Moving to a new country is a daunting experience. Especially when the move entails shifting from two countries as starkly different as the United States and India. Leaving behind your friends, family, batchmates, neighbors and even professional networks can lead to an innate sense of irreconcilable loss in people.
But the magnetism of the American Dream is enough to stimulate hundreds if not thousands of people to leave their homeland every year. And it’s not just India, studies have shown that the United States of America hosts the largest community of international students in the world, the figures are close to about a Million people. Almost a fifth of these students are Indians.
The reasons for this exodus are straightforward enough, Indians prefer the robustness of the American system, the innovative nature of America’s economy, and the openness of its society. After all the U.S. is the greatest country in the world and is slotted to retain that spot for the foreseeable future.
These are not merely rhetorical statements; the statistics speak for themselves. Seven out of the top ten companies in the world are American, seventeen out of the top fifty universities in the world are American and of course, amongst other things let’s not forget the might of the most stable reserve currency in the world. Who would not want to move to such a country, right?
But while making the big move to the United States is a coveted dream for many educated and young Indian professionals, doing so is full of obstacles, big and small.
So, those of us, like me, who have been awarded the opportunity to do so must make a lot of essential preparations beforehand. Here’s a brief summary of the things you should be prepped for.
PREPPING FOR LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES: A GENERAL INTRODUCTION
First thing first, if you are traveling to the United States on a visa other than a work permit, you should start looking for job opportunities at least a month in advance of your planned arrival. Don’t get me wrong, there is no shortage of employment opportunities in the United States, but landing an adequate job during your transition period is no walk in the park.
So, make sure to update the location on your professional accounts, Linked In & Indeed, and start short-listing the places you’d prefer to join up with before you fly out. Because remember, life in the United States is not cheap and you would need a steady source of income to sustain a certain standard of life.
Similarly, another important thing to consider, no matter how trivial it may seem initially, is America’s driving regulations. Traffic laws in the States are fairly strict and well implemented, something that we cannot hope to say about our homeland. So, make sure to read up on driving laws and try to follow them, lest you risk incurring fines ranging in the hundreds of Dollars.
While we are on the topic of laws it is pertinent to mention that the regulatory landscape in the States is fairly complex. So, make sure that you apply for essential documents like a Social Security Number and an M1 Driver's license as soon you land in the country. These documents are going to be your primary source of photo identification and you absolutely cannot afford to carry on without them.
Moreover, the health system in the United States is famously expensive. And if your employer is not offering comprehensive health insurance to you or your family, you will have to pay up a fortune if one of you gets sick. For this reason, make sure to acquire health insurance as soon as you can.
Lastly, if you have not been awarded permanent residence or citizenship status you should keep your passport and visa with you at all times to avoid any unwarranted confusion on the streets.
PLANNING YOUR STAY ONCE YOU ARRIVE
Figuring out where to stay in the United States can be a complicated task and requires you to juggle a lot of variables. Your house rent, your standard of living, and of course your living cost will depend largely on your locality.
Make a detailed plan of how much you expect to earn in the United States and how to manage your lodging expenses in that budget. In addition to lodging, you will also have to keep in mind the cost of transportation, to and from your routine designation. The cost and usage of utilities, in particular electricity is pretty high in the States. So, remember to factor in these costs before you chart out a monthly budget.
Another important utility that this write-up aims to lay down a laser focus on is internet connectivity. You cannot possibly hope to thrive or even survive in America’s technologically advanced economy without access to a fast-paced and reliable internet connection, both in your house and on your phone.
Luckily, there is no shortage of top-notch internet service providers in the United States. In fact, there are just so many options to choose from that deciding the right one can become a little confusing.
To make it easier for you, here is a list of factors you need to keep in mind while deciding on an internet service provider in the United States.
FACTORS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHILE DECIDING ON THE RIGHT ISP
Picking the best internet service provider involves two sets of exclusive factors. The first set is entirely contingent upon your needs and usage requirements. While the second set of factors is more uniform. In addition to basic metrics like the speed of the internet connection and the price some of the other important metrics you should keep an eye on are as follows.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) deploy a host of varying technologies to beam internet signals to your doorsteps. Broadly speaking these technologies can be bifurcated into two basic types i.e. terrestrial and satellite-based internet connections.
Terrestrial internet services rely on ground-laid cable infrastructure like DSL, Cable, or Fiber to transfer internet signals. While on the other hand, as the name suggests, satellite internet technologies rely on satellites launched into space to beam back high-speed internet to your doorstep, or better yet rooftops.
Out of terrestrial internet services, DSL is the oldest of technologies and is generally associated with slug-paced speeds. Similarly, cable internet while a lot faster than cable is far from being the fastest option available on the market. But these two types of technologies are still prevalent in the United States because of their ease of access. Because they rely on the existing infrastructure of cable and phone lines. On the other hand, fiber internet literally transfers at the speed of light but is not as expansive as the last two.
Satellite internet does not require the establishment of pricey ground-based infrastructure. Instead, in the case of GEO satellites, relies on a couple of behemoths to supply internet to the entire globe. So, if you are living in a remote area, satellite internet might be your most efficient or even only choice. Satellite internet has its own pitfalls like high ping and latency, but more on those later.
For now, let’s move on to the next factor you should keep in mind while deciding on an internet connection.
DATA CAPS, OVERAGES & CONTRACTS
Most ISPs place limits on the amount of data you can use in a single month. And if you blow past these limits before the deadline you will either be charged exorbitant amounts for extra data or will have to suffer from downgraded internet speeds.
So, before deciding on an internet connection assess the amount of data you require in a month and curate your packages accordingly.
Overages are not the only form of hidden charges ISPs enforce. You might have to pay rent on the equipment or have to pay up chunks of cash as installation charges. Moreover, most providers require you to make yearly commitments before getting an internet connection and you might have to pay penalties if you choose to discontinue their services before that time, this also adds up to your overall internet expenditure in the United States.
So, keep an eye on the fine print before entering into a contract with an ISP.
OUR TOP PICKS
Now that we have listed down some of the main aspects you should keep in mind while deciding on a service provider here are some firms we have short-listed for you.
Spectrum Internet is one of the most established and expansive services in the United States. The provider enjoys a consumer base ranging in the Millions and there are several good reasons for this popularity.
- Spectrum’s internet packages strike the best balance between price, reliability, and internet speed.
- The provider merges a vast network of cables and fiber optics to provide Gig internet to satisfied customers in over 40 U.S. states.
- Spectrum offers flexible connectivity and does not require you to sign long-term contracts in some cases.
- One of the top qualities of Spectrum is that it does not limit its customers by imposing data usage caps on them.
- While Spectrum does charge a reasonable installation fee, everything else is virtually free of charge. The provider gives out free modems which have a going rent of $20-$40 in the market.
If you have moved to a remote locality in the United States and do not have ready access to cable or fiber internet, do not resort to getting a DSL connection. DSL connections will frustrate your attempts at performing any meaningful activity online. Instead, a better choice would be getting a satellite connection like the one provided by HughesNet Internet. The provider offers
- Speeds ranging up to 100 Mbps, which are reasonable for a satellite-based internet.
- The provider covers vast swathes of territory in the continental United States so there will be no issues of availability.
- The provider is cheaper when compared to other satellite internet providers like Starlink and in some cases even DSL connections.
- The provider also offers several packages that do not place usage limits on clients.
Xfinity Internet is owned by Comcast, which is one of the biggest communications conglomerates in the United States. The provider offers holistic communication services including phone, cable, internet, and even home security, and boasts Millions of clients in the United States.
- One of the biggest advantages of being backed up by a giant corporation is that Xfinity offers premium customer support 24/7 all around the year. So, if you are a Xfinity customer you will never be left alone if the service experiences downtime.
- The service offers above-market internet speeds at market-competitive prices. So, once you subscribe expect to get more for less.
- Xfinity users also have access to a wide nationwide network of mobile routers that allow you to carry your home Wi-Fi with, you wherever you are.
When it comes to ISPs operating in the United States, Starlink is the new kid on the block. But the service, owned by Billionaire Elon Musk, has been able to revolutionize satellite internet technology in the United States and quickly gaining popularity among remote workers and high-end clientele. Because despite being on the pricier end, Starlink
- Offers very low latency satellite internet. Unlike other Satellite internet providers, Starlink relies on a constellation of Low Earth Orbiting satellites which is why the internet signal does not need significant time to travel back and forth from the source to the dish.
Moving to a new country can be a daunting task. And while we are sure you will take out the time to think about more pressing issues like residence and employment before you make the big shift, smaller needs like the Internet should not be ignored either.
This write-up aims to guide Indian immigrants to the United States on how to get a proper internet service for themselves so that they can properly integrate into the country’s hyper-digital economy.
This article was written in cooperation with Spectrum Internet