Saturday, December 26, 2009

Purchasing a vehicle (useful tips for foreign expat)

Buying a vehicle can be very tedious task for you and your family. It took three weeks (from researching to purchasing) before getting a car. Purchasing a vehicle is totally different culture for us here. As I said before, we are NOT allowed to bargain in the States. The car pricing is fixed by the dealers. Every shop dealer offers different car pricing. You have to call and get the quotations from all the dealers in your neighbourhood before finalising the model and dealer you want. Bear in mind, the car insurance package is not included in the car pricing. You need to search and purchase the car insurance from the insurance companies. Again, there are many insurance companies in the market hence you need to compare the quotations before making your final decision.

Purchasing a vehicle in the States is similarly buying your vegetable in the supermarket. The new and used vehicles are available in the showrooms. All you have to do is to search for your favourite car, make downpayment and pick up the car once all the payment have been finalized. If you are a new resident in California without the history of Credit Score, it would be difficult for you to apply for bank loan. Thus, you need to purchase the car with full payment in cash.

Apart from that, all the drivers must be insurred when they are driving on the roads. This is the main criteria ruling from California Department of Motoring. Thus, you need to include all of your family members (who have California driving licenses) in the car insurance. If the driver is being caught without being insurred while driving, the driver and the car owner will face heavy penality which is losing their privilege. Their driving licenses will be revoked.

Hope this will help you...

Spending my Christmas at Reed Street Dog Park

Yes, it is true. We had no where to go on Christmas Day since most of the shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and fast food chains were closed on the festive season. Thus, we decided to spend our Christmas with Baby and Max at the dog park. After spending much time searching on the internet, we managed to find the nearest dog park which took us about 15 minutes drive (about 7 miles from our home). It is known as Reed Street Dog Park.

This was our first time to the dog park so we brought along the basic necessity for the dogs such as a water bottle and some "poo poo" bags in case for the emergency purpose. When we reached there, we were surprised to see the cleanliness of the park which was fully equipped with water in the bowls and "poo poo" bags for the dogs. In order to keep the park, all the dog owners have to be responsible for their dogs. The owners have to pick up and throw the poo poo bags in the bins.

Never judge the book by its cover... This bulldog looks fierce but he is a very friendly dog. He came licking my face till I fall down ... lol

These dogs were friendly too.. They came to the entrance gate to greet us :)
Max (in an orange jacket) had a great fun after being chased by his friend.

This time, they were playing police and thief ... don't you think so?

Our pampered princess, Baby prefers to stay with mummy and daddy. As usual, she doesn't like socializing with dogs but prefers to play with cats, squirrels or insects.. Weird .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moving to permanent home (useful tips for foreign expat)

I was busy for the past few weeks due to home moving. We were moving to a small and decent apartment with one bedroom at the estimated size of 600sq. feet. Yes, the apartment is small but that's what we can afford to rent currently. The property in California is very expensive. The rental for one bedroom apartment starting at US$1,200 per month. We manage to rent at US$1,285 per month which is within our budget. It is partial furnished apartment which equipped with stove, microwave, cabinets and refrigerator in the kitchen. That's Great! It makes my life easier to cook.

There is a crucial learning to my life here. We are not allowed to bargain. All the rulings are fixed and same goes to the rental costs and deposits of the apartment which are fixed by the Management. The rates can be varied from weekly to seasons due to demand/supply market. Also, there is monthly rental charges for pets too. The rate ranges between US$35 to US$50 per pet per month while the deposit would be US$500 per pet apart from home deposit. If you are a new resident without the history of Credit Score, you would require to pay higher home deposits. On top of that, you also need to pay the utilities such as electricity, water, trash, gas and sewage.

As a new tenant, you need to be honest with the Management before signing the rental contract. Any contract breach will affect on your credibility and credit scores if you are renewing the contract or moving to a new place in the future. Bear in mind, the new Management may contact your previous Management to check on your history records before renting the premise to you.

Here are some tips if you are looking for an apartment.

1. Find out your affordable budget for renting. The more amenities you enquire, the higher rental cost it is.
2. Take your time to scout around the apartments. Finalise the top 2-3 apartments that you like and make comparisons before signing the rental contract. Also, find out some reviews/comments of the apartment from the previous and existing tenants. You do not want being regret renting an apartment due to poor management and poor security.
3. An apartment with one bedroom can be occupied by 2 adults with a child only. You may consider renting 2-3 bedrooms if there are more than 2 adults in the family. The Management requests for ID photos and particulars of all the family members which will be listed as the residents in the rental contract. Heavy penalities/rental charges will be incurred to the tenant for the non-listed occupants in the unit.
4. Most of the Managements prefer to lease the apartments for one year basis. Once you have signed the contract, you must fulfill the renting for 12-months otherwise, you need to pay the remaining rentals or looking for a new tenant to take over the unit, depending on your contract.
5. Most of the apartments are equipped with full kitchen set. The lighting are available at kitchen and toilet only. Microwave is an optional. Some apartments do and some don't. Thus, you still need to get some lighting for the living hall and bedrooms besides the basic furniture.
6. Home insurance is not included in the rental contract. As a tenant, you need to purchase the package and provide the necessary information of your home insurance to the Management before moving in. Besides that, you also need to set-up utilities, phone line and internet accounts by yourself before moving in too. (additional tips)

Hope this will help.