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Wellesley, a Beautiful Suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts

Moving to the United States

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to the United States for its strong economy, diverse culture, and excellent educational opportunities. Additionally, the United States offers a wide range of job opportunities, making it an attractive destination for those looking to work abroad. People looking for a place to live in the United States can find a variety of housing options, from renting an apartment to buying a home. Popular cities for expats and digital nomads in the United States include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin.

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What do I need to know before moving to the United States?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to the United States, they said:

"Before moving to the United States, it is important to become familiar with relevant immigration laws. It is necessary to begin the immigration process as early as possible and to acquire a visa. Additionally, it is important to provide tax documentation and to understand the tax code of the United States. It is recommended to contact a licensed immigration attorney for added assistance. When choosing a place to settle, it is helpful to be familiar with the cost of living in different parts of the country, cultural norms of the area, job prospects and availability of public services. It is also a good idea to research educational opportunities in the area. Knowing a few phrases in English can be very beneficial, but it is not necessary to be completely fluent before moving. If you are relocating internationally, it may be beneficial to have access to assistance in setting up a bank account, rental or purchase of a home, understanding insurance policies, and finding transportation options. Additionally, being aware of different laws and customs can help ensure a seamless transition," remarked another expat who made the move to United States.

"Really need to come and stay awhile to see if you like the climate and area. We ended up buying in a place that has many rentals. If we decide in 3-5-10 years we like another area better we can always flip this to a rental. Three bedroom on beach was $213,000. Doing loan on line through Puerto Rican bank and speaking muy piquito Spanish was an adventure. Add Covid-19 and you increase the chocolate and wine factor," explained one expat living in Palmas Del Mar Humacao , United States.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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How do I find a place to live in the United States?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"The best way to find a place to live in the United States is to research online. You can look up areas of interest, average rental costs, and any amenities or attractions that you may be looking for. You can use websites such as Craigslist, Zillow, and Apartments.com to compare rentals in different cities or neighborhoods. Additionally, you can talk to family and friends, who may have lived in the area you are considering. Local real estate agents can provide helpful information about neighborhoods, rental costs, and availability," replied a member in United States.

"Came and stayed for a month touring island. Last 3 days found the part we liked, so came back down and rented a condo there for 2 weeks. Arranged finances online and came down 3rd time to sign and move in," commented one expat who made the move to Palmas Del Mar Humacao .

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in the United States?

"A typical expat home or apartment in the United States is often modern and comfortable, typically furnished with both new and traditional furniture. Many expat homes feature amenities such as air-conditioning, wireless internet, and flat-screen televisions. If an expat lives in an urban area, their typical home may be a one- or two-bedroom condominium, townhouse, or apartment. If an expat lives in a rural area, they may have a house or a cabin. Some expats bring their own furnishings with them when they move, while others opt to purchase new furniture when they move. In either case, kitchens will often be fully equipped and many expats take advantage of the larger supply of international goods available in the US," explained one expat living in United States.

"Condo on beach. [Palmas del Mar is a] large resort area but still 3000 permanent residents equally distributed across age range from 1-87 years. Large % condo but houses available. Most expats live in condo villages," said another expat in Palmas Del Mar Humacao .

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What is the average cost of housing in the United States?

If you are thinking about moving to the United States, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The average cost of housing in the United States varies significantly depending on location and market prices, but generally falls in the range of about $200,000 to $400,000 for a single-family home," replied a member in United States.

"Housing costs much lower but we moved from Seattle, WA. Any other locations in WA would be slightly lower for regular condo location and much lower for on water," commented one expat who made the move to Palmas Del Mar Humacao .

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in United States

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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Should I buy or rent a home in the United States?

If you have not spent a lot of time in the United States, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"Deciding whether to buy or rent a home in the United States is largely dependent on personal preference and financial standing. Buying a home will allow you to customize the property and build equity, but it also requires a significant investment of money and commitment. If you're not ready for a long-term financial commitment, you may want to consider renting instead, as it provides more flexibility and lower up-front costs. Researching your area, finances, and desired lifestyle is the best way to determine if buying or renting a home is the right choice for you," replied a member in United States.

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What should I pack when moving to the United States?

We asked people living in the United States to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"When moving to the United States it is important to pack necessary items for the journey, such as valid travel documents, comfortable clothing for traveling, toiletries, and any medications that you require. You should also bring personal documents, such as copies of birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses, educational records and medical reports. Additionally, you will need to bring anything else that you desire to have with you, such as photographs, personal items, and items of sentimental value. Finally, pack what you need to start settling in once you arrive, such as furniture and household items, clothing, electronics, and kitchen supplies," said another expat in United States.

"Brought: Good knife set and favorite coffee mug. Left: Anything long sleeved or pretty rather than comfortable and sweater and windbreaker," remarked another expat who made the move to Palmas Del Mar Humacao .

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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in the United States?

We asked people in the United States if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"In the United States, it is important to avoid making assumptions about people based on their race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion. It is also important to show respect to elders and to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when appropriate. It is considered poor etiquette to talk loudly in public or to interrupt. Another cultural faux pas is to arrive late for meetings, events or appointments. Additionally, it is important to dress appropriately for different occasions and never to be too casual. Lastly, many Americans take being on time seriously, so it is important to plan accordingly and arrive on time," replied a member in United States.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Wellesley, a Beautiful Suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts

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