Getting around in the USA
Getting around in the USA is a relatively simple process. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, the road network is extensive and well maintained.
If you are located in a city or larger town you’ll likely find reasonably priced public transport, although cars do remain the most popular choice by far. You can fly to all major cities, and a number of smaller locations, which given the size of the country, is the quickest way of getting around. Buses and trains are slower options but they will get you where you want to go at a lower cost.
You can fly to all major cities, and a number of smaller locations, which given the size of the country, is the quickest way of getting around.
Driving in the USA
In the USA people drive on the right. The speed limit in residential areas tends to be around 35mph but as limits vary depending on the State that you’re driving in, always remain vigilant of signage. Usually the maximum speed on the interstate is 70mph.
In the US, red traffic lights mean stop, green mean go, but yellow means that you’re allowed to proceed with caution. You may also encounter flashing lights at intersections – if this light is flashing red, you must come to a complete stop, if it is flashing yellow, you must slow down and check that it is clear before proceeding.
Different states have different regulations about what deems your car roadworthy. For example, in California your vehicle must pass an emissions test before being considered street legal. You will need to check what is required in the State that you’ll own property in.
TOP TIP: You must always keep your license and registration in your glove box, just in case you’re pulled over at any stage.
Obtaining an American driving licence
If you are staying for three months or less, you are allowed to drive in the USA using your British licence. You must be 21 to hire a car, but in some locations this can jump to 25, so check the company you plan on hiring with in advance.
Those staying longer than three months will probably want to acquire a US licence. Whilst most US States have agreements with the UK which allow you to get a local license easily, a couple of States make things a bit trickier, and you may find that you are required to re-take your theory and your practical test.
Unless you’re in a busy city centre, you will be able to find somewhere to park that doesn’t break the bank, or that is completely free. Shopping malls, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, restaurants and so on, tend to have their own dedicated car parks where you can park for no charge. If you don’t have your own driveway, make sure you park in your allocated spot, and always direct guests to the visitors parking areas. As so many people drive, the US is very geared up to help people park.
Most States have toll roads, and some of the major roads around cities will require you to pay a toll. Most will have manned toll booths, but if you are going to be driving on these roads regularly, it makes sense to purchase an annual pass, which allows you to slip past the traffic in a specially dedicated lane.
If you’re looking to travel between coasts, or major cities, you will need to use Amtrak trains, which service a good amount of the country.
As the USA is so vast, if you want to get anywhere quickly, air travel is your best bet. There are a number of airlines operating flights, and you can get some relatively good deals if you plan in advance. If you’re looking to fly internationally, you will need to go to the nearest main city airport t
If you’re looking to travel between coasts, or major cities, you will need to use Amtrak trains, which service a good amount of the country. Ticket prices are reasonable, and train travel is a great way to see some sights that you might otherwise miss.
Within cities, you’ll find that trains are a popular choice for those commuting from suburban districts into city centres for work. These trains are clean, efficient, and not too extortionate.
The availability and quality of public transport will depend on where you’re located. If you’re in a major city, there will be an abundance of options available to you. The further out into the countryside you go, the greater your need for your own wheels. If you’re travelling on the subway or on buses on a regular basis, weekly and monthly passes present the best value.
The USA Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to: