Newcomer's Guide

Fires and Carbon Monoxide
A smoke alarm is a battery powered device that produces a loud piercing noise if it detects any smoke in a house or apartment. Every house or apartment should have at least one smoke alarm on every floor. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless toxic gas. High levels of CO can be fatal. Every home should be fitted with at least one CO detector.
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Utilities
Water and Electricity: For water and electricity utilities, you must register with the City of Austin. Be sure to bring a passport and a security deposit when you go to register. Most apartment complexes require that you register for utilities before they will authorize your lease.
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Electrical Outlets
There are two basic standards for voltage and frequency in the world. One is the North American standard of 120 volts at a frequency of 60 Hz, and the other is the European standard of 220–240 volts at 50 Hz. If you have European electrical appliances then you will need a converter in order to charge or operate them in the U.S. The link below outlines the various standards of voltage and frequency for each country. http://www.voltagevalet.com/elec_guide.html
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Phones/Mobile Phones
There are a number of mobile phone companies in the U.S. Typically a person can set up a pre-paid plan or enter a 6 or 12 month contract with a mobile phone service provider. Each company offers different rates and plans. Be sure to pick the one that best suits you (i.e. international calls) before committing to any. For a detailed review on all the mobile phone companies in the U.S. please follow the link below. This may give you a better indication of what service provider is best for you. http://cell-phone-providers-review.toptenreviews.com/
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Food Shopping
There is no shortage of grocery stores here in Austin from the massive chain stores to small family owned and operated Austin stores. Listed below are the major supermarkets here in Austin and where to find them. • H.E.B.: http://www.heb.com/index.jsp • Walmart: http://www.walmart.com/storeLocator/ca_storefinder_details_short.do?edit_object_id=2133 • Target: http://www.target.com/store-locator/state-result?stateCode=TX • Randalls: http://www.randalls.com/IFL/Grocery/Home • Whole Foods: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/ • Fiesta: This store has food products from all over the world. http://www.fiestamart.com/about-fiesta/store-locator/ .The link below specifies where to find locally grown foods and products at local Farmer's Markets and when they take place. http://texasfarmersmarket.org/
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Pets
One thing you will notice quickly about life in the U.S. is just how important a person's pet is. It is not uncommon to see pets brought into bars or onto public transportation. However there are a number of laws that must be adhered to for pet owners such as rabies vaccinations or keeping your pet restrained in public. The link below briefly touches on all the laws you need to be aware of for pet owners. http://centuryanimalhospital.com/site/view/220814_LawsforYouandYourPetinAustinTX.pml If you are looking for a pet be sure to check out animal rescue centers. Austin Animal Center, the largest municipal animal shelter in Central Texas, provides shelter to 23,000 animals annually and services to Austin/Travis County. This facility accepts stray and owned animals regardless of age, health, species or breed. See below for more information. http://austintexas.gov/department/animal-services
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City Information Hotline
For any information about Austin we strongly recommend that you call the City Information Hotline. You can do this by simply dialing 311 from any Austin phone. You will be able to speak to dedicated and experienced personnel who will try to answer any questions you may have about living in Austin.
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Moving Tips
Here are some things to know before moving to Austin that will help you when considering moving to Austin: 1. Contact a few Austin moving companies before you make the move. If you’re shipping your entire household across the country, check the prices with different relocating companies. 2. You may need to put some of your belongings in storage before you move into your new home. In this case you should get many quotes before making a decision on a storage utility. If you’re putting furniture into storage, make sure you have movers that you trust. Expensive tables, lamps, and couches may be damaged in the hands of unprofessional movers. 3. Since you’re most likely moving from somewhere else in the country, you won’t have to worry about transporting vehicles. Pack your car with precious items in the household, like laptops and other personal belongings. 4. Finally we may agree that, Austin is sunny, warm, and full of opportunities. However, before you take the plunge into the Austin lifestyle, make sure you have a job nailed down and resources at your fingertips. Save some cash ahead of time and use the online resources to connect with people and business in Austin city. After you’ve gotten settled, you’ll be happy with your choice to settle down in the Lone Star State. These tips were taken from http://www.mymovingreviews.com/move/austin-moving-guide
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International Shipping
Shipping overseas can be very expensive. The best way to find the most affordable deal is to go through each shipping company's website and see which one is offering the least expensive service. See below for a list of the shipping companies in the Austin area. A2 Global Shipping: 4109 Todd Ln #70g Austin (512) 518-6741 Navis Pack & Ship: 9232 Research Blvd Austin (512) 634-8120 PostNet: 3571 Far W Blvd Austin (512) 231-1321 US Post Office: 3903 S Congress Ave Austin (512) 441-6603 WEST LAKE MAIL: 3736 Bee Cave Rd #1 West Lake Hills (512) 328-3062 DHL Express: 9401 Cargo Ave Austin (512) 389-0611 BONVU.COM: 4509 Hudson Bend Rd Austin (512) 351-1588
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Finding Apartments
Once you find what you are looking for, the HOLDING DEPOSIT secures your rental unit until move-in. This deposit is refundable until your application is approved and is included in your total move-in cost. The SECURITY DEPOSIT is a refundable deposit returned to you after move-out, less any charges for damages. Deposit fees may be based on credit and rental history, but are not to exceed 1 and 1/2 month's rent. Private rentals (houses, condos, town homes, & duplexes) may charge deposit equal to 1 month’s rent. The APPLICATION FEE is a non-refundable fee charged when you submit your completed rental application. The average fee is $25 to $50 per person and covers the cost of processing your application, including a credit check, and often a criminal background check. Applications can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 72 hours to process for approval. The time it takes to process an application varies depending on many factors. The easiest way to complete the process quickly is to provide all of the information the application requires in a timely manner. The ADMINISTRATION/REDECORATION FEE is a non-refundable fee (also called a cleaning or preparation fee) that is applied to the cost of cleaning and redecorating the rental. For apartments and homes, average fees are typically $50 to $200 depending upon the policies of each management company. Some management companies do not charge an Administration fee, however it is a practice that is becoming more typical than not. More information can be found here: http://www.austinaalocators.com/index.html
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Videos for newcomers
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