Moving to the USA

Uprooting your life and starting afresh in a new country can be as terrifying as it is exciting – so let us make your grand adventure as painless as possible. If you’re moving to the USA alone, we’ve got you covered. Making the leap with your partner? No worries. Moving to the USA with a family? Don’t sweat it. From the best schools to the most family-friendly neighbourhoods, our guide will see you right.

We can also get you sorted with a free quote for moving to the USA. Just fill in the form at the top of this page to get free shipping quotes, and see how much it would cost to move to the USA.

Cost of shipping to the US

We’ve calculated the average international shipping rates for some of our most sought-after journeys from the UK (London), Australia (Sydney) and Canada (Montreal) to popular destinations in the US. The rates are sourced from WorldFreightRates.com and they are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth £40,000 – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance). These prices were last updated in May 2019.

OriginDestinationCostDuration
London

Los Angeles

2,590 ()

15-20 days
LondonNew York

2,504 ()

10-15 days
SydneyLos Angeles

2,299 ()

21-26 days
SydneyNew York

3,937 ()

27-32 days
MontrealLos Angeles

3,925 ()

7-9 days
MontrealNew York

682 ()

1-3 days

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

Select the size of your move to get free quotes

Cost of flying to the US

Sometimes shipping just won’t do. You need your stuff, and you need it now – which is fair enough, really. Who wants to go extra days without their favourite armchair, game console or sofa? Who wants their kid to go without their beloved stuffed toy? Be warned, though: putting your prized possessions on a plane may be up to 18 times more expensive than ocean freight, according to Transporteca.

These rates are also sourced from WorldFreightRates.com and are based on airport-to-airport transportation of much lighter goods – 250kg of household goods, to be precise – worth £40,000 to either Los Angeles or New York. This is the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance). These prices were last updated in May 2019.

OriginCostDuration
London

1,918 ()

1-3 days
Sydney

1,857 ()

1-3 days
Montreal

1,883 ()

1-3 days

Cost of Living in the USA, compared

When you’re moving stateside, be prepared for prices to shift away from what you’re used to. As ever though, your cost of living will depend on how much you’re earning, so factor that into your thinking. This is especially important if you’re coming from a country like Canada – where the average wage is much lower than the USA – or somewhere like Australia, where it’s much higher. Here are some common expenses to give you a flavour of how life will change when you move.

 USAUKAustraliaCanada
Milk, bread, rice, eggs and cheese for a week

15.41 ()

10 ()

10.65 ()

14.16 ()

Inexpensive restaurant meal

10.76 ()

12 ()

10.75 ()

8.57 ()

Bottle of beer

2.22 ()

1.84 ()

3.04 ()

1.88 ()

Cinema ticket

9.22 ()

10 ()

9.67 ()

7.42 ()

Monthly gym membership

27.52 ()

29.17 ()

34.28 ()

27.65 ()

VAT
N/A*20%10%5-15%

(Data comes from Numbeo.com and is correct as of May 2019.)

*The US has no VAT, but each state and territory has a sales tax between 2.9% and 10.5% – apart from Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon, which have no sales tax.

Living in the USA means looking at wonders like this

Yellowstone is just one of many wonders you’ll be able to appreciate when you’re living in the USA

Public Transport in the USA: how does it compare?

 USAUKAustraliaCanada
Cost★★★★★★★★★★★
Availability★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Quality★★★★★★★★★★★★
Speed★★★★★★★★★★

Driving in the USA: how does it compare?

 USAUKAustraliaCanada
Cost of a new Toyota Corolla

15,739 ()

18,688 ()

12,835 ()

13,172 ()

Cost of a litre of petrol

0.55 ()

1.25 ()

0.79 ()

0.71 ()

(Data comes from Numbeo.com and is correct as of May 2019.)

Cost of Bills in the USA

It may be one of the more run-of-the-mill costs, but household expenses can blindside you in a new country. This table should help to set your expectations before you start living in the USA.

Bill (monthly)USAUKAustraliaCanada
Gas

63 ()

48 ()

32.98 ()

71.41 ()

Water

30.75 ()

33 ()

35.79 ()

22.86 ()

Electricity

79.92 ()

49 ()

70.49 ()

60.96 ()

Internet

36.13 ()

16.90 ()

39.98 ()

42.35 ()

Income tax for average wage (including federal taxes)22%20%26.8%15.8%

Climate in the USA

Does it snow in the USA?

It sure does. In fact, every state received a flurry of frozen fractals at some point in January 2018 – even Florida, which seldom sees snow.

Temperatures varies wildly across the USA, with Texas regularly getting up to 35°C and Alaska dipping to -15°C and lower throughout the year. Here are some averages to give you an idea of what to expect.

Average temperature per month in the USA (May 2018 to April 2019):

MonthTemperature (°C)
January
0.4
February0
March4.8
April11.6
May18.6
June21.9
July24.2
August23.1
September19.9
October12.1
November4.5
December2

Average rainfall per month in the USA (May 2018 to April 2019):

MonthRainfall (mm)
January2.6
February3.3
March2.2
April3.2
May3
June3.2
July2.9
August3
September3.6
October3.4
November2.7
December3.3

Housing costs in the USA

If the numbers all add up and the weather has you California Dreamin’, the next step in your American adventure is finding a place for you and/or your family to live. This is the kind of jump – or fall – you can expect in housing prices when moving to the USA.

Cost

USAUKAustraliaCanada
Renting 1 bedroom (per month)

869 ()

653 ()

790 ()

634 ()

Renting 3 bedrooms
(per month)

1,414 ()

1,063 ()

1,211 ()

1,026 ()

Buying flat / metre²

1,695 ()

3,417 ()

3,530 ()

2,774 ()

(Data comes from Numbeo.com and is correct as of May 2019.)

Average house price in the USA: £215,760

Average price for a two-bedroom flat in the USA: £111,000

Cheapest suburb to buy a house in the USA: Heidelberg, Texas

The best neighbourhoods in the USA

Best for families: Westfort Alliance (San Antonio, Texas)

This historic district in Texas’s biggest city is five streets wide, populated by a little over 2,000 people, and is a perfect place for you to raise your family, according to comparison sites Niche and AreaVibes.

The one-time home of Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum has 21 highly rated public schools, ethnic and economic diversity, and – by all accounts – a strong sense of community. The neighbourhood is mere minutes from downtown San Antonio – and on your way, be sure to check out local Italian staple Fratello’s Deli on Broadway.

Best for students: Murfreesboro (Tennessee)

When it comes to big cities, this sunny region of Tennessee is number one in the state for livability, education and housing, as judged by AreaVibes users. The nightlife is exciting, the local state university and technical schools are held in high regard, and the rent is cheaper than the national average.

And if you’re worried about moving to the south, don’t sweat it: when it comes to age, race, religion and education level, people in the city of 136,000 are plenty diverse. You or your prospective scholar of a child would have a rip-roaring time.

Best for singles: Arena District (Columbus, Ohio)

This downtown area of Columbus is packed with exciting places to go and attractions to see. If music’s your jam, you can find everything from major concerts to intimate live performances, every night of the week. Over the course of a few weeks, you can choose between international stars The 1975, Aly & AJ and Josh Groban.

Love sport? You can watch the Blue Jackets if you prefer ice hockey, the Columbus Clippers if baseball’s your jam – or hey, why not both? And afterwards, you can head to Big Bang, a dueling piano bar. Yes, that means competitive piano-playing, and yes, it’s as wonderful as it sounds.

It’s a well-educated district too, with 71% of its 2,400 people holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and it’s also more diverse than most.

Best for hipsters: Portland (Oregon)

Where else? Portland has the record stores, vegan restaurants, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and coffee shops to back up its reputation as quirky, cool and extremely gentrified.

If you’re young and hip, you’ll love the numerous parks, broad diversity and liberal persuasions of the majority of Portland’s more than 640,000 residents. It’s the most hipster place in the USA, hands down.

Working in the USA

If you’re ready to leap into living in the USA, the American job market is ready to welcome you with open arms. As explained above, the average annual salary in the US is a healthy £35,960, and there are plenty of opportunities for talented individuals – as long as you check all the boxes. Fortunately, we’re here to help you do that, so you can start working in the USA ASAP.

Firstly, let’s check out some more localised average salaries – because in the end, it’s all about the Benjamins. These are all more economically successful cities than most, and are therefore some of your most likely destinations.

CityAverage annual salary
New York

53,800 ()

Los Angeles

48,400 ()


Chicago

48,560 ()


Houston

45,790 ()


Phoenix

41,310 ()


Work visas

If you have a job offer from the US, your employer will be applying for you to get a six-year-long H-1B visa – but be warned, the competition is fierce.  You’ll need to hold a “specialty occupation” and there are only 85,000 given out every fiscal year, which is far below the number of applicants.

Thankfully, there are other options. If you’re making the move because your employer is transferring you stateside for up to seven years, you’ll need an L1A or L1B visa. Ask your manager what steps you need to take – and if you like it in the US, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residence by asking the government for a green card.

If you’re searching for jobs in the USA, make sure to take a gander at Glassdoor, SimplyHired, Indeed and the federal government’s USAJobs for all the best opportunities out there.

Jobs in the USA for students

Studying in the USA can be expensive, especially if you want to travel from sea to sea and experience your new home to the fullest. If you want to pick up some extra money by getting a student job, we’ve got you covered.

As an international student, you’ll be on an F-1 or M-1 visa, both of which allow you to hold down an on-campus job. The cafeteria, the library, the student centre: you can work in any and all of them. After your first year, you’ll also be able to apply for jobs outside of your college – but only if it’s part of your course (Curricular Practical Training) or related to your degree (Optional Practical Training).

Expat healthcare in the USA

If you’re thinking of pledging allegiance to the Star-Spangled Banner, you probably know that the situation with healthcare in the USA is complicated, to say the least. While pretty much every developed nation on earth has universal healthcare – including far less prosperous countries like Oman, Costa Rica and Kyrgyzstan – the US has stubbornly refused to play ball.

Instead, you should prepare for a system which is costly and ineffective. In 2018, researchers found that the US spends roughly twice as much as other high-income nations on healthcare – a full 17% of its GDP – and has the worst life expectancy and infant mortality rates of any of them. Don’t worry, though. We’ll get you ready to deal with any disaster.

Do you need private insurance?

Almost certainly, yes. The US government’s public healthcare programmes, Medicare and Medicaid, mainly cover Americans who are over 65 or financially disadvantaged, which probably doesn’t include you. You may be insured through your employer – check with them as a priority – but if not, you can get an insurance plan to cover you and your family.

Be sure to shop around though. The average American family spends $14,016 (£11,088) per year on coverage alone, according to comparison site eHealthInsurance.

Can you use the state healthcare services?

You can use pretty much any state medical facility you like – just make sure that you’re insured, or be prepared to pay through the nose for treatment. The USA has some of the best doctors and research teams in the world, and has made huge strides in terms of research – but its healthcare system is deeply flawed.

Schools in the USA

You’ve sorted healthcare; you’ve sorted where you want to live; you’ve even worked out whether your chosen home will have more or less rainfall than most. Now it’s time to take a look at education in the USA and finally find a school for your kid.

Best place for public schools: Chicago (Illinois)

First, as ever, you have to decide whether you want to send your child to a public or private school. The benefits and drawbacks of both will depend on where you want to live, so again, make sure to look around and consider all your options.

If public schooling is the only way for you and your kid, there’s only one place in the US for you, according to Niche: Chicago. The top six suburbs in the USA with the best public schools are all in Illinois’s biggest city, with the northern region of Long Grove taking top spot. From elementary school all the way to high school, the suburb has A-rated public institutions.

Best place for private schools: Andover (Massachusetts)

If you’d rather eschew the public system in favour of a profit-driven enterprise, the best place that you and your child can look is Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

The high school is number one in the country, but that comes at a price: $102,600 (£81,160) per year, to be exact. But if you want the best, then look to this boarding school, which was founded in 1778 – just two years after the USA declared independence.

Conclusion

We completely understand why you want to start living in the USA: it’s excitingly fresh yet similar enough to where you’re coming from, challenging yet familiar, and so broad that there’s a place for everyone. Hopefully now you’ll see the difficulties and challenges associated with making the move, but also have a taste of what makes America so special. From natural beauty to endless innovation and intertwining cultures, the US has plenty to offer. So don’t hesitate: head on over to our International Container Shipping Costs page and see how much it would take to set you up in your new American home. Or, to start receiving quotes for shipping to the USA, simply fill in this form and our professional suppliers will get back to you!