Moving to the US

Emigrating to the United States of America

I am an American that has lived for about seven years in Europe. This year I might move to the USA. It is a big change for my family and I. But moving to the States is based on a number of factors.

The decision to move back is not easy. Here I have friends and extended family. We have a nice life, free health care and a lot of interesting culture and opportunities to travel. Why do I want to move the USA? Rainy weather and six months of darkness is not for me. If you draw a line from Europe to America you will notice that Europe actually sits up in the latitude of northern Canada. This explains the large variations of day light and strange weather.

Why I am moving from Europe to America

Reason 1: The primary reason I want to move back is the weather. I want to move back to the USA to a more sunny climate. The weather in Europe is dark and rainy. This is because it sits at the tail of the jet stream. If it was not for this jet stream Europe would be in an ice age. It is this warm moist weather that saves Europe from its Northern proximity. Think of foggy London and Sherlock Holmes and this is Europe. Further, the cities are polluted as they have narrow streets and are over crowded. European cities were designed for the Middle Ages not in the American way, large and expansive. Yes they are charming, but too many cars take the fun out of this.

Reason 2: Real Estate is expensive, as is everything. Even in poor Eastern Europe real estate is at western levels. For some reason, even with an over supply and tighter credit markets, Eastern Europe has high priced real estate. I have often said, for a cheaper price I could get something in sunny Florida on the beach, than a small Eastern European flat in the blocks.

Even in Greece where there is a crisis, any decent western style apartment is a half million dollars, go figure.

I have many times bragged how cheap things are where I live. But the Euro zone is catching up and prices are now approaching western Europe, which is more than the USA because of VAT which is 22%.

I still think the USA is more expensive than Eastern Europe where I live. But maybe not.

So I am moving to the USA for weather but also economic reasons.

Working in the USA

Since I do not work or need a job I can live anywhere I want. Considering my family has two passports we can live almost anywhere in the western world. Wow talk about too much choice. I do not need to work and I have two passports. But before you are too jealous my life is exceedingly hard in other ways. I am lucky only in money and politics, and of course love.

The US job market is strange and I do not blame people for feeling poor even though they work hard. I in the past have thought Americans have lost perspective and are a little spoiled as the level of poor is not the same level as the rest of the world. Yet, on the other hand life is hard now in the USA in terms of paying the bills.

Why the USA is not easy to live. For example, we have spent the day street viewing lots of places in the USA as we search for a place to live. Besides the wealthy suburbs, the rest of the homes look better in the Polish countryside than the USA. The Polish country, it looks richer. I am not joking. I have spend countless hours looking at places to live with the Internet using ‘street view’. On this street view, I see many questionable areas and people who I would not trust living next to me. So the USA is great if you have big money to live in a nice area. But for the average American it is not the dream it use to be.

Further, if I were to live in the Polish countryside I know everyone and everyone knows me. There is basically no crime. In the USA, I have to choose where I live carefully.

Where to live in the USA?

It makes me laugh inside when I see the ratings of the best cities to live in the USA. Come on, who would want to live in snowy Minneapolis? Look if you could live anywhere the best places are warm and sunny. On the East coast Florida for example or Hawaii. There is no way I would bring my family to Oregon for example where it rains all the time. Sure it is beautiful, but people in Hawaii and Florida seem happier. Life is easier.

Right now I am looking into St. Augustine, Florida. Although I am a New Englander, my folks live in Jupiter (the city in Florida, the planet). But this is too expensive for my blood. Like I say, I do not need a job but I am not a multimillionaire yet.

I have also considered North Carolina which as a nice change of seasons but warm and cheap. In fact if you have a job lined up it is one of the nicer places to live. North Carolina is cheap and charming.

If anyone has any suggestions I am very open.

What I need to do to move to the USA

My wife is an EU national so she needs a green card or an I-130 visa. I will go to the US consulate this week and fill out an application. I think it will take about six months. Our daughter is American of course.

My wife needs to sell all our Ikea furniture and when we get to the States we will order some more. We will send all our personal things via Polish Post. It is not that pricey.

I guess, we will have to get a car. A car is like legs for Americans. I have not had one in years. I am thin and healthy. But I am moving to America.

My budget for living in America

  • Health Insurance 500 dollars
  • Food and soap 1,000 dollars
  • Utilities 150 dollars
  • Internet 65 dollars
  • Netflix 12 dollars
  • Rent ? dollars, this is the big variable now.

If anyone sees anything wrong with this budget let me know.

A car will add more if we need one. We do not know if we will live in a city or on the beach.

But lets say my total monthly expenses are 2,500 dollars.

I try to live a simple life so I can focus on work and my programs I am writing. I do not have any credit nor have I really ever had. I have savings and investments. So I guess I am lucky. It makes life low stress. But I have no illusions, moving to the USA for us will be hard and there will be many unexpected shocks.

If anyone has any advice about the big move to the United States of America, I am all ears. This could include the best place to live and how much it will cost.

20 Replies to “Moving to the US”

  1. Mark Biernat says:

    Update: No sooner had I posted this we are reconsidering. We have been planning this move actually for months and talking about it for a year now.
    However, today I was comparing crime stats with the USA and Poland and the USA has like 500% more violent crimes. Further, there are other crimes the USA has and Poland does not. I am really rethinking this all. Sunny weather is one thing, but things like crime is another. I mean Mexico has sunny weather, but I would not want to live there. Sweden has dark cold weather but is pretty safe and nice. I got a rude awakening after browsing the Internet on statistics. Maybe I am somewhat naive.

  2. Have you considered living in Southern France or Northern Spain (Barcelona area)? The climate is good, the health and education are free for EU nationals. Is easy to live from tourism (it will be great a Polish restaurant) but the problem maybe is the English. Other good place to life and they speak English and are on the EU is Malta, but a bit isolated I think.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      David you are speaking my language. We have been talking about this option. I think we might still move to the US as my folks are there. But we have to find the right place.
      I guess the reason might be, is this area cheap to buy something. In the US the whole real estate market is on sale. But in Europe there seems to be a downward rigidity in prices. People are talking deals but I am yet to see any 50k units in good condition in southern France. But I see these in Florida.

  3. Oscar Wilson says:

    Check out rural America. Non-existent crime and real estate is much less than in the larger cities. You will not have to get but 50 to 100 miles from a major metropolitan area.

    The town that I grew up in is in central Texas and has not changed much in the last 60 years. Only big change is that is now possible to buy beer and wine. If you want to go kick up your heals, Waco is 40 miles away. Dallas is 100, if someone feels the need for bright lights.

    My mother still lives there and I cannot get her to move to Dallas with my wife and me. Too many cars whizzing around and way too much noise. I agree, but my wife likes the bright lights and the grand kids are here.

  4. Interesting post. First I check the map. Krakow Poland is about as far north as Winnipeg, Manitoba. That is about 100 miles north of the U.S. Canadian border with the state of North Dakota. Not quite Northern Canada! However, you must remember that the continental U.S has much colder winter temperatures than probably most of Europe including Scandinavia. I have a friend in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The temperature will not rise above 10 degree F for the next couple of weeks in Aberdeen. Which is the same latitude as Milan, Italy! The eastern US also comes under the confluence of warm Atlantic water.
    Crime is another issue all in itself. And it depends what kind of crime you are talking about. Crime is probably very easy to find if you look hard enough anywhere. So the question is what you are willing to tolerate in your local society. Remember, DUI here in the U.S. gets most people a night in the clink. So you’ll have to pick and choose carefully.
    A car is a requirement in most places. $55 dollar a month insurance. And probably $150/month in gasoline at 20 mpg and 12,000 miles per year. And that is if you own the car,has good tires and runs good. I like to use the IRS milage rate of 55 cents per mile. And I’m sure it has gone up since I last checked. At that rate a car cost $550/ month to operate.
    There are so many other factors to consider. One thing I did not hear you mention were property tax rates. In New Jersey property tax rates are 2-3% of real values. In the area of Delaware where my brother lives tax rates are 0.4%. And general housing cost are cheaper than in NJ! Ulcers and anxiety are popular in NJ!!
    Good luck on your search. Looking forward to hear more!

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      Poland is north of Quebec city if you calculate the latitude, more on par with the Hudson bay, but if you consider Canada it is pretty far up even if it was at the boarder. I think Eastern Europe is extreme cold, but also the darkness is more important. In the winter if you look at BBC weather averages you will only get 1.5 hours of sunlight for 3 months straight. It is always dark and cloudy.
      But who cares it is all cold and dark, Canada, Poland, North Dakota.
      Good information on the car. But remember I lived about 7 years in the USA without a car. So are you saying the USA changed that much? I think I will get a car, but if you get the right location, it is optional if you do not have to commute to work.
      You need to be close to a supermarket or store or bike path.
      Property taxes I agree are a bear but this is life. If you have more ideas or information Greg let me know about moving to the USA.

  5. Oscar Wilson says:

    Try Ruidoso New Mexico. It has cold winters, mild summers, beautiful mountians, a pine forest and lots of sunshine. The rent there is afforadable.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      I have mentioned to my wife many times about New Mexico. Our choice of where to live in the USA basically about finding a nice place that has a good climate and natural beauty that I can focus more on work. I right now and in between two worlds, we some days are not questioning if moving to the USA is for us. I will let you know.

  6. Sam Goldring says:

    Hi Mark, I just navigated to your page to download The Wealth of Nations but saw your post about moving to the states. I’m from London and am also moving stateside with my American wife as soon as my i-130 is issued although were still procrastinating about all the photocopying. Were moving to Fort Collins, Colorado which boasts one of those “best town in the US to bring up children” awards. My wife and I are both professional performers and are exited to find if our skills translate to opportunities in the arts there. I will definitely check your blog in the future to see how your finding it.

    Best of luck, Sam Goldring.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      Thanks, I think we will go to Florida for the sunny weather, which is one thing most of Europe lacks. Colorado is an excellent choice as is New Mexico and a few other states on my list, but I choose Florida basically for the warmth and I have family there.
      Moving to the USA will not be easy as I love Europe.
      How is the i-130 process going? Remember they look at US based income.

  7. Sam Goldring says:

    The i-130 has been the bain of my existence for the last few months. Luckily for me, my wife’s parents are a few years from retirement and have good jobs so they’re acting as my joint sponsors. Without their help there would be little probability of homeland security inviting me to their country. My wife is from Palm Beach Florida. We go and visit regularly and it really is paradise on earth and a great place to grow up or retire. my main reservations about moving to the states are that from my visits I have been left with an impression of there being little social Cohesion and an overwhelming culture of conformity. Coming from London (my favourite city in the world) is going to be a challenge but one I’m looking forward to with trepidation.

    I think your concerns about the levels of crime are valid but shouldn’t affect your decision to much. The gap between rich and poor there has been cultivated to such an extent that the middle class can live in total isolation from the problems around them.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      It is unjust that husband and wife could be separated based on the level of income. But that is the law. It was not like that when my grandparents came to the USA. It is a modern thing, that money means a lot today. People have abused the system and we all have to pay.
      As much as I am an unrepentant capitalist, I do not care about money. I do care about love and family and moral ideals. So the I-130 financial requirement for immigration to the USA, seems unfair to me personally, but that is the law. Our society is moving away from individual rights to the idea of the greater good.

      My brother’s family has lived most of their life in London and are UK citizens. They love both places but are enjoying the USA a lot.
      I am very positive about the USA. I think you will love it. Nature is beautiful, do not listen too much to the political and economic problems, just tune them out.
      I am living in Poland and wealth is very relative. The poor in America are pretty rich in a places like Poland or Ukraine. So I hear people complaining about economics in the USA, but after living in a 180 square foot apartment and washing my clothes in the sink and seeing how other people live around me I think wealth is relative.

      About crime. Crime in the USA is more specific. That means it usually has a motive like drugs, mostly. I think the drug problem in the USA makes crime many fold. Also Americans are very legalistic and put a lot of people in jail compared to other countries. But I do think the police are good. In many countries, if you are a victim of a crime it is bascally your problem.
      If you know the areas that have crime statistically you can reduce your risk. Plus you can have a dog. All my friends have lived in the USA their whole lives and never had a problem.
      I love the USA and hope to be moving back the the USA.

      1. Is there any way around the income requirements that you know of?

        1. Mark Biernat says:

          Yes, have a co sponsor, like your parents that have tons of cash take the responsibility from you. They can co sign the agreement. The other way is have a lot of assets in the bank over 100k in most cases or one last way. You could write a family organization in the USA – I do not recall which one and get them involved. As the USA does not want to look back breaking up families. I heard this does work, but I do not have any experience with this and it might require a lawyer.

  8. Sam Goldring says:

    I just read this back and realised I might be giving the wrong impression. Just to say I am not anti American. I love the American people and culture, its mainly the federal system I find hard to take.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      Small government is the best government. Focus on the positive, lie the people not the political foolishness.

  9. Yes, stick to FL. Real estate (depending where you move is relatively inexpensive, weather beautiful, and no personal income tax.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      I have a lot of good places, but I think it will be Flordia for exactly the reason you mentioned. You can get a cheap house, I might be able to pay cash, beautiful weather, my family is there and of course no state tax. Taxes are an important factor.

  10. Florida offers a lot of choices.

    If you have a little savings you can find very good deals but make sure you check every details as Real Estate in such a distress market can be tricky. You do not want to end up in a condo with no one sharing the maintenance cost. There is no State Tax but be car full with high property taxes.

    Florida in the summer is not like Poland in the hottest summer months. Its very very Hot.

    You almost need access to the ocean or a pool unless you want to stay cool in AC indoor air all day long.

    Over all Florida is very clean and is more and more Environmentally friendly. South Florida is multi cultural and very influenced by South Americans and Cubans and it makes life much more fun and spicy.

    People there drive very fast and when holder folks so called “Snow Birds” come in for the winter months, in addition to the increase in tragic it can become a dangerous driving combination. On the one hand you have a 95 year hold driver often on medication and partly blind driving the on same road as a 25 year hold Latino immigrant driving is $800.00 (noisy music) and flashy car at full speed.

    Its a super fun state and there are different places for different life stile. The Florida Keys for example is very laid back and island like and completely different than the Miami area where one could live a city kind of life with ocean and beach access at a few minutes distance.

    If its important to a person or is family the State of Florida is “exceptionally” handicap friendly.

    I almost forgot, its a good idea to Learn Spanish.

    1. Mark Biernat says:

      Sound advice, I think our first step is to rent a place, in say St. Augustine, Florida. In a year or two we will look at purchasing real estate and see if we do like the heat. This week is the critical week as we fly there on the 30th and still have not found a place to rent.

      The best solution will be to spend some time in Florida and perhaps the summers in Poland. I will have the best of both worlds.

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