Tag Archives: Texas

Money, money, money..

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.

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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.

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Building Credit

I’ve been operation on T-Mobile since I got here under my friend’s account. Family plan they call it.

My HTC 510 arrived from Amazon ($160) after a few false starts with the same Amazon. I got a phone that I didn’t like and promptly shipped it back and they refunded me my money. Only in America I tell you.

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HTC Desire 510 Unlocked

I got a ‘fake leather’ cover from Amazon. They advertised it as a leather pouch. My “Americaness” kicked in and I wrote back to the seller bitterly complaining that they had shipped the wrong product. They promptly replied that I could “return to sender” and get my money back minus shipping fees. I wrote back and informed them I’d taken photos of the “leather” pouch and would use them accordingly when rating their services. They refunded all my money plus shipping fees for deliberately misrepresenting their product..anyway that is besides the point.

Today I talked to my friend and he suggested I check out other mobile phone providers and decide. T-Mobile had $50 single plans giving me unlimited talk and sms and 1GB of complimentary 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) (don’t ask me what it means 🙂 data. They downgrade to 3G after you exhaust the 1GB. I needed to talk to my host to ‘release’ me from his account and then call a number and they would advise accordingly.

Next I went to AT&T, those guys are like hawkers back home in Kenya. They don’t give you time to breathe. The moment I walked into their shop there were at least 3 sales representatives asking me what I needed. I asked the necessary questions, produced my work ID which gave me a 25% discount. 1GB of 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, free unlimited texts worldwide, free calls to ‘Canadian cities near the US border’ for $45 and I was sold.

I don’t watch too many videos or stream music online so 1GB of 4G LTE is enough for me. I’m fine with 3G after that until I get my next G of 4G LTE.

Next was the process of migrating. I needed to provide my host’s account number from T-Mobile, His name, my previous number if I wished to use the same number. Picture ID, in this case a Texas driver’s license and my social security number. They ran a background credit check and voila..it was non-existent..I haven’t had any credit since I got here. So I had to put a refundable down payment of $500. I will get it back in 6 months if I pay my monthly bills. Add my 25% discount and I saved roughly $12..$33..add tax and it came to about $40 a month. I’ll have a bill with my name and I’ll build credit slowly. Not too bad everything considered.

I’m grateful to my host for taking me under his T-Mobile wing until I could stand on my own..Blessings.

Lesson learn’t. It costs money to get credit. It takes time to build credit. Will see how it goes as I get settled into this system. I haven’t decided yet but I just might apply for a secured credit card to build credit with.

1 Month Later..

I’ve been in Houston for 4 weeks now. Anything about life that I’ve done worth noting? Not really..I’m still waiting for my paperwork from the government. It’s not here yet..so I’m just being patient and preparing for the driving exam in the meantime. I knew about this long wait before I came here so no surprise there.

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Lakewood Church in Downtown Houston..Has a sitting capacity of 16,800. Former Houston Rockets stadium..The sound in this place is to die for.

What have I been upto? Not much really. I found a church here. Its called Lakewood Church. It’s a big ass church. pardon the pun. It’s headed by Joel Osteen who is a really cool peep. I’ve been there 2 sundays and I’ve loved it, so my spiritual side of things is sorted for now. His brother Paul is a Surgeon and operates around the world but he had very good things to say about +254. He works closely with Tenwek Hospital in Kaplong.

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The KHS road bike I got last week on Craigslist

I got a bike last week..a bicycle. I love cycling as a hobby and it’s my most interesting keep fit activity. I’ve been cycling around the neighborhood and I’m liking it. Using the right side of the road is different but the drivers are quite accommodating of cyclists so that helps to feel safer. I’ve had quite a few stares on the road. Apparently peeps of African origin, hehe..political correctness I tell you..are not known for cycling. Getting used to those too.Interesting. It’s summer time so the sun goes down very late meaning at 6 in the evenings it’s still very hot here. So i ride for an hour between 6-7pm but it feels like 5pm Nairobi time..I brought all my cycling gear from Nairobi so getting into cycling mode has been easy.

 

The keep fit regime is going on well. No crazy kilos added in the month I’ve been here which is good. This ‘pot’ won’t go by itself.No soda for me (apparently it’s a big contributor to said weight issues) but lots of meats..:( not the best but hey I can’t complain..Lots of fruits too and they don’t go bad that easily..hmm. Genetically modified food is weird.

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Joel Osteen Live..

I’m happy with where I’m so far, no anxiety or sadness for now. Will see how that goes as time goes by.

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Big guns, pistols, ammo..what do you need? Quite affordable too

Random: In Texas it’s legal to own guns. I haven’t been to a gun shop yet but in the Sunday paper they had advertised a number of special offers on rifles and pistols..Just like Nakumatt does in the Nation newspaper. Do you want a pistol for $299 or a semi-automatic rifle for $799. For bullets you just add a little bit more and you have enough for practice session at the range.