Deciding where to live is difficult in any country, but when you’re moving to the US, the third-largest country on Earth, with 9,834,000km² of incredible cities, attractions, and landscapes to choose from – it can be overwhelming.

Don’t worry, though: we’ve got you covered. From the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountains to the Salt Flats and the Everglades, we’ve done the research. Whatever your needs, we’ll ensure you feel like this land is your land in no time.

If you feel ready to take the plunge, fill in the form above to compare all the best shipping companies who can help you with your move.

The Best Places to Live in the US

CityStateBest for
ScottsdaleArizonaBest for Work
LancasterPennsylvaniaBest for Retirement
San AntonioTexasBest for Raising a Family
PortlandOregonBest for Food and Drink
AtlantaGeorgiaBest for Travel
YumaArizonaBest for Climate
DenverColoradoBest for Adventure

Scottsdale, Arizona

Best for: Work

a building on the waterfront in scottsdale, arizona

The waterfront in Scottsdale is stunning

You’ll earn more in California, Washington DC or New York, but if you want the place with the best combination of job opportunities, average salary, and cost of living, head out west to the desert city of Scottsdale.

According to Niche, the city’s median household income is $80,306 (£65,032) – around $25,000 (£20,200) more than the national average – while an in-depth 2019 WalletHub survey found it was the best place to find a job in the US.

Scottsdale’s also a lovely place to live, with more than two-thirds of reviewers on Niche giving the city five stars – and no wonder.

When you’re working in this 125-year-old city, you’ll enjoy around 300 days of sunshine every year (nearly 100 days more than the average US location) and an average commute of just 20 minutes, according to Data USA

If you become one of the Scottsdale’s 250,000-strong population, you can look forward to never being bored. The city’s beautiful architecture and hundred-year-old olive trees will make a great first impression, but there’s so much more to appreciate about Scottsdale.

It has everything, from excellent public schools and a buzzing nightlife scene to more spas per capita than any other city in the US – and then there’s the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

This nature reserve has more than 30,000 acres of beautiful desert landscape to explore, and 180 miles of hiking trails on which to do it.

ProsCons
Best place to find a job in the USSome snooty inhabitants, reportedly
The median household income is $25,000 more than the national averageMore expensive than other areas in Arizona
300 days of sunshine per year

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Best for: Retirement

a shot of lancaster, pennsylvania

Lancaster is the perfect place for anyone who loves relaxation and chicken

There are many excellent places to retire to around the world, but in the US, there’s a standout winner – and no, it’s not in Florida or California.

Surprisingly enough, the honour goes to the charming city of Lancaster, PA, where the US’s oldest Amish settlement sits alongside suburban homes, and a historic district containing more than 14,000 buildings.

Lancaster’s homes are much more affordable than the US average, which helps when you’re moving on a fixed income. The city’s typical house price is $109,700 (£88,800), which is $75,000 (£60,700) cheaper than the national average.

And there’s something for every one of Lancaster’s 60,000 people, including the largest one-day chicken barbeque in the world. It’s been going for 67 years and serves up around 20,000 chicken dinners every year.

And if chickens aren’t your thing, there are also three highly-rated theatres, a baseball stadium, a 35-ride water park, and tours around a distillery, a science museum, and President James Buchanan’s estate.

There are also plenty of opportunities for retirees to make friends in Lancaster, helped by the fact that Lancaster is mostly accessible on foot. More than one in four people there are over the age of 45, which may also explain the city’s relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

ProsCons
The typical house price is $75,000 cheaper than the national averageIt gets down to -6°C in the winter
Mostly accessible on footNot for anyone who wants a big city or beaches
Plenty of culture, including three highly-rated theatres

Westfort Alliance, San Antonio, Texas

Best for: Raising a family

downtown san antonio

Downtown San Antonio is just minutes from Westfort Alliance

This historic district in Texas’s second-biggest city is five streets wide, contains a smidgen over 2,000 people, and is a perfect place for you to raise your family.

The one-time home of Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum has 21 highly rated public schools, a wealth of ethnic and economic diversity, and – by all accounts – a strong sense of community.

There’s no crime to speak of, 220 days of sunshine every year, two cinemas within a 15-minute drive, and WalletHub found in 2019 that San Antonio – whose downtown is minutes from Westfort – is the cheapest place in the US to indulge your love of food.

On that subject, be sure to check out local Italian staple Fratello’s Deli on Broadway. Nothing helps a family settle into this delightful town better than some garlic knots.

ProsCons
21 excellent public schoolsSummers can be intensely hot
Very little crimeTraffic in and out of San Antonio is sometimes horrendous
Minutes from downtown San Antonio

Portland, Oregon

Best for: Food and Drink

duck confit like the ones served in portland, oregon

Duck confit is one of many delicious dishes you can enjoy in Portland

We know. This decision is controversial – and really, whichever place we chose would spark arguments. The truth is, you have to decide for yourself what kinds of fantastic food you favour, because when you’re living in the US, they’re all available.

The real question is: where can you afford to buy them? New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are all blessed with a cornucopia of incredible restaurants and food shops – but none of them can be fully enjoyed if you’re not an oil tycoon or lottery winner.

Portland is different. Not only is it home to world class restaurants, but you won’t have to break the bank (or rob one) to eat at all of them. According to price comparison site Numbeo, Portland is between 29% and 38% cheaper to eat in than LA, NYC, and San Francisco.

Because of this, you can gorge yourself, guilt-free.

Enjoy some premium south-east Asian street food at Pok Pok (the Vietnamese chicken wings are especially delicious), before moving onto Portland favourite Andina, where the halibut ceviche, duck confit, and beef heart kebabs will win you over to Peruvian tapas.

If you’re after fine dining, Portland has you covered there as well. Visit French-Asian fusion Le Pigeon for black truffle tortellini, dry-aged pigeon, or wasabi fried chicken, before getting some dessert wine and foie gras profiteroles with caramel sauce and sea salt.

And in Portland, no-one has to feel excluded by their own dietary requirements. The hipster capital of the world has more than enough options for everyone, with numerous vegetarian and vegan eateries, and dozens of dedicated gluten-free restaurants.

However, if variety isn’t your jam, there are states to satiate any and all specific appetites. 

Move to Texas or Tennessee for beautiful barbecue, New Orleans for Cajun and Creole cuisine, or New England for clam chowder and fluffernutters.

And don’t worry, we’re not leaving out the midwest. States like Colorado and Wyoming should receive more love for their mouthwatering bison burgers and euphemistically named Rocky Mountain oysters, which are actually deep-fried bull or buffalo testicles.

If that sounds too tasty to turn down, fill in this form to compare shipping company quotes and start your culinary adventure.

ProsCons
Portland is 29% to 38% cheaper to eat in than LA, NYC, and San FranNot a specialist in one food area, like BBQ
Offers everything from south-east Asian street food to Peruvian tapas
Dozens of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free eateries

Atlanta, Georgia

Best for: Travel

a bird's eye view of atlanta, georgia

When you live in Atlanta, the world is yours for the taking

If you’re moving to the US so you can travel across the country – experiencing everything this great nation can offer you – then get Georgia on your mind.

Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are well within reach for flights from Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport, and more far-flung destinations live in its wheelhouse too.

Hartsfield–Jackson, which has held the title of busiest airport in the world since 1998, can whisk you away to locations like Shanghai, Johannesburg, and Doha on a daily basis.

Plus, you’ll be perfectly positioned to cut a rug across the southern states and up the east coast. Houston and New York City are both less than 1,200km away, which translates to less than two hours in flight time.

In Atlanta, where tasty seafood is almost as plentiful as the flights on Hartsfield–Jackson’s departure board, the world is your oyster.

ProsCons
Has the busiest airport in the worldTraffic in the city is bad
Houston and New York City are both less than 1,200km away
You can fly to anywhere from Shanghai to Doha

Yuma, Arizona

Best for: Climate

a view of yuma, arizona

If you love sun, Yuma is for you

As Guns N' Roses (almost) sang, take me down to Yuma city, where the grass is green and 90% of the days are sunny. If clear skies raise your spirits, and you love lazing outside in the sun more than the average lizard, you’ll adore this desert city.

Yuma has 4,015 hours of sunshine per year – averaging out to 11 hours of sun every single day.

In June, it’s sunny 97% of the daytime, which is basically heaven on earth. You can regularly enjoy 40°C weather in the summer, and the average high across the year never drops below 20°C.

The city of 95,000 people also gets an average of just 3.36 inches of rain per year – all of which clears the way for its inhabitants (and thousands of visitors in winter) to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities.

There’s golf or hiking if you’re in the mood for some exercise in beautiful surroundings, birdwatching and fishing if you prefer more stationary activities, and Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park if you’re up for a journey through history.

The site detained more than 3,000 prisoners while Arizona was a territory around the turn of the 20th century, and is the reason why the local high school’s mascot is a criminal.

However, if summer is your personal hell, and the thought of year-round heat and sunshine makes you want to crawl into a cool, dark cave – no worries. This is America, where the options (and landscapes) are unlimited.

ProsCons
90% of days are sunnyMake sure you enjoy the quiet, small-town life
Average of 11 hours of sun per day
Fascinating part of Wild West history

Park City, Utah

Best for: Winter

park city, utah in winter

Enjoy Park City's frozen fractals and film festival

Anyone can get snowed under in New York or shredded by icy winds in Chicago, but you can get ahead of the game by spending your winters in one of the US’s premier snow sports destinations.

Park City was one of the major venues of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and it lives up to that prestigious accolade. You can go skiing or snowboarding on some of the best slopes in the world – and if you don’t want to exert yourself, there are plenty of other options.

You can enjoy some snowmobiling, or attach yourself to several adorable huskies and go dog-sledding through the snowy plains. If you’re lucky, you’ll see deer, elk, and moose on the way.

And if you like a serving of culture with your natural wonders and sporting excursions, the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City in late January every year, bringing fans and critics to watch the best independent flicks of the current day.

ProsCons
World class facilities for skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and dog-sleddingThe secret is out, so expect lots of tourists
Plenty of wildlife, including deer, elk, and moose
Hosts the Sundance Film Festival

Charleston, South Carolina

Best for: Spring

Charleston will knock your socks off with its stunning floral displays

This picturesque 350-year-old city is wonderful in summer, but spring is the best time to take a stroll along its beautiful streets, gazing at Greek Revival architecture and all the azaleas, magnolias, and camellias you could ever want.

And while summers can reach blistering temperatures around 37°C, spring is much more manageable, with the mercury hovering in the 20s for the most part.

You’ll also be right by the coast, so get ready to indulge yourself at seafood festivals, Cajun and otherwise. There’s nothing like sitting under some spring foliage, enjoying fresh shrimp and grits – or soft-shell crab, which can only be enjoyed in spring. 

Enjoy your delectable local delicacies on the beach, at Shem Creek waterway in the aptly named Mount Pleasant, or at one of many brunch places in Charleston.

And if you’re after some high-brow cultural events, the Festival of Houses and Gardens in April is a delightful tour of the city’s historic private homes and their stunning displays of flora and fauna.

Make sure to also drop by the Spoleto Festival USA, where you can enjoy music from jazz to opera and chamber music, as well as theatre, comedy, and ballet.

ProsCons
Azaleas, magnolias, and camellias combine for stunning foliageThe city pretty much closes down on Sundays
Delicious seafood is available everywhere
Beaches are plentiful and enjoyable in spring
Plenty of cultural events, including the Spoleto Festival

Peacham, Vermont

Best for: Autumn

Peacham, Vermont during autumn

Peacham is small, but it's incredibly pretty

When you’re living in the US and autumn hits (or fall…falls), there’s only one region to live in – and that’s New England. The foliage is a stunning display of fiery reds and oranges, and there’s no better place to enjoy it than the tiny town of Peacham, Vermont.

With a population of just 732, you’ll be freed from the hustle and bustle of tourist traps along the east coast, and able to appreciate the crisp beauty of its forests. Go camping, go hiking, or simply go for a walk. It’s worth it for the Instagram-able photos alone.

However, if you prefer a party in the autumn, you should head down to New Orleans. The Big Easy is a constant madcap delight, but ironically, the city known as the most haunted in the US comes alive for Halloween.

Get into the spirit by visiting the city’s voodoo shops and going on a haunted tour or two, and then leap into any of the countless street parties. These raucous festivals splash colour, creative costumes and a whole lot of alcohol onto the Louisiana pavements.

Make sure to check out the Endless Night Vampire Ball, a favourite for goths and steampunk fans everywhere, as well as the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience, which is an international music festival with a spooky vibe that flies under the radar.

All of these ghostly, ghoulish goings-on build up to the creepy crescendo of the Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade. 

Beginning in the French Quarter, this celebration of all things horror features terrifying three-dimensional characters on giant floats, and is a guaranteed great time.

ProsCons
The foliage is stunningNot much entertainment
A population of just 732 means you'll be free from tourists
Peacham Pond is beautiful

Denver, Colorado

Best for: Adventure

A shot of Denver, Colorado

Come to Denver if your appetite for adventure is unlimited

Colorado is known as the Gateway to the Rocky Mountains, so it makes sense that its state capital is your best bet for adventure. With mountains, plains, desert canyons, and lakes, there are countless opportunities to explore the great outdoors.

Whether you’re young and full of energy, or slightly older but still adventurous at heart, Denver is filled to the brim with beautiful landscapes to hike, run, or cycle through. And if you prefer to get your exercise through sports, there are plenty of ways to do that too.

You can take advantage of icy conditions to go skiing, snowboarding, or curling, go boarding at several different skateparks, or drop by any of Colorado’s thousands of rivers and creeks to enjoy some fly-fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, or whitewater rafting.

There are also clubs for BMX, tumbling, and parkour, as well as more established sports like rugby, baseball, and football – or you can just go running along Cherry Creek or the Platte River.

If you’d rather stay somewhere smaller (Denver has more than 600,000 people) which is just as focused on outdoor life, then Colorado Springs, Boulder, or Durango are wonderful places to test your limits.

ProsCons
Landscapes from mountains and plains to desert canyons and lakesIt's 5,280 feet, so you might need to adapt
You can go fly-fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and whitewater raftingTraffic is terrible
Hike, run, or cycle through the parks and mountains
In winter, you can take up skiing, snowboarding, or curling

Summary

Moving to the US will also test your limits (in the best way possible), but knowing where you want to live is the first and most important step, and will set you up for all your other exciting decisions.

And as you now know, there are beautiful, charming locations all across this great land, from Oregon in the west to Pennsylvania on the east coast.

The top seven American cities for expats are:

  • Scottsdale, Arizona: best for work
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania: best for retirement
  • San Antonio, Texas: best for raising a family
  • Portland, Oregon: best for food and drink
  • Atlanta, Georgia: best for travel
  • Yuma, Arizona: best for climate
  • Denver, Colorado: best for adventure

So whether you’re embracing the Land of Opportunity for work, retirement, or to raise a family, you should now have all the information you need to decide on the best place to set up your new home. 

Don’t delay; take the most thrilling step of your life today, and compare shipping quotes to help you do it.