The best—and worst—things about living in the U.S., according to expats living here

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Expats living in the U.S. say the best part of living here is having plenty of career opportunities, but for many, a high cost of living makes it a challenging experience.

The U.S. ranks as the No. 35 best country for expats out of 53 global countries, according to the latest Expat Insider report from InterNations, the global community for people who live abroad.

The report, which considers survey responses from more than 12,500 expats around the world, covers their satisfaction across five broad indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and “expat essentials” like the ability to find housing and navigate the local language.

Out of these indices, the U.S. ranks highest for “working abroad.”

The U.S. stands out for its local job market and career prospects for expats, according to survey respondents. Expats say the local business culture supports flexibility, and 65% of people are happy in their job, compared with 60% of people who feel the same way globally.

However, foreigners say American work culture isn’t great. Expats working full time in the U.S. say they work an average of 43.7 hours per week, versus the 42.5 hours global average. They also point to limited vacation time as a factor that negatively impacts their experience.

Outside of work, about half, 52%, of expats in the states say they’re dissatisfied with the overall cost of living, compared with 39% of expats who feel similarly around the world.

The biggest financial barriers are the costs of housing, health care and transportation, especially in areas without a robust public transit infrastructure where people must rely on cars. Only 31% of expats in the U.S. say they’re happy with their living expenses, versus 40% globally.

Newcomers say Americans are friendly overall but also express difficulty making friends and settling into a social life.

Overall, expats in the U.S. rate the country highly for its robust digital access (ranging from high-speed internet to the use of digital payments), ease for navigating the local language, leisure options, and a welcoming culture.

The average expat in the U.S. is about 48 years old, according to the InterNations survey data. Their top reasons for moving here are to attend school or university (16%), because they were sent by their employer (12%), or because of their partner’s job (10%). For those working in the U.S., they’re most likely to work in finance, health care or information technology.

The top countries for expats this year, meanwhile, are Panama, Mexico and Indonesia, according to InterNations.

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