Moving to United States

Moving to United States: An Expat's Guide

Moving to the United States is a dream for many people around the world.

Whether it's for the promise of new opportunities, a fresh start, or the chance to experience the American way of life, the USA is a popular destination for expats.
However, the process of moving to the US can be complex and overwhelming, from obtaining a visa to finding a place to live.
Are you considering moving to the USA? Whether you are relocating for work, study, or simply seeking a new adventure, navigating the process of moving to a new country can be overwhelming. 

Crown Relocations as the international moving company has helped thousands of families and expats relocate to the United States over the last few decades. 

We will explore the various aspects of moving to the USA and provide helpful tips for making the transition as smooth as possible. 

Understanding Visa Requirements

Moving to the United States involves understanding the various visa requirements and navigating the complex immigration process.
Whether you are planning to study, work, or live in the US, it is essential to be well-informed about the different types of visas, eligibility criteria, and the application process.

The U.S. issues two main categories of visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Immigrant visas are for those intending to live permanently in the U.S., while nonimmigrant visas are for temporary stays, such as for tourism, business, work, or study.

The U.S. work visa system is complex, and it's important to apply for the correct category based on the purpose of your move, whether it's for work, study, or other reasons.

Types of visas for moving to the United States

The United States offers a variety of visas for different purposes, including immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visas are for temporary stays, such as tourism, business, or temporary work, while immigrant visas are for those seeking to live permanently in the US.

Some common non-immigrant visas include B-1/B-2 visitor visas, F-1 student visas, H-1B work visas, and J-1 exchange visitor visas.

On the other hand, immigrant visas, also known as green cards, are available through family sponsorship, employment, refugee or asylum status, and the Diversity Visa Program, also known as the green card lottery.
understanding usa visa application

Eligibility criteria for different visa categories

Each visa category has specific eligibility requirements that applicants must meet. For example, the H-1B visa requires individuals to have a job offer from a US employer and possess specialized knowledge or a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. 

Understanding the eligibility criteria for each visa category is crucial for determining the most suitable option for your situation.

Application process and documentation required

The application process for a US visa can be intricate and time-consuming. It typically involves completing the appropriate forms, providing supporting documentation, attending interviews, and paying the necessary fees. 

It is advisable to visit the official website of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to access detailed information about the application process and the specific requirements for each visa category.

Cost of Living in The States

The cost of living in the United States varies by state and city. 

On average, the annual household expenditure is around $61,334, with housing and housing-related costs accounting for about 34.9% of the spending. 

The median price of a single-family home is $273,992, and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,154 per month. 

Other significant expenses include transportation, healthcare, and food.

The cost of living also varies by state, with some areas being more expensive than others. 

For example, Hawaii, Alaska, the Northeast, and the West Coast are generally more expensive to live in, while the Midwest and Southern states tend to have a lower cost of living.
living cost in the usa

Factors That Could Influence Your Cost of Living in the US

The cost of living in the USA for expats is influenced by various factors, including housing, food, transportation, healthcare, education, utilities, taxes, income disparities, regional variances, and employment opportunities. 

The cost of housing plays a significant role in the overall cost of living, as it can vary widely depending on the location, size, and quality of the accommodation, which we will be discussing more in depth below. 
groceries cost in usa
The average cost of groceries for expats in the USA can range from $335.97 to $638.57 per month, depending on the location within the country. The cost can also vary depending on the type of food being purchased, with food away from home typically costing more than food purchased from a grocery store. 
transportation cost in usa
The average cost of transportation for expats in the USA can vary greatly depending on factors such as location, age, and personal habits. According to the US Department of Transportation, transportation remains one of the highest annual consumer expenditures, totalling $12,295 annually as of 2023. 
utilities cost in usa
The average cost of utilities for expats in the US can vary depending on factors such as location, household size, and individual consumption habits. Utilities such as electricity, gas, oil for appliances, water, and garbage collection should be factored into allowances when considering the cost of living in the US. 
Income levels and regional variances also play a vital role in determining the cost of living. When considering a move to the USA, you should research the specific cost of living in the desired area to make an informed decision.

Expats may need to carefully consider their budget and lifestyle when deciding where to live in the USA. Overall, the cost of living for expats in the USA can be high, but it ultimately depends on individual circumstances and location choices. 

Housing & Accommodation Options for Expats

accommodation for expats in usa
Expats in the USA have various housing options to consider, including short-term accommodation, renting, and buying. Shortlets and temporary housing are good options for newcomers, allowing them to get a feel for their new city before making long-term commitments. 

Renting is a popular choice, providing flexibility and shielding newcomers from the financial responsibilities of homeownership. House-sharing is also a thrifty option for expats and students, allowing them to meet new people while saving on rent. 

Additionally, buying a house can be a valuable investment, particularly for those looking to settle permanently. 
The decision to buy or rent should be tailored to the unique circumstances of the expat, considering factors such as financial situation, location, and job stability. 

When choosing a housing option, expats should also consider the specific cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities in their desired area of residence.

Can Expats Buy Property in the States

Yes, expats can buy property in the USA with relatively few barriers. 
There are no legal restrictions or laws preventing foreigners from buying property in the US. 

Expats can buy a property as a foreigner living in the US full time, as a Green Card holder, as a non-resident investor, or as a vacation home. 
However, buying a property as a foreigner or non-resident in the US may present a few different challenges. 

The first challenge may come around financing the purchase because lenders are often less willing to lend to non-residents. 
Secondly, some property types may not be as suitable for foreign buyers as domestic. 

And finally, there are potential tax implications if you’re a foreign or non-resident owner of property in the US. Expats should research the specific laws and regulations in their desired area of residence and consider the full costs and tax implications of owning a US property.

Learn more about FIRPTA (Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act).
can expats buy house in usa

Our Top 10 Best Areas to Live in the US for Expats

Based on our vast experience in helping individuals to move to the United States, we can say these are some of the best areas to live in the US for expats:
Neighbourhood The Attractions
San Francisco, California Known for its tech industry and vibrant cultural scene, San Francisco offers a high quality of life, excellent job opportunities, and a diverse range of amenities.
Austin, Texas Voted the best place to live in America for the third year in a row, Austin boasts a strong job market, affordable living costs, and a great quality of life.
New York City, New York A global financial and cultural hub, New York City offers a wide range of job opportunities, world-class healthcare, and a vibrant lifestyle.
Seattle, Washington With a strong tech industry and a high quality of life, Seattle is an attractive option for expats seeking a balance between work and leisure.
Miami, Florida Known for its welcoming international community, Miami offers a variety of cultural activities, beautiful beaches, and a strong job market.
Houston, Texas With a diverse economy and a high quality of life, Houston is an attractive option for expats seeking a city with a lower cost of living than New York or San Francisco.
Chicago, Illinois Offering a strong job market, excellent healthcare, and a variety of cultural attractions, Chicago is a popular choice for expats looking for a more affordable lifestyle compared to coastal cities.
Boston, Massachusetts Known for its prestigious universities and strong healthcare sector, Boston offers a high quality of life, excellent job opportunities, and a diverse range of amenities.
Los Angeles, California With a thriving entertainment industry and a diverse range of cultural attractions, Los Angeles is an attractive option for expats seeking a city with a high quality of life and job opportunities.
Washington, D.C. As the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. offers a strong job market, excellent healthcare, and a variety of cultural attractions.
When choosing the best area to live in the US, you should consider factors such as job opportunities, cost of living, healthcare, education, and cultural attractions. 

By researching and understanding these aspects, you can make informed decisions about your relocation and ensure a smooth transition to living in the U.S.

Navigating Healthcare in the US

Accessing healthcare in the United States is a fundamental aspect of settling into your new life.

Understanding the US healthcare system, obtaining health insurance, and finding healthcare providers are essential steps for new immigrants.

Overview of the US healthcare system

The healthcare system in the United States is a hybrid of private and public sectors, with a significant portion of the population relying on private health insurance. 

Expats living in the US do not qualify for federal medical aid schemes but can purchase their own insurance or have their employer contribute to their private health insurance plan. 

Here are some key aspects of the healthcare system for expats in the US:
Expats have several options for healthcare, including buying their own insurance, getting their employer to contribute, or enrolling in an expat group health insurance plan. 
Most hospitals in the US are privately owned and managed by non-profit or investor boards. The standard of care in these hospitals is excellent, and waiting times are short. 
Expats are not required to have health insurance, but it is recommended. The private sector operates the majority of US medical facilities, and expats can choose from various insurance plans, some of which may be offered by their employers. 
The cost of treatment in the US can be high, but private health insurance can provide access to some of the best medical technology and highly trained specialists. 
The US has a federal medical aid scheme that caters to the elderly, but it is not available to expats. Some states offer state-sponsored health insurance for low-income individuals and children, but eligibility rules vary. 
Expats moving to the US should consider international health insurance, which can provide access to leading private hospitals and comprehensive coverage. 
Expats should be aware of the potential tax implications of owning property or receiving medical treatment in the US, as there may be taxes associated with these activities. 
In summary, the healthcare system in the US for expats is primarily based on private health insurance, with a range of options for coverage and access to high-quality medical facilities. 

Expats should carefully research their health insurance options and consider the costs and tax implications associated with healthcare in the US.

Health insurance options for new immigrants

As a new immigrant, you may be eligible to purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace or obtain coverage through an employer-sponsored plan. It is crucial to explore the available options and select a plan that meets your specific healthcare needs.

Accessing healthcare services and finding a healthcare provider

Once you have health insurance, you can access healthcare services by finding a primary care physician and specialists as needed. Many communities also have community health centers that provide affordable healthcare services to individuals without insurance.

Education System for Expats in US

The U.S. educational system is known for its diversity and high quality. 

For expats with children, it's essential to research and understand the educational options available in the area of relocation. 

The U.S. offers a range of educational institutions, including public schools, private schools, and international schools. 

Researching and understanding the options available will help expat families make informed decisions about their children's education.

For immigrants with children, understanding the US education system and exploring educational opportunities is a top priority. 
expat kid study in usa

Understanding the US education system

The US education system is diverse, with options for public, private, and charter schools.

Expats in the USA have various education options for their children, including public, private, and international schools. 
Public schools are available for expat students and the registration process is usually straightforward. 

These schools follow the American curriculum and provide an opportunity for expat children to interact with local students. 
However, some expat families prefer to send their children to private or international schools, especially if they plan to stay in the US for a short period. 

International schools, found in major cities, offer a foreign curriculum, making the transition into the American education system smoother. 

While public schooling is free, private and international schools can be costly. 

Private schools offer a higher standard of education and better facilities, but they come with high fees and competitive admission. 
International schools are a good option for short-term stays, but they also require high fees and may have limited availability. 

Additionally, expat families have the option of homeschooling or hiring a private tutor for their children. 

The US education system offers a wide range of choices, and expat families should carefully consider their options based on their length of stay and their children's educational needs.

It is essential to research the school districts in your area and understand the enrollment process for your children.


Enrolling children in schools

Upon arrival in the US, you will need to enrol your children in school. This process may involve providing documentation such as birth certificates, immunization records, and proof of residency. It is advisable to contact the local school district or visit their official website for enrollment guidelines.  

Higher education opportunities for immigrants

The United States is home to numerous prestigious universities and colleges, offering a wide range of academic programs. Immigrants interested in pursuing higher education can explore scholarship opportunities, financial aid options, and specific programs designed for international students.

Here's a quick ranking of the top universities in the USA.
usa uni ranking table

Cultural Nuances and Integration

Moving to a new country can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially when it comes to integrating into a new culture.
For expats in the United States, navigating through the various cultural nuances can be both challenging and rewarding.

From understanding social norms and etiquette to embracing new traditions and customs, the process of integration can greatly impact the expat experience.

Adapting to American culture and integrating into the community is an essential aspect of moving to the United States.

Adapting to American culture and social norms

Understanding and respecting American cultural norms, traditions, and social etiquette is crucial for successful integration. Immersing yourself in the local community and participating in cultural events can help facilitate this process.

What are some common American social norms that expats should be aware of

Expats moving to the US should be aware of the common social norms to better adapt to American culture. Some of these norms include: 
Tipping is an expected custom in the US, with 15%-20% being added to bills in restaurants. Tipping is not required in fast food establishments or for "carry out" orders. 
Americans value personal space and prefer to maintain a certain distance during conversations. 
Punctuality is highly valued in the US, and people are expected to be on time for appointments and events. 
Using polite phrases like "please" and "thank you" is common in American culture. 
Americans tend to use direct communication, speaking openly and honestly about their thoughts and feelings.
American culture is more informal, with people often addressing each other by their first names and using casual language. 
Although the US is an individualistic society, people still respect authority figures such as teachers, police officers, and other professionals who serve to maintain order in society. 
Dressing casually is common in the US, with people often wearing jeans, t-shirts, and casual shirts. 


Moving to the United States is a significant life change that requires careful planning and preparation. By understanding visa requirements, navigating the healthcare system, exploring educational opportunities, embracing cultural nuances, and addressing legal and financial considerations, you can set the stage for a successful transition to life in the US.

In summary, thorough research, utilizing official government resources, and seeking guidance from relevant authorities are essential steps for a smooth and successful move to the United States. By being well-informed and proactive, you can embark on this new chapter with confidence and optimism.

For more information and detailed guidance on specific aspects of moving to the United States, it is advisable to visit the official websites of relevant government agencies, such as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the US Department of Education.

Additionally, seeking assistance from reputable immigration attorneys, financial advisors, and community organizations can provide valuable support throughout the relocation process.

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