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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

USA: Career and Leisure Opportunities at a Cost

The USA welcomes expats warmly and offers good career opportunities. However, childcare and healthcare are pricey.
  • Almost half want to stay forever; 27% acquired citizenship
  • Locals are friendly, but finding friends not always easy
  • Career prospects good; work-life balance not as rosy
  • Good opportunities to travel, but transport infrastructure lacking
  • Healthcare good, but not affordable

All in all, expats in the USA are rather satisfied with their lives there. In fact, the USA ranks 26th out of 67 countries in terms of satisfaction with life abroad. The survey results show that 85% of the respondents claim to be overall satisfied with their life abroad in the USA and 46% even state that they would like to stay in the United States forever, if possible. In fact, 27% of the expats in the USA have already acquired US citizenship, more than double the global average of 11%.

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics for the USA — infographic

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You Are Welcome in the USA

Expats moving to the USA seem to be welcomed rather warmly, as 73% of the respondents rate the friendliness towards foreign residents positively and three-quarters consider locals to be friendly in general. As a matter of fact, the USA is generally considered an easy country to settle in by 67% of expats there, and even more so in regard to the local culture (73% positive ratings). It is not for nothing indeed, that the USA ranks 21st out of 67 countries in the Easy of Setting In Index. Despite this, the country ranks only 35th in the Finding Friends subcategory of the previously mentioned index.

“There is a lot of freedom here; to be yourself, to pursue your dreams and to be a valuable member of your community… The culture sits well with me.”

Do You Speak English?

When it comes to the local language, a vast majority of expats (82%) claim it is easy to learn and thus not a potential barrier: just 7% generally agree that the language barrier is a problem for them, while worldwide one-quarter say the same. However, given that the Expat Insider was conducted in English, these results might not be completely unbiased. Unsurprisingly then, 90% of the respondents say they speak the local language very well or even at a native speaker level. All the same, 57% also generally agree that without speaking the local language one might encounter significant barriers in one’s daily life in the USA.

A Good Country to Work In

Expats in the USA appear to be rather satisfied within the career sphere; most working respondents are in full-time positions (84%) and overall job satisfaction is mostly on par with the worldwide average (66% vs. 64%). When it comes to the state of the economy, seven out of ten expats feel positively about it, and the same percentage of respondents is generally satisfied with the career prospects. It does not come as a surprise then, that the USA ranks 8th out of 67 countries in the Job & Career subcategory of the Working Abroad Index. When it comes to work-life balance, on the other hand, the USA scores rather badly, ranking 51st in the respective subcategory.

“I don’t like the lack of work-life balance, with very limited vacation time or flexibility.”

Many Travel Opportunities

Relaxing and having fun is apparently very easy in the USA. As a matter of fact, 84% of expats are overall satisfied with the available leisure options, which is one of the reasons why the USA ranks a respectable 18th out of 67 in the Leisure Options subcategory of the Quality of Life Index. When it comes to traveling, the country is not lacking in opportunities either: eight out of ten expats in the USA have a positive opinion about the traveling options there, even though only about half of the respondents (51%) deem the transport infrastructure to be good, compared to 63% of expats worldwide. Accordingly, the USA ranks only 38th out of 67 countries in the Travel & Transport subcategory of the Quality of Life Index.

The Right Country for Families?

When it comes to raising your children in the USA, there seem to be two sides to the story. On the one hand, a not insignificant portion of respondents with kids generally agree that childcare options are numerous and easy to get (45%), as are education options (63%). The quality of education is also considered to be overall good by 67% of expat parents, and less than one in ten (7%) voices concerns over their children’s safety in the USA. The same goes for children’s health, which just one in ten expat parents considers to be negative and not one respondent rates as very bad. However, on the flip side are the high costs: around seven out of ten expat parents (69%) do not think that childcare is affordable in the USA, similarly to education which is generally considered expensive by over half of expat parents (51%).

Not a Healthcare Paradise

Another bitter note seems to be healthcare in the USA. Generally, expats do not have a bad opinion of the quality of medical care, in fact 62% of them value it positively which is on par with the worldwide average. However, around six out of ten respondents (59%) think healthcare is not easily affordable in the USA, more than double the global average of 24%. This is the reason why the country ranks only 43rd out of 67 in the Health & Well-Being subcategory of the Quality of Life Index.

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