Tips about New York

Restaurants

NYC restaurants’ notation: what you should know!

You might or might not yet have seen in the restaurant front letters such as « A », « B » or « C ». It is not simply letters they do give information on the cleanliness and health of the restaurant. This notation system has been set up because, every year, 10 000 persons were intoxicated and thousands hospitalized. 

This notation is given by the Health department of NYC according to the degree of the violation committed:

  • Jeopardize public health such as bad preservation of the food ( 7 pts of penalty). If the violation can’t be fixed before the end of the inspection, the health department can close the restaurant until the problem is solved.
  • Critical violation, such as serving raw food as a salad without properly washing it before, can lead to at least 5 pts of penalty
  • General violation such as not properly disinfected kitchen utensils can lead to at least 2pts of penalty
  • In case of another problem inspector can give supplementary points from 1 to 5

It corresponds to points given by this department to the restaurant:

  • 0-13 pts: A (Best)
  • 14-27 pts: B (middle)
  • 28 + pts: C (worst)

 

Telephone

Tricky question: Take or not take a US phone number when you arrive in the US.

The first thing to know is that the price of a phone package is much more expensive than in France. There are 4 main companies that provide mobile phone service: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint. To have unlimited calls, unlimited texts and some data (5Go), you can at least prepare yourself to pay 35$ per month. The price rises with the amount of data you want. But keep calm, here is some advice to pay (a little) less.

A good thing to do is to see if you know other people leaving with you and then buy a family pack together. Those packs are more affordable than a single line and it is possible to have up to 6 lines in a single pack. AT&T and T-Mobile have some good offers for the families. The price will actually change in function of the number of people on the pack. The more is the less!

But if you are alone, a good deal is the “J1 Simcard”. A product designed especially for the people with a J1 Visa. 25$ per month for unlimited text and call, with 2Go of data. The service is provided by T-Mobile, so no problem of connection.

BUT! Two things that you should be aware of.

  1. The first is that not all the mobile phones are compatible with the American 4G/LTE. For example, you can’t have access to the LTE network (4G) of AT&T with an Iphone 7. It may change in the coming months but be sure to check before you arrive in the US.
  2. The second thing is that a phone number is not an absolute necessity. There is WIFI everywhere in New York and it’s free 90% of the time. You can access free WIFI in every subway station or in every Starbuck coffee. And trust me, there are Starbucks at every corner of every street in NY. The same goes for Dunkin Donuts. The moment you need the most a phone number is when you are looking for an apartment. Otherwise, you can use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for other purpose.

 

US BANK ACCOUNT

The bank account opening is more than helpful during your stay in New York city. We are going to explain why you would need to open a US account and then we will tell you how to do.

By opening a US bank account, you won’t have any payment fees when you pay by credit/debit card in any shops or restaurants. Besides, with a US credit/debit card, you are not subjected to any withdrawal fees. On the contrary with a non US bank account (even with a visa card) you cannot cut withdrawal fees even if you made a partnership with your bank. But if you choose that, it is important to budget your expenses and withdraw an important amount each month or every two weeks because the fees are regular. Having a US bank account is also useful for your monthly rent. Of course you can choose to pay it by cash every month because none of the landlords in NY will decline some cash, but for the sake of safety and traceability it’s better to make a wire transfer. Some landlords do not accept a non US wire transfer (same for the check) and at this time it becomes necessary to open a US account if you don’t want to pay by cash.

Let’s see now how you can open a US bank account. In the US you will find several banks like the Chase, Bank of America (BoA), Santander Bank, HSBC, Citi group, the Apple Bank; we chose BoA to explain how simple it is to create your account.

If you want to open a US account while reducing as much as possible your fees, you have to choose the Regular savings account. Do not forget to mention during your interview you are under 23 because you are eligible for a waiver and you’re not subjected to pay the monthly maintenance fee ($12). You will have a US bank account and your debit card as soon as you leave the bank. This will cost you nothing, just a deposit will be required for the opening. You will have fees in only two cases: when you will receive a wire transfer from a non US bank and when you will make a wire transfer, for example $3 if you pay your monthly rent to your landlord who doesn’t have a BoA account. These fees don’t represent an important amount and cannot be reduced in any cases because it is due to exchange rate and service charge.

You can obviously take into account what your bank in France can offer you before your travel.

 

 

 

 

(By Louis Morante and Emma Guez)

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