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Want to move to the US with kids? Here are 8 tips that can help in a seamless move to the US with your kids in tow.
Moving is stressful; and moving to another country with your family is especially difficult. There are so many things to think about – Where are we going to live? Will it be difficult for the kids to transition? And most importantly, will my family be okay?
Don’t worry. You will be more than okay.
The US is a very welcoming, immigrant-friendly country. There are over 3 million of us there. You may be far away from your immediate family but you will never be too far from a fellow Indian (or from a well stocked Indian grocery store!).
There are a few things which you can start researching well ahead of time, so when you actually move, it may be less overwhelming.
You may be surprised to hear that attendance in schools for children under six isn’t compulsory. Public schools (which is what most kids attend) are free for children who live in qualifying zones, irrespective of their residency status. So you would always want to move into neighborhoods, which are good school districts. General rule of thumb – the better the school districts, higher are the rents and property taxes.
Your best bet would be to look for neighborhood schools on websites like greatschools.org and schooldigger.com. Reach out to them directly on cut off dates, registration dates etc.
Private schools are a luxury and on an average, expect to pay about $15,000-$20,000/year for tuition.
Will my child be happier in a daycare setting or will a nanny work better? Always a mother’s dilemma! You know your child and your family finances the best. Take your time to make an informed decision.
Use search engines to find reputable day-care centers near you. Schedule a walk-through and ask lots of questions – What are the hours like? What does a typical day look like? What curriculum do they follow? What is the background of teachers who work there? Are there video monitoring options available? Do they have playground space? What is the teacher to child ratio?
For a nanny search, the most common Indian sites are sulekha.com and pragathi.com. Always conduct a thorough interview and check all their references. Install a video camera at home if you can, so you can watch them while you are away. On an average, expect to pay $10-$12/hr. If you are comfortable with non-Indian nannies (you may need to tweak your expectations in terms of pay and job responsibilities), you can expand your search to care.com, sittercity.com and urbansitter.com.
Be wary of home-based child-care where the child is dropped off at someone else’s house. If you are indeed considering it, make sure they are licensed and they have video monitoring at the very basic.
Your local library should be your first stop. Children’s activities are usually free and can range from story-time, Lego clubs and movie screenings.
Search for mommy and me classes in your community like Gymboree Play & Music and My Gym. Yoga classes are also popular. You could also lookup local museums, zoos, aquariums, dance academies or children’s theater groups.
The easiest way to find a pediatrician in your area is through your insurance provider. They are extremely competent and can easily compare your child’s current vaccinations records to what’s required here. Make sure to carry your child’s records from India.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal agency and is a national public health institute of the US. You will find the most up to date immunization schedule here.
The law requires your child to be safely restrained in a moving car. Car seats requirements vary based on weight and age of your child.
The Parents Central portal is a fantastic resource on child safety for you to explore.
Since car seats are not very common in India (as yet), it may be a good idea to buy one and use it with your child for a few months prior to moving. The more they are comfortable, the easier will be their transition here.
Unless you are relocating to cities like New York or San Francisco, which have excellent public transportation, driving will become a necessity. Don’t fret if you haven’t driven in India. You can always go to a driving school, take basic classes, practice and earn your drivers license. We drive on the opposite side of the street, so a few driving classes to practice will always be helpful. For additional information look up your state’s DMV website (Department of Motor Vehicles).
If your family doctor is not available for an immediate appointment, and your ailment is minor (cold, cough, flu and such), consider going to an urgent care center instead. CVS and Walgreens are local pharmacies that welcome walk-ins and accept a wide variety of insurances. They are usually serviced by board certified nurse practitioners.
In the midst of all the craziness, don’t ignore yourself! A happy mom makes a happy family! Reach out to the online community (Facebook mommy groups are very helpful) and make an effort to meet new people. You can meet other Indian families via networking channels – either through Indian Associations or at religious events. You can also get involved in your community by volunteering your time. VolunteerMatch.org is a great starting point.
It may take time to get used to a relatively different lifestyle than what you may be used to (especially doing things on your own, from laundry to washing your car!). With a little bit of planning and staying organized, you will not only blend into your new community but will also thrive in the land of opportunities.
Best of luck on your new adventure!
Image source: moving home with kids by Shutterstock.
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