Friday, October 22, 2010

Buying Furniture/groceries

Once you move into your new apartment, the next thing is to buy the basic furniture and groceries. For furniture, you have two options - buy new or purchase old stuff from others.

There is a very good website - for buying old furniture. You just select the state and city where you stay and then browse through the furniture section. We got some very good stuff like this. There is a free section also. Some people just want to get rid of their old furniture (if you don't want to spend any money at all). If you want to buy a second hand car, this is the best site. Also there are garage/yard sales every weekend where people take out old stuff from their house and sell at very cheap rates. Do make it a point to visit atleast some of them every weekend. Sometimes you get brand new items like kids toys, clothes etc. at throwaway prices. Initially we didn't know about this and purchased toys from regular shops (which becomes quite expensive) but later on started buying from garage sales.

For new furniture, I think the best shop is Ikea ( Here you get everything from kitechen items to furniture. The prices are reasonable and quality is good. Believe me, India is more expensive. You get plastic boxes for storage for very cheap. You can easily get a simple queen bed with mattress for $500. You can get a dining table with 4 chairs for as low as $150 (we got from Walmart for $110). At walmart, you can get comforter set (includes bedsheet, sham, pillow covers and comforter) for $60.

It's best to take membership of whole sale stores/warehouse like Costco or BJs (personally we like costco). You get shampoos, detergent, toilet rolls, tissues, cereals etc. at a cheaper rate compared to other stores. Also, Milk is the cheapeast here (tastewise also, it's better). For vegetables and other staples, if you have an Indian store nearby, there is nothing like it. For us the Indian store was 20 miles away so we would shop there once in a month. For everyday vegetable, we would go to meat farms nearby which had a good selection of fruits/vegetables and at reasonable prices.

You need to rent a car to go around. Enterprise ( has got very competitive prices. Sometimes they have weekend specials. Once we rented car for $10 per day-real cheap. Initially we rented the car only on weekends as my husband's office was just across the road from our apartments.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Packing essentials

I am sure everyone must have made a list of their own of stuff they want to take with them to USA. I would like to share a list of things which we got from India.

- kitchen items
- Pressure cooker (3 litre)
- 1-2 non-stick flat bottom pan(some apartments have electric stove
so it's difficult to use traditional karahi)
- a pan for making tea/coffee
- 6 stainless steel plates
- 6-12 stainless steel bowls
- 6 stainless steel glasses
- 12 spoons and 12 forks
- 2-3 serving spoons
- Grinder (if you make idli-dosas everyday)
- 1 packet of all basic spices you use like Dhania powder, Garam
Masala, chilli powder etc.
- all your important medications
- other miscelleneous things which you think are important.

Grocery items like daals, spices, rice, oil, flour and every thing else you use for cooking can be bought from Indian stores in USA. Even some American stores carry Indian daals and spices (in the international aisle)

No need to carry stuff like iron, dinner set, comforter & sheet set, tupperware or storage containers, shampoos or creams as you can get everything very cheap from Walmart.

We did not carry much clothes as you get good quality clothes at a reasonable rate especially if you stay near an outlet mall like tanger. During sale, it's very cheap and if you have coupons , nothing like it ( I will talk about coupons in another post). Do bring your jackets and sweaters if you are coming in the winter season (maybe one-two for each person). Once you settle down, you can explore all this.

Carry minimum jewellery as you are not going to wear it so often as in India. Same with sarees and salwar suits as you are not going to wear them much or only when you go to the temple. A good option is to bring some kurtis which you can wear with jeans.

As for toys for kids, bring minimum. You can get lots of toys (used and almost new) from garage sales here (I will write about it in another post).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Apartment search in USA

I think the best websites to search for apartments in USA are and There are are other sites like,, etc. But they have more or less the same listings. You have to put the zipcode or name of the city and state where you plan to move and specify the type of apartment you want like no. of bedrooms or baths or other amenities or you can just leave it blank. It will list all the apartments complexes in and around that city. You can make a comparison of all the apartments and according to your buget shortlist. Sometimes an area may not have apartment communities, you may then search for private apartments listing in Sometimes there maybe brokers fee associated with it. you have to check that.

If you have one small kid only, then you have to check with the apartment management whether you can rent a one bedroom apartment. Some apartment communities do not allow renting a one bedroom apartment if the kid is above 2 years. You have to take 2bedroom apartment. Some include utilities like water, heat, electricity etc. in the rent while some do not. So depending on your budget, check before you make any decision. Rent for different lease periods would be different. Rent for 12 month lease would be less than rent for 1 month lease. You can negotiate for the rent or maybe ask for some discount like first month free. It's best if you have a friend or colleague in the same location where you are moving. He can help you in looking for the apartment, maybe even shortlist before you come here.

You can look for the ratings and reviews of apartments on But sometimes one's experience might be entirely different from what others are going through. So it's best to go with an open mind.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Schools in USA

For getting registered in the local library, normally photo ID and proof of residence is required. You can show your passport and copy of lease to become a member. Check with the library if they require anything else.

One reader has asked "Should we search for public schools in possible location we would be moving or should we first look for a good school-district and then accordingly select a place / city of residence?"

I think you should first search for public schools in the area where your office is located. Then try nearby areas if the rating is not good and accordingly look for place of residence. Office proximity is good if you have to rush to the school for some emergency or to attend parent-teacher meetings.

After you have shortlisted the school, you can call/e-mail the school/district and ask them the procedure of admission. Normally they require proof of birth, immunization records signed by local pediatrician and proof of residency (you can get admission only in the school allocated to your current residence). My son had joined school in 1st grade but the school did not ask for any previous school records. You have to check with the school.

In my next blog, I would give information on how to look for apartments in USA and what are the things you have to consider.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Schools in USA


The most important thing for any parent is education of their kids. We send our kids to best schools in our country. So when we move to USA, we expect the same. In USA, public school education is free while private schools are expensive with fees from $200 to $2000 or more depending on the grade your child is in and the location of the school. So depending on your budget, you can send him to private or public. Public school normally provides transportation (if your house is more than 1 mile from school). Every school has different criteria about transportation. You will have to check with the school.

My son has been in a public school for the last 2 years. He loves his school and the teachers are really good. Standard of English is very good. Most of the school districts in US have accelerated Maths or accelerated reader programs or gifted child program. They monitor the progress of the child throughout the year and place them in accelerated program(usually starts from fourth grade) which means he/she will be having separate classes covering the next grade curriculum as well as their own grade. This is very beneficial for kids who are ahead of their grade level. Again every school has different programs. You have to check with your school. So when you move here and you think your kid is one level ahead of his class, you can request the school to evaluate him.

When we came here, my daughter was only 2.5 years old so I didn't send her to any school. Now she goes to pre-school 3 times in the week (2.5 hrs per day). You have to search around for the best pre-school within your budget preferably near your house. Pre-schools generally don't provide transportation.

The best thing I feel in USA is the library system. My kids just love going to the library. Every area has one library. It's free and depending on the rules of local library, you can check out any number of books and limited number of DVDs, VHS, CDs, magazines etc. They have lots of kids programs which are usually free. So if your kid is not yet 4 yrs, instead of sending him to school, you can take him for a library program every week which are educational and interactive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tips for moving to USA

I am a Mom of two small Kids. Moved from India to USA two years back. This blog is helpful for those who have small kids and planning to move to USA.

The first thing you have to do is look for an apartment in USA. Staying in hotel is okay for 1-2 days/weeks but then it's better to settle down fast and nothing like own place and home food. We shifted to our apartment within two days of landing in USA. What nobody tells you is that you have to start the process even before you reach here. In USA, all schools have ratings based on their performance (10 is best) and it's better to stay in the area where school rating is good enough.

So before you come here, do a thorough search and decide in advance. There is a great website You open the site and put the name of the city and state where you want to shift or you can put the zip code (if you know). It will display all the schools in the area and their rating. Most Elementary schools are from kindergarten (ages 5+) to 5th Grade. Some may have pre-K. Education in public schools is free. So you click the school'name which has a good rating. It will show everything from parents reviews to test scores to compare schools. If you click "compare schools", you will get a list of all the schools in the area and nearby. Suppose the place you are going has schools with poor rating, then you can search for schools in nearby area. It's better to stay in an area where school rating is better which may mean further from your office. I can tell from my own experience. I didn't know a thing about ratings when I came to USA. We took house within walkable distance from my husband's office. While great for him but my son had to study in a 3 rating school. Now he studies in 9 rating school. Needless to say, there is a huge difference in both the schools in terms of education and overall culture.

Everyday I would be adding more tips on how to settle down here.
. If you have any questions, I would be glad to help.