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e x pat g u i d e : U S A i n c l u d e s N e w yo r k c i t y g u i d e This guide offers information and advice if you are moving to the USA. Click on the different tabs to find out about anything from tax rules and banking to education and cultural highlights. You can also read our city guide to San Francisco.

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Bupa International is the specialist international division of Bupa, and we have operations in UK, Denmark, USA, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Egypt, UAE and Australia. We care for the lives in our hands, and are dedicated to providing all the insurance services, help and advice you need to keep yourself and your family in the best of health. Our dedicated team respects everyone’s individuality, culture, privacy and dignity, and aims to provide a personal service you can rely on throughout your Bupa International membership.

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Moving to the USA Below you will find information about:

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• Visas for the US • Shipping and removals • Getting a social security number

Living

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The United States has found success through immigration since its conception. Now with its own distinct identity, the country is a melting pot of colours and flavour, and continues to be a favourite expat destination. Expats moving to the US will be exposed to one of the world’s largest economic and military powers, supporting more than 300 million people in 50 states across three time zones. Such an immense land area does make it difficult to generalise topics of expat consideration – like cost of living, climate and lifestyle, but there are certainly some clear cut advantages to moving to the ‘Land of Opportunity’.

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The US benefits from high wages, a safe child-friendly environment for the family-oriented expat. There is a well-organised and efficient infrastructure which makes systems like education and healthcare some of the best in the world – if you can

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afford them. As a downside, the US tends to have a thin safety net and limited aid for those in need of monetary assistance. Since the recession of 2008 competition for jobs in the US has been considerably more intense. In continuation of this the policy changes since 9/11 have resulted in a much more selective immigration allowance, where more expats would like to relocate than are accepted. The group of people who are allowed into the US is by no means an exclusive group, as roughly a million people immigrate annually to America – still leaving the influx of foreigners as the leading cause of the country’s population growth. Visas for the US Visas are divided according to immigrant and non-immigrant categories. Most expats in the US will want to obtain an immigrant visa. This is commonly referred to as the ‘green card’ and is attainable through employment sponsorship, family ties, and a visa lottery system. Non-immigrant visas are usually reserved for tourists or temporary residents but can be used in some scenarios for

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temporary employment. There are a huge number of ways to qualify for both types of visa. Processing times vary depending on the location applied, but are usually less than six months. To make options easier many expats hire an immigration lawyer, although these can be expensive.

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Go to the Working page for more information about visas and work permits. Shipping and removals Both coasts of the US have major ports, making shipping to these regions less expensive than inland. Regions without ports will require a combination of sea and land transport. Some shipping companies will arrange for the entire transport while others will only offer one part of the delivery. It is a good idea to buy cargo insurance from a company other than the one used for shipping to ensure reliable coverage. Regulatory law for shipping pets is different depending on the state and port of entry. A dog must be accompanied by a certificate for rabies vaccination, although this is not usually required for cats. Travel through some states requires a health certificate proving vaccinations. Hawaii has stricter pet immigration policies than most mainland states.

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Useful links: • www.intlmovers.com/index.asp

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• www.movecorp.co.uk/intl/usa.html • www.anglopacific.co.uk Getting a social security number

Living

Expats moving to the US will need a social security number before formally starting a job. This is used by employers to report your earnings to the government. If you are not a US citizen and do not want to work in the US, you do not necessarily need a social security number. It is

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still recommended to apply for one in order to receive certain government services that you are entitled to as a resident. Some businesses, such as credit companies and banks, will ask for your social security number, but most can identify you

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by some other means. You will not need a number in order to get a driver’s license or register children for schools. There are two ways to get a social security number:

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• You can apply before you depart for the US when filing an application for an immigrant visa with the US State Department. • You can visit a social security office in person on arrival in the US. There are offices in all towns and cities. You should wait at least ten days after arriving in the US before applying at a social security office to allow time for your Department of Homeland Security documents to be available online. There is no charge for a social security number and it takes about two weeks to get one.

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Working in the US Below you will find information about: • About working in the US

Living

• Business culture • Banking • Taxes

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• Public holidays • Work permits About working in the US

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Hard work is a virtue in the US and expats should expect working more than 40 hours a week. Less vacation time than what is given in Europe is normal with only two weeks annual leave in many positions.

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The American economy is comprised of many different industries that are largely driven by regional location. East coast cities, such as New York and Boston, are strong financial players. The Midwest heartland lays claim to sectors relating to agriculture and natural resources, and the west coast metropolis, such as Los Angeles and Seattle, are famous for technology and entertainment. Production and manufacturing contracts are increasingly being outsourced to smaller economies overseas. Despite the downward spiral of the recession, there are still a number of employment areas that have plenty of job opportunities. The demand for employees in the medical profession - such as nurses, medical assistants and technicians – is on the increase. Jobs relating to care for the elderly are also increasing in availability as the baby-boomer generation is reaching retirement. American companies can also apply for foreign workers if they can show that there is a lack of qualified US citizens capable of carrying out the job required. The US is particularly interested in skilled professionals for areas in which it competes for part of the global market, such as the IT sector.

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Business culture Being such a vast and cosmopolitan country, business etiquette varies from state to state in the US but social norms can be applied throughout: punctuality, a smart appearance and a respectful attitude are good starting points. A firm handshake and the use of titles (Mr, Mrs and Ms) are good for introductions, and business cards may be offered before

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parting. The business week goes from Monday to Friday, with business hours generally from 8am to 5pm, including an hour-long lunch. In many business areas and positions the working hours can be considerably longer than the general business hours suggest. Banking Banking in the US is very competitive and an array of services and rates can make choosing where to open an account confusing. It is often easier to maintain your overseas account, open a US based account at the same bank and transfer money back and forth. It is possible to relocate successfully without opening an American account, and expats on short stays usually choose to use their overseas account. To open a checking account, expats moving to the US should confirm with their bank what forms of identification are required. Passport, immigration information, social security number and proof of address are often expected. Credit histories can be transferred to the US, although this is a hassle many expats choose to forego in favour of making major purchases through their overseas account. Property can be bought without a US bank account. 4/23


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Taxes Tax laws in the US are complex and made more so by expatriation. There are both state and federal taxes on income. Property and sales taxes also differ by state. State taxes differ considerably both in amount and regulation.

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Paying taxes as a resident in the US: A resident alien (foreign national; living in the US) is generally taxed in the same manner as a US citizen. Resident aliens can be classified in two ways, either according to the lawful permanent residence test (“green card”) or the substantial presence test.

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• Green card test: An alien who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States under US immigration laws (receives a “green card”) will be considered a resident alien for federal tax purposes.

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• Substantial presence test: An alien will be considered a US resident if the individual is physically present in the United States for at least 31 days during the calendar year and 183 days for the current and two preceding calendar years. US residents are required to file an annual individual tax return and to disclose the worldwide income received that given tax year. If you have income from another country while you are a US resident – from assets such as interest, dividends, or rental income - and you pay taxes to the other country, you may qualify to receive a foreign tax credit on your US tax return. Through this method it is possible to avoid double taxation on the same income.

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For the first and last year in the US as a resident, you simultaneously may be considered a resident and non-resident; and consequently may still be required to disclose your worldwide income for the portion of the year that you are considered a US resident. Paying taxes as a non-resident in the US: Non-residents who are doing business in the US are taxed on the income they received in the US if it is significant. Expats in the US may be exempt from some forms of taxation such as social security. All of this is further complicated by tax treaties with other countries. Professional tax advisers are widely used by US citizens even with less complicated tax returns, thus it is highly recommended that expats in the US hire a tax planner specialising in expat taxes. Public holidays 2011

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2012

New Year’s Day *31 Dec *2 Jan Martin Luther King Day 17 Jan 15 Jan Washington’s Birthday 21 Feb 20 Feb Memorial Day 30 May 28 May Independence Day 4 Jul 4 Jul Labour Day 5 Sep 3 Sep Columbus Day 10 Oct 8 Oct Veterans Day 11 Nov 12 Nov Thanksgiving Day 24 Nov 22 Nov Christmas Day *26 Dec 25 Dec *Public holidays in the US that fall on a Saturday/Sunday are moved to the preceding Friday of the following Monday.

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Work Permits A “green card” is the official card issued by the US Immigration Service (USCIS) to foreign nationals granting them

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permanent residency in the US. A “green card” allows you to live and work in the US. Obtaining a “green card”

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Generally, the process takes three steps when applying through employment: (1) the Labour Certification; (2) the Immigrant Petition (I-140 or I-526); and 3) the Adjustment/Permanent Residence Application.

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You can either live in the US under a non-immigrant visa while your immigrant visa is being processed; or, you can wait in your home country until final approval. The waiting period will depend on the skill level you are classified under. A US company must file the application petitioning you. The company can be owned by you or not, depending on the visa classification.

U s e f u l i n fo The “green card” can also be obtained through family members who are either US citizens or legal permanent residents (“green card” holders); this includes a parent, child, son/daughter over 21, spouse, sibling or fiancé(e). These are generally

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easier and sometimes faster than employment-based “green card” applications. The “employment based” Non-Immigrant Visas which allow you to reside in the US while processing your “green card” include: L-1 Visa: Available for companies that wish to expand operations into the US by opening a branch, a warehouse or an office. It can lead to permanent residency and is relatively easy to obtain with the right documentation and presentation. You would be transferred from your company’s offices in your home country to the new office in the US With your US company sponsoring you for a “green card” you can skip the first step (Labour Certification). The waiting period is relatively short, from 8-15 months. EB-5 Visa: This is probably the quickest way to obtain US residency, but does require a direct financial investment into a new or existing US business. The minimum funds required for the investment is either $500,000 or $1,000,000, depending on the geographic area. Your US company can sponsor your “green card” application.

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E-2 Visa: Service and trading companies may qualify for the E-2 treaty trader status. Financial services companies, software companies, attorneys, accountants, and the like, along with companies trading goods, may qualify for E-2 treaty trader status. You must buy or start up a company in the US with personal funds; you must be the principal owner (at least 50%); a “significant investment’ is required - you must cover at least 50% of the funds required to start up or purchase the

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business; and the money needs to be at “risk”. Though most countries are eligible for E visas, there are some that are not. Your US company may not sponsor you for the “green card”. You must find another company to sponsor you. H-1 Visa: H-1 visas are for skilled international professionals who want to live and work in America on a long term basis. As these are non-immigrant visas, they are often quicker to obtain than green cards, thus they are ideal for those looking to work in the US for a long duration, but not permanently. In order to qualify for this visa, you must have a US company sponsor or petition for your employment. Other possible visas include: TN-1 Visa, E-1 Visa, E-3 Visa, J-1 Visa and various study visas.

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Living and accommodation Below you will find information about: • New in the US • Cost of living • Accommodation

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New in the US American culture is a mishmash of global customs, traditions, languages and beliefs. The many influences and integrated cultural characteristics are too long to list, but each contributes to the national ethos. This is particularly apparent in the cities which are blends of many different cultures; smaller towns often retain characteristics of their founding nationalities.

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Despite its many inspirations US culture still has distinct attributes of its own. In fact, there are a number of differences from other western cultures that may take expats living in the US by surprise. This includes the geographical size of both countries and big cities. As a result long commutes and long drives are normal and a dependence on vehicles is a common

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characteristic of American life. It is illegal to drink before 21 years of age, and although this law is routinely broken, police usually take it very seriously. Cost of living The cost of living in the US varies from region to region and from city to city. The major cosmopolitan centres such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are the most expensive places to live. The cost of living in a major city can be 50% more than that of the national average. To compensate, wages are increased in cities but often not in proportion to the cost of living. A large portion of the high cost of living is due to expensive property prices. Living outside city centres can make your cost of living markedly cheaper. On average, expenses are less than in western European countries. However, expats may be unaccustomed to some expenses. For example, you need a reliable vehicle for commuting in every area of the US, except a very small group of big cities. Petrol is much cheaper than in Europe, but more is consumed. Heating and air-conditioning are also widely used and can become very expensive.

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Accommodation Expats moving to the US will find a high standard of accommodation options available. Whether you are looking to rent a house, or whether you’re looking to take advantage of the recovering property market by purchasing a prime plot of land,

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you’ll likely find a lovely home, well-suited to your needs and your budget. Types of Accommodation in the US: Accommodation in the US has its own unique terminology, and is usually divided into the following classifications: • Apartments (self-contained units in larger buildings) • Single family homes (stand-alone houses, usually on a small plot of land) • Duplex homes (when two or more living quarters are housed in the same building) • Condominiums (separate, often similar-styled homes, located close together) • Mansions (large, extravagant, expensive houses) All these forms of housing are widespread throughout the US, with apartments being the most popular to rent for expats, and single family homes being the most commonly purchased.

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Renting Property in the US: Finding a place to rent in the US is a relatively easy process. First, you should conduct some research into the city you are relocating to in order to get some perspective on a neighbourhood that would best align with your priorities. From there, you can use one of the following avenues to start investigating individual rental properties: • There are plenty of websites – such as Craig’s List, Rent.com and Apartments.com – that carry both short- and long-term

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rental listings. You should be able to browse these sites for free, without needing to register and to share any of your personal information. Stay clear of sites that insist you provide them with this kind of information. • Local newspapers and magazines – known as ‘home and apartment finders’ – are widely distributed in most US cities.

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These often specialise in providing rental listings. • If you find a neighbourhood you like – and if you’re very lucky - you might be able to find a place simply by driving around in that neighbourhood looking for a ‘For Rent’ sign outside a property. • The USA’s Multiple Listings Service – a huge, constantly updated database of homes and apartments available to rent

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and to buy – is also a great resource. However, it is generally better when looking for homes to buy, as many landlords realise they can find tenants on their own terms, without having to advertise their properties on the MLS. • Real estate agents can be used – however, many US realtors specialise in selling and buying homes, not renting them.

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Once you’ve found a property you like, you’ll need to tender a lease application. This will probably take the form of a generic document known as a State Rental Agreement.

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In order to be taken seriously as a candidate for renting the property, especially as a foreigner, you will need to demonstrate that you have at least enough funds to cover the first month’s rent upfront, and also pay another month’s rent as deposit.Credit checks and background checks will be carried out – if you have any references from previous landlords, be sure to include them with your application. Lease agreements in the US are generally signed on a six-month or one-year basis. Whether or not you will be liable for your own gas, electricity, water, refuse, phone and Internet bills will depend on your specific rental agreement. Buying Property in the US: The process of buying a house in the US is as follows: • A mortgage or loan is obtained. As a foreigner – in the current economic climate – you will need plenty of supporting documentation to organise your home loan, and will need to prove that you are both legally employed in the US, and financially able to commit to the purchase of your new house • Once you’ve identified the home you wish to buy, a formal offer is made to the seller, in the form of a (legally binding) sales contract. • A deposit on the property is placed by the buyer in escrow, showing good faith that they will commit to the full

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purchase of the property once certain conditions have been met. As a foreigner the amount of deposit money you are required to part with might be larger than would be expected of US citizens • The buyer sees to it that inspections and appraisals are done. While not always necessary, if you are borrowing money to purchase your house, the bank or financial institution that lent it to you will insist on this step

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• A title search is conducted, usually by the real estate agent working on behalf of the buyer • A deed of sale contract is drawn up, signed, and filed with the county – creating an official record of sale. At this point, all money must change hands, and possession of the property must be turned over. Foreigners looking to buy property in the US should also bear in mind that one of the most crucial steps along the way is to secure the services of a reliable estate agent: one with whom you’ll be able to foster a good working relationship. By providing them with a comprehensive list of your housing requirements, your realtor will be able to use the Multiple Listing Service to generate a list of potential properties. Once you’ve identified one or two that seem promising, your realtor will then further assist you in liaising with the seller; organising viewings, house inspections and property reports (if necessary); negotiating yours sales contracts; advising you on market trends and prices; conducting title searches, etc.

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living Colleges and universities The US has over 4,000 degree-granting institutions, which translates into an amazing wealth of opportunity for expats

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with children approaching college age. Though the magnitude of options can seem daunting, it can be easy to narrow down the school selection process and focus on specific applications once you have a bit of background knowledge. There are three kinds of institutions that new arrivals in the US ought to consider (note that Americans tend to use the words “college”, “university” and even “school” quite interchangeably; therefore the term used in normal conversation may not necessarily denote a difference in size, quality or category).

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The US has a system of community colleges, which grants graduates an associate’s degree (AA/AS) after two years of study, often at significant lower cost than at four year institutions. Many of the courses offered by community colleges are vocational – auto mechanics, secretarial training, medical technology, paralegal education, etc. But they will also offer many courses that allow students to transfer to four-year institutions after completing an associate’s degree. Colleges are institutions that grant bachelor degrees (BA/BS) and in a few instances also master’s degrees (MA/MS). They tend to be smaller in size, and they vary in selectivity and in quality. Some of them are state institutions, though the majority are private. Some colleges run by specific religious groups, and there are also a few women’s colleges. Universities award bachelor degrees but also grant master’s and doctoral degrees (PhDs) as well. Some state schools may have tens of thousands of students and they often have very good research facilities. The universities and colleges in the US tend to be well-financed and often have a number of scholarships or financial aid available to supplement tuition. Though expat children do not usually qualify as easily as US citizens, there are still opportunities worth researching. Check with government and private organisations in your country of origin to see if your child

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Useful information Below you will find: • Nice to know • Embassy contact details Nice to know

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Standard time: There are six times zones in the USA: Eastern time is GMT -5, Pacific time is GMT -8, Central time is GMT -6, Mountain time is GMT -7, Alaska is GMT -9, and Hawaii is GMT -10. Daylight saving time sets the clocks back by an hour between March and November in all states except Arizona and Hawaii.

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Currency: The United States dollar (USD, $) is the official currency of the USA. It is divided into 100 cents, also called pennies. You can check the latest exchange rates at http://www.xe.com/

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Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz. Standard plugs have two flat pins but three-pin plugs are also used. Language: English is the official language but Spanish is common in the south-western states.

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Safety: As a whole the country is a safe expat destination with a strong police presence. Poorer neighbourhoods where crime is more common are avoidable and down-town areas and business districts tend to be safe. Expats in the US should become familiar with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sections of cities before they rent or buy property. Except for very wealthy and gated residential neighbourhoods, employing private security companies is rare and residents can expect quick and quality responses by police or even a local neighbourhood-watch programme. There are no specific health risks associated with the US. Southern and eastern states may experience hurricanes in June and November, and the west coast may experience wildfires between March and November. Communications: The international access code for the US is +1. To dial out of the US, use 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 44 for the UK). Area/city codes must be dialled before the local number required. There is mobile

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network coverage in all populated US destinations but expats should be aware that their phones from home will only work if they have tri-band. There are Internet cafés throughout the States and broadband at home is also available in most areas 900/1800 coverage throughout Spain. Broadband internet connection at home and in internet cafés is available in all but the smallest of Spanish towns.

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Emergencies: Dial 911 for emergency assistance. Climate: The US is a vast country, spanning six time zones from east to west, with just as many climate variations. Generally speaking, the west coast experiences a pleasant Mediterranean climate, and the climate on the Pacific Northwest is milder, more maritime, while the central regions have a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers.

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Embassy contact details United States of America Embassies: • United States Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7499 9000

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• United States Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 688 5335 • United States Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6214 5600 • United States Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 431 4000

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• United States Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 668 8777 • United States Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 462 6000 Foreign Embassies in United States of America

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• British Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 588 6500 • Canadian Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 682 1740

Useful info

• Australian Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 797 3000 • South African Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 232 4400 • Irish Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 462 3939 • New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC: +1 202 328 4800

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This content is provided by www.expatarrivals.com, copyright © 2011 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this expat guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they’re relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor Bupa International can be held liable for any errors or omissions, or any loss, damage, illness and/or injury that may occur as a result of this information. Bupa International is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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E x pat g u i d e : n e w yo r k This guide offers information and advice if you are moving to New York. Click on the different tabs to find out about anything from tax rules and banking to education and cultural highlights.

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E d u c at i o n

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Bupa International is the specialist international division of Bupa, and we have operations in UK, Denmark, USA, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Egypt, UAE and Australia. We care for the lives in our hands, and are dedicated to providing all the insurance services, help and advice you need to keep yourself and your family in the best of health. Our dedicated team respects everyone’s individuality, culture, privacy and dignity, and aims to provide a personal service you can rely on throughout your Bupa International membership.

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Moving to New York Expats moving to New York will find a city characterised by a mix of the world’s cultures and a wealth of entertainment and attractions. It has earned its moniker as the ‘Big city of dreams’ but also has a reputation for expensive

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accommodation and a work environment that is fast-paced and demands long hours. One of the biggest challenges facing you when relocating to New York is finding the balance between enjoying the city’s many cultural offerings and fulfilling your professional obligations. You can also avoid the high accommodation costs in

Living

central Manhattan by searching for your new home in one of the city’s four other boroughs. Once you have acquainted yourself with the New York lifestyle you will find that enjoying the fruits of labour is the best

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part of working in the Big Apple. The cost of living is high but this is just the price of admission to living in a city with endless highlights. There’s no better place in the US to explore dynamic nightlife, eclectic selection of restaurants, theatre, chic apartments and a diverse international population.

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Shipping and removals New York City has a large port, though much of the centre’s shipping is done through New Jersey, the neighbouring state. There are many options for removal and shipping companies. It is a good idea to buy shipping insurance from a company other than the one used to deliver the cargo. This ensures reliable coverage if anything gets damaged. Dogs shipped to New York must have a rabies vaccination certificate, cats should be fine without one. Useful links: • www.nyinternationalshipping.com • www.compare-international-movers.com • www.cadogantate.com

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Working in New York Expats working in New York City often arrive ready to run in the most daunting rat race of them all. As the largest regional city economy in the country and one of the most impressive financial centres in the world, it’s certainly easy to glamorise

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the opportunity to be part of Manhattan’s wheels and cogs. However, expats should also be prepared to walk into a business environment that’s defined by cut-throat competition, high stress and long hours. The city is headquarter to huge international companies and home to major branches of foreign industry, many of them

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top Fortune 500 organisations. At its heart, the financial, healthcare, real estate and insurance sectors build the block-like foundations of NYC’s economy,

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and secondary industries, such as publishing, manufacturing, information technology and trade, help drive the city forward. Business culture varies in New York. If you’re an expat working for a large corporation, expect long hours, a lot of

E d u c at i o n

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responsibility, and pressure to work and make decisions quickly. Depending on your industry you may compete directly with your colleagues to work on the best and most lucrative accounts. New York offers one of the highest cost of living rates in the US, so international employers may offer additional assistance. That being said, if you’re an expat who’s been lucky enough to be teased abroad by a lucrative expat package in the financial sector you’ll most likely be earning one of the top salaries in the world. Our USA guide includes more information about work permits, business culture, banking and taxes. Public holidays 2011

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2012

New Year’s Day *31 Dec *2 Jan Martin Luther King Day 17 Jan 15 Jan Washington’s Birthday 21 Feb 20 Feb Memorial Day 30 May 28 May Independence Day 4 Jul 4 Jul Labour Day 5 Sep 3 Sep Columbus Day 10 Oct 8 Oct Veterans Day 11 Nov 12 Nov Thanksgiving Day 24 Nov 22 Nov Christmas Day *26 Dec 25 Dec *Public holidays in the USA that fall on a Saturday/Sunday are moved to the preceding Friday of the following Monday.

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Living and accommodation Below you will find information about: • Accommodation • Safety • Climate • Cost of living

living

• Getting around Accommodation

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Expats hunting for accommodation in New York City should prepare themselves for an adrenaline-driven prey versus predator experience marked by cut-throat competition. In general, buying, renting or finding any type of housing can be difficult and expensive.

E d u c at i o n

New York City is separated into five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. Manhattan is the central borough accessible by bridge or tunnel, and the others are the outer boroughs. Though many expats would prefer to live in close proximity to work, the main business district of Manhattan claims the most expensive real estate and

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has few options for family-sized accommodation. Even neighbouring boroughs outside Manhattan – such as Brooklyn – have started advertising property with sky-high prices, though you’ll tend to get more space for the same amount you would spend in the heart of the city. Striking a balance between location, type of accommodation and affordability can be tricky - it is advised expats utilise the services of a real estate broker. Real estate brokers usually charge 15% of a year’s rent. Indicative of the competition, prospective expat tenants should be ready to prove their financial capacity with a credit check, income tax returns, employer’s letter, two months rent, and a security deposit. Rent controlled apartments are notoriously difficult to find because of very low turnover rates. When moving to New York commute time is another essential consideration in choosing accommodation. New York has extensive public transportation, but there are a few limiting factors. The east side of Manhattan only has one overcrowded subway line, and a promised second subway line is years away due to budget issues. The remaining trains and buses in and out of the city are also very crowded at rush hour. Also, extensive long-term subway improvements means that travel

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between Manhattan and Brooklyn or Queens can be torturous. On the weekends many lines are re-routed and travel takes two to three times longer. Commuting into the city by car will result in up to an hour’s wait to get through the main tunnels during rush hour, and

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parking is either impossible to find, or horribly expensive. If your company doesn’t offer you a parking space, public transportation is a much better option.

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A majority of people live in apartment buildings within Manhattan, as the larger affordable town houses or detached houses can be found farther away in the surrounding boroughs. The town houses within Manhattan, though often beautiful, are only available for purchase and cost millions of dollars. That being said, recent economic fall-out from the collapse of the investment banking sphere has created a market in which buying can be a better deal than renting. However, if you are a short-term expat – less than 5 years - it is still more logical to rent than to buy. Useful links: • Housing information: www.nycdwellers.com • House and apartment listings: www.citycribs.com • Rental apartment agency: www.new-york-apartment.com • Realty agency: www.cityrealty.com • Apartment finding agency: www.nyc123.com 15/23


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Safety Despite its previous reputation, New York is a safe place to live with little more criminal activity than what would be expected from any global metropolis. For the most part crime is relegated to specific city areas; some places in the Bronx and Queens have poor communities and rough neighbourhoods. These are avoidable but most places in the city are fine.

Wo r k i n g

One should be careful walking home alone at night or taking the subway after 11pm in certain places. Climate

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Expats living in New York will probably find spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons. The city has a continental climate and is prone to cold winters and hot, humid summers. Although winter temperatures generally stay above freezing, snowfall and winter rain are regular occurrences. Summer in New York is generally very hot and humid, with average temperatures reaching 84°F (29°C).

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Cost of living According to the Mercer cost of living index, New York City is sitting at the very top of the list in the US, making it the most expensive city in the country in relation to salaries earned. The fact that the index only places it 27th in the world (London is 17th), by no means qualifies the metropolis as a cost-friendly location.

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In order to overcome this economic intimidation, most employers will offer expats a relocation allowance known as a “COLA” (cost of living adjustment). This initial supplement is designed to ease employees into life in the city; it helps tre-

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mendously when it comes to finding an apartment through a broker, paying deposit fees and shouldering the burden of set-up costs while jumpstarting a new life. While life in Manhattan is costly, employees who work in Manhattan are reimbursed accordingly. Housing costs: New York City is made up of five boroughs; Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn.

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Living in Manhattan is very expensive. If you choose accommodation in the more posh and prestigious neighbourhoods of Manhattan, like The West Village, Soho or Tribeca, your cost of living will increase accordingly

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Utility costs: As a tenant in an apartment in New York City you will generally only pay an electricity bill; water and gas are often covered by the building or the landlord. While this is good news, it soon becomes obvious that the cost of running an air conditioning unit over the summer months - from May to September – can cause your monthly electricity bill to rise.

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An additional cost is the annual bonus (up to 15%) residents give their building staff at Christmas time. It is more New York City social protocol than enforced cost but is taken very seriously.

living

Getting around Expats will find that Manhattan, the largest of New York City’s five boroughs, is foot friendly, and there’s plenty of public transport options.

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Getting around New York City on the MTA Subway: The subway operates around the clock. For a very reasonable price – $2.25 for a single ticket – you can ride to/from anywhere on or off the island.

E d u c at i o n

If making a regular journey it’s best to consider the package options. A weekly unlimited travel card will cost you $27, while a monthly card is $89. Metro cards are also accepted on buses. You can also buy a $10 card or a $20 card for multi journeys.

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Getting around New York City in a taxi: The fabled NYC yellow taxi cabs operate on a running metre per mile and can be the most efficient and the most reasonable option when travelling in groups, but expensive if going it alone. A few taxi tips: • Make sure the meter is reset when you get in. • Remember to tip, or at least round up to the nearest dollar. • Airport rides - from all New York airports there is a fixed rate for yellow taxi rides into Manhattan. The fixed rate does not include tolls or tips. (suggested tip – 15-20%) Do I need a car in New York City? No, public transportation in Manhattan is generally good; subway, buses and rail lines even run out to the suburbs. Street parking is nearly impossible to find and is only allowed during particular times of the day. To rent a parking bay in a covered garage is also usually outrageously expensive. Getting to and from New York City by train: Penn Station and Grand Central Station are the two major rail hubs in the

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city. Both offer a number of routes in and out of the city. Trains from Penn Station will take you beach bound to Long Island, including The Hamptons. They’ll also take you north to Boston or even Canada, and South to DC, Philadelphia and greater Pennsylvania. From Grand Central you can head anywhere upstate.

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Airports in New York City: New York is serviced by three airports. John F Kennedy International Airport in Queens, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and LaGuardia Airport also in Queens which services domestic flights only. Public transport options are as follows: • To JFK – via the A line to Howard Beach then transfer to the Air Train • To Newark – via train from Penn station then transfer to the Air Train • To LaGuardia – Bus from Grand Central from 125 Park Av (between 40th & 41st St.) or, the 1,2 or three train to 116th St and the M60 bus to LaGuardia Useful links: • Metropolitan Transportation Authority: http://www.mta.info/ • New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/... • For the most convenient way to pay tolls in NYC: http://www.e-zpassny.com/... • Zip Car: http://www.zipcar.com/ • Amtrak Trains: http://www.amtrak.com/...

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See and do Below you will find information about:

Wo r k i n g

• Lifestyle and shopping • Children in New York • Restaurants

Living

• What’s on in New York • Markets in New York • Recommended sightseeing

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Lifestyle and shopping The famous 5th Avenue is a must, even if only for window-shopping, as is trendy Madison Avenue with many designer shops. The cobblestone streets of Soho also host many chic outlets. There are bargains to be found in Chinatown and the

E d u c at i o n

Lower East Side, and at local flea markets. For fresh produce farmer’s markets are a good option. This city has a vibrant nightlife offering everything from lounges, jazz bars and nightclubs to comedy clubs and live shows. Some of the best known New York venues include the O’Neill Theatre for Broadway shows, the New York Comedy

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Club and Cream nightclub. Other popular nightspots are the Bowery Ballroom, People’s Voice Café, Oak Room and the Radio City Music Hall, while Madison Square Garden hosts live concerts and big sporting events. Children in New York There are dozens of things for expat families to see and do with their children in New York City. On warm, sunny days there are parks and other outdoors attractions to enjoy, while those colder, rainy days can be spent at children’s shops, museums and entertainment centres. A trip out to Ellis Island to see the famous Statue of Liberty is not to be missed, nor is going up to the observation decks on the Empire State Building. Central Park is always a good option for just running around and playing outside. In cooler weather, take the children ice skating at the Trump Wollman Rink, or visit the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the New York Aquarium. Restaurants While roadside vendors selling everything from hot dogs to bagels are a common sight, New York is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. You can get starry-eyed from all the Michelin restaurants on offer in Manhattan and enjoy a global culinary tour by venturing around the city’s ethnic neighbourhoods. Both Chinatown and Flushing in Queens offer

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authentic Asian cuisine, the East Village has Ukrainian, Indian and Japanese eateries, while Harlem serves up African and ‘soul’ food. What’s on in New York New York is known as the city that never sleeps. Though for many, Manhattan’s borderline manic activity can actually be felt as much during the day as it can at night. Recommended events in New York City: New York Restaurant week (February & July): Some of the city’s most famous and most exclusive restaurants participate in New York’s bi-annual Restaurant Week. Eateries featured in this culinary dream period offer a prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner at a significantly lower price than normally. So this is your chance to sample some of the best kitchens in the city at the best of bargain prices. Read more. St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March): The Irish heritage in the New York area is omnipresent and St. Patrick’s Day is the event of the year to witness in all its intoxicating glory. On the day itself, there is a parade, complete with costumes and marching band, that slowly snakes up 5th Avenue. A lesser known fact is that Hoboken (just across the Hudson in New Jersey) hosts a veritable Irish extravaganza the weekend before St. Patrick Day. 18/23


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Wo r k i n g

Street Festivals (April to August): One of city’s most charming cultural gems is the appearance of random street festivals that pop up all over town on the weekends as soon as the weather starts to perk up, usually from April onwards. While there’s no official, comprehensive guide of when and where they are scheduled to happen, the chances are that if you are

Living

visiting NYC during that time, you are highly likely to stumble upon one. Rooftop drinking (May to August): Technically speaking, this is not an event at all, though with the start of the outdoor drinking season, it’s certainly a momentous occasion. In a place filled with skyscrapers, it is easy to see why looking out

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over the sweeping cityscape while sipping on a gorgeous cocktail is a New Yorker’s favourite past time. Gay pride parade (June): Gay pride is a huge event in the city and is usually made to last for the entire week with a

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number of smaller events all leading to the main parade on a Saturday. As Gay Pride originally started in NYC, there is something special about this particular event. The event is incredibly diverse with every single ethnic origin, gender and age being represented.

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Outdoor movies and concerts (June to August): From River Flicks on the Hudson to the Bryant Park Monday night movies and the Rooftop Films Summer series, there is something for all moviebuffs. Outdoor concerts in the city are also quite ubiquitous with the most notable being the New York Philharmonic concerts in Central Park, the Tompkins Square Park Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and the P.S.I Warm UP series. San Genaro Festival (September): San Genaro is a week-long festival that takes place in Little Italy every year. It is actually a religious occasion and a statue of San Genaro (the Patron Saint of Naples) is carried through the cobbled streets by burly men, followed by a large procession of people. The atmosphere is electric with music, freak shows (!), street food vendors loudly selling their wares (you must try a sweet, cream-filled cannelloni) and huge crowds slowly meandering through it all! Sports: New York is a buzzing sports hub, from the old baseball rivalry between the Yankees and the Mets to the US Open in tennis. The Knicks is the city’s NBA basketball team and the source of much pride and frustration. The season runs from October to April and the home games are played at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks’ have ardent fans, including

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the film director Spike Lee, and the atmosphere at the games is amazing - the combination of the venue, the musical interludes, the constant chanting of the fans and the fast pace of the match. In 2012 the neighbouring team from New Jersey, the Nets, will relocate to Brooklyn, which should make for a fascinating new rivalry in the sports-mad city.

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (November): Even preparations for the parade can be captivating to watch. On the night prior to the parade, the famous huge balloons depicting animals or cartoon characters are being inflated somewhere on the Upper West Side, usually near the National History Museum on Central Park West. It’s a great spectacle to see after a

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dinner out with friends.

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Markets in New York

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In a city as saturated with shopping options, both indoor and outdoor markets are abundant and are for the most part open all year round. From fresh flowers and food, to vintage apparel and home goods, you’d be hard pressed not to find a market that piques your interest.

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Recommended markets in Manhattan: GreenFlea www.greenfleamarkets.com

Living

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Columbus Ave between 76th and 77th Sts;(Upper West Side) Sundays: 10am–5:30pm Union Square Market www.cenyc.org/unionsquaregreenmarket Union Square, 17th Street @ Broadway. (Union Square) Mon, Wed, Fri , Sat: 8am-6pm (except holidays – see holiday info below)

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Outdoor market Union Square Holiday Market (Address as above)

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Mon.–Fri., 11am–8pm; Sat, 10am–8pm; Sun: 11am–7pm; November 24 - December 24 (11am–4pm) Young Designers Market www.themarketnyc.com Mulberry Street between Houston and Prince Streets (Nolita): Inside Church Annex Sat and Sun: 11am – 6pm, Sat. and Sun (closed part of Jan & Feb) Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market www.hellskitchenfleamarket.com 39th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (Hell’s Kitchen) On the street Sat and Sun: 9am–6pm Brooklyn Flea (Fort Greene + Dumbo) brooklynflea.com

benefits Fort Greene 176 Lafayette Ave (btw. Clermont + Vanderbilt Ave.)

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Sat 10am–5pm Outdoors Dumbo Sundays: 11am–6pm Inside a former Bank

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M ov i n g

Wo r k i n g Recommended sightseeing The Statue of Liberty: Dating back to the American Revolution, the Statue of Liberty has become a universal symbol of

Living

freedom and democracy. www.nps.gov/stli. Telephone: (212) 363 3200; 866-782-8834 (ferry information) Empire State Building: Built in just 410 days, the famous Empire State Building is New York’s tallest structure and has

see and do

observation decks offering splendid views of the city. www.esbnyc.com. Telephone: (212) 736 3100 Central Park: Central Park offers a wonderful natural haven for expats to escape to, with beautiful lakes and gardens to enjoy on your day off. www.centralparknyc.org. Telephone: (212) 310 6600

E d u c at i o n

Broadway: A must for expats in New York is to get dressed up and catch one of the world-famous Broadway shows – Phantom of the Opera is a classic choice. www.broadway.com

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Times Square: This famous intersection, at the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street, is inundated with flashing advertisements and gigantic billboards. Brooklyn Bridge: The iconic bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn is a wonderful sight, especially at night when it’s lit up by hundreds of lights. Rockefeller Centre: Named for billionaire John D Rockefeller, this centre is home to attractions including the Radio City Music Hall and the GE Building, which is the set for Saturday Night Live. American Museum of Natural History: The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest and most important establishments of its kind, with more than 30 million artefacts on display. www.amnh.org. Telephone: (212) 769 5100; 769 5200 (tickets and programs) Metropolitan Museum of Art: With more than two million works of art spanning 5000 years of world culture, this museum has one of the largest collections in the world. The two million square foot museum and its more than 30

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exhibitions every year is an appealing stop for any expat in New York - last year it attracted 4,7 million visitors. www. metmuseum.org. Telephone: (212) 535 7710

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World Trade Center - Ground Zero: A reminder of the tragic 2001 destruction of the Twin Towers, Ground Zero is a commemorative site that both locals and foreigners are drawn to. www.national911memorial.org. Telephone: (212) 393 9160 Grand Central Terminal: Grand Central Terminal, also referred to as Grand Central Station, is one of the world’s largest train stations - its main concourse is 84 m long, 37 m wide and 38 m high. The station is not only impressive when it comes to size, its newly renovated astronomical ceiling and four opal clocks (each clock has an estimated value between $10 million and $20 million) are something for all expats in New York to experience. It www.grandcentralterminal.com. Telephone: (212) 340-2345

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Wo r k i n g

Education and schools Below you will find information about: • Public schools

Living

• Private schools • International schools • Useful links

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As an expat family moving to New York with children, one of the most difficult tasks ahead is deciding on a school. Public schools in New York

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The New York public schools system is made up of just over 1,400 schools and range from first-rate to inadequate. The better public schools are naturally located in wealthier sections of New York, and it is usually only possible to attend schools within the school zones where you live. Attending schools outside of a designated zone is difficult. Thus education

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can be an important factor to consider when choosing accommodation. There are publicly-funded charter schools in New York but acceptance into these can be difficult. Private schools In general education is better in private institutions than in New York public schools, but it is very expensive. There are over 70 private schools to choose from in New York. They can be extremely competitive academically and many also have stringent acceptance procedures. Waiting lists can be long and prospective students must often pass academic tests and interviews. The process can be so daunting, that some hire private school consulting agencies to increase their child’s chances for top schools. New York’s private high school tuition is among the most expensive in the country. International schools There are many international schools where students can be dually taught in English and a foreign language. These often continue a foreign curriculum and also often have long waiting lists. Like all private schools, students must apply well in advance.

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See our guide to the US for information about universities. Useful links • Consulting agencey: www.abacusguide.com • Review of private schools: www.privateschoolreview.com • British International Schools: www.britishinternationalschoolny.org • United Nations International School: www.unis.org • Lyceum Kennedy International School: www.lyceumkennedy.org

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This content is provided by www.expatarrivals.com, copyright © 2011 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this expat guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they’re relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor Bupa International can be held liable for any errors or omissions, or any loss, damage, illness and/or injury that may occur as a result of this information. Bupa International is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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