The U.S. is a large and diverse country and there is a town to suit every family. The question is, how to narrow it down and find the city or state that’s right for your family? LCR Capital has helped many newcomers transition into their new lives in America, and we believe the following four factors are important to consider when you’re making your decision:
Given America is the size of a continent, there are a wide range of different climatic zones across the country. Florida is tropical most year-round, whereas Minnesota is arctic. California is temperate, and probably most like what we’re used to in South Africa, but many South Africans love the novelty of snow, and skiing, and having a “White Christmas.” Living in a climate you’re comfortable with can have a big impact on your physical and mental health, so don’t underestimate the importance of this when you’re deciding where to live.
Each state has its own micro-economy. Some are thriving, when others may be sluggish, and this affects employment prospects. According to CNBC, these are the top 10 states for finding a job in 2017, along with the best industries in each state:
- Utah (Services, Construction)
- Florida (Construction, Services)
- Nevada (Construction, Professional services)
- Idaho (Healthcare, Finance)
- Colorado (Services, Hospitality & Leisure)
- Oregon (Construction, Mining)
- Georgia (Mining, Construction, Finance)
- Washington (Information technology, Construction)
- Texas (Mining/Oil, Professional services)
- Tennessee (Construction, Hospitality & Leisure)
Cost of living
The cost of housing is the most obvious factor to consider, as this is likely to be your biggest expense. Gobankingrates.com did a comprehensive breakdown of the most and least expensive states in the U.S.
Housing is not the only cost to look at though. The price of consumables, such as groceries, can vary widely from state to state, and even town to town. The cost of “gasoline” (your new word for petrol) as well as utilities such as water and electricity also varies significantly. Of course, incomes are adjusted in line with the cost of living for each city and state, so just because one state seems more expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be worse off if you’re earning well. The website payscale.com lets you find and compare salaries for various jobs across America.
But for those planning on earning most of their income in South Africa – or those planning to retire – you can cut your monthly expenses by more than half by choosing to live in a less expensive state.
For the parents of young children, the most important factors to consider when moving will be family-related. Liveability.com analysed each American city in terms of the quality of the schools, the crime rate, and measures of the quality of healthcare and the economy. They gave points to communities that are walkable, diverse, have lots of parks, and active children’s sections in their libraries. They also favored communities with shorter commute times so working parents can be home more and on the road less.
According to Livability, these are America’s top 8 towns for families – and you’ve probably never heard of them!
- Rockville, Maryland (Population 64,331)
Rockville has one of the best public-school systems in America, scored #2 on the diversity index, and the medium household income is just under $100k, with one of the lowest family poverty rates in the country.
Close to: Washington D.C.
- Chandler, Arizona (Population 250,202)
With 330 days of sunshine a year, families take full advantage of the 60+ parks in the city. In fact, the city is close to achieving its goal of having a park within every square mile.
Close to: Phoenix
- Newton, Massachusetts (Population 87,675)
Newton offers good schools; safe, historic neighborhoods; and a close proximity to Boston (which is 15 minutes away). The town has charm, and beautiful nature – and it’s perfect for those who want to be close to the city too. The median household income is $167k, and house prices are more expensive than other states. Close to: Boston
- Holland, Michigan (Population 33,526)
South Africans may particularly enjoy this town, which is rich in Dutch heritage, and still has a large population of Dutch American residents. This close-knit community was named the second happiest place in America on the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index.
Close to: Grand Rapids
- Chula Vista, California (Population 257,296)
This town is located on the San Diego Bay, just minutes from the Pacific Ocean beaches. The Southern California weather allows families to spend a lot of time outdoors, at any of the great beaches or parks.
Close to: San Diego
- Oak Park, Illinois (Population 52,080)
Great schools, great parks, and a child-friendly culture make this a great place for young families. It’s also just 8 miles away from downtown Chicago, which working parents can commute to by train.
Close to: Chicago
- St George, Utah (Population 76,915)
Surrounded by Zion National Park, the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness area and the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, it’s easy to see why outdoor-loving families are drawn to St. George.
Close to: Las Vegas (2 hours away)
- Homewood, Alabama (Population 25,535)
This is a suburb of Birmingham with award-winning schools, an impressive parks system and a central location.
Close to: Birmingham