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Moving to the US

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to the US

Understand the process of relocating to the US by reading our practical guide on moving to the US. We discuss the requirements you need to meet and the steps you need to take for your transition. From determining what visa you need to your first encounter with the US tax system, our guide covers all you need to know for a successful move.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Are you wondering how to move to the US? If your goal is to live the American dream, this guide is the perfect step towards your journey. We answer all the questions that arise when preparing for your move.

How hard or easy it is for you to move to the US depends on many factors. What you do for living is one of them. If you fall under the category Employment First Preference E1 (i.e. persons with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, multinational managers or executives), you will find it a lot easier than if you are in the Employment Third Preference E3 bracket (i.e. skilled workers, professionals, unskilled workers).

 Another thing to know when moving to the US is that each of the 50 states can be seen as its own separate country. They each have a different culture, traditions, and even laws. For this reason, what you need to do when moving to the US is to check the specific regulations of the state you wish to relocate to.

Still wondering why you should move to the US? Read on to discover how job opportunities and affordable real estate are just some of the benefits of moving to the US, a melting pot of cultures.

relocating

Relocating

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

The process of moving to the US can be complicated. It will be key to familiarize yourself with local customs laws. This section of our guide covers the basic rules for bringing alcohol, tobacco, and food into the country, as well as the importation of any medication you might need during the first few months.

When you ship household good to the US, it important that you are aware of the distinction between household goods and personal effects. For instance, your TV and your camera are classified under two separate groups of items. Understanding these categories will make your moving process smoother. Storing your household goods should not be a problem in the US. The country has plenty of short- and long-term storage options available.

You should also look into your medical situation. The US requires all people who want to stay in the country for an extended period of time to go through a thorough check-up, which is conducted by a local US embassy-approved physician. There is also a list of required vaccinations you have to get before entering the country.

Even more rules apply if you wish to move to the US with your pets. If your pet is a dog or bird, you might need to spend a few months preparing your furry or feathery friend for the big move. Regulations for cats, reptiles, and rodents are less rigorous, as long as their breeds are not prohibited in the country. Find out exactly what you need to do by reading this section of our guide.

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Visas & Work Permits

Wondering how to get a US visa and work permit? In this section, you will find a summary of employment-based visa types and the other categories available to eligible expats.

While eligibility is a priority when applying for a US visa, make sure you budget for the inevitable visa costs as well. Costs involved with processing your documentation include the price of mailing, the production of the document itself, and even a filing fee. This can add up to hundreds of dollars.

If you plan to stay in the US for the long run, a few factors will help you qualify for a permanent US visa. Family, employment, or sheer luck might get you a chance to settle in the US for ten whole years. Be aware that going through the permanent visa application process itself might take you quite some time. 2

Read our full guide on visas for the US and find out all you need to know about eligibility requirements, family visa equivalents, and length of time your documents allow you to stay in the country.

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housing

Housing

When thinking about accommodation in the US, you first need to decide whether you wish to rent or buy a property. Both housing choices are equally viable, but your approach to finding your dream rental or purchase will differ depending where you live.

If you opt to live in one of the big cities in the US, for example, renting an apartment or a house is usually the best option. This is typically the preferred choice of many expats who are not sure how long they will be in the country. Our guide provides detailed steps on how to rent a house in the US.

If you are moving to US for a longer period, you will be interested to know how to buy a house.Homeownership is popular among foreigners as there are few eligibility requirements to fulfill in order to buy a home.

You will have to choose the neighborhood and the type of house that is most suitable for you. Looking at the average rent and house prices might help you decide on this. Determining the average rent price in the US is tricky because of the variety of renting options available across the country. To give you an idea, the median rent of a single bedroom apartment in the US is around 900-1,000 USD. Median rent price for all types of property is usually about 1,700 USD.

No matter if you choose to rent or buy, you will most likely have to deal with US utility companies. Find out more about how to set up your utilities, what to expect from your bills, and many other housing-related practicalities by reading the full article on housing in the US.

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healthcare

Healthcare

In this section, we aim to clarify most uncertainties by introducing you to the healthcare and health insurance system in the US. You will learn to navigate your way through the most expensive healthcare system in the world.

Calling the US health system complicated is an understatement. Billions of dollars are spent on it each year by the government and individuals, yet it still seems to be a headache for both locals and expats. Additionally, the laws regulating the system constantly change, which adds to the general feeling of confusion.

To start off, public healthcare does exist in the US but it is not universal. This is why having private health insurance is vital to avoid high medical bills. The good news is that most employers do cover health insurance bills for their employees. Still, the plans they provide are not always sufficient, so you might need to pay for additional coverage.

There are also pros and cons further down the line. For example, your health insurance provider will help you find a doctor, but also will limit the choice of professionals you can see.

If you will be giving birth in the US, you will have access to professional medical staff who attend to all your needs. But be prepared for a hefty bill. It costs between 30,000 and 50,000 USD to have a baby in the US. To know how much you will pay out-of-pocket and the percentage covered by insurers, read our detailed healthcare section.

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Banks & Taxes

Is opening a bank account in the US hard? The short answer is: No. Money is an important part of US culture. This is why it is not a surprise that many banks are quick to accommodate anyone who wishes to open an account.

The US is home to a lot of the world’s best banks. They offer suitable bank account options to clients whether they are locals or non-residents living in the country. However, regardless of your residency status, you will need to be in the country to open a bank account there.

Once you get to the US and make your first purchase you are bound to notice one significant detail: The amount that is on the price tag is less than the price you are charged at the counter. This might be your first encounter with the US tax system. And if you are moving to the US, it will not be the last.

But, how much is the tax in the US? The good news is that tax rates are fairly low. Want to know how low? Read our banks and taxes section of the guide.

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education

Education

Are you moving to the US with your children and want to enroll them in an international school? International schools in the US are often pricey. In most cases, the fee depends on the state you are in as well as the ranking and popularity of the school. Fees range from around 15,000 to 50,000 USD per year.

The US school curriculum is fairly standard throughout the country, but discrepancies can be found between states and whether you enroll your child in public or private school. The school system in the US is split into preschool, primary, middle, and high school and is followed by undergraduate, graduate, and further degree programs in higher education institutions.

The biggest problem in the US education system right now is the cost of higher education. Many students that wish to study in universities cannot afford to choose schools that best suit their abilities and if they do, they end up with a large student debt after graduation.  Continue reading this section, for detailed information on the education system and the best schools in the US.

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working

Working

Work is taken very seriously in the US. Employees do not typically take more than two weeks’ vacation per year.  Moreover, working overtime is common and an essential part of the business culture. US Americans often put their careers as their main priority and the same is expected from expats who come to work here as well.

On the plus side, the rewards are usually worth it. The average salary in the US is high for a skilled worker. If you land a job that is in high demand, you can expect to receive enough money to live comfortably. However, government-provided social security is rather limited, and unemployment benefits are rather low.

Setting up a business is the only way of becoming self-employed in the US. While it is generally easy for locals, foreigners might struggle with obtaining the right visa that would allow them to work for themselves.

Still wondering how to get a job in the US? Read this section for more detailed steps.

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living

Living

What is it like living in the US? What are the pros and cons of living there? One of the usual concerns is about costs. Just to give you an idea, groceries are usually more expensive than in many other Western countries. On the other hand, fuel is significantly cheaper, which is very important to one of the cultural phenomena of the US –– driving.

Driving in the US is such an important asset that some states legally allow 14-year-olds to operate vehicles. Driving is often taught at schools and is a highly demanded skill for most job postings.

The driving culture might be one of the many reasons why public transportation in the US is so underdeveloped. While the big cities of the country enjoy safe and reliable public transit such as metro and buses, when it comes to interstate travels, the US leaves a lot to be desired.

Apart from the driving and transportation options in the US, the living section of our guide also introduces you to the practicalities of the country, such as emergency phone numbers and celebrated public holidays.

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Updated on: September 09, 2020
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