Best Cities for Immigrants in the US

Updated on January 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • Explore the best 10 cities for immigrants in the USA: New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, San Diego, and Philadelphia.
  • These cities provide opportunities, diverse communities, and strong immigrant support, excelling in job prospects, quality of life, and inclusive policies.
  • The United States, with its rich history of welcoming immigrants, offers major cities that provide excellent environments for living, working, and growing.
  • Whether seeking jobs, education, or an overall high quality of life, these cities are ideal destinations for immigrants looking to make the United States their new home.

Table of Contents

Best Cities in the US for Immigrants

The United States is known as a nation of immigrants, with vibrant, diverse communities across the country. However, some cities stand out above others when it comes to opportunities, support, and quality of life for newcomers to America. Based on factors such as economic prospects, affordability, immigrant populations, and inclusive policies, here are ten cities that shine as fantastic destinations for immigrants.

New York, NY

Standard of Living Score: 62

Foreign-born Population: 37%
Cost of Living: High
Immigrant Median Income: $62,000

As a cultural epicenter of America with over 3 million immigrants, New York City tops the list. A huge job market across industries, immigrant enclaves like Little Italy and Chinatown, and policies favoring undocumented residents make NYC welcoming. Public transport and abundant food options accommodate diverse cultures.

Opportunities

New York has abundant jobs in finance, media, healthcare, education and more. Over 120 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in NYC. The job market is strong for visa holders in tech, investment banking, accounting, engineering and specialized fields.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in New York City is very high, especially for housing. Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment averages over $3,500 per month. Other costs like food, entertainment and transportation are above national averages as well.

Pros

  • Huge, diverse job market
  • Cultural epicenter of the US
  • Public transportation makes commuting easy
  • Ethnic enclaves provide community support

Cons

  • Extremely high cost of housing
  • Steep competition for good jobs
  • Overcrowding in many neighborhoods

Los Angeles, CA

Standard of Living Score: 59.7

Foreign-born Population: 34.5%
Cost of Living: High
Immigrant Median Income: $67,400

With thriving Latino, Asian and European communities, Los Angeles is extremely diverse, with immigrants making up over 35% of the population. LA has strong job growth centered around hospitality, healthcare and technology. Numerous ethnic enclaves provide easy transitions for newcomers.

Opportunities

Top industries like tech, finance, healthcare and hospitality offer growing job prospects, especially in downtown LA and Silicon Beach. Tourism and ports also bolster the economy.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in LA is high, with residents paying over 40% more for housing than the national average. Other costs like food and transportation can add up quickly.

Pros

  • Booming job market across many fields
  • Diverse immigrant communities
  • Abundant cultural institutions
  • Public transit expanding towards the coast

Cons

  • Rising housing costs in urban areas
  • Traffic congestion is frequently an issue
  • Low air quality in certain metro areas

Houston, TX

Standard of Living Score: 58.8

Foreign-born Population: 25%
Cost of Living: Moderate
Immigrant Median Income: $51,000

Houston has enviable job growth thanks to a booming economy. Over 1.4 million immigrants take advantage of a low cost of living and abundant housing options. Support programs, language services and public resources assist new Houstonians.

Opportunities

Houston enjoys strong job growth in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, healthcare and transportation. The expanding economy appeals to visa holders with technical skills or professional services.

Cost of Living

Houston has a relatively low cost of living compared to other major metro regions, with affordable housing. Other costs like utilities, food and transportation are reasonably priced.

Pros

  • Strong job growth and economy
  • No state income tax
  • Very affordable housing
  • Support programs for new immigrants

Cons

  • Summers are very hot and humid
  • Heavy reliance on cars for transport
  • Fewer cultural institutions like museums

Chicago, IL

Standard of Living Score: 58.2

Foreign-born Population: 21.5%
Cost of Living: Moderate
Immigrant Median Income: $61,100

Central Chicago has nearly 20 distinct ethnic enclaves like Little Italy, Pilsen and Chinatown. A sanctuary city policy enhances protections and community relationships for undocumented peoples. Chicago also tries to streamline voting access, healthcare and language services.

Opportunities

Chicago hosts growing tech, healthcare, finance, education and more. Major corporations, universities and startups offer talent-hungry job markets. Visa holders find openings in skilled positions.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Chicago is moderately high, with residents paying over 15% more than the national average. Housing, food costs and taxes are the main expenses.

Pros

  • Dynamic job market across multiple large industries
  • Distinct ethnic neighborhoods provide cultural familiarity
  • “Sanctuary city” protects undocumented peoples
  • Public transit widely connects metro region

Cons

  • Long, cold winters can be challenging
  • Budget shortfalls and government debt
  • Gun violence in certain areas

San Francisco, CA

Standard of Living Score: 62.7

Foreign-born Population: 35%
Cost of Living: Very High
Immigrant Median Income: $72,000

San Francisco delivers on job opportunities within the tech industry alongside vibrant Asian and Latino populations. Nearly 35% of residents are foreign-born. Progressive local policies strive to include affordable healthcare, housing, and other services that welcome immigrants.

Opportunities

San Francisco offers unmatched tech jobs with major companies plus emerging startups. Healthcare, finance and hospitality also provide strong prospects. Visa holders have abundant openings.

Cost of Living

Extremely expensive housing makes SF cost of living one of the highest globally. Other costs like food, utilities and transport are also very high.

Pros

  • Silicon Valley tech jobs abound
  • Diverse, vibrant Asian and Latino populations
  • Innovative healthcare and biotech companies
  • Welcoming policies toward immigrants

Cons

  • Most expensive housing and rents in the nation
  • Competitive job market means steep qualifications
  • Quality of life strained by costs, congestion

Boston, MA

Standard of Living Score: 62.2

Foreign-born Population: 28%
Cost of Living: High
Immigrant Median Income: $62,000

The greater Boston area retains a quintessential New England charm while welcoming immigrants and refugees alike. Over 20% of Bostonians were born abroad, enhanced by refugee resettlement programs, healthcare access, academic opportunities, and public transit.

Opportunities

Strong healthcare, biotech and high-tech industries drive Boston job growth. World-class universities and research centers feed talent pipelines. Visa holders can access skilled positions.

Cost of Living

Boston metro region has high costs approaching 35% above national averages. Housing, food prices, healthcare and taxes contribute significantly.

Pros

  • Cutting-edge innovation economy with range of industries/jobs
  • Top international academic institutions
  • Historical and cultural focal points
  • Robust transit including subway and commuter rail

Cons

  • Very high housing costs and rents
  • Cold, snowy winters
  • Congestion and high traffic

Washington, DC

Standard of Living Score: 62.1

Foreign-born Population: 28%
Cost of Living: Very High
Immigrant Median Income: $76,000

The nation’s capital features international cultural sites alongside the political epicenter. A majority-minority demographic breaks down barriers, with strong job markets in government, tourism, education and tech. DC maintains sanctuary protections and voting access for foreign citizens.

Opportunities

The nation’s capital provides a unique hub for government, policy, law, tourism, education and more. Expanding tech scene and international organizations hire eligible visa holders.

Cost of Living

Washington DC’s cost of living is over 25% higher than national averages, largely from expensive housing. Certain urban areas have very high rents.

Pros

  • Hub of national and international policy and diplomacy
  • Distinctive museums and cultural sites
  • Public transit via Metrorail system
  • Diverse, progressive demographic

Cons

  • Very high cost of living tied to housing
  • Deep income inequality in parts of city
  • Commuting and congestion issues with suburban sprawl

Seattle, WA

Standard of Living Score: 61.8

Foreign-born Population: 18%
Cost of Living: Very High
Immigrant Median Income: $65,000

Seattle’s mild climate, educated workforce, and Asian heritage position it well for immigrants, who make up over 18% of the population. Top employers Microsoft and Amazon propel jobs while communities like Little Saigon foster cultural continuity.

Opportunities

Seattle hosts aerospace and tech giants like Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, plus growing startups. Healthcare, shipping and hospitality also spur job growth for skilled visa holders.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Seattle is 37% higher than national averages, predominantly from housing costs. Other expenses like food and transport are also high.

Pros

  • Thriving tech sector careers
  • Forward-thinking, eco-friendly culture
  • Surrounded by natural beauty
  • Strong Asian heritage

Cons

  • Steep cost of living and housing shortage
  • Notorious rainfall and cloudy weather
  • Congestion and sprawl outside urban core

San Diego, CA

Standard of Living Score: 59.3

Foreign-born Population: 28%
Cost of Living: High
Immigrant Median Income: $65,300

At the border with Mexico and home to sprawling military bases, San Diego contains 28% first-generation immigrants. Its dynamic economy along with proximity to Latino culture create an inviting multicultural hub on the Pacific coast. Numerous refugee programs facilitate smooth transitions.

Opportunities

Biotech and healthcare lead San Diego job growth, aided by tourism, military and hospitality. Positive prospects for visa holders in skilled niches like science, engineering and tech.

Cost of Living

Housing drives San Diego living costs up over 40% higher than national averages. Food, utilities and transport also accumulate costs quickly.

Pros

  • Scientist and engineer jobs in biotech
  • Year-round pleasant climate
  • Laidback lifestyle with beach access
  • Discounts for military families

Cons

  • Very high cost of living tied to scarce housing
  • Most jobs concentrated downtown
  • Border wall debates controversial

Philadelphia, PA

Standard of Living Score: 57.8

Foreign-born Population: 14%
Cost of Living: Moderate
Immigrant Median Income: $59,800

Historic Philadelphia invites newcomers with arts and culture alongside thriving Italian, Irish, Latino and Asian diasporas in settled communities. Sanctuary city laws build trust while relatively affordable housing and anti-poverty programs support families. Nearly 14% of residents are immigrants.

Opportunities

Philadelphia economic growth supports jobs in education, healthcare, manufacturing and tech. Affordable urban revival attracts new firms and talent, aiding visa holders.

Cost of Living

Philadelphia remains below national averages for cost of living, appealing to value-driven residents. Housing, food and transport stay relatively reasonable.

Pros

  • Major employers include universities, health systems and refineries
  • Distinct historic identity and charm
  • Neighborhood revival progressing
  • Low cost of living for major metro

Cons

  • Public education challenges
  • Poorer tax base struggles to fund services
  • Uneven gentrification and development

Cost and Standard of Living by City

CityStandard of Living ScoreAverage Annual SalaryAverage Monthly RentUnemployment RateTop Industries for Immigrants
New York, NY62$72,100$2,5005.5%Retail, Healthcare, Transportation
Los Angeles, CA59.7$67,400$1,7505.4%Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing
Houston, TX58.8$63,300$1,1505.3%Professional Services, Manufacturing, Transportation
Chicago, IL58.2$61,100$1,3756.1%Healthcare, Retail, Tech
San Francisco, CA62.7$78,200$3,0005.2%Tech, Healthcare, Retail
Boston, MA62.2$70,100$2,1255.8%Healthcare, Tech, Education
Washington, DC62.1$76,800$2,0505%Tech, Education, Professional Services
Seattle, WA61.8$74,500$1,8504.3%Tech, Manufacturing, Healthcare
San Diego, CA59.3$65,300$1,9006.7%Healthcare, Retail, Tech
Philadelphia, PA57.8$59,800$1,3006.2%Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing

Immigrant Demographics by City

CityImmigrant PopulationTop Nationalities
New York, NY37% of populationDominican, Chinese, Mexican
Los Angeles, CA34.5% of populationMexican, Filipino, Salvadoran
Houston, TX29.5% of populationMexican, Honduran, Vietnamese
Chicago, IL21.5% of populationPolish, Mexican, Indian
San Francisco, CA35% of populationChinese, Mexican, Filipino
Boston, MA28% of populationChinese, Dominican, Puerto Rican
Washington, DC20% of populationSalvadoran, Ethiopian, Chinese
Seattle, WA17% of populationVietnamese, Chinese, Mexican
San Diego, CA28% of populationMexican, Filipino, Vietnamese
Philadelphia, PA14% of populationMexican, Indian, Chinese

Tips for Moving to a US City

Relocating to the United States as an immigrant brings huge life changes. Settling into a new community in an unfamiliar city poses exciting opportunities but also challenges. To help your transition go smoothly, keep these tips in mind.

Research Thoroughly in Advance

Gather as much information as possible before your move regarding jobs, housing, schools, transport, immigrant services, cultural groups and more. Understanding options, costs, and resources will guide better decisions.

Secure Employment or Funding

Having a job, fellowship, grant or other funding lined up prior to your move is ideal. This financial base aids immensely in covering living costs as you get started.

Consider Affordable Cities

The cost of living can vary dramatically between US cities, so factor affordability. Economical hubs like Houston, Philadelphia or Raleigh may stretch incomes further for immigrants.

Live Near Cultural Communities

Resettling where you already have cultural or ethnic ties fosters crucial community bonds. Chinatowns, Little Italys or other immigrant enclaves also ease transitions.

Utilize Public Transport

Newcomers relying on public transit saves substantially on transport costs. Making do without a car also postpones navigating licensing issues.

Access Support Programs

Local charities, churches and government initiatives catering to immigrants offer invaluable guidance on everything from documentation to housing. Seek out these support networks.

Practice English Diligently

Any language barriers will hamper job performance, paperwork, communication with schools, and more. Devote ample effort to gaining English fluency.

Embrace the New Environment

An open, positive mindset towards different cultural norms makes adaptation smoother. Be willing to learn new ways of living. Stay patient with inevitable culture shock.

Build Community Bonds

Don’t isolate yourself – connect to fellow immigrants, expat groups, clubs and communities. Solidifying social bonds alleviates challenging transitions to unfamiliar places.

Leverage Technology

Mobile apps help tremendously with navigating public transit, finding rentals or jobs, accessing language help, locating immigrant resources and more. Use them fully.

Final Thoughts

Moving to a new country is full of challenges, but also rich opportunities. Do thorough research to choose the right US city environment and immigrant support services. Seek out diverse communities that make immigrants feel welcomed. This will ease your transition into American life.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I find affordable housing and home rentals?

Major cities have higher housing costs, so prepare your budget accordingly. Utilize rental websites and community boards to find apartments in neighborhoods suited to your needs. Consider getting roommates to save on costs.

Which neighborhoods are most diverse and immigrant-friendly?

Research ethnic enclaves and diverse communities before your move. For example, NYC has China Town, Little Italy, etc. Connect with cultural groups to find the most welcoming areas.

What documents do I need secured before arriving to the new city?

Have visas/green cards, proof of identification, bank accounts, and medical records prepared. Contact an immigration lawyer if you need guidance.

How can I meet new people and make friends in my city?

Join community meetups based around your interests or cultural background. Talk to neighbors, colleagues, and members of religious groups or local organizations. Social ties create comfort in your new home.

What resources are available to help me adjust to life in my city?

Look for immigrant services offering things like career assistance, language classes, legal advice, public benefits support, and cultural preservation. Libraries also provide helpful integration resources in major cities.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 100,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn more about finance, immigration, and more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.