Whether it is glamorous television shows, glitzy Hollywood or top 40 hits, the world takes a lot of its cultural cues from the USA, which is why it always seems somewhat familiar when we visit.
As Britons, we feel even more at home, after all, America is like family, a distant cousin with a shared history and culture, helped enormously by the attitude of Americans themselves, who are overwhelmingly welcoming to Britons.
The latest figures available put the number of Britons choosing to make the USA home at 700,000. If you’re thinking of joining them, read on and discover what it is that makes so many Britons head across the Pond for life in the good old US of A.
Try and Find Friendlier, More Courteous People
The reputation of Americans as friendly is on the whole, true. The ‘have a good day’ culture really does exist and it can be quite a refreshing change for foreigners. Of course, the extent of openness depends very much on where you live. New York is like any major city in the world, with busy people who perhaps have less time to stop and chat, but head to the southern states and fully expect to be engaged in conversation in shops and cafes, especially when people hear your accent – you can quickly become quite the novelty.
If you want to know which state is the most polite, it is apparently Oklahoma, followed by Alabama, Ohio and Rhode Island, according to a survey carried out by Canada.
This open, friendly attitude is reflected in statistics, too. According to the latest Internations Expat Insider survey, 63 per cent of expats say they feel at home in the local culture and a quarter say they mostly count locals as their friends. With such a warm welcome offered by Americans, nearly half of expats said they could see themselves living in the USA forever.
A State For Everyone
As anyone who has ever looked at a map knows, America is vast. Stretching from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California, this huge expanse of a country is, of course, hugely varied. This is great news for expats, because if you are flexible, you are sure to find the perfect place to suit your lifestyle.
Most people thinking of the USA imagine life in fast-paced, ultra-modern New York, the glamour and natural beauty of California or the laid-back beach life you can enjoy in Florida – a particular favourite with Britons. But beyond that, there is so much more to explore.
Austin has become a technology and computing hub in Texas and has an exciting music and cultural scene, Seattle has major offices for Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon and its lush green surrounds, nearby vineyards and coast make it a great choice for quality of life, while Boston has a huge university scene (Harvard is one of the staggering 35 universities based here), making it a vibrant expat outpost.
If you like southern charm, have you considered life in the Carolinas? Or the rich cultural mix of New Orleans, Louisiana? Illinois is crowned by the spectacular city of Chicago, with its amazing art and architecture and its lakeside setting, while Colorado is home to the Rockies and Denver is a cosmopolitan capital and your gateway to the dazzling scenery. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in the USA.
World-Leaders in Industry
If you want to be in finance, New York’s Wall Street is the place to be, for film it is of course Los Angeles, while Silicon Valley is the tech capital of the USA and the oil industry has sent Texas cities soaring, from Houston and Dallas to Austin and San Antonio.
That’s what happens when you are the world’s largest economy, there are plenty of world-leading companies and institutions to choose from and you can attract the best talent, which is great for expats with specialisms who want a chance to work in the US. So if you want the chance to be at the top of your game, you will be joining the 59 per cent of expats who considered the economy and labour markets advantages when moving to the USA, according to the Internations Survey.
The great news for you is that two-thirds of expats questioned were satisfied with their career in the USA, 12 percentage points above the global average, and 68 per cent said they were happy with their job overall. If you’re looking for fair pay for your work, a third of working expats said their income was higher than it would be in their home country.
OK, so everything is relative. Big cities are always expensive (have you tried renting in New York?) and you have to focus on things such as the cost of healthcare, which you perhaps don’t have at home. But overall, life can be cheaper in the USA, whether it is buying a property, going out to eat or buying groceries in the huge supermarkets. Branded clothes and electricals can also be cheaper than at home.
If you can be flexible about where you live, you can get a lot more for your money when buying a property. The median home value in the United States is $225,300 (£173,000), while in the UK it is £232,526. In fact, in the US the average price per square foot is $150 (£115), while in the UK the latest figures put it at £211.
Beautiful Natural Landscapes
From the dramatic Grand Canyon to glistening Lake Tahoe, the vast frozen expanse of Alaska to the bubbling geezers and alpine meadows of Yellowstone National Park and Florida beaches of brilliant white sands, the USA delivers when it comes to amazing landscapes.
All that contributes to a vibrant internal tourism industry. Forget travelling abroad, you have so much to see on your doorstep and expats love taking advantage of that diversity. Spend winters skiing, summers at amazing beaches, discover otherworldly landscapes in Utah and spot amazing wildlife in Washington.
In most places in the USA you need to have a car as public transport is lacking compared to the UK, but that provides the perfect excuse for taking road trips to explore your surroundings. And with so much nature all around, there is a great outdoors culture which both children and adults can take advantage of, from surfing to hiking, biking to canyoneering.
Become a Part-Time Expat
Like the idea of living in the USA but not ready to make a full-time jump? Well, there’s a visa for that.
The B-2 visa allows UK citizens to spend up to six months a year in the USA, as long as you can show strong ties at home, such as a property, family and/or a job, as well as funds to support yourself while in the country. You will have to fill out a form, supply some documentation as evidence of your ties as well as a planned travel itinerary and attend an interview at the embassy.