Thinking of moving to the United States? Or wondering if America is a good place to live? We look at the advantages and disadvantages of living in the US for expats
Have you been fortunate enough to have been offered the chance to move to the United States and wondered if it’s right for you? Do the pros outweigh the cons of living in the US? On the one hand, you have seen the glossy images of the rich and famous, living the American Dream, but on the other, you may have been put off by all the news stories and politics in the media. So what is the reality of living in the US?
Previously we have written about the many great reasons to move the USA. Now we take a closer look at the pros and cons of moving to America so you can decide for yourself. The grass is not always greener and we need to be careful of looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses.
Like any country, the United States is far from perfect, but it does offer unparalleled opportunities. As long as you are aware of both the good and bad, you can be realistic about your expectations and you can be prepared for any downsides. Overall, the vast majority of our customers that move to the States think that you the US is a good place to live and have no regrets with most say it was one of the best decisions they ever made.
- So what are the Pros of living in the United States?
- Pro: America is beautiful in every way
- Pro: Americans enjoy the highest average household income in the world
- Pro: America is so large you are guaranteed to find your perfect climate
- Pro: Large, spacious and beautiful homes at very affordable prices.
- Pro: Exceptionally friendly staff make every experience a good experience
- Pro: You can find your idea of heaven
- Pro: An abundance of restaurants awaits you!
- Pro: Small and friendly towns
- Pro: Cars are cheap to run due to lower fuel prices
- Pro: There is no language barrier as English is spoken everywhere
- Pro: Incredible shopping experiences
- Pro: Healthcare is second to none
- Pro: Super high standards of schooling
- Pro: America hosts the world’s top universities
- Pro: America is hugely diverse in culture
- Pro: Excellent air transport makes travel easy and efficient
- Pro: Moving and relocating to the USA is easy!
- Pro: No need to travel abroad for holidays!
- Pro: You get to follow the American Dream!
- Cons of living in the USA for expats
- Con: Getting a work visa or green card is hard
- Con: The dollar is a very strong currency
- Con: A car is vital to get around
- Con: There is no free health service
- Con: Hidden sales taxes
- Con: Tips are expected!
- Con: Gun violence
- Con: Dirty cities
- Con: American TV has had a poor reputation
- Con: You miss your family
- So should you make the move to the United States?
So what are the Pros of living in the United States?
If you live in America, you will always have something to do. Much of what we see on TV is real; the US has sandy beaches, picturesque mountains, chic city life and highly respected universities. However, before we start packing up our homes and start uprooting our families, let us look at some of the pros and benefits of living in the USA, and later, the cons.
The song “America the Beautiful” might be a bit of a cliché but it is certainly true. The United States is blessed by a huge range of stunning landscapes of every description. With vistas including the Grand Canyon, Florida Everglades, the Colorado Rockies, Utah’s Monument Valley to name just a few, you’ll never be far from stepping into a movie set! The Glacier National Park in Montana is perfect for those who are looking for an adventure as you can explore historical chalets, lodges and lakes.
You also have the Acadia National Park, famous for its stunning fall foliage and landscapes. If you love beaches, you have states such as California and Florida, which are home to the famous Santa Monica and Miami beaches. They are perfect if you are looking to take photos at sunset, and you have lots of restaurants and entertainment nearby.
Pro: Americans enjoy the highest average household income in the world
If you are looking for a better lifestyle for you and your family, America is perfect. The United States boasts an impressive income per capita measure of $54,854, and has the highest average income in the world. The key sectors in America include financial services, technology, professional and business services, manufacturing and health care. Furthermore, no matter what industry you are working in, America provides unrivalled opportunities to progress in your career.
Pro: America is so large you are guaranteed to find your perfect climate
The top-rated three states for the perfect climate are Florida, California and Hawaii but there are other great options. If you like good weather but prefer it slightly cooler, Georgia, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are all ideal. If you prefer the cold, Minnesota and Maine are some of the colder states in the USA but they also have many great attractions such as the Grand Teton and the Devils Tower National Monument.
Americans enjoy more than twice the average living space of EU residents as land prices are much lower compared to other countries in the world. In addition, as most houses are constructed with wood, they are generally much larger and more spacious inside. It may be possible for you to swap your two bedroom terrace for a four bedroom detached family dwelling, as America provides good value for money properties. If you’re lucky, you may also have additional features such as a cellar, double garage and even a swimming pool!
Pro: Exceptionally friendly staff make every experience a good experience
The friendly, positive and outgoing nature of Americans is the foundation of their outstanding reputation for customer service. You really do feel that ‘the customer is always right and nothing is too much trouble. In the United States you’ll be greeted with smiles and ‘How may I help you?” and ‘Have a nice day!’ ending every interaction.
Pro: You can find your idea of heaven
The US is so diverse, with 50 states and 2 territories, that you are sure to find the perfect place for you. Each state has its unique culture and a variety of different communities. For both work and leisure, you will not find better options anywhere else.
If you prefer city living you are spoilt for choice with the iconic New York and Los Angeles as well as hundreds of other options including Boston, Seattle, Nashville, Dallas and Tampa. Whatever your idea of heaven is, you will find it in America.
Pro: An abundance of restaurants awaits you!
There is an abundance of diverse and varied restaurants in America of exceptionally high quality. Food is amazing in America! Everything is bigger and better, cheaper and more delicious. Dynamic specialist chefs paired with exceptional customer service ensure your dining experience is second to none.
Pro: Small and friendly towns
Although the United States is home to some of the liveliest, busiest and biggest cities in the world, it’s smaller, more homely, towns are also in abundance. Many of these small towns have populations of less than 10,000 and therefore have the friendliest, most welcoming communities and residents. What’s more, these cute towns often boast some of the most astonishing landscapes and have a charming appeal.
Pro: Cars are cheap to run due to lower fuel prices
Fuel prices in Europe are currently at an all-time high and running a car is becoming a luxury and an expense. By moving to the United States, this will no longer be an issue. Although gas prices have increased, cars are still much cheaper to run and much cheaper to purchase compared to most countries. And as the legal age for learning to drive is just 16, your teenagers will be happy too!
Pro: There is no language barrier as English is spoken everywhere
Moving to another country usually requires learning a new language in order to converse and work in that country. However, the great thing about moving to the States is everybody speaks English! There is no need for the added expense of language lessons or time lost on online courses! Although English is the primary language in the US, it is a multicultural country, and there are still opportunities to learn a range of new languages. Another bonus is that Americans love people speaking English with a cultured British accent!
Pro: Incredible shopping experiences
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You have not truly shopped till you dropped until you have visited America! It boasts the most huge, impressive shopping malls full to the brim with designer shops and sparkling jewellers selling produce at affordable prices. Whether it’s supermarkets such as Walmart, superstores like Home Depot or the Mall of America, you’ll be spoilt for choice. But if going shopping is not your thing you have a vast range of online delivery options too.
Pro: Healthcare is second to none
America provides some of the best healthcare in the world. In fact, it is ranked amongst the top countries globally, especially for private healthcare. Many of us are frustrated with the long waiting lists for important surgical procedures in the UK. If you moved to America, this would be a thing of the past.
Online care delivery via telemedicine applications or virtual hospital services makes patient visits much more convenient. The United States boasts minimal waiting times for major procedures paired with quality service. In addition, as a leader in medical research, new drugs and treatments are often available here long before elsewhere in the world.
In the US, not only will your child receive an excellent education, but they will also gain important life skills. The US system places emphasis on examinations, but there is also a heavy emphasis on extracurricular activities such as sports. This is beneficial for keeping active, as well as learning soft skills such as teamwork and leadership, which could serve them well later.
Moreover, your children get to attend the prom, participate in high school sports, become a cheerleader and go to school on the unmissable yellow school buses!
For those looking for the best education in the world, America is the perfect destination. They may not have Oxbridge but Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford are just a few of the top universities you would have heard about in films and media.
Many of our most prestigious business people, doctors and scientists have also graduated from these impressive colleges. The American higher education system is considered one of the finest in the world and offers flexible study opportunities at over 4,000 colleges and universities.
Pro: America is hugely diverse in culture
America’s large influx of immigrants means that the country is one of the most diverse nations in the world. You will be welcomed into the USA and will benefit from the different mixtures of cultures. Not only does this mean that it will be easy to fit in but you can also enjoy the benefits of so much diversity such as exotic cuisines and a variety of festivals.
Pro: Excellent air transport makes travel easy and efficient
America boasts excellent transport links, especially if you are looking to travel by air. Almost all 50 states bar one have an airport and the US boasts an impressive 19,919 airports. If you are not into flying, there is also the famous Greyhound intercity bus service that provides great transportation to major destinations in the USA.
Pro: Moving and relocating to the USA is easy!
Whilst you might be moving halfway across the world, the actual process of relocation and moving to America need not be too difficult or stressful. As many people move back and forth between the US and the UK / Europe, there are lots of cost-effective removal and shipping options by sea and air freight. There are also lots of USA shipping companies real estate agents and foreign exchange services that are on hand to make your move easier.
Pro: No need to travel abroad for holidays!
America is home to some of the world’s most astounding landscapes, monuments and attractions. From breathtaking views at the Grand Canyon to bubbling hot springs in Yellowstone, there is no need to travel outside of the US for a holiday of a lifetime. Connect with nature at Yosemite and experience one of the tallest waterfalls or hike through Yellowstone. The Hawaiian Islands have idyllic beaches and unique volcanic natural beauty, whilst the bright lights of Las Vegas and New York are sure to entertain and amuse.
Pro: You get to follow the American Dream!
Reading some newspaper headlines some cynics may say the American Dream is dead but that simply is not the case – the American Dream is still very much alive. The US is still the land of opportunity and still ranks as one of the most desirable countries in the world to move to. The US offers great career opportunities, an unparalleled lifestyle and one of the highest standards of living in the world – all in a beautiful environment.
Cons of living in the USA for expats
It is evident that America is one of the most astounding countries in the world. but of course, it’s not perfect. However, knowing the disadvantages and downsides means that you can be better prepared. Here are a few of the cons or disadvantages and living in America that may be worth considering:
The biggest obstacle to living in the United States is getting a work permit or green card. This dashes the hopes of many looking to pursue the American dream. However, there are still many opportunities if you have the right qualifications, or can transfer from an international company.
There are some good immigration agents that can help or you could try for a short-term work visa or a holiday home. If you are very committed, you may end up falling in love and marrying an American citizen!
Whilst the dollar being the world’s leading currency is a great thing once you move there and start earning, the current strength of the dollar can be a disadvantage when you are transferring your money to the US. Fortunately using a specialist foreign exchange broker can help you get the most from your currency transfer. Also, as property and many consumer goods are cheaper stateside, you are less likely to notice it.
Con: A car is vital to get around
The United States is so huge and there is long distance between towns and cities. As most towns are laid out in blocks, owning a car is very useful for getting around. On the positive side, cars are cheap to buy and run, especially with lower gas prices. If you cannot drive, try to find somewhere to live with good public transport connections.
Con: There is no free health service
The US does not have a national health service so you will need to have private medical insurance. Fortunately, many big employers offer this as part of your benefits package and this is likely to be the case if you are moving as an expat. However, as long as you budget for health care when you plan your move to the United States, it should not be a big problem.
Con: Hidden sales taxes
Unlike in the UK and other countries, sales taxes (VAT) are not displayed on the shelf price, which can be annoying when you first arrive and get a nasty surprise at the checkout! However, once you get used to the system, you will soon be able to work prices out and take satisfaction that consumer goods are often cheaper in the USA than elsewhere. Another compensation though is that income tax tends to be a lot lower in the US.
Con: Tips are expected!
Another custom to be aware of is that a minimum tip of 15% is expected at all restaurants. Therefore, if you choose not to meet this requirement you can be met with disdain as poorly paid waiting staff rely on tips for their income. So don’t forget to take this into account when ordering. An advantage though is that the tipping culture encourages the great customer service that the United States is so renowned for.
Con: Gun violence
There is no escaping that gun violence is a problem in the States and makes for familiar and depressing news stories. However, the vast majority of American neighbourhoods are very safe and the recent US gun control bill introduced by President Biden is a step in the right direction. So whilst the US has a poor international reputation in this regard, it does not affect the daily lives of many people.
Con: Dirty cities
American cities can sometimes be dirty with bad traffic jams also adding to the air pollution. However, many Americans volunteer to keep the environment clean and pick up litter and debris in organized groups. In addition to this, the clean air acts imposed have significantly reduced the emissions of poisonous gases in the United States.
Con: American TV has had a poor reputation
Overseas, American TV had a reputation for numerous adverts, canned laughter, bipartisan news channels and a lot of low quality programming. However, this is not so much the case anymore. You now have so much more choices with the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Amazon and Apple. This has led to a ‘Golden Age’ of American TV with popular dramas such as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Stranger Things and many more. If you miss UK TV, no worries, many British shows are available stateside and now you have the option of subscription services like Britbox and the BBC World Service.
Con: You miss your family
It is inevitable that you will miss your loved ones and your regular catch-ups with friends. However, due to technological advances, it has never been easier to video call or skype our family or friends from all over the world. Furthermore, air travel has become much more affordable and convenient, especially in the US. It is so easy to hop on a plane, and within nine hours your loved ones can be with you. And what better place to visit for a holiday than America.
So should you make the move to the United States?
To conclude, America is among the world’s oldest nations where cultural diversity is strong and respect within communities is paramount. It is a well-developed country with an excellent infrastructure. The people are friendly and welcoming and its spectacular scenery is hard to match.
If you are already considering moving to the United States, it is likely that you have secured a job in one of the many highly-paid sectors America has to offer and therefore your standard of living and quality of life should greatly improve. Bigger, more affordable housing, excellent schooling for your children and wonderful leisure experiences are just a few of the benefits you could enjoy.
Yes, there are cons to living in this country, but there are negatives to living anywhere and it is very important to realise that not everything we witness in the news is real! The evidence speaks for itself; the advantages of moving to America far outweigh the disadvantages, so it might be time to make the move.
To start the process of moving your personal belongings from the UK to USA, check out our FAQ on removals to USA, and receive an estimated quote today using our international removals cost calculator. Whether you are looking to move your entire household content or looking to ship a few boxes, PSS will be able to help you.