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Seven years after moving to the US from the Philippines, we are finally buying our own home! It’s been quite the journey. Charina and I just rented apartments in the Philippines so this is our first time buying such an expensive building!

There are several challenges though! Interest rates are going up, the housing market is crazy, and we cannot afford homes in the Nashville area! We’re definitely priced out!

But we’re doing it anyway.

I will share with you things we did to prepare for this process.

Your preparations and stress paid off! You got your US visa; you’ve booked your flight; and you are moving to the United States for real! This is it!

But wait just a minute!

Before you start packing, you need to plan for these 5 things right after you land in America! Save this article or print it out because I will provide some practical steps that you can follow. If you have any question, feel free to comment below or message me at cluelessintheus@gmail.com.

Unless you live in huge cities such as New York, Atlanta, or Los Angeles, you will need a car to move around in the USA. But it doesn’t need to be brand new!

If you want to save thousands of dollars, buy a used car! Read on find how much I saved and how you, too, can save a lot of money!

Why You (Most) People Buy a Brand New Car

Let’s face it. People want the smell of a new car. You open up the door, sit down and the smell of success hits you. Buying a new car makes you feel like you’re a big time! That you’ve made it. And you can move around in style! Different brands have different reputations, too! A BMW or Mercedes Benz will turn people’s heads and will give you a reputation that you’re either a big shot, or on the way there.

With new cars, you should also have fewer headaches with maintenance problems. The conventional wisdom says that since the car just rolled off from the lot, if you maintain it properly, it should last for a long, long time!

Why It’s Better to Buy a Used Car

I have crossed paths with Pastor Kevin Sanders in the Philippines before we moved to the United States in 2015. He was a missionary and worked with youth and students in Manila and in Pampanga. He has lived in the Philippines for a total of 11 years! He can also understand and speak Tagalog.

In this interview, Kuya Kevin and I talk about many things:

  • his experience as an American missionary in the Philippines;
  • how he met his wife in the Philippines, got married, and moved back to the US;
  • what he has learned after being married to a Filipina;
  • what it is like becoming a father, and raising a biracial kid; and
  • some nuances and corrections about perceptions on American family culture, as well as some challenges he has seen among families of overseas Filipinos.

Almost a year ago, I sat down virtually with Pastor Melvin Guerrero, who moved to the USA a year before I did. We talked about the challenges of adjusting to a new life in the US, raising kids, fitness, and how they dealt with two miscarriages.

Watch our full conversation below on YouTube. If you prefer the audio version, continue scrolling down and listen via SoundCloud.com.

I have known Pastor Melvin Guerrero back in the Philippines because we both belong to the United Methodist Church. He moved to Jacksonville, FL in the USA in 2014 with his wife and kids. He also came on an R1 visa before becoming a permanent resident.

I planned to post a few interviews with fathers sometime in 2020. But, as with many things lately, life happened! My schedule had severely changed with the coming of our third son, the pandemic, and working from home. A number of personal projects needed to take a backseat. Oh, and I have many stories about managing family life with my wife Cha! Having three young boys is a handful! But those stories need to wait. Thankfully, I found some time recently and now I am posting the first in a series of posts about fatherhood with this interview with Pastor Caloy Diño.

Who is Kuya Caloy Dino?

Kuya Caloy Dino served with several Christian organizations in the Philippines: Far Eastern Broadcasting Company (FEBC), Global Filipino Movement, and at the Center for Community Transformation. Prior to entering full-time ministry, he was a marketing consultant and worked with some of the top companies in the Philippines. He is married and has three kids.

He and I worked together on projects several years ago for Christian radio station FEBC and with other initiatives and social media training for churches and Christian organizations in the Philippines. We also got together regularly with other like-minded folks, sharing stories and ideas on how to make the world a better place.

In this video, we talk about fatherhood and the challenges of raising kids, juggling time for work, ministry, and family. Enjoy!

Moving to the USA feels like restarting your life, but in a foreign land.

Do you remember the first time you rented a room or an apartment in College? How about when you first moved out of your parents’ house to start building your career? Or when you first got married?

In all of these cases, you had to buy almost everything you needed. Sometimes you received gifts and giveaways from your family and friends.

When you first arrive in the USA, you will need to buy a lot of things! A lot!

Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can now order most of your needs online. This is even better for the bigger items such as a sofa or mattress, especially if you don’t have a pickup truck!

Here’s a list of all the things you will need to buy right after you arrive in the USA and secured your first apartment.

Most of the items below are from Amazon.com. If you ever purchase on Amazon, make sure to signup for Amazon Prime membership to enjoy free two-day shipping and other perks.

In March 2015, I received my US R-1 Visa, which allowed me to accept a job offer in the Philippines. If you’re not familiar, R-1 is the visa granted for religious workers to work legally in the USA. Although I am not a pastor, I moved to the USA to take on a job with a religious organization, which is tre church I belong to–The United Methodist Church.

Based on conversations with our organization’s lawyer, and based on my reading of the requirements, I need to wait until I have completed two (2) years of service with my current organization before I could apply for a Green Card.

My official first day of work was May 1, 2015. That meant that the earliest time I could apply for a Green Card is May 1, 2017.

Just to make sure that I would not be a out-of-status in the US, my employer applied for an extension of my R-1 visa. The initial R-1 visa is good for two and a half years, renewable for another 2.5 years for a total of 5 years.

We got the extension but I didn’t apply right away. I got occupied by my responsibilities at work, which is why it took me another year to apply.

Here’s our Green Card timeline

Originally published in July 2019.

I am no stranger to moving to a different house. While I was growing, my father, who was an itinerant preacher, moved from one church to another every 1-3 years.

The longest time we spent at a parsonage (a house assigned to a church’s pastor) was six years. By the time I turned twenty, we have stayed at about 10 houses.

In 2015, my wife and I reduced our belongings, packed the essentials, and moved from Manila, Philippines to Nashville, TN USA as I started a new job.

So I do know about moving and packing things.

We’re saying goodbye to this house in a couple of weeks!