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I have only ever lived in the United States. I’m not as well-traveled as I’d like, but I can give a fairly extensive pros and cons list based on my experience living here.
While America is often touted as the best country in the world, you’ll find that most of the people who say that live here. It’s not an unbiased opinion.
Furthermore, these opinions might not consider the benefits and challenges of life in America as compared to life in other countries. ç
I’m hoping to offer an overall view that takes into account these, and other, considerations.
Pros of Living in the USA
There are benefits to living in America. I won’t just state my own opinions going forward. I’ll also be backing up each statement with data.
Here are some of the pros of living in the United States of America.
One of the benefits of living in the US is the strong economy. According to the Center for American Progress, the United States maintains a strong economy.
Although we’re experiencing global inflation, America continues to have historically low unemployment, lower inflation, a strong labor market, a growing economy, and a much faster recovery from the pandemic than other comparable countries.
One of my favorite things about living in the USA is the diversity of its natural environments. You can find mountains, deserts, wetlands, coastlines, and more in the United States.
A survey in the U.S. News & World Report ranked the following states by natural environment. Hawaii ranked firmly in the lead followed by the state of New York.
Massachusetts, Washington, and Maryland filled out the rest of the top 5 natural environments in the country. You can go to any state in America and find something beautiful.
Air Traffic System
While air traffic might not be at the top of your mind when it comes to living somewhere, it’s a strong benefit of living in the United States.
You can conveniently travel from most major cities with both domestic and international airports.
All countries do not offer this ease of access, making our air traffic system a positive benefit of living in the United States. This is particularly true if you’re a frequent traveler.
Despite complaints to the contrary, Americans enjoy lower taxation than most of the developed world. Average taxes in 2022 were 34.6%, and the United States ranked at an average of 30.5%.
The countries with the highest taxes were Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, and Italy, and the countries with the lowest taxation were Colombia, Chile, New Zealand, Mexico, and Switzerland.
Low Fuel Costs
Again, complaints by Americans would say otherwise, but our fuel costs are comparatively lower than other countries.
The average global price for gasoline is $5.11. The average gasoline price in America is $4.12 and is between $3 and $4 in most areas right now.
That might not seem like a big difference in pricing, but many other developed countries pay anywhere from $6 to $11 per gallon for gasoline.
The United States enjoys strong currency in the global market. The value of the American dollar has remained strong. It is used and trusted around the globe.
This can be considered a positive aspect of living in the US.
Generous Housing Sizes
You’ll find that houses in the United States are generous in size compared with other countries.
The average house size in the United States is 2,426 square feet. Australia has comparable house sizes, but the rest of the world primarily has smaller homes.
For instance, the average house in France is 1,206 square feet. In the United Kingdom, it’s 818 square feet. In India, the average is 504 square feet, and homes in Italy average 872 square feet.
One of my favorite things about this country is its diversity. We’re not called the Melting Pot for nothing! While some areas have been resistant to diversity, those are the very places in the United States seeing an uptick in racial diversity.
Unfortunately, more diversity does not mean there’s equality. We’ll talk more about that later, but I do see the diversity in the United States as being a benefit rather than a disadvantage.
Pop culture is easily one of the pros of living in the United States. Our popular culture is enjoyed globally.
From the Barbie movie to Taylor Swift’s Eras tour to Hollywood blockbusters, the pop culture in America is a definite plus.
While entertainment might not have been on your radar for a benefit of living in a country, it is one of the many things that residents and visitors alike enjoy.
Cons of Living in the United States
While I do enjoy living in the town of my choosing in America, even I can see that there are some considerable downsides to living in the United States.
These aren’t just my opinions. You’ll see links to resources stating that the United States just doesn’t measure up favorably in the following areas.
I could not begin to discuss the challenges of living in the United States without first mentioning our terrible healthcare system.
While we have brilliant doctors and hospitals in this country, the average American does not have access to affordable healthcare.
Experts have found that Americans spend more on healthcare than any other developed country and yet don’t have better health outcomes.
Americans spend an average of $12,555 each year on their health. This is double the global average.
One of the many issues with our healthcare system in this country is that we spend four times the cost on administration alone. That’s what other countries spend on preventative or long-term care.
The data shows that we have poorer outcomes related to life expectancy, infant mortality, and diabetes.
It doesn’t help that pharmaceutical companies influence doctors and increase prescription prices, nor does it help that Congress has no conflict-of-interest standards that prevent them from accepting “gifts” from lobbyists.
As a person with a chronic illness living in the United States, I can attest to our poor healthcare system. In fact, many of my contemporaries refer to it as “sick” care, not healthcare.
The rate of poverty might actually be higher than reported as the income requirements haven’t changed since the 1960s and don’t factor in the current cost of living.
While we might have lower taxes and fuel costs, the rate of pay hasn’t risen nearly as much as the prices for homes, fuel, groceries, and electricity.
With surging prices, many families are experiencing massive economic insecurity while the rich just keep getting richer.
One of the cons of living in the United States is employee rights. In short, we don’t have many. Unions are widely frowned upon, and while it’s easy to find a job, it’s even easier to lose one.
What makes that statistic worse is that it’s harder to find a job after losing one, and the unemployment benefits in this country are both lower and shorter than similar countries.
We live in a country where there’s more poor people or people in danger of becoming poor than there are economically secure households.
Paid Time Off
Paid time off in the United States does not compare favorably to other countries. An estimated 28 million Americans don’t get sick or vacation pay or paid holidays (I’m one of them).
Over half of workers in the United States report doing some work while on paid leave. The average worker here gets 11 paid days off each year, and the United States does not require employers to offer any paid time off.
Most European countries offer an average of 20 paid days off a year.
If you’re expecting generous parental leave in the United States of America, you will be sorely disappointed.
Only 17% of companies offer paid parental leave, and even the most generous program only offers 12 weeks at 67% of workers’ normal pay.
The United States is the only country of 41 nations without paid parental leave. Most comparable countries offer a minimum of two months paid leave for mothers and fathers.
While Americans are divided on the issue of gun control, it’s undeniable that gun violence in this country is a serious problem.
Gun-related homicides in America are 22 times greater than in Europe, and seven percent of these deaths in the United States are people age 20 and younger.
There have already been 470 mass shootings in 2023, which means that four or more people were killed per incident.
Over the last three years, the average is two mass shootings per day in the United States, and many of them have taken place in schools and public places.
Stricter gun laws are opposed by conservative party members, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and other gun rights lobbyists.
The Democratic party overwhelmingly supports some measures of gun control with 91% in favor of stricter laws related to the purchase and possession of firearms. A handful of states regulate or ban assault weapons.
Social progress in America has taken a huge backward leap and does not compare favorably with many developed countries. It’s been decreasing steadily since 2017.
According to experts, the United States has seen a significant decline in Personal Rights, Maternal Mortality Rates (with an expectation for these numbers to skyrocket following the overturning of Roe v. Wade), Inclusiveness, Nutrition, Basic Medical Care, Housing, Health and Wellness, and Basic Knowledge.
The education costs in America are prohibitive, especially compared to other countries and their educational systems. The average tuition for a four-year degree is $37,650. That’s nearly twice what most countries pay for an equivalent degree.
Many students here find themselves saddled with massive student loan debt following graduation with interest rates higher than you’ll find in the housing market.
Although there’s been a public outcry to cancel the exorbitant cost of student loans, Congress continues to focus on in-fighting rather than on providing economic relief to millions of Americans.
The transit system in the United States is inadequate. Even in the most populated urban areas, public transit falls far behind cities like Paris, London, and Beijing.
Instead, Americans spend hours each year commuting and contribute to global warming with higher fuel emissions. Many rural towns don’t offer any public transportation options.
While life expectancy used to be a benefit of living in the United States, the pandemic changed that. The country had an increased rate of mortality due to COVID-19 when compared to similar countries.
Life expectancy continues to decline. As of 2021, the life expectancy for men in the United States was 73.2. Women’s life expectancy was 79.1.
This is lower than in comparable countries. Experts believe that the healthcare system here is the reason for declining mortality rates, and the recent ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade is expected to contribute to higher maternal mortality rates.
Standard of Living
Initially, I expected the standard of living in te USA to fall under the Pros category. After researching this subject, I had to reconsider.
In fact, the standard of living in the United States is not favorable compared to other developed countries. The countries with the best quality of life are Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Finland, Iceland, Austria, Oman, Australia, and Norway.
Quality of life is measured by purchasing power, safety, healthcare, cost of living, property price to income ratio, pollution, climate, and commute time. The United States ranked at number 20.
Unfortunately, the United States isn’t doing its part to combat global climate change when compared to other developed countries.
First of all, many Americans don’t even believe in climate change, which is mind-blowing when you consider the overwhelming scientific evidence.
The United States is also the second largest greenhouse gas emitter. Without making real changes urgently, the United States is likely to continue making the problem worse rather than better.
You might not have considered that internet speed would vary internationally, but the United States has notably lower speeds than other comparable countries.
While it’s not the worst, it’s not the best either. We’re outranked by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, France, Hungary, and Netherlands.
Obesity often makes the headlines, and while we can attribute it to overly processed or deep-fried foods, there’s something to be said regarding the questionable ingredients the Food and Drug Administration allows in the United States that is banned elsewhere.
Surely, it’s a factor in the rate of obesity in this country. We’re the worldwide leader in obese citizens, which isn’t the accomplishment most of us want.
People in the United States also work more on average than their contemporaries, which decrease the time available for leisure and fitness.
Imperial Measurement System
While the rest of the world embraces the metric system, we in the United States are still using the imperial measurement system.
In fact, most of us cannot understand the metric system at all. I’m including myself here.
We just weren’t taught the metric system, and it might be a disadvantage of living here to have to constantly convert to the imperial measurement system.
Luckily, there’s probably an app for that.
One of the biggest challenges of living in the USA is living with massive political divisiveness.
You might think this won’t affect you, especially if you aren’t a political person, but you might not realize just how prevalent it is in this country.
For instance, during the pandemic, many conservatives would not wear masks, visit establishments that required them, or observe social distancing requirements.
This put many at risk and likely contributed to the high mortality rates. When you have half the country refusing to believe in science or public health, it’s not just annoying; it’s downright dangerous.
The political divisiveness is everywhere. In fact, states like Florida have banned books, restricted gender and race education, and even removed Advanced Placement Psychology from coursework.
This is in addition to discriminating against gay and transgender students. Although Florida has been considered a Republican state for some time, these policy changes impact all students, not just the ones from conservative families.
This divisiveness also spills over into family and friend groups. Communicating with courtesy while disagreeing has been thrown right out the window.
The personal truly is political, and the country is showing a significant division in values.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is America a good place to live?
This question is challenging to answer. I love my life, but it took me a long time to make it feel like I’m living my American Dream.
Frankly, I could do without the income insecurity and decreasing social progress. While it’s not always easy to live here, I love my country.
Do I believe it’s the best in the world? I would be naïve to do so. However, I do think that it’s possible to find wonderful communities to live in in the United States.
Is America a safe country?
I cannot say definitively that America is a safe country. Not with our current gun violence. Until stricter laws are put in place, my children have to contend with lockdown drills at school.
They have to face the reality that the next mass shooting could be at their own school. It’s terrifying for them and for me.
I do not feel unsafe in general in my town, but I also know that there are still sundown towns in my state where people of color do not feel safe.
I also have to contend with an unjust justice system that doesn’t favor women when it comes to assault and abuse. There are areas of America that feel safe, but it all depends on where you choose to live.
Is the USA a good place to raise kids?
I think that the United States can be a good place to raise children. Unfortunately, the high costs of childcare and the low amount of work-life balance can create challenges for most households.
It doesn’t mean you can’t raise children well here, but it does mean that it can be more difficult if you don’t have a large income or strong social support. There’s plenty to do in the United States for children, but there are challenges, too.
Is the USA a good place to meet new people?
The United States is a great place to meet new people. If you’re talking about dating, I cannot recommend a rural community any more than I can recommend dating apps, but I do find that it’s easy to make friends here.
I discovered a great community in my own town. I’ve found like-minded people to spend time with, and I feel like we’re always adding new friends to the mix. It’s possible, but some places are friendlier than others.
Is it expensive to live in the U.S.?
The cost of living varies in the United States. Each state has different affordability measures based on state minimum wage and average cost of living.
For instance, Mississippi is the most affordable state to live in, and Hawaii is the most expensive state.
When researching states to live in, it’s important to consider income opportunity, the local housing market, public transit, and safety.
What is the average price of a house in the U.S.?
In June of this year, the average cost of a house in the United States was $410,200. The housing market is expensive right now, but you’ll find this average varies by state.
You’ll find the cheapest houses in Iowa with a price tag of $239,000 on average, and the most expensive homes are in Massachusetts and cost $640,000. That’s a pretty big price range.
Living in America: A Summary
America is beautiful. I don’t always agree with it, and I truly wish we had better healthcare and employee protections.
I feel like the American Dream is too expensive for too many Americans. Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t build a beautiful life here.
There are challenges, yes, but you’ll find challenges anywhere. If you choose to live in America, come here with your eyes — and heart — open. Change begins with you, with me, and with all of us.