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What Do You Need to Know If You’re Moving to America?

(Photo: Tim Pearce)

Redditor Sammod123 is moving to the United States from the United Kingdom. He asks his fellow redditors what he needs to know about the place.

I have not travelled abroad widely, nor recently, but I can think of two things right away:

  • Tipping. There are some people that you should tip unless you get bad service: waiters, cabbies, pizza delivery drivers. There are people that you don’t tip: teachers, librarians, your future mother-in-law. The amount varies, but 15% is probably fine. When in doubt, ask a few Americans.
  • Cars. Unless you live in a very large city, you’ll need one. If you want to get out and see the country beyond these cities, you will definitely need one.

Several redditors mention sales tax. Most of the goods that you purchase will have an additional charge at the register, usually about 4-10%, depending on the locality. We Americans are used to just mentally calculating it as we shop.

Neatoramanauts, what would you add?


Just a tidbit: the location of the plaque in the photo (Belle Fourche, South Dakota) is pronounced 'Bell Foosh'. Also, Pierre (the capital of SoDak) is pronounced 'Peer'. Gotta love Americanized French place names.
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Speaking of tipping, I learned a long time ago to tip the valet parking attendant 15% of the current value of my car... which for me, was usually pocket change.
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1. Flick light switches up for "on", not down.
2. We are dead serious about driving laws. Tickets are part of municipal income.
3. A $10 martini will have three times the alcohol.
4. When a map shows a hiking trail, there will be a real trail, not a poorly marked series of stiles.
5. Contrary to popular myth, restaurant food portions will be much smaller.
6. While I am on the subject of drinking, beer will have twice the alcohol.
7. The food selection will be greatly increased. Try everything. (Except the fish and chips. You will be greatly disappointed.)
8. The only kitchen appliance you will know how to use is the dishwasher. Ask for help.
9. Our Internet speeds are crap. Get used to it. Nothing to be done.
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Three hundred million guns. Most are in the hands of people who won't shoot you.
We refer to colleagues by their first names.
The steering wheel is on the correct side.
If you want to bypass the legal immigration process, start in Latin America.
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You're expected to hold the door open others, except if they're far away that your act of holding the door open would make them hurry up to be polite. But you're not expected to hold the door open and let them in first - you can hold the door open, walk in, and stretch backward and let the door close slightly ... but not all the way.

If another person holds the door open for you, you're expected to say "thanks."
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I posted some information about tipping as a response to a reply to a comment above (belonging to Erin Sullivan). Although written in response to someone's ignorance, I think it would be helpful to read.
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