One thing I’ve noticed about America is that every little thing or convenience requires money. I recently changed my address. To start with the US Postal Service or Posta as we know it required an online change. My friend could not do it for me as we don’t share the same family name. Their website states..So I got online and changed it. They require you to pay for that. It’s $1 to change. So they’ll forward all the mail from the old address to the new one. I thought I was done.
Next was the drivers license aka ID. It has all your information on it. Address, restrictions if you have any, when the restrictions end, your height, sex, eye color. It is required to change the address by law. I thought it would be easy. I got online and got to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS). Upon entering my file number I was promptly informed that I had to go to a physical office to have it changed. Why you may wonder. If you are not a citizen you have to physically present yourself in an office.
Since I work nights and there is a DPS office not too far from work. I went there immediately after work. Shock on me. At 7 there was a long queue already and it’s winter here. It was freezing. It reminded me of banking halls back home in Kenya. There were at least 30 people when I got there. Luckily I didn’t have to wait for too long. They open at 7.30am. I was done in 15 minutes. New finger prints, picture, signature, $11 and a snipped license. The reason is so as not to have more than one license when the new one arrives in the mail in 2 weeks. You have to pay to get a replacement license.
In other news I’ve been applying for debt aka credit cards. I’ve broken a rule I had set for myself. I won’t get a credit card while I’m in America. It’s near impossible I tell you. The system makes it that way. Apparently it’s the fastest way to build your credit here. You are rated here by how much good debt you have. I know it sounds ridiculous but unfortunately that’s how it is. Things are more expensive because you don’t have any debt. It should be the opposite right? Welcome to America 101.
My bank said they don’t deal in secured credit cards at all so that was that. Next I went to a different bank and they told me the same thing. I need to have a minimum of $300 in my account in their bank for them to issue me some ‘debt’ :).
Next I tried online for a Discover card, it was decline too. It’s hard being a newcomer in this country. Finally I went another bank and guess what.they found me to be creditworthy and approved me for a credit card with a tidy amount of $300. So I have to use the card and pay off on time to start building credit. Quite the journey I tell you. If you are planning on coming here from abroad, be prepared for the hassle that comes with building the coveted credit history. Everything you do will require a credit check to be conducted and mine always comes back negative for anything. No credit is bad for business. You pay hefty deposits left, right and center.
It’s a starting point and I’ve never used a credit card in my life. I’m usually good with my trusted debit but that lifelong habit will have to change. I have to get into a bit of debt to survive here. It’s been a learning process.
Last but not least Immigration needs to know where you are at all times if you are not a citizen. You can get into serious trouble including but not limited to deportation I believe is you don’t inform USCIS of your change of address within 10 days of moving. It’s online, simple and saves you a tonne of trouble down the line. So it’s a pain when you move. I’ll remember that.
Gas is still very cheap here. For $1.69 a gallon I’m filling up Jebet with $28 (16.4 Gallons). I guess I’ve been lucky that I came when gas prices were going down and not when they were $4 a gallon.