If you’re a part of one or more of the expat communities on Facebook you are no doubt familiar with the fact that there are some questions asked very frequently.

Facebook notificationsIn addition to this, if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll be familiar with the fact that I (annoyingly for you) answer many of these over and over causing endless notifications…

So I thought I’d summarise the Top 10 questions I’ve seen in the past 9 months:

  1. “I/my friend/my family member want to transfer me some money from Australia (or another country). What is the best way to do that? Should I just use my bank?”
    1. The simple answer is: NO! Don’t use your bank! While they might not charge a fee, their rates are generally not even close to what competitors are offering (no, not even internally between Citibank accounts). Instead, you should use a third party service like one of the ones I recommend on the Banking page.
  2. “I’m moving to/from Australia, what’s the easiest and cheapest way to get my bag(s) there/back?”
    1. The first thing you have to ask yourself is: Do I really need all of this stuff? Shipping is an expensive and lengthy process, so be sure to only do this if you absolutely have to. There are a number of services available that offer this, and they are listed over and over. I’ve made a list of the top ones recommended like SendMyBag on my Shipping page!
  3. “I’ve got a very specific set of circumstances regarding immigration and I don’t really want to pay for a lawyer. Can anyone tell me [something really specific] about this visa?”
    1. The best thing you can do is pay for a lawyer. I know it’s tough and can cost a lot more than you were hoping to spend but it’s going to be worth it. You do not want to gamble with your moving to the US and if you don’t do things properly the first time, there’s every chance you won’t get a second chance. Do your research, then go seek professional legal advice (we list a few ideas here).
  4. “I’ve read on here that I don’t have to leave the country to get a new visa, or change the terms of my visa, is this true?”
    1. Yeah but nah. As above, just do it by the books and leave the country. It’s going to be quicker, easier, and save you a lot of hassle. Then, as before, do your research, then go seek professional legal advice (we list a few ideas here).
  5. “Has anyone done their visa interview in [insert country here]?”
    1. Yes, probably, use the search functionality in Facebook for the city/country name and you will no doubt find something. You can also try my page which lists a number of recent examples for people getting their visas around the world.
  6. “Do you need a NY driver’s license if you’re on an E3 (i.e. Are you still considered a Temporary Visitor and therefore not required to obtain a NY drivers license – and can rely on Australian drivers licence)? Thanks!”
    1. If you have been in the country for more than 30 days, you can not use your Australian license. That is the rule, no matter which way you want to twist it. If you want to drive in this country, you will need a license and in New York that means sitting the test from scratch (as if you are coming in without one). I’ve written some more information about this on my Memberships & ID page.
  7. “I need some free professional advice on [anything]”
    1. Don’t abuse the group, and be sure to have done your research before you ask questions. In most cases a quick search of this site or of that Facebook group will probably help you out enough. If not, then you are going to need a professional and you should be willing to support the community financially, don’t be stingey.
  8. “Does anyone know where I can buy this Australian delicious treat?”
    1. Completely fair to miss some nice bits from home, so that’s why I wrote a whole post about bread, made a huge list of coffee recommendations and I also made an interactive map for great Australian cuisine and products across New York!
  9. “I’ve got a spare room, who wants it?”
    1. This is great for the community and arguably one of the most beneficial things you can do for the group, so thank you. That being said, try and be as helpful and informative as you possibly can when it comes to what you’re offering, this includes:
      1. Location (as specific as possible without listing the address, use cross roads for example);
      2. Short or Long-term;
      3. Cost (per month in most cases);
      4. What’s included in the cost;
      5. What’s not included in the cost (and an approx. value of extras);
      6. Short description of the room and apartment (size, roommates, facilities etc.);
      7. Photos of the room (multiple angles) AND photos of the apartment;
      8. Any particular type of person you are/aren’t looking for.
  10. “I’m looking for an apartment, who can help?”
    1. This is tough. I know how hard it is to find a good apartment in New York, so I understand your frustration. So some things you should include:
      1. A very brief description of what you do and your schedule;
      2. Any particulars about yourself (e.g. Love pets, don’t smoke);
      3. The general area you are looking for;
      4. The maximum you are willing to pay (all inclusive, and do your research on this before posting – “Manhattan, $600, all inclusive” is not real).
  11. BONUS! My favorite question so far: “Arriving Tuesday…. what is the weather like? is it cardigan weather? I’m a woman and I need details for packing.”
    1. I couldn’t actually believe this one, but for those of you playing at home: Google can help.

So. The take home messages:

  1. Sorry for flooding your notifications;
  2. Do your own research first and come in knowing as much as possible;
  3. USE THE SEARCH FUNCTIONALITY;
  4. Be friendly.