One thing I love about living in the US is how easy it is to get things done here. After nearly one year back in the US, I’m still continuously pleasantly surprised by how convenient and functional everything is. The stores are always open, the customer service is so smooth you barely notice you are parting with your money, things almost always happen when they are supposed to happen, and if not, they’ll make it up to you with a smile, an apology, and a freebie.
One perfect example of this is opening a bank account. I recently opened a checking account with TD Bank. It couldn’t have been easier: I just walked into a nearby branch, told them my information, and voilà, I had an account. They even printed a debit card for me on the spot (but if I wanted checks, I had to order those to be sent to me in the mail). I don’t think I even needed to go into a branch in person; I could have called and opened an account over the phone.
For whatever reason, opening a bank account seems to be much more of a hassle in other countries. Indeed, it can be an uphill battle. In many countries, you need to supply a proof of address in that country in order to open a bank account.
In the UK, I remember struggling to provide this when I first arrived; I didn’t have any utility bill or council tax bill to show, given that I was only renting a room in a shared flat (moreover, I remember being confused and incensed to see that on the list of “valid forms of proof of address,” one of the items was “UK bank statement”… go figure).
In France, during my academic year abroad in undergrad, I made repeated harrowing visits to the bank, clutching onto various slips of paper and struggling to navigate the Byzantine account opening requirements and face the sour-faced clerks in my broken French. I never understood why it was so difficult to get the bank to agree to take my money.