Kaitao Li had to conduct his home search before his wife moved from China to the United States, sending her pictures and giving her his impression about the choices as they decided.
Li came to the United States in 2009 to earn his doctorate. He was living with roommates in an apartment. Li’s wife, Wanrui Zhang, planned to join him in the U.S. in 2012, so he had to make a choice between renting or buying. Li noticed that Americans in his age bracket — the 20s — were choosing to rent, while young professionals in China tended to buy a home and settle down after getting a job. “I think here people are moving a lot from this side of town to another side, or from this city to another,” he said.
After attending home shows and doing online research about the housing market and homes in his budget, he decided to give purchasing in America a try, he said.
Putting down roots
The couple worked with Linda A. Brown of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage to find a home under $100,000 inside the Perimeter. “We just wanted to buy a small one,” Li said. “It was at the bottom of the market and good timing for the buyers.”
The choices were limited, but Li found a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhome built in 2001 in Scottdale’s Lantern Ridge neighborhood. The DeKalb County home was more impressive than the pictures online showed. “The decorations from the owner were great. We liked the color. We liked the design,” he said.
The only thing he needed to change was a malfunctioning food disposal. The morning he moved in, Li picked up his wife at the airport in the afternoon.
If moving from another country, find a real estate agent who can educate you about American culture and the homebuying process, Li said. “I’m a foreigner. I’m not familiar with the American culture. English is not my native language, but we communicated very well. (Brown) listened to me and answered all my questions, no matter how naive it was,” he said. “If you just move here, from other countries, probably you’re not familiar with the environment. A good buyer’s agent can introduce you about the area and important aspects of this home you’re looking at.”
Newcomer Living is a new feature that appears regularly in Homefinder. If you moved to Atlanta and bought a residence in 2013 and are willing to share your story, contact Lori Johnston at email@example.com.