How to Choose the Right US Location
It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t spent time traveling around the US to understand just how fast and diversified the country really is. With a population of 319 million people and a geographical size that spans roughly the same amount of land as the whole of Europe, covering four different time zones, America truly is enormous and sometimes confusing to get to grips with.
Alongside the national norms and stereotypes we are all used to from American media each of the 50 states has its own unique flavor, culture, rules, laws, taxes, and climate. This makes America an incredibly diverse place to live and work, with enough on offer to satisfy almost anyone who wants to relocate there.
But, with so much choice on offer, and so many opportunities in different states, how can you decide which area is best for you – both professionally and personally?
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the factors to consider when narrowing down your choices of state/city to expand your business to.
On This Page
- Business Factors to Consider
- Business Factors – Logistics & Marketing / Image
- The Local Economy and Your Business
- Personal Factors to Consider
- Making the Choice
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about taxes, company formaition, and residency in the U.S.
- Get advice on taxation, company formation, and residency in the U.S.
For you to make the most out of expanding your business into the US, it’s essential you choose the location that works best for your business. There will be a range of factors to consider in each different state/city/location and each will require individual research.
To start to narrow down your choices you can benefit from being clear about what your needs are as a business. Which demographic are you trying to reach and will the location you choose serve that demographic?
- Is your supply chain easily served by the location? What is the infrastructure like and how easy will it be to maintain supply and demand?
- Will you be able to find and hire the right talent for your business as you grow? Is the area you are looking at known to attract high-caliber workers and graduates in your niche?
- What is the local competition? Are there lots of businesses in the same niche and how are they operating in the area?
- How does the location you choose serve your brand image? Is the local culture and economy a good fit for the kind of image you are building?
- What are your growth prospects in this area? Can you easily expand?
- What is the availability of business real estate in the area like? Can you easily find the right office or industrial location for your venture?
When you check out different areas it’s important to consider how each location measures up against a range of economic considerations.
- What are the Tax burdens for the state you plan to relocate to? Some states (like Texas) have no corporation tax, whereas others have rates as high as 12%. Sales tax rates could also be an important consideration, as well as property taxes. Check the rates for each state and see how they measure up.
- What are the minimum wage rules in the state you want to relocate to? Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 but many states have a higher rate – for example, $9.04 in Washington.
- What are the commercial real estate prices like in the area you want to relocate to? Will you be able to save on leases and purchases, or should you expect to pay more? What are the utility rates and other costs of maintaining business premises? Are there any zoning restrictions set by the city or municipality on which type of business activity you can conduct?
- Is there any government or local incentives for locating your business in the state or city you are considering? Some states have business grants to help you get your start-up off the ground.
All of the above are important factors to take into account when choosing the perfect location for your US expansion. But it’s not just about getting the logistics, infrastructure, and finances right. Consider how business-friendly the area is generally. Is there a good network of entrepreneurs? Does the state promote business-friendly practices in its culture? And, how does the business culture differ in each state? Do you prefer the charm and supportive community of Southern states? Or are you more comfortable in the cut-throat bustle of a large metropolitan area like New York City?
Many states offer thriving start-up communities. Though Silicon Valley and the Silicon Hills (Texas) are two of the most famous, there are many other cities and states that have great entrepreneurial communities. Seek out places where there will be a good fit for your business proposition.
“Live to work” might be the motto of many busy Americans, but it’s essential that the downtime you get works for you across several levels. There’s no point in relocating to a new continent if the weather or local culture is going to make you miserable! Luckily, America really does have it all when it comes to culture and climate, so you are bound to find a great city or state that has the combination of benefits to make your work-life balance complete.
The personal factors that will be a consideration for you will very much depend on your personal preferences and your family situation. Do you have a spouse or partner who will be relocating with you? What about children? For entrepreneurs with a family, there will be a different set of questions to answer than people who are (for now) flying solo.
If you have a family:
- How good is the educational system in the area you are considering? Do you prefer public or private school for your children? If public, how willing are you to locate to a neighborhood in a catchment area with a great public school? If private, how much are you willing to pay for a great school?
- If you have older children – what are the job opportunities for young adults in the area? How about higher education? Are your children hoping to apply for college and if so do they want to stay in-state or go out of state? (fees can vary in Universities for in-state and out of state students).
- What are the neighborhoods like for families in the areas you want to locate your business? Will you need to locate in the suburbs and commute into work? Are you happy to make that commute?
- How is the crime rate in the area? Is it considered safe for families?
- What are the employment opportunities in the local area for your spouse or partner if they wish to take up paid work?
- What sort of family activities, clubs, and childcare is available in the area? Will you have plenty to do as a family, and will you be able to find suitable childcare for the long summer vacation?
These are all great starting points to consider if you are moving with your family. But in all cases, there are also these factors to take into account:
- What are the real estate prices like in the area you want to move to? Can you afford to live close to work in a large city like New York or will you be commuting?
- What are the transit links like in general in the area you are considering? In many areas of the US, there are few public transit links and most people travel via car.
- What is the cost of living in your area generally? In some states average wages are high – but so, too is the cost of living. Check out websites such as USA Today which offer interesting insights on how far the dollar goes in each state.
- What sort of weather and climate are you looking for? If you are happy with very hot weather then the south can have you covered. Or perhaps you would like to locate somewhere like Miami to take advantage of the famous beaches there? Or, you might be happy with the cold winters of New York. Climates vary widely state to state so do your homework.
- What is the local culture like? Is the area friendly to expats? Do they have a culture you are comfortable with? Do you want to locate to an LGBT-friendly state? Is it important to you whether you live in a “Blue” (Democrat) or “Red” (Republican) state/city? In some areas like Austin, Texas, for example, the city is considered a “blue dot in a sea of red” – an attractive draw for many people.
These are all important considerations. It’s also worth thinking about your personality and the things you like to do in your downtime. Do you like to get out in nature easily? Or are you more comfortable with a metropolitan scene? Do you love the arts, museums, and culture, or would you prefer to spend your recreational time eating out or attending sporting events?
Each state has its own way of doing things and its own attractions and recreational activities. Of course, the beauty of living in the US is that you can travel to as many states as you like during vacations. But don’t forget to consider the ease of access to recreational activities in your day-to-day life.
It might seem from the different factors above that there’s a huge amount to consider, so if you are feeling overwhelmed –take a breath!
You can narrow down your choices by using the above lists as a starting off point. Figure out which points matter the most to you and prioritize those. Once you have your “must haves” lined up you can begin with them.
From there you can start to get a sense of the kinds of locations you think are going to suit you the best personally and professionally. Go through each “must have” and how they fit with the city or state you are considering.
Here are a few more practical ways to help you choose:
- Ask around. Get in touch with other expats and join some expat communities. Ask for advice on great locations and the experiences other expats have had relocating there.
- Get in touch with local businesses to find out about business culture in each location.
- Find specialist support to help you make your choice. At Mount Bonnell, we have firsthand experience of relocating to the US so can give you the lowdown on what to expect.
- Visit the country! Nothing can beat experiencing a location for yourself. If you have narrowed down your choices, consider making a trip to the US to see how they measure up in reality.
Happy location hunting!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Taxes, Company Formation, and Residency in the U.S.
Starting a business in the U.S. can be both exhilarating and exasperating. There is much to know and even more to learn, and the pace of the information coming at you can be overwhelming.
That’s where Mount Bonnell Advisors come in.
Would you like to live your very own American Dream? At Mount Bonnell, we can guide you through the labyrinth of regulation and red tape and out into the blue skies of a dream come true – the dream of living and working in America.
Whether it’s technical issues around tax or residency, or strategic ones involving business formation and growth, the experienced team at Mount Bonnell Advisors are here to help.
So make that dream a reality by booking a consultation today with Mount Bonnell Advisors. Let the adventure commence!