American Dream Is A Nightmare For Many Expats

British expats chasing the American dream are finding their hopes of a new life often turn into a bureaucratic nightmare, says a new survey.

Thousands of British expats flood into the States every year lured by hopes of a better lifestyle but find the day-to-day reality of moving is more difficult than they thought.

The main problems reported in a survey of expats were complaints about finding a doctor, the healthcare system, tax and personal finance.

Sales tax on goods and services presented a major problem, as instead of a nationwide tax rate, the amount varies between states.

Another issue is working in the US, because of the bureaucracy surrounding work permits and visas.

The gripes were made to global health care provider Cigna and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Expatriate Trends Study 2013.

The result, says the study, is expats in the US enjoyed a “much lower satisfaction scores than other regions”.

The US is second to Australia as the most popular expat destination for relocating Brits.

Around a million British expats are living in the US.

The firm last conducted a similar survey in 2001, and much seems to have changed for British expats in the US during the interim.

Then, only 8% of expats were travelling without a spouse, while the number has increased to almost a quarter now.

The number of British expats, and those from other Western nations, has dropped compared to those heading to the US from Asia.

More preparation needed

In 2011, the levels were 43% from Europe and 5% from Asia, while the tide has shifted to 22% from Europe and 13% from Asia meanwhile.

The trend is also towards shorter assignments as employers fly in key talent to firefight specific problems rather than station them in foreign countries for long periods.

Sheldon Kenton, senior vice president of global employer sales at Cigna, said: “The research seems to reveal that expats do not seem that well prepared for a major life change when they move between countries.

“They need to recognise they have to consider healthcare and finances before they go, and what paperwork and qualifications they need to work in the US.”

The study revealed that 78% of expats on work assignments overseas have to access healthcare, but many do not realise the level of cover they have and how this may fall short of the treatment they need while away from home.

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