Moving from one country to another can be tough. This is harder when you have lived some of your adult life in a different country, or/and when you move to the new country alone. There is a bit of a cultural shock, especially when the two countries are on different levels (such as a first world and a third world country). When moving from a different country to the United States, you would experience some cultural shock and notice a different way of life such as:
1) There is Tax for everything: In most countries in Africa, you only pay tax on your monthly salary. This is usually just a federal tax, and it is not a very high percentage. In the United States, you pay the federal, state and local tax. You also pay for Medicare and social security. In addition, if you have a house/property, there is property tax paid in addition to the mortgage fees. The everyday life of most residents of the United States involves taxes, as you pay tax to purchase goods. Yes, to buy groceries, go food shopping or buy needed items you have to pay tax on those purchases. Robert Kiyosaki mentions in his book that the middle class are taxed to pay for the poor. This is true, because an average American pays about 40% tax in total (federal, state, local, Medicare, social security, sales, capital gains). After arriving in the USA, this was a big shock to me because I was used to having 100% of what I worked for. I had to learn to adjust to the new culture I found myself in.
2) Rent is expensive: Are you used to a yearly payment of about $1000 or less in your country? Sorry to break this to you but in the states, that amount is for only a month of rent. Also before you are approved for an apartment, you have to be making about thrice the rent of that apartment. This means that if your rent is $1000 a month, you have to be making about $3000 a month.
3) Debt: Debts are a huge part of American culture. It is normal to hear someone say “I am $30,000 in debt.” This is usually from student loans, medical bills, credit card loans etc. It is usual to get loans to purchase items of daily use like a vehicle, laptop or even phones. This brings me to my next point of credit cards.
4) Credit Cards: A credit card is like a loan. It is a financial card with a certain amount in it which you can use as yours. The catch with credit cards however is that you don’t own the money on it. At the end of each month, you should pay your credit card in full or you get charged on interest. Credit cards are good ways of building your credit score, which is like your social status score as an adult. A lot of people however fall into the hole of using a credit card without paying it off. This accrues interest rates and at the same time hurts your credit score. It is good to pay off your credit card at the end of every month.
It is important to know about a country if you have plans to move there. There are other cultural shocks you would experience after arriving in the United States which I have outlined in the second part of this article. Are you interested in studying in the United States, or are you an incoming freshman in a US college? Do you love stories on financial growth or fiction? Be sure to check out my Instagram, YouTube and website where I document my experiences.