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Housing & Accommodation

Major US Expat Destinations

There are some destinations in the USA which are and always have been rather popular with expats. However, this doesn’t mean that they are the best places to settle down in. We give you an insight into expat destinations in the USA and tell you where Americans are moving to.

The United States of America – A Multicultural Country

The USA has always been a multicultural nation, from the first European settlers to the expats and immigrants who shape the country today. While the first groups of settlers were relatively small, the first big waves of immigrants reached the country in the 1800s. These immigrants moved to different neighborhoods, cities, and regions of the country. Scandinavian and German immigrants settled predominantly in the Midwest, turning their home into fertile agricultural regions.

Most immigrants, many of them of Jewish or Irish descent, arrived in New York and stayed in the region, turning it into a cultural mosaic. At the same time, Chinese immigrants landed in San Francisco and settled down on the West Coast. In recent decades, mostly Cuban and Latin American people have come to the United States as immigrants, often settling down in areas close to the border, such as Southern Florida, Arizona or Texas. 

Expats, however, are a slightly different category, as they usually aim for a temporary stay only and move wherever they find work. So let’s take a look at the most popular expat destinations throughout the country.

Most Popular US Expat Destinations

While expats settle down all over the United States nowadays, some urban centers are just more popular than others. Most of them look back on a history of multiculturalism and many population groups have left their mark on the architecture, the music, or the food culture of the US city. We will introduce you briefly to some of these cities.

New York City

New York City, also known as The City That Never Sleeps, has been a major expat and immigrant destination for centuries. The Statue of Liberty, one of the main attractions in New York City, is the symbol for the USA’s status as an immigrant country. But this city is not only a magnet for creative, driven business people of any background or nationality, it is also THE American city per se. Portrayed in countless movies, songs and TV shows, destroyed countless times in Hollywood action flicks, New York is what most people think of first when they think of the USA. However, the business culture in this city is often described as “cut-throat”. Expats have to be particularly determined to be successful in New York City. The sentiment that “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” rings true after all.

Los Angeles

L.A. is the famous movie mecca of the United States. Actors, dancers, screenwriters, and those who yet have to make it, move to L.A. in hopes of having their big break. But the metropolis in the United States’ southwest is also the home of numerous business people and expats making use of the various opportunities the city has to offer. Most immigrants who settle in Los Angeles hail from Mexico, Central and Latin America, or Asia. But there are also expats from countless other countries, who are attracted by the job opportunities as well as by the balmy weather, the beautiful beaches, and the palm trees.


Chicago, also often referred to as The Windy City, was once an industrial center which provided work to many Americans, expats, and immigrants. Still today, its multicultural heritage can be found in different neighborhoods: there are the traditionally Irish neighborhoods, European and Scandinavian enclaves, Asian and Middle Eastern neighborhoods, and so on. Although the city’s industrial success has long faded, Chicago is still an important transportation hub. In addition, it is the commercial center of the American Midwest.

San Francisco

This city in northern California is a liberal mecca for all those who do not quite fit in. The first Chinese immigrants landed in San Francisco, but it was also the home of the Beat Generation and the first hippies. Later it became the center of the LGBT rights movement and of technological invention. In fact, San Francisco is often deemed the world’s most tolerant and accepting city. With Silicon Valley located southwest of the bay, the city is also the perfect destination for expats seeking work in the technology sector.


Located in Florida’s south, Miami boasts a warm climate all around the year. It is the perfect place to be for anyone who wants to escape the snow and rain to spend their life at beautiful beaches and enjoy the shade of the occasional palm tree. This is also why Miami is the favorite destination of many snowbirds, often elderly Americans or Canadians who venture to the sunny south during those cold winter months. Some of them even move there for good. Another population group which significantly shapes Miami’s cultural climate are Cuban immigrants. Miami is, after all, the Caribbean’s leading port-of-call and lies in close proximity to the Cuban island.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine