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How Does Living In The US Differ From Holidaying There? A Brief Guide For Potential Expats

For decades now, the US has been one of the most popular tourist destinations for people from all around the world. Each year, millions of foreigners vacation in this country for weeks or even months. With so much to see and do, it is hardly surprising to see that many people don’t want to go back home. Many visitors decide to move here after spending a fairly short amount of time in the country. However, it is important to remember that moving to the US as an expat is very different from vacationing there.Given below are a few differences that all potential expats should consider before moving to the US:


Vacationers to the US have various baggage allowances, depending upon the country they fly in from and the carrier on which they choose to travel. As a tourist, you can only bring in what you are allowed on the vessel with you. If you exceed the weight allowance set by the airline, you may be asked to pay for the excess baggage.

If you are moving to the US as an expat, you can choose to import your household goods and personal belongings such as furniture, electronics, books, CDs and kitchen appliances. You cannot carry some of these items on a flight with you. It is best to get them shipped to the US from your home country.

Everything that you bring into the country is subject to clearance from the US Customs. The authorities have placed restrictions on the import of items like alcohol, weapons, pets, plants and certain food items. Some items such as reptile skin, fur, coral and ivy have been banned outright.

Work and stay permits

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Visitors require nothing more than a tourist or business visa stamped on their passport in order to travel to the US. If you enter the country on one of these Visas, the immigration authorities will allow you to stay on for no more than 90 days. Moreover, you cannot seek any kind of employment or study in the country while you are on this visa.

Any foreign citizen who wishes to stay, study or work in the US needs to get immigrant status before they enter the country. Of course, getting a work permit is a costly and complex procedure which could take months or even years. Moreover, the authorities only approve the work permits for skilled applicants or specialists, who perform jobs that the Americans cannot.

Education in the US is top-notch as some of the most renowned schools and universities are located in this country. Student visas are easier to get than work permits if you have been given admission to an American university. However, the cost of the tuition and student visa can be quite expensive (approximately US $ 20,000 or € 15,000 per year, excluding accommodation).

People caught working or studying on a tourist or business visa are fined heavily and deported to their home countries immediately.


All travelers who are visiting the US are advised to get Holiday Insurance, which comes in handy in case of a medical emergency. However, the holiday cover is limited for the duration of your visit and won’t be accepted if you are living in the US as an expat.

Make sure that you get complete and comprehensive medical insurance as soon as you settle in. Without insurance, you may be refused treatment at certain medical facilities. Moreover, healthcare in the US is very expensive and you may receive a bill of thousands of dollars if you require medical treatment while uninsured.

Driving and Commuting

Visitors to the US are known for renting cars if they plan to drive around on their own. Others travel by taxis and occasionally buses.

However, car rentals and taxis become quite expensive in the long run. As an expat it would be more economical to purchase a car instead of renting one. One of the biggest adjustments that people have to make is driving on the right-hand side of the road. Also, the steering wheels are placed on the left side of the car.

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