Having lived abroad, I have found that it can be hard for people who haven't lived here to comprehend the SIZE of the US. And the differences in our sub-cultures. I've also lived all over the US...it's amazed me how different it is everywhere! Except Wal Mart. Ugh.
Australia is quite a large country, so maybe the size won't be a surprise to you. But things like university, healthcare, wages, etc., might. Each state is run very differently. If you earn low wages in one state, you may get help from the gov't if they have good social services. The same wages in another state, and you might not qualify for help. Same with education. Some areas are good....others awful.
I would think it would be quite a shock to move here from a country that does help subsidize health care and education costs more.
If you ever decide to visit, and don't want to just do Disney, take a poll here...maybe we can recommend some places to visit that are fun, but lesser known! And also advise what to stay away from, lol!
Target ALL the way!
Americans by in large are GREAT tippers. If you completely suck AND should be fired I still tip 10%. If you are average I tip 20%. And if your excellent I tip 30-50%. When I was in college I delivered pizzas and averaged 8 dollars an hour. Due to inflation that's 15 now. And the cost of living in the south and southwest are great! My last house was 3300 square feet, twenty years old and today is valued at about 200K.
The healthcare aspect IS a major drawback however.
Do not back up. Severe tire damage.
averaged 8 dollars an hour. Due to inflation that's 15 now
Unfortunately in most areas of the country, minimum wage hasn't come close to keeping up with inflation.
Sadmad: I really do, got to save up for quite a bit to do so because, I now realise that
Everywhere is so different
In Australia there is really not much difference (very slight ones between states). The big differences are outback or NT (recommend against NT, a lot of cultural and social problems in some areas) or Tasmania (the little island looking thing off Australia that everyone forgets about)
From what Scardey Kat said about payments where she is... one of those is me and it's more than in my state. Probs would have to do a bridging course though because it's a different country.
I didn't realise that Walmart was so evil and that states were SO different.
But I take solace in the fact although I sound stupid... I had an international student from America start crying to me once...
Me: "What's wrong?"
Her: "I hate this place everyone is too relaxed and no-one ever rides a kangaroo to school!"
Seems like apparently her and her friends thought there were koalas in every tree, kangaroos can be a form of transport and that there were crocodiles.. everywhere. And we all knew how to wrestle them!
We have a Super WalMart fairly close to our house ("Super" meaning also a fully stocked grocery store) and we love it. However, I don't buy everything there and I still go to the local grocery stores.
That's what is great about America, there are lots of CHOICES. :)
bluelady, every time I go to walmart in America, I feel like I should get a hepatitis shot afterwards. Are they like that in Canada?
Not at all. They're still a mega corporation that has destroyed many a mom and pop shop, but they're clean and relatively well organized. I still won't buy food there, though.
Some Canadian cities have limited Walmart's reach, though. I'm not sure on specifics, but I heard that the city of Vancouver only let them build on the outskirts of town and not only do they have to generate their own power, but they have to give back to the grid as well. Vancouverites - true or not true?
I am one of those that feels Wal-mart is an evil necessity. It is evil because it does not pay fair wages and many friends that I have work there and are also on government programs such as food stamps because they cannot afford to raise their family on Wal-marts wages. And I live in a rural area where they did shut down many of the mom and pop stores, which is a shame because you get more personalized service at the mom and pop stores, and if you are a repeat customer, many times the smaller merchants will work with you financially.
It is a necessity though, because in some depressed areas, their merchandise is more affordable and they do employ more people. But I can't say if that is good or bad, because many of the people they are employing are still not making a decent living.
Healthcare can be scary here if you don't have it. If you do not work full-time, your employer is not obligated to have health-care insurance for you, and that can leave you without which means you may not be able to afford to see a doctor until your problem becomes so bad you end up in the hospital. But most hospitals will admit anyone regardless of whether you have health-care or not. If you are poor, they will usually cover the bill or work out a payment plan with you.
College is becoming quite a controversy here these days. Most people agree that a college education is important but it has become more difficult to get a good job after college, and if you take out student loans, they can be hard to pay back. My uncle went to a decent university and was employed in the high end of management and it still took him 25 years to pay his student loan back!
Also, most Americans do understand that tipping is important, but my daughter and ex-mother in law worked as a waitress in fast-food type establishments and the tipping was erratic. Some people tip well and some do not tip at all. My daughter had a large party one time that took up most of her station for almost 2 hours and walked out without tipping her. She ended up in tears but her fellow waiters/waitresses contributed part of their own tips to help her out.
I think you will find positive and negative just like everywhere else, and it just depends on what parts are important to you. But I still think it is wonderful to be able to visit other countries!
In my town, we have...Wal-Mart. It's neat, clean, and one of the better jobs available for unskilled laborers. It did drive out a number of mom and pop business when it arrived about 15 years ago -- but the truth is that I don't miss them, because they were making their wages gouging the living shit out of our older citizens who didn't have the mobility to shop at the next town over. Exploiting the folks on fixed incomes isn't a right, and you should expect to lose when someone comes in who can do it better and for less money.
(Look, I understand the economics of scale and supply-demand. Mom and Pop can't compete with Wal-Mart's distribution method and expect to survive on the margins Wal-Mart makes. Much in the same way that many big box retailers are starting to get their asses handed to them by Amazon and other online corps who don't have the overhead of real estate and brick and mortar locations.)
Now: put Wal-Mart in that "next town over" (city/college presence), and it does suffer compared to Target, Meijer, etc. That town's Wal-Mart has definitely targeted the blue-collar demographic...while the Target is *in* the mall. It's the hot place for college kids to shop on the cheap.
(Wal-Mart isn't even our lowest rung -- that's reserved for Big Lots, which is one of those "hepatitis shots" places. I've heard rumors that not all Big Lots are that way, but I've got no proof of that. The one I've been in is evidence aplenty, and it gives me the skeeves.)
On a related note: Is Kmart still a national brand, or are they purely regional now? We still have one of those locally, but they're definitely a tier below Wal-Mart on the non-skeevy scale. And I don't even know what the fuck to do with Sears anymore. I mean, at least Sears seems nice and clean, but for most things not lawn/garden/tool-related, I can get better prices and quality at Kohl's.
For the record - Sears owns KMart.
"If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment."
- Carlos Santana
I know one business owner who had several partners go out of business by walmart, not just by out pricing them but placing orders that the small biz can't meet without ramping up operations. It looks like a solid idea and they go out on credit to fill the order knowing they have it made, then.. order gets cancelled and they can either eat the debt or get bought out on the cheap. I don't know if that's a corporate practice of if it was local owners doing that but it's Apple-sized douchebaggery business practice. I hated walmart before that anyway.
FWIW, down south the walmarts seem to be cleaner, brighter and staffed by people that don't look like they plan to follow you home and rob you, or are going to pass out in front of your cart and start bleeding from the eyes and anus. The walmart we go to when we visit g_r's parents (since it's that or... nothing) is actually fairly nice and clean and brightly lit and organized. The staff there were pleasant and the emergency medical center in there was a decent experience also. Also, I think the mom & pop stores down there just didn't exist so it was like the super walmart formed a nexus of civilization around which other businesses coalesced.
Actually I feel kind of bad, one time we were there looking for a new swim suit (I don't swim often and I think my last pair was bought in 1923) and we were having a hard time finding anything under a size 46. We found one so huge we each stood in a pant leg giggling. Then somebody rather huge trundled by on a scooter and we shamefacedly hung the swim trunks they stripped off the Giant that fell off the beanstalk back on its rack and moved on.
Minimum wage sucks but that is so tangled in politics it's hard to really look at in a different perspective.