Expats Guide to USA

The United States of America is a country which is very diverse and has a multicultural society with a variety of different religions and faiths. Expats moving here will discover that is has found a success through immigration and is a country of 50 different states with each star on the American flag being represented. United States continues to be a popular expat destination which people relocate to offering a safe and child friendly environment with the best education and healthcare plans.

If you are considering moving to the States, our guide will provide you with much more information to help you relocate in the USA.

Popular USA Destinations

The US is the 4th largest country in the world by land area and 3rd by population with each major city offering their own sort of way of life and popular attractions. Expats from all over the world are attracted to the US experience what they say is the ‘American dream’.

America has a varied climate due to the size and geographical features. The regions that are by the ocean are the Pacific region, the Southern Atlantic States and Gulf States which all benefit from good weather. Summer in the USA tends to be hot between June and August with high temperatures resulting it being the busiest season when people visit. There is a mild temperature in the months between October & April-May, with wintery and cold days between Nov-March with snowfall in the north and heavy rain in some regions.

New York City

New York City, the city that never sleeps is ranked the first most popular city with a population of around 8.6 million welcoming more expatriates and foreigners into the city. Many expats move here for the reason that there is a diversity of different languages and nationalities. If moving to this city you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa or immigrant visa depending on the purpose you have come to the country. This city is the biggest destination of American Immigration as a place being found by immigrants with it being divided into five boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan.

Moving to New York may be quite challenging as there will be many things you will need to adjust to such as: the new schooling system as well as finding employment, however this is where most expats do move to. Expats should ensure they have invested in a comprehensive health insurance plan to take advantage of the amazing healthcare.

The city offers good transport links where the subway operates 24/7 and buses/trains are available to travel to other places.

Popular tourist attractions:

  • The Statue of Liberty and Battery Park
  • Empire State Building
  • Central Park
  • Broadway and Shubert Alley
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Brooklyn bridge
  • Times Square

Weather in New York City

The weather in New York varies to the season. In the summer, it is very hot and humid with temperatures to 29°C. In the winter, it is quite cold with temperatures staying above freezing with snowfall and winter rain. Many expats will find that autumn and spring is the most enjoyable season due to the nice weather.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles also known as L.A is the second most popular city in the United States being the centre of the nation’s film and TV industry. A place of natural beauty giving many options to explore the city, having different activities to partake in such as skiing, surfing, exploring the hot springs and soaking the sun on a beach as well as shopping. With 88 small towns and cities expats could be enjoying the L.A life due to its diversity.

Moving to L.A with children may prove difficult as it has low funded schools and you may not be able to find a school which is following the same curriculum as your home country

Expats moving to LA will find that there are a number of facilities as well as health insurance available. However, this can be very expensive. For work purposes, there are a variety of jobs available and it is competitive but you may be able to secure jobs in finance, print, healthcare, IT and restaurants. The business culture in this city may also be more relaxed and less busy than individuals would find in other cities.

Popular tourist attractions:

  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Hollywood walk of fame
  • Disneyland
  • Griffith Park
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Hollywood Sign

Weather in Los Angeles

The climate in LA is classified as a Mediterranean climate with seasonal changes. July is the hottest month with temperatures from 22°C (72°F)  and the coldest month is January at 13°C (55°F)  with potential rainfall. The best month to go to the beaches and swim in the sea is in September.


One of the largest cities in the US and with a population of almost 3 million people, it is one of the most enjoyable cities an expat would like to live in. Offering continuous cultural activities, the summer months will be when expatriates enjoy it the most having relaxing days as well as going to summer festivals.

Chicago has a more collection of its own unique neighbourhoods than its city with different communities and immigrants who have made this area their home. The adventures, education, jobs and possibilities are endless with top universities located here and large companies relocating to Chicago. Another benefit for expats moving here is the salary being quite higher than national average, helping afford property’s and relevant insurance which is required.

Many expats move to Chicago with children because of its standard and great range of international and private schools. Allowing children to have the best education and choosing from a range of extracurricular activities.

This is another city where expatriates will have access to the good health and medical services having the best hospitals due to the medical schools in Chicago.

Popular tourist attractions:

  • Navy Pier
  • Millennium Park
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Art Institute
  • Lincoln Park
  • Sears Towers

Weather in Chicago

The weather in Chicago varies on the month you are in. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 23°C (73°F) and the coldest is January at -6°C. The most rainfall is in July and has thunderstorms with winter being marked by heavy snowfall.

Washington DC

Washington DC is the capital of the United States and is home to the US president. This is the city that is the most powerful and influential with a population of around 5.3 million welcoming new comers and expats.

Expats will find that due to Washington being the city, living here will be quite expensive with accommodation and schools.  Around the city there is many transport links so a car will not be required.  Living in DC will also offer you a good range of medical and health care facilities to choose from as Washington has one of the most regarded hospitals in the US as well as having specialist hospitals.

Children coming to Washington will have the option to go to public schools, private schools or international schools offering a good education,

Popular tourist attractions:

  • White House
  • United States Capitol
  • National Mall
  • The Washington Mall
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • Washington Monument

Weather in Washington DC

The weather in DC consists of the summer being hot and humid with the warmest months being July and August. Winters are cold with snowstorms and rainfall over December to February. The months between March and May is when it is nice as the weather is mild and humidity is low.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas a city of the state Nevada where expats moving will always have something to do. Living close to the city will allow you to enjoy the entertainment and eating facilities Las Vegas has to offer as well as the open quiet suburbs.

This city is known for expats relocating here for opportunities in hospitality businesses as well as being known as the gambling city and wedding capital of USA. However, Jobs in the city can be quite limited and is competitive offering opportunities for IT, healthcare and government professionals. Expats will discover that there are more than 500 places of worship and over 50 different wedding chapels.

Las Vegas is located in the school district and serves over 300,000 students. There is a range of universities and colleges as well as private schools available for children moving with you. It has a diverse community and offers a good experience for individuals who visit.

Popular Tourist Attractions:

  • Bellagio
  • The Mirage Casino
  • Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area
  • Las Vegas Strip
  • Caesars palace
  • Paris Las Vegas


Expats living in Las Vegas will enjoy the weather with sunshine 320 days in the year. In the summer it gets very hot so you may not be able to do many outdoor activities and January is the coldest season which will drop to 4°C.

General Information

Population: There is a population of about 320 million
Capital of USA: Washington DC
Official Language: English and Spanish (South-Western states)
Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia
Expat cities: San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, New York, Austin and San Diego
States of USA: There are 50 states in the USA some of these include California, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Washington, Hawaii, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
Territories: The United States has sixteen territories. Five of these are permanently inhabit: American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, The US Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.
Time Zone: There are six time zones in USA – Eastern (GMT -10), Central (GMT -9), Pacific (GMT -8), Alaska (GMT -9), Mountain (GMT -7) and Hawaii (GMT -10). Daylight saving time sets the clocks back by 1 hour between the months of March and November in all states other than Arizona and Hawaii.
Currency: The US Dollar (USD), divided into 100 cents
Nearest Neighbours: New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands
Popular attractions: Walt Disney World, Yellowstone National Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Florida Keys, Las Vegas Strip and Grand Canyon.
Religions: The main religion in USA is Christianity
Public Holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, Independence Day , Labor Day, Memorial Day and President’s Day
International Dialling code: The international dialling code in The United States is +1
Emergency contact: 911
Telephone Operator Number: 0
USA Travel Advice: US Embassy or Consulate

Utilities Electricity, Gas, Water and Household Waste

The costs of utilities for electricity, gas and water could amount to almost the same as monthly rent depending on the size of your home and how much is included in the rent. To set up an account it is recommended that expats call their electricity provider to set up an account and also to ask for package deals. Getting connected could take a few days or weeks.


The electricity works on a 110 volt system with most electrical outlets being controlled by a switch. To get connected to electricity, there are multiple companies in every state which serve different areas. Expats will need to do research and call the company who will be able to provide you with all the information to get connected.

When you have signed your lease or mortgage agreement, this may need to be shown to the electrical provider to prove you have the right for power to be turned on for the address you will be living at. If where your property had an electrical system prior to moving in, you will have the option of turning it back on by just calling the company.

Electrical bills will be taken out every month and it the cost is determined on when the power was turned on. Payments are taken by cheque, debit card and also online. Expats can also ask about billing options where they can be offered a monthly bill paid there and then.

Some of the biggest electrical provides:

  • Duke Energy Corporations
  • PG&E Corporation
  • First Energy Corp
  • Xcel Energy Inc
  • National Grid plc

It is recommended that before you sign up with an electrical provider, to check if your heat is powered electrically, if this is the case be sure to ask about this as well as air conditioning due to costs being higher.


The prices for Gas in the USA can vary depending on the size of your house and apartment as well as the time of the year. Costs are usually between $15-50 a month

Con Edison is one of the largest gas providers in the USA or local ones could be found for a cheaper price with certain packages.

An account can be opened online and you may need to pay a security deposit for it to get started.


The services water is determined on where you live and what company serves that particular area. Before moving into an apartment or rented property, you must ask your landlord to see if this is already included in the rent payment.

The process for setting this up is quite similar to when setting up power in your home. Before water is started, a deposit may be required which you will get back after one year of good payment history.

If you are paying for water services, this could cost around $50, 00 per month again depending on where you are living.

Household Waste

Household waste should already be provided by your city. You can contact them or even ask neighbours to find out when the garbage truck will stop outside your house. You may have to get rid of items at special recycling centres.

Formal Entry Requirements

Expats arriving into the United States are expected to show valid travel documents as part of the entry process. The documents that need to be shown will depend on which country you are arriving from as well your status and citizenship.

If you are arriving from Canada, Mexico or Bermuda, American citizens will need to show the following documents

  • Valid Passport
  • U.S Passport card
  • Trusted traveller program card (Nexus, Global Entry, Sentri or Fast) or an enhanced driver’s license.

A Permanent resident or foreign national who is living in the U.S will need their passport along with a U.S Visa and/or travel documents. These must be applied for before you travel.

Expats arriving from other parts of the world will be required to show:

  • A Passport (Regardless of their country or citizenship)
  • Permanent residents and foreign nationals may also need a U.S Visa (Which is applied for before you start your trip)

When travelling to the United States, it is important to travel with a valid, machine-readable passport and a visa will also need to be obtained. However, if you have citizenship and a valid passport of Canada or Bermuda or even have been accepted on a VWP Visa Waiver Program a visa is not required.

Expats must ensure that applications for visas are completed accurately and thoroughly and well in advance of before you travel.

The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program will allow an individual from specific countries to apply to enter the program if they hold a passport which is issued to set standards. People should allow 72 hours for this to be cleared; they will then be able to enter the US for tourism and business purposes for 90 days.

If you are not applying via the VWP, you must apply for a visa which will be issued by the US Embassy or Consulate. If this visa is refused, expats will be given a written visa. The visa will allow individuals to travel to the US but may not give you admission to the country. This is determined by the immigration official at the port of entry.

Visa Types for the USA

Expats moving to the USA must know what types of visas are available before applying to the USA. Here is a list of visas that you may require:

Temporary work visa

If you are an expat moving to the USA to work, there is a specific type of visa that is required when jobs are involved.

H-1B Persons in Speciality Occupations: This visa is required for workers which have specific skills and knowledge who have also completed higher education. The application for this visa is usually for up to three years but can be extended to a maximum of six years.

H-3 Trainees: Expats require this visa if they are undergoing practical training, excluding fields in medicine or academia

L-1 Intra-company Transferees: This visa applies to expat employees who have been transferred to an office within the USA from an international company

Expats who have come to the country to work temporarily must work for the employer that petitioned for them and they will have a limited ability to change jobs. If employment has been completed or their visa has expired then expats will be required to leave the US.

Visitor Visas

If you are an expat travelling to the US, you should check if your home country is listed on the Visa Waiver program before applying for the tourist visa. This will allow you to travel to the US for 90 days for business purposes or for a holiday without having a visa.

If you are not eligible or your country is not listed on the Visa Waiver Program you must apply for a visitor visa. The visitor visa will allow international expats to enter the country for business, tourist or medical treatment purposes for a temporary stay.

All expats who apply for this visa must prove that they only intend to stay in the United States for a short amount of time by showing evidence of funds to cover expenses, economic and social ties abroad, and they must show they have residence outside of the USA.

To apply for the visitor visa, expats must:

  • Complete the online application form
  • Pay the Visa application fee
  • Schedule a visa interview with the U.S Embassy or Consulate

Visa Extension

Before expats apply for the extension visa, they must ensure that their current visa is still valid. This is an offence and you could be deported. Expats should start their extension visa application at least 45 days before the current one expires. A request for extension must be filed within the US citizenship and Immigration services.

Expats who are filing for an extension visa must have entered America lawfully on a non-immigrant visa which is still valid using the correct form. If you are in the country on an employment visa, your employer will need to file an I-29 application form on your behalf. There are some visas which will not allow foreigners to apply for an extension.

To apply for an extension visa:

  • You must prove that you have financial support for the length of your stay in the US
  • Return tickets to prove you have plans to return home and not stay in the US indefinitely

Permanent Residency

Expats who want to work and live in the United States are required to get a ‘United States Lawful Permanent Residency’ status. To get this, expats should also get a Green Card which is also known as the United States Permanent Resident Card. Once expats have obtained this, they must follow the rules and maintain the permanent residency and if conditions are not met they can be removed from the country.

Permanent residency may also be applied for when expats have lived in the country for 5 or more years. If married to a US citizen this will be three years and for asylum seekers it is four years. To be a permanent resident expats must go through a three step process which sometimes can take 3-4 years.

Once a green card has been obtained expats will have the right to live and work in America, but they are not able to vote or run in a state or federal election.

To ensure that there have been no changes in regards to permanent residency, it is advised that expats contact the embassy or consulate for the latest details of any changes.

Work Permits

A work permit is only available to limited groups of immigrants, mainly those who are applying for the green card or for individuals who have a temporary right to be in the United States. However, expats must make sure that they are eligible to apply for a work permit.

To apply for a work permit expats must:

  • Fill out a one page application form
  • Attach the fee, photos and documents providing you’re eligible
  • Submit the application to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services)

An EAD (Employment Authorisation Document) is a document/ work permit which is a card issued by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services that will prove the card holder is allowed to work in the country. This is valid for only one year and can renewed and replaceable.

Permanent residents and citizens will not need an EAD or any other work permit, other than the green card if they are a permanent resident. The EAD will prove to employers that you are legally allowed to work in the United States.

US citizens and permanent residents do not need an Employment Authorization Document or any other working permit to work in the US, other than their Green Card if they are a permanent resident. Expats who are permanent residents also don’t need to prove eligibility to work in the US.

To apply for an Employment Authorisation Document you must be one of the following:

  • Refugees
  • Student who is seeking a particular type of employment
  • Asylum seekers
  • A Foreign national in the United States who is in the final stage of becoming a permanent resident
  • Fiancé’s or Spouse of a US citizen
  • Nationals of certain countries which is given Temporary Protected Status
  • Dependants of foreign government officials
  • J-2 spouses or minor children of exchange visitors

Green Card

The Green card also known as United States Citizen and Immigration Services is an official document given to nationals who have permanent residency in the U.S, The green card allows expats to live and work in America.

There are three steps to obtain a green card when applying through employment

  • Labour certification
  • Filing an Immigrant Petition (I-140 or I-526)
  • The Adjustment/Permanent Residence Application

Whilst the green card application is being processed expats can live in the country under a non-immigrant visa or they can wait in their home country until it has been approved. The waiting period always varies and depends on the skill level of each individual. It is necessary that a US company files the application who is petitioning an expat employee.

If expats have family members who are citizens in the country or are Legal Permanent Residents a green card can be obtained. This includes a parent, son, child or daughter who are over the age of 21, sibling, spouse or fiancé. Applying through them to get a green card may be easier and faster than getting it through employment based green cards.

To stay in the country whilst the green card application is being processed, expats are able to get an employment based non-immigrant visa, these visas include:

EB-5 Visa: This visa is one of the quickest ways to get residency in the country; however it does require expats to have financial investment in a new or an existing business. The investment amount required is USD 500,000 or USD 1million depending on where the expat wants to open their business. The new company can then sponsor the Green card application.

E-2 Visa: This visa allows service and trading companies to qualify for the E-2 treaty trader status, for those who trade in goods and services. Companies who may qualify include financial services, software companies, attorneys, accountants and companies with trading goods. If an expat is applying for the E-2 Visa they must buy or start up a company in the USA with their own personal funds owning at least 50 per cent of the company and a considerable investment is required. Expats must cover 50 percent of the finances which are required to purchase or start a business.

Expats must check if they are eligible for an E-Visa before starting the application as some nationals are not. Many US companies also may not sponsor expats for the green card if on an E-2 Visa, so expats may need to find another country to do so.

 E-3 Visa:  This non-immigrant visa will only apply to Australian citizens, their children under the age of 21 and their spouses. Applications must be in the United States to simply work in a speciality occupation.

L-1 Visa: This type of visa is one of the most popular visas which is applied for and is only available for companies who want to open a branch, warehouse or an office in the USA. The L-1 Visa can lead to permanent residency and if expats have the right documents then could be easily obtained.  Expats will need to be transferred from their home country company into a new office in the US and both offices should still be open during the length of stay.

Companies in the USA are able to sponsor expats for a green card, which results in expats being able to skip the first step (Labour Certification) of the three step process and the waiting period will also be shortened from 8-15 months.

H-1 Visa: This type of visa is for skilled professionals who wish to work and live in the US on a long term basis. These are non-immigrant type visas so is quicker to obtain then a green card, so expats may apply for this if they are looking to work in the country for a long time but not permanently. US companies should sponsor expats application or petition on their behalf to meet the requirements for this visa.

Other Visas include:

  • TN-1 Visa
  • J-1 Visa
  • E-1 Visa

Various Study Visas

Becoming a US Citizen

Expats are able to become a citizen of the United States of America if they have a valid residency card and have stayed in the country for a certain number of years. If marrying a US Citizen this is also possible. An expat who wishes to become a citizen must pass a citizenship test and if children are born in the country they will automatically be a US Citizen.

Working in the USA

The USA remains the largest economy in the world for jobs and is a popular destination for entrepreneurs. With people being moved here by employers to expats wanting to open their own businesses, the country has a good understanding of US business and work life.

Finding a job

Expatriates starting a new life in the country are recommended to research their career opportunities as this is a requirement of getting a US visa. You may automatically get a job due to a company transfer but you may also need to find work on your own.

The government will provide resources with information for job seekers, which will provide a job profile and job requirements.

There is a selection of resources for searching for employment in the USA. Expats can start off by looking at some popular job websites such as,

  • Career Jet
  • Indeed
  • USA Jobs
  • Career Builder
  • Simply Hired

Many expats who move to the USA can consult these job portals, local classifieds, newspapers or can get help from a job agency.

Companies that are located in the country may apply to get foreign workers due to American citizens not being able to do the job or because they are not qualified or skilled enough.

The USA wants individuals who are very skilled in professional areas such as the IT and medical sector. These jobs are increasing.

Members of family who have come with expats may also want to work in the country. Individuals are able to work if their spouse or parent has been given permission for employment. Once they are residents, a spouse will be able to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for permission for employment.

Job application process

 Send a potential employer a formal written application. Filling out various application forms is necessary when you are applying at international companies.

  1. Applications are usually sent by email.
  2. Your curriculum vitae will then be viewed by HR – Ensure that this is written professionally showing your work history and qualifications
  3. Write out a cover letter which shows why you want this job and why you think you are an ideal candidate
  4. Give references upon request

Facts about working in the USA

  • Business hours: The working hours are Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, however most people do tend to do over time
  • Business language: The main language spoken is English, do not use slang when speaking to professionals.
  • Dress Code: The dress code for where you work can depend on the job location. Formal suits and smart work wear must be worn in corporate environments. If this is not the case you will be told before you start
  • Greeting: A handshake is the usual greeting in business
  • Punctuality: This is valued in the country so expats should ensure that they are not late for business meetings as this will be seen as sign of disrespect.
  • Socialise with colleagues and clients as business in the USA is sometimes conducted in an informal setting such as over lunch in a restaurant.

Opening your own Business

Expats moving to the US may be more interested in becoming their own boss by opening their own business.

To run your own business, you should research business ideas and do market research around the area. By having a clear idea of the service you want to offer will help you with your business plan.

This website https://www.sba.gov/ for Small Business Administration will offer you resources in helping you become your own boss. This website will give you a step by step process of creating your own business plan and will also help you find a mentor who can provide guidance through the process. Offices for this company can be found in many cities and will advise you in starting up your own business.

Social Security Number

Before starting a job in the United States, expatriates are required to get a social security number. This number is used by employers to report earnings to the government and will help calculate tax as well as receive social security benefits in the future.

Even if you are not working in the US, it is recommended to apply for one so that you receive government services that you may be entitled to as a resident.

How to get a Social Security Number?

To be able to apply for a social security number, you must be in the country for 10 days however the application form can be completed in your home country when applying for a visa for the USA.

Depending on if you are an immigrant or a non-immigrant; there are different ways on how this can be obtained.

  • If you are a permanent resident/immigrant the social security number can be applied for in your home country at the same time as you are applying for the immigrant visa. You also are able to visit the Social Security Office in person when you have arrived in the US.
  • If you are non-immigrant, when you have arrived in the country you will need to visit the Social Security Office to make an application for a social security number and card. This can be located in all towns and cities

Expats are advised that they must wait ten days after arriving in the US before applying at a social security office so that the Department of Homeland Security documents have been processed online. You will not be charged for a social security number. Once you have made your application, you will receive a social security card with the number after two weeks this must be kept safe.

Housing and Accomodation in USA

There are many different types of accommodation that is available in the country for expats to consider moving into when arriving in the US. Considering budget and individual needs, expats will find a lovely place to live.

Accomodation Types

These types of houses are widespread throughout America, with expats choosing to rent out apartments, and single family homes purchased the most. Most expats also consider house sharing where they are able to rent out an individual room in a large house.

Single Family Homes: These are stand alone houses, which are usually on a small plot of land. This type of home may be best suited for a full family. A single family home is rented out by a private owner and can be quite expensive.

Apartments: An apartment is the most common house which expats would move to and can range from a single room studio apartment to luxury multi bedroom lofts/penthouses. The rent for an apartment will depend on how big the place is and the location. Apartments have most of the facilities and amenities.

Duplex Homes: A duplex home is where two or more people are living in the same building. It has separate entrances for two households. Includes two story houses having an apartment on each floor

Condominiums: Also known as townhouses, these houses are located close together and are separated.

Renting in USA

Expats wanting to rent a place in the US will find that it is a fairly easy process. Before moving to the country, ensure that research is done, about the different types of properties, looking at budgets and also looking at the area around the city. For single expats, a house or an apartment share may prove a good cheaper solution or living away from the city will save a lot of money on the rent.

To find a place to rent there are many things expats should do, such as:

  • Looking in local newspapers and magazines. Expats looking in a magazine will find that these specialise in providing rental listings and are widely distributed around the cities.
  • Driving around neighbourhoods looking for ‘Rent’ signs
  • Internet sites – which will allow expats to see range of prices, apartments and what is located near the site
  • Real estate agents can also help expats in finding property in the US. These are sales people who are licensed to represent buyers or sellers in properties for a particular state.

It is important that once expats have found a property they tender a lease application. This is known as a state rental agreement document. Tenants who would like to rent a property will also need to prove that they are serious about renting the property. In addition to this expats will be required to show that they have enough amounts of funds to cover the rent for the first month and another month’s to cover security deposits. Credit checks and a background check will be done, and expats are advised to include references from previous landlords with their applications.

The lease agreement that is given is signed on a six month – one year basis. Tenants may be responsible for other payments for gas, electricity, water depending on the rental agreement. This should contain all the details which concern your rights as a tenant including the security deposit, monthly rent, terms and conditions, any special clauses and conditions which must be read.

If you are with an agent, the process of the agreement and deposit to pay will be clearly explained and you must be accepted by the landlord before all this takes place.

It is recommended that whenever expats are moving in to a property, to check for any defects or damaged furniture. Also check items which are listed on the agreements are present and undamaged.

Expats moving to the United States will come across different prices where some cities will be higher than expected. Most cities where the job opportunities are, are usually popular and most expensive. Prices are in the ranges of:

City Median Rent
San Diego $1,670
Seattle $1,700
Miami $1,740
Oakland, California $1,800
San Jose, California $2,170
Los Angeles $2,200
Washington DC $2,700
Boston $3,200
New York $3,300
San Francisco $3,400

Buying property

Expats wanting to buy a property in the United States do not require a green card or any particular type of visa. But they must secure an individual taxpayer identification number. This is an Identification number which is issued to foreigners who don’t meet the requirements to get a social security number.

It is very common to get a mortgage to finance your house purchase and there are many affordable options available. However to be eligible for a mortgage expats will need to earn a good credit score. When you arrive in the country as an expat, open a US Bank and Credit card account, and you must ensure that you report all of your income on tax returns. These are usually used by lenders to decide how much you can afford to buy.

Once you are ready to apply for a mortgage, an experienced financial institution should be chosen as they will be able to judge your credit history.

To get a mortgage or a loan, expats will be required to show plenty of supporting documents for it to be granted. They will also need to prove that they are legally employed and will be able to carry out buying a new home financially.

Real Estate Agents

Depending on the state/city you have moved to, there will many real estate agents around to help you with your house search. Expats should be able to trust the realtor so that they are able to explain how buying property in the country works and they should assist you with the paper work, costs and other details.

Expats wanting to buy property should gather information on the market looking at average housing costs so that they are able to decide on a budget. This way the real estate agent will find it much easier to locate the perfect property for you and your family considering individual needs. They will be able to advise you on the area and neighbourhood as they will know this home town very well. A realtor considering your needs will find the property type you are looking for and will be able to negotiate a good price. The realtor will assist in viewings, house inspections and property reports.

The steps after a real estate agent has found the perfect property for you

  • A formal offer is made to the seller
  • A deposit on the property is placed by the buyer who will need to show that they commit to the full purchase of the property once conditions have been met. As an expat deposits may be larger than American citizens.
  • The buyer will then ensure that inspections and appraisals have been done.
  • A deed of sale contract will then be drawn up, signed and filed with the county which will create an official record of sale. This would be when the possession of the property must be turned over.

When expats are looking for their own property there are many questions which should be asked and considered such as:

  1. Is the area safe
  2. How far is travel to get to work
  3. How long does it take to get to the shopping centres
  4. If you have children, where are the best schools around the area

Education and Studying in the USA

Expats moving to the US with children will want to find the best school for their child and must attend until they have turned 18. The schools in the country offer different types of educational systems and divisions into elementary, middle and high school. All of these schools prepare students for higher education especially in boarding schools.

American schools may vary in quality, learning opportunities and also educational programs. There isn’t a national standard for the schools and each US states are allowed to come up with their own standards. For this reason, expats should do their research in detail and look at schools which are close by you. You also have the option to choose to send your children to public school, private school, international school or even home schooling. Many parents prefer home schooling and this is legal with some restrictions.

The school system is divided into three levels:

Elementary school: Kindergarten to grade 5 – Children for up to the age of six

Middle School: Grade 6 to Grade 8 – Children will be taught more subjects and have special classes in literature, maths, history and science.

High School: Grade 9 to Grade 12 – Allows children to get ready for college and scholarships. Courses are offered which provide opportunities for children to take steps into a field of their own choice.

The schooling system in the US has 12 grades and sometimes children will have one year of kindergarten before they begin their first grade. The school day starts between 7.30am – 9.30 and finishes around 2.30-3.30pm.

Public Schools

Expats, who take their children along to the USA, will qualify to attend a public school in the area that they live in. The process to get children into a public school is fairly straight forward and is funded by property taxes and majority of the schools in the cities will have better facilities.

Admission into a public school is free but there will be other fees connected to this, including purchasing books, equipment and uniforms. Fees will vary in the different states and schools.

The standard of the public schools in the USA vary in states and cities. However for expats admitting their children into a public school will have their own benefits

  • Minimal costs: Public school fees are less than private and international schools
  • The school which your child is admitted in can depend on where you live. So your child will be able to attend a school which is closer to your home allowing them to interact with the local children who are their age.

Children will also be able to mix with a wider and representative community of American children.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are funded by additional donations from a variety of private sources and don’t receive as much funding as public schools do. Majority of these schools are founded and opened by teachers, parents or non-profit organisations. There are fewer rules from the state meaning that they can provide a specialised curriculum.

Sending children to charter schools is one of the popular options that expats choose, however applications can take a lot of time. Due to this they use admission lotteries so that children being allocated a place in the school are fair.

Magnet Schools

A free public elementary and secondary school which covers important areas of the curriculum like Science technology, engineering, international studies, world languages, maths and performing arts as well as other subjects being taught.

There is no entry criteria for children to get admitted into one of these schools but children should have an interest and talents which are better taught in this school with more of a focus on one of the subjects.

Some magnet schools have a computer based lottery system for admission whereas talented and gifted magnets use student assessment scores and recommendations to select the students they want.

Private Schools

A private school in the United States has more funds which offer more elective courses as well as after- school activities. Once children have completed grade 12, they will receive a high school diploma allowing them admission to college or university.

Private schools can be expensive and for this reason can afford a better curriculum and opportunities for their students. More support will also be offered to students with special needs.

To secure a place in a private school expat children are not required to be living in the same area as private schools have their own on board facilities.

Expats must also be aware that there is a lot of competition for private schools and they can be quite selective when it comes to choosing and accepting their students.

In some states, there will be religious private schools which are generally cheaper and they are willing to accept children from different faiths.

International Schools

International schools in the USA follow the same curriculum as home countries. Therefore if you are an expat who will be staying in the country for a few years and not permanently this will be a good place to send your child.

International schools are located in all of the USA’s major cities, New York, Boston, Washington DC and Los Angeles.

Students who are admitted in an international school can be taught in English and a foreign language. However, you should be aware that expats will need to apply for an international school as soon as possible due to the long waiting lists.

Home Schooling

Children being home schooled is now very popular in the country and expats have this option for their children available. Homeschooling offers flexibility and it may provide a normal atmosphere for children especially if new to the country as well as studies meeting an individual child’s needs.

Expat parents must contact the state curriculum to ensure that their child covers all the subjects which are required. Private tutors may be hired and some parents even choose to teach their own child.


Once high school has been completed, students are required to go to college. There are many community colleges in the USA which allow students to an associate degree after two years of study, which is a lower cost than at going to a college for four years.

Some courses provided by community colleges include: Secretarial training, Auto Mechanics, Medical Technology and much more. As well as this, there are courses available which allow students to go to a four year institute after the associate degree has been completed.

Expats will come across colleges which allow students to complete a bachelor’s degree or in a few instances a master’s degree. These colleges are privately owned and run which are smaller in size compared to community college

Depending on what state you are living in, the prices for attending college is different. The price starts from $5,000 to over $50,000 a year. This amount that will be paid does cover costs for books, personal expenses as well as tuition. The expensive schools are residential schools, where expat students will live in a dorm room for one to three years.

Students who don’t have citizenship or permanent residency in the USA will be automatically considered as an international student. When applying for college as an international student, expats will be required to apply for a student visa and provide proof that they are able to pay the fees.

Student Visas

To apply for a student visa, it is now more difficult than before and the application process is long. Expats should remember that the application process will take time so all information does have to be researched.

Students who are not permanent or not a citizen in the country, will need to fill out the I-20 application form from the college they have been accepted at, this will then need to be taken to the embassy where they are able to apply for the correct visa. Please note there will be extra fees for this.

When applying for the visa, students must be able to prove that they can pay for tuition and are able to support themselves as well as showing a statement of finances. If students are unable to show this they will be eligible to apply for financial aid.

Student Visa Requirements:

  • Students are required to submit an I-20 form, which will be provided by the college you have been accepted from
  • Complete a US Visa application form (DS-156 with DS-158)
  • Students will need to conduct an interview at the embassy consulate
  • Valid passport with a validity date of at least six months ahead of your stay
  • One 2×2 photo
  • MRV fee receipt which shows payments of the visa fee
  • Documents and Diplomas from other colleges that have been attended
  • Test scores required by education institution
  • Financial evidence to show sufficient funds which will cover tuition and living expenses
  • Proficient in English or enrolled onto an English course

Financial aid can be accessed through federal programs but these can be limited to citizens and residents of the country as the programs are covered by the US taxes. For this reason international students will not be able to apply for financial aid.

International students are therefore advised to apply to the college that have accepted them , some of these may have an unlimited foreign financial aid budget so this will determine if the student will get admission in that college.


There are many Universities around country which do bachelor degrees as well as masters and doctoral degrees. Universities and colleges can offer the same degree subjects but expats choose to go to a university as these are bigger, have more facilities and there are much more students.

Universities are well financed and have scholarships or financial aid which is available to the students. Expats should check with the government if their child can apply for financing.

Health and Medicalcare in USA

Healthcare is very essential whatever country you go to. Expats moving to the US are encouraged to have health insurance. The healthcare system is mainly insurance based although there are healthcare programmes which are financed through the tax system. Some accidents and emergencies can cost hundreds of dollars and medical treatment is limited for those who are not able to afford it.

There are some public state level hospitals but consequently health care is not free in America. It is encouraged by the federal government that citizens who reside here take out private health care insurance. This can be very expensive. Taking out health insurance also may be necessary when applying for a certain type of visa and expats should get their health insurance before moving to the USA.

A social insurance system is available to people who have a low income, elderly people and disabled people which all US taxpayers are required to pay taxes for which will help finance this system.

Health Insurance

Expats should invest in the best health insurance policy which they are able to afford and which most services are covered on. This can be applied through employment as well. If you don’t have the appropriate health care, you will have to pay massive bills or run the risk of not getting any medical treatment.

If you have moved to the country for work, your company will make some contribution towards the cost of your health insurance. To get a health insurance card it can take up to 3 months from when they start working in their company. Sometimes a fee for health insurance will be automatically taken from the salary each month. The insurance which is provided by employers will cover everything other than eye care and dental care. Expats could be expected to make payments of USD 30 to USD 100 per month towards eye and dental examination.

Before travelling to the USA expats should ensure they have the complete health insurance policy. Other than in an emergency, patients will not be treated without prior payment, evidence of insurance or a deposit.

Expats who have had accidents and require long term treatments will be denied if they don’t have any health care insurance. Optical and dental operations are not included in any general health insurance and these can also be very expensive.

Expats are advised to keep all receipts so that they are able to make an insurance claim for any medical treatment that they have had in the country or for any prescribed medicines that have been bought . Expats will find that a short visit to the doctor’s for a patient who is not insured can cost USD 200.

When scheduling a doctor’s appointment, expats will need to know their Social Security Number. This is important and must be written down on registration forms which are filled in before seeing the doctor. As well as this, you will need to show a health insurance card. If you are not insured you will need to pay for the visit.

Healthcare Facilities

Hospitals in the USA are mainly privately owned and expats will notice that there is no nationwide system of government owned medical facilities which are open to the public. Patients who are able to afford the health care insurance will have access to some of the best medical technology and most of the best specialists are in the US.

Expats who have private health care won’t need to wait long for an operation or to see a specialist.

International Health Insurance

Foreigners are able to buy international health insurance for the duration of their stay. This is a good alternative when planning on staying in the country for less than one year.

Some of the international health insurance companies may provide minimum coverage and fewer services so this should be researched. Expats will also need to check if doctors and hospitals will accept the type of health insurance they are on.

When looking for an international health insurance service, these things should be considered:

  • Duration of the time you are covered
  • Conditions, diseases and services which are covered or even excluded
  • Amount up to which you are covered
  • If insurance can be reached 24/7
  • How claims are handled

Try and make sure that your international health service covers the USA as the healthcare cost are sometimes excluded from these policies and you may have to pay extra.

A good international cover will insure you against:

  • Medical costs
  • Medical costs in your home country
  • Medical evacuation costs


Before travelling to the USA, expats must be able to prove that children who coming along with them that all their immunisations are up to date. 

Vaccinations for diphtheria, poliomyelitis, rubella and measles are required.

Many schools in the United State will also require that children have had their vaccinations against mumps, tetanus and pertussis.

Emergency Services

Emergency Services in the USA provide to anyone in need by law and the medical service is regulated by individual state governments.

If expats require emergency medical service, they must dial 911 to call an ambulance. An ambulance will then be dispatched to the location with highly experienced paramedics who will be able to provide care at the scene of the emergency.
Like other countries, expats can also make their own way to the nearest hospital which has an emergency room for treatment.


There are many pharmacies in cities which are located within drug stores. Grocery stores and large department stores as well as hospitals and medical clinics.

Expats are able to get medicines which have been prescribed at these pharmacies. They also have strict laws on how much medicine can be brought into the USA and they must have a prescription from a doctor to prove that any medicines are for personal use only. This limit should not be exceeded otherwise the medicines will be taken from you at customers.

Medicaid and Medicare

If you meet the requirements for Medicaid or Medicare, the government will provide healthcare insurance for individuals who are unable to afford health insurance. To apply for this service, expats do not need to be US citizen or if you are a resident or contribute to the Social Security System then you will also meet the requirements.

Medicaid provides health insurance for low income families and individuals if they meet the requirements and fit into the eligibility groups. This covers basic health services and hospital visits.  For some services you may need to provide a co-payment. To receive the Medicaid health care it will be based on factors such as income, age and current health situation. However, the requirements will vary from state to state. There are special rules for people in nursing homes and disabled children who are living at home.

Medicare is another service which provides health insurance only for people who have disabilities who are under the age of 65 and also for people who are over 65. The different parts of the Medicare program are:

  • Hospital Insurance (Part A): This insurance is covered through payroll and covers in-patient care in hospitals, short-term nursing facilities and also hospice care
  • Hospital Insurance (Part B): Insurance which is covered by a monthly premium and covers general doctors services, outpatient care and services for physical and occupation therapists when required.
  • Prescription Drug Coverage (Part C): This insurance is also covered by a monthly premium and is intended to help make prescription medicine affordable by lowering the costs. Private health care insurance companies will provide this insurance.

If you already have Medicare Insurance from your home country, you will still be covered and will not need to get a new US health care plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Banking System in the USA

The banking system in the USA is safe and sophisticated. Expats will easily be able to connect with their bank accounts overseas. Using credit and debit cards to pay for goods both locally and internationally is a standard practice in the States.

Most international banks around the country are represented in the USA. If you have an account with any of the following banks, they can assist in opening accounts in the US, banks include – HSBC, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Barclays and Deutsche Bank.

Some of the major banks in America include: The bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. Expats opening accounts in one of these banks offer access to variety of bank accounts, internet banking and a network of ATM’s.

Bank Accounts and Requirements

With the different types of accounts and banks that are available in the country expats may get confused when choosing a place to open an account. Many expats who already live in the country find that it is much easier to maintain an overseas account, by opening an account at the same bank and then transferring money. This is ideal for people who are in the US for a short stay. It is possible for foreigners to relocate in the country without having to open an American account.

To open an account expats in the USA should show proof of:

  • Passport
  • Immigration information
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of address

Expats must speak to their bank and confirm what else they could be required to show.

Currency and Demoninations

The currency is the US Dollar (USD) which is broken into 100 cents

Coins: 1,5,10 and 25 cents

Notes: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars


Both methods of card and cash are accepted in most places in the US. However some small outlets may not take cards but branches of banks will be found in major US towns and cities as well as ATM’s.


Tax Laws in the USA

Laws for tax in the USA are quite complex and individuals are subject to federal tax at certain tax rates which can vary from 0 to 39.6% of the income that they earn

For expats, immigrants and non-immigrants tax must be paid having social security and Medicare insurance.

Tax payment for expats who are permanent residents of the USA will be determined by their income which is the same as Citizens of the country. A tax payment for residents is determined after checking if you meet the requirements for the green card test or substantial presence test.

The Green Card Test is for a foreign national who has permanent residency in the country and is a resident alien for tax purposes. The status for this begins in the first calendar year of when they were given permanent residency. This then continues until the resident status has been discarded.

The Substantial Presence Test is for a foreign national who has been present in the country for at least 31 days during the year and in total for 183 days or more in the current calendar year.

Non-immigrants may be excused under the substantial test and may rule out days or presence in the country. This will also apply to individuals who are commuting from Canada or Mexico, have a medical condition, and foreign government workers.

Residents of the country must file a yearly tax return, which should show their worldwide income which is received in that tax year. Residents who paid foreign income taxes on income can be eligible for a tax credit or less tax payment.

As an expat, if you are your first or last year of being a permanent resident, you will be considered as a non resident as well as a resident for a portion of the year. You are required to file a dual status tax return for this non-residency period where you will only report US source income and your worldwide income of the year for when you was still a US resident.

If you are not a resident of the US, you are subject to tax only on income which has come from within the United States. This can include self employment, trade of business and payment from employment.

Expats who are in the USA for less than 183 days during the year will not be liable for paying the federal income tax on any interest or capital gains. You may also be excused from Social Security and Medicare Taxes.

It is highly advised that if you are moving to the USA, to hire a tax planner who will give you more information and will make it simpler to understand the expat tax system.

 Transport and Travelling in the USA

Like every other country, in USA there are many different ways of transport, from having your own car to the affordable public transport there will always be ways of getting around. Expats moving to the country will consider what transport method is best for them as well as their budget and how much travelling time they want to spend.

Bus and Coach Travel

If you are looking for a transport option which is cheap and fast then many American people prefer to use the bus. This is not only the fastest option for intercity travel but also covers popular tourist routes. When expats arrive in a new country this is a good way to explore the country and its landscapes.

The bus fare in America is reasonable giving discounts to students, senior citizens and other people who have a specific bus ticket. Buses can be used for Inter city travel with services being provided from Greyhound Lines. Greyhound Lines is a convenient, low cost service which covers a city to city service

Coach services in the USA are reasonable and have a good reputation of being clean and comfortable. Some bus and coach services provide a no smoking coach which have recliner seats and lavatories. Some of these may have other luxuries such as WIFI and Power outlets on seats. If you are travelling on a coach you will be allowed to take one piece of luggage as well as a carry-on bag without any charges.

In the USA there are two best known interstate bus service providers, these are Greyhound and Megabus. Trailways is another bus company which operates bus routes in many states so expats should ensure that they compare the prices between these services as well as local small bus services around the area. Expats find that by buying tickets in advance these can be cheaper and some providers offer a limited number of tickets for $1.

Train Travel

The United States of America is known to have the largest railway network in the world, which is mainly used to transport freight. If you are looking for a comfortable and relaxing journey, using a train will be a good way to travel. With the option of choosing between coach, business or first class, travelling on the train is inexpensive and convenient which offers many discounts. Some cities in the USA have trains connecting to airports which save money and time without the need of sitting in the city traffic.

One of the biggest intercity train providers linking over 500 destinations across 46 states is Amtrak. Expats travelling on these trains will find that these are safe, relaxing and also comfortable. To travel on Amtrak trains, there is many ways tickets can be purchased, which can be through a mobile device online, over the phone, station kiosks, travel agents or sometimes on board depending on where you are travelling from. Discounts are available on trains for children, senior citizens, students and veterans. The cost of the ticket can depend on what class you are travelling on plus an accommodation charge. Passengers may take their own food and drink, take their electric devices and are able to use the WIFI.

The major cities such as New York and San Francisco also have railway services as well as underground train services, these are described as subways and expats will notice that some train routes with have underground and surface train stations/stops.


Many people prefer to use taxis or cabs so that they have no problem in finding parking and also because waiting for a public transport can take longer than expected. In the USA, cabs are mainly found in the inner city and outlying suburban areas as well as small towns. Taxis are very convenient, however can be extremely expensive in the city. Taxis can be hailed at in the street, at taxi ranks and can stands. An alternative way is to reserve a taxi over the phone.


If you enjoy travelling and exercising, one way of getting around can be using a bicycle. On the roads there are designated cycle lanes, public bike racks and lockers so you will have no problems getting to places. Riding a bike in the USA is possible by using the bicycle friendly routes.

Air Travel

Expats living in the USA find that air travel is a fast way to travel between the different states.

There are many large domestic airlines which offer intercity services some of these include: Southwest, United Airlines and American Airlines. Small airlines provide services on specialised routes however may partner with larger carriers for customer convenience and more state coverage.

To travel by air, you will need to purchase tickets online, from travel agents or from the airport. If you’re one to love a discount, the best way you can take advantage is by purchasing online. Expats should be aware that when travelling by air there will be immigration, custom and security check points.

As an expat if you need to travel between states for whatever reason including work, you can take a domestic flight. If you are legal in the USA, you are able to travel without a passport as long as you have a valid government photo ID such as a driving license.

Driving Rules and Regulations

It is very useful when you have your own car; you are able to travel at a leisurely pace and not having to rely on cabs or public transport. Having a car can be very expensive with all the added costs, but expats will find that driving is more convenient, safe and reliable.

Expats moving to the US must ensure that before driving a car in the country all the rules have been followed. Expats who have a driver’s license from their home country are allowed to drive in the USA as long as the license is valid and they do not become a resident of the state they are driving in. It is not compulsory but is recommended that an expat obtains an IDP (International drivers permit) from the local Automobile association before they leave from their home country even if it is not being used. If an expat has an IDP it makes it easier for them to rent a car and in some cases can be used as an ID.

When an expat becomes a resident of the state they are living in, it is vital that they visit the local department of motor vehicles so that they can obtain a drivers license. Expats are required to show:

  • Proof of their legal residency
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Pay the application fee
  • Pass a driving test

If a driving license hasn’t been obtained in the home country, expats are required to pass a written and visual test, show proof of legal residency before they can get a learners permit or an instruction which will allow them to drive with a fully licensed driver by their side.

Using a car is not necessary when living in one of the large cities such as New York or San Francisco as these cities have local and regional transport networks. But expats located in a small location will require a car since some places may not be walking distance around these areas.

Driving is on the right hand side in America and expats will find that there are paved roads all over the country with clear signs showing any speed and weight restrictions. Expats may find dirt roads in rural areas of different states of the country. The road system and highways are easy to navigate although there is traffic and congestion.

Driving Speed Limits

The speed limits in the US can vary depending on the location you are driving in and the streets in the city will have speed limits clearly marked.

  • In a neighbourhood, the speed limit is usually 35mph.
  • Speed limits depend on the city, state and road
  • In most of the interstates, the speed limit will be 70 mph
  • In some states the maximum speed limit is 65 mph

Toll Roads

In most of the states expats will find that there are at least one or two toll roads. Some states have toll booths where a driver would need to pay a toll fee before continuing on their journey. Toll roads are used on a daily basis and expats will have the option to purchase a pass for a certain amount of time. This pass will need to be displayed on the windscreen of the car, and then drivers will be able to go into a separate lane when coming towards the toll road so they will not need to stop to pay

Removal and Shipping Services

When moving to another country, expats may want to take some belongings with them. The costs of this will depend on the area of where they are being shipped to and how large the items are.

The east and west coasts of America have major ports which makes shipping easier and less expensive than inland. If you are moving to a region without a port, this will require sea and land transport removal and may prove more expensive.

Removal is another thing that expats should do research on as some shopping companies will arrange for the transport and other will only offer one part of a delivery. You may also want to consider buying cargo insurance from a company other than the one you have used for shipping so that there is a reliable coverage.

When in contact with a removal company, you may be required to fill out a form which is a list of your possessions and you will also need to value your possessions for insurance. You should also find out if the removal company will unload your belongings to your address or if you will need to pick them up from a warehouse, which will have an added cost.

International moves will take a much longer time to ship goods, so individuals should ensure that their possessions are packed safely and securely. You should also note the contents of what you have packed, and give a copy of this to the removal company to ensure it goes through customs.

To find out what you are not allowed to take, you must contact the removal companies. Here is a list of some items that may be prohibited

  • Batteries, – these should be removed from domestic equipment
  • Flammable materials
  • Liquids
  • Food, cigarettes and alcohol
  • Compressed gas and aerosol containers

Before loading your belongings which you are moving a document must be signed which will show the terms and conditions of the contract, transportation, weight carried, name and address of customer and Removal Company. By signing the waybill you will agree to the terms and conditions and give permission to the company to start transferring your items.

 The removal payment will vary and a deposit must be given to the company before items have been loaded. You should organise a payment plan with the removal company.

Important info: Contact the American embassy or consulate for more information about relocation in the country as well as customs.

Communications – Telephone, Internet & Postal Services

In the United States of America there are many telephone and internet providers. These should be researched before moving to the country so that you are aware of the different prices.


There are many Internet service providers and these can be found in the yellow pages or by word of mouth. The prices for the internet will vary and depend on the connection speed. The start up fee for many Internet services will start from $50 or less if you have all the necessary equipment. To get a good connection and service from an ISP it could cost you between $60 – $90 a month. Expats are able to purchase package deals with cable TV and phone services or may purchase internet by itself.  In rural or depopulated areas internet access may be limited although WIFI will be available in public places such as hotels and coffee shops.


To open a new telephone account for a landline is quite easy; though expats may need to go through a credit check and an individual taxpayer identification number for non-citizens will be required. There will be monthly bills made to the customers home or can also be checked online. Some telephone providers will allow customers to choose an auto paying option which is like a direct debit deducting the bill from your bank account each month. Services provided for landlines and mobile phones will be different.

To use your old mobile phone, there is an option available where you can buy a SIM card from the provider which uses the same standard as your current service provider. If the standard is different, you might be able to get your mobile phone unlocked by paying a small fee.

Mobile service providers use two main standards:

CDMA – This is mainly used in the USA as well as other countries. The services Sprint and Verizon operate on CDMA

GSM – Is used in most other countries and services include T-Mobile and AT&T


Skype is a cheap and alternative way to chat, telephone and video call to a landline or mobile phone. This is an internet based service which is very popular to keep in touch with family and friends.  Calls on Skype are usually free on a computer or the app on a mobile phone.


Once you have your own house or are renting a place, you will automatically have a postal service. If you do not want this then you can get a post office box.

Postal Fees are $0.42 per one ounce or less in an envelope within the country. When you are sending mail internationally this can cost more and will require more than one stamp.

There are many post offices in every town and a lot more in larger cities. The postal service is protected by federal law which is a safe and reliable service in the US.

When you have arrived in the USA and want to post something, you could use the following website to find your nearest post office www.usps.com

Leisure Activities

When going to live in another country you will find many things to do in all the different cities whether it being going to the movies, playing sports or even going to local events, expats will find there is always something to do.

Movies: Watching movies is still very popular in every country and in America you will see that there is a cinema in every town.

Parks: There are many free events in parks which are organised by recreating departments. These events are usually free and held at the local parks. This is another way of getting to know the community and even meeting other expats who are living in the same city. There are also parks which have playgrounds where children can be taken and some where sports activities/ groups are playing football and other activities which you could join.

Sports activities: Sports activities in the US include American football, baseball and Americans favourite sport Basketball. Soccer, golf and hockey are also very popular sports played. Expats will have opportunities to join/play with men and women’s teams playing as a league or locally.

Music: Music is very dominant in the American culture. Larger cities will have bands touring in the US and your music will be well catered for.

Arts & Crafts: If you are someone who enjoys arts, drawing, painting and pottery then there are many schools or communities where you are able to join a course and meet new friends.

Outdoor activities: The weather in the USA permits Americans to do a lot of outdoor activities. These include, camping, fishing, boating, hiking and walking. These activities are very much enjoyed by a number of people as the country has beautiful natural views.

Church activities: Many Americans go to the church and attends the regular Sunday services. Many people’s social lives include other church activities, such as youth groups, charity work and religious retreats. If you are an expat who would enjoy this then you could speak to your local church. This is another good way in meeting the local community.

American Cuisine


Living in the United States you will discover that there is a variety of speciality dishes in different cities, states and regions. You may find that some dishes are similar to ones in your home country but have an American twist on them. The American cuisine will give you plenty to discover including the tastes and flavours.

The variety of food in the country reflects the history as a country with the range of immigrants who live here.

Popular foods in America include: Burgers, cheeseburgers, onion rings, steaks and fries.

Seafood is also popular especially for people who live close to coastal areas and offer crawfish, crabs, fried catfish and mussels.

There are a lot of Italian restaurants and pizza chains available for people who enjoy this. Mexican food is also another favourite as well as Chinese or Japanese. With the different types of cuisines and dishes individuals have a range to choose from.

Breakfast starts from 7am- 10.30am

Brunch in restaurants is offered on a daily basis between 10am – 3pm

Lunch is taken between midday and 2pm

Dinner is eaten earlier between 5pm-6pm

Regular Social Events

There are many events in the USA where expats are able to socialise and meet others all year round. All these events happen in the different states where travelling is easily done to attend. Some popular events include

Rose Bowl Parade: This is held in January every year on New Year’s Day where there are spectacular floats made by flowers and flower petals. This is a big organised event and is shown on television across the country attended by thousands of people.

Martin Luther King Day: This is held in January to honour the life of Martin Luther King. Events take place in Washington DC which includes a wreath laying service and a parade

Super Bowl Sunday: A grand championship playoff match of the National Football League which is held in a large football arena with performances from famous singers. Tickets to this are very hard to purchase due to the popularity of this event. Most people who don’t attend this will hold a super bowl party where they eat and drink with their friends.

Spring Break in Florida: Universities and colleges across the country give students breaks from classes, so students generally go to Florida for beach partying.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: This event lasts for a whole month offering residents to see music entertainment, livestock exhibits and tradition rodeo competitions in Texas.

Saint Patricks Day:  This is a memorial day for the patron saint of Ireland which is celebrated amongst Irish Americans. In every city there are parades organised as well as an evening of partying. New York and Boston have the largest celebrations.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: This is held every year in April where flower lovers gather to walk through the fields, buy bulbs and welcome spring. If you enjoy the natural beauty of flowers this is something you can join in with.

Gathering of Nations Indian Powwow: This is a large gathering of Native American tribes which features Indian culture such as dancing, singing and drumming. The Native Americans will be dressed in traditional dance attire

Fiesto Noche Del Rio:  A summer outdoor performance which is on the river walk in San Antonio in Texas. You will have the opportunity to view songs and dances of Mexico, Spain and Argentina.

Spoleto Festival:  A festival equivalent to one held in Italy is a mix of dance, theatre, opera and visual arts

Quick Check New Jersey Festival of Ballooning: This is one of the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festivals which are held in North America. It is a three day event for families to enjoy hot air balloon views

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: In October, New Mexico will fill the air with vibrant colours of hot air balloons.  Guests who attend will see competitions including races and balloon rides are also available.

Halloween:  A festival which is very popular in the USA where children around the country dress up in costumes and hang about their neighbourhood in order to get candy. In some cities expats will discover that parades are held.

Thanksgiving Day: An American holiday where friends and family gather together for a feast and to thank their blessings they have in their lives.

New Years Eve Parties: All across the USA there will be New Year eve parties with the most famous held in Times Square in New York City. Las Vegas is another city that holds a party with thousands attending to celebrate and view a beautiful fireworks display

Expert Help and Advice Services

Expatriates moving to the USA will have access to help and advice from services about moving here. This will provide information on important things such as schools, looking for houses and much more.

US Expat Tax Help: A company which helps with tax issues. Experts will provide information on tax information and returns.

US Department of State: A local government website which will aid in finding a school for your child – https://www.state.gov/m/a/os/

Legal Firms: These are located in and around the city which will provide information on visas when applying for extension or residency

Local Libraries: Easily found in the city, expats are free to pop in and look for leaflets giving them guidance information.

Visitors Centre:  A centre providing information on local events and places of interest