Living abroad in the United States as an expat or international student.

In some cities, it is relatively easy to get around without the use of a personal vehicle. In others, it is very difficult. Let’s look at the factors that cause car dependence (and independence), and which cities are the best and worst at limiting the need for you to get in your car to go anywhere within their boundaries.

The United States has a unique relationship to the car

The United States of America is a very large country. From its founding more than 200 years ago, its history has been guided by the drive to expand, and to populate the country from coast to coast. Car ownership has been attainable for the average U.S. citizen for over a century, helped by installment loans for purchasing vehicles. Automobile fuels have always been lightly taxed here, and this has promoted the development of larger, more powerful cars that could cover long distances in comfort.

As the United States developed, the automobile’s popularity was a major influence. Cities grew larger by sprawling in all directions, with new roads built to connect them. Later came the Interstate Highway System, providing the nation with a network of wide, high-speed arteries to carry people and goods efficiently in every direction. The automobile became the default transportation choice, with most people using their cars for even very short trips of less than a mile. Why walk when you can drive?

As more and more people lived farther from the city and town centers, commercial venues were built in the suburbs. Shopping centers and malls grew in importance, each with huge parking lots to accommodate their shoppers. Without a car, it was difficult to access these places.

Widespread vehicle ownership, combined with an extensive highway system and low fuel prices, made it easy to live a long distance from where you worked. The term “commuter” was coined. Increasing numbers of people chose to live in less densely settled and more affordable places, while driving to their workplaces in more built-up areas. Traffic congestion followed, adding “traffic jam” and “long commute” to our vocabularies. With a total of 250 million cars on our roads, most cities have been adversely affected by this state of affairs. What can be done about our severe case of car dependence?

What are the downsides of car dependence?

In addition to all that time wasted in traffic driving to and from work, there are other factors and costs to consider, including:

Exhaust emissions Traffic noise Insurance and vehicle accident costs Fuel usage and costs Depreciation of your car’s value from extra miles driven Cost of car repairs and servicing Costs of road building, repairs, and maintenance

Some cities have been able to become less dependent on cars

Residents of some American cities have been able to move around easily without the need for a personal vehicle. Most of these cities are extremely dense, were well-developed before the creation of the automobile, and have had well-thought out mass transit systems built into them. These cities have made it possible to easily move around by using trains, subways, and buses. Travelling within these cities does not require you to get into your car. The top ten cities with the largest number of transit commuters are:

  1. New York
  2. Chicago
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Philadelphia
  5. San Francisco
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Boston
  8. Seattle
  9. Jersey City
  10. Baltimore

Some cities have been unable to become less dependent on cars

There are many cities in the USA that were created and have grown significantly during the Age of the Automobile. The presence of cars dictated how these cities were designed, and how they evolved. Places like these have sprawled across their local landscapes, making it difficult (and expensive) to add mass transit systems that can practically and cost-effectively serve them. These are the places that are most dependent on cars. They also have the lowest numbers of households without any vehicles. Here are ten of the top larger cities in this category:

San Diego, California – 6.5% of Households do not have a car.

Charleston, South Carolina – 7.7% of Households do not have a car.

Albuquerque, New Mexico 7.7% of Households do not have a car.

Boulder, Colorado 7.7% of Households do not have a car.

Houston, Texas 8.2% of Households do not have a car.

Phoenix, Arizona 8.7% of Households do not have a car.

Orlando, Florida 8.8% of Households do not have a car.

Dallas, Texas 9.7% of Households do not have a car.

Las Vegas, Nevada 10.4% of Households do not have a car.

Los Angeles, California 12.1% of Households do not have a car.

Los Angeles gets to be on both lists as a city that has always been car dependent, but in the 90’s started enhancing its public transit to draw more people away from the freeways.

How can cities become less car dependent?

There are a number of strategies that cities can use to reduce their dependence on the automobile, and to reduce the ill effects of all that vehicle traffic. Some are aimed at reducing the numbers of cars that drive into and within the cities:

  • Convenient and pleasant mass transit options connecting suburbs with cities Car sharing services like ZipCar and Car2go Congestion pricing, which is a toll you must pay to enter the city during peak hours.
  • Limiting access by commuters to city centers during peak hours.
  • Parking restrictions which limit the amount of on-street parking.
  • Availability of last-mile solutions, like e-scooters and e-bikes Bicycle-friendly initiatives like separate and protected bike lanes.
  • Car-free zones for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians

Others are focused on encouraging more people to live in the cities instead of commuting:

  • Mixed land use, so that you can live near where you work.
  • Higher density building, to reduce sprawl and make room for more city dwellers.
  • Improved mass transit systems that make it easier to move around within the cities

Only time will tell how well these measures will reduce the car dependence of the many cities across the USA. It has taken more than one hundred years of living with the automobile to get us to this point, so any changes to the present state of affairs will take time, money, and a serious change in people’s attitudes toward their cars. If you really want to dig in on driving statistics by-city in the United States, checkout this comprehensive report from CityLab.

This is the final installment of our ‘Unique Rules of the Road’ Series. Welcome to Massachusetts, where you may not transport wildlife loose in your car. Check out our other installments for ‘Unique Rules of the Road: New York’, and ‘Unique Rules of the Road: California’.

The state of Massachusetts has a lot of these unique rules of the road. Massachusetts is a small state, ranking 45th in land area, but it boasts the 15th largest population. It also has the 21st largest vehicle fleet in the country, with over five million motor vehicles registered to operate on its roads in 2017, the most recent year for which this information is available. 

Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state, with 80% of its people living in the Boston metropolitan area. This makes driving in the Boston area a challenge, while the rest of the state is mostly idyllic countryside. Let’s take a look at some of the unique rules of the road in Massachusetts, the Bay/Pilgrim/Puritan/Old Colony/Baked Bean State (take your pick!).

Driving in Massachusetts, remember:

Cell phone usage in the car: Drivers who are over 18 can use cell phones for calls, if they always keep one hand on the steering wheel. Drivers may not write, send, or read text-based messages (including email and internet access). For all drivers under 18, cell phone use is prohibited, except for reporting an emergency. A driver who crashes because he or she was using a mobile electronic device will face criminal charges and loss of their license.

Seatbelt use: It is illegal to drive without using a seatbelt yourself, or without all occupants being belted in or in a proper child seat/restraint device. A police officer cannot pull you over and issue a ticket if you or a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt, unless you are stopped for a traffic violation. Drivers of taxis, livery vehicles, police and fire vehicles, postal delivery vehicles, and buses are exempt. Passengers in emergency vehicles are also exempt.

Passing on the right: The law requires drivers to keep right unless turning or passing. Passing other drivers going in the same direction should be done only on the left. Passing on the right is allowed if you are on a physically divided highway (with a median barrier), and you have at least two lanes on your side of the road.

Helmets for motorcycle riders: Drivers and passengers on motorcycles must wear “protective head gear” conforming with state standards, according to the law.

Motorcycle lane-splitting: Lane-splitting is not allowed, but two motorcycles may legally ride side-by-side in the same lane.

Use of headlights: Your headlights and taillights should be turned on 30 minutes after sunset, and also used until 30 minutes prior to the sunrise, as well as any time that visibility is less than 500 feet. If you are using your wipers because of the weather, your low beams should also be on.

Making turns on red: You may turn right at a red light after stopping and yielding to pedestrians, unless it is prohibited. Left turns on red can be made only from a one-way street and onto a one-way street, if not prohibited. Fun fact: Massachusetts was the last state in the US to allow right turns on red (in 1980), and still prohibits the practice at a great many intersections. Watch out for “No Right Turn On Red Light” signs!

U-turns: U-turns are generally allowed in a variety of situations, when safe to do and unless prohibited by a posted sign. You may not make a U-turn:

  • Where there is a curve or hill within 500 feet
  • Where there is heavy traffic

Minimum following distance: There must be at least two seconds of space between you and the car ahead, whatever legal speed you are going.

Pedestrians: If a driver is approaching a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way if they are in the path of a driver, or if they are within 10 feet of the halfway point in the road. Drivers may not pass a vehicle that has yielded the right of way to a pedestrian, nor should they block a crosswalk. If a pedestrian is injured by a driver in a marked crosswalk, an investigation will be conducted, and if deemed appropriate, civil or criminal violations will result in a citation, or even a criminal complaint.

Driving under the influence of alcohol: Don’t do it! Massachusetts has very severe penalties, and they are enforced! The blood alcohol limit is 0.08%, but you can be charged at a lower level, if your actions show that you were affected by the alcohol you ingested. 

Smoking marijuana: While marijuana is legal within the state, it is illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

Bicycles: Drivers must stay at least three feet away from bicycle traffic. Drivers must yield to an oncoming bicycle turning left. At intersections, drivers must stop at the stop line to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross safely. When turning right, drivers must yield to pedestrians and bicylists who are crossing. When a bicycle box (which allows bicyclists to safely turn when approaching a red light intersection) is marked on the pavement, drivers must stop behind the bicycle box (even when it’s empty) and wait for a green light.

Leaving children alone in the car: While Massachusetts does not have a law specifically prohibiting leaving children alone in your car, authorities may criminally charge caregivers under existing the state’s existing endangerment laws. 

Speed limits: There are some general rules for speed limits in the state of Massachusetts. These will apply, unless posted signage indicates a different limit:

School zone 20 mph

Inside thickly settled or business districts 30 mph

Maximum residential limit 30 mph

Undivided highways outside thickly settled or business districts 40 mph

Highways outside thickly settled or business districts 50 mph

Two-lane roads 55 mph

Highways, freeways, and interstates 65 mph

Some crazy Massachusetts driving regulations

Let’s wrap up with some wacky rules that the state and specific Massachusetts localities have put on the books. Some might be based in past experience and may be practical, but others just leave you scratching your head:

State of Massachusetts: You may not transport a wild animal in the back of your vehicle, unless it is properly restrained.

Milford: Looking inside a vehicle to invade the privacy of the occupants is forbidden.

State of Massachusetts: Televisions in cars must be positioned so that the driver cannot see them.

State of Massachusetts: Drivers must use their headlights when they are inside a tunnel.

State of Massachusetts: Children under age 12 may not ride in the bed of a pickup truck.

Drive safely in Massachusetts!

Next in our Unique Rules of the Road series: New York! Remember, while most driving regulations are consistent from state to state, there ARE differences. Read on to learn more about driving in the Empire State.

The state of New York has quite a few of these unique rules of the road. New York ranks 30th among the 50 states in land area (47,224 square miles), but it has the fourth largest population (around 20 million people). It also boasts a vehicle fleet of more than 10 million motor vehicles, all registered to operate on its roads in 2017, the most recent year for which this information is available.

New York is home to two completely different driving environments. There is the densely-populated New York City metropolitan area, which is extremely congested, with terrible traffic and millions of people crammed tightly together. Then there is sparsely-populated upstate New York, with lots of forests and farmland, plenty of room on its roads, and a few medium-sized cities that are spread across the countryside.

Let’s take a look the unique rules of the road in New York, the Empire State:

Cell phone usage in the car: New York has made it illegal to use a cell phone inside the car without a hands-free device, unless you are activating, beginning, or ending a call. It is also illegal to send or receive text messages or e-mails while driving. Calls made for emergency situations are exempted.

Seatbelt use: It is illegal to drive without using a seatbelt yourself, or without all occupants being belted in or in a proper child seat/restraint device. A police officer can pull you over and issue a ticket if you or a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt. Taxis, livery vehicles, emergency vehicles, and non-school buses are exempt.

Passing on the right: This is legal, when it is safe, when the car ahead makes a left turn, when there is a lane or enough road width where you can do so and see clearly, when upcoming intersections are clear, and when it is not prohibited.

Helmets for motorcycle riders: Motorcyclists must wear approved helmets, as well as goggles or a face shield for eye protection.

Use of headlights: Your headlights should be turned on 30 minutes after sunset, and also used until 30 minutes prior to the sunrise. If you are using your wipers because of the weather, your low beams should also be on. You are required to use your headlights if it’s foggy, to help other cars see you. Daytime running lights do not qualify as headlights in New York.

Making turns on red: You may turn right at a red light after stopping and checking for other vehicles and pedestrians, unless it is prohibited. It is prohibited in cities with a population of over one million unless a sign permits it (this includes New York City).

Left turns on a red light can be made only from a one-way street and onto a one-way street, after a full stop has been made, and right-of-way has been yielded to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

U-turns: U-turns can only be made from the left part of the lane that is closest to the centerline of the road, if you have a green left-turn arrow, yield to other traffic, and a U-turn is not prohibited by signage. U-turns are never allowed in these situations:

  • Near a hilltop, a curve or anywhere other drivers can’t see your vehicle from 500 feet away in both directions
  • In New York City business districts
  • On a limited access expressway
  • In a school zone
  • Where prohibited by signage

Pedestrians: Pedestrians (and skateboarders) who are legally crossing the road or street at marked or unmarked crossings, like intersections, always have the right-of-way.  You must slow down or stop and let them cross.

Driving under the influence of alcohol: It’s not worth it! New York has very severe penalties, and they are enforced! A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% is legal evidence that you are impaired, a BAC of 0.08% or more is evidence of intoxication, and a BAC of 0.18 percent or higher is evidence of aggravated driving while intoxicated. Any driver under 21 found with any measurable BAC will face a license suspension and civil fines.

Smoking marijuana: In New York State, you can be arrested for driving while ability impaired by a drug, as well as driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs. Don’t do it!

Bicycles: The rules of the road apply to bicyclists. You must yield the right-of-way to them just as you would to another vehicle. Bicyclists must also obey the rules of the road just as motor vehicle drivers are required to.

Smoking in a car: In Rockland, Schenectady, and Erie Counties, if any children are with you (aged less than 18), it is illegal to smoke inside the car.

Minimum following distance: There must be at least two seconds of space between you and the car ahead, whatever legal speed you are going.

Speed limits: There are some general rules for speed limits in the state of New York. These will apply, unless posted signage indicates a different limit:

School zone                                                                            20 to 30 mph, as posted

State speed limit                                                                    55 mph unless otherwise posted

Controlled access highways                                                 65 mph where permitted

Trucks on I-95                                                                       50 mph

New York City                                                                        25 mph unless otherwise posted

Some crazy New York driving regulations

Let’s wrap up with some wacky rules that the state and specific New York localities have put on the books. Some might be based in past experience and may be practical, but others just leave you scratching your head:

State of New York: You may not ride a horse on a road at night.

Sag Harbor: It is illegal to get undressed in your car.

State of New York: You may not sell ice cream from a moving ice cream truck.

State of New York: You are not allowed to warm up your car unless you are in it.

Drive safely in New York!

If you’re thinking about buying a new car, download our Car Buyers Checklist to help guide your process:

We’ve got a special series for the end of summer: Rules of the Road. If you’ve recently relocated, this one is for you. We’re profiling special rules – driving laws – by state. First up: California!

Most rules and regulations that apply to driving in the United States are consistent from state to state. But not always. Many states have their own unique driving-related laws, which usually come with penalties if you are caught violating them.

The state of California has a lot of these unique rules of the road. California has the third largest land area and the largest population of any state in the USA. It also boasts the largest vehicle fleet in the country. How large? There were more than 30 million motor vehicles registered to operate on its roads in 2017, the most recent year for which this information is available.

California is a culture of, by, and for the automobile. It is the birthplace of limitless freeways, photochemical smog, and the resulting emissions controls that have become a part of every vehicle since. Let’s take a look at some of the unique rules of the road in California, the Golden State:

Regular Rules of the Road – California

Cell phone usage in the car: California has made it illegal to use a cell phone inside the car without a hands-free device. You may not write, send, or read text-based messages. You may only use one ear bud, not both, so that you can hear sounds from outside the vehicle. If the driver is under 18, cell phone use is prohibited, except in an emergency. These laws apply even if you are stopped at a red light or a stop sign.

Seatbelt use: It is illegal to drive without using a seatbelt yourself, or without all occupants being belted in or in a proper child seat/restraint device.

Passing on the right: This is legal, when it is safe and there is a lane where you can do so. Passing on the right should only be done on multi-lane highways.

Helmets for motorcycle riders: Drivers and passengers on motorcycles must wear helmets.

Motorcycle lane-splitting: Motorcycles are legally allowed to drive in between lanes of traffic, if done safely.

Use of headlights: Your headlights should be turned on 30 minutes after sunset, and also used until 30 minutes prior to the sunrise. If you are using your wipers because of the weather, your low beams should also be on.

Making turns on red: You may turn right at a red light after stopping, unless it is prohibited. Left turns on red can be made only from a one-way street and onto a one-way street.

U-turns: U-turns are generally allowed in a variety of situations, when safe to do and unless prohibited by a posted sign. You can make a U-turn:

  • At an intersection, when you have a green light or arrow
  • On an opening in a divided highway
  • Across a double yellow line
  • In a residential neighborhood, if you are protected by a traffic sign or light

Pedestrians: Pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks and intersections that meet at right angles. If a pedestrian has stepped off the curb and into the intersection or crosswalk, you must stop and let them cross.

Driving under the influence of alcohol: Don’t do it! California has very severe penalties, and they are enforced! The blood alcohol limit is 0.08%, but you can be charged at a lower level, if your actions show that you were affected by the alcohol you ingested.

Smoking marijuana: While marijuana is legal within the state, it is illegal for anyone in a vehicle to smoke it while driving or being driven.

Bicycles: Drivers must stay at least three feet away from bicycle traffic. If there are bicycle lanes on the road, cars may not enter them, unless turning at an intersection or into a driveway.

Slow-moving vehicles: If you have five or more vehicles behind you on a two-lane road, you are required to pull over when it is safe, and then let them pass.

Smoking in a car: If any minors are with you (aged less than 21), it is illegal to smoke inside the car.

Minimum following distance: There must be at least three seconds of space between you and the car ahead, whatever legal speed you are going.

Leaving children alone in the car: You may not leave children under six years old in your car, unless you have someone else aged 12 years or older to supervise them. Additionally, you may not ever leave the car running when parked, without the driver being present.

Speed limits: There are some general rules for speed limits in the state of California. These will apply, unless posted signage indicates a different limit:

School zone                                                                            25 mph

Railroad crossings with less than 400 ft. visibility            15 mph

Vehicles towing trailers                                                        55 mph

Business and residential areas                                            25 mph

Two-lane undivided highways                                               55 mph

Highways, freeways, and interstates                                    65 to 70 mph

Crazy Rules of the Road – California

Let’s wrap up with some wacky rules that the state and specific California localities have put on the books. Some might be based in past experience and may be practical, but others just leave you scratching your head:

State of California: Women may not drive in a housecoat.

Arcadia: Peacocks have the right of way.

Glendale: It is illegal to jump out of your car at 65 mph.

Eureka: You may not use the road as a bed.

San Francisco: It is illegal to wipe cars off with used underwear.

State of California: It is illegal to shoot any wildlife from a moving vehicle, except for whales.

Drive safely in California!

If you’re a resident international in the United States and you’re thinking about buying a new car, check out our Car Buyers Checklist:

If you are planning to drive a car while you are living in the USA, you will need to have car insurance. If you are simply renting a car from an established car rental company, you can get insurance coverage as part of your rental contract. But if you are planning to buy a car in the USA, you will need to have your own insurance coverage for driving on American roads. Let’s go through the basics of why you need car insurance, what the various elements of a car insurance policy are, and how to get car insurance coverage.

Why do you need car insurance?

There are several good reasons why you need to have car insurance in the USA:

  • It is required by law
  • It proves that you are financially responsible in case of an accident
  • It covers most or all of the costs from accident-related vehicle damage, property damage, and injuries to you and others who may be involved

Most car insurance policies will charge you an annual premium for coverage, which is usually broken down into affordable monthly payments.

What are the various elements of a car insurance policy?

Within the average car insurance policy are several different types of insurance coverage. Some of them are required, and some are optional – check your state’s regulations as to exactly what you will need:

Generally required types of car insurance coverage

Liability: This will cover you in cases where an accident is determined to be your fault. It takes care of the other party’s medical expenses related to bodily injuries, as well as property damage caused by your accident. If you are sued as a result of the accident, your liability coverage will pay for your legal costs, as well as any financial settlement or judgment that the court hands down. If you have a large amount of assets to protect, you should get higher levels of this type of coverage.

Personal Injury: This takes care of your medical costs following an accident, no matter who caused the accident. Some, but not all, states require this. It is also a good idea to have this coverage if you do not have any other health insurance.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist: Even though it is illegal to drive without car insurance, some people still do it. This coverage will pay for your accident repairs and medical costs if the other driver in not insured and is at fault.

Generally non-required types of car insurance coverage

Collision: This pays for repairs to your car if you are in an accident, whether it is your fault or not. While collision coverage is not legally mandated, your auto lender will likely require you to have it. This is to protect the lender’s investment, during the term of your loan payments. While collision coverage is a very good idea for newer, higher-value vehicles, you may consider dropping it if your car is old and does not have much value left in it.

Comprehensive: This covers you for damage that is not accident-related, like extreme weather (hail and high winds), falling objects, flooding, fire, vandalism, and theft.

Nerdwallet has a good comprehensive overview of insurance requirements by state. Check it out to confirm that what you need before you being shopping.

How do you get car insurance?

Today, you have many choices when it’s time to get your car insurance policy:

Online insurance companies: You have probably seen their ads online, on TV, over the radio, and everywhere else. These are companies like Geico, eSurance, and Progressive. You can simply go to each company’s website and get a price on a policy.

Local insurance company agents: Every local community has lots of people who represent a specific insurance company, and sell that company’s products, including car insurance. You can find them using a search engine, and then call them for pricing on a car insurance policy.

Independent insurance agents: These are people who represent several different insurance companies, and can write you an auto insurance policy from the one that gives you the best deal. You can search them out online, then contact them by phone.

The ideal way to get the best car insurance value is to shop around and compare prices from as many sources as you can.

What documents do you need to get car insurance?

The requirements for getting car insurance, if you are from another country, will vary from state to state. Check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website for the specific requirements in your local area. These will spell out whether your home country’s driver’s license is enough, or whether you need to get an International Driving Permit or a state driver’s license. You will also need to have the registration documents for your vehicle, a local mailing address and phone number, and an email address.

Some insurance companies may require you to get a state driver’s license. They will also want to check your driving record in your home country. If this is not possible, your rates may be higher due to their not knowing your driving history.

Find your state’s DMV here: https://dmvnv.com/50_state_dmv_list.html

What about the new pay-per-mile car insurance?

You may have heard about a new, less-expensive type of car insurance. It charges you by the mile, using an electronic gadget that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port. It also monitors your driving behavior, every time you drive. Some people who do not drive their cars much have found this system to be of value, but others have reported that the initially low rates have been quickly raised over a short period of time for no good reason, and that the claim service is extremely poor. Be sure to read reviews of any service you’re considering buying. The seemingly low rates may not be worth it

is it possible can i buy car with international drivers license in the us united states

Is it possible to buy a car with an international driver’s license in the U.S.?

You may be an international student, expat or professional who has recently moved to the U.S. or is thinking about moving to the U.S. As such, you’re deciding on whether or not to buy a car to get to work or school. We have helped many foreigners buy a car in the United States. One of our most frequently asked questions is: Is it possible to buy a car with an international driver’s license in the U.S.? Can I register a car with an international driver’s license? We can answer that question for you!

 

Here’s the short answer: you don’t need a license to buy the car, but you need a license to drive it.

Can I buy a car with an international driver’s license?

Technically, you can get a car in the United States with an international driver’s license. Additionally, at this point and time, it is not legally required for dealerships to ask for your Social Security Number in order to sell you a car. Many of them choose to do it because they want to check your credit history. Or because they want to be selective about the people they sell cars to.

The most important thing is that your international driver’s license has to be valid, it cannot be expired. Lenders who specialize in providing car loans for internationals in the U.S., such as Lendbuzz, require a driver’s license for identity verification purposes. In order to secure your car loan, you are able to provide your international driver’s license. (Remember that it can’t be expired.)

What about registering the vehicle? Can I register the car with my international license?

Well, every state has different laws and legislation. So, it’s important for you to research the details regarding the state you will be moving to. However, there are definitely states where you can register a vehicle if you have an international driver’s license. In New Jersey, for example, you need to provide a form of identification to register a vehicle to your name. And that can be your passport.

Can I drive the car with an international driver’s license?

While the answer varies from state to state, you will normally need to obtain a state driver’s license if you want to drive legally as a resident. Additionally, some states require that expats possess both an International Driver’s Permit and a valid license from their home country. If you don’t have both, then you may need to apply for a US driver’s license.

Detailed information about driving as an international in the United States can be found on the US government’s website.

You can also read our previous post to learn how you can get a U.S. driver’s license as an international.

Finally, can I get car insurance with an international driver’s license?

Most car insurance providers require a U.S. driver’s license. So, you’ll definitely want to get a U.S. driver’s license in order to get insurance. And car insurance is mandatory in most states. We previously wrote a thorough guide on how to get car insurance in the U.S. as an international. Be sure to read that before finishing your research and car purchasing process.

is it possible can i buy car with international drivers license in the united states

What’s the verdict?

While it is possible for you to buy a car with an international driver’s license, and it’s definitely possible to get a car loan without a U.S. license, we recommend starting the process of getting a U.S. driver’s license. You will need it eventually to get insurance and to legally drive the car in most states.

A good idea would be to start the process of getting a U.S. driver’s license as you are researching which car to get. Or even before that. That will make the process quicker and easier for you. Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to just transfer your international driver’s license and get a U.S. license without taking a driving test.

We hope this cleared up your questions and has helped you in the process of getting a car in the United States.

We know that moving to the U.S. can be hard, but buying a car doesn’t have to be. Applying for a loan with us is quick and easy, and we’re here to help you. Click here to start an application and quickly get your rates.

Best Cities for International Students in the U.S.

Moving to the U.S.? Want to which are the best cities for international students in the U.S.?

Deciding which city to move to in the U.S. is an important and difficult decision for anyone. It is especially difficult for international students because it might be their first time coming to the U.S. And unless you’re coming from Canada or Mexico, moving might also mean crossing the ocean. An overseas move is the most difficult one of all.

Saying goodbye to your friends, family, and packing everything you own in a suitcase isn’t easy. On top of that, English might not be your primary language. You will also have to complete a lot of paperwork. All of these are unavoidable challenges that come with moving to the US.

However, picking a city in the US that is international students friendly will make your move much easier. Since you can’t control how difficult the logistics of moving to the U.S. will be, you should focus on moving to a city that best fits your personality and needs. We’ve rounded up a list of the best cities for international students in the US. Check them out and keep them in mind when considering which city to move to in the United States.

If you’re an exchange student or international student, your options are limited by:

  1. The universities that you’re interested in attending
  2. The universities that you get accepted into
  3. The states or cities that excel in the industry you desire to work for

If you’re thinking of applying to a university based on where you’d like to live, or if you’re equally interested in several universities and want to narrow them down based on location, then you can rank them according to the following factors. These will help you make your decision.

 

Our suggested picks for the best cities in the US for international students:

 

1. New York City

2. Washington D.C.

3. Chicago

4. Boston

5. San Francisco

6. Pittsburgh

 

What are the factors I should consider before picking a city in the U.S.?

Each city has different cultural, demographic, geographic, and additional factors that can affect your quality of life in the US. The six cities in our list excel in their diversity and abundance of high-quality universities. However, they are still different from one another. Here are some factors you should consider when choosing which city to move to in the U.S.:

  1. Diversity
  2. Weather
  3. Cost of living
  4. Accessibility and Transportation
  5. Geography
  6. Familiarity

1. Diversity

There are many ways in which a city can be diverse. It’s important to decide which type of diversity is important to you. How important is it to you to be able to easily find groups of people from your native country who speak your own language? Some cities have higher concentrations of a certain nationality.

A diverse city can help you feel more welcome during your first years in the United States. Plus, finding a community of people from your own country who have been through what you’re going through can make your move easier.

2. Weather

Weather can directly impact your mood and daily life. It will also mean that you will need to acquire the appropriate attire and method of transportation for the weather you’ll be living in. If you’ve lived in tropical climates all of your life, you may not know what it’s like to experience the full four seasons. You may not know how difficult transportation becomes in the winter. Trains and buses get delayed. It’s increasingly hard to walk to places as you have to deal with wind-chill and possible frostbite. And if you plan on driving, you need to make sure your car is outfitted for the winter.

3. Cost of living

The cost of living in cities across the United States varies greatly. For example, Miami and Los Angeles are both popular cities. They are familiar for internationals moving to the US and both have similar weather. However, according to Expatistan, the average monthly rental cost for a regular 900 ft2 apartment in Miami is $1,618. The same space in Los Angeles would cost you around $2,144. The cost of food, transportation, and goods also varies from city to city. Expatistan is a great tool for comparing the cost of living between cities.

4. Accessibility and Transportation

It’s important to research cities to see if they meet your particular transportation and accessibility needs. Not every city in the US has great public transportation. Some cities are bigger, more spread out, and centered around driving. Others have a robust public transportation system. When it comes to evaluating the importance of this factor, you must first decide if you want to live right in the city or further out on the outskirts.

5. Geography

The United States is very geographically diverse. You can find Rocky Mountains, deserts, and sunny beach coasts. When picking a geographical location, it’s important to consider the type of work and leisurely activities you plan on performing in the US. Also, will you be moving on your own? Are you moving with your family or a roommate? How large are the houses or apartments in that location? Does it make sense to live in that area of the US?

6. Familiarity

This is a polarizing criterion. Some expats want a place that is completely different from their native city. Others want a place that feels as familiar as possible so they can minimize culture shock and homesickness. If you’re coming from Hong Kong, for example, moving to Los Angeles or Seattle might feel more familiar than moving to Austin, Texas.

 

 

We hope this list on the 6 Best Cities for International Students in the U.S. helped you make your decision. Moving to the U.S. is hard, but getting a car doesn’t have to be. We can help you buy a car in the United States, even if you don’t have credit history or a social security number. Find out how you can buy a car in the U.S. as an international student.

summer roadtrip road trip ideas for international students us united states usa american

Need summer vacation ideas in the US? How about a road trip? Here are some of the best road trip ideas in the US for international students. (Or for anyone!)

Road trips are a great way to spend your summer vacation. As an expat or international student, you may not be able to travel overseas right now. Not to worry! You can still enjoy your summer vacation. It’s a good idea to get to know the country you’ll be living in for the next few years. Plus, there are many places to visit and fun things to do in the United States.

Domestic US  flights are an option for some. But if you were not able to book your flight ahead of time, ticket prices may have gone way up. A road trip can be cheaper and definitely more fun. You can stop by many cities or states on your way to your final destination. This will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with American culture quicker.

The United States offers a number of exciting road trip destinations for any international student looking to have an epic American adventure. If you’re interested in a summer vacation road trip, check out the routes below. We’ll provide 5 road trip ideas for international students in the US.

Depending on your location, you can pick any of these USA routes as you set out on a fun-filled road trip:

New York Boston Roadtrip summer ideas routes students expat

1. New York to Boston

East Coast
215+ miles
A single road trip from New York to Boston will expose you to a lot of American wonders. You will have the opportunity to explore the ‘Big Apple.’ You can visit popular destinations like Central Park, Greenwich Village, Times Square, and the Empire State Building. If you’re not exhausted yet, you can hire a ferry and go on a short trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Then, jump on a rented bike to discover Nantucket Island. Or go straight to Provincetown to have a glimpse of whales.

On your way north to Boston, you can go through Connecticut or Rhode Island. We suggest you stop at Cape Cod to enjoy beautiful ocean views and lighthouses. Once you reach Boston, there are still many sights to see. Boston is a historical city, one of the oldest in the United States. You can walk Boston’s Freedom Trail in order to see many important landmarks in one day.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia roadtrip idea route us

2. The Blue Ridge Parkway

SouthEast US
469 miles
If you want to enjoy the outstanding scenery of the Virginian countryside, take a road trip through the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway will take you through the Appalachians mountain chain. It runs from Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s America’s longest linear park. You can see (and stop by) hiking trails, waterfalls, and panoramic views. This is a great summer road trip idea for nature lovers.

The speed limit allowed on the Blue Ridge Parkway is about 45 mph or less. This gives you the opportunity to leisurely capture all places of interest along the route. The road is meant to be driven at a slower pace so you can enjoy your drive through the Virginian countryside. And capture some awesome scenery with your camera!

 

route 66 summer road trip route ideas students expats

3. Route 66

Mid to West
130+ miles
Route 66 is one of the famous legendary tourist destinations in America. It provides you with tons of excitement as you journey all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles. In fact, Route 66 offers lots of awesome views for international students looking to gain insight into some of the early beauties of America. The journey takes you through museums, restaurants, and towns that flourished in the 1930s. Although the trip through Route 66 can be completed in just 5 days, you’ll be able to experience more if you extend the trip. If you have time to spare, you can visit the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Santa Fe.

So, if you really want to capture many moments on Route 66, it’s advisable to dedicate between a week and 2 weeks for your trip. From Chicago, the trip will take you through the open plains of the Midwest, the mountainous New Mexico, the barren desert of the west, and finally the beautiful Pacific coast. There are signs on the road that help to guide your path as you journey through Route 66. You don’t have to be looking at your phone’s GPS all the time!

 

key west florida roadtrip summer ideas students expats

4. The Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West

Southeast US
Approx. 110 miles
This route takes you on a journey over the ocean to cross about 42 bridges as you go from Miami to Key West. (Including the famous 7 Mile Bridge.) You will enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean as you jump from one island to another. You can visit many popular islands during your road trip. Ragged Key, Plantation Key, Fat Deer Key, Tea Table Key and Sugarloaf Key, among others.

If you like scuba diving, you can visit the Neptune Memorial Reef. And if you want to see beautiful Renaissance-style gardens, visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens estate. Literature fans should visit the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum. And you’ll definitely want to take a glass bottom boat ride.

 

vegas loop grand canyon roadtrip us route ideas

5. The Las Vegas Loop

Western US
Approx. 779 miles
For any international student willing to explore America, the Las Vegas Loop is a good place to start. It’s a great choice for those who don’t have much time off to travel far during their summer holiday. The Las Vegas Loop is a closed circular route. You can complete this road trip in 3 or 4 days. (Depending on how many stops you want to make.) The road trip takes you through the stunning open desert of Arizona and Utah. You’ll journey through the loop from Las Vegas to Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and finally the Zion National Parks. You can bike or hike at the Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

After you’re done completing your nature tour, you can stop and relax in Las Vegas. Have the full Vegas experience and stop by the Las Vegas Strip. Visit shows, casinos, and go shopping. You could do Vegas first, but you’ll probably want to go there last and get a massage for your tired feet.

 

Ready to get on the road?

Road trips are a great way to enjoy your independence and put your car to use. Going to and from work or school can get boring pretty quickly. Taking your own car instead of a rental can save you time and money. If you don’t own a car already and have been wondering how to get a car in the U.S., check out our complete guide to buying a car in the US. If you need a car loan to buy your car (and you should get one because it will help you build credit in the U.S.) consider a specialized lender like Lendbuzz. Lendbuzz provides car loans for internationals without credit history or a SSN. You can apply online in minutes, no co-signer needed.

As a student, learning should not be limited to books and classes where you listen to lectures and take tests. You need to expand your education by exploring the United States. This will provide you with fun memories to reminiscence about America after returning to your home country. So, pack your things, get in your car, and try out one of these US summer road trip ideas!