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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

The United States Offers Expats a Great Working Life

Expats love the career prospects and work culture but worry about the affordability of healthcare.

The US ranks best in the Working Abroad Index (7th) and excels in the Career Prospects Subcategory (1st): 70% rate the local job market positively (vs. 47% globally), and 72% are satisfied with their career opportunities (vs. 58% globally). An Indian expat says that “there is an opportunity to excel if you have the required skills and work hard”, and an expat from France explains that “it is very easy to find very interesting work opportunities”.

In fact, 74% believe that moving to the United States has improved their career prospects, which is 14 percentage points more than the global average (60%).

Expats Love the Business Culture

Perhaps related to the amazing career opportunities, expats are also very happy with their jobs. The country ranks 3rd overall in the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory, placing in the top 10 for all factors in this subcategory. Expats feel that the work culture in the United States promotes creativity (3rd), independent work (7th), and flexibility (7th). More than four in five (82%) see a purpose in their work (vs. 78% globally), and 72% are satisfied with their job in general (vs. 64% globally).

Expats Earn Well

Expat workers in the United States are among the best-paid globally: 20% earn between 100,000 and 150,000 USD, nearly double the global average (11%). Another 7% have a gross yearly income of more than 250,000 USD, compared to only 3% globally. Despite that, just 62% feel paid fairly based on their industry, qualification, and role, which is the same as the global average. Most expats working in the United States have a full-time position (87% vs. 83% globally), and one in ten (10%) owns their own business (vs. 7% globally). The most common fields they work in are healthcare (12%), IT (11%), and finance (10%).

Dealing with Administrative & Digital Topics Is No Problem

The US ranks quite well in the Expat Essentials Index (13th), and the Digital Life Subcategory (10th) is a particular highlight. Nearly nine in ten expats (89%) say that it is easy to get high-speed internet at home (vs. 79% globally), and 93% are happy with the unrestricted access to online services (vs. 82% globally). A Norwegian expat notes that “the accessibility of everything I need” is one of the things that he enjoys most about life in the United States.

Close to seven in ten (68%) are also happy with the availability of administrative/government services online (vs. 61% globally). Beyond that, they find it easy to deal with local bureaucracy/authorities (53% vs. 40% globally) and open a local bank account (81% vs. 64% globally). While administrative issues are easy for those already in the US, 38% found it hard to get a visa in order to move there (vs. 24% globally). The country ranks 47th for this factor.

A Culture That Is Welcoming to Expats

Expats have mixed feelings when it comes to the Ease of Settling In Index (19th). They rank the country in mid-field for Finding Friends (27th) but are rather pleased with the Culture & Welcome (16th) they find in the United States. In fact, 71% say that it is easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 62% globally), and 71% say they feel welcome there (vs. 66% globally). “There is a non-judgmental culture here,” reports a Russian expat, while a Danish expat says that the “open culture” is a major highlight for him. Placing 11th, the country just misses out on a top 10 spot for this factor.

It Can Be Hard to Get Around

In the Quality of Life Index (36th), expats rate the Leisure Options (8th) very highly. They are especially pleased with the opportunities for recreational sports (83% happy vs. 75% globally). However, getting to these activities seems to be a bit of a problem: while 80% rate the infrastructure for cars positively (vs. 75% globally), the United States ranks in the bottom 10 for the affordability (47th) and availability (48th) of public transportation. Close to a quarter (24%) find public transportation unaffordable (vs. 15% globally), and 41% are unhappy with its availability (vs. 17% globally). A Polish expat says that the “poor transportation infrastructure” is what he dislikes most about life in the United States.

Healthcare & Safety Challenges

Healthcare is another major hurdle for expats in the United States. The country even falls in the bottom 3 in the Health & Well-Being Subcategory (50th), alongside Ireland (52nd) and Kuwait (51st). The affordability of healthcare (52nd) is a particular sore point for expats — 61% are dissatisfied with this factor, nearly triple the global average (21%). “The healthcare system is super expensive,” a Venezuelan expat explains, while another expat from South Africa says that “the high cost of healthcare” is what she struggles with most while living in the United States.

Expats in the United States also worry about their personal safety (47th). One in five expats there (20%) does not feel personally safe, compared to only 9% globally. An expat from Nigeria says that “what bothers me most is safety — safety is not guaranteed, which is scary. You have to stay alert at all times”.

Further Reading