My wife and I made a trip to Scottsdale for the past week to sort out housing, schools and banking.
Well, one thing we must thank God is our entry through US immigration. Even before our VISA got approved, we planned this trip because this week was PSLE marking, so there was no school, so no worries about sending and picking up of my daughter.
My son only had one GCE 'O' science practical paper, anyway he can take care of himself just for that one day.
Anyway, before our trip we read in some forums that non-immigrant VISA can only enter the US 10 days prior to the start of the validity of the VISA. But some forums said that only certain VISA had this rule, and our VISA is not one of them.
From the moment we arrived, God was certainly working his miracles, we were asked only 2-3 questions, very simple one, like was is your position in the company, VISA expiry date, what kind of VISA you have.... it was smooth.
On the 2nd day we had a rental car arranged by the company, and they were to pick us up at 8:30am, but no one showed up, I called them and said that they didn't have anyone available to pick us up. So, we patiently waited, and called many times, still the same answer, we finally pickup the rental at 11:30am. A total waste of the whole morning. I thought this cannot be how the day was going to be.
Anyway, I went into the office, met up with HR, and my boss, and gave both of them Sugee Cookies... you could see the smile on their faces. That was good, at least someone was happy.
So, we decided, just go to the schools and the potential apartments in the area for rental, just to see whether we like it. Important that my wife likes it, because she needs to be comfortable as she would be spending the most time at home, and moving the kids around.
So Monday was kind of slow. But on Tue, we managed to see 2 apartments that the company arranged for our temporary housing. This would be a 2-3 months thing while waiting for our household items to be shipped over.
We like the apartment "The Tradition" because it had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and it was facing the golf course, and quiet. It was also near the mall, so convenience with food. And it was the only unit available. We contacted the agent, and got both of them talking. Great!
We made our way to the schools, first it was the public school, but was told that they could not admit both our kids because open enrollment starts in Dec for Jan 2011 intake. But we won't disappointed because that would be good as we will be already settled in late Nov.
We also wanted to try the charter school, so we made our way over to Scottsdale Preparatory, but we were late, and the office was closed we thought... However, when we were about to leave, we saw a couple of people going in, so my wife said, just go over and see if anyone can help us.
To our surprise, the person that attended to us was the Headmaster of the school. We explained our situation, and she was willing to consider admitting my son for Jan 2011 even though all applications have been closed. So, we'll pray for this opening.
Because once my son gets in, my daughter would've priority.
OK, seems to be a good day, so, the next day we decided we should go sort out Social Security, and banking. Well it's like a chain, no SSN, no banking, no driving, etc.
I've had a SSN during my college days, so no problem for me, its just a replacement. But for my wife, we were not sure. Usually dependents are not issued SSN. And with our VISA, again it was not clear. But we knew the good Lord is at work, I got all the forms completed, and we were down at the SSA office.
Mine went through smoothly, and went it came to my wife's application they asked for our marriage cert, somehow, I only brought the copy, after some searching, the officer said, it's ok, the copy is fine. PTL!
With the SSN done, we proceed to the bank, again pretty smooth. So, the day was over, and things went well. I got my direct payment forms over to HR, and the SSN as well.
Then we thought, just try setting up a remittance account online, we were told by the bank that it was not an issue remitting money to Singapore. But to our surprise Singapore was not listed. I was upset, sent an email to the Branch Manager. Didn't hear from her, so I just gave her some time.
The next day, we were told that the apartment we liked has been taken, but another unit came up, but it was the ground floor. Anyway, we were not picky, so went over to the apartments leasing office and requested to see it. But to our surprise, the original unit became available again. This time we said to the leasing agent, please confirm this for us.
On our last day of the trip, we got a confirmation that the apartment has been secured. At SFO airport, I got a call from the agent, we reiterated our interest to her and have it settled with our HR for payments to be arranged.
I called the bank, and managed to speak to the branch manager, she did not read her email, and became very apologetic after telling her that we want to close the account. She decided that she would wave the fees (US$30) for wire transfers to Singapore, they wanted to keep us as customers. I thought this is a good gesture, we'll decide when I'm back there again on Nov 4.
Yes, another trip, but this time for work.