10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Washington DC

If you are thinking of moving to America’s capital city, Washington DC, what are your priorities going to be when it comes to finding out more about your destination? We are going to take a look at ten important things to consider if you are planning to make Washington DC your home.

 

Can I find a job?

If you are an IT specialist – particularly if you have expertise in data analysis, database administration, statistics, and an understanding of federal policy – you should be well placed to get a job in Washington DC. Social reform and health are also areas that attract skilled professionals. The Office of Labour Market Research and Information (OLMRI) predict that IT will be the main sector in the early 2020s, but there are also jobs in management, education, law, market research, business operations and PR.

Washington is not a cheap city in which to live, and blue-collar workers may have difficulty in finding accommodation within a viable commuting distance. Leisure and hospitality used to be big sectors but have been bleeding jobs recently. Unemployment levels are quite high, although they are slightly improving, according to the most recent year on year figures.

 

What is the housing market like?

In a word, ‘expensive.’ This is because land prices are so high in this area – twice those of Boston. Zoning regulations have resulted in a shortage of housing, and demand exceeds supply. Zoning means that denser housing cannot be built on the most costly land, and this drives house prices up. Real estate agents report that the median rent in Washington is $1,608 for a studio, $1,558 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1,575 for a two-bedroom apartment.

If you are thinking of buying, take a deep breath: the median price for a single-family home in the district recently crossed the $1 million level for the first time ever (at $1.1 million). In the Palisades neighbourhood, the median price of detached homes was $2.1 million. Throughout the Washington region, overall, the median price of a single-family home was $647,500, a rise of 14% from recent years.

To find an apartment, you can use an agent, or online property listing apps, such as Craigslist, can help. Experts suggest finding a short-term rental first and using it as a foothold to find somewhere more permanent.

 

What is the cost of living in Washington DC?

It was estimated a couple of years ago that you will need a salary of $143K to live comfortably in DC, and that will have increased alongside the rise in house prices. The estimated monthly costs for a family of four come in at $4,045 without rent, and just over $1K per month for a single individual. Basic utilities for an apartment cost on average $150 per month.

 

What is the crime rate in Washington DC?

Violent crime has decreased in the city by 4%, but motor vehicle theft has spiked and, although the rate of violent crime overall has gone down, the murder rate has increased by 19%. Your chances of being involved in any sort of crime are around 1 in 17, and the crime rate overall is that 60 in every 1,000 people will be the victims of a crime. For the States, this is quite high. In 2018, DC was America’s 16th most dangerous city.

Violent crime has decreased in Washington DC by 4%.

 

What is the quality of life like in Washington DC?

The pace of life in Washington DC is quite intense. People work hard and are prepared to sacrifice some, at least, of their social lives for their careers. However, the city is a major cultural centre, with a number of theatres and opera companies, and it is also a centre for Black American culture, due to the demographics of the city. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is located there. Other museums include the world-famous Smithsonian, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Air and Space Museum
and many more. In addition to its cultural life, the city has a range of outstanding restaurants and cuisines from across the world.

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

Washington is estimated to be the fifth healthiest city in the USA. It is a good city for walking, and it has a number of beautiful parks.

 

What is the quality of education?

Washington is a major educational centre, and higher education facilities include the University of the District of Columbia, Georgetown University, and George Washington University, among others. If you have children of school age and intend to enrol them in the public school system, you may find that your choices are restricted by location, but there is a wide range of private education, and there are a number of highly regarded international schools for expat children. Check with the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington for further information.

Washington is a major educational centre.

 

What is the weather like?

Summers are hot and muggy (be prepared for very high humidity) – DC is not nicknamed ‘the swamp’ for nothing. Winters can be extremely cold and prone to heavy snowfall. Temperatures vary from 29°F to 88°F and do not usually fall below 17°F or rise above 96°F. The hottest month is July, and the coldest is January.

 

What is the traffic like?

Traffic is bad and getting worse. Washington DC is estimated to have one of the biggest traffic problems in the USA, partly because the infrastructure of its public transport is in need of maintenance. If you are commuting from the suburbs, you will probably end up relying on your car or the metro, since bus services are not really adequate.

 

What will life in Washington DC be like for my pet?

Washington is quite a dog-friendly city, with a number of parks, dog-friendly hotels and restaurants (you can take your dog onto the patio, in a number of places). However, in order to bring your pet into the district, your pet will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and this must be issued within 30 days of travel by a licensed vet. You will need to vaccinate your dog against rabies and distemper, and cats must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before travel.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Texas

If you are thinking of moving to the Lone Star State, what are your priorities going to be when it comes to finding out more about your destination? We’ll take a look at ten important things to take on board if you are planning to relocate to Texas.

 

Can I find a job?

Texas is home to a number of big industry sectors, from medical (Houston has the largest medical centre in the world) to tech, aerospace, retail, tourism, banking and agriculture. However, Covid-19 has caused a historic recession in the state, with a record rate of unemployment. Experts say that it is likely to improve, but also that new and younger job seekers are likely to be the most adversely affected. Jobs relating to travel, government, universities and the service sector may see a slow recovery. Nonetheless, employment experts are talking about a stronger economic recovery three or so years down the line.

 

What is the housing market like?

Texas has been undergoing something of a housing boom in recent years, with demand outstripping supply, but prices are going up. The state has historically seen cheap housing in relation to much of America. The Texan housing market forecast says that the median listing price is $359,739, in comparison to the US average of $345,500. It appears that the pandemic has impacted renters more adversely than homeowners.

The average apartment rent in Texas is $1,165 per month, so a cheap rent is classed as anything under $950. Rents in Austin are falling faster than in the rest of the state. El Paso, Galveston and Cedar Park are listed as the cheapest places to live in the US, but even Houston is still affordable, and the median rent for an apartment in Dallas is just over $900 per month, and in Amarillo it’s $890.

 

What is the cost of living in Texas?

The Cost of Living Index relates that the cost of living in Texas is around 8% below the national average. Utility costs will depend on where you are based: El Paso is 14% lower than the national average, but Corpus Christi is 41% higher. Groceries can cost more in some places, such as El Paso, but less in others, such as Temple. Texas has no income tax – but before you get too excited, bear in mind that it does have high sales taxes in relation to to the rest of the country.

The cost of living in Texas is around 8% below the national average.

 

What is the crime rate in Texas?

Hutto is the safest place in Texas, recording under 100 crimes for 2018 (its population is 27K). Fulshear, with a population of around 13K, recorded just two violent crimes in the same period. However, Houston and Austin have much higher rates, and violent crime has been increasing. Nationally, it’s about average in terms of the overall crime rate.

 

What is the quality of life like in Texas?

The quality of life in Texas is estimated to be high, with a relatively cheap cost of living, low taxes and a vibrant cultural life, especially in the cities. Food and drink are well catered for, with a number of notable wineries and small breweries, as well as numerous restaurants – from cheap to very high end. There’s a wide range of cuisines and a wealth of historical sites to visit, such as the Alamo. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is a must-see, and so are the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Kimbell in Fort Worth.

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

Texas is currently behind 33 other states in the union when it comes to health, so ‘could do better’ is definitely an aim for this part of the USA. A lot of residents are uninsured, mental health provision is poor, and there’s a high prevalence of diabetes – the Texan diet isn’t the healthiest in the world, despite the diverse range of cuisines on offer.

However, if you’re living in one of the big metro areas, you’ll find a wide range of activities, from hiking and biking to a wealth of exercise classes. A large number of lakes are suitable for swimming, and the Gulf Coast has some of the best beaches in America. Healthcare is cutting edge, with Houston being the epicentre of medical research.

 

What is the quality of education?

The state ranks fourth for high school graduation; 89.7% of students earn their diplomas. If you choose to go private, you will find a number of international schools, including ones that teach the International Baccalaureate as well as the British curriculum. Texas is also home to a number of high-ranking universities: The University of Texas in Austin, Texas A&M in College Station, The University of Houston, and Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Texas is home to a number of high-ranking universities.

 

What is the weather like?

Texas is famously extremely hot, and if you’re someone who wilts, you’ll need air conditioning in this state. Winters are mild to cold, and the north of the state can see snow, but summers are hot and humid, and some parts of the state are extremely arid. Spring is often held to be the best part of the year. The northern panhandle tends to be the coolest part of a warm state. Nearer the Gulf, weather can be extreme, with hurricanes and big tropical storms – Galveston has recently been particularly badly affected.

 

What is the traffic like?

Unsurprisingly, traffic in the big metro areas is much worse than in the more rural parts of the state. Dallas, Houston and Austin all see some congested rush hours. You will need a car to get around – Texas is one of the biggest states of the union and very spread out.

 

What will life in Texas be like for my pet?

Texas, as a whole, is pretty dog-friendly, with some great parks and beaches and a number of dog-friendly bars and cafes in the cities. You will find off-leash opportunities for your pet, and you can take your dog into some stores, too.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Santa Barbara

If you are contemplating a move to the ‘American Riviera’, you will find the Pacific Ocean on your doorstep and the Santa Ynez mountains close to the city to the north. It is a picturesque, vibrant, and yet small city. What will you need to know before you go? We will take a look at your top ten questions below.

 

Can I find a job?

Despite recent nationwide pandemic disruption in employment, there are still jobs available in Santa Barbara, which boasts a very high percentage of white-collar workers, and which still has a low unemployment rate. High end jobs are found in agriculture, wine, tourism, services and healthcare, while building and design and tech also contribute to a varied job market. It is a very expensive city, though, so remember to factor that into your salary expectations. For owner occupiers, the median salary is $106,000. It is wisest to secure a job before you go. Income tax is high, and sales tax is almost 8%.

 

What is the housing market like?

Permanent housing in Santa Barbara is extremely expensive, at around double the average for California, with a median house price now over $1m (and the market is showing little sign of slowing down). Some experts recommend getting a short-term rental if you are buying, to allow you time to familiarise yourself with the area.

Renting is similarly expensive. The average monthly rental is $2,100 for a single bedroom apartment, rising to almost double that for three bedroomed accommodation. Westside is amongst the cheaper areas for renters, and Downtown is no more expensive than the city in general.

Whether you choose to rent or buy, local brokers can assist you in finding suitable property, and there are also online listing apps, such as Craigslist.

 

What is the cost of living in Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the US, with the cost of living at around double the national average. Accommodation is going to be by far your biggest cost, but utilities and general expenses are also quite expensive. However, you may not have to spend much on transport, as the city is small.

Santa Barbara is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the US.

 

What is the crime rate in Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara is not listed among the worst twenty cities in California for crime, with violent crime being significantly lower than the state average. However, it still has issues, especially in relation to property crime. The overall crime rate over the last year or two has dropped slightly.

 

What is the quality of life like in Santa Barbara?

Quality of life is high, assuming you can afford it. Santa Barbara is seen as one of the best places to live in California. It cannot expand into the mountains, so it retains a marked small city feel, with the Old World red-tile roofing downtown covering a diverse cultural scene with good quality restaurants and bars. There is also a wide range of facilities and entertainments that many larger cities would be proud of.

There are national parks in the area, and there is a huge selection of outdoor activities. The scenery is spectacular, as the city is tucked in between the ocean and the mountains. Cooler weather grape varieties thrive in the region, so if you like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, you are in the right place!

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

Santa Barbara is one of the healthiest cities to live in, with ocean walks, city parks and the possibility of walking around the city. The Botanic Garden covers almost 80 acres, with miles of gentle paths in sub-tropical vegetation. Surfing is huge in the area, with beginner facilities at Leadbetter Point and more challenging waves at El Capitan.

Outdoor pursuits are many and varied. There are extensive walking and biking trails in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains.

Santa Barbara is one of the healthiest cities to live in.

 

What is the quality of education?

Santa Barbara has a comparatively low education budget and does experience funding issues, but it still achieves reasonable high school graduation figures. If you are using the public school system, however, be aware that your child might not end up in the nearest school to your location. UC Santa Barbara is a leading teaching and research university, and Antioch and Westmont both boast a graduation rate in excess of 75%.

 

What is the weather like?

The climate in Santa Barbara is about as perfect as you can get.

While it does rain, perhaps about 40 days of the year, it never gets truly cold, with lows of 43F most years, and the snow only very rarely comes down from the mountains, with perhaps one or two brief morning frosts. However, residents do feel the cooler sea breezes in winter. At the other end of the year, it does not get unbearably hot, with highs of just 75F in July/August.

 

What is the traffic like?

Two thirds of Santa Barbara residents use their cars to commute to work, with only a few car-pooling, and about 10% either using mass transit or cycling. Commuting in Santa Barbara is not nearly as bad as in other Californian cities, with average commute times of just 18 minutes (one-third below the national average). The inbound 101 is heavy in the mornings, with equal issues outbound on the home run. Trying a longer route to keep moving is likely to involve picking through the notorious Santa Barbara one-way systems. One thing most locals agree on is that there are no bad views while you are stationary on the freeway.

 

What will life in Santa Barbara be like for my pet?

Spoilt, mainly! The Kimpton Goodland Hotel is one of several that welcome dogs. The Douglas Family Preserve Trail has excellent dog walking facilities, and there are even dog-friendly beaches. Several wineries will welcome your dog, too, although they might draw the limit at canine tasting.

In central Santa Barbara, restaurants frequently leave bowls of water out for your dog.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To San Francisco

If you are contemplating a move to the lovely old West Coast city of San Francisco, you may be wondering what you need to know before you go. We will take a look at your top ten questions below.

 

Can I find a job?

If you are white collar and have a track record in tech, you should be able to land a job fairly easily – the city’s proximity to Silicon Valley is a factor in this. However, it can be more difficult to find blue collar jobs that pay well enough to allow you live in this increasingly expensive city. The highest paid jobs include psychiatrists, surgeons, nursing staff, aviation staff and IT personnel. Medicine is a big job market in terms of salaries. The city is also a major centre for tech start-ups. Given the cost of living, it is advisable to line up employment before you go.

 

What is the housing market like?

San Francisco has become legendarily pricey in recent years, but the pandemic has resulted in plummeting housing costs. The cost of renting has gone down by 24%, according to the latest data, but is still high. This is the most expensive city in America in which to rent a two-bedroom apartment. One-bedroom apartments can set you back from $2600 to $3500 per month on average, and single family homes come in at a median of $1.625m. To buy a home with a 20% deposit, you would need to earn $303,000 p.a.

There is a significant shortage of affordable housing, and it is estimated that the metro area needs around 1.3 million more rental properties. There are four areas where monthly rent comes in under the California average of $1,760:

  • Vallejo
  • Santa Rosa
  • Napa
  • Concord

You need to be aware that some of these cheaper properties are a result of a lowering of the property market due to fires. Locals tell us that some parts of Oakland and the east bay are nice and semi-affordable if you are willing to search and that, in general, the further you go from the centre of the bay, the cheaper you will find it. However, remember that few affordable places come with convenient parking of any type.

Locals say that people with low incomes can wind up commuting more than an hour each way to get to work. It’s a big social issue in San Jose and Oakland, with police, teachers and firemen having a long commute to get to work.

To find an apartment, you can use an agent, or online property listing apps such as Craigslist can help. Experts suggest finding a short-term rental first and using it as a foothold to find somewhere more permanent.

There is a significant shortage of affordable housing in San Francisco.

 

What is the cost of living in San Francisco?

As above, the cost of living in San Francisco is very high. It has been estimated recently that a salary of $160K per annum will allow you a decent standard of living if you rent – you will need more if you want to be a homeowner – but you won’t have much change out of $80K per year. The median household income is $107K per annum.

 

What is the crime rate in San Francisco?

This is a relatively safe city, but some neighbourhoods are best avoided, such as the Tenderloin, the Mission, and Union Square. Theft, burglary and crimes relating to motor vehicles form the biggest section of the crime statistics, according to the SFPD. Violent crimes are declining, but this may be related to the pandemic. However, property crime is high in relation to in other US cities.

 

What is the quality of life like in San Francisco?

San Francisco is a beautiful city, with some lovely surrounding areas. It’s still a great place for single people – there are a lot of them! There are some downsides – the amount of human waste on the city’s streets has recently been highlighted as a major problem (no-one likes this…). Architecturally, the city is fascinating, and apart from the ‘poop problem,’ it is walkable, with some attractive parks. It is a vibrant and diverse community with a cosmopolitan population and a Mediterranean feel. You will find some excellent restaurants and a strong emphasis on culture, with a range of theatres, cinemas and opera.

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

San Francisco tops the charts of the healthiest cities in America, in terms of healthcare, fitness, green space and quality of food. It is estimated to be the third healthiest city in the US, after Atlanta and Miami. There are some beautiful areas for hiking, such as nearby Muir Woods, and a number of lovely beaches. Golden Gate Park is a must, but there are 14 national parks in the area.

The diverse range of food allows you to tailor your diet to your own liking, and vegan and vegetarian food is abundant. The city also has a large number of gyms and other health facilities. There are lots of opportunities for swimming, although bear in mind that the coastal waters are cold. Northern California beaches are rockier than their southern equivalents, and temperatures are not for the faint hearted!

San Francisco is estimated to be the third healthiest city in the US.

 

What is the quality of education here?

San Francisco has 114 public schools, which vary greatly in terms of quality. The San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) enrolment process has been described as ‘a lottery’ and can be complex to navigate, since it doesn’t necessarily depend on where you live. There are a number of parents’ associations which can advise you. Higher education is represented by the University of San Francisco, the University of California-Berkeley, and San Francisco State University, among others.

 

What is the weather like?

San Francisco has a Mediterranean-style climate, but in comparison to other regions of California, it is quite a cold city and its fogs are legendary. Average warmest temperatures are in the 60s. Summers tend to be dry, but winters are moist. Overall, the city is relatively mild.

 

What is the traffic like?

Locals say that the traffic is not as bad as it is in Los Angeles, but it can be difficult around rush hour, especially in certain areas, such as the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is ranked as the third worst for gridlock in the US, behind LA and NYC.

 

What will life in San Francisco be like for my pet?

San Francisco is a dog friendly city. Some restaurants have facilities for eating with your pet, and dogs are also allowed on some beaches, such as Baker Beach. You’ll also find a good range of pet services.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Portland

If you are contemplating a move to Portland, you will find that it is one of the most popular destinations in the US for good reason. The Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains are nearby, and there is world-renowned food, high levels of education, a famously laid-back culture, plenty of good quality jobs, and – according to JD Power (2019) – America’s best airport! It also boasts Powell’s, which proudly calls itself the world’s largest independent bookstore. What will you need to know before you go? We will take a look at your top ten questions below.

 

Can I find a job?

The Greater Portland region has a broad, vibrant employment market, with over 35,000 jobs in computers and electronics alone, and is host to major companies in many fields – for example, IT, health sciences, tech, sports and outdoor pursuits, metals and machinery and education. Big names include Intel, Nike, Columbia Sportswear, OHSU, and Boeing. There are many other active sectors, including pet health, web and software development, and emerging technologies.

Portland salaries are said to be on the low side, but they are around 10% above the US minimum, although the cost of living in the area is relatively expensive. Surveys from the last five years indicate that a salary of perhaps $50,000 to $60,000 is required to live comfortably, which would be around the median for the region.

Remote working, already very popular in Portland, is a culture that is very much here to stay.

 

What is the housing market like?

Portland has been described as a city of neighbourhoods, and housing costs in the Greater Portland region vary considerably. A two-bedroom apartment will cost $1,400 a month upwards, plus around $200 upwards for utilities.

Median house prices for the Greater Portland area fell slightly in early 2020, but they are now back up at around $450K and climbing, with an 8% increase predicted by some in 2021. However, the post-Covid-19 property market is volatile and unpredictable.

To find an apartment, you can use an agent, or online property listing apps, such as Craigslist, can help. Experts suggest finding a short-term rental first and using it as a foothold to find somewhere more permanent.

 

What is the cost of living in Portland?

Portland is an expensive city to live in, although it is possible to eat relatively cheaply there in many neighbourhoods. Also, with no sales tax, some items can be significantly cheaper, especially electronics and white goods. Many residents cycle, meaning they don’t have to pay parking fees.

Portland is an expensive city to live in.

 

What is the crime rate in Portland?

Even without the recent street disturbances, Portland does have ongoing crime issues, just like many other cities, and the authorities have taken some actions (partially defunding the police, for example), which are not seen as viable long-term solutions. Progress has been made, but with around 850 shootings in the city in 2020 and a 200% increase in gun-related injuries, it is slow. However, available recent statistics show a levelling off of reported incidents, with Downtown and Hazelwood having the most issues.

 

What is the quality of life like in Portland?

Quality of life in Portland is high. Cycling is actively encouraged, with many cycle parks and routes. Portlanders are keen to maintain a work/life balance. There is an underlying green ethos, with well-organised recycling, and exceptional bars and restaurants, as well as a great selection of clubs, museums, cinemas, and art galleries. Many neighbourhoods have planting schemes to enhance their appearance.

People from larger more frenetic areas, such as San Francisco, will notice a huge difference in the vibes – the city is famously laid back in comparison.

There is no state sales tax, which arguably goes some way towards making up for the perceived lower salaries.

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

The City of Roses is felt to be one of the healthiest places in the US, and keeping fit is a Portlander’s pastime. With close to 300 parks and gardens within the city limits, there is something for everyone, in addition to the many available outdoor pursuits within easy driving distance – such as nearby camping facilities, like the Stub Stewart State Park, or Rocky Mountain scenery for hiking and fishing, or Cape Lookout offers whale watching (in season), and yurts are available if you don’t have a tent.

 

What is the quality of education?

The population of Portland is highly educated. Around 90% are high school graduates, and an impressive 44% have a bachelor’s degree. These numbers are in some measure due to high education standards in Oregon. There are over 100 primary and secondary schools, including a full range of public and private institutions. Portland State University has a student roll of 30,000, with a good reputation in MBA and planning. The Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) offers degree level medical, dentistry and nursing streams, and there are at least a dozen other further education institutes specialising in a variety of fields – choice and quality are regarded as excellent.

 

What is the weather like?

Rain is a constant feature of the weather in Portland, but it is relatively mild all year round, given the proximity of the mountains and the ocean. Locals dress accordingly and will be out walking or cycling whatever the weather is doing. Locals will ask ‘Is the mountain out today?’, and Mt Hood is indeed an impressive sight when the weather clears. The warmest month is August, with temperatures in the 80s, and although the temperature can dip below freezing in winter, it rarely gets really cold.

Portland is is relatively mild all year round.

 

What is the traffic like?

Despite all the encouragement and uptake of cycling as a viable alternative form of transport, Portland still ranks high in the bad vehicular traffic tables. The midweek evening rush hour (5 pm) is the worst. Expect to spend some time in queues if you have to commute in conventional hours.

 

What will life in Portland be like for my pet?

Bear in mind that if you are initially renting, not all landlords allow pets.

There are numerous strict animal welfare laws and regulations in Oregon – many of which are designed to control puppy farming. The city is generally pet-friendly. Your pet will be as welcome as you are.

There are over 400 restaurants and bars where dogs are welcome. There are also designated off-leash areas in some parks and open spaces, but your dog must otherwise be kept on a leash.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To New York

If you are contemplating a move to New York, you are looking at relocating to one of the most vibrant and fascinating cities on Earth, home of world-famous attractions, such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. What will you need to know before you go? We will take a look at your top ten questions below.

 

Can I find a job?

The NYC metropolitan area consists of one of the biggest job markets in the States. High-end white-collar work in IT, education, administration and healthcare is always at the top of the market, but the Department of Labor has projected some fast-growing sectors, too. For example, gaming cashiers, statisticians, web development, nursing and interpreting are all examples of growing employment sectors. New York is an expensive place to live, though, so remember to factor that into your salary expectations. You’ll need a baseline of at least $40K per year to live there.

 

What is the housing market like?

Housing on Manhattan Island is extremely expensive, and the boroughs are not cheap either. Evaluations of property suggest that Parkchester in the Bronx and Hammels in Queens have some of the lower end rents, as does Port Ivory on Staten Island. You may need to pay a broker’s fee in order to find an apartment, but your best bet is to use online property listing apps, such as Craigslist.

Many people who enter the city as individuals end up sharing apartments. However, the post-Covid-19 property market is in your favour, as so many people have left the city. Experts suggest finding a short-term rental first and using it as a foothold to find somewhere more permanent. Median rent for a two-bedroom apartment was around the $2.5K mark monthly in 2019, but it may have fallen slightly since Covid-19.

House prices are steep in Manhattan, but cheaper outside the city – the National Association of Realtors says that the median house price for the greater metropolitan area is around $400K.

 

What is the cost of living in New York?

As noted, NYC is an expensive city in which to live. Accommodation is going to be your biggest cost. It is possible to eat cheaply if you go off the beaten track. Remember that you will also have to pay a service charge on meals (between 10% and 12%). As below, parking charges can be steep, too – around $400 to $500 per month – and you may prefer to pay subway charges instead. Utility charges are slightly less than the US average, however.

NYC is an expensive city to live in, and accommodation is going to be your biggest cost.

 

What is the crime rate in New York?

Parts of New York used to be regarded as very dangerous when it came to crime, but in recent decades, the situation has greatly improved. The NYPD, however, report that the murder rate rose by 35% in 2020, with 280 murders in the city that year. However, given the density of the population, the FBI still rate the city as the safest in the USA. The most dangerous neighbourhoods are in Brooklyn, although the area around Times Square also has a high rate of violent crime.

 

What is the quality of life like in New York?

Quality of life in New York is high if you can afford it. NYC has some of the best and most diverse dining places in the world, a plethora of bars and clubs, and a host of museums, cinemas, and art galleries. Opera fans will find plenty to delight them, and so will theatre goers. Official rankings for the States, however, rate NYC low: the US News & World Report’s 2019 listing places New York as 90 out of 125 cities, with the top slot going to Austin in Texas. Large numbers of people have been leaving the city of late, citing cost and stress as major factors. NYC is exciting but perhaps not the most restful city to live in!

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

New York has one big green lung – Central Park – in addition to other parks and riverside walks. There are lots of opportunities to keep healthy. It has farmers’ markets selling fresh food and a large number of gyms and exercise studios. It’s cited in official statistics as one of the healthiest cities in America – number four in recent rankings – with a number of public initiatives to ensure clean air and water. The city’s high life expectancy reflects this. New Yorkers are big sports fans; the city is the home of the Giants for the NFL, and the Yankees for baseball.

There are lots of opportunities to keep healthy in New York.

 

What is the quality of education?

New York has the biggest public school system in the States, with more than 1,700 public schools. It is also home to a number of universities, including Columbia University, Barnard College, Fordham University, and more. If you are using the public school system, however, be aware that your child might not end up in the nearest school to your location.

 

What is the weather like?

January is the coldest month, and expect snow and freezing temperatures. The summer, by contrast, is steamy and humid; the city can become unbearably hot in August. Spring and autumn are pleasant – just brace yourself for the annual extremes!

 

What is the traffic like?

Let’s just say that this is not an ideal city in which to drive, and many New Yorkers simply do not bother to invest in a car. It has steep parking fees and inconvenient rules: tales of locals having to rise at dawn to move their cars as a result of ‘alternate side of the street’ parking regulations are common. You may therefore decide that, given that the traffic is also congested and slow, doing without a car is your best option. The city is highly walkable and has good public transport links.

 

What will life in New York be like for my pet?

The Huffington Post ranks NYC as the tenth most dog friendly city in the States, based on parks where you can walk your pet, and dog-friendly bars and restaurants. Bear in mind, though, that you may initially be renting and not all landlords allow pets.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Miami

Florida is a popular destination among both US citizens and expats, and one of its greatest cities is Miami. With its famous beaches and Art Deco architecture, Miami is a beautiful place to live. If you are thinking of moving to this part of the ‘Sunshine State’, what do you need to know? We will take a look at the top ten things to consider.

 

Can I find a job?

Some of the top jobs in Miami are in medicine and medical support: dentistry, obstetrics, gynaecology, and anaesthetics among them. The aviation industry is another big employer, and so is tourism. Experts say that the job market is not as competitive as in some US cities, such as LA or New York, but Miami is a popular destination and thus not the easiest place to find work.

 

What is the housing market like?

Florida’s accommodation is averagely priced when compared to the rest of the USA, but Miami is one of the more expensive parts of the state, with average house prices coming in at around $380K. On average, homeowners spend a quarter of their income on their mortgages, and property prices are still going up. Homestead and Miami Shores are popular with first time buyers; Coral Gables and Pinecrest are popular suburbs. Shop around if you are renting; rental costs have come down recently as a result of overdevelopment. If you are in the market for high-end property, you will find more for your dollar in Miami than in some other American cities.

You will face steep home insurance costs, as a result of some extreme weather. You will need to take out hurricane and flood insurance on top of your existing home insurance.

 

What is the cost of living in Miami?

The cost of living varies substantially across the state, but Miami is not the cheapest part of Florida to live in, and it is estimated to be around 14% more costly than the national average. For a family of four, you’ll need slightly over US$1K per person per month to live in relative comfort. Poverty in the city is marked. Around 40% of Miami’s residents are classified as poor.

Locals say that the cost of living is around 10% higher than in central Florida, but wages are correspondingly a little higher as well. The lack of state income tax will soften any financial blows a bit, but you will still need to pay Federal taxes. Sales taxes are slightly lower than in other regions.

The cost of living varies substantially across Miami.

 

What is the crime rate in Miami?

Florida’s crime rate is more perceived than actual – locals say that Miami is not a particularly dangerous city, even at night, but crime rates are still higher than the national average. Your chance of being involved in a violent crime is about 1 in 162, and your chances of being the victim of property crime is 1 in 27.

 

What is the quality of life like in Miami?

Locals say that the quality of life in Miami is good, but obviously, as with any city, it is better if you have money. There are some great restaurants in the city, Cuban cuisine being particularly well represented, and a diverse, cosmopolitan population. Locals recommend socialising at Wynwood, Design Center and Coconut Grove, among others, and say that the local sports facilities are second to none when it comes to boating and diving. The nearby Everglades have plenty of hiking trails. Calle Ocho, a big home to the Cuban community, sees a number of Cuban festivals, and there are plenty of art galleries and museums, too.

 

Is it a healthy place to live?

The options for remaining healthy in the Magic City are high, given the city’s beach and ocean based lifestyle, and perhaps it is no surprise that it has gained the title of America’s healthiest city for two years running. You might choose to go golfing, hiking, or kayaking in the Everglades.

Obesity rates in the city are relatively low, and it’s estimated that most residents take exercise three or more times a week. You’ll find plenty of gyms. Farmers’ markets and smoothie outlets, plus a host of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, give you the opportunity to eat healthily. With regard to healthcare, the ratio of doctors to residents is high, and healthcare is generally considered to be of a high standard.

 

What is the quality of education?

Miami-Dade County Public Schools oversee the city’s large public school system, and Miami is also host to the University of Miami. The city has some top-rated academies, and you should have a decent choice, whether in the public or the private sector. Schools are being moved away from the Common Core curriculum, and the public system generally is undergoing something of an overhaul.

Miami has some top-rated academies.

 

What is the weather like?

Miami is warm all the year round. Summers are exceptionally hot, and you will need air conditioning, but October to April tends to be somewhat cooler and less humid, and there is often a sea breeze, as well as daily showers. Bear in mind that Florida has a hurricane season (June to November), and it is worth sorting out your storm prep as early as possible in your move.

 

What is the traffic like?

Traffic in Miami is described by the locals as ‘appalling’, and they also say that drivers can be rude. It isn’t the best place for driving, but unfortunately you probably will not have a lot of choice, unless you live close to your workplace or work from home. Public transportation is not of a high standard, either, being slow and unreliable, but you may want to access the Metrobus or the trolley network. There are ride sharing systems, too. Remember, if you’re driving and you need to cross the Brickell Avenue drawbridge, this might be up to allow ships to pass!

 

What will life in Miami be like for my pet?

Several of Miami’s beaches allow dogs, and there are also a number of dog-friendly parks, where you can walk your pet both on and off a leash.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Massachusetts

If you are contemplating a move to the Pilgrim State, you will find a densely populated, small state, with the Atlantic Ocean on your doorstep, plus all the conveniences of modern life in a bustling, vibrant environment, and a centre of educational and sporting excellence that are second to none. What will you need to know before you go? We will take a look at your top ten questions below.

 

Can I find a job?

Despite underlying issues (including the current pandemic-related disruption in employment, leaving the state with an unemployment rate of around 7%), there are still many jobs available in Massachusetts, and it is an expanding market. Healthcare, education, tech, IT, transport, services and insurance are amongst the biggest employers, but there are additionally close to 700,000 small businesses, which employ a large percentage of the workforce.

The average salary in Boston is around $80,000, and state-wide the median income is rated fourth highest in the country – but you’ll need it with the higher cost of living (50% higher than the US average). It is probably wise to line up a job before you go, as housing can make a big hole in your savings.

 

What is the housing market like?

The cost of properties varies considerably across the state and is on the increase, with houses closest to Boston fetching a significant premium. The median house price is now over $700k in Boston (and the market is booming). You may wish to consider a short-term rental if you are buying, to allow you time to familiarise yourself with the area, but with prices rising at up to 1.5% per month, this could end up being expensive.

Rental prices have decreased a little this year, as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its effect on the market, but they are still high. Average monthly rental costs are around $3,000, but there is significant variation, depending on location and facilities.

Whether you choose to rent or buy, local brokers can assist you in finding suitable property, and there are also online listing apps, such as Craigslist, to assist you.

 

What is the cost of living in Massachusetts?

Boston is very expensive, and other cities are not much cheaper, reflecting the popularity of the state among many demographic groups. Accommodation is going to be your most significant cost, with utilities and general expenses being averagely priced. The MBTA is a viable commuting alternative for many, and can reduce travel costs for some. State income tax, at 5%, is relatively low.

Boston is very expensive, and other cities in Massachusetts are not much cheaper.

 

What is the crime rate in Massachusetts?

Crime in Massachusetts is considered lower than in many states, with property crime rates only half the national average (possibly reflecting lower poverty figures), and there is less violent crime, too. Some areas in Greater Boston are worse than others, but the pattern changes, and at times, crime can be extremely localised.

 

What is the quality of life like in Massachusetts?

In general terms, the quality of life is what drives people to move there. Employment is good, the history of the state is engaging, cuisine is excellent, and health and fitness are top priorities for the state legislature.

Activities are diverse – from Atlantic whale watching to architectural and archaeological tours, theatre and world-renowned classical music institutions. Throughout the state, outdoor pursuits abound, especially hiking and canoeing and sailing and boat tours.

Sports fans have several iconic teams to follow – the Baseball Redsox, the NFL Patriots, the Ice Hockey Bruins, and the Basketball Celtics are all multiple champions – and sports medicine in the area is renowned throughout the country.

 

Is it a healthy place to live?

Massachusetts has made certain that over 95% of its residents are covered by health insurance, and the state boasts many of the best hospitals in the US.

There are state-sponsored programmes to help combat obesity, and every city has gyms and public spaces for exercise. Boston is generally rated in the top ten nationwide for fitness provision. Massachusetts is also famous for its mix of winter and summer sports and activities, and for camping facilities in the many state parks.

Restaurants are amongst the best in the country, and the seafood is superb. Local markets provide excellent fresh produce.

 

What is the quality of education?

Education in Massachusetts is world class. Starting with Harvard and MIT, educational standards in the state are a beacon for the rest of the nation, and its public education system is also second to none. Getting a decent to excellent education for your children will not be an issue in Massachusetts – although the cost may be prohibitive.

 

What is the weather like?

Massachusetts has a humid continental climate and four distinct seasons. The state is cold in winter and balmy and relatively mild in summer and fall. The climate in Massachusetts yields humid 80F summer days and 22F January nights, with plenty of snow.

You will find plenty of rainfall, too – averaging ten days per month.

Massachusetts has a humid continental climate and four distinct seasons.

 

What is the traffic like?

Your experience of the traffic will depend on whether you have to commute in the Greater Boston area or not. Boston is considered by many to have the worst traffic problems in the country, which authorities put down, at least partially, to the success of the economy outgrowing the infrastructure, with huge increases in employment numbers in the past decade.

There is a move to make the MBTA more attractive to commuters, but workers are increasingly finding that working from home takes some of the pressure off their right foot, and companies are being given tax breaks to encourage it. Longer term, the state is also looking to provide more affordable housing nearer employment districts and transport hubs.

 

What will life in Massachusetts be like for my pet?

Salem is thought to be one of the most dog friendly cities in MA, but beaches, like Nahant and Castle Island, and national parks also provide excellent facilities to walk your dog. Boston itself is ranked in the top ten most dog-friendly cities, with off-leash dog parks and many other facilities that allow pets, including breweries.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Los Angeles

If you are contemplating a move to the beautiful West Coast city of Los Angeles, you may be wondering what you will need to know before you go. Home of the film industry, legendarily glamorous LA is nonetheless host to a wide range of other job sectors, too. We will take a look at your top ten questions relating to the City of Angels below.

 

Can I find a job?

LA is a highly competitive environment when it comes to employment, particularly in the entertainment industry – but this does not constitute the whole of the job market. Marketing, tech, healthcare, environmental services and the service industry are also all big employers. Symantec, SpaceEx, Netflix and Verizon all have a presence in LA, and this is a city of tech start-ups and freelancers. It is a good idea to get work lined up before you go, and be aware that it is an expensive place to live.

 

What is the housing market like?

Accommodation is expensive in LA. Rental costs depend on your selected neighbourhood. Beachfront properties are pricey – apartments can cost around $4K per month – but you can get an apartment in some parts of the city for $1500. Basically, the closer you are to the coast, the more you’ll be paying per month. However, North LA is still cheaper than the west of the city: Eagle Rock, Glassell and Highland Park are all options. Average rent in Echo Park, which is downtown, is upward of $2K per month but is still affordable, and some areas beyond the city, such as Burbank, are worth looking at. Not all of LA has yet been subject to gentrification, and you can find some pockets of cheaper areas.

If you are intending to buy, average house prices for a family home in the Greater LA Area are around $650K. Again, this is very much dependent on your neighbourhood, but limited development and high desirability mean that house prices are high.

To find an apartment, you can use an agent, or online property listing apps, such as Craigslist, can help. Experts suggest finding a short-term rental first and using it as a foothold to find somewhere more permanent.

 

What is the cost of living in Los Angeles?

The cost of living in LA is estimated to be 48% higher than the national average. In other words, this is not a cheap city to live in. Housing costs will make up the bulk of your outgoings, but transport could also make up a significant chunk, depending on the length of your commute. However, in spite of the city’s justified reputation for high-end glamour, there are still a number of low cost or no cost entertainment options, such as the parks and the beaches. Running trails will be cheaper than a gym membership, too.

The cost of living in LA is estimated to be 48% higher than the national average.

 

What is the crime rate in Los Angeles?

The crime rate overall has been decreasing in LA in recent years, but the murder rate rose by 20% in 2020. The area around Vermont Square has been particularly badly afflicted, and this is gang-related. However, the FBI reported at the end of 2020 that LA has the biggest decline in crime of any major American city.

 

What is the quality of life like in Los Angeles?

The quality of life in LA can be excellent – it depends on your income! LA is, after all, home to the entertainment industry, and you will find a very vibrant cultural life. LA is a diverse and cosmopolitan centre, with an emphasis on multi-culturalism. There are some great shopping and eating opportunities; the city has some famous hotels and restaurants, and a thriving music scene, too. Combined with the pleasant weather and an outdoors lifestyle, there’s a great deal to like about life in LA.

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

The emphasis placed on image in LA means that it is geared towards a lifestyle that’s healthy and all about keeping fit. You’ll find plenty of gyms and exercise classes, along with a great many vegan and vegetarian eateries. Beyond the city, the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, plus the Angeles National Forest, offer significant opportunities for hiking and other activities, such as rock climbing. The Greater Los Angeles Area, such as Santa Monica, has some outstanding beaches, too, so there’s lots of choice when it comes to water sports and sailing.

 

What is the quality of education?

The University of Southern California and UCLA both have homes in LA, and the public school system is extensive – but it can vary in quality. You may have heard about the Californian schools crisis, and, until recently, the LA public sector has been prone to underfunding and overcrowding, although it has been improving in recent years. You may want to consider the private sector for your child, but be aware that not all private schools are of equivalent quality. There are also a number of not-for-profit charter schools, which are part privately funded. Magnet schools – which have a specific focus for gifted children – also have a presence.

 

What is the weather like?

The city has a Mediterranean climate and is mild to hot year round. It is also quite dry, although you will find rain throughout the winter (November to April). The Santa Ana winds often result in some dry and dusty days, and the surrounding area is prone to wildfires, so be aware that, in some parts of the greater city area, this can be a problem.

Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate and is mild to hot year round.

 

What is the traffic like?

Traffic in LA is legendarily awful, and in a spread-out city of around 4 million people, a large percentage of whom commute, plus a not-very-adequate public transport system, its reputation is deserved. Your distance from your workplace is going to be an issue, and you will need a car if you’re living in the suburbs.

 

What will life in Los Angeles be like for my pet?

Boardwalks rather than beaches are a possible destination for your pet, although some beaches will allow dogs. In general, LA is a dog friendly city, with lots of dog-oriented facilities and pet-friendly restaurants and parks.

10 Things Expats Need To Know When Moving To Illinois

If you are contemplating a move to the Prairie State, you will find three ‘C’s – corn, cold and Chicago. Illinois farmers rank highly for corn production, and winter temperatures are forced down by winds coming off Lake Michigan. Nonetheless, the state has much to recommend it. So, what will you need to know before you go to Illinois?

 

Can I find a job?

If you are looking for employment in Illinois, it is encouraging that about half the top twenty employers are outside the Windy City, and there are jobs available in a wide variety of fields. McDonalds and Walgreen are the state’s two largest employers, with Boeing, United Airlines, Caterpillar and Sears not far behind. Food production and packaging, insurance (State Farm is huge), education, transport, services, agriculture and machinery, construction and design are all industries looking for employees. That said, it is probably wise to line up a job before you go.

The average Illinois salary in $67,000 (only a little lower than Chicago).

 

What is the housing market like?

The median house price in Illinois is around $185,000 – this is significantly lower than the national average. There are bargains to be had, but factor in that you will need to pay for heating. You may wish to consider short-term rental if you are buying, to allow you time to familiarise yourself with the area.

Rental prices in Illinois are generally affordable. While the price will vary from city to city, a two-bedroom apartment can be found for $1,000 upwards, which is significantly less than the national average. Springfield, East Peoria and Quincy are said to be among the cheapest cities, while Chicago is the most expensive (although even Chicago is competitive in comparison with other US cities).

Whether you wish to rent or buy, you should be able to find local agents who know the market and can help you. You can also use online listing apps, such as Craigslist.

 

What is the cost of living in Illinois?

With housing being relatively cheap, the cost of living in Illinois is slightly below the national average. Accommodation is still going to be your most significant cost, but utilities and general expenses are averagely priced. State income tax, at a flat 5%, is relatively low.

The cost of living in Illinois is slightly below the national average.

 

What is the crime rate in Illinois?

Crime in Illinois has been on the decrease in recent years, but is still very slightly higher than the national average. Figures vary considerably from place to place, and violent crime figures can be sharply altered by random local incidents.

 

What is the quality of life like in Illinois?

People who live in Illinois love it and make the best of the winter harshness by participating in various sporting and outdoor activities. There are dozens of state and local parks, and a wide variety of activities are catered for. Plus, Lake Michigan is huge, so water sports are often just a drive away.

Food across the state is of good quality, especially if you like casseroles, and there is an abundance of fresh produce available, too, at any of the 8,000 local farmers’ markets. There are also numerous vineyards.

Once every decade or so, you will find a fourth ‘C’ – cicadas – and they are due to emerge in spring 2021! Millions and millions of them. Buy ear plugs.

 

Is it a healthy place to live in?

‘Healthy Illinois’ is a recent state plan to improve the health of citizens and shows that the legislature is prepared to face underlying issues. Part of the aim of the programme is to provide affordable health insurance for all state residents.

Illinois’ cities have their own fitness provisions, which can vary considerably. There are state-sponsored programmes to help combat obesity, and every city has gyms, parks and other public spaces for exercise.

You can do winter sports, provided you wrap up warm, and there are over 300 state parks, which offer a wide variety of hiking, biking, camping and fishing activities.

 

What is the quality of education?

Improvement of public education is a priority for the state legislature, and there are private and affiliated schools throughout the state to consider. College facilities in most towns are adequate and relatively well-funded, but, with the exception of Chicago, Illinois is not the best state for university education.

 

What is the weather like?

Summers are long, warm, humid and wet. Winters are very cold. Normal temperatures range from 18F to 85F. Snowfall varies – up by the Lake, there can be as much as three feet annually.

There is plenty of rainfall, too, even in the summer, which is good for growers.

By Lake Michigan, there can be as much as three feet of snow annually.

 

What is the traffic like?

Potholes are perhaps the largest single complaint of Illinoisan drivers. Weather extremes and funding pressures conspire to make for some interesting journeys, even on major highroads.

Snow is an obvious hazard, and winter driving can be disrupted considerably. Most cities are well set to manage, with salt and snow ploughs, but out in the country roads can be blocked fairly frequently. Sometimes, it takes a while to get the ploughs to more remote areas, so checking your local weather and traffic guides is essential if you have to travel any distance in winter.

Generally, rush hour traffic in most Illinois cities (outside of Chicago) is not considered terrible. You will need to check details for your chosen destination.

 

What will life in Illinois be like for my pet?

You will find a fair welcome for your pet in most areas and plenty to do. There are dog beaches, dog parks and dog walking facilities throughout the state, such as Mayslake Forest Preserve and Shawnee National Forest.

Many cities have dog-friendly hotels, but the state has banned dogs from restaurants and bars, including outdoor eating areas. Additionally, cities will ask you to keep your dog on a leash except in designated areas. However, with so many wide-open spaces, there are plenty of opportunities for your dog to enjoy life to the full.

Share to...