The 11 Best Cities in the USA for British Expats

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Wondering where to live in the USA? We’ve got you covered.

The USA is one of the most popular destinations for British expats in the world.

Abundant work opportunities with generous salaries, spectacular scenery, affordable luxury housing, delicious food, and friendly and welcoming communities are just some of the reasons why America is such an appealing expat destination.

When it comes to selecting a place in the US to call home there are countless fabulous places to choose from.

Here’s the lowdown on the 11 best cities in the USA for British expats…

New York

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Probably the USA’s most culturally diverse city, New York is dazzling, constantly buzzing, and endlessly inspiring.

Each of the Big Apple’s different neighbourhoods has a unique personally, offering infinite variety and 24 hour entertainment from live jazz clubs to Broadway shows, top class restaurants, glittering shopping malls, and cutting edge exhibitions .

Iconic landmarks are everywhere, from the vast, leafy expanse of Central Park to the Statue of Liberty.

It’s easy for Brits to make friends here. There are countless lively expat clubs and organisations with regular meet ups and events, and the locals love British accents and culture.

New York summers are sunny, hot and humid, winter brings freezing temperatures and snow, but spring and autumn are the perfect time to take leisurely walks and fall in love with this sensational city.

Living costs can be high here and New York is ranked among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world.

Accommodation prices are crazily high, with the median rent for a two bedroom apartment costing $2499, however utilities are surprisingly reasonable.

Eating out can be pricey, so expect to pay at least $20 per person even in the cheapest restaurants. Likewise groceries are slightly more expensive than elsewhere in the USA.

Take a look at this guy’s guide to being a Brit in New York:


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Clean and pleasant, the Windy City is one of the largest cities in the US, with a choice of wonderful beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan.

When compared to New York, it’s a very affordable place to live, with rental properties being significantly cheaper and more luxurious. Chicago is a laid back city brimming with culture, from the avant-garde architecture to the world class museums, cutting edge public art, massive sporting events, plus a host of annual festivals including the sensational Blues Fest and the 4 day Lollapalooza rock festival.

This bustling urban hub offers 9 districts, each with their own unique character, culture, and appeal. Downtown is home to a wealth of tourist attractions such as art galleries, sensational shopping, theatres and more, whilst the diverse West Side is the place to be for fabulous ethnic restaurants, cool street art, and large leafy parks.

Young families and hipsters will love the desirable Northern neighbourhoods, filled with quirky boutiques, live music venues, and plethora of local events.

Chicago’s South Side is one of the most ethnically diverse areas and is host to the city’s vibrant Chinatown, as well as boasting the recently redeveloped Pier 31 on with gorgeous lakeside and city views where you can take exercise classes, hang out in bars listening to live music, or take advantage of the excellent water sporting facility with jet skis, canoes, and paddle boarding.

UK expats living in Chicago benefit from good employment prospects, relatively low taxes, an almost perfect public transport system, first rate educational institutions, and much more.


british expats in the us

Stunning white sandy beaches, beautiful people bronzed to perfection, sizzling nightlife from dusk until dawn, a thriving cultural scene, incredible Art Deco architecture, gourmet fare to die for… Miami has abundant pleasures to tempt British expats.

The tropical temperatures are high all year round, dropping down into the balmy mid 20° Celsius in the winter months.

South Beach is justifiably famous for its molten sunsets and aquamarine waters and, thanks to the year round sunshine, there are constant outdoor dance and music festivals and other events, ensuring a high level of fun and quality of life for those lucky enough to live here.

It’s also smack bang in the middle of two beautifully wild national parks, perfect for wilderness adventures.

Without doubt, Miami is a hip and happening city, but it also retains a chilled vibe, with an electric mash up of American and Latin cultures due to the large communities of Cuban, Haitian and Puerto Rican residents.

There are currently nearly 7000 Brits living in the city, and there are good work opportunities for young professionals.

That said, living costs in Miami can be high, with average rental prices for a studio apartment in a cheaper part of town weighing in at around $1,121 per month.

Utilities, entertainment, and groceries are also pretty pricey, so be prepared to blow the budget or earn big bucks if you choose to live in the Magic City.

San Francisco

best cities for brits in usa

Are you going to San Francisco? If you want to live in one of America’s most beautiful cities, you are sure to find San Francisco well worth the move.

Fabulous Frisco’s attractions include the glorious Golden Gate Bridge, the blue waters of the city’s sweeping bay, quaint and colourful Victorian residences perched on sky high hills, and the wild and windy Land’s End shoreline.

As the birthplace of LGBT rights and a bohemian ambiance, San Francisco culture has always been progressive, and the city welcomes diversity.

Let go of your inhibitions and make the most of the booming arts scene, wild nightlife, exciting culinary scene, and adorably crazy culture.

Each neighbourhood has a different microclimate — while it is foggy in one place, it might be hot and sunny in another. Winters are mild and summers are dry, but the city is prone to year round fog which rolls in with the cool winds of the Pacific Ocean.

San Francisco is also one of the leaders — along with its Silicon Valley neighbour — in the tech and IT industries, and there are excellent job opportunities paying out high salaries for expats with the right skill set in these industries.

In addition, there is a constant stream of new startups in all kinds of industries, so opportunities are plentiful whatever your passion.

That’s just as well, as San Francisco can be a very expensive place to live — with rental prices higher than those of New York.

A recent survey concluded that the income an individual needs to live comfortably in San Francisco is $110,357, with 50 percent going to necessities such as rent, transport and utilities, 30 percent toward discretionary spending such as entertainment, and 20 percent put aside for savings.

Los Angeles

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Heading down along the west coast from San Francisco, Los Angeles is a city of dreams, hopes and desires, brimming with aspiring actors, poets, artists, designers, and musicians.

Obsessed with creativity, LA is filled with cutting edge art galleries, infamous rock venues, dynamic theatres and concert halls, and of course — film studios. In fact, with its mishmash of architecture the whole city resembles a movie set.

Glitzy and glamorous, Los Angeles is a fantasy land of chic restaurants, bars, shops, clubs, and more. Los Angeles sprawls across 503 square miles, and is made up of different iconic areas including Hollywood, Santa Monica with its Pier, Malibu, and Beverly Hills.

It’s world famous for its amazing weather, with almost 300 days of sunlight a year, hot summers and mild winters, and only occasional rain.

The laid back California style is flagrant in LA, and this is most visible in the vibrant café culture here, casual attitudes, and chilled out beach life. Incredibly ethnically diverse and with over 140 resident nationalities, there is no majority population in Los Angeles, and British expats will have plenty of company.

The average salary according to pay scale works out as $62,558, but living costs can be high with the average salary to live comfortably considered to be around the $100,000 mark.

The job market is vast with opportunities not only in the entertainment and creative industries but also in tech and IT, communications, healthcare, commerce, trade and logistics, and more. That said there is also heavy competition for jobs, so come prepared.


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Famous as the birthplace of grunge music, Starbucks and Amazon, Seattle is a city that never stops evolving.

Lying between Lake Washington and the Pacific Ocean inlet of Puget Sound, and surrounded by mountains, the city boasts breathtaking backdrops.

Its location also lends to a wealth of different activities, from outdoor activities such as hiking, strolling through vast and splendid city parks, whale watching, and watersports, to soaking up the Seattle scene, conjured up from a combination of rich history, café culture, fabulous shops and restaurants, markets, bookstores, microbreweries, and blazing music.

It is also known for its wet climate and drizzly days are common with 152 days of rain per year, but it’s the climate that makes Seattle and its natural surroundings so lush and enticing.

Always innovative, Seattle is a hotbed of new ideas, and benefits from a booming economy. It’s an ideal place for British expats to find employment — particularly in the sectors of life sciences, healthcare, aerospace, engineering, shipping, and technology — or even to start up a new business.

Competition can be tough however, and companies generally hire only the most qualified, hard working candidates.

Fortunately, the cost of living in Seattle is relatively low in comparison to other US cities, although rental prices can still be high with a 1 bedroom apartment outside of the city centre costing upwards of $1000 per month.

Groceries can be pricey but still cheaper than in London, but when it comes to evenings out in bars or restaurants there are plenty of relatively cheap places if you’re saving the pennies.


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Hawaii may bring to mind thoughts of loud shirts, Elvis, and Hula dancing girls, but the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu leaves those stereotypes lying in the dust (ok, apart from the Hula, as Honolulu is home to the World Invitational Hula Festival).

This is a flamboyant and cosmopolitan metropolis which combines fine dining, an up and coming arts scene, the world’s largest open air shopping centre, a chic harbour front and vibrant nightlife, with traditional Polynesian culture, a buzzing Chinatown, the iconic Pearl Harbour and Waikiki Beach, blissful ocean sunsets, and volcanic scenery.

Its jaw dropping natural beauty provides plenty of sporting and outdoor activities including surfing and kite surfing, diving, exploring nature reserves, horseback riding, hiking nearby mountains and swimming beneath waterfalls.

For many people, Honolulu is a dream holiday destination, but there is a burgeoning expat community living in the city, with 24% of the population being European.

With so much to see and experience plus hot and sunny weather nearly all year round, it’s no great surprise that this city attracts so many people from all over the world to come and live there.

If you want a slice of this paradise, be prepared to pay an average rent of around $2,257 and pay higher prices for outgoings such as utilities and imported groceries. The flip side to this are the low taxes and affordable entertainment options.

Being a major trading, tourism, and business hub, there are more employment opportunities for expats in Honolulu than you may expect, and the average salary in Hawaii is between $30,000 to $50,000 a year, although menial jobs in the service and tourism industries pay considerably less.


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Affectionately named ‘Beantown’ due to beans slow baked in molasses being a favourite dish back in colonial days, Boston is the seaside capital of  Massachusetts, and the oldest, and one of the most culturally important cities in the USA.

Since the 1800s art and music have thrived here, encouraging a dynamic arts scene to blossom, which in our time includes some of the most impressive contemporary arts, theatre and music offerings around.

Being on the coast, the seafood is second to none, and sports fans will be right at home with the Bostonian passion for basketball, hockey, and American football amongst others.

British expats living in Boston will find a wide range of employment opportunities, but competition is stiff so a strong CV is required to impress prospective employers.

The city is also an incredibly academic city, and expat families living here have the advantage of having some of the oldest and best educational establishments on their doorstep, as well as excellent healthcare facilities.

When it comes to nightlife Boston holds its own, with great restaurants, cosy bars, and lively music venues.

As you may expect, living in such an esteemed American city commands a certain price, although many expats receive employment packages to offset the costs of healthcare and accommodation.

The estimated average expenses for a studio apartment are around $1,500 – $2,000, with groceries, nights out, restaurants, and transportation being around 28% more expensive than the US national average.


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The most happening — and quirky — city in the Deep South, Austin, Texas is famed for being the live music capital of the world.

Streets are rammed with clubs and bars playing quality live acts each and every night, and the city also hosts two major music festivals.

The hearty Tex-Mex fare is some of the best in the country, and the outdoor barbecues are an experience not to be missed.

There’s a strong sense of community spirit which is quickly and easily extended to newcomers, which makes it easy for expats to integrate, and there’s a huge international population.

All this, together with a low crime rate, great schools, and a booming economy, make Austin a great choice for expats from all walks of life, with plenty of appeal to families, singles, and couples alike.

The quality of life here is high, and rental prices are relatively affordable, being 34.4% less expensive than the national average.

Software and technology professionals do well here, with lots of jobs on offer in this sector, and there is a low rate of unemployment across multiple sectors, making it fairly easy for expats to find work in comparison to many other American cities.

Most people choose to get around the city by car, which means the traffic can be hellish at times. Air con is essential, especially when you consider that summer temperatures regularly rocket into the high 30°Cs.


where to live in the usa

Named after Queen Charlotte, wife of England’s King George III, Charlotte is North Carolina’s largest city.

It made its fortune during the gold rush days which laid the foundations for what was to become one of the largest banking centres in the states.

The city occupies an enviable position, nestled in the countryside between lakes, mountains, and the ocean. It’s bursting with old world charm, yet as one of the fastest growing cities in the US has been steadily evolving into an energetic modern city, with farmers markets, art galleries, awesome bars and craft breweries, superb restaurants and rooftop cocktail bars, plus festivals and live music being just some of the many attractions.

The locals love sports, and Charlotte is home to professional NBA and NFL sports teams as well as minor league baseball, hockey, and soccer teams. But the biggest sporting attraction is the Charlotte Motor Speedway where you’ll have plenty of live NASCAR races to choose from throughout the year.

The climate is pleasantly mild, with warm summers and gentle winters, although the weather can be unpredictable at times.

The cost of living is below the national average, and accommodation is affordable with a one bedroom apartment costing around $1,150 per month, and a two bedroom apartment about $1,290.

The job market is exciting in Charlotte and the fast rising economy has seen a recent influx of new businesses and startups, making it a great location for entrepreneurs. Jobs in finance abound, as well as the technology, education, and healthcare sectors.

Washington DC

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Washington DC is the seat of US political power, but there is much more to the nation’s capital than meets the eye.

DC has a wonderfully diverse population, and British expats living in Washington DC can take advantage of reputed private and public international schools, an extensive and efficient public transport system with metro, cultural and sporting activities, festivals, exhibits and events throughout the year, as well as outstanding museums and galleries.

Foodies will drool over Washington’s culinary scene which is one of the most innovative and exciting in America. The bar scene is also blazing, with creative, quirky bars and hipster hangouts popping up all over the city.

DC is also a healthy city, with over 60 miles of bicycle and pedestrian tracks meandering through the city’s expansive parks and green spaces.

Conveniently placed for visiting numerous other US cities or weekends away at the beach or in the mountains, the weather in Washington DC is mild with four distinct seasons, although it can be unpredictable at times.

Each district has its own ambiance and community, so there is sure to be a neighbourhood to suit the needs of any expat.

The biggest drawback for expats living here are the high living costs, as they are among the highest in the country, although it’s possible to find more reasonably priced accommodation in the rapidly growing outer suburbs.

Understandably, the field of government and politics opens up many job opportunities, along with foreign embassies, professional organisations and trade unions.

For expats who aren’t up for a career in politics, the city is fortunate to have a strong economy, and there are employment options in a wide range of sectors including healthcare and medical research, leisure and hospitality, aerospace, technology, security, and IT and communications.

If you manage to land a job in the nation’s capital, be prepared to work hard during long hours and compete with highly educated co-workers.

Which do you think is the best city in the USA for British expats?


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