The United States has been welcoming people from a myriad of cultures for centuries. Whether you are planning on a permanent move, or you just intend living in the US for work purposes, you can guarantee enjoying the experience. The US has a lot to offer expats and new migrants – job opportunities, a good education system, wide open spaces where you can immerse yourself in nature and a good standard of living.
If you are considering moving to the United States, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the United States of America.
Quick US Facts:
- Population: 332,403,650 (2022 estimate)
- Official Language: There is no official language in the US, but English is the most commonly spoken language, followed by Spanish. There are over 350 languages spoken in the US including Arabic, Portuguese, French and German.
- GDP Per Capita:$62,200 USD (projected end of 2022)
- US Flag: Sixteen year old Robert G. Heft designed the 50 star US flag in 1959 for a school project, even though there were only 48 states at the time. Heft’s teacher gave him a ‘B-’ for his effort but President Eisenhower obviously disagreed. Heft sat beside President Eisenhower when the flag he designed was raised for the first time on 4th July 1960.
- Currency: US Dollar (US$). As of August 2022, £1 = $1.19, €1 = $1.01, $1 CAD = $0.77, $1 AUD = $0.69
1.Moving and Shipping Costs to the United States
The table below shows very roughly how much international container shipping costs are to the Eastern United States.
For a more detailed breakdown see our full guide to Container Shipping Rates To & From The US.
2.US Housing Costs
Compared with many countries around the globe, the level of salaries and the price of property makes buying relatively affordable. There’s a wide range of housing available for purchasing and renting. Approximately 35% of American residents rent their homes; most of these renters are under 35 years old. Prices obviously vary depending on the state and location within each state.
Monthly Rental Prices in the United States
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $1,000 – $3,986
- 1 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $777 – 2,584
- 3 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $1,700 – $7,235
- 3 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $1,400 – $4,959
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: $4,521+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: $2,410+
US Housing Cost Comparison
This is how rents in the US compare with other countries around the globe: –
UK is 34.46% cheaper
Canada is 24.83% cheaper
Australia is 23.85% cheaper
France is 47.3% cheaper
Dubai is 19.72% cheaper
New Zealand is 35.66% cheaper
Greece is 45.48% cheaper
How to Save on Housing Costs
- Share an apartment or house. Have a look at the following sites to find your perfect room or flat mate: iRoommates, Roomgo, Spareroom, Cirtru, Craigslist and Apartment.com.
- Different states – different prices. Like all countries in the world, different areas attract different living expenses. The most expensive states in the US are Hawaii, New York and California. The cheapest states to live in are Mississippi, Kansas and Oklahoma. Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and North Dakota top ‘The Best State to Live In 2022’ polls.
3. US Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in the US. With its large immigrant population there are restaurants to suit every nationality, budget and taste. Try an award winning burger from Becks Prime in Houston or a pizza from Una Pizza Napoletana in New York. If you fancy fish, try Scomo’s in San Francisco or if a good steak is what you’re looking for head to Bazaar Meat in Las Vegas.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: $10 – $30
- Takeout Coffee: $2.50 – $7.00
- Bottle of Coke: $1.50 – $3
- 1L of milk: $0.60 – $1.82
- Loaf of Bread: $1.38 – $6.04
- 12 Eggs: $1.50 – $5.24
- 1kg Chicken: $4.41 – $19.84
- 1kg Beef: $8.80 – $24.25
- 1kg Apples: $2.18 – $8.80
- 1kg White Rice: $1.83 – $8.75
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- UK restaurants are 2.87% cheaper and groceries are 32.2% cheaper than the US.
- Canadian restaurants are 0.35% more expensive and groceries are 4.49% cheaper than the US.
- Australian restaurants are 1.1% cheaper and groceries are 3.51% more expensive than the US.
- French restaurants are 3.19% cheaper and groceries are 11.63% cheaper than the US.
- Dubai restaurants are 18.66% cheaper and groceries are 32.98% cheaper than the US.
- New Zealand restaurants are 2.11% more expensive and groceries are 2.82% lower than the US.
- Greek restaurants are 29.72% cheaper and groceries are 44.72% cheaper than the US.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries
- Know your supermarkets: Walmart and Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart, dominate the US grocery market with 5,300 stores countrywide. Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the country and operates under several brands. Wegman’s is often voted the best grocery store for good value, cleanliness, customer service and great variety of fresh store-prepared food. Fresh food markets abound in every part of the US and are always worth a visit.
- Find Cheap Eats:There are plenty of small family owned restaurants throughout the US and these generally offer good value and excellent fare. Have a look at these sites for inspiration: – Cheapism, Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner in each State, Timeout and Gayot.
4. US Alcohol Costs
Drinking is a popular pastime in most states in the US. Whether you’re sunning yourself in Florida and fancy a refreshing cocktail or warding off the cold on a winter’s day in New York, Americans are generally always ready for an alcoholic cure.
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: $3.00 – $8.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: $4.50 – $10.00
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: $1.43 – $5.71
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: $7.99 – $20.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: $13.00 – $18.00
How to drink for less in the US
5. US Transportation Fares
Public transport in the US is not particularly good unless you live in a city. Most people own cars and rely on them to get them from A to B. Taxis, Uber and Lyft are used in many of the larger towns and cities in the US. For a local commute in larger centres, they’ll be commuter trains and buses. Buses are also a great choice for long distance trips. They are usually air-conditioned and have toilets on board.
Amtrak (Amtrak) great for long distance journeys. It’s not cheap but it’s a relaxing way to see the country and sleeper cars can be booked. Most Americans fly long distance rather than take the train. There are always last minute bargains to be had and it’s obviously quicker than the train. Try booking through Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline or HotWire.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult Single Metro – $2.25
- One day ticket – $1.50 – $4.00
- Monthly season ticket, unlimited – $39 to $129
How to save money on public transport
- Look for free rides and free transfers from bus to rail and vice versa
- Buy a weekly ticket or monthly ticket for unlimited travel
- Buy a bike if you live in a cycling friendly town/city with lots of cycle paths
- You may be lucky to live close enough to schools and work to walk.
6. Cost of Internet in the US
Internet prices in the States have come down in price over the last few years. Here are some sample broadband internet prices for unlimited internet and streaming and no contract needed:
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
The USA experiences a wide variety of climates depending on which state you are in but generally it experiences a continental climate with hot or very hot summers and cool, sometimes extremely cold, winters. The Climates to Travel website gives you a good overview of the climate in all the different cities and states within the US, so you’ll know what clothing to pack for your destination.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: $25 – $69.50
- Summer Dress: $20 – $61
- Running Shoes (Trainers): $50 – $120
- Business Shoes: $65 – $160
- Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): $124
- Deodorant: $4.48
- Shampoo: $5.50
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): $4.25
- Gym membership: $51 per month
- Movie (cinema) ticket: $13.50
Source: Numbeo and Expatistan
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in the US
The majority of people in the US drive to work. You can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months as a tourist but after that you will need to get an American license. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in the US:
- Volkswagen Golf:$25,913
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol):$1.16
- Other fees (if any):The average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $669 per annum
Source: Expatistan, Autolist
Ways to save money driving in the US
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Car Pool World, Hovr and Share Your Ride.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber and Lyft.
Need your car/vehicle moved to the US? Then read our guide to: Car Transport & Vehicle Shipping
9. Taxes in the US
No matter where you live in the USA, you will pay state and federal taxes. To learn more about the different taxes in the States go to Immihelp and USA taxes.
Sales Tax or Use Tax in the US varies from state to state and can be anywhere between 2.5% and 7.25%. It’s added to most goods and services. Generally, the price you see on an item does not include sales tax.
If you own your home, you will be subject to property tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Nationwide, property rate tax is 1.1% of the average home value.
Finally, if you decide to buy an apartment or house in US you’ll have to pay real estate transfer tax.
10. Flight Costs from the US
If you do make the move to the US, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities from New York based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of August 2022:
- London: $193
- Toronto: $96
- Vancouver: $131
- Dubai: $434
- Sydney: $675
- Melbourne: $658
- Cape Town: $697
- Hong Kong: $452
Other US Relocation Tips
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in the US but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Relocating to the US Alone
Moving is always a stressful time but moving on your own can be exceptionally difficult. The States is generally full of friendly, welcoming people who will help you ease into your new life. Here are a few tips about settling in US.
- Meetups:The US has many Meetup groups covering a wide range of activities from surfing to architecture.
- Attend local events: There is always something going on in towns and cities in the States and many of the activities are free. Have a look at the following sites for inspiration – Trip Adviser, Readers Digest and Time Out.
12. Moving to the US with a Family
The United States definitely caters for families. There are museums, parks, national parks, art galleries, music, the beach, swimming, water sports, winter sports, hiking, mountain climbing – you name it and you’ll find it in the States.
- New parents (or parents to be): Check out Lucies List and Meetup for New Moms for advice, courses and ways to meet other parents or parents to be.
- Live in a family friendly area: Check with estate agents which areas are children/family friendly.
- Find things to do with the kids: The US has lots for children to do. Have a look at the following website for inspiration – Trip Advisor, Kidventurous, Vacation Ideas and Attrractions of America.
13. Moving to the US for Work
Moving to a new city for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
The unemployment rate in the US is down to 3.5% which basically means that everyone who wants a job has one. There are opportunities for employment in every sector – tourism, finance, education, healthcare, retail and logistics, transport, IT, commerce, construction etc.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in the US range from $24,000 to $423,000 per annum (July 2022). The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to find work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to the States, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Monster, Indeed, Snag a Job, Jooble and LinkedIn. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to the US from Australia
There are Aussie contingents living all over the States. If you are thinking of moving from Australia to the USA, here are a few things to consider.
- Size comparison: If you look at the population of the US and compare it with Australia, you see that the US’s population is almost 14 times larger than Australia but is only 27% larger than Australia.
- Join expat groups: Meetup, and Internations offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in the US.
15. Moving to the US from Canada
There are a large number of Canadians living in the US. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: The US is only slightly larger in land mass than Canada, but its population is 332,403,650 and Canada’s is 38,526,760.
- Expat groups:Meeting up with fellow Canadians helps the moving process. Link up through sites such as Internations and Meetup.
16. Moving to the US from the United Kingdom
The opportunities in the US attract people from the UK. Many Brits have relatives living in the States who are eager to share their lifestyle with their British families.
- Size: The US is roughly 40 times the size of the UK with five times the population.
- Expat groups: If you want to get together with others from the UK who are enjoying their new lifestyle, then go to Internations and Meetup.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to the US you can start by comparing moving quotes here.