The United States of America is by far and away the most influential country with the most influential economy in the world. Despite the fact that the authorities have clamped down upon immigration over the last decade or so it is still a magnet for expats looking to make a new life for themselves in a new land. However, why do people move to the US and is this likely to change in the short, medium and longer term?
There are many reasons why people move to the US and quite surprisingly there are no real standout reasons in our recent online poll, conducted in conjunction with Barclays Wealth International. Nevertheless, Cost of living (17.27%), Employment (15.45%), and Standard of living (14.55%) topped the podium of the reasons pushing people to move to the US.
With just over 17% of the vote it is for many people the cost of living in the United States of America which is the main attraction. However, this is not as clear-cut as you might believe because there are literally hundreds of thousands of square miles in the United States which offer very different local economies, local prospects and local costs of living. It would be interesting to learn which of the regions in America are attracting the most expats because we could then look towards other areas of the world and see if any similar trends are occurring.
Even though the general cost of living in the US continues to rise there are many areas, often under the radar, which have struggled for many years. When you look at the likes of Louisiana and the recent hurricane devastation there are still millions of people struggling and much of the infrastructure and many of the homes which were destroyed by the hurricane have yet to be rebuilt.
Number two on the list with just under 16% of the vote is employment and when you consider that the American economy is by far and away the most influential in the world this is no surprise. In simple terms, if the worldwide economy is doing well then the US economy will be booming and, as we see now, if the US economy is struggling then the worldwide economy will not prosper. Indeed, the ongoing worldwide economic problems do, in the eyes of many, stem from the mortgage crisis which hit America a few years ago and quickly spread across the world.
There is no doubt that in the boom times the American economy is very strong and requires increasing employment numbers but in the bad times the authorities tend to close ranks and many immigrant workers are pushed to the side. In order to get the very best out of a new life in America you need to know the restrictions, the visa cards required and you’re standing in the community.
If you believe the popular press then the standard of living across America is far better than the vast array of developed and developing countries around the world. However, as with the employment market, there are many people in America living a very difficult life of a very low standard while those at the top of the employment tree enjoy the fruits of the economic boom times in the country. While this is often over looked by the worldwide media we must also consider where many of the expats have come from. Have they come from other areas of the world with an even lower standard of living than those struggling in America? Are they looking at the economy as their bailout package thereby accepting any standard of living for the chance of a job?
Still, the number of people travelling regularly to the USA, having business interests there or making regular transactions in US dollars hasn’t decreased in the past years, but the entire contrary. If this is your case, it would be a good idea to open a savings dollar account since you’ll need one like this if you are paid in US dollars, make payments in US dollars or have US dollar-based assets and investments, explains at Barclays Wealth.
The truth is that while we often see the upside with regards to life in America there are many millions who are struggling to survive and get by. The gap between the “haves and the have-nots” in America is perhaps as wide as any other country in the world.
The attractions of the Big Apple, Washington, Florida, California and a whole host of other areas of the US have pulled in a dramatic number of tourists over the years. It explains why travel the world is a sound reason for the 14.55% participants in our poll to move to the US. However, as we touched on above, the US authorities have been clamping down upon immigration as a consequence of the ever-growing terrorism threat and the problems this has caused in the past. So while many people are now looking towards the US as a stopping off point for their travels around the world, they need to do their homework with regards to immigration cards and visas and the ongoing regulations.
That said, there is no doubt that America has a massive array of sites to see, cultures to sample and wildlife to experience. The very fact that the US is a massive place itself means that travelling between various attractions may well incur journeys into the hundreds if not thousands of miles and a significant amount of time. It is also a good point to take into account that nowadays, US has become one of the largest travel hubs in the world and that the national currency is broadly accepted almost everywhere, so it can play on your favour having access to a dollar bank account to better track all your comes and goes.
Retirement (13.64%) and Romance (9.09%) vs. harder immigration laws
Retirement is another area of life in the US which has come under scrutiny due to the ever stricter anti-terrorism regulations. The amount of people allowed to retire to America has reduced significantly over the years and there are many conditions and provisos attached to those cleared to enter the country. Business and investment have always been a massive attraction for the US authorities in relation to immigration and this in itself has not changed dramatically over the years. However, if you’re looking to retire to America then you will need to make your preparations at a very early stage to ensure that the paperwork is cleared and you are allowed to enter the country on your chosen date. Also, if you are concerned of not having the patience or the knowledge to go through all the paperwork hassle, an interesting alternative for you could be to take your banking offshore, so you won’t need to worry about how to enjoy your wealth but just to get your other paperwork done on time.
The immigration policy in America has changed dramatically over the years and not everybody wanting to sample the good old US of A will have their chance.
Yet again it seems that love is alive and kicking with romance the fifth most popular reason why expats look to move to America. However, this is also an area of the US which has also been impacted by anti-terrorism laws with a whole host of hoops for applicants to jump through before they can be with their loved ones. In simple terms, if your situation is as straightforward as many make out then you will have as good a chance as anybody of obtaining the relevant visas and documentation to start a new life with a new love. However, if there are some discrepancies in your history, the information you give the authorities and your story then you have basically had it.
The US authorities are becoming ever stricter with regards to “marriages of convenience” and you will be asked some very personal and very sensitive questions.
Next in the top 10 of reasons for the expats in the US to move abroad was the weather (4.55%).
In many ways the US is a whole host of very small countries rolled into one group known as the United States of America. However, it is worth noting that the weather and climate in America is very different across-the-board from the sunshine of Florida to the baking heat of the deserts and the cold icy chills towards the north of America. So really the fact that many people move to America for the weather does take in a massive array of different elements and different ingredients for many people. Are you looking for a hot climate? Are you looking for a chilled climate? Or are you looking for a mixture?
If there was one subject which has appeared time and time again in our recent survey that you would not expect to be on the “American list” it is crime. However, whether the local and the international press have glamorised the crime scene in America is debatable but we always seem to see the “downside” of the US criminal system. The truth is that crime rates are very different across the US, state-by-state and city by city. So if you’re looking to move to the US for a lower crime rate then you will need to do your homework and ensure you are not just following the crowd with no substance behind your actions.
The US economy is a massive monster and one which needs to be fed enormous amount of money by the US authorities, much of which is raised via taxes. In a similar fashion to the UK authorities, the tax rates in America have generally increased year-on-year taking away more and more of the average persons everyday income. However, there may well be other countries in the world which have a “worse” taxation system than the US and when you take into account the prospects for employment, these two factors fit like a glove.
Other reasons (6.36%)
We are starting to see a number of “other reasons” mentioned on numerous occasions with the likes of family, study, parents, peaceful environment and saving money amongst them. Why would you move to the US?
The US is by far and away the most influential country and has the most influential economy in the world. It is a country which attracts millions upon millions of travellers each and every year but it is also a country which is putting up more and more barriers to entry. The threat of terrorism is a factor which the authorities have had to take into account over recent times and one which has made the immigration process a whole lot more complicated and a whole lot more difficult. However, millions upon millions of people are still pulled towards the US each and every year.