Moving to another country is such a difficult decision to make and one that needs to be considered seriously. Leaving behind everything that's familiar and known is not an easy thing, especially when you have a house and some income.
When we took the rather hard decision to leave Puerto Rico looking for a better future, we were so tired of an economy that would never grow. We were sick tired of jobs that were part-time. We were exhausted from losing, losing, and losing. Never good news. Always a new problem.
If you are following my website, I have shared a little of our background story, but if you are new here (WELCOME! I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE!!), I'll resume some.
Back in 2017, we put all our earnings and efforts into opening a business. We risked it all and after almost a year of preparation and planning, budgeting, loan processes, we finally opened it! Surprise to us, 15 days later Hurricane Irma kept us closed for almost 3 weeks. Bet we were back. Surprise surprise again. Hurricane Maria had us out of service for almost 3 months. No electricity and no water for months, no safe road to cross, inundations that lasted weeks. Long story short, we had to continue paying rent, loans, bills even when we were closed. Business insurance was a shitty thing and didn't cover any of those costs. Debt grew more than what was produced and we decided it was time to shut it down. There was no way we could make revenue with such a big debt and paying thousands of dollars monthly without earning a dime.
That's how the idea of leaving Puerto Rico came to be so tempting to us. Plus, we had lots of family issues that added to our already full pool of worries and depressions. A family member who's been living for decades here offered us their home to come if we wanted to look for a job here in Georgia.
Moving was one of the things we have talked about very early in our relationship but never came to be a real plan until that moment. My husband came here first and during his first three weeks here he found a job that would help us live permanently here. But, I was still in Puerto Rico with the kids. That same week, I sold everything we had left on Facebook. Furniture, appliances, even the car. I bought three one-way tickets, packed our bags, rented a car, drove to the airport and left it all behind without looking back.
I don't regret it at all. But let me tell you, it hadn't been easy as eating chocolate. It's been a bumpy ride. I want to share 20 things that we wish we have known before moving here to Georgia. So, here I go!
20 things I wish I have known before moving to the USA
You must be a resident of the state for 2 whole years before trying to buy a house or before trying to take a mortgage. So, you're forced to live rented. (I'll elaborate more about rent! Keep reading!)
There are very few people who speak Spanish. So, if you think moving to another country will be like going to your favorite "plaza publica" you're so wrong. Besides family members, I have only met like 2-3 people who speak Spanish.
The discrimination against Puerto Ricans here is very noticeable. We are forced to re-take all the tests (written and driving) to change our driving license. Discrimination is huge. We -Puerto Ricans- aren't seen as US citizens but as immigrants from Latin America. This is so noticeable that when my son applied for dual enrollment, the request was ignored for months. His request was ignored and constantly challenged by the school counselor who always found an issue instead of a solution. I had to write directly to the School Superintendent to address the issue because nobody wanted to help. After that letter, his application was accepted and everything ran "smoothly". At school, they almost never receive their Honor Roll certificates and in Middle School and High School never this is displayed on my son's progress report. At the graduation, every kid whose grades were A-B was called to the front to receive a certificate. Excepting my son, whose GPA is 3.97 and he is doing the Dual Enrollment (he takes college courses while in High School). Why? Because we are Puerto Ricans. No more reason.
Federal taxes. -An extra retention beyond the state tax is taken from your check. Of course, this was to expect. Until you see the big cut the fed tax takes. If you think you'll get it all back when filling the tax return, you are wrong. It will be just luck if you don't have to pay more.
Properties are much more expensive. A new house will probably start at $190,000. Back in Puerto Rico, you could buy a lot and build your new home for maybe $150,000. Or way less than that. Here in Georgia, you can get a trailer or an old house for that money.
Properties are made of wood panels and gypsum board. So, probably they aren't hurricane resistant. We survived Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and let me tell you these houses here... dubiously will resist something like that.
Besides the properties being so expensive, you will need Property insurance. Unless you want a hurricane or tornado to come and take all your investment. Believe me, we already experienced that. No Bueno!
Beaches are ugly and the water is dirty. Been used to Crash Boat, Aguadilla, these beaches here will never satisfy your sand and sun cravings. Besides, plenty of people fishes at the beach and they skin and clean the fishes right there, at the gazebos. No. They do not clean their mess. You'll find the fishbones right there at the tables. Yikes!
Grocery shopping in Georgia is way more expensive than grocery shopping in Puerto Rico. There's no Selectos supermarket or Econo. The price of meats and a lot of other items will never be really low at the "ad".
No real Puertorrican food. Even when the restaurants offer "authentic" Puertorrican food, the seasoning and cooking method are very different. Also, there's no "Chinchorros" to buy "empanadillas" or "cuajito". So, if you're Puerto Rican food homesick, either you cook it at home or buy a round-trip ticket to PR.
Car insurance is expensive and monthly. In Puerto Rico, we paid "Seguro Compulsorio" insurance when we renew the car license yearly. Here, in Georgia, insurance is obligatory and monthly. For one car you can pay $150.00 a month, and this is the cheaper insurance. We are talking about $1,800 a year for insurance. And no, if you don't use it (which is very probable) you don't get a refund or even a deduction. Just money you gave to a company to enrich themselves. Such a waste of money.
Medical insurance is super expensive. You can start paying $150-$200 per person without dental, vision, or medicines. I have paid a $1,600 deductible just by doing the yearly ob-gyn check-up.
School meals= premade food. Remember when you went to school and took the food tray and could ask for "pegaito" with the rice? Oh, glorious days from the past! Here, school lunches aren't hot meals prepared fresh on daily basis. The lunch menu consists of frozen Hot pockets, honey buns, pre-cooked tenders, and pancake on a stick... Everything coming from a box, not homemade. Back in Puerto Rico, school meals were free. Here, depending on your household income you have to pay for lunch.
Tax preparation services are super costly. There are these companies that have radio ads offering to complete all of your tax forms for less than $250 and when the moment of truth comes... the price escalates to $580. Why is that? Simply misleading ads that offer something that is a lie. We pay between $500-600 for filing the tax forms. Yearly.
Clothing stores are so out of date. We buy our clothes online because -where we live- the clothes are so ugly. I'm sorry for the honesty, but I will not dress in t-shirts with Coca-Cola or Lion King ads. I like cute clothes. It can be cheap but needs to be cute. I'm not making videos or taking nice pictures with a $20 Disney World t-shirt bought at Walmart.
You are forced to translate official documents from Puerto Rico. There's a law that establishes that citizens cannot be forced to translate documents for official documents. But, you're forced to do it. And no, you cannot do it at home. You have to pay selected companies to get a translation and a certification.
When you rent a house or try to, you must fill out an application. This costs between $50-$65 per person. Let me tell you what's more important about this. You're not the only one paying this. If 100 couples are looking to rent the same house, the 200 individuals are paying the application. Go to the calculator and know that you are gifting the realty management between $10,000 to $13,000 for those 200 applications. Of course, just one family can rent, so they use that money for nothing because believe me when I tell you they don't run a background check or anything.
The terrible findings when you rent a house: electric plugs don't work. Light switches that also don't work. The light bulbs die 2 days after you move. The dishwasher doesn't wash dishes. Toilets that do not flush. When you take a bath, water starts to accumulate in the tub. The washer drain doesn't drain and you have to stop the washer a few times every cycle or you'll find your laundry room flooded. If that wasn't enough to deal with, you'll find a neverending roach infection. Rental homes don't get maintenance, not even in between tenants.
When you go to buy a car, the first thing you're asked for is $2,000. These $2,000 don't lower the price of the car. This money is like a gift for the dealership. Plus, they make plenty of credit inquires to force you to buy the car there. You cannot go see cars and then decide to do a credit check. First, you do a credit checkup, then they decide which car they give you. Sounds like a nice trip to the dealership, right?
It smells like a swamp when the weather is hot. This reminds me of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, which's known as the city of the purest waters but it stinks like hell. Here is exactly the same. You go to Florida or South Carolina and it smells exactly the same.
Tornadoes. If you haven't had enough with the previous 21, tornadoes will add their fair share of stress and depression and also loss. Tornadoes cannot be predicted and so, you can lose it all in a second.
What do you think? These 21 things are very important things to consider before moving to another country.
**** Get ready for Mother's Day! Here's a guide of nice gifts for mom!****
Despite all those 21 terrible things, I don't think I regret it. I'll never leave this place and go back to PR.
Lots of love,
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