Issuu on Google+

Relocation Guide: USA - Houston Our guide to living and working overseas


Houston Overview

Supporting a population of over 2.1 million people, Houston is the fourth-largest city in the USA, filled with world-class dining, arts, hotels, shopping and nightlife. Houstonians reference their thriving cosmopolitan city as a ‘melting pot’ that is rich with culture and diversity. With an ever growing international population, Houston supports a wide variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. You may hear the phrase “Everything is Bigger in Texas” this motto is supported through Houston’s major industries bolstering its thriving and robust economy. Texas Medical Center in Houston remains the world’s largest, boasting the greatest concentration of healthcare and research facilities. Houston Johnson Space Centre – NASA was responsible for putting the first man on the moon and continues to pioneer aeronautic research. As the Oil and Gas capital of the world, Houston is home to 25 Fortune 500 companies, second only to that of New York. Sports play a huge part of Texan culture and Houston has many professional teams for you to support. There will always be a venue to cheer on your local team whether you enjoy ‘tailgating’, attending live games at Houston’s world-class stadiums or in any of the well placed sports bars. Sports teams include: Football - Texans; Basketball - Rockets; Baseball - Astros; Soccer - Dynamos; Hockey - Aeros. The British Premier League is available through TV service providers however, may often be shown in local sports bars and many of the British themed pubs. Houston is a great place to visit with a wide variety of activities to suite all preferences; it is an even better place to live. With famous Southern hospitality, sunshine year round, low cost of living and a city that caters for all tastes, you will no doubt develop a love for this city that will be proud to call you its own. 1

Air Energi in Houston

Having entered the USA market via the North East pharmaceutical industry in 1997, Air Energi first started working with ExxonMobil on the Zafiro Project located in Equatorial Guinea and also began to provide PDMS Design & Systems specialists to Shell in New Orleans for their deep water projects team and their retained local consulting companies EDG & Waldemar S Nelson. By 1999 Air Energi Houston became the key provider of PDMS / PDS personnel to the top 10 global EPC companies. With over 30 years’ experience, Air Energi today boasts an impressive breadth of Operator and EPC Engineering clients, supporting full project cycle as the trusted people services partner of choice engaged in the global oil and gas industry. Through continued growth of business, Air Energi has expanded premises and teams, strengthening the Recruitment, Account Management, Global Mobility and Finance functions showing year on year growth in both financial terms and in the number of consultants providing services to our clients. In 2011, Air Energi brought RPO solutions and Search and Selection as additional business streams offering a full suite of services and solutions to our Client and Candidates. Air Energi is committed to hiring, retaining and developing a high quality workforce within a safe work environment enriched by diversity and with open communication, trust, respect and fair treatment. With over 35 Air Energi staff members in Houston, our core values Innovative, Pragmatic, Inclusive, Passionate, Knowledgeable, Safe and We Deliver are proudly demonstrated through our services on a daily basis. As a Consultant to Air Energi, we welcome you as part of the Air Energi Community and local Houston family. With weekly site www.airenergi.com

visits, quarterly happy hours, Holiday Season celebrations and regular invitations to join our team at Air Energi sponsored golf events; we welcome and embrace personal face to face time to build long standing relationships spanning the course of your career.

Oil and Gas in USA

Commonly referred to as ‘The Oil and Gas Capital of the World’ Houston is home to some of the largest Oil and Gas companies in the world. ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Marathon Oil’s global are headquartered in Houston. Many international Oil and Gas companies also base their U.S headquarters in Houston, a popular area for which is the famous ‘Energy Corridor’. The Energy Corridor District is the third largest employment center in the region with more than 78,000 employees and consisting of more than 300 international, national and local companies. Many companies use The Energy Corridor District as corporate or regional headquarters including BP America, Citgo, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, Foster Wheeler USA Corporation, Mustang Engineering, Shell Oil Company Exploration and Production and WorleyParsons. The US market is experiencing an Oil and Gas revolution not seen since the mid20th Century. The EIA.gov has indicated that during 2013 the United States will overshadow Saudi Arabia in oil production. Although the U.S currently imports 20% of its energy needs it is anticipated that by 20302035 the U.S will be energy self-sufficient. Much of this success can be linked to the Shale boom, due to upstream technologies, a stable political base in the U.S and political instability in other world markets. By 2016 it is expected that the U.S will be a net exporter of LNG and by 2040 Shale Gas will account for 50% of total gas production, an increase of 113% from 2011. As such, Air © Air Energi 2013


Energi has expanded US operations to include Midland, TX; New Orleans, LA; Denver, CO; California and Alaska. The Guld of Mexico (GoM) is a major source of oil and gas. The western and central Gulf of Mexico, which includes offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, is one of the major petroleum-producing areas of the United States. In 2007, federal leases in the western and central Gulf of Mexico produced 25% of the nation’s oil and 14% of the nation’s natural gas.

Climate

Houston temperatures are generally consistent throughout the year whereby typically the warmest month is August and coolest January. Summer months are hot and humid with scattered showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures are regularly in the 90’s °F and may even climb in to the low 100’s °F. Air conditioning in Houston is essential and is found in all public indoor facilities. Be sure to stay hydrated especially when spending any time outdoors. Winter months are very mild and temperate, cold fronts may drop temperatures down to the mid 30’s °F overnight however, these cold spells are short lived and can be back up into the 60’s °F the following day. Since Houston is on the Gulf of Mexico, the city has a hurricane season (June through November). Hurricanes are detectable, often with several days’ notice and therefore necessary precautions and preparations can be made. Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, TX in 2008 and was a category 2 storm (out of 5). It is important to be prepared in the event of a hurricane and monitor warnings issued by the city via television and radio. Further safety information will be provided by Air Energi upon request or during the event of a hurricane warning.

Percentage Price Comparison of Global Oil and Gas Cities to Houston London Consumer Prices

45.54 Higher

Rent

75.77 Higher

Restaurants

49.55 Higher

Groceries

19.99 Higher Perth

Consumer Prices

64.59 Higher

Rent

36.89 Higher

Restaurants

75.66 Higher

Groceries

50.99 Higher Aberdeen

Consumer Prices

41.01 Higher

Rent

12.78 Lower

Restaurants

83.02 Higher

Groceries

21.42 Higher Calgary

Consumer Prices

26.69 Higher

Rent

36.71 Higher

Restaurants

29.01 Higher

Groceries

29.17 Higher

(Price comparison to be used as an indicator only, prices may vary)

Accommodation

Houston offers a plethora of luxury rental properties featuring fabulous amenities and stunning views – from apartments, townhomes and lofts, to mid-rises, highrises, condominiums and single family homes. Houston’s creative restoration has transformed several old city landmarks into

luxury loft buildings, with the convenience of proximity to Houston’s nightlife scene and the central business district. Accommodation options include apartments – conventional or furnished, corporate housing, and houses.

Apartments

There are a number of apartment communities and apartment providers in Houston. Many communities offer a variety of amenities such as swimming pools, business centers with Internet access, cable TV and other things to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Many apartment companies have websites that will allow you to find out more about the company, a particular community, amenities, unit size and availability. Apartment communities have a set of rental criteria that states the guidelines for acceptance. The rental company may ask for your credit history, employment history, rental history and criminal history. You should review the rental criteria before you apply. Most apartment communities require that you sign a rental application providing certain information. The questions asked will be used to determine whether you are eligible for rental. Rental application is a contract between you and the owner of the property. The application contract will tell you what fees and deposits must be paid and whether or not they will be refundable. Many owners require that you pay a non-refundable application fee, a nonrefundable administrative fee and an application deposit between $200 to $500 that may or may not be refundable. Read your application closely so that you will know what fees and deposits must be paid and whether you can get them back if you change your mind and decide not to rent.

Houston climate supports year round golf and outdoor activities. Expect to require some winter clothing but mainly prepare for warm and hot weather.

Cost of Living *This is an approximate guide only

For a leading city in the United States, Houston typically offers a high standard of living versus cost in comparison to other U.S cities. Cost of living in Houston is 0.2% less than the Texas average. Cost of living in Houston is 9.3% less than the national average. Houston’s overall cost of living is also favourable when compared against other international oil and gas cities.

© Air Energi 2013

www.airenergi.com

2


Conventional Apartment Living

Traditional apartment community is a twoto three-story walk-up apartment building rather than a structure with interior hallways. These are typically maintained by an onsite management company.

Mid-Rise Apartment Living

Typically located in urban settings (downtown and midtown), Mid-rise apartments, four to six levels with elevator access, are popular and often built to allow parking access on the same floor as the residence.

High-Rise Apartments

High rise apartment are considered true luxury living which cater to busy executive, with concierge services, on-site dry cleaners and valet parking, among other amenities. Amenities and services can vary greatly from building to building, and their expense is reflected in high rents.

Condominium and Townhome Living

Condominiums and townhomes offer amenities similar in some ways to apartments. They can be leased or purchased throughout the Houston region. A leasing agent at a property management company may be in charge of the community.

Corporate Housing

Corporate Housing is defined as furnished residential apartment, house, or condominium made available on a short term bases, primarily for 30 days or more. All accommodations will include: furniture, a full kitchen, a private bath, linens housewares, electronics and utilities.

3

Single-Family Homes

The single-family home on the rental market can range from $1,100 to $2,500 or significantly more for a larger home. The security deposit is typically equal to one month’s rent. These properties often require residents to sign a one-year lease. Often renters of these properties pay all of the utility bills. Standard Length of Lease - One year Deposit - One month’s rent Rental Agent’s Fee - Typically paid by the landlord The below table provides an estimate guide to average rents for unfurnished 2 – 3 bedroom apartments. Please note this is to be viewed as a guide only, accommodation costs will vary. Area

Average Rent

Galleria/Uptown

$2,500 per month

Greenway Plaza

$2,000 per month

Medical Center

$2,500 per month

Midtown

$2,000 per month

Katy

$1,500 per month

Memorial/Spring Branch

$1,800 per month

Pearland

$1,400 per month

Sugar Land

$1,500 per month

The Woodlands

$1,500 per month

The cost of fully furnished apartments will be significantly higher and prices range from $2,300 – $5,500 for one to three bedrooms.

www.airenergi.com

Useful web resources for accommodation are: www.har.com www.rent.com www.realtor.com

Finance Banking

Choosing a bank is an important decision, and there is no one right choice to suit all consumers. When shopping for your bank, consider the actual products and services provided as well as the location of branches, size of the bank, fees, and interest rates. Even if you conduct most transactions online or at automated teller machines, you may wish to elect a bank with focus on high quality customer service. Also, consider the variety of products that the bank provides; some banks may specialize in checking and savings accounts, while others are full-service banks including offering of loans. It is not a requirement to maintain all of your accounts at one bank; you may have relationships with several to get the best rates on different services. Banks typically open 9:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, while some facilities are available on Saturday mornings. International debit and credit cards can be used in America at both ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) and at participating retail locations, providing they have been enabled for international access. While contracted by the US office, having a US bank account allows for payroll payments to be funded via direct deposit which guarantees your funds to be received each payment date on time without any additional fees.

© Air Energi 2013


Credit in the US

Building strong credit history will be a central part of making a successful personal and financial future in the US. People and businesses will use this record of how well you kept your previous payment agreements to judge whether they can risk making a similar agreement with you. Without credit, you can expect to pay larger amounts of money upfront when renting an apartment, getting a car, obtaining a cell phone, turning utilities on, etc. It is important that once you obtain credit that you maintain it. You can accomplish this by paying your bills on time, pay what you owe, do not overextend yourself, limit the number of credit cards you acquire – use credit wisely. Be sure to check your credit report on an annual basis for discrepancies free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. The three major national credit bureaus are: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion

Federal Taxes

The tax system in the US is complicated, and while you can get a lot of information about your tax position from the Internal Revenue Service, you would be wise to take expert advice from a specialist in American tax law to ensure you are on the compliant with regulations. Prior to April 15th each year, each individual in the US is required to file an Individual Income Tax return for the prior calendar year. It is the individual’s responsibility to ensure you comply with US tax laws and filing accordingly. To learn more about the required filing, please visit the Internal Revenue Services at: www.irs.gov.

Education

Educational opportunities play a key role in Houston’s quality of life. Houston is a city known to be rich with distinguished school districts and prominent colleges and universities. Newcomers with families and those wishing to pursue higher education are often amazed at the city’s countless educational opportunities. Houston educators and the community as a whole are working toward creating a highquality educational environment to serve the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. Educational options in Houston include a diverse selection of US and international private schools. Houston based schools that cover international led curriculum include: www.awty.org www.thevillageschool.org www.britishschoolofhouston.org Public School Districts in Houston are zoned per your location of residence.

Enrolling your children in school

Texas law requires all children between ages 7 and 16 to attend public school or participate in a home schooling programme. Free public schooling is available for children ages 5 to 21 (or until the child graduates high school). Children ages 3 or 4 may be able to attend school too, especially if the child is from a non-English speaking family or a poor family. A child may attend public school in Texas no matter what the parents’ immigration status. How do I enrol my child in a public school? There are different schools for different ages of children. If you are unsure which school is appropriate for your child, you can visit

or contact the school nearest to your likely housing area. They will tell you which school is appropriate for each of your children, based on the child’s age, educational level, and your current address. Each school has specific requirements and criteria for enrolment. Please verify with your school as you may be required to provide original documentation including: • The child’s birth certificate • Proof of your identity • Proof of your residential address. • A record of your child’s immunizations How much does school cost? There is no charge for tuition at public schools for grades K-12 (Kindergarten through 12th grade). However, you will need to purchase school supplies for your child. The school will give you a list of required supplies, and you must buy these supplies at a store. Many stores such as Wal-Mart, Office Depot, CVS, Walgreens, Target, and others sell school supplies. Supplies costs may vary depending on the age and grade of your child. Schools will provide details of all equipment and supplies required. Some schools also require the children to wear uniforms. The school staff will give you a list of uniform requirements, and you will need to buy these clothes from a clothing store such as Wal-Mart, Target, Ross, etc. When are schools open? Schools in Texas generally begin classes in Mid-August and finish in late-May or June. The months of June and July are “summer vacation” however there are many Summer Camp programmes available to enrol your child into. Each school has its own hours. Most schools start between 7:30-8:30 in the morning, and most finish between 2:30-3:30 in the afternoon. Sports or other activities may take place before or after these hours. How are American schools organized? Public schools in America are organized into “grades”, based on the child’s age and educational level. The first year of school is called Kindergarten, for 5-year-old children. The next year is called 1st grade, and the grades continue each year through 12th grade. After completing grade 12, the child graduates from high school. A particular school will usually have several different grades in one campus or facility. Each grade will have separate classrooms, but the students share the same cafeteria and play areas. • School for Kindergarten and grades 1-5 is called elementary school. • School with grades 6-8 is called middle school. • School for grades 9-12 is called high school.

© Air Energi 2013

www.airenergi.com

4


Each classroom has one or more teachers. The head of the school is called the “principal.” A large school may have assistant principals who work with the principal and teachers. Some classes also have “aides” who assist the teacher in the classroom. Will my child receive religious training in a public school? School curriculums are secular therefore no religious training is provided and there are no religious activities such as prayers. If you wish to provide religious training for your child, you should contact a church or other place of worship. Many churches and religious organizations offer free religious training for children.

Childcare

Choosing child care is an important decision. Many families in Houston choose day care centers as well as nannies and Montessori schools. Au pairs are not generally found in Texas, though part-time or live-in nannies are a popular alternative. Houston is very large, but the many neighborhoods, suburbs and master-planned communities located within the city can give it a small-town feeling. Ways to learn more about the schools or daycare available include: • Websites: most schools and day care facilities have their own websites, listing locations and teaching/care priorities. • Word of Mouth: a valuable, but often overlooked, way to locate a new school is old-fashioned word of mouth. Colleagues already established in Houston can be helpful as well as your real estate agent, future neighbors, relatives and friends. • Personal Visits: if the school that you are researching sounds promising, arrange a visit. Bring a written list of questions about student-teacher ratio, extracurricular activities, multilingual programs, hours, teaching method, etc.

Babysitting

Numerous childcare options are available throughout Houston, catering to varied personal situations. Mothers’ Day-Out programs provide services to stay at home parents for up to 4 hours per day. For working parents, there are full-time day care facilities throughout the city and surrounding areas as well as Nannies and Montessori schools. Most day care programs will accept children from 6 weeks old and will provide a curriculum so that you have full visibility of what your child is learning throughout the day. Hours vary from facility to facility but 7am until 6pm are standard operating times. Some facilities also offer after school programs for older children, where they pick the children up from

5

school and take them back to their facility for after school snacks and activities.

collared shirt with either khakis or dress pants and formal shoes. A tie is not required.

Many schools and day care facilities have their own websites, listing locations and teaching/ care priorities. All schools will conduct tours of their facilities and provide information on student-teacher ratio, extracurricular activities, multilingual programs, hours and teaching methods.

For women, business casual is skirts or dresses that fall on or below the knee, dress trousers or khakis and conservative tops and shirts and shoes - Flip flops would not be considered acceptable. It is recommended that you dress business formal for important meetings or interviews.

It is important to note that in-demand daycares, particularly those within the city of Houston, have waitlists that can be several months long. It is therefore important to explore multiple options and facilities.

Smoking

Below are some useful websites regarding childcare and babysitting services: www.kidsrkids.com www.babysitters4hire.com www.care.com/houston www.sittercity.com

Etiquette

Conversations

Houston is a friendly and cosmopolitan city and Texans tend to be well mannered and very friendly. There are topics that are considered to be poor etiquette to discuss when you first meet someone. These include opinions on politics, religion, homosexuality, abortion and criticism of government and an individual’s patriotism. It is recommended that you know the leanings and temperaments of those around you if you do choose to enter into a discussion on these topics. It is not considered appropriate to enter into conversations surrounding these topics within a workplace environment.

Dress

Dress code within offices varies from business to business, the majority of Oil and Gas office environments operate a business casual policy though. For men, this would typically entail a www.airenergi.com

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to smoke. Smoking restrictions vary greatly throughout Texas, from having no restrictions at all in some counties to complete bans. Within the city limits of Houston it is prohibited to smoking in an indoor public space or within 25 feet from a building’s entrance. For further detail on smoking laws in Houston, you can reference the following website: http://www.houstontx.gov/health/ Environmental/smoking Americans rarely walk around when smoking. They find a place that allows smoking (away from restricted areas) and usually stay in one place until done with their cigarette. It is considered rude to walk in crowds with a lit cigarette.

Food & Drink Drinking

The legal age for alcohol is 21; it is illegal to provide a minor with alcohol even if in the company of their parents. Drinking in public is considered to be a federal offence.

Restaurants

Houston is home to over 8000 restaurants representing cuisine from 35 countries at a variety of price points. Recognized as one of the top cities for food culture in the USA, options are diverse and new establishments open each month. © Air Energi 2013


The following websites are useful to locate restaurants within your area, budget and taste. Open Table can be utilized to make online reservations at the majority of restaurants in the Houston area: www.houstonpress.com/restaurants www.houstonrestaurants.com www.opentable.com

Tipping

Restaurant and bar menus indicate prices without sales tax included, sales tax will always be included in the bill. In Houston, this is 8.25% Tip is rarely included in the cost of your meal, unless you are a party of 6 or more, in which case a service charge will be added. 15-20% would be considered a standard tip in Houston with etiquette to tip per drink ordered from a bartender at the bar.

Things to do

Nightlife, entertainment, museums and outdoor activities are varied and plentiful, ensuring to cater to Houston’s multi-cultural population. The best way to get to know Houston is to explore and go by word of mouth. Areas of interest are scattered throughout this expansive city and there are plenty of new, interesting and world class attractions opening on a regular basis. You will easily find somewhere new to experience every weekend. Houston’s hot spot areas are well dispersed across the city limits each offering their own unique characteristics and attractions. Some of these must-visit areas include: Museum District; Theatre District; Galleria; Downtown; Midtown; The Heights; Montrose; Washington Corridor; Memorial Park, City Centre and Rice Village. Well known suburbs of Houston include: Katy, The Woodlands; Spring and Sugar Land. The Museum and Theatre districts are close to downtown and host world class exhibits and performances to suit a broad spectrum of tastes for the family. Attractions include the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Natural Science, Houston Symphony, Theatre Under The Stars and many more. Details may be found within the below websites: www.downtownhouston.org www.houstonmuseumdistrict.org www.citypass.com/houston Memorial Park is located inside the loop and is one of the largest urban parks within the United States. With a 3 mile outdoor walking and running track, Memorial Park attracts hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts on a daily basis. Memorial Park boasts golf, tennis, softball, volleyball, soccer and football facilities in addition to an outdoor workout area, cycling mountain bike trails, children’s play areas, BBQ pits and much more. There are many additional parks in Houston and its surrounding areas including dog parks specifically designed to provide a safe

environment for dogs to socialize with one another without leash restrictions. Golf is a huge part of Houston life both socially and within the business world. With weather permitting golf year round, you may wish to brush up on your strokes and take tuition from a golf pro at one of many of Houston’s golf facilities. Air Energi participate in several charity golf events year round. Please contact us if you are interested in joining us as a welcome addition to the Air Energi team. Here are a few of Houston’s Golf facilities to help you get started: www.tour18golf.com www.wildcatgolfclub.com www.redstonegolfclub.com www.blackhorsegolfclub.com www.meadowbrookfarmsgolfclub.com There are many different social groups you can join, whether you wish to connect with likeminded professionals, expats in Houston or people sharing your favourite hobbies and interests. Such organizations include: www.sportsmonkey.com www.houstonyoungprofessionals.org www.meetup.com/cities/us/tx/houston For weekend getaways, Houston is within driving distance to the capital of Texas Austin, as well as other major cities including San Antonio, famous for the Alamo, Dallas, famous for the Assassination of President Kennedy and Galveston as the main port coastal town offering luxury cruise liner getaways. With two major airports supporting international and domestic travel, travel in and out of the city and state is very accessible. United Airlines utilizes George Bush Intercontinental as its hub airport whilst Southwest Airlines frequents Houston Hobby offering a wide variety of travel opportunities. Here are some of the must see attractions of Houston – your weekends will never be quite the same again: Battleship Texas, Brazos State Bend Park, Kemah Boardwalk, Children’s Museum of Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Zoo, Sam Houston Race Park, Space Centre Houston NASA, Splashtown, Beercan House, Downtown Tunnels, President Heads; Miller Outdoor Theatre, Saint Arnold Brewery, Williams Water Wall, Houston Rodeo (Annual), Houston Restaurant Weeks (Annual) and much more. Shopping in Houston is abundant and caters towards a wide variety of price tags. Here are some of the hot spot shopping areas: Galleria Mall, Highland Village, Uptown Park, Rice Village, River Oaks Shopping Centre, Upper Kirby, Memorial City Mall, City Centre, Westhiemer Curve, Historic Heights, Houston Premium Outlets, Katy Mills. Whether you enjoy patio dining with fine wines, outdoor athleticism or family focused adventures, Houston has it all for you to enjoy year round.

www.airenergi.com

Driving in Houston

Firstly it’s important to note that Houstonians drive on the right hand side of the road as is consistent throughout the USA. Roads are typically designed in ‘grid-systems’ whereby directions are referenced as points of a compass. Houston roads may have multiple names referencing the same stretch of road e.g. “Inner loop”, “West Loop”, “610”. Although seemingly complicated on arrival, you will soon get used to the names the more you drive around the city and it’s connecting areas. Major routes include Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Toll), I45 (Gulf Freeway), 59 (Southwest Freeway), Westpark Toll, I10 (Katy Freeway), 610 (West Loop). Houston is connected through a system of highways, freeways and toll roads. In order to use a toll road you must have cash available to pay at each toll booth (between $1- $2 per toll) or an EZ Tag. EZ Tag is simple and easy to obtain and place into your car so that you may use the toll roads with ease, not having to stop at toll booths and deduction for toll fees. Roads sign posted “EZ Tag Only” may not be used by vehicles without an EZ Tag in their car or will be subject to fine. Freeways have ‘feeder’ roads or turnaround loops. Should you miss your turn off, you can drive to the next exit, turnaround and stay on the feeder road without having to enter back on to the freeway. HOV “High Occupancy Vehicle” lanes are common and available for vehicles carrying 2 or more passengers. Should you share a commute to work you can not only reduce your transportation costs


but travel in the HOV lane with often faster and smoother flowing traffic. HOV lanes are available to utilize at any time, they are not restricted to commuting hours however, some HOV lanes are open at certain times during the week and closed on weekends. In most circumstances, it is legal to turn right at traffic lights whilst on red. You must however have come to a complete stop beforehand and ensure there is no oncoming traffic that would have right of way. Where a right turn is not permitted, a sign will clearly indicate no right turn on red. 4-way stop signs are commonly used, you must come to a complete stop even with no other traffic in sight or can be subject to receiving a ticket and fine. With cars at a multi-way stop sign, the traffic flows on a ‘first come first serve’ basis in the order of arrival to the stop sign. Pay attention to speed limits as these may vary even on the same road. Police vehicles are able to pull you over for any traffic violations including speeding, you must ensure to remain in your vehicle with your hands placed on the steering wheel. The Police Officer will then instruct you accordingly. You must carry your driver’s license with you and insurance documentation in the vehicle at all times.

Health Insurance

US healthcare system has both private and public insurance companies. What is unique about the U.S. system is the dominance of the private companies over the public element. Public insurance is only available for individuals over 65 years of age, low income or disabled. Health insurance can be purchased individually or through an employer. Employer sponsored insurance represents the main way in which Americans receive health insurance. Employers provide health insurance as part of the benefits package for employees and employer selects the premiums, plan designs and coverage based on multiple variables dictated by the health insurance companies. Individual health insurance has more options and may be customized to your specific needs. However, individual health insurance is subject to underwriting and coverage for some pre-existing health conditions may be declined or covered for an additional charge. Due to high cost of healthcare in the US, insurance is necessary as it protects you from medical expenses you could not easily afford on your own. Healthcare is cheaper with

what circumstances it will be paid. Plan design outlines the costs that will be paid by the insurance company and what will be the responsibility of the insured. Insurance company also dictates what procedures will be covered and to what extent. Any applicable premiums will be deducted at payroll.

Travel & Transportation Public Transport

Although most Houstonians utilize automobiles as their mode of transport, Houston does also have a public transport system. As a spread out city though, several transfers can be required to get from point to point. For travel within the city of Houston, The METRO system is Houston’s public bus system; the local service runs across the city and to surrounding areas, stopping at every other corner on its route. METRORail is the light rail train that runs North and South from downtown Houston to the Reliant Stadium complex. The route includes the Texas Medical Center and the Museum District. Future expansions are planned that will connect more of the city to downtown. When commuting into Houston from the suburbs, METRO runs a Park & Ride service. 28 Park & Ride lots in a variety of locations provide bus service to key destinations throughout Houston. Alternatively, the STAR network operates as a vanpool offering hundreds of scheduled routes serving an eight-county area as well as from the suburbs into Houston. STAR riders share the cost of the vehicle, fuel, maintenance routes and any parking and tolls. Information on public transport and car share schemes, as well as route planning can be found at http://www.ridemetro.org/

Air Travel

Houston is served by two airports, George Intercontinental AIRPORT (IAH) and William P Hobby (HOU). IAH is Houston’s main airport and the 6th busiest airport in the USA. United Airlines maintains a major presence at IAH, however, there are also a variety of domestic and international routes serviced by other major airlines. It is Texas law that you must obtain a Texas driving license within 90 days of arrival to the state. Please visit this website for further information: www.texasdriverslicenses.org

health insurance. Health insurance companies negotiate with healthcare providers to lower the costs of healthcare and designate them as “in network providers”.

Houston traffic is renowned for being constantly busy. Allow yourself plenty of time to travel between destinations and check traffic reports if you wish to be aware of congestion within specific areas.

In order to be insured, monthly premiums must be paid to the insurance company and the company provides coverage in an event you get sick or hurt or have to visit a doctor’s office or hospital. An insurance company specifies what portion of a medical expense the insurance will cover and under

(HOU) is located in downtown Houston. HOU is widely regarded as one of the top five performing airports in the world and also operates internationally and domestically. A third airport that services the Houston area is Ellington International Field (EFD), a joint civil-military airport

Lost Luggage

At both IAH and HOU there are lost luggage departments. If you have lost your personal items on your flight, near the ticket counter


or gate area, you will need to contact your airline directly. Items found in these areas are not turned over to the airport Lost and Found office, they are held by the individual airline. Below is a table of airline contact information for lost luggage: Airline Southwest Airlines American Airlines Delta Air Lines JetBlue AirTran United Airlines

Telephone Number 888 202-1024 713 640-7331 713 640-3815 713 845-6661 800 965-2107 ext. 1345 800 335-2247;

If you believe you have lost your personal item(s) anywhere other that the areas outlined above, you can contact the IAH Lost and Found office at 281 230-3299 or send an email to: has.iahlost@houstontx.gov. For HOU, you can reach the Lost and Found office at 713 845-6673 or email: has.houlost@houstontx.gov. Note that all international passports found are turned over to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within 24 hours.

Useful Contacts

Air Energi Houston Office T: 281-983-3464 Air Energi Emergency Number T: 281-983-8729 All Major Emergencies T: 9-1-1 City of Houston Helpline Houston’s non-emergency online service directory and service request site. T: 3-1-1 E: www.houstontx.gov/311

General Questions and Assistance Toll-free phone number that connects callers with local community services, such as food, shelter, counselling, employment assistance, quality child care and more T: 2-1-1

Destination Services Offers solutions to help you with your transition to the US. Barbara can supply information on applying for your social security number, driver’s license and information on real estate, insurance, banking and schools.

Houston Police Department Non-Emergency T: 713-222-3131

Barbara Nussa +1-713-334-2677 Barbara@homecorprelocation.com www.homecorprelocation.com

METRO Police T: 713-224-COPS (2677) Motorists Assistance Program T: 713-CALL-MAP T: 713-225-5627 Official Visitors Guide (Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau) T: 1-800-4-HOUSTON E: www.visithoustontexas.com Air Energi partner with the following companies to provide additional support to your relocation as required: Advancial Credit Union Available to assist with opening a US bank account, auto loan financing, mortgage financing and other bank support prior to receiving your social security number. Katrina Fowlkes +1-281-679-1133 x 4125 kfowlkes@advancial.org www.advancial.org Briggs & Veselka Co. Certified Public Accountants can aid you in US Tax advice on an hourly consulting basis. Lien Kim Le +1-713-667-9147 lle@bvccpa.com

Kainos Partners US benefits are different from what you may know. Should you like additional information on US healthcare coverage please feel free to contact Christy Cortez below: Christy Cortez +1-281-810-4911 Christy@kainospartners.com National Corporate Housing Available to help with finding short term or long term accommodations, furnished apartments or houses. Myka Sanders +1-713-460-0127 msanders@nationalcorporatehousing.com www.nationalcorporatehousing.com Paramount Transportation Systems Provider of global moving services with operational facilities and customer service centers throughout US and Europe. Paramount specializes in the movement of household goods, personal effects, vehicles and pets. Bianca Rodriguez +1-281-586-7979 brodriguez@pts-tx.com www.paramounttransportationsystems.com


Check Lists 6 weeks before arriving to the US consider the following: To-Do-List

Check Box

Begin the visa process supported by Global Mobility - USA Contact the appropriate companies to find information and begin the set up for Accommodation (short term and long term) US bank account Shipment of household goods Understanding health insurance and coverage in the US Appropriate schools for children if applicable If bringing any pets, determine the process and regulations (note that quarantine may be required) Prepare your medical records - be sure to bring your records of immunizations and any other important medical records for health care providers in the US to reference.

Prior to arrival to the USA check that you have the following: To-Do-List

Check Box

Signed contract with Air Resources Americas LLC Passport with an appropriate visa and at least one blank visa page Flight arrangements to the US Pick up from the airport Rental car with GPS Accommodation Confirmation of the first day of work and work location, work rules

One week after arrival to the US ensure you do the following: To-Do-List

Check Box

Print your I-94 entry form from www.cbp.gov/I94 Meet with Global Mobility USA Complete the necessary new hire paperwork including bank details and health insurance forms If necessary, contact a tax attorney to assist you with understanding of the US tax system Depending on your accommodation, determine what needs to be done for utility connections, security, cable, phone

Two weeks after arrival to the USA To-Do-List

Check Box

Apply for Social Security Card Locate Primary Care Physician in your area and ensure that your doctor is in the healthcare network If children start school, ensure they have the necessary immunizations as immunization records will have to be provided to school prior to start Depending on your personal circumstance, determine your need for auto insurance, home owner’s insurance

Four weeks after arrival to the USA To-Do-List Begin the process of obtaining Texas Driver’s license. You must have Texas Driver’s license 90 days after moving to Houston.

Check Box


Š Air Energi 2013

6


Contacts Air Resources Americas LLC Suite 340 6002 Rogerdale Rd Houston United States 77072 Phone: +1 281 983 3464 Fax: +1 281 983 3468 americas@airenergi.com


Relocation Guide: Houston