  279. Lauren Smith says:

    Love this blog! I just found you while doing a search for expat blogs (as I am an American from New Jersey shore area and now living in Barcelona). Had to say hello and I love how you capture life in NJ – the ups and downs, the good and the ugly. You seem to have embraced life in the states well and I wish you so much luck 🙂 Enjoy the sweet jersey corn and amazing tomatoes – nothing like em in the summer 🙂

  280. Oh I laughed out loud reading this……talk about hit the nail on the head, very well done agreed on all of them! The one’s that bother me the most as a Kiwi that the Americans say is definitely herbs and apricots oh and two others I really notice that aren’t on the list….

    Mirror……mear er
    Pickle……peck il

    I notice a lot of the comments are saying this is just how New Jersey people speak but I know for a fact that most words on the list are spoken by every day Americans and actors presenters, political people et how many of them would have a New Jersey accent.

  281. Raj Kaushik says:

    Hi Marie,

    Trust you are doing great.

    I am from India I have two kids. The younger one is 2.5 years old and the elder one is 10.5 years old (in 6th grade here in India) & would be moving to Edison, NJ in Sept. 2018. From what I’ve learned so far, that school sessions starts in Edison Public Schools from Sept. 1, 2018 & new enrolments have already started I guess. My major concern is that if I bring him in Sept/October (that is when I can bring him here soonest along with my wife & younger kid), would I be still be allowed to get him admitted at that time. I am afraid of seats getting filled by that time.

    Also if I admit him in October, he would be admitted in 6th Grade. He turns 11 years on Sept. 11th. So if I admit him after that he would be eligible for Grade 6th in Edison, NJ which is his current class hence he would not lose a year.

    Request you to please advise at the earliest. I really need your help to come out from this fear.

    Appreciate for your help & guidance in advance.


    • Hi Raj,
      Do not worry about the number of school seats available in Edison. Every NJ school district is required by law, to provide a seat to any new child living in their school district, as long as they are a verified resident. This means as long as you can prove you live in Edison, then your child will attend one of their schools. Since you are planning to arrive after the school term starts, it might be more of a concern that you can actually get accommodation but I would assume this is possible in Edison due to the large population, and many rental apartments that have a lot of turnover. So even if you arrive after the start of school, as long as you are a resident, your child CAN attend the local schools.

      If your son will be in 6th Grade in India in the new school year there, and you move to NJ, it is likely they will want him to continue the same grade here in NJ (Assuming India grades are equivalent to US which I believe they are). Sixth grade in NJ is often the first year of middle school. In Edison your son would most likely attend one of the four available middle schools in the district (Thomas Jefferson M. School, John Adams M. School, Herbert Hoover M. School or Woodrow Wilson M. School). Edison schools have a good reputation, so that is something to look forward to.

      You will need to provide quite a few documents for school enrolment, which you may already be aware of. If not, it is wise to visit the following webpage from this school district, which lists everything you need to have, so you can plan ahead before you leave India to bring everything required e.g. birth certificates, immunization records etc. The web page link is: https://www.edison.k12.nj.us/Page/1375 .

      I hope that answers your questions, but please let me know if you need further assistance!

      Best of luck and enjoy NJ-it is a lovely state to live in 🙂
      Anne Marie

      • Hi Ann Marie,

        I can’t thank you enough for giving such a great advise and help. I would certainly carry all the required docs and will meet you in-person once I am there. Thanks a lot again for all your help & guidance. Stay blessed!!

        Raj Kaushik

  282. Arnold Dela Cruz says:

    Hi, I have a 9 year old son and he wants to move here in Deptford, NJ for this school year. He was from Guam, USA its a US territory in the pacific. Can he be able to enroll for this school year? Thanks.

    • Hi Arnold
      As long as he becomes a resident that lives in the school district of Deptford NJ, I can’t see why not. You may need to sign some sort of guarantee such as an affidavit or similar document for the school district, to confirm your son is staying/living with you in this town. You can usually find out this information on the school district’s website although sometimes you need to ring to enquire. I just looked up this detail and the registration for enrollment is done by the School Registrar as below:

      Loretta Winters, Registrar
      Address: 890 Bankbridge Road, Sewell, NJ 08096
      Phone: 856-415-9540 X 2057

      You can ring or email this lady to ask what is needed however they request you complete a packet of forms for registration that includes proof of residency of the parent, as well as several other documents needed such as immunization records, your child’s school records from his previous school, proof oc custody (if not living with his combined family currently). If you visit this website page (Link ) at http://www.deptford.k12.nj.us/registration/ you can see what information is needed yourself. As these lists can be a bit confusing, do feel free to call to get anything explained that is not clear.

      Hope this helps!


      Anne Marie

  283. I would like to have some advice on my Child’s school. My son is going to go to Year 10 In September. Until now he was studying in the UK , however due to his UK visa refusal he could not go back after summer vacation. Therefore, I would like to enrol him in a school in Iselin New Jersey , we already own a property there and it is given on rent. We have also re-applied for His Uk Visa although it is taking longer than expected and it still very well could be declined. It is already August 16th and his old school will re-open on September 4th. We are considering moving him to USA public school in NJ as he was originally born in the USA and holds a valid Passport. My question is that if he arrives in NJ at the end of September or even a later date , what would be the chances of him getting into his choice of school and will they take him in. As well his choice of subjects in High School
    Thanking you in Anticipation

    • Hi Sara,
      If you have proof of residency, that your son is staying in Iselin, then the school district is legally obliged to provide him a spot, no matter when he arrives. Of course, the later he enrolls, the less chance there is that he will have much choice in electives. Usually the class selections are submitted in the prior school year (April or May), then the school works out a schedule over the summer break, providing it to students either during the vacation period or during the first week. Almost all provide them earlier before school starts, with a short period given in the first week, to make changes if the schedule has problems in it or student wants to changes it. I would recommend that you make a decision on enrolment as fast as possible, to start the ball rolling.

      If you must wait on the outcome of the visa, then perhaps contact the school in Iselin (JFK High School) now, and start to ask about electives, and what choices your son would get. You can still prepare for the NJ enrolment even if you don’t proceed with it eventually. I would not wait until late September to make enquiries at the NJ school, mostly because the schedules get filled up quickly, and your son’s schedule may end up being sub-standard due to missing out on the best courses. You don’t need to tell the school about your UK visa application, since your son is a US citizen with his own passport. I would ring the school, and speak to the administration office and the guidance counselling department who develop the schools schedule. They usually allocate specific counsellors to a particular Grade, so ask for assistance.

      To enroll your son, it is likely you will need to have a few proofs of residency in Iselin such as deed of property ownership plus a utility bill in your name for this address. If he is going to live with other people (not his parents), you will also need to have an affidavit or similar papers to prove his residency with them in Iselin. The full package of what you need is found on the Board of Education’s website at: https://www.woodbridge.k12.nj.us/cms/lib/NJ01913008/Centricity/Domain/88/HIGH_SCHOOL_RegPkt_rev_2017.pdf

      If he is going to switch to NJ from the UK, you and he will have a lot to think about and plan for since the US system is very different to the UK. You will need to become familiar with the SAT/ACT testing process, and understand how the school will assess your son’s performance in the UK as contributing to the NJ requirements for graduation. It is no small matter to switch school systems unfortunately!!

      That is all I can add just now but if you have further questions, I will try to answer them for you if possible,

      Kindest Regards

      Anne Marie

  284. Hi Ann Marie,

    I can’t thank you enough for giving such a great advise and help. I would certainly carry all the required docs and will meet you in-person once I am there. Thanks a lot again for all your help & guidance. Stay blessed!!

    Raj Kaushik

  285. The Curriculum of South Africa High school and Curriculum of High Schools in New Jersey differ, and what test must be done when moving to New Jersey, the children is currently in Gr 10 and Gr 12 in South Africa.

  286. Hello!! Just found you as I was doing research for my Pre-K Class as we are in a postcard exchange and one of the preschools that we have is in Sydney Australia. I am going to copy some of you adventures of that is okay and send it to them.

  287. Hi, I have just relocated internationally to NJ and stumbled on this as I was trying to figure out how to get my license converted. Is there a deadline by which I will need to convert my Aussie license? I seem to recall a 60 day limit but can’t remember where I saw that. If that is the case, wondering if I can submit the paperwork then do the tests another day? I literally just signed a lease on day 55 of my 60 day window so now finally have a proof of residency…..if that is the case.

    • Hi Jackie
      There is an unofficial deadline of 60 days, which is the deadline given for interstate people to change over their other US state driver license to convert to a NJ license. The sixty days is a guideline more than an actual law but some police officers can get a bit stroppy if you haven’t started the process, if you are unlucky enough to strike one of these.

      If you only just have your new address, there is nothing much you can do now than start the ball rolling. If you have your other documents ready, then perhaps at least get the first stage underway with the permit. Then you can re-visit to do the written test etc another day. Carry the permit though in the car until you convert to a full license, in case you do get stopped by police. Just as an aside, any car insurance policy you take out will also be cheaper if you have a NJ permit versus an international license, from my understanding of things, so probably good to move onto getting the license as a priority after the permit. Btw, you should keep your Aussie license-it doesn’t get turned in like the other US state driver licenses.
      Any other questions, drop me a line!

      Good luck
      Anne Marie

  288. This list sounds exactly right to my Australian ears.
    The reasons so many are disagreeing with you is because they’re reading the pronounciations with American ears!

    • yeah, it can be hard to realise how your accent makes you sound to foreigners. I’m from NZ and I can vouch that we pronounce most things similar to you aussies. My husband is American and I have heard him promise many words like on the list! but I showed him and he didn’t agree with me that he said things that way.

      • Hi Suzy,
        From all the critics commenting on what I hear, this must be true! No one seems to get that it is my own perception of what I hear. It would be like visitors to Australia, telling me how my Aussie words sound-I truly get it that I won’t hear my words the same way as a visitor 🙂 Probably Australians don’t even understand me !!!

        Thanks so much for your thoughts-great to hear from another down under expat!
        Anne Marie

  289. Hi,
    First of all thanks a lot for this article, great information.

    I am moving from Australia to New Jersey early 2019. My son is born mid Sep 2011. He will be going to grade 2 in Jan, 2019. Can you please let me know which school we should pick and what is the best time to join the school. We are thinking of postponing my travel/move to Sep and enrolling him in grade 3 but is it possible to get enrolled in next grade when all other kids of his age will be in grade 2 in New Jersey.


    • Hi
      The difficulty with Australia’s school system is that there is almost no ‘good timing’ that you can avoid repeating in most cases. If you go in September, your child will not have completed Grade 2 so likely would not be accepted into Grade 3 in NJ. While there is no foolproof way to know, I would advise checking with a school Board of Education/Registrar to see what their approach would be. Regardless of when you leave in Australia, you are hitting the NJ system 6 months behind and usually it is too hard to skip ahead leaving the other option of repeating so that your child gets the entire Grade completed one way or another. If you know which area you are likely to be living in, you can find the public schools listed for the school district, and on most schools websites, there is a contact name/email/phone which you can call, if email is inadequate. The upside, is that if you return, your child will likely be able to skip ahead in Australia, as math teaching there seems to be ahead in sequence for some reason, which benefits you on return, if that is applicable.Do email me if you have any further questions.

      Good Luck

      Anne Marie

  290. Many of those American pronunciations are not general American pronunciations but regional ones. The same could be said for some of the Aussie ones.


  291. Hi Anne Marie,

    Got questions about pre-k admission in NJ, especially in Edison township. This is for my daughter who turn 4 in Jan 2019. Please help.

    -Is there free pre-kindergarten available in the area?
    -What is the process of applying to such pre- kindergarten programs?
    – what are the timelines for admission to such program?

    I’m confused as we couldn’t get any email back from Department if Education and each preschool/ daycare centers seem to have their own ways of running the programs.

    We will be moving to the area around April 2019. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Hi Jyoti
      There are no free preschools available that I am aware of. Even the public school pre-school has an associated fee of $3000. The public preschool though has a limited number of seats available to Edison residents each year. Getting a place is via lottery system as there are not enough seats available for every child. If you wish to pursue a public school preschool place, then you need to submit an application form around 6 months earlier. See attached link for the preschool application used this school year in 2018-it had an application deadline for 29th March 2018, so next year’s process would be similar-

      Outside the public school district, possibly all others will be privately run places, which will charge fees, have different opening hours and may be either long term daycare (available during longer work hours for parents), or be more like the public preschool, which is open during school hours e.g. 9am-3pm full day, 9am-12pm/12-3pm -half days. This system is much like Australia, except there are no public preschools here. Because preschools do cost a fair amount of money in the USA, you have to make sure that your job pays enough to make it worthwhile in many cases, otherwise it may be worth one of you staying at home. Admissions to the private preschools and daycare centres can depend on whether they have any vacancies. Sometimes very popular schools have a waiting list but that is not the case for most, unless you are arriving close to school year start in September. It is always best to come earlier than school start in September by a few months to get available housing, and get school sorted out. Most people come in summer or earlier if possible. Avoid fall and winter months if you can 🙂 April is a good time to arrive.

      Please understand that enrolment in Kindergarten in public school district is free and there will be a place provided for your child once she is 5, as it is required by law if you are an Edison resident (must be 5 years old by 1st October in the year she is registering for kindergarten at the school district-in your case this would be Sept 2020).

      Back to preschools for a minute- here are two lists of some of the preschools in Edison. Because it is such a large town there will be more available than on this list, and you may want to get a school closer to where you will be living so you do not have to drive or walk too far from home. In that case you will probably need to know your new address before registering with a school or centre.


      However, if distance doesn’t matter, then you can go ahead now and request information from any preschool that interests you. There will probably be some information on the preschool’s website but you likely have to email the preschool Director for enrolment forms and fee information. Be aware that there are some different style of pre- schools that may or may not interest you. For instance some are run by Christian/Jewish organizations and may include elements of religion (or not). If in doubt ask about what their curriculum is and if it includes religious instruction at all. Other styles of preschools can include Montessori etc.

      Timelines for the enrolment process can vary but if there is no vacancy the preschool director may put your name down on a waiting list. If there is a vacancy at the time when you arrive, they may ask for a deposit to hold your place until you start. If you pay any deposits, make sure you get a receipt and keep this in a secure place until you start at the school. This should be refundable if you change your mind or credited to your fees if you do proceed to start your child there. Regardless of which school you choose, all preschools will want proof that your child has all the required vaccinations that NJ health department requires (your child’s health records in English). Make sure you bring this with your child’s original birth certificate. Both are needed for preschool AND public school when you enroll in the following year.

      It would be advisable to start making enquiries now to ensure there are at least some private preschools available to place your child, if this is necessary for you to start work straight away on arrival. Do not wait until you arrive to start looking if it is critical for your employment. If it is not critical, then you can still make some enquiries to see what availability and fees are like before you arrive.

      Hopefully that answers all your questions but if not, please email me any other queries.

      Good Luck-NJ is a great place to live!


      Anne Marie

  292. I came across your blog and found it very interesting. I’m actually from Morristown, and I’m heading out to Australia! I will say that as someone who grew up in NJ, what you’ve said is pretty accurate. I’m 22, and I would say that religiosity is moderating, at least amongst people my age. Very nice to read your stuff and look at NJ from an Australian perspective :).

    • Hi Jeremy!
      Thanks so much for your feedback! I hope Australia is not too hard to acclimatize to:) You may find our speech a bit strange regards words and phrases that are colloquial and our accent/fast talking can make it hard to understand at times but most people seem to manage it. You will certainly have some choice material to blog about and photography subjects you wont get elsewhere in the world. By the way, I loved Morristown even though I lived in Montclair, I visited it often for work:) Last time was to hear the Declaration of Independence read on July 4th at the Green, followed by a visit to Starbucks! Very motivated crowd and fun!

      Safe and happy travels!


      Anne Marie

    • Also an Aussie living in the US for 10 yrs, Oregon and soon to be Texas.
      Your comment of “son received detention at his NJ public school for saying the word ‘damn’, an expression we wouldn’t have even blinked at.”….. I too had the same issue. Damn instead of Dang… and Hell instead of Heck. Made me LOL. A relaxed aussie culture and don’t take things seriously as the US. One country lives to work and the other works to live!

      Enjoyed the read!

  293. Hi,

    I live in jersey city and today I visited DMV Bayonne and the experience was unexpected. I carried most of the documents and lady asked for my paystubs during document check. I carried passport, I94, PSEG bill, ATM card, Bank statement, Credit card statement, SSN, lease document. But she specifically mentioned pay stub which I never expected. I got print out of selected documents which I had to provide and that official said why you are giving to me this 6 point id printout. This was very wierd . Will try again 🙂


    • Hi Rajeev
      Welcome to the unpredictable world of the NJ MVC!

      I have not exactly named Bayonne DMV in my blog posts yet but this is one of the worst DMVs to go to in NJ! Unfortunately you were not to know beforehand 🙁 The reason that they want pay stubs is to prove you are working in the Tri-state area (in NJ/NY/CT), and particularly in NJ. One of my clients was also requested to do this (on the one and only time I visited Bayonne), and like you requested proof of work site/payments. When I challenged this with the DMV Manager, she quite pompously told me that she has authority to add any extra rules in that she liked to the standard MVC requirements! Unbelieveable that in a country that is supposed to lead the Western world, there are rules to get a driving document that an individual can just make up-these are not required any other MVC I have been to in NJ.

      The best way to avoid this problem is to avoid Bayonne completely. The MVC at Lodi is very busy but the staff are quite proficient generally and even if not always nice, they do not request ridiculous documents. If I could I would avoid both Bayonne and North Bergen MVC.

      Sorry I couldn’t help you before you got this problem.

      Good Luck in the next visit:)

      Anne Marie

  294. Hi Anne,

    I seek your advise on high school admission process for my son in grade 11 starting Sept 2019. We are currently living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and will be relocating to the US (New Jersey). My Son is currently in grade 10, studying in an American Curriculum school in Dubai, UAE. He will complete his grade 10 in Dubai by summer 2019 and will need to start his high school 11th grade in the US.
    Most high school websites that we checked only mention about admission process in 9th grade. The process of international relocation’s in higher grades is not mentioned in the school websites.
    We prefer to be living in NJ and seek admissions in one of the best high schools preferably in Bergen county such as Bergen County Academies .We are flexible in terms of location.
    Please advise who we should contact and the process for high school admission in 11th grade.

  295. any secial going on the week or the april 22-to april 25

  296. Hi Anne Marie,

    This comment is a much later than your article, but I wonder if you know of more helpful DMV locations like Lodi, but closer to Edison or Trenton?
    My SSN is from Maryland where I lived earlier, and I am on H4, my spouse’s H1 is from Maine, but work location is different, so its going to be tricky.
    I can drive, but of course, I prefer not to take the road test if I can avoid it 🙂

  297. Hi,
    It must be an upper class Montclair thing. I have read dozens of your posts and still cannot get over this thing about swearing. I have traveled throughout the USA as well as Europe and Australia etc and know of no place on earth where swearing is as common as NJ. I was perfectly at home in Australia because I caught no S… about my language and constant use of the word F… and G..Da…it all. LOL. Cheers

  298. for the Americans getting triggered, the author is writing how US pronunciation sounds to her ears, from a foreign country. I am also not American but I hear things on american television shows this way as well. Just because he do not hear or don’t realise that it sounds this way doesn’t mean that others can’t hear it that way. it’s like they said with the “mobile phone, rubber foam” incident. In America, the Aussie word for phone sounds like foam. and mobile sounded like rubber, which is really out there. don’t get so offended. people hear what they hear.

    • Hi Lizabeth!
      You are the voice of sanity, thanks to you and a small number of others who understand what I have tried to explain. Additionally, people are missing that what I heard was from just one part of the enormity of the US, which has a huge range of different accents that most expats like me, don’t understand until you visit a few other states. Lots of people also move states and bring their accent with them. Never thought this would be so controversial !

      Thanks for your voice of sanity-much appreciated :))

      Anne Marie

  299. I’m a student moving to Newark from Melbourne. I have a probationary drivers licence about to get my full licence in two years,

    My question is, can I drive with my DL from Victoria, in NJ, or do I need to bring an IDL?

    • Hi Kumar,
      If you move to NJ with a license that is anything but a full license (e.g. probationary), you will be expected to go through their driving license program that handles new drivers (although somewhat more fast-tracked – not starting from scratch). You will still be entitled to get a type of probationary license but not the full version that others get when they have already reached that here before relocating.

      You will still need to do all the things that any expat driver has to do when applying though, so make sure you bring all your paperwork, and study properly for the knowledge exam.

      Btw, ALL expat drivers except perhaps Canadians, are required to bring an IDL, and carry it with you in the car while driving, as well as your home license. Also be careful what location you select to live in Newark, as there are some dangerous areas there for crime. If living on Rutgers campus, you should be fine but be careful.

      OK, hope that helps,

      Anne Marie

  300. Hi Anne Marie,
    MY son is in 1st grade in india and we are planning to move to new jersey in early december will it be possible to get him in mid year to any public school in NJ?

    • Hi Parul,
      It doesn’t matter when you arrive during the school year September-June, assuming he is NOT starting kindergarten, your son will be given a place in a NJ public school in any town that you move to live in permanently. As long as you have the right documents to prove you are living there permanently, the school is obliged to find a place for your child. Every school has their own list of residence proof documents that they ask parents to supply. For example they may ask for a copy of your rental lease or electricity bill that shows your name and address, and proves you are living in the town’s catchment area. You will need to find out what documents your NJ school will require.

      A more practical consideration for you might be what Grade level he would start (assuming not kindergarten), given you are arriving after the school year has started. That will depend again on the school policy. Most schools try to keep children in normal grade progression following where they stopped in last country. They will possibly test your child (quite normal so do not worry) to ensure they are going to do alright in the grade that they are planning. If your son is already in school in India 1st or 2nd grade, then they would probably just continue that grade in his new NJ school. A lot depends on what your child’s situation is. The schools will try and do the best for them, which is good for everyone. It is a good idea to bring your son’s Indian school reports so that the NJ school can see what his progress was before leaving.

      Sometimes children who come part way through the year have to repeat the same grade they may have finished prior to moving, as they have missed too much to catch up. My children had to do this but we started in NJ much later in the school year, which made it difficult to avoid. I wouldn’t expect this to happen in your case.

      I hope that answers your question. Please let me know if you need any further explanation.

      Good Luck to you and your family in NJ-it is a great place to live!

      Kind Regards

      Anne Marie

  301. Hi, I am in the US with a K1 visa and was told by the DMV in Lodi that I cannot get a NJ driver’s license because I am not a legal permanent resident. K1 lets you enter the country once so that you can get married (which we did in July!), and we then applied for adjustment of status which lets me stay in the country at least until the adjustment of status process is completed – which is currently 5-7 months.

    This means that they don’t want to give me a NJ license but on the other hand I cannot use my German/international driver’s license for more than 60 days…

    Any ideas or good advice on how to obtain a NJ driver’s license on a K1 visa and which DMV to go to?

    • Hi Simon,
      Firstly I cannot give any legal advice as you need a professional immigration lawyer for that. However there are a few comments I would make:
      1. Ring the Legal department of the NJ MVC to get better detailed advice since you may not be getting the full picture from the people at the counter, although Lodi is usually pretty good compared to most DMVs I have been to.
      2. Do you have a Social Security Number/card, as you need to have that to apply for a NJ driver license, regardless of your immigration status. From my reading of background information, if you have already filed I-485 and Form I-864, then you should be able to receive your conditional green card, and apply for a SSN, and that would allow you to apply for the NJ DL. If you are in between submitting the forms and receiving the approval notifications, then perhaps you will have to be happy to temporarily drive around with your home license plus Int. DL.

      3. Your International Driver License should not expire until 12 months after you first acquired it. Assuming you have only recently obtained it before coming to the US, it should still be valid. You can continue to drive around with the license until it expires legally I believe. However this is something you could also clarify with the legal department. It is not your fault that you cannot yet get accepted to apply for a NJ DL, as this is the benchmark the MVC sets, so you should be OK to explain that to a police officer if stopped, and he questions where your NJ DL is. By the way, a local policeman cannot do anything to affect your immigration status, but they can be a bit scary sometimes. Please seek more expert advice about this but this is just my opinion.

      Good luck with your new life in NJ:)



      • Hi Anne-Marie,

        thank you so much for your fast and detailed reply and the information! 🙂

        Yes, I already have my SSN. I read in some blog that it is a good idea to give my Alien Number and have the MVC use that instead of my I-94. Apparently when they put this number in their system, after a waiting time of a few days it should be possible to apply for the DL. Let’s see!
        But you are right, should I not be able to apply for a DL that should mean that I can continue driving with my international DL.

        Thanks! Simon

  302. Hi, I’ve just discovered your site. We are currently expating in India but are from Qld, and moving to NJ next year. One thing I’m really unsure on how to handle is how do I explain the lockdown drills to my kids? They are grades 1 and 2 currently. Do I need to tell them (ie, will they hear it from school anyway) that it’s to hide incase a person with a gun ever comes into school and starts shooting at people??? This will give them nightmares, I can’t imagine they will be able to sleep easily and they won’t want to move to America. Also, do you know the Summit, New Providence, Glenfield, Chatham and surrounds type area? I’ve been googling schools, townships and houses in these locations, but it’s so hard to know which one to focus on…. I know everyone is different, but do you have any favourites out of them (with a nice feel to the town, excellent schools, safe, pretty, friendly people, etc)?

  303. Also, thank you so much for all the information on your site – it’s extremely helpful. There’s so much to learn here, and it’s so nice to finally find an Aussie expat to US (NJ!) site that has so much great information.

  304. sreeharsha sunkara says:

    hey i have been though your post and i have a question that was not covered. today that is on october -25 2019, i have visited the dmv with all my documents. i oved from mobile alabama to New jersey. i am an international student and my college is in KY. i was denied a drivers licence because my college is not in new jersey. My college DSO also gave me a DMV letter with my current address but they denied me of my drivers licence. could you please let me know if there is a state law not to issue drivers licence if my college is not in the state

    • Hi,
      Sorry for the late reply.
      This is a different question than I normally receive, that is true. From what I can understand though, it seems you have not provided them with a satisfying proof of your residency in New Jersey. There is a list of the types of proofs that they accept to show you truly are a resident in a particular state. If you look on the NJ MVC website, they have this list, which you can see at https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/license/docselector/doc_address.htm. If you provided something else, it is likely they would not have accepted it, as their rules are quite rigid, and enforced strongly.

      If you truly need a New Jersey DL, then you need to get some acceptable proofs set up, such as the bank statement etc. I would also recommend that you hold two of them, and avoid mentioning that you attend the KY college, as this will just confuse matters.
      Hope that helps
      Anne Marie

  305. Cheryl Cartwright says:

    Hi Anne Marie. We are travelling from Brisbane on 6th December and staying on Christopher Columbus drive near grove station. We have friends who live in Montclair (Aussies from Perth) and we are wondering what their is to do in winter where we can meet them out that way. Any ideas?

  306. Hi Anne
    what about when I need to go to another country for 10 days my son is in kindergarten and he needs to go with me I have to re-register him for school when I will be back how the process work I have to fill out all papers and documents one more time?

  307. Timthebeast says:

    Well, yes, New Jersey is not as cold as most people think. I am 13, and lived here all my life. The temperature almost never drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. January probably has an average high of about 40 degrees. However, they never talk about New Jersey’s summers, in which it reaches about 95 degrees in mid-July. It is also very humid in New Jersey, so get used to that. Below is the average high/low for each month in Central Jersey:

    Jan: 40/24
    Feb: 43/25
    Mar: 51/32
    Apr: 63/42
    May: 73/52
    Jun: 82/61
    Jul: 86/66
    Aug: 85/65
    Sep: 78/58
    Oct: 67/46
    Nov: 55/37
    Dec: 46/29

    These estimates, however, may not capture what the weather feels like. Since New Jersey is very humid, it may feel like at most 110 in mid-July and at least -10 in mid-January in Fahrenheit. The Winters feel like Canada in the Winter, but feel like Florida or Texas in Summer.

  308. Hi Anne,

    I can imagine how this whole page is so useful for everyone.
    My kids (of age 15.9 son and 12.6 daughter) are moving here in NJ. They have already cleared their 10th and 7th grade in India. My questions are:-
    1- Documents required
    2- Which grade they will be admitted to?
    3- which specific immunisation reports are required?
    4- will there be any admission test?
    5- They would like to continue their current grades of 11th & 8th.

    Please help me get the answers.

    Thanks in advance.


  309. Hi,

    Thanks for this article.

    Any update regarding Covid and how things are working now?
    Also, is it possible to get the permit and take the knowledge test on the same day?
    Of course, the DMV is not answering their phone lines at all 9too much of a Covid risk, I guess)


  310. We have fox and an occasional coyote here in Roseland, nj in the western part of busy Essex county.

  311. Thanks for this – we’re hoping to get an appartment or house to rent in the short term shortly. Are there any tips or helps – we are just west of Manhattan ideally – or updates? Thanks

    • Hi Andrew,
      You sound as if you might be thinking of Jersey City or Hoboken, which are both ideal for NYC commuters, as it is a simple train or ferry ride across the river to Manhattan from these two, so great for going out as well as work. Both areas have great vibes and a vast number of apartments for renting.

      A few quick tips:
      1. If you are going to live in Jersey City, make sure you stick to the north and north-eastern areas. Avoid Greenville and southern areas for living in, as these still have substantive crime, and perhaps not safe at night. Journal Square has improved a lot, however, no matter which town you live in, do visit the neighborhood at night to see how safe or sketchy the area is, in case you are walking home from the bus/train station in the dark. It is important to be comfortable where you live, so check it out during day, night and weekends.

      2. If you are not going to own a car, look how far it is to shop for groceries. There is always Uber, taxi or light rail but these are not always available everywhere. If you eat out a lot, then its probably not as important.

      3. Houses to rent are uncommon in both Hoboken and Jersey City, although they do exist. If you want more space, i.e. a backyard, you will probably need to move further west, to try to find something affordable that is safe, clean and well-kept.

      4. I would always recommend to get a realtor to help find the house you want and sometimes apartments. A tenant has to pay usually 1 month’s rent as commission to realtors involved (tenant realtor and landlord realtor). This is worth it for you if you don’t have time and they will match your requirements, saving a lot of time and above board. Important to pick a well-established realtor office in this case. If they feel shady when you meet them, drop them and find another.

      5. Be aware that many large newer apartments in both Hoboken and Jersey City deal directly with tenants through their leasing office, requiring no realtor involvement. You just go yourself, and the lease will be nearly always un-negotiable so read the fine print CAREFULLY. They will have set terms and be very transactional usually. There is always someone willing to rent their apartments so it can be competitive. However, away from these big powerful leasing offices, you can try to negotiate. A realtor can help with th