Relocating to the US as an Expat? Here Are the Top Cities to Consider

Are you an expat planning to relocate to the United States? With its diverse landscape, culture, and job opportunities, it can be challenging to decide on the perfect city to call your new home. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the top US cities for expats, comparing their lifestyle, job prospects, cost of living, and more, to help you make an informed decision.

New York City, New York

With a population of over 8.4 million people, New York City is the largest city in the United States and one of the most diverse cities in the world. It attracts expats from all over the globe with its iconic landmarks, world-class museums, and diverse neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Chinatown, and SoHo. The city has a humid subtropical climate and a cost of living that is ranked the highest in the US. The job market is competitive, but opportunities are abundant in industries like finance, media, and technology.


Designer boutiques, fancy chain stores and high-end art galleries make trendy SoHo a top shopping destination, especially for out-of-towners. Known for its elegant cast-iron-facades and cobblestone streets, the neighborhood is also an atmospheric backdrop for fashionable crowds clustering at high-end restaurants and nightlife hotspots. During the day, street vendors sell everything from jewelry to original artwork.


Vibrant Chinatown is a densely populated neighborhood that draws foodies and tourists to its many Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants for dumplings, pork buns and hand-pulled noodles. The busy sidewalks are packed with souvenir stores, bubble tea shops, and markets selling everything from fresh and dried fish to herbs and spices. Locals hang out in leafy Columbus Park for Tai Chi, chess and mahjong.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, with a population of over 820,000 people, is a popular destination for expats due to its mild Mediterranean climate, scenic beauty, and vibrant culture. The city is home to a thriving tech industry and many startups, making it an attractive destination for those in the tech field. The cost of living in San Francisco is the second highest in the US, behind New York city. Since the pandemic in 2020, the San Francisco vibe has not been the same. The city is quieter and many people moved out of the city during the pandemic. 

Foster city, Bay Area, California

While Foster city is not as famous as San Francisco, it is a great place to live. And it is about 30 min drive from San Francisco, 15 min from the SFO airport. Check out my detailed article about the pros and cons of living in Foster City. I strongly recommend Foster City over San Francisco.

Miami, Florida

With a population of over 440,000 people, Miami is a popular destination for expats due to its warm tropical monsoon climate, beautiful beaches, and vibrant Latin American culture. The city is also known for its nightlife, shopping, and dining scene, making it a popular choice for those looking to experience a diverse and exciting city. The cost of living in Miami is relatively high compared to other cities in the US.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, with a population of close to 4 million people, is the entertainment capital of the world and is known for its film and television industry. The city is also home to many world-class museums, beaches, and a vibrant arts scene. The city has a Mediterranean climate and a cost of living that is higher than the US average (number #10 most expensive city for the cost of living).

Traffic in Los Angeles is a serious problem as you can get stuck in traffic at any given time of the day. 

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, with a population of over 730,000 people, is a popular destination for expats due to its proximity to the great outdoors and its thriving tech industry. The city is also known for its coffee culture and its contributions to music and arts. Seattle has a temperate climate (sometimes characterized as a “modified Mediterranean” climate because it is cooler and wetter) and ranks 8th for the cost of living.

Washington D.C.

With a population of close to 700,000 people, Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States and is home to many international organizations and embassies, making it a popular destination for expats. The city is also known for its rich history, monuments, and museums. The city has a humid subtropical climate and ranks 5th in terms of cost of living. Washington D.C. has a very poor public transport system. It is often very dirty so bear that in mind. 

Austin, Texas

Austin (with a population of about 970,000 people) is often referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and is famous for its vibrant music and arts scene, as well as its thriving tech industry. Expats will enjoy the city’s laid-back vibe, outdoor recreational opportunities, and friendly locals. The cost of living is more affordable than other tech hubs, making it an appealing destination for expats. Austin has a humid subtropical climate.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, known as the Windy City, offers expats a taste of Midwestern charm combined with big-city amenities. The city boasts a strong job market, particularly in industries such as finance, healthcare, and manufacturing. Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, world-class museums, and renowned food scene make it an attractive destination for expats seeking a rich cultural experience.

Denver, Colorado

Denver is an ideal destination for expats who love the great outdoors. The city offers easy access to the Rocky Mountains and a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. Denver has a growing job market, particularly in industries such as aerospace, telecommunications, and renewable energy. The city’s cost of living is relatively affordable compared to other major cities, making it an attractive option for expats.

US migration trend between states

The data is from Redfin for the duration between Nov 2022 – Jan 2023

US migration trends between states Jan 2023 - Redfin

You can see from the map above that more people are moving out of California than any other states in the US. And Florida has the highest net inbound migration.

Here are the top 10 areas where people are moving From and To, in the US from Nov 2022 – Jan 2023.

In conclusion, relocating to the United States can be a thrilling and life-changing experience, and with this guide, you should have an overall idea about each city. Good luck!

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