I am 20, currently in Australia planning to travel to California next year. I am eligible for a B2 tourist visa. My intended travel time is one year. I have the finances to sustain this travel period. Who is the best person to contact with regards to all my inquiries?
Leasing/ renting a car, can I, how do I go about it?
Buying a car, can I, how do I go about it?
Shipping a car, can I, how do I go about it? can i do this on my visa?
What’s the best option?
Do I need a Drivers licence, can I get one, and how do I go about it?
Registration and insurance is needed if I have a car, Can I get it, how?
Can I get a US dollar Bank account to avoid losing money through conversation rates?
What’s the best money access?
Wow--what a lot of questions in one post.
Okay, I'll answer the ones I know about and leave the others for different posters.
Leasing/renting a car---first, all the major rental car companies normally want you to be 25 to rent a car--or else they charge a surcharge--and then there is another surcharge for those under 21. I suggest going to a site like "supercheapcar" or West Rent-a-car who specialize in renting to the younger crowd.
Buying a car--no problem--but you have to have a drivers license first--so get that on your first day in the country--and then show your passport when they tell you that your drivers license has no picture. I also suggest getting a "International Drivers license" in Australia before coming here.)
Getting a drivers license.--Presuming that you are coming from Australia, you will probably arrive in California first--and you have to go to a California Department of Motor Vehicles office to get a drivers license. Pick one in a smaller town--not in a big city. The ones in the big cities will have you waiting for 6-7 hours to get a license (not how you want to spend your first day or two in the country).
Shipping a car--I have no idea. I expect shipping a car from California to Australia would cost you a fortune--probably twice the cost of a car--so why would you do that anyway?
You can get car insurance when you rent the car. It's pricey--but not as pricey as getting in an accident and not having insurance. Once you have your own car, then you buy insuance from any insurance agent. Use an insurance website to find a qualified agent. For young drivers, the best insurance agencies here tend to be Mercury, Progressive, GEICO, or State Farm. Farmers and Allstate are other options--but are mostly for older people.
Opening a bank account--this is why you need a passport and US drivers license. Generally you need some kind of 2nd ID with a picture (it takes weeks to get a California drivers license with your picture--so bring a second ID with a picture besides your passport). Something like a college ID or a work ID is probably best. Other than that, you only need about $100 to open a bank account.
If you don't want to go through the hassle of the poor exchange rates when you first get here, just bring a credit card like American Express--and they won't charge you any large exchange fees, since they want you to use their charge for purchases (they get like 6% from each vendor where you used the credit card.) You can do this until you get the drivers license and bank account going.
Best money access--debit cards and ATMs. Once you get a debit card, you can use it anywhere--and I do mean anywhere--grocery stores, gasoline stations, banks, ATM machines, retail stores, even at sporting events. You can buy groceries at the local grocery store--and then ask them to give you extra money back from your account when they charge the card for what you are buying. I'm sure its pretty much the same in Australia;--but maybe not.
Enjoy your time here.
Thanks so much for the help