As well as being the economic powerhouse of the world, the USA offers an unrivalled mix of cultures, religions and employment opportunities. The tourist market is also enormous, with every tourist attraction you would ever wish to see!
The terrain is by far the most varied in the world, with glacial plains and deserts, high mountains and sub sea level hot beds and everything else in between. The USA is the world leader in a variety of areas, and if something is popular in the USA you can guarantee that it will spread worldwide at some stage – the ultimate trendsetter. These are just a few of the positive aspects why the number of Expats living in America is growing.
The creation of the USA was based on mass immigration upon the opening of the gates of Ellis Island that resulted in the culture, religion and social structure of the country as very diverse and differentiated. The basics of the so-called “mainstream” culture were heavily influenced by both the English and Dutch settlers who were the first countries to send inhabitants to this newfound land. However as time passed, the culture has been further influenced by the Irish, Germans and Greeks, and the Italians and Spanish to a lesser degree. The US is one of the few true multi-cultural countries of the world, the true melting pot of the world.
The US has also built up a strong position in a variety of areas, with Science, Cuisine, Visual Arts, Literature, Cinema and Sports among the strongest. This has allowed the US way of life to be “exported” overseas serving the many pockets of US citizens based abroad.
Perhaps one of America’s greatest successes has been in TV and Media, with the US produces the best TV shows and movies in the world. Hollywood is renowned throughout the world as the centerpiece of the movie business, with the industry able to re-invent itself and adapt to new technologies, styles and trends with the passage of time.
While the US is the largest economy in the world, it can be a very difficult market for expats to break in to, due to the restrictive labor laws and protectionist policies designed for the benefit of US residents. In order for any foreign national to work in the US you need to apply for a VISA (the famous “green card”), which can be time consuming with no guarantee of success at the end as there are immigration quotas in place.
Even though there are strict regulations in place in the US, over 11 million foreign residents have relocated to the country over the last 10 years, with up to 1 million applications received each year. There is a vast difference in unemployment figures across the many parts of America, but due to the existing financial crisis, the unemployment rate in 2009 is at 5.5%. The projected growth rate of only 2% has only served to determine that there are bleak times ahead for the United States.
The government has a major influence on the US economy with the majority of the work force working for the state in some shape or form. Additional areas of industry operate with a fairly free reign, although there are tight labor laws to protect employees. The US economy is a service led economy, with many of the manufacturing processes hived off to more cost effective countries around the world. Though the past years have seen the US economy in crisis, there have been adequate steps taken in order to correct the market, mainly through government bailout schemes designed to stimulate the growth industries.
The current financial crisis has been brought about by the unbridled mortgage loan securities that have proliferated in the last decade. The US has experienced something of a property boom over the last decade that turned to bust when the mortgage owners were unable to pay back the loans creating this domino effect in the financial world.
While there is a healthy property market in the US, historically residents have preferred to rent rather than buy outright. While this is starting to change, the majority of US residents are content to rent for the foreseeable future.
As you would expect from such a larger country, the style of housing available is enormous, and the prices are just as wide ranging. However, the country does have an excellent infrastructure offering foreign residents the chance to purchase property outside of the main employment hot spots and travel by public transport. There is a house price and a house style to suit everybody!
Now the financial crisis seems to be bottoming out and the current trends have indicated that the price declines have stopped in 2009. The market seems to be showing many positive returns and the home prices are finally stabilizing.
The US taxation system and benefits system is one of the most complicated in the world. The collection of taxes may well involve an individual paying possibly four levels of taxes, from government to county to state to federal. The rate of tax is based upon the person’s income over a tax year, and highly penalizes those who earn high salaries.
The US state benefit system is a very topical subject in the run up to elections as it seems to have a life of its own. Again the system is complicated by the fact that there is direct interference at all levels, with benefits varying from state to state. Often criticized for encouraging lower skilled citizens to live off the welfare state, there are now concerns that it is now penalizing those in lower paid employment.
There are the traditional benefits available including income support, housing benefit, etc although it is vital that you check the situation in your area if you do decide to become a foreign national and settle in the US.
The USA is most definitely the land of opportunity, and offers massive variation in cultures, employment, housing and communities. Most nations of the world will have a significant foreign national presence in the US, and you will often find pockets in various areas of the country. One of the best examples is indicated in the America Expat Forum:
“used to live near San Francisco – in Silicon Valley, to be precise. SF is an absolutely magical city, with loads of character (and plenty of characters roaming the streets) – but as you say, it’s pretty expensive.”
Employment can be tricky for foreign nationals, as there seems to be an unofficial queue for employment, which allows original US residents to be considered first. If you are qualified in an industry which is crying out for professional workers, then you may be able to “fast track” your application though it can sometimes take years to complete.
For those able to gain entry to the US on a permanent basis, the potential is enormous, in a country that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit and offers a great variation of industries. This is succinctly captured in a post on America Expat Forum last 10 March 2009 saying:
“For almost 3 years I lived the America dream and I can say that I love it. I was in New York, Queens. I worked as a driver for a bridges and scaffolding company. I was more than happy. I have tried to bring my wife with me, but with no luck. So, in the end, I have decided it to return to Europe to be together.”
God help us all! and God Bless America!
Capital : Washington D.C.
Official Language : English
Government : Federal Constitutional Republic with a President and Vice President.
Size : 9,631,420 km2
Population : 301.5 million
Currency : US Dollar
International Dialling Code : +1
Economy : The largest in the world