The first month

The first month

Sy @ | 7 minutes | #charlotte #north-carolina #apartment #ssn #bank-account #throwback

You can do almost nothing here in the United States without the so-called social security card. This is best suited for the tax number at home (in Hungary) but offers more features. So that's what you have to do as soon as possible to manage, e.g., a bank account or something else.
So for the first week, we had a task straight away. At first, we could only do that for Csibi because he needed it urgently because of work.

In the meantime, we moved into our temporary accommodation on the 5th of April 2019. Slowly set ourselves in and half-unpacked our suitcases. There were some exciting moments when we were looking for something, but we didn't know where it could be. We dealt with housing offers, and we walked around to relax. Still, there aren't too many attractions here. The good thing is that Walmart (which is comparable with Tesco in Hungary) is a 10-minute walk away. This allowed us to go shopping as we only rented a car for the first week. (It's challenging to get around here without a car. We knew at the beginning that we would need a car, but at the time, we had no idea that it would be the most challenging task. I'll talk about that later…)

living room
living room

Well, the area is beautiful, there is a fitness room, swimming pool, internet corner with coffee, nothing is really missing. All this is quite unusual compared to Hungarian conditions. It was not impossible to swim in the pool in April (although the weather would have allowed it as it rained a lot, but it was already hot). Nevertheless, we sat a lot by the pool, drank coffee, chatted, or enjoyed the sun. And since we don't work after work, we really have more time to "just be". Also, due to the time difference, I finish work by 3-4pm at the latest, so I have most afternoons off. I even worked from home until 7-8pm in the evenings back in Hungary. So this is very different compared to our previous home.


You're probably also wondering which apartment we ultimately chose. Well, none of those… 😄 We had two apartments in the game, but a lot happens here in a week: All of them were already rented out, so we had to look for new ones. But then Csibi's colleagues suggested we look on the outskirts (the apartments are a bit cheaper there, too). We looked at other apartments online but have also decided on a two-bedroom apartment. At first, we thought that a one-room apartment would be enough because the square footage seemed right. The number of rooms here means the bedrooms. The apartments always have a kitchen, a living room, and the bedrooms have a walk-in closet and a bathroom. A two-room apartment has two closets and two bathrooms. In addition, a 1-room apartment is larger than, for example, our 2.5-room apartment at home (68 m² compared to 80-90 m² here). So one room would have been enough for the floor space, but we decided to have two rooms to make one an office due to my work.
Looking at the listings in Hungary, you will see the nr. of rooms in total, including the bedroom(s) and living room.
We looked for some apartments and drove around the area to see what it would be like to live there. So we found an amiable person near Csibi's workplace, also in a good neighborhood. Then we asked Annie to make an appointment for us.

we found our apartment in this community

We left, but without Annie, because unfortunately, she fell ill. Our appointment was a day ago, and she had just misinformed us. But luckily, we were still able to visit the apartments. We already had some experience; we knew what to look for and what to ask. We saw two apartments. The first was love at first sight. Of course, this is always very deceptive because they show a furnished apartment. Then you move into a completely empty one. (By the way, it is possible to rent an apartment furnished. However, there are fewer such options, and it is costly.) So we fell in love with one of the apartments: huge windows everywhere, two rooms, spacious, well arranged, large balcony. The problem was that the only apartment with such parameters could be rented only from the 18th of May. (We had to move out of the temporary accommodation on the 3rd of May.) The other apartment was also lovely, although only one room, available immediately. But we discussed at the beginning that we would only choose an apartment in which we feel comfortable because I spend most of my time at home.
We quickly decided to book the two-room apartment, even if we didn't know where we would stay for two weeks. Therefore, as soon as we got home, we immediately submitted the application via the website. It had to provide all kinds of data and pay $75 per person (the procedural fee used to get us verified by an outside company). They accepted our request as they couldn't find anything (although we don't know what they were looking for). Still, we faced an additional month's deposit due to a lack of historical records.

Then we waited for the lease contract and thought about what we would do if we had to leave the temporary accommodation. (At the time, we didn't know we were in for a very chaotic time on the matter.)

We could have stayed there anyway, the option was there, but it was so expensive it wasn't a real option.

The hotels weren't much cheaper either, but we were still better off in two weeks than if we'd stayed. Anyway, it's still crazy that a two-week hotel is (also) more expensive than a month's rent in the new accommodation…
So it wasn't easy.

Then Csibi had to travel for a few days in mid-April. It wasn't effortless for me to be alone in a foreign country; I don't speak the language very well either. I understand a lot, but English is at least not my cup of tea at the moment.
But somehow, I endured those few days. I worked, then read by the pool or worked out in the gym.
In any case, it's excellent that I was able to continue my work because if it hadn't been for it, I probably would have had a much harder time experiencing this whole move. It was still complicated at the beginning because I finished earlier due to the time zone difference. For a long time afterward, I felt that I couldn't do anything with myself. It was hard for me to invent myself, but it improved every day.

When Csibi returned, he also received his first half month's salary in the form of a check. (In our experience, office workers are paid semi-monthly, while manual workers are paid weekly.)
At this point, we had not received the requested social security card or social security number (SSN), so we did not have a bank account either. As we mentioned before, the SSN is the starting point for everything.
We didn't even know how to cash a check back then.

A few days later, SSN arrived, and it was finally possible to open a bank account. We have opted for an online bank where all matters can be processed online, and there are no account management fees. You had to fill out a form (online, of course), and the bank account was ready. You didn't have to go to the bank, you didn't have to make a phone call, you didn't have to sign 20 papers (like in Hungary) - it's a little (very) different from home. The only thing asked for afterward was a copy of Csibi's passport (scanned, emailed) - also just because we are foreigners. The account is automatically accompanied by a Mastercard debit card, which is also free… (unlike in Hungary)
It was a good choice, too, as it turns out the phone app made it possible to send the check to the bank with a single gesture, which credited the account in a matter of days (and it was free).
The app threw an error when Csibi used Hungarian local on his phone, though. There were no issues when he switched it to English.

In the meantime, we finally booked a room in a hotel nearby for two weeks until our move on the 18th of May. Although we haven't received any information since we applied, we started to worry a little.

A month passed very quickly, and the day of the move came. We had to leave our temporary housing. Concerned about everything, we ordered an Uber and rolled comfortably to the hotel on the 3rd of May 2019.