Five Quick Tips for Expats Relocating to South Carolina
It’s no secret that Upstate South Carolina is a large magnet to various manufacturing industries and with this, a continual influx of foreign investment bringing talented people relocating from countries worldwide. A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a new resident who had recently moved to the Upstate as part of an international relocation. This family had many questions about getting settled here, doing research trying to find an appropriate place to live that suited their needs. They had not been given funds to help with the settlement piece of the relocation, and by the time they reached out to me, they were in frustrating circumstances. On top of the learning curve of being in a new country and figuring out things on their own, they had not yet built a credit file in the United States which they felt limited their choices and opportunity. They weren’t sure how to move forward and needed advice. I could sense their anxiety through email.
Occasionally, I talk with other families in similar predicaments. People want to make the best choices for their individual lifestyles. As newcomers navigate the relocation process, there are a few suggestions that may assist with often overlooked details beyond the shipment of goods and basic HR compliance.
1. Come with an open mind. Be willing to overlook any negative threads on the internet. Hospitality is as important here as it is anywhere else in the world. Know that you are coming to one of the friendliest places in America. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get advice. People love to be helpful.
2. Upon arriving, it's important to engage with locals. Friendliness begets friendliness. A relocation can feel isolating initially, and spouses and significant others can feel left out. Upstate International is a great place to start. Visit www.upstateinternational.org for more information about this non-profit that offers language lessons, hosts events, activities, and educational opportunities for business leaders, and often hosts well-known speakers.
3. Housing is a crucial component of a relocation. Well in advance of a relocation, connect with a relocation specialist. A licensed agent may be necessary to gain access to properties listed for rent or sale in the Multiple Listing Service. A qualified relocation specialist can give support throughout the settling-in process, even if you are using a national search engine to search for housing. Relocation Specialists may be prepared to give a tour, point out highlights of the area, offer advice, explain about schools, and give important links helpful with relocation research. Don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions from others. There may be Facebook groups for people who speak specific languages and desire to make connections.
4. If you prefer to buy a house yet don’t have an established credit file, there are institutions that offer options for employees coming from outside the USA. MTC Federal Credit Union is one that has helped many internationals buy property in the Upstate. Sharon Snyder is a great resource.
5. For business owners and leaders, the Chamber of Commerce is a great place to learn more about commerce in the Upstate. It's also a great place to network, meet others in the business community, and strategize ways to move your business forward in the Upstate. www.greenvillechamber.org.
Lisa Rourk, Real Estate Broker and Greenville SC native
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