Moving to the USA: what you need to know

The US is a land of opportunity for many British expats, with commercial centres such as New York and San Francisco offering careers in a diverse range of industries, while sunny states like Florida draw in thousands of retirees in search of the quiet life. So whatever your reason for emigrating, what do you need to get to the US, and what can you expect on arrival?

Entry requirements

British citizens can apply for the Visa Waiver Programme for stays of up to 90 days, otherwise you will need a visa from the US Embassy. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. For more information on US entry requirements, visit GOV.UK.


The US has a resident population of over 324 million, making it the third highest populated country in the world. Over 73% of the population is White American, 13% African American, 5% Asian and 1% American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.


There is no official language of the US, although 80% of the population speak only (American) English at home. Spanish is the second most spoken dialect, with 45 million speaking it as a first or second language.

The differences between British and American English can occasionally cause confusion; some examples of British words and their American equivalents can be found here.


Differences in latitude and geographic features mean that climate varies considerably among (and within) major expat destinations; for example:

  • New York City and Austin, Texas undergo large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters
  • Seattle’s climate is oceanic, with cool, wet winters and mild, fairly dry summers
  • North and central Florida have hot-to-humid summers and mild-to-cool winters, while South Florida enjoys a tropical climate
  • San Francisco has a moderate climate: moist, mild winters and dry summers

Quality of life

According to InterNations, expats feel warmly welcomed in the US, and report high satisfaction with their careers and leisure opportunities. While many believe childcare, education and healthcare are expensive, most agree that the quality of these services is high.

With partner offices in 10 key US cities, including New York, LA and Chicago, Pickfords relocates thousands of expats the the US every year; to find out how we can help you fulfil your expat dream, request a callback or contact us on 0800 019 8557.

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