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The Ultimate How to Move to America from Singapore Guide

The Ultimate How to Move
to America from Singapore
Guide

Moving to America from Singapore? Our Ultimate How to Move to America from Singapore Guide covers absolutely everything you need to know about moving from Singapore to USA.

With in-depth information and valuable resources, from how to apply for a visa to how to import common household items, from what the American healthcare and education systems are like, to how to decide where to live, our Moving to USA from Singapore Guide will help you and your family have a safe, seamless stress-free move to the US.

Chock-full of important international moving tips, as well as insights into American customs and culture, including everything from table manners, commonly used words, holidays and food, to the sports Americans like to play and watch, our Moving from Singapore to America Guide will also assist you and your family assimilate into day-to-day life quickly and easily on arrival.

As the largest removals company in the world, with over 1,000 service centres across 180 countries, UniGroup Worldwide International Movers will help make your move to America as smooth and stress-free as possible.

With over 85 years' experience, successfully delivering 48,000 international shipments annually, our overseas move experts can help ensure your safe, seamless stress-free move to America from Singapore.

UniGroup Worldwide International Movers moving Singaporeans to America safely, seamlessly and stress-free

UniGroup Worldwide International Movers moving Singaporeans to America safely, seamlessly and stress-free

For your convenience, you may:

  • Easily navigate through our Ultimate How to Move to America from Singapore Guide by clicking the links within the Contents section below.
  • Read our accompanying step-by-step Complete How to Move to America from Singapore Checklist, a full-proof list of easy-to-follow, chronologically ordered tasks designed to help ensure you and your family enjoy a smooth, stress-free move to America.

BASIC INFO TO KNOW WHEN MOVING TO AMERICA

Nationality

American

National Holidays

New Year’s Day, 1 January Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, 20 February Memorial Day, 29 May Independence Day, 4 July Labor Day, 4 September Columbus Day, 9 October Veterans Day, 11 November Thanksgiving Day, 23 November Christmas Day, 25 December

Financial Year

1 October - 30 September

Government Type

Constitutional federal republic

Currency

US dollar (USD)

International Dialling Code

Æ1

Country Domain Code

.us

Road Traffic

Drives on the right

Electricity

120V, 60Hz. Type "A" plugs

Emergency Numbers

911: General Emergencies

Time Zone

The USA spans six time zones. Eastern Time is GMT-5, Pacific Time is GMT-8, Central Time is GMT-6, Mountain Time is GMT-7, Alaska is GMT-9 and Hawaii is GMT-10. Daylight saving time applies between March and November in all states except Arizona and Hawai

HISTORY OF AMERICA

The United States of America was recognised as a new nation in 1776. Thirty seven new states were added to the existing 13 states during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Civil War that took place between 1861 and 1865 and the Great Depression of the 1930s were two of the nation’s most notable tragedies. The countries victories in both world wars as well as the end of the Cold War in 1991 made the US one of the world’s most powerful nations.

POPULATION

Population

323,995,528

Population Growth Rate

0.81%

Median Age

total: 37.9 years
male: 36.6 years
female: 39.3 years

Life Expectancy

79.8 years

GEOGRAPHY

Location

United States of America

Geographic Coordinates

38 00 N, 97 00 W

Area

total: 9,833,517km2
land: 9,147,593km2
water: 685,924km2

Geography

Based on size, the United States is the third-largest country in the world. Denali is the highest point in northern parts of the country and Death Valley is the lowest point on the continent.

Capital

Washington, DC geographic coordinates: 38 53 N, 77 02 W

Major Urban Areas and Population

New York-Newark 18.593 Million; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 12.31 Million; Chicago 8.745 Million; Miami 5.817 Million; Dallas-Fort Worth 5.703 Million; Washington, D.C. 4.955 Million

CLIMATE

The United States has mostly mild weather conditions but Hawaii and Florida are more tropical. Areas to the west of the Mississippi River and in the Great Basin of the southwest experience dry conditions while Alaska is more arctic.

ECONOMY

With a per capita GDP of $57,300, the United States is one of the most powerful economies in the world. Stagnation of wages, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs and energy shortages are just a few of the country’s challenges. Technology has been a driving force in the development of the labour market. Oil plays an important role in the health of the economy and imported oil accounts for close to 55% of US consumption. The US was forced into a recession in 2008 due to falling property prices, tight credit and investment bank failures.

GDP Per Capita

$57,300 USD

Taxes and Other Revenues

18.1% of GDP

CULTURE

Languages Spoken

English

Major Ethnic Groups

White African American Asian Native Hispanic or Latino

NATIONAL IDENTITY

National Flag

National Anthem

"The Star-Spangled Banner"

National Symbol(s)

Bald eagle

National Colours

Red, white, blue

AMERICA's COUNTRY RANKING

Quality of Life

Ranked 16th of 80 countries

Cost of Living

Ranked 16th of 104 countries

Education System

Ranked 5th of 187 countries

Healthcare System

Ranked 37th of 190 countries

Happiness of Residents

Ranked 14th of 155 countries

Crime Rate

Ranked 42nd of 117 countries

Suitability for Green Living

Ranked 26th of 180 countries

How Much Does It Cost to Move to America?

Calculating moving to America costs Calculating moving to America costs

The cost of moving to America from Singapore is comprised of a number of expenses, each with their own variables. The largest components will likely be the shipping of your household belongings, and the relocation of you family. Beyond that, there are additional costs for visas, storage, insurance and temporary accommodation upon arrival.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Household Goods to America?

The cost of shipping your belongings can vary dramatically depending on the volume you’re shipping, what you’re shipping, how, and from where and to you ship it. For example, a sparsely furnished 2-3 bedroom home shipped by LCL (Less than Container Load) or Groupage sea freight from Sydney or Melbourne to Los Angeles or San Francisco could cost AU$2,000-$3,000; whereas, a heavily furnished four-bedroom home shipped by FCL (Full Container Load) sea freight from and to the same ports may cost twice that. Furthermore, the cost would increase if you’re moving from and/or to an inland city, or you’re shipping antiques, a piano, wine, expensive or bulky items that may require custom crating or packing. And if you’re in hurry to ship your belongings to America, the same size homes could easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars to ship by air freight.

Given all these variables, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a detailed quote from an experienced, reputable international removalists like UniGroup Worldwide International Movers.

For more information on the different types of sea and air freight, their respective advantages, disadvantages and how to calculate their costs, read our in-depth guide, What is the Best Way to Move Overseas? Best Air & Sea Freight Options.

How Much Does It Cost to Relocate Your Family to America?

The average cost of an economy class ticket from the east coast of Singapore, to the west coast of United States is from between AU$1,200 and AU$1,800 per person, with the east cost of the US an additional AU$250-$500 per person. So, relocating a family of four from Singapore to America can be between AU$5,000 and AU$10,000 in airfares alone.

Additionally, if you are bringing any pets, there will be costs for their flight, and any health checks or vaccinations required, and possible quarantine charges on arrival. Roughly, a cat or medium sized dog would cost between AU$750 and AU$1,500 to join you.

In addition to the cost of shipping your household goods, there are several other expenses involved in moving to America, from visa application fees and temporary accommodation, through to travel for yourself and your family.

How Much Does a US Visa Cost?

Everyone that applies for a US visa must pay a non-refundable, non-transferable visa application fee. This visa application fee must be paid regardless of whether a visa is issued or not. The type of visa for which you apply determines the fee amount:

  • Non-Immigrant Visa Categories:
    • The application fee for the most common Non-Immigrant Visa Category is US$160, including tourist, business, student and exchange visas
    • Most petition-based visas, such as work visas, are US$190
    • For more information, visit Non-Immigrant Visa Categories Application fees.
  • Immigrant Visa Categories:
    • The application fees for Visa Immigrant Categories vary considerably. Some examples include:
      • Green Card Through Family: US$325
      • Green Card Through a Job: US$345.

For more information, visit Immigrant Visa Categories Application fees or How to Apply for a US Visa.

What Other Costs are Involved in Moving to America?

There are several other costs involved in moving to America, including:

  • Storage: if you are not moving to the US permanently, and opt to leave some of your household goods in Singapore, you may need to organise and pay for short or long-term storage
  • Insurance: when moving to America, you may need to invest in several different types of insurance, including removals insurance, international health insurance, and travel insurance
  • Temporary accommodation: if you plan on searching for a new family home once you arrive in the US, you will need some form of temporary accommodation for when you first arrive. On average, a hotel room in the US costs between US$175 and US$200 per night, with a serviced apartment costing on average between US$1,000 and US$1,300 per week. So, if you need temporary accommodation for one month, the cost could exceed US$5,000.

How to Apply for a US Visa

Applying for a US visa Applying for a US visa

To apply for a US visa with minimum fuss and maximum convenience, you must first select the most appropriate visa category (either Non-Immigrant or Immigrant), compile all necessary documentation, accurately complete your application form, pay the non-refundable application fee, and attend an interview with the US consulate.

Follow each of the steps below to help ensure you receive your US visa quickly and hassle free.

Why Do I Need a US Visa?

citizens wishing to move to America must obtain a US visa. Having a US visa allows you to request permission from the US Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to enter the America. Whilst having a visa does not guarantee you entry into the United States, it does indicate that a consular officer at a US Embassy or Consulate has determined that you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose.

Select a US Visa Category

To apply for a US visa, you must first determine which US visa category applies to you:

Compile US Visa Documentation

To apply for a US visa, you will then need to supply a range of supporting documentation. Begin compiling this documentation as soon as possible to avoid delays:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate and marriage termination records
  • Academic records
  • Police check report
  • Court records (if you have ever been convicted of a crime)
  • Military record
  • Previous passports
  • Recent passport photographs
  • Tax returns for the last three years
  • Bank statements for the last six months
  • Medical examination reports.

For further information about the documentation required, visit the US Government’s information on financial documents and other supporting documents.

Apply for a Non-Immigrant US Visa

If you are applying under a Non-Immigrant Visa Category follow these steps for the smoothest, most stress-free application process possible:

Apply for an Immigrant US Visa

If you are applying under an Immigrant Visa Category, follow these steps to ensure your visa application is as easy as possible:

Pay the Application Fee

All people that apply for a US visa must pay a non-refundable, non-transferable visa application fee. This visa application fee must be paid regardless of whether a visa is issued or not. The type of visa for which you apply determines the fee amount:

  • Non-Immigrant Visa Categories:
    • The application fee for the most common Non-Immigrant Visa Category is US$160, including tourist, business, student and exchange visas
    • Most petition-based visas, such as work visas, are US$190
    • For more information, visit Non-Immigrant Visa Categories Application fees.
  • Immigrant Visa Categories:
    • The application fees for Visa Immigrant Categories vary considerably. Some examples include:
      • Green Card Through Family: US$325
      • Green Card Through a Job: US$345.

    For more information, visit Immigrant Visa Categories Application fees.

Attend an Interview at the US Consulate

People applying for a US visa must attend an interview in person at their local US consulate. When attending this interview, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Only the person applying for the visa may enter the consulate. Friends, family and business associates may not assist the applicant during their interview. The only exceptions to this rule are:
    • Children under the age of 14 may not need to attend an interview. However, this should be confirmed on a case-by-case basis
    • Children aged between 14 and 18 may be accompanied by a parent who has identification to confirm the relationship.
  • Do not be late, or you will likely have to reschedule the interview
  • Do not arrive any more than 15 minutes prior to your interview, as you will likely not be admitted to the consulate
  • Ensure you have all required documentation and application forms complete and ready to present.

Further information on the immigrant visa process is available via the US Department of State website.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

Applying for a Social Security Number Applying for a Social Security Number

When moving to USA from Singapore, you can either apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) in Singapore when applying for your visa, or in person once you’ve arrived in America.

What is a Social Security Number?

In the US, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to US citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the US Government. Historically, the principle purpose of a SSN is to track an individual’s Social Security entitlements, contributions and payments. However, an SSN has become a de facto national identification number for taxation and other purposes, such as going to the doctor, securing a job, applying for a credit card, verifying eligibility for attending schools and opening a bank account.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number from Singapore

To apply for an American Social Security Number (SSN) whilst still in Singapore:

For more information, visit the Social Security Administration.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number in America

To apply for an American Social Security Number (SSN) once you’ve arrived in the US:

How to Decide Where to Live in America

Deciding where to live in America Deciding where to live in America

If you’re not moving from Singapore to America to a specific location for work, you’ll need to decide where to live. From low crime rates to superior quality health and education systems, there are many variables to consider when choosing the perfect place for you and your family to call home. Given the sheer size of the country, geography, climate and weather can also play a large part in your decision; just as unemployment rates, average salary and the cost of living are likely to influence the location of your new home.

To help you decide where in America will best suit both your needs and those of your family, some of the most important factors are outlined below.

What is the Unemployment Rate in America?

The local unemployment rate is a good indication of whether the local job market is growing, stable, or contracting; particularly important if you will be looking for employment opportunities on arrival. The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics provides monthly unemployment rates by state.

What is the Average Salary in America?

According to the US Census Bureau, the average household income is approximately US$73,000. However, given the sheer size of the country, a better factor to consider when choosing where to live in America is the local average salary. The local average salary will provide a good indication of your likely earning potential. The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics provides monthly average salaries, both by state and for the major metropolitan areas.

What is the Cost of Living in America?

The average cost of living in the United States is lower than that in Singapore. For example:

  • Consumer prices in Singapore are 20% higher than in the United States
  • Rent prices in Singapore are 80% higher than in the United States
  • Groceries prices in Singapore are 7% higher than in the United States.

However, the cost living varies greatly from state-to-state, and even city-to-city in the United States. Investigate the average cost of living in your preferred locations so that you can budget accordingly.

The following list provides an idea of the average prices you can expect to pay for products and services in the US (although keep in mind that these prices will vary based on both location and provider):

  • Monthly rent for an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment: US$2,000
  • A dozen eggs: US$2.75
  • 1 litre of milk: US$1
  • Loaf of bread: US$2.60
  • McDonalds Big Mac Meal: US$7
  • A cappuccino: US$3.80
  • Three course meal for two (mid-range restaurant): US$50
  • Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable): US$60
  • Monthly utilities (gas, power and water) for a small apartment: US$200
  • Petrol (per litre): US$0.62.

What is the US Crime Rate?

Crime rates in America have varied over time, with a sharp rise in the 1960s, which reached a peak between the 1970s and early 1990s. Since the early 1990s, crime rates have significantly declined, with current rates at approximately the same level as in the 1960s. Examples of the number of reported crimes per 100,000 people in 2015 include:

  • Homicide: 4.9
  • Forcible rape: 38.6
  • Robbery: 101.9
  • Aggravated assault : 237.8
  • Burglary: 491.4
  • Motor vehicle theft: 220.2.

Obviously, you want your family to live in a safe neighbourhood. Just how safe a neighbourhood is varies from state-to-state, and even city-to-city. So, before you decide where to live in America, review the FBI’s Crime in the United States reports, which provide detailed, state-by-state information. The FBI’s crime rate reports include:

  • Violent crimes: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault
  • Property crimes: burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

What is the Quality and Availability of Health Care Like?

If you, or your family members become ill, you need peace of mind that you’ll have access to quality local health care. The US News Best Hospitals Rankings (which includes data from over 5,000 medical centres and more than 30,000 physicians) and the Best US States for Health Care Rankings are a great place to start.

For more information, visit What is the Healthcare System Like in America?

What is the Quality of Schools Like?

If children will be accompanying you when you move to America, you need reassurance that their education will be of the highest quality. The US News Best High Schools Rankings (which includes data on more than 22,000 high schools) and the Best US States for Education are a great place to start.

For more information, visit What is the Education and Schooling System Like in America?

What is Population Wellbeing and the Standard of Living in the US?

America performs very well in many measures of population wellbeing when compared to most other countries in the OECD Better Life Index. America ranks particularly well in areas such as housing, health, jobs and earnings, education, social connections, personal security, environmental quality, and civic engagement.

However, when it comes to deciding on a place to live, you really need an understanding of what local population wellbeing is like. The Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index provides information on population wellbeing in each metropolitan area.

What are Tolerance and Diversity Like?

If you, or any member of your family, belong to a minority group, general levels of societal tolerance and diversity are important factors. As in any country, some cities and states of America are more accepting of cultural, racial, religious and sexual differences, both socially and legally.

What is the Average Commute Time?

When deciding on where to live in America, the average commute time can be an important consideration, particularly if you plan to drive to and from work every day. You can check what your average commute time for all local areas across the United States is likely to be using the US census' calculation of average commute time.

What is the Climate in America?

The climate of the USA varies greatly, from endless summers in California and Florida, through to heavy snow in Cleveland and New York. Before committing to a climate that you’re not likely to enjoy, visit US Climate Data to research the climate of potential states in which you may wish to live.

What is the Geography of America?

The geography of the USA ranges from the flat prairies of Kansas and Oklahoma, and the rugged mountain peaks of Alaska, through to the coastlines of Florida and Hawaii. Be sure you know what sort of geography (and therefore outdoor recreational activities) is predominant in your new home before you decide to move there.

What is the Weather in America?

The United States stretches across six time-zones, so it’s no surprise that the weather varies hugely from arctic to desert. Be sure you understand what the weather is like in the area where you intend to move to. For instance:

  • West Coast: A pleasant, Mediterranean climate
  • Pacific Northwest Coast: Cool summers and mild winters
  • Southern East Coast: Subtropical in the south to a humid continental climate in the north
  • Central: Extreme temperature variations with cold winters and hot summers, as well as tornadoes. Towards the central east, the weather is quite humid, while further west, the states are mostly semi-arid.

What are the Most Popular Cities to Move to in America?

For detailed information on the most popular US cities in which to live, visit:

When is the Best Time to Move to America?

Deciding when to move to America Deciding when to move to America

Because America is such a huge country, the best time to move to there is highly location specific. In fact, two of the most important factors to consider are the weather (you don’t want to move in either scorching heat or heavy snow) and holiday seasons.

Consider the Weather

If possible, time your move to America so that you don’t need to cope with scorching sun, snow drifts or torrential rain. As the fourth largest country in the world, with a diverse geographic spread, the weather in the US is incredibly varied:

  • West Coast: A pleasant, Mediterranean climate
  • Pacific Northwest Coast: Cool summers and mild winters
  • Southern East Coast: Subtropical in the south to a humid continental climate in the north
  • Central: Extreme temperature variations with cold winters and hot summers, as well as tornadoes. Towards the central east, the weather is quite humid, while further west, the states are mostly semi-arid.

Consider Holiday Seasons

Moving during holiday seasons in any country is generally more expensive. So, keep in mind that Americans generally have one longer three-month summer holiday in the middle of the year.

If possible, avoid the following holiday seasons in America:

  • All federal public holidays
  • Christmas holidays: One week from 23 December until 2 January
  • Winter break: Although not adhered to in all parts of America, one week in February or March, often coinciding with Presidents' Day
  • Spring break: One week in March or April (usually around Easter)
  • Summer break: 10 to 11 weeks, usually in June, July and August.

What is the Education and Schooling System Like in America?

Types of schools in America, and how to choose one Types of schools in America, and how to choose one

The United States has one of the most diverse, well-attended and successful education systems in the world, with approximately 85% of all students completing high school. In the American education system:

  • Children typically receive 12 years of education, although this can vary from state-to-state
  • Depending on the US state in which you plan to reside, education is compulsory over the age of 5, until the age of 16
  • In most US schools, education is divided into three levels:
    • Elementary school: The first year of elementary school is commonly referred to as kindergarten (with children starting from around age 5 or 6), progressing through to fifth grade at age 11 or 12. Children usually remain in the same classroom throughout the day, only moving for subjects like art, music and physical education
    • Middle or junior high school: This usually includes grades six, seven and eight. Children take on more independence, moving around different classrooms and choosing some elective subjects
    • High school: This includes the last four years of education, grades nine, ten, eleven and twelve.
  • In the US, the role of the federal government in education is limited, with most education-related laws and regulations decided at the state or local level. As such, for further information about education, you will need to check with the relevant organisation in the US state or local school district that you are moving to
  • American schools generally observe just two school terms, with one longer three-month summer holiday in the middle of the year. The terms are usually:
    • Autumn term: September to December
    • Spring term: January to May.

What Types of Schools are there in America?

There is no federal education system in America. Instead, education is the responsibility of individual states and local districts. As a result, the type of schools available vary from state-to-state, and even district-to-district.

Most children in America attend free public schools, around 10% of children attend private fee-paying schools, up to 3% of children are taught by their parents at home, and approximately 1% attend international schools. Detailed information on the types of schools available in America are outlined below.

Day Care or Pre-School

Day care and pre-school are both types of care available for toddlers in the United States. Day care is focused on social interaction, while pre-school is more focused on educational outcomes. Many YMCAs and YWCAs offer day care and pre-school programs, as do local churches.

Public Schools

Public schools are funded by property taxes (rather than school fees), so the standard of public education varies dramatically, with those located in wealthier suburbs usually equipped with better facilities.

Public schools are free to attend but there may be costs for books, uniforms, stationery and after-school activities. Admission to public schools is allocated based on where you live, so that your children attend the school closest to your home, (i.e., children attend the school in the school zone in which they live).

There are two types of public schools:

  • Charter schools: These are not-profit organisations that receive less public funding than usual public schools. Their funding is usually derived from private sources, often teachers or parents. As they are privately funded, they are subject to fewer government regulations and have more freedom in their curriculum. Charter schools are popular, with long waiting lists, and often use a lottery-style entry system
  • Magnet schools: These focus on a specific area of curriculum, such as languages, music, or science and maths, whilst also covering all other usual areas of the curriculum. Often, entry is based on assessment relevant to the focus area.

Private Schools

A private school is an independent school funded by school fees and private organisations or individuals (rather than by government orgnisations).

Generally, the standard of education at private schools is higher than that of public schools. As private schools do not have to conform with government regulations, teachers have more flexibility and can customise curriculum.

Unlike public schools, private schools do not require that you live in a particular area, but do require paid tuition. This often makes them expensive and highly competitive to gain entrance. However, the higher fees also mean that facilities, extra-curricular activities and support for students with special needs are of a generally higher standard than public schools.

In some states, private schools are affiliated with religions.

International Schools

There over 1,800 international schools in the US, particularly in larger cities with a higher percentage of international population, such as Washington, Boston, Los Angeles and New York. International schools prepare students for the International Baccalaureate examination and diploma, qualifying graduates for entry to universities outside the United States. Waiting lists for international schools can be long, and the fees can be very expensive. Find your local International Baccalaureate school.

What Types of Tertiary Education are there in America?

There is a wide array of tertiary education programs and locations in America, including approximately 6,000 post-secondary career and technical schools, and 4,000 degree-granting institutions. Given this huge range of choices, tertiary education decisions can be overwhelming for students, with choices ranging from technical schools and community or junior colleges, through to colleges and universities.

In addition, tertiary education includes a variety of different non-degree programs that lead to the award of certificates and diplomas, plus six degree levels: associate, bachelor, first professional, master, advanced intermediate, and research doctorate. 

If you’re relocating to America with older children, it is important to familiarise yourself with the American tertiary education system, including the types of education available. This will help you to narrow down your child’s choices and develop an education plan. Detailed information on the types of tertiary education institutions available in America are outlined below.

Technical Schools

Career and technical schools provide short training courses, and sometimes specialised degree programs in vocational education areas, such as welding and mechanics, or secretarial and paralegal courses. Most technical schools are private, with many operated on a for-profit basis. Career and technical schools are approved and regulated by state governments and may be accredited.

Some technical programs are provided by community colleges, but community colleges should not be considered as exclusively vocational in nature.

Community or Junior Colleges

Community college courses usually take two years to complete, result in the award of an Associate’s Degree, and are much more affordable than a four-year college degree. Many of the courses offered by community colleges are vocational in nature, such as welding and mechanics, or secretarial and paralegal courses (similar to those offered by Technical Schools). Many community college courses offer students the opportunity to transfer into a four-year college or university degree upon completion.

Colleges

Colleges award Bachelor Degrees and, in some instances, Masters Degrees. They are usually smaller in size than universities, and are often privately own and run. Some colleges are run by religious institutions.

Universities

Universities award Bachelor Degrees, as well as Masters and Doctoral Degrees (PhD). Universities tend to be larger than colleges, with some universities attended by tens of thousands of students.

How to Choose a School in America

To assist you in finding the most appropriate school for your children, visit:

For more information on the Structure of US Education visit the US Department of Education.

How to Ship Household Goods to America

Shipping household goods to America Shipping household goods to America

If you’re moving to America, then a huge part of the process is going to involve shipping your household belongings to America, and associated customs requirements. To ensure that your household items arrive in America safe and sound, and clear customs as quickly and easily as possible, be sure to follow our advice on the documents required, customs prescriptions and other tips and suggestions below.

Keep the following considerations in mind when shipping your household belongings to America:

  • It is recommended that you are already in the US when your household items arrive. If not, you should authorise a named individual to act on your behalf
  • Your shipment should be duty free if your shipment consists of used household effects which have been in your possession and used for at least one year, and which will continue being used by you in your new residence
  • Items that have been owned for less than one year may be subject to duty and taxes
  • If you are shipping items that are less than one year old, you will need to include an itemised list of all items, including a description, value and country of manufacturer for each item
  • Silverware and ornaments are duty free when imported as part of normal household goods
  • Antiques and works of art are duty free if they are part of a household goods removal, have been possessed by an owner for at least one year and are not intended for resale. Items must be at least 100 years old to be considered an antique
  • Prescription medicines are allowed if accompanied by a doctor’s prescription and for no more than a three to six months’ supply. Over the counter medicines are allowed in reasonable quantities
  • Pornographic materials, unprocessed furs, skins and illegal drugs are prohibited from being shipped to America.

What Documents are Required for Shipping Goods to America?

For the safe shipment and smooth customs clearance of your household goods, you’ll need to ensure that the following documentation is completed as accurately as possible, and provide:

How to Ship Diplomatic Household Goods

Shipping diplomatic goods to America requires a slightly different process and documentation:

  • If you are a US citizen, shipping diplomatic goods, then you must include all documents mentioned in What Documents are Required for Shipping Goods to America?, plus:
    • Your Bill of Lading must include the words 'US Diplomat Shipment'
    • Your goods should not attract any duty or taxes, regardless of their age.
  • If you are a non-US citizen, shipping diplomatic goods, then you must include all documents mentioned in What Documents are Required for Shipping Goods to America?, plus:

How to Ship Household Goods that Have Been Inherited

If you are shipping items to America that have been inherited:

  • You must provide all relevant paperwork, as per What Documents are Required for Shipping Goods to America?, as well as:
    • A relevant extract of the will, or a copy of the death certificate
    • A letter of inheritance from the inheritor.
  • There will be no duty payable if the inheritor writes a letter confirming that they grew up with the items and that these were in their immediate household
  • If the items were not in the inheritor’s immediate household while they were growing up, then the shipment may be subject to duties and fees
  • If the deceased is a US citizen and the items are traveling as part of his or her estate, then the items are entitled to enter US duty free.

For more information about How to Ship Household Goods to America, visit America Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Vehicles into America

Importing vehicles into America Importing vehicles into America

You can move cars, trucks, caravans, campervans and motorbikes to America, so long as the relevant customs requirements are met. These requirements include safety and emission standards, proof of ownership and cleanliness standards. To help ensure that you meet customs requirements, and that the clearance of your vehicle is as smooth as possible, follow our advice below. It’s also worth considering the various taxes imposed on importing vehicles into America before you decide to ship your vehicle.

What Safety and Emission Standards Must be Met?

Before attempting to import any vehicle into America, you must ensure that the vehicle meets all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements covering vehicle air pollution emissions, as well as all US safety standards, including:

  • If the vehicle was manufactured abroad, you will be required to produce confirmation statements from the vehicle’s manufacturer that it complies with US safety and emission standards
  • Vehicles 25 years old or less must comply with US motor vehicle safety standards that were in effect when the vehicles were manufactured. Passenger cars manufactured after 1 September 1973 must also meet bumper standards
  • Vehicles 21 years or older are exempt from emission requirements
  • Vehicles owned by importers facing circumstances deemed extraordinary or a hardship, where the vehicles are deemed essential for basic living, are exempt from emission requirements
  • Vehicles manufactured in 1974 or later and driven in a country without unleaded gasoline, must have the vehicle's oxygen sensor and catalytic converter replaced
  • Complete US Department of Transportation Form HS-7, indicating whether your car meets safety and bumper standards
  • Complete Environmental Protection Agency forms:
  • If importing a vehicle that needs general modifications, you must:
    • Enter a contract with a Department of Transport registered importer; an automotive business that will modify your vehicle upon your arrival in the United States
    • Enter under a Department of Transport bond equal to 150% of the vehicle's dutiable value.
  • If importing a vehicle that needs modifications related to safety, bumper, and emission standards, you must:
    • Enter a contract with both a Department of Transport registered importer and an Environmental Protection Agency accredited Independent Commercial Importer (ICI), who will bring your vehicle up to compliance standards
    • Ensure your vehicle meets all Environmental Protection Agency requirements within 120 days of arriving in the United States.

What are the Proof of Ownership Requirements?

To import your vehicle into the United States, you must prove that you are the owner of the vehicle by producing your:

  • Original bill of lading
  • Original bill of sale
  • Foreign registration documents
  • Original title of ownership, free of lien.

If a lien is listed on the original title of the vehicle, you’ll need:

  • An original lien release or notarised original letter from the lien holder
  • A letter giving you permission to take the vehicle out of the country. The letter should:
    • Be an original copy
    • Be on the financing company's letterhead
    • Be signed by someone in the lender's management
    • Include a name, phone number, and email address for any questions.

What Cleanliness Requirements Must be Met?

To ensure that there are no unforeseen delays in clearing customs and no additional costs incurred to clear your vehicle, ensure that the following cleanliness requirements are met:

  • Have your vehicle thoroughly cleaned or steam-sprayed before it is shipped. The US Department of Agriculture requires that the undercarriage and wheels of all vehicles be thoroughly cleaned, and free from soil, to prevent the importation of dangerous pests
  • Do not ship personal belongings in your vehicle. Cars must be completely empty, except for factory installed equipment.

What Taxes are Imposed on Vehicle Importation?

When importing vehicles into America, there are import duties, as well as federal taxes imposed. Depending on the type and age of the vehicle you intend to import, it is worth considering that cost that could be involved.

US Import Duties on Vehicles

Import duties on vehicles in the US can be complicated, and depend on the type of vehicle, where it was manufactured, and whether you are a returning US resident:

  • The duty for new and used foreign-made vehicles imported into the United States is based on the price paid for the vehicle.
    • Automobile: 2.5%
    • Trucks: 25%
    • Motorcycles: Either free or 2.4%.
  • For further information on the import duty payable, visit US Customs and Border Protection
  • A returning US resident may apply their US$400 customs exemption (as well as the exemptions of accompanying family members) toward the vehicle's value if it meets the following requirements:
    • The vehicle accompanies you on your return to the United States
    • The vehicle is imported for personal use
    • The vehicle was purchased during your stay outside the United States.
  • After this exemption has been applied, the next US$1,000 of the vehicle's value is dutiable at a flat rate of 10%, with the remainder dutiable at the regular rate
  • You are entitled to import a foreign-made car free of duty if you are:
    • A US citizen employed overseas or a government employee returning from temporary duty or voluntary leave. These citizens may import a foreign-made car free of duty provided they:
      • Claim non-resident status
      • Enter the United States for a short visit only
      • Export the vehicle when they leave the United States.
    • A civilian or military employee of the US government returning to the United States at the end of an assignment of 140 days or more. These citizens may include a conforming vehicle among their duty-free personal and household goods, provided the vehicle was purchased abroad and was in the owner's possession prior to his or her departure for the States. Navy personnel serving aboard a US vessel may be entitled to the free-entry exemption after an intended overseas deployment of at least 120 days
    • A non-resident with a vehicle designated for personal use and imported in conjunction with the owner's arrival. Such automobiles conforming to US standards may remain in the United States indefinitely, but are dutiable if sold within one year of importation. This duty must be paid before the sale is completed. Non-conforming vehicles may not be sold in the United States. They are crushed, confiscated, or exported to another country
    • A non-resident importing a vehicle for a temporary stay in the United States for purposes other than personal, such as racing, repairs, or as a sample for taking orders. These cars are subject to specific customs regulations. Check with a customs office for these regulations, as well as guidelines pertaining to unusual situations.

H4: Federal Tax on Imported Vehicles

Some vehicles are subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax stipulated in Section 4064 of the Internal Revenue Code, which was introduced in 1978. Under this, vehicles that fail to meet the minimum fuel economy level of 22.5 miles per gallon (mpg) are subject to a tax, which is intended to discourage the production and purchase of fuel inefficient vehicles.

Liability for the tax is the responsibility of the individual importing the vehicle, and the tax rate is determined by the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy rating of the vehicle. Before registering and titling your vehicle, many states require proof you have paid the Gas Guzzler Tax if it applies to you. You’ll need to complete Form 6197 to declare your Gas Guzzler Tax. For more information, refer to the Internal Revenue Service.

Further Resources on Importing Vehicles into America

For further information, five federal agencies regulate the importation of vehicles to the United States:

For more information about How to Transport Cars to America, visit America Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Pets into America

Importing pets into America Importing pets into America

You can take most pets to America, so long as they are free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans, and are not deemed harmful to the environment. As such, importing most cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles is possible.

Some states impose strict prohibitions against the introduction of non-native wildlife, and additional regulations around examinations on arrival and quarantine requirements. It is best to confirm these requirements with the relevant local government department of the US state that you are moving to. You can check state-specific requirements via the Department of Agriculture.

General laws and regulations for importing pets into America include:

  • The Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requires that animals and birds—domestic and wild—are free from any disease that could threaten the US livestock and poultry industries
  • Live animals deemed harmful to the environment, people, animals, or plants of the United States are prohibited from entry. These include the fruit bat, mongoose, walking catfish, and java sparrow
  • Wildlife and wildlife products must enter or exit the United States at one of the following designated ports (unless permits allow otherwise): Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle

There are also specific requirements for importing different types of pets, each of which is outlined in detail below.

How to Import Cats into America

You can import your pet cat into America, so long as it is free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans, and are not deemed harmful to the environment. To import your cat into America, you must keep in mind:

  • 1. Cats will be examined at the port of entry to determine if they are free from infectious diseases transmittable to humans
  • 2. Cats may be denied entry to the United States if they look like they are sick with a transmittable disease. If a cat appears to be sick, further examination by a veterinarian at the cat owner’s expense might be required
  • 3. Cats do not require a vaccination against rabies for entry into the United States in general. However, some individual states require rabies vaccinations, so be sure to check with state and local health authorities in your final destination
  • 4. For further information about importing cats, visit the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the United States Department of Agriculture.

How to Import Dogs into America

Dogs can be imported into America, so long as they are free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans, and are not deemed harmful to the environment. To import your dog into America, you must keep in mind:

  • Dogs imported into the United States must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entry.
    • Your name and address
    • Breed, sex, age, colour, and markings of your dog
    • Date of vaccination
    • Vaccine information (product name)
    • Vaccine expiration date
    • Name, license, address, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccination.
  • As puppies cannot be vaccinated for rabies before three months of age, the youngest a puppy can be when imported into America is four months old
  • If a dog's rabies vaccination was administered less than one month before arrival, the dog will be admitted into the US, but must be placed in quarantine until the required 30 days have expired
  • A dog that has not been vaccinated may be admitted, provided the owner has it vaccinated within 10 days of arrival at the port of entry and confined for a subsequent 30 days
  • Dogs are examined at entry to determine if they are free from diseases transmittable to humans. Dogs may be denied entry to the United States if they look like they have a transmittable disease. If a dog appears to be sick, further examination by a veterinarian at the dog owner’s expense might be required
  • Collies, shepherds, and any other dogs used in handling of livestock and that are imported from any part of the world except Canada, Mexico, and regions of Central America and the West Indies may be inspected and quarantined to determine their freedom from tapeworm infection
  • To prevent the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease, dog owners should ensure:
    • Paws and fur are clean and free from dirt and mud
    • Bedding does not contain straw or hay, and is free from dirt and mud
    • The dog is separated from all livestock for at least five days after entering the United States.
  • Dogs being imported from countries where screwworm exists, may enter the United States, so long as the dog is accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinarian stating:
    • The dog was inspected for screwworm within five days prior to shipment
    • The dog is either free from screwworm; or was infested and was held in quarantine and treated until free from screwworm.
  • For further information about importing dogs, visit the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the United States Department of Agriculture.

How to Import Birds into America

To import a pet bird of non-US origin, you must fulfil the following requirements:

  • 1. Complete an Application for Import or In Transit Permit to obtain a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Import Permit
  • 2. Provide a current health certificate issued by a full-time salaried veterinarian employed for the agency responsible for animal health of the national government in the exporting country of origin. You must present a health certificate for the bird, which:
    • Is signed within 30 days of your bird's arrival in the United States by a government veterinarian from the bird's country of origin
    • States the bird has been examined, is free from disease, and is being exported in compliance with laws of the origin nation
    • Is in English.
  • 3. Quarantine the bird for 30 days, at the owner’s expense, in a US Department of Agriculture import facility. These facilities are in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, and if arriving by land from Mexico, in Mission, Texas. Keep in mind that:
    • Prior to accepting a bird for quarantine, the USDA requires payment of a fee for the cost of quarantine services
    • As space at USDA quarantine facilities is limited, make a reservation for your bird prior to your arrival. To do so, contact the USDA and ask for Form 17-23 Importation of Pet Birds
  • 4. For certain types of birds, particularly those protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty, you may need a special permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • 5. Birds originally from the US that have been overseas for more than 60 days may be quarantined at the owner's home for 30 days if they are:
    • Accompanied by a US veterinarian health certificate and a tattoo or number leg band for identification purposes, both received prior to departure from the United States
    • Inspected at a USDA veterinarian inspection station at the first port of entry (any international airport)
    • Have not been in contact with poultry or other birds while outside the States.

How to Import Turtles, Snakes and Lizards into America

To import a turtle, snake or lizard into America, you must ensure the following requirements are met:

  • Turtles with a shell length of less than 10cm and viable turtle eggs may not be imported into the US for commercial purposes
  • Individuals may import turtles with a shell length of less than 10cm for non-commercial purposes, but there is a limit of seven live turtles or viable turtle eggs, or any combination of the two
  • There are no restrictions on importing live turtles with a shell length of more than 10cm
  • There are no regulations around snakes or lizards
  • For further information about importing turtles, snakes and lizards, visit the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the United States Department of Agriculture.

How to Import Other Animals into America

When it comes to importing other types of animals into America, please be sure to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for full details, in addition to the following:

  • Monkeys, lemurs, baboons, chimpanzees, and all other non-human primates cannot be imported into the United States as pets. The only exceptions are primates imported for scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes by an importer registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Horses are not subject to any US import regulations, so long as they do not carry any diseases that are transmittable to human beings. However, depending on the country from which the horse is being imported, there are various lengths of quarantine required. For further information about importing horses, visit the United States Department of Agriculture
  • Fish are not subject to any US import regulations, except where they are considered to be an endangered or injurious species of fish
  • Game birds and animals (other than endangered or threatened species) may be imported for non-commercial use if accompanied by the necessary documentation.

For more information about How to Transport Pets to America, visit America Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Weapons into America

Importing weapons into America Importing weapons into America

Firearms purchased outside the United States are subject to complicated clearance procedures and are very difficult to import. As such, they can delay customs clearances and result in additional charges. It is worth considering whether you need to import weapons at all. Keep in mind that:

  • Active duty military members can apply for a permit by filling out the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Form 6 Application and Permit for Importation of Firearms, Ammunition, and Implements of War
  • Firearms and ammunition can be temporarily imported for lawful hunting or sporting purposes. Non-immigrant aliens can apply for a permit by filling out the ATF Form 6NIA Application for Temporary Importation of Firearms and Ammunition by Non-Immigrant Aliens
  • If importing foreign-purchased guns, it is strongly recommended that you consult with your local US consulate or embassy prior to departure
  • Firearms purchased in the United States and taken out of the country by a resident may be imported back into the country, so long as you can provide a bill of sale or commercial document indicating proof of possession or ownership. Customs forms 4455 Certificate of Registration, or 4457 Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad may be used for this
  • Weapons, ammunition, and other devices prohibited by the National Firearms Act will be denied entry unless specifically authorised by the ATF
  • Firearms manufactured before 1898 may be imported into the United States without difficulty, so long as the gun is a genuine antique; replica firearms require authorisation from the ATF to clear customs
  • Weapons with fixed blades are generally permitted entry into the United States. Knives designed for utilitarian use such as household purposes, personal grooming, trade or professional employment, crafts or hobbies, hunting, fishing, and scouting activities are permitted unrestricted entry, provided that the knife does not open automatically and is not a switchblade. However, a switchblade is allowed for one-handed people for their personal use
  • Souvenirs such as swords, camel whips, machetes, and similar items capable of being used as weapons could be in violation of local and state laws. It is recommended that you check with local customs officials.

For more information about How to Import Weapons into to America, visit America Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Alcohol into America

Importing alcohol into America Importing alcohol into America

You may import wines and other alcoholic beverages into the United States as part of your household goods shipment, pursuant to the laws of the US state in which you plan to reside. When importing alcohol into America:

  • Many states require that a permit or receipt is presented to US Customs officials upon importing alcoholic beverages. If a permit is required, you will need to organise it with your relevant US State Liquor Control Board prior to your departure
  • To expedite the permit process, write to the relevant US State Liquor Control Board for information on how to petition for a permit. The actual petition should be made at least 30 days before your shipment's departure
  • To assist in customs clearance, ensure you have a detailed inventory of all alcoholic beverages you plan to import. This inventory should state that the alcohol is ‘For Personal Use Only’ and include:
    • Type of alcohol
    • The brand name
    • Volume per bottle
    • Alcoholic content
    • Price for each item
    • Manufacturer’s name and address
    • FDA code
    • Type of packaging.
  • Alcoholic beverages are subject to duty and tax. There may also be state-specific taxes on imported liquor
  • Alcohol can cause customs clearance delays, and attract examination and storage charges. It is therefore recommended to ship alcohol separately, rather than in a general household goods shipment.

For additional information on the importation of alcoholic beverages, visit the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or our America Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Plants into America

Importing plants into America Importing plants into America

Before deciding on whether to import plants into America, check with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine Import Permit Unit on the entry status of your types of plants:

  • Most items of a biological nature—including plants, cuttings, seeds, vegetables, and fruits—require a permit for importation into the United States. They must be declared to customs and presented for inspection
  • Some plants require permits from the origin country in addition to permits from the United States
  • Some plants do not require permits and can be carried as personal baggage when you enter the United States (such as small twigs, leaves and flowers)
  • Some plants are prohibited or restricted (such as plants that may be infected with citrus canker). The US Endangered Species Act also places restrictions on the importation of endangered plants such as certain cycads, orchids and cacti.

Plant products must enter or exit the United States at one of the following designated ports (unless permits allow otherwise). These ports are equipped with US Department of Agriculture plant inspection stations: El Paso, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Los Indies, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York, Nogales, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

General tips to help expedite the plant import process include:

  • Ensure all plants are free of soil, sand and earth
  • Label each plant with the genus and species, preferably using scientific names
  • If your plants will arrive at an inspection station without you, enclose a sheet of paper with your name, home address, and permit number so the plants can be forwarded
  • Speed up your plants' arrival at an inspection station by affixing a green and yellow mailing label from the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

For additional information on the importation of plants and plant products, visit the US Department of Agriculture, or our America Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Find Employment in America

Finding employment in America Finding employment in America

If you’ve already secured a new role (or are moving to America for a specific employment opportunity), now is the time to investigate employment options for your partner. Or, if you haven’t secured role, to investigate employment for yourself. Follow our tips for the easiest job seek possible, from using the most popular employment websites and best recruitment agencies in the US, through to how to establish a business in America.

What are the Best Employment Websites in America?

Some of the major employment websites in America are:

  • Career Builder
  • Careers
  • CareerJet
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • CareerOneStop: A US government operated site, which lists employment opportunities, and provides detailed information on education and training, as well as more general career advice
  • USAJOBS: This is another US government operated site, dedicated specifically to federal government employment opportunities
  • The Saturday editions of national newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post carry employment advertisements.

What are the Best Recruitment Agencies in America?

Rather than looking for a job yourself, you may wish to register with a recruitment agency. Some of the major professional recruitment agencies in America include:

Some of the major executive recruitment agencies in America include:

Self-Employment and Establishing a Business in the US

If you or your partner are considering self-employment or establishing your own business in the United States, the following resources may be useful:

Further Resources on Employment

The United States government provides a range of resources designed to make securing employment easier:

  • US State Job Banks: Can be used to search state-specific job openings
  • Occupational Outlook Handbooks: Feature a range of information on the responsibilities, educational requirements, growth rates, median pay, and more for hundreds of occupations in the United States
  • Regional and Local Resources: The United States Department of Labor facilitates a wide range of employment programs and services.

There is also a wealth of information available for women entering the American workforce. The US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau offers a range of resources, advice, data and statistics, particularly:

What is Working in America Like?

Working in America Working in America

Given the size of the USA, it can be difficult to generalise about working in America. However, hard work is generally respected and expected, with enthusiasm and a genuine passion for one’s company, career and industry commonplace. There are many commonalities to working in Singapore: office hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5.30pm) are the same, as are expected standards of office etiquette and dress code. Plus, communication style is quite like that in Singapore — direct while remaining informal.

How Do Americans Communicate in Business?

In business settings, Americans are typically direct, sometimes even appearing brusque. ‘Time is money’ so making optimal use of all available time is a well-honed skill for most business people.

Americans are usually informal in their communication style. They tend not to observe formalities in interpersonal situations, which is in line with their direct communication style.

Greetings

A handshake is the most common form of greeting in a business setting. However, it is a not ritual, like it is some other countries. Your handshake should be firm, brief and accompanied by a smile.

Introductions are usually made using a person’s entire title. For instance, ‘Vice President of Sales Frederick Smith’. However, after the introductions are made, Americans generally just use a person’s first name. For instance, ‘Frederick’ or even ‘Fred’.

The only expectation to this rule is honorary titles, which have been awarded for distinguished service. For instance, ‘Senator’, ‘Judge’ or ‘General’.

Business Meetings

Business meetings in the US are much the same as those in Singapore:

  • They take place in an office or meeting room on company premises
  • A few pleasantries will be exchanged, but business is discussed quite quickly
  • Sometimes, an agenda will be set ahead of time so that attendees know what is to be discussed and can prepare accordingly.

Email

Communication via email should be no different than any other form of business communication—it should always be professional. When first contacting a person via email, you should use some degree of formality. As your business relationship progresses, you can adopt a friendlier, more casual tone. Some tips for email communication:

  • Your subject line should be clear, succinct, and in line with the content of your email
  • Keep your sentences short, clear and easily understood
  • Include a signature in your email with relevant contact information, such as your return email, mobile phone number and landline phone number.

Text Messaging

Business communication via text message is becoming more common in the United States. However, the appropriateness of texting as a business communication method varies from company-to-company and industry-to-industry, and can sometimes even be influenced by regulations.

For instance, a real estate agent and their client may regularly use text messages for communication, particularly as it is an easy communication method to use whilst on the go. However, a financial advisor may be prohibited from texting clients due to security and privacy concerns.

What are Business Hours in America?

Business hours in America can vary depending on the industry, location and even company. General business hours include:

  • Banks:
    • Weekdays: Most banks are open from 9am or 10am to 2pm or 3pm, with late hours on one or more days
    • Saturdays: Most banks are open from 9am or 10am to 12 midday or 1pm
    • Sundays: Most banks are closed.
  • Corporate Offices: Working hours in the US are similar to those in Singapore – 8am or 9am to 5.00pm or 5.30pm, Monday to Friday with a half hour to an hour lunch break. However, working over 40 hours per week is not uncommon, with unpaid overtime and weekend work sometimes expected. Some companies also offer ‘flexi-time’, with flexible start and finish times
  • Government: Similar to corporate offices, government offices are generally open from 9am to 5pm. However, hours can vary depending on the services and work being completed
  • Retail Outlets:
    • Weekdays: Most shops open at 9am or 10am, closing at any time from 5pm to 10pm
    • Saturdays: Most shops open at 9am or 10am, closing at any time from 5pm to 10pm
    • Sundays: Large department stores and malls may be open on Sundays, if permitted by local laws.

What is the Usual Office Dress Code in America?

  • In America, dress code varies from office-to-office, and industry-to-industry, often based on factors such as the type of company (progressive start-up versus long-established traditional operation).
  • Suits are usually worn in corporate environments (usually in a darker colour such as black, grey or navy), paired with a shirt and tie and leather shoes for men. For women, a smart suit and dressy shirt teamed with understated jewellery and high-heels is most common.
  • There can also be variations in dress code based on geographic location. For instance, in Texas, cowboy boots may be acceptable business attire, in Los Angeles people often wear much more colourful clothing, and in Silicon Valley the dress code is often quite relaxed.
  • Casual Friday is also a regular occurrence in many offices, where a more corporate dress code is relaxed on a Friday, and employees are encouraged to dress in a smart casual style.

What is Common Office Etiquette in America?

Office etiquette in America is very similar to that of Singapore. Hard work is expected and respected, and high levels of manners and politeness are the norm. While Americans are quite informal in many ways, this informality is always tempered with respect (particularly for more senior management) and political correctness.

Work Ethic

Hard work is respected and expected in the US. In many industries, hard work is the only way to advance one’s career. Status and age are not as important; merit, experience and achievements are key to advancement.

The biggest change in work ethic in recent years has been in company loyalty. In some industries, employees once remained at the same company for their entire career, awarded a gold watch on retirement. This is becoming less and less common, with people changing companies multiple times, and even changing careers over the course of their lives.

Gifts

In the US, it is not appropriate to give gifts at business meetings. In fact, some companies forbid their employees from accepting gifts, mainly due to anti-bribery and corruption policies.

In some instances, it may be appropriate to give business associates small gifts (such as chocolates, wine or flowers) when invited to a colleague’s home, or for a client's Christmas gift.

Do’s and Don’ts of Business in America

To help ensure that you’re successful in the American world of business, and to avoid any faux pars when you first arrive:

  • Do not be late for meetings or appointments
  • Do dress formally for initial meetings and interviews. After this initial meeting, follow the example set by your colleagues
  • Do not waste time making small talk
  • Do speak clearly and directly
  • Do start by addressing business associates formally, using their title and surname. It is likely that business associates will ask to be referred to using their first name
  • Do not use slang to describe social, religious or ethnic groups. Political correctness is important. Don’t risk being rude or offensive
  • Do take the opportunity to socialise with colleagues and clients. Business in the USA is often conducted in a more informal social setting, not only within the office.

What are Common Customs and Social Norms in America?

Customs and social norms in America Customs and social norms in America

If you’re an moving to America, you’ll need to understand local US customs and common cultural differences in America to help you, and your family, assimilate more easily into American culture on arrival. Luckily, you can follow our in-depth guide below that takes you through everything from American patriotism and table manners, through to metric versus imperial conversions and words commonly used in America (but not in Singapore).

What is American Patriotism?

Most Americans are very patriotic, particularly on national public holidays such as Independence Day and Labor Day. Many of America’s patriotic values were laid out in the Declaration of Independence, including ideals such as "all men are created equal", and that all people have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

Americans show their patriotism in several ways. Flying the American flag in one’s front yard is not uncommon, and the singing of the US national anthem The Star Spangled Banner and reciting The Pledge of Allegiance in school can be taken is taken very seriously.

What is Religion Like in America?

Although Christianity is the most common religion in America, many more faiths are practiced, from Judaism and Buddhism, through to Islam:

  • Approximately 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christian, including:
    • 46.5% attending a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant
    • 20.8% professing Roman Catholic beliefs.
  • Approximately 25% of Americans identify themselves as atheist
  • Approximately 5% of Americans identify themselves as an ‘Another’ religion, including Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

Most Americans believe in the freedom and equality to practice the religion of one’s own choosing. However, to avoid offending anyone, it’s best not to bring up religion at social events (unless you know the other guests very well).

There are some regional differences in religious tolerance, with the west coast generally adopting more liberal views, and some of the southern states being more conservative. Large cosmopolitan cities like San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Chicago are also generally more tolerant.

Some states are also more religious than others. For instance, according to a 2012 survey, 36% of US adults (as taken as a whole across the country) stated that they attend services nearly every week or more. However, in Mississippi, 63% of the adult population described as very religious, attending services every week. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, only 20% of adults describe themselves as religious.

Do Americans Do Charity Work?

As compared to Singapore, there are fewer social services provided to the public by the United States Government. Not surprisingly then, philanthropic and charity work is important to many Americans. Over 60 million Americans volunteer approximately eight billion hours of their time each year. For more information on volunteering, including opportunities in which to get involved, visit the Corporation for National and Community Service.

What is Considered Good Manners in America?

Much like in Singapore, good manners and politeness are important in America. To ensure that you are exhibiting good manners when you arrive in the US, follow our list of tips:

  • If someone does something nice for you, thank them
  • Hold the door open for people behind you; never let it slam in their face
  • Respect your elders
  • Always say "excuse me" if you’ve interrupted or bumped into someone
  • Try to help other people if they need it, such as a person carrying a pram up and down stairs on their own, or someone picking up dropping shopping
  • Keep the volume of your voice down in public; try not to shout or argue
  • Punctuality is important in America, with many people finding it rude and disrespectful to arrive either late or too early to a social event or appointment
  • Americans politely stand in line when appropriate, such as when waiting to purchase tickets. However, don’t be surprised if people push and shove their way onto subway cars—they just don’t want to miss their train
  • Personal hygiene is very important in America so be sure to maintain good habits when it comes to showering and brushing your teeth
  • Do not greet everyone you meet, particularly in big cities like New York; you will come across as annoying
  • Do not stop in the middle of a busy street, particularly in big cities like New York; you’re likely to get bumped into or knocked over
  • Do not stare at other people
  • Do not stand too close to other people; give them ample personal space
  • Compliment American wherever possible; do not insult the country, its history, its government or its traditions
  • Do not ask personal questions (such as their age, religion, political stance or how much money they make) of someone you have only just met.

What is Considered Good Table Manners in America?

Table manners are important in America. So, to ensure you make a good impression at your first dinner party, or your first meal out a restaurant, follow these handy tips and tricks on good table manners:

  • Eat politely and chew with your mouth closed
  • Never talk with your mouth full
  • Try not to make too much noise; do not slurp or loudly munch or crunch
  • If something on the table is out of reach, politely ask someone to pass it to you
  • Lift food up to your mouth, rather than bending over to eat it
  • Place a napkin on your lap when eating
  • If in a group, wait until everyone has been served before you start eating
  • Keep your elbows in when cutting food
  • Always use cutlery when eating; never pick up food in your hands, expect in rare exceptions to the rule, such as fried chicken and corn on the cob.

Unlike just about any other country, Americans switch utensils from hand-to-hand when they eat. The fork is always held in the right hand (unless the user is left handed). When cutting food, the fork is switched over to the left hand so the knife can be used. Then, when the cutting is finished, the knife is rested back on the plate and fork switched back to the right hand. There is no need for expats to adopt this style of eating though—most Americans are aware of the different styles of eating.

There are some behaviours that should be avoided when eating in America, including:

  • Burping at the table
  • Picking your teeth at the table
  • Licking your fingers at the table
  • Placing your elbows on the table
  • Smoking at the table
  • Speaking with your mouth full.

How Do Americans Communicate?

Americans communicate very directly and honestly. While at first this may seem rude or brusque, they rarely mean to be offensive. To help ensure you’re neither offended, nor offend others, when you first arrive in America, follow these rules:

  • When speaking, it is important to make and maintain eye contact
  • Some topics of conversation, such as religion and politics, should be avoided at social gatherings, until you know the other guests well. Safe topics of conversation include sports, hobbies, travel and one’s children
  • In general, Americans maintain a social acceptable buffer of personal space between one another during social gatherings
  • Body language varies considerably, with some people gesticulating with their hands, and others reaching out to touch your arm or hand for emphasis.

What is the Difference Between Metric and Imperial Units of Measurement?

The United States uses the imperial system, rather than the metric system, which is used in Singapore.

The Imperial system is based on the old British system of measurement (as ordered by the king, hence the name Imperial). The units of measurement in the Imperial system are yards, miles, feet, inches, pounds, ounces, and gallons.

The Metric system is an internationally agreed system of measurement. Based on the mètre des Archives and the kilogramme des Archives introduced by the French in 1799, the metric system uses the units of meter, kilogram and second.

Units of Measurement

Units of measurement in the Imperial system, versus those in the Metric system include:

  • 1 inch = 2.54 cm
  • 1 meter = 3.28 feet
  • 1 mile = 1.6 kilometers
  • 1 gallon = 3.78 liters
  • 1 kg = 2.2 lbs.

Some tips and tricks to help remember how to convert units of measurement include:

  • Converting miles to kilometres: Five miles is equivalent to 8 kilometres (this is an easier conversion to remember than 1 kilometre equals 0.62137119 miles). To convert miles to kilometres, the easiest way to formula to use is: divide the number of miles by five, subtract the answer from the number of miles, and then double the number left. For instance:
    • 100 miles ÷ 5 = 20
    • 100 – 20 = 80
    • 80 x 2 = 160km.
  • Converting pounds to kilograms: 2.2 pounds is equivalent to 1 kilogram (this is an easier conversion to remember than 1lb equals 0.45359237 kilograms). To convert pounds to kilograms, halve the number of pounds, and then subtract one tenth of the result. For instance:
    • 100lbs ÷ 2 = 50
    • 50 - 5 = 45kg.
  • Converting gallons to litres: One litre equals 1.8 imperial pints, and there are eight pints in a gallon. Therefore, one gallon equals 4.55 litres. To convert gallons to litres, multiple the number of gallons by nine, and then halve the answer. For instance:
    • 100 gallons x 9 = 900
    • 900 ÷ 2 = 450 litres.
  • Converting inches to centimetres: One inch is equivalent to 2.54cm. So, to convert inches to centimetres, you simply need to multiply by 2.45. For instance: 100 inches x 2.45 = 245 cm
  • Converting feet to metres: There are 3.28 feet in a metre. So, to convert feet to metres, take your measurement (in feet) and divide it by 3.28. For instance: 100 feet ÷ 3.28 = 30.48 metres.

Temperature

In the United States, temperatures are expressed in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius (as in Singapore). A few key temperatures to remember:

  • 32°F = 0°C (freezing)
  • 70°F = 21°C (comfortable)
  • 100°F = 38°C (uncomfortable).

Do Americans Use Different Words to Singaporeans?

Americans and Singaporeans speak differently, often using different words for the same concept. In addition, in the US, American English is used (rather than the Queen’s English, which is most common in Singapore). This means that sometimes the same words are spelt differently. Peruse our lists of words below to help ensure you know which words to use, as well as how to spell them, when you arrive in the USA.

Singlish Words Versus American Words

There are many words that are specific to Singlish. As such, it is unlikely that Americans will understand what you are trying to say. To avoid confusion in day-to-day conversation, try substituting the following Singlish words for their American counterparts:

  • “abuden” means obviously
  • “act blur” means to pretend ignorance
  • “ah beng” is similar to a bogan, “ah lien” is the female form
  • “arrow” means to give someone a task
  • “bao toh” means to tell on someone
  • “bee see” means a nurse
  • “boh eng” means to be busy
  • “catch no ball” means to not understand something
  • “eat snake” means to be lazy
  • “go stun” means to reverse a vehicle
  • “goondu” means a stupid person
  • “jia lat” means to be in trouble
  • “kaki” means a close friend
  • “kiwi” refers to the act of polishing something
  • “lobang” refers to an opportunity
  • “merliong” means vomiting
  • “pakat” refers to a conspiracy or plot
  • “shag” or “shagged out” refers to being excessively tired
  • “shiok” means pleasure
  • “sekali” means suddenly or unexpected
  • “taiko” means lucky
  • “talk cock” means to talk nonsense, or rubbish
  • “wah koa” means “oh my”
  • “wayang” refers to the act of pretending, especially in front of others.

Queen’s English Versus American English

As American English is used in the US, there are many words that are spelt differently. While it is unlikely that these differences in spelling will cause miscommunication, to help you assimilate into American culture more readily, try substituting the following Queen’s English spelling variants for their American English counterparts:

  • "aeroplane" versus "airplane"
  • "aeon" versus "eon"
  • "aluminium" versus "aluminum"
  • "anaesthesia" versus "anesthesia"
  • "analogue" versus "analog"
  • "baulk" versus "balk"
  • "categorise" versus "categorize"
  • "catalogue" versus "catalog"
  • "centre" versus "center"
  • "colour" versus "color"
  • "cosy" versus "cozy"
  • "cypher" versus "cipher"
  • "defence" versus "defense"
  • "enrol" versus "enroll"
  • "fibre" versus "fiber"
  • "goal" versus "jail"
  • "glamour" versus "glamor"
  • "grovelled" versus "groveled"
  • "harbour" versus "harbor"
  • "honour" versus "honor"
  • "humour" versus "humor"
  • "levelled" versus "leveled"
  • "manoeuvre" versus "maneuver"
  • "offence" versus "offense"
  • "omlette" versus "omelet"
  • "organise" versus "organize"
  • "paediatric" versus "pediatric"
  • "plough" versus "plow"
  • "realise" versus "realize"
  • "rumour" versus "rumor"
  • "savoury" versus "savory"
  • "sceptic" versus "skeptic"
  • "sterlise" versus "sterlize"
  • "utlise" versus "utilize"
  • "vapour" versus "vapor"
  • "yoghurt" versus "yogurt".

What is a Credit Rating?

A credit rating is an estimate of your ability to meet financial obligations, based on your financial history. Lenders use this information to decide if lending you money is worth the risk. As such, maintaining a good credit rating is important in America, particularly when it comes to securing loans and credit cards. There are three major credit bureaus in the US (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), which collect credit rating information. Several factors affect your credit score, some of which include:

  • The number of credit accounts you hold
  • The amount owed on your credit accounts
  • Your total available credit limit
  • Your total debt
  • Your promptness in paying bills
  • Payment or credit issues, such as bankruptcy, loan defaults, or foreclosures.

What are the Most Popular Sports to Play and Watch in America?

Most popular sports to play and watch in America Most popular sports to play and watch in America

Americans love sport. They love watching it and they love playing it. So, participating in sport is a great way for an expatriate to settle into their new home. Whether it's basketball court, a golf club, a swimming pool or a baseball diamond, almost every town in America has some form of recreational facilities.

The four main professional-level sports in America are baseball, American football (or grid iron), ice hockey and basketball. Games attract huge crowds at high school, college and professional levels. Find out more information about these sports below.

Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball is comprised of 30 teams, 29 of which are American, and one Canadian. The teams play just over 160 games per season, with 10 teams advancing to a four-round tournament that culminates in the World Series: a best of seven series of matches between the best two teams. The season runs from early April until early October each year.

National Football League (NFL)

The National Football League is comprised of 32 teams. The professional grid iron season runs for 17 weeks from the week after Labor Day in early September until the week after Christmas. Every team plays 16 games, and has one week’s rest as a bye. At the end of the season, 12 teams advance to the play-offs. The play-offs culminate in the Super Bowl, which is held on the first Sunday in February.

H3: National Basketball Association (NBA)

The National Basketball Association is comprised of 30 teams, 29 of which are American, and one Canadian. The season begins in late October and runs until mid-April, with an average of 80 games played. The play-offs begin in mid-April and run until late June.

H3: National Hockey League (NHL)

The National Hockey League is comprised of 31 teams, 24 of which are American, and seven of which are Canadian. A professional ice hockey competition, the season starts in early October and runs until early April. Over 80 games played are played each season.

Other Sports in America

It won't be difficult to join a local sporting team. The best place to start is at a local YMCA or local private club. If you're interested in baseball, basketball or football, you may find that recreational groups hold informal games at the local court, diamond or field.

Playing Sport in America

It won't be difficult to join a local sporting team. The best place to start is at a local YMCA or local private club. If you're interested in baseball, basketball or football, you may find that recreational groups hold informal games at the local court, diamond or field.

Fitness in America

In addition to sports, physical fitness is a popular pastime, and joining a gym is an excellent way to meet new people. Most cities and towns have local fitness facilities. YMCAs are a great option for exercising on a budget, while private gyms and clubs offer an incredible range of facilities at a higher price. Some of the larger private gyms include:

If you want to exercise for free, take advantage of jogging and bike paths. You can also use the sporting facilities of some local schools on weekends.

If you live in the northern and western mountain states, skiing and snow sports are also an essential part of the local culture.

What Holidays and Traditions are Celebrated in America?

Celebrating holidays and traditions in America Celebrating holidays and traditions in America

There are many different types of holidays and traditions celebrated in America, from religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, through to cultural celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Halloween, as well as more general school holidays. Read our guide below so that you understand the meaning behind each tradition, as well as how and when they are celebrated.

When are School Holidays in the US?

American schools generally observe just two school terms, with one longer three-month summer holiday in the middle of the year. The terms are usually:

  • Autumn Term: September to December
  • Spring Term: January to May

When are the US Federal Public Holidays?

The United States observes several federal public holidays, each of which is outlined below. If a federal public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is moved to the first available weekday.

New Year’s Day (1 January)

New Year’s Day celebrates the beginning of the new calendar year. Generally, people attend large parties on the night of 31 December, ringing in the New Year at midnight.

Martin Luther King Day (Third Monday in January)

This public holiday marks the birthday of civil rights leader and Noble Prize Winner, Martin Luther King Jr. He was most famous for his campaign for racial equality, and work to end racial segregation in the United States. Recently, federal legislation has been passed to encourage Americans to volunteer their time on this day to local citizen action groups.

President’s Day (Third Monday in February)

President’s Day honours all American presidents. It is held in February in honour of two of the most revered US presidents: George Washington (who was born on 22 February), and Abraham Lincoln (who was born on 12 February). Many shops have sales on President’s Day.

Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)

Memorial Day commemorates all Americans who have died in war. Many Americans opt to travel over this long weekend, particularly as it marks the beginning of the Summer school holidays and the advent of warmer weather.

Independence Day (4 July)

Independence Day marks the US declaration of independence from Great Britain on 4 July 1776—a very important day in the history of the US. This public holiday is marked with fireworks, parades and parties.

Labor Day (First Monday in September)

Labor Day commemorates the strength and tradition of trade and labor workers in the US. Many Americans opt to travel over this long weekend as it is the last public holiday before the cold weather sets in, and the end of the Summer school holiday period. Many shops have sales over this long weekend.

Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)

Columbus Day celebrates the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus on 12 October 1492. In some states and cities, there are large celebrations and parades, particularly in New York and San Francisco.

Veterans Day (11 November)

Veterans Day honours all veterans who fought for America in wars, particularly living military personnel. Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day, which honours people who died fighting for the US in wars. Veterans Day is marked by church services, a minute of silence at 11am, and flying the American flag at half-mast.

Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)

Thanksgiving began as a day of giving thanks for the harvest of the previous year. It was first celebrated by the Pilgrims (early settlers) in Massachusetts, who survived the winter of 1621 with the help of the Native Americans.

This is a major holiday in the United States, and often the longest paid holiday for many people; most companies give their employees both the Thursday and Friday off work. Thanksgiving dinner is usually a family tradition, which includes turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato, and pumpkin pies.

Most shops are closed on Thanksgiving Day. However, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. Black Friday is generally considered to be the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, with most major retail stores opening earlier than usual and offering huge sales and discounts.

Christmas Day (25 December)

Just as in Singapore, Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. As Christianity is the most widespread religion in the US, it is the biggest holiday of the year. Most businesses are closed on Christmas Day, and many on Christmas Eve as well.

Most people decorate their homes with Christmas lights, and Christmas trees, and children believe that Santa Claus will visit their home and bring them gifts, so long as they have been well-behaved.

Other American Holidays and Festivals

In addition to federal public holidays, there are various other holidays, festivals and celebrations observed by the American population, each of which is outlined below.

Valentine’s Day (14 February)

Much the same as Valentine’s Day in Singapore, this festival is celebrated in memory of Saint Valentine. Lovers exchanges gifts and cards, often anonymously.

St Patrick’s Day (17 March)

As in Singapore, St Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish culture. It remembers the Christian Saint Patrick, who is one of Ireland’s patron saints. On this day, people often wear green to commemorate the occasion, with parades and celebrations in some cities, particularly Chicago, Boston, Houston, Denver, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Seattle and Toronto.

Easter (March to April: First Sunday After the First Full Moon After the Vernal Equinox)

A Christian holiday, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion three days prior.

Passover (14th Day of the First Month of the Jewish Year)

Passover is a Jewish tradition, which lasts for eight days and celebrates the survivals of the Jews in Egypt. The tradition is marked with ritual dinners called Seder. While Passover is not a federal public holiday, most Jewish companies close during this period.

Mother’s Day (Second Sunday in May)

Just like Mother’s Day in Singapore, children of all ages use this day to show their appreciation for their mother, often buying presents and gifts.

Father’s Day (Third Sunday in June)

Once again, just like Father’s Day in Singapore, children of all ages use this day to show their appreciation for their father, often buying presents and gifts.

Halloween (31 October)

Halloween began in European cultures, which believe that on this day magic is at its most potent, with ghosts and spirits able to contact the physical world. Halloween was first celebrated to keep the evil spirits at bay.

On this festival, children dress up in their favourite costume (often scarey creatures like ghosts, vampires and witches, or the latest movie characters), and go Trick-or-Treating. At each house, children ask for lollies or candy. If they fail to receive any, they threaten the occupants with a trick—usually something like egging or toilet papering their house.

Often, people decorate their homes, particularly with Jack-O-Lanterns, which are hollowed-out pumpkins with a candle inside.

Kwanzaa (26 December to 1 January)

Many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, which is a week-long festival that honours the African culture. It often includes a large feast and the exchange of gifts, as well as ceremonial offerings to the gods.

What is Food and Drink Culture Like in America?

The eating and drinking culture of America The eating and drinking culture of America

A key way to experience the culture of a new country is through their food and beverages, and America is no different. Not only does America have its own unique foods and drinks, it also offers a range of culturally diverse options due to its rich cultural heritage. You’ll also need to be aware of some cultural norms when it comes to food and drink in America, such as expectations around tipping and the legal drinking age.

Does America Have a National Dish?

The diversity of the cultures that make up America means that culinary offerings are varied. It can be difficult to pinpoint a national American dish, as the food scene is changing every day, with trends quickly fluctuating. However, the following foods are examples of classic American eating:

  • Fried chicken
  • Barbecue
  • Hamburgers
  • Reuben sandwich
  • Gumbo
  • Tex-Mex
  • Key lime pie
  • Cheesecake
  • Cobbler
  • Apple pie

You'll also find regional varieties of drinks throughout the US. The wine regions of California produce some of the best wines in the world, and the microbrewery industry is booming, particularly in San Diego.

What are Restaurants in America Like?

In larger American cities, you'll find restaurants of all cuisines, cultures and sizes. In cosmopolitan cities like Los Angeles and New York, you can find every type of cuisine imaginable.

The icon of the American eating-out culture is the Diner, although these are becoming harder and harder to come by. Diners consist of simple meals served from a counter and endless cups of percolated coffee. If you want the authentic Diner experience, head to the east coast, midwest, southwest and southern states.

As a multicultural society, the defining aspect of American restaurants is the fusion of foods from different cultures. For example, in New York, you can travel to Chinatown for world-class Chinese food or Little Italy for an authentic Italian experience. You can also find plenty of barbecues, delis and burger shops for the American classics.

There has also been a resurgence of restaurants offering regional American cooking, particularly from the south and southwest, where you can find Cajun Gumbo and Tex-Mex classics.

How to Find a Restaurant in America

There is no standard restaurant rating system in the US, although newspapers and magazine regularly print reviews. The easiest way to find restaurants and view their ratings is by visiting review websites:

How to Tip in America

Tipping is an absolute must in America. Service charges are generally not included in the bill, and waiters and bar staff rely on their tips for the bulk of their income. You should tip between 10% and 20%. Keep in mind that a cover charge for admission is not a tip for services provided.

If you're dining in a large party, check the bill to make sure the service charge hasn't been included. If you're unsure, ask the staff for clarification.

Tipping is not expected in fast food restaurants.

What is the Legal Drinking Age in the US?

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21.

Restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol vary from state-to-state. For example, in New Orleans and Nevada, you can drink wherever and whenever you want. However, in some areas of Utah, the consumption of alcohol in public is strictly prohibited.

Shopping for Food

The quality of food in the US is very high. Food is fresh, or snap frozen at the source, and shipped by air. As such, food is very safe, with no need to disinfect surfaces; rinsing fruit and vegetables in tap water is sufficient.

The most common means of shopping for food is in large chain supermarkets. These are self-serve, with people pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles. Some of the larger supermarket chains include:

A rising trend in the US is home delivered meal-kit options, with the major suppliers including:

What is Housing Like in America?

Housing in America Housing in America

If you’re not moving to USA from Singapore for work, or your employer hasn’t secured housing for you, you’ll need to investigate potential properties to buy or rent in America.

What are the Best Real Estate Websites in America?

A good place to start your search are some of the most popular real estate search websites. These will give you an idea of the type of housing available, as well as the average cost. Try:

What is Renting Property in America Like?

If you’re planning on renting property in the US, keep in mind:

  • Most US states allow landlords to collect a security deposit prior to a tenant moving in. Security deposits are usually equal to one month's rent
  • Your security deposit will be returned to you when you leave, if there has been no damage to the property, and all other conditions of your lease are met
  • In some areas, you may be able to inspect multiple properties over the course of a few weeks before committing to a rental property. However, in busier cities with a competitive rental market like New York, you may have to decide immediately
  • Leases are usually for one or two years, with rent either fixed for the entire period or a specific timetable for increases outlined
  • Leases usually include a Break Clause, which generally requires 30-days’ notice from either party
  • Leases usually include a sub-let clause, which outlines whether the property can be let by the renter to a third party
  • If the property is furnished, then you should receive a detailed inventory report of all items, including their condition.

What is Buying Property in America Like?

If you’re planning on buying property in the US, keep in mind:

  • You must pay property tax. Property taxes vary from state-to-state, and are based on a percentage of the property’s market value. Property taxes start from as little as 0.2% per annum, up to 2.3%, with the proceeds used by state governments to fund major works projects
  • Engage the services of a local, reputable real estate agent. Some of the largest estate agents, which have offices in most cities, include:
  • Organise inspections of properties that meet your criteria for when you arrive.

What Types of Housing are there in America?

Housing types, styles and even availability vary from state-to-state and even city-to-city. However, some general facts you can expect about the types of housing in America include:

  • Housing prices and rent are more expensive in major metropolitan regions
  • Houses generally have several bedrooms and bathrooms, a lounge room and separate living area, a separate kitchen and laundry, and sometimes have a study or media room, as well as a finished basement
  • Houses do not usually come furnished
  • Kitchens in US houses usually come equipped with a fridge, microwave, dishwasher and all other appliances
  • Laundries in US houses usually come equipped with a washing machine and dryer
  • Most houses feature built-in central air-conditioning (particularly in the warmer southern states) and heating (particularly in the colder northern states), which runs on natural gas
  • Most houses have a double garage with a roller door, which can be attached or detached. Car ports are not as common.

What are Houses Like in America?

There are two types of houses in America:

  • Detached: Free-standing properties that have their own backyards. These yards can range in size from 550m2, right up to more than an acre
  • Townhouse: While these are self-contained, they share a party wall with the neighbouring property, and often share a yard. The upkeep of this yard is paid for by all home owners, via a monthly or quarterly Home Owners Association fee.

What Architectural Styles are Common for Houses in America?

Houses in America may be any one of several different architectural styles:

  • Georgian: Dating back to the 1700s, Georgian style homes feature double-hung windows, transom lighting, a pedimented crown and are usually constructed in brick in the southern states, and weatherboard in the northern states
  • Federation: Built in the late 1700s to early 1800s, Federation homes have a symmetrical façade with double hung windows complete with shutters. The front door is usually elaborate, with columns and a pediment
  • Cape Cod: Built between the 1920s and 1940s, these homes are cottages with attic space, and dormer windows on either side
  • Spanish: Particularly popular in the southern states near the Mexico border, Spanish style homes were built between 1915 and 1940. They feature red tiled, low pitch rooves, arched doors and windows and a stucco façade
  • Craftsman: Built from 1905 to 1930, Craftsman style homes have a gable roof that is low pitched, exposed rafters, and large porches supported by large columns. This style of home is renowned for its architectural detail, and hand-crafted materials
  • Ranch: Built from the 1930s to 1960s, Ranch homes are sprawling, single-storey buildings with a low-pitched roof, and a garage that faces the street
  • Split Level: Built from the 1950s onward, Spilt Level homes usually have two short flights of stairs, one leading to a finished basement, and the other leading up to a floor of bedrooms, with the main living area located on the ground floor.

What are Apartments Like in America?

Apartments in America may be:

  • Occupant-owned
  • Leased from the building owner (or their appointed representative, such as a real estate agent)
  • Cooperatively-owned (referred to as a co-op), where owners become shareholders in a company that owns the entire building and its grounds. Members of a co-op pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of gardening, maintenance, the mortgage, insurance and taxes. As members have voting rights when new owners seek to rent or buy a property within the building, they can be difficult to rent or buy
  • Condominiums, where the apartment is purchased, but the building and grounds remain the property of the building owner. Condo owners (or renters) are charged maintenance fees, but must pay their own taxes, mortgage, and insurance. Condos often include additional facilities such as a gym, pool, sauna and tennis courts.

What is the Best Way to Get Around in America?

Getting around in America Getting around in America

There are many modes of transport in the US, from the convenience of your own car, right through to public transport. Your preferred mode of transport will likely depend upon your location, budget and commute times. For instance, you may not need a car if you live in the middle of a major city like Boston, San Francisco or New York—you’ll be able to rely on public transport and taxis. However, if you live in a small town or a regional area, you will probably need a car.

What are the Road Rules when Driving in America?

If you plan to drive once you arrive in the United States, there are several different road rules of which you should make yourself aware:

  • Certain traffic laws differ from state-to-state in the US. Confirm the driving laws and traffic safety laws for the US state in which you’ll reside
  • Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road. This means that:
    • You’ll need to take extra care when pulling out of intersections, roundabouts and one-way streets
    • The gear stick will be in your right hand
    • The indicators and windscreen wipers will be operated by your right-hand
    • When crossing the street, you need to look right for on-coming traffic.
  • When making a left turn, pass in front of cars making similar left-hand turns across the intersection
  • White lines separate lanes of traffic moving in the same direction
  • Yellow lines separate traffic headed in opposite directions:
    • You may not cross into lanes separated by solid yellow lines
    • If the yellow line is broken, you can cross with caution.
  • Pedestrians always have the legal right of way. If a pedestrian is crossing the road, you must come to a full stop
  • Seatbelts must be worn at all times
  • It is illegal in all US states to drive whilst intoxicated
  • In many US states, it is illegal to text whilst driving, and in some US states it is also illegal to use phones for any reason (including making calls and for navigation purposes)
  • In some states, it is illegal to overtake a school bus that has stopped to drop off its passengers. If you do so, and you’re caught, you could receive a fine
  • In some states, you may turn right when stopped at a red light, so long as there is no traffic and it is safe to do so
  • On freeways and highways, slower traffic generally stays in the right-hand lanes, while faster traffic uses the left-hand lane
  • For more information about driving in America, and road rules, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Can You Drive in the US with a Foreign License?

When moving to USA from Singapore, some US states require that you hold an International Driving Permit (IDP), in addition to a valid drivers’ license from your home country. If you intend on obtaining an IDP, you must do so in advance. IDPs are issued by the motor vehicle department of your home country, NOT the United States Government.

IDPs are issued by the Automobile Association of Singapore. You can either apply for an IDP in person or you can apply for an IDP online.

To obtain an IDP, you will need to:

  • Fill out an application form
  • Compile all necessary documentation, including:
  • A copy of your Singapore driving license
  • A copy of your NRIC (if you are Singaporean or a Permanent Resident)
  • A copy of your employment pass/FIN Card (if you are a foreigners)
  • A clear, colour color passport photograph with a plain light background taken within the last two years.

If you want to apply for a US drivers’ license, the requirements are different in each state, so check with your local state authority. For more information, visit Foreign Nationals Driving in the United States.

What is Public Transport like in America?

The larger cities in America, such as New York, Boston and Seattle, have very good public transport systems, featuring trains, underground railways and buses. However, in smaller towns and cities, and regional areas, public transport can sometimes be of a lesser quality, making a private car a necessity.

Trains

Amtrak is America’s national rail company, providing long-distance railway services linking over 500 destinations in 46 states. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, at stations, travel agents or onboard some trains. The price of your ticket consists of the fare, plus any accommodation charges for overnight sleeper trains. Discounts are available on ticket prices for veterans, students and pensioners.

Buses

While large US cities and towns have a rail or subway service, smaller towns or suburbs may not. Instead, smaller towns are likely to operate a public municipal bus service.

Several bus companies such as Greyhound and Coach USA offer intercity and interstate bus services. These can be quite affordable when compared to air travel.

Railways, Subways and Trams

Many major US cities operate railway services, some of which are underground subways. For instance, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington all operate a railway service. Generally, travel by railway and subway is inexpensive and convenient, eradicating the traffic congestion and parking issues afforded by driving. Discounts are available on ticket prices for veterans, students and pensioners.

A limited number of cities also have trams and light rail systems, including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Tampa.

Taxis and Uber

Taxis (or cabs) are common in inner city and suburban areas, as well as within smaller towns. Taxis can be hailed from the side of the street with the wave of a hand or a whistle, at taxi ranks, or booked over the phone. While taxis are convenient for travelling short distances, they can be expensive.

A relatively new company, Uber is an app-based ride share cab company. It currently operates in over 230 cities across the US, covering 75% of the country. Using Uber, you can hire a driver to pick you up in their private car, and take you to your desired destination. The nearest driver is at your pickup location within minutes.

What is Air Travel Like in America?

With over 15,000 airports in the US (including 12 of the world’s 30 busiest) air travel is frequently undertaken. The busiest airports in the US include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Over 200 domestic and cargo airlines operate in the US, including all major international airlines, as well as several large domestic airlines that offer interstate services, including:

Smaller regional carriers also provide services on specialised routes.

While air travel is fast, passengers should allow ample time to clear immigration, customs and security, particularly for international flights.

What Items are Prohibited when Shipping Goods to America?

Prohibited items when shipping goods to America Prohibited items when shipping goods to America

Many dangerous or prohibited goods cannot be shipped to America. People attempting to import prohibited items into America may be subject to a penalty, and the items may be seized by customs officials. To help ensure that your goods are not seized, and that your entire shipment is not delayed, follow our guide on prohibited items.

What Items are Prohibited Entry to the United States?

General items prohibited entry into the United States include:

  • Absinthe
  • Liquor-filled candy (where prohibited by state law)
  • Lottery tickets
  • Narcotics and dangerous drugs
  • Obscene articles and publications
  • Seditious and treasonable materials
  • Hazardous items (such as fireworks, aerosol cans, car batteries, charcoal and lighter fluid, fertiliser, chemistry sets, fuels and oils, kerosene, full scuba tanks, liquid bleach, loaded guns, paint thinners, paints and varnishes, pool chemicals, propane tanks, rubbing alcohol, and dangerous toys)
  • Toxic or poisonous substances (such as arsenic, pesticides, weedkillers, and radioactive materials)
  • Explosives (such as hydrogen, peroxide, ammonium nitrate, sodium nitrate, and calcium hypochlorite)
  • Corrosive substances (such as caustic soda, oxides, hydrochloric acid, and sulphuric acid)
  • Switchblade knives (except for those carried by one-armed persons for personal use).

What Wildlife Products are Prohibited Entry to the United States?

Wildlife products prohibited from entry into the United States include:

What Items are Restricted When Shipping Goods to America?

Restricted items when shipping goods to America Restricted items when shipping goods to America

When shipping items to the United States, some items are subject to restrictions, and will require additional precautions. People attempting to import restricted items into America may be subject to a penalty, and the items may be seized by customs officials. To help ensure that your goods are not seized, and that your entire shipment is not delayed, follow our guide on restricted items.

Biological Materials

Any type of biological material (such as blood or disease organisms) used for education or research must be accompanied by an import permit, issued by the US Department of Agriculture.

Latin American Cultural Property

Some Latin American countries require that an export certificate accompany any pre-Columbian artifacts shipped directly or indirectly to the United States, enforced by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Merchandise Originating in Certain Countries

Merchandise originating from certain countries may require a permit for entry into the United States. This restriction includes items from Angola, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar (formerly Burma), North Korea, Sudan, the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban, and the former Yugoslavia. For more information, visit the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Money

You must file Customs Form 4790 Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments if you import more than $10,000 worth of US or foreign coins, currency, traveler's checks, money orders, negotiables, or investment securities.

Trademarked Items

Imitation products represented by a registered trademark are restricted. The items most frequently identified as having false trademarks are perfume, jewellery (including watches), cameras, tape recorders, and musical instruments. Pirated copies of copyrighted books are also restricted.

Food (Including Herbs and Spices)

Food can cause delays in customs clearances so it is recommended not to include food in a general household goods shipment. For more information about importing food products, visit US Food and Drug Administration.

What is the Healthcare System Like in America?

The healthcare system in America The healthcare system in America

The US healthcare system is a contentious topic. For people who have private medical insurance, medical care can be among the best in the world. Without insurance, healthcare can be mediocre. Unless it is a medical emergency, patients will not be treated without prior payment or proof of health insurance.

Most US hospitals are privately owned. There is no national system of government-owned medical facilities for public use, as in Canada and many European countries.

Medical facilities are generally excellent, with the latest medical technology available. Doctors are highly trained, and many of the world’s preeminent medical specialists operate in the US.

What is Health Insurance Like in America?

While medical care and services in America are among the most advanced in the world, they are also among the most expensive. Whilst there are government-funded healthcare programs in place (such as Medicare and Medicaid), these are available only to people over the age of 65, those who are disabled, and low-income earners. Expats and foreign citizens do not qualify for these programs at all.

As such, it is vital that you take out health insurance, particularly as all medical treatment (even a trip to your local doctor for the flu) must be paid for. Some things to keep in mind:

  • You may be able to purchase health insurance through a state or federal marketplace, which is an expanded Medicaid program
  • Insurers cannot refuse to insure you due to a pre-existing condition
  • Children can remain insured on their family’s plan until the age of 26
  • If you don’t have health insurance, you may have to pay a fee, which is based on your total household income.

Alternatively, if you’re relocating to America for employment purposes, you may be able to negotiate health insurance as part of your employment contract. Often, US employers will contribute to the cost of health insurance for both you and your family.

What Types of Health Insurance are Available in America?

There are three main types of health insurance available in America:

  • Traditional fee-for-service health insurance: Usually the most expensive type of health insurance, but your choice of health care providers is flexible
  • Health maintenance organisations (HMOs): These are cheaper than traditional insurers, and will cover preventive care, but your choice of health care providers is limited to those who are part of the program
  • Preferred provider organisations (PPOs): As affordable as HMOs, but with more flexibility in the choice of providers.

What are the Major US Health Insurance Providers?

Some of the major health insurance providers in America include:

The US Government provides detailed information on finding health insurance.

What are Emergency Medical Services Like in America?

Regulated by state governments, emergency medical services in America must be provided to anyone in need. However, if you do not have health insurance, the cost of emergency medical services can be very high.

If you have a medical emergency, dial ‘911’ on your phone to request an ambulance (as well as police and the fire brigade). The operator will dispatch the ambulance as quickly as possible. Paramedics are highly trained to provide excellent care.

Alternatively, you can make your own way to the nearest hospital with an emergency room for immediate treatment.

How do Pharmacies and Prescription Medication Work in America?

In the US, pharmacies are called drug stores. They stock much more than medication, often selling everything from make-up through to alcohol. Pharmacies can be in supermarkets and large department stores, as well as in hospitals and medical clinics. The presence of a pharmacist is usually indicated by a sign in the shape of a (first aid) cross or a sign with Rx written on it. Some of the largest national pharmacies are:

You can purchase prescription medicines at any US pharmacy. However, prescription medicine can be expensive. So, be sure to keep all receipts to claim the cost on your health insurance provider.

International prescriptions will not be filled by US pharmacies. You will need to take a copy of your Australian prescription to a US doctor, and have them write you a local prescription.

How do Electricity, Water and Gas Utilities Work in America?

Electricity, water and gas utilities in America Electricity, water and gas utilities in America

Once you’ve found a property to rent or buy, you’ll need to organise the connection of your electricity, water and gas utilities. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Each US state has multiple power, water and gas companies, so you will need to confirm which suppliers operate in your local area
  • Utility service provider costs and plans vary, so it’s best to do some research into providers in your local area
  • In some instances, utility companies will require a deposit (because you won’t have a credit history). This will be returned to you after an agreed period of no late or missed payments, and is usually enough to cover one month’s bill
  • In some cases, you may be asked to produce official documentation showing that you occupy the property, such as a mortgage or lease agreement
  • You will receive a monthly bill, on a date determined by when your utility was first switched on
  • The cost of water varies from state-to-state. In some US states, it is a metered service and a fee per unit consumed is charged. In other states, you pay a fixed monthly fee
  • If you’re renting:
    • Your landlord should be able to tell you who your local utility suppliers are, and how to have them connected
    • The cost of water should be included in your rent.
  • The biggest electricity utility companies in the United States include:
  • The biggest gas utility companies in the United States include:
  • The biggest water utility companies in the United States include:

How do Mobile Phones and the Internet Work in America?

Mobile phones and the internet in America Mobile phones and the internet in America

There is any number of mobile phone and internet providers in the US, all of which offer a range of different packages at a range of different price points. Be sure to do your research into which package best suits your needs before signing on the dotted line. In America, you pay for incoming calls as well as outgoing calls on a mobile. Keep this in mind, or your first phone bill might come as a shock.

Internet services are of a very high quality in the US, although DSL is still more common than cable or wireless connections. Cable connections are generally more expensive, but do come with the added bonus of cable TV. Again, be sure to shop around to get the best deal, paying careful attention to speed, and download allowances.

The main mobile phone providers are:

The main internet providers are:

How to Keep in Touch with Family and Friends Back Home While in America

Keeping in touch with family and friends from Singapore Keeping in touch with family and friends from Singapore

Relocating to America is an exciting experience, but there's no denying that you'll miss family and friends left behind. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to keep in touch, from mobile phones and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) apps like Skype and WhatsApp, through to the US Postal Service.

Phone

To make an international call from the US, you'll need to dial:

  • The US international access code, which is ‘011'
  • The international country code for the country you wish to call (this is '65' for Singapore)
  • The area code:

    • '645' for Ang Mo Kio
    • '676' for Ayer Rajah
    • '644' for Bedok
    • '653' for City
    • '673' for Geylang
    • '678' for Jurong West-Tampines
    • '635' for North
    • '657' for Sembawang
    • '677' for Tampines.
  • The number of the person you wish to call.

Different carriers will have different international call rates, so make sure you confirm these rates early on.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Apps

One of the cheapest way to make an international call from your mobile is to take advantage of a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) app, such as:

If you use any of these apps while you're connected to Wi-Fi, you'll save a lot of money. You also won't have to worry about international country codes—just click on the contact and press call. You also have the option of making video calls over Skype, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime, helping you feel more connected to your friends and family.

Internet

The Internet came to fruition in the US, so you'll never be far away from a connection point. The Internet offers you round-the-clock access to the people you miss back home. Email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all allow you to keep connected and you can also use your computer to make international calls via Facebook and Skype.

Most cities throughout America will offer free public Wi-Fi access points, so keep an eye out for the Wi-Fi symbol to increase your connectivity.

Postal Service

The US has an extensive postal service, provided by the semi-autonomous United States Postal Service. Postal costs in the US are among the lowest in the industrialised world.

There are several ways to ship items internationally with the USPS:

  • First Class Mail International: You can send airmail using standard letter-sized envelopes with an international stamp, costing US$1.15 per stamp. Using this service, you can mail to 180 countries
  • Priority Mail International: An affordable way to send mail and packages, this starts at US$23.95 with delivery within six to 10 business days
  • Priority Mail Express International: Starts at US$40.95, with items delivered in three to five business days
  • Global Express Guaranteed: Perfect tor larger items and high-priority mail, this service starts at US$62 and usually arrives in one to three business days.

Keep in mind that prices and delivery times vary according to weight and destination.

What Tax do I Pay in America?

Paying tax in America Paying tax in America

As with any developed nation, there are several taxes that you’ll be required to pay when living in the United States. These include income tax, sales tax, Medicare tax and social security tax. So that you understand personal taxation obligations, be sure to read through the in-depth resources below.

What is Income Tax?

Just like in Singapore, if you are an employee, income tax is taken directly from your pay check, so you won’t need to set aside money each month. If you are self-employed or have your own company, you will be responsible for paying your own income tax.

Whether you’re an employee or self-employed, each year you will need to complete a tax return which declares how much money you’ve earnt, how much tax you’ve paid, and therefore whether you’re owed a refund (or if you owe more tax).

The most common types of tax returns require:

For more information on filing a tax return and paying taxes please visit Internal Revenue Service.

What is Sales Tax?

Sales tax is placed on some retail goods, but not all. For instance, food sold in supermarkets is not subject to this tax, but meals at restaurants are. Sales tax is imposed on a state-by-state basis (as opposed to at a national level). Most US states use this tax (but not all), and the rate of tax varies from state-to-state. Some of the highest rates of sales tax include in Tennessee (at 9.46%), Arkansas (at 9.3%), and Louisiana (at 9%).

What is Medicare Tax?

Medicare tax is a payroll tax that funds health care for Americans who are eligible for Medicare (such as those aged over 65 years who are eligible for Social Security, and those people who are permanently disabled and have been receiving benefits for at least two years). For employees, the Medicare tax rate is 1.45% of their income. If you are self-employed, you may have to pay a higher Medicare tax rate, because you will be responsible for paying both the employee and the employer portions.

What is Social Security Tax?

Social security tax is a payroll tax that funds various social welfare and social insurance programs in America, particularly retirement benefits for lower paid workers. For employees, the Social Security tax rate is 6.2%, and for employers the rate is also 6.2% of their employees’ salary. If you are self-employed, you will need to pay the combined rate of 12.4%.

What to See and Do in America?

Things to see and do in America Things to see and do in America

America is the fourth-largest country in the world, and one of the key trendsetters in global culture. This means there is an unlimited list of things to see, do and experience when you move to America. It would be almost impossible to list every sight to see, so the list below should be viewed as a starting point. Make your own discoveries about the natural and cultural wonders that the USA has to offer.

Atlantic City

A resort city in New Jersey, Atlantic City is sometimes referred to as the Vegas of the East Coast. It is famous for its boardwalk, casinos, high-end shopping, regular performances by celebrities, and more than 10km of sandy white beaches.

Badlands National Park

One of the most famous national parks in America, at the Badlands National Park you’ll be treated to 244,000 acres of multi-coloured rocks, incredible formations and canyons that seem to stretch down to the centre of the earth. The park is home to an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live.

Brooklyn Bridge

One of the oldest bridges in America, the Brooklyn Bridge is a cable-stayed suspension bridge over New York City’s East River, which links Manhattan and Brooklyn. More than 125 years old, this iconic feature of the New York skyline carries over 150,000 cars and people every day.

Central Park

Attracting more than 40 million visitors every year, Central Park occupies over 3km2 and is in the heart of New York City. The park is home to several attractions, including the Central Park Zoo, the Carousel, the Great Lawn, an Alice in Wonderland monument, Belvedere Castle, and Shakespeare’s Garden.

Coney Island

A New York City neighbourhood, Coney Island is home to an amusement park with more than 50 rides and other attractions. While the beach, boardwalk and the New York Aquarium are open all year round, the rides generally operate in the warmer months, from Easter until Labor Day.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Currently under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota, once complete, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest mountain carving in the world at almost 200m long and 170m high. Created in memory of Lakota Chief Crazy Horse, it will be a fantastic monument to the culture, tradition and living heritage of the Native American Indians.

Delaware River

One of the most famous rivers in America, the Delaware River runs from New York through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware to the Atlantic Ocean. The scene for many iconic moments in US history, this river delivers fun all year round, from ice-skating in the winter to fishing and canoeing in the summer.

Dodge City

If you want to experience frontier life, you must visit Dodge City in Kansas. This restored Wild West cattle town was where Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson ruled. The Boot Hill Museum gives visitors an authentic taste of what the cemetery and main street was like in the 1870s.

Empire State Building

An icon of modern architecture in the art deco style, the Empire State Building is in the centre of Midtown Manhattan, New York City. One of the world’s tallest buildings, it has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. With observations decks on both the 86th and 102nd floors, the 360 degree views of New York are unbeatable.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Gold Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge in San Francisco. Opened in 1937, the 2.7km bridge can be crossed on foot by pedestrians during the day using the sidewalks on either side. The bridge is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Grand Canyon

Almost 30km wide, 2km deep and 450km long, the Grand Canyon was carved from the landscape by the Colorado River in Arizona. The southern rim of the canyon is open all year, and visited by more than five million people each year. The sheer size of the canyon is awe-inspiring.

Greenwich Village

If you love Bob Dylan and 60s folk music, visit the place where it all started. A neighbourhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City, Greenwich Village and SoHo have set the tone for art, literature and fashion for decades.

Hollywood

Located in central Los Angeles, Hollywood is the home of the US film industry, with several of the larger production companies operating studios in the area. The most famous landmark of the area is, of course, the Hollywood sign in the hills.

Jewel Cave National Monument

With 226km of tunnels, the Jewel Cave National Monument is the second-longest cave in the world. Once again located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, it is best to visit this nature wonder in the summer months, when you can book in a lantern tour.

Mall of America

Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, this is the biggest shopping mall in America. It has become a major tourist destination, with over 400 shops, more than 20 restaurants and 12 theatres. Celebrities regularly make special guest appearances at the mall, which is also equipped with a state of the art fitness centre.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (referred to as The Met) is undoubtedly home to one of the finest and most extensive collections of art in the world. Located in New York City, it’s exhibitions present over 5,000 years of art, from Ancient Egyptian to Modern, and everything in between.

Mount Rushmore

Only in America will you find the faces of four presidents carved into the side of a mountain. Surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is a sculpture of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln that took 14 years to complete.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Located in Cooperstown, New York, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum pays homage to all the greats of this popular national pastime. Discover America’s baseball history, and learn about the greats of the game, from Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron through to Cy Young and Lou Gehrig.

New York State Museum

Established in 1836, the New York State Museum is the oldest and largest museum in the country. Located at the southern end of the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza in Albany, the New York State Museum features both permanent and visiting exhibitions every year.

Niagara Falls

Enormous, awe-inspiring and over 12,000 years old. It's no wonder that Niagara Falls, which sit on the border between the US and Canada, have become a must-see for all visitors to America. You can view Niagara Falls from one of the many lookouts. If you want a closer look, organise a boat or helicopter tour.

Palisades Interstate Park

Located just outside of Newark, the Palisades Interstate Park is a giant children’s fun park, and perfect for a weekend family adventure. There are hiking and skiing trails, a nature sanctuary, stunning views, and even an historical museum.

Pine Barrens

Treat yourself to the largest wilderness area on the east side of the Mississippi, where you can go canoeing, hiking, horse riding, or hiking. Almost every outdoor activity is possible at the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve.

Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Centre includes 19 high-rise commercial buildings between 48th and 51st Streets in New York City. In winter, you can enjoy one of the world’s most famous ice skating rinks, while the incredible views of the Chrysler Building, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge are available all year round from the Top of the Rock observatory on the 70th floor.

Route 66

One of the original America highways, Route 66 runs east to west across America, from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, ending at Santa Monica in California. The highway covers 3,940km.

Saratoga Springs

If you like spas and horse racing, Saratoga Springs is the place for you. Bet on the horses by day and indulge yourself in one of the many spas by night. The town itself is also incredibly beautiful. You can take a walking tour through the Georgian architecture lined streets, and wander past the Victorian-era mansions.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is one of the truly iconic world monuments. A bastion of democratic ideals and the freedoms that America seeks to represent, at the feet of the statue lie the broken shackles of oppression and tyranny. There is nothing quite like the view from the 47m high observation deck.

The Everglades

A 1.5 million acre wetland in southern Florida, the Everglades are the largest subtropical wilderness in America. They are comprised of mangroves and marshes that are home to a huge variety of marine and bird life, including the manatee, the Florida panther, and crocodiles.

The Hamptons

Located on Long Island's South Fork and the summertime playground of New York City’s rich and famous, The Hamptons are a series of beachside towns. Full of history and natural beauty, there are plenty of incredible beaches, restaurants and bars.

The Vegas Strip

Gaudy, opulent and, at times, tacky, The Vegas Strip is always a lot of fun. There's simply no place on earth like Las Vegas and its famous, neon-coloured strip. Almost anything goes in Vegas, and so long as you remember that the house always wins, you're in for a good time.

Times Square

Standing in the middle of Times Square is like placing yourself amid a human beehive. It is a major commercial intersection, entertainment centre and tourist destination in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is located at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Street.

Wall Street

Wall Street is heartbeat of American, and global, financial markets. The eight-block long street runs north-west to south-east from Broadway to South Street, at the East River, in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A walk through the Financial District allows you to come face-to-face with modern capitalism and all that it represents.

Walt Disney World

The flagship destination of the Disney Corporation, Walt Disney World in Florida covers over 110km2. It is home to over 30 hotels, four theme parkers, two waters, golf courses and a camping site. Visited by over 52 million people each year, it is one of the larges tourist destinations in America.

Yellowstone National Park

The world first national park, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho occupies over 5,500km2. It features a variety of natural phenomena, from volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, to forests, mountains and lakes. With 12 camping grounds, and over 2,000 campsites, visitors can even stay at Yellowstone.

Further Resources on Things to See and Do in America

For further information on what to see and do in America visit:

Disclaimer

We have been furnished with the above information, however, UniGroup Worldwide gives no guarantees or undertakings concerning the accuracy, completeness or up-to-date nature of the information provided. It is essential that users verify all information contained here before taking any action, or relying upon it. UniGroup Worldwide Moving cannot be held liable for any actions taken based on the information contained within this Guide.