Dream of living in the US

All,A morning post as my newborn is currently keeping me awake very early. I am currently a Real Estate Private Equity professional located in London (graduated from a well known EU MSc), and originally come from another major EU country.

I have been dreaming about living in the US since I am a teenager due to my passion for its history, the various cultures, and (almost) everything that is going on over there.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to pursue a degree in the US when I was younger for several reasons. I am now trying to look at different options to be able to settle permanently in that beautiful country.

I can only see a few options so please feel free to help if you got any other:

Applying every year to the diversity lottery for immigrants, but coming from a major EU country my chances to win are pretty tight.

Transfer internally from London to NYC or any other city where my fund has offices. This is what people would call a "Real Estate Mega Fund" here, but the culture is very strict and I have never seen a transfer happening between EU and the US.

Wait 2 more years to get more savings and apply to at least a T15 MBA, hoping that I can 1) take a loan and assume the cost of life for my fiancee, our newborn and myself and 2) get sponsored by a Real Estate PE fund or a Real Estate IBD team so I can stay in the US indefinitely. It involves a lot of sacrifices though.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Comments (41)

Most Helpful
Jun 3, 2022 - 4:05am
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you don't have US citizenship and are not a long-term permanent resident in the US....

1) Internal transfer within your own company should be the easiest way forward, if you know how to leverage your network and the contacts you have. It is probably also the "most likely" scenario, especially for a US destination. So try finding an employer in Europe who is willing to move you abroad after the minimum wait period and also sponsor your visa.
The initial, relevant visa avenues should be L for the transfer, E1/E2 for either personal investment or corporate transfer (depends on details like how the company is structured, nationality of the company, etc), F visa for students if you want to go for a degree, H1b for transfer or post F, E3 if you hold Australian citizenship, O if you have extraordinary skills. J should no longer apply to professionals (J could apply post degree though!)

If the goal is to permanently move and reside in another country, however, there are alternatives that may make sense

- further education if you can afford it (employers paying for this is increasingly rare, but also possible); and then go the CPT/OPT/H1b route which may take a few years. But this is still a viable option to obtain residency in the US and, eventually, citizenship.

- family sponsorship is also possible and a straight-forward route, normally. Your first degree family members can sponsor you (i.e. parents, children, siblings)

- if the destination country is more important than the career you currently have - some people have a life-long dream of starting their own business or do something else than sit at home or commuting to the office. If you have already decided that moving to the other side of earth is the right thing, why not go one step further and also rethink your career? Now might be the best chance.

- investment based green card; possible if the amount of investment exceeds 900K (immigrant route)

- Extraordinary abilities, O visa for professionals in entertainment, modeling, acting, singing, science, business, (..) - if a strong case can be made based on outstanding, published results (i.e. SAG/AFTRA credits, scientific awards, noble prize, published in national/international media, Olympic medals, ..). It is possible to get the O visa if you are a strong contender within your space, but not for a regular finance employee who works in an office.

- Always have a plan B or alternatives. Maybe the US won't work out, but Canada might (it is far easier getting into Canada than the US). Maybe your employer won't move you internally, but another one might? Maybe starting your new business is too risky, but maybe starting a franchise might work? ETC - come up with LOTS of avenues before you decide...

It depends on what your ultimate goal is and the reasons behind them.

1) Is the goal to live and permanently reside in the US for the rest of your life? Then I'd consider investing the right amount of money for the education, investment visa or business visa. This, however, can also work as an internal transfer.

2) Is the goal to only spend a limited time in the US? I would not make a large investment into a business or education, but seek easier routes into the country.

Internal transfers happen all the time, I have seen them across multiple industries and companies.

If you are not married yet and want a more permanent residence in the US - dating/marriage is also a solution.

There is, unfortunately, no working holiday visa in the USA. These are just ideas and I am not an immigration attorney, of course, and a legal professional may provide further assistance.

As you can see, there are various avenues into a new country and many options are available. Simply applying to a job in the US and hoping to land a visa sponsorship is indeed a possibility, but I wouldn't bet my career or life on it. You would have to time the application in the right window, the employer would have to file the visa application, pay the attorney, justify the investment internally and also externally (labor market assessment), and then in all likelihood not be able to get you the visa anyway (due to the lottery of H1b). This is a very unlikely avenue, but it is not impossible.

Also, if you are already participating in the the diversity lottery- keep doing that.

On the VWP you are legally allowed to enter the US at an official PoE and you are then (normally) given 90 days to exit. In this time frame you are also allowed to meet prospective employers, even interview or undergo training - just not work, or get paid. It is very unlikely that a US based employer would interview someone who doesn't hold a work authorization.
Also, the MBA (or any degree) route is no guarantee for the H1b or a green card. They may make things easier to get further jobs/visas, but there are plenty intl. grads who go home in the grace period given by USCIS. The only way for increase your odds for immigrant purposes into the US is to invest a large amount of money (EB5), win the DV lottery, have a first degree relative sponsor you or marry a USC/LPR.

For non-immigrant purposes there are quite a few more alternatives that are easier, if all you want is to live in the US for a while and then return to Europe.
Also, as a citizen of a European country, you are most likely in a treaty nation with the US. This means you will have considerably more options than people from other nations. It won't be easy, but it is at least possible to live in the US.

Whenever people wish to migrate to another country it is essential to understand the reasoning behind the endeavor.

With a spouse and a child I would be very, very careful and detailed with the planning process. Regardless of which avenue you select, make sure that health insurance coverage, life insurances, and a significant financial backing is present before attempting anything. The US is a wonderful country, but is is one of the worst places to have a health emergency as a student, visitor, or non-resident. If you have UK settled status you could keep that as a backup or the other insurance from another EU country, just in case the US coverage doesn't provide for any emergencies.
I can only attest that all of my experiences in the US were amazing, but it was always more complicated and more expensive than planned.

With the enormous cost of living increases, lack of opportunities in some regions, no work permit as an alien, no likely way of winning the DV lottery, and the cost of tuition... I would argue there are other reasonable ways of getting to the US.

For most people dreaming of creating a life in the US, it would be exactly that - a dream.

Jun 3, 2022 - 3:05pm
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The investor and business visa have different requirements, especially regarding citizenship of the applicant and of the company, equity stakes, and rules around the financing of it.

For the E1/E2 visa, as an example, you can take on debt as long as the actual US based business is not used as collateral for the debt and the applicant needs to own 50% equity or more.
This visa also requires a full business case, PnL projections, accountancy statements and all documents for the entire money trail (all of it!). The E1/E2 visa is one of the visa types where you would really need an immigration attorney who explains the process.

For EB5/GC you would have to invest 900K in a rural/distressed area, and 1.8M for a stable economic region with requirements to hire US citizens or LPRs as staff.

Jun 4, 2022 - 4:23am
earthwalker7, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with the above and the need for careful planning. I'm an American living overseas, and have worked in Europe and in several countries in Asia. I love America, but the US is very expensive and has less to offer families than either Europe or Asia. There is little in terms of public healthcare, and also little in terms of childcare / affordable daycare or after-school care. Many of the megafunds have overseas offices, so I am not sure moving to the US would be necessary in order to work for these employers. Moreover given how local knowledge and network are key to real estate, I would imagine many of these megafunds would prefer to hire you in your home country, or otherwise hire a local for the US.   

Jun 4, 2022 - 5:00am
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This 100%.
A young family from a European country relies heavily on public services that are also quite good. Not just for health insurance coverage, but also for childcare/nurseries/kindergarten, early education, the social framework around it, people at the council who are employed and available, etc.
In the US, these services are offered through private companies and they are allowed to charge you what they want (it is a business, so it is the right way!). But any immigrant needs to account for all of these things on top of the regular cost of living, plus all the other bits you wouldn't need in Europe.

I went to the US alone as a teenager and attended high school, it was the most carefree thing to do and I loved it. This changes when you get older and have dependents/family, it is increasingly difficult to make it in the US unless you really are one of the few with a very high income or a good framework. An immigrant is often alone.

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Jun 3, 2022 - 3:58pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you!! I look forward to moving to the promise land before being 35 YO

Most def, YO!

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 3, 2022 - 4:31pm
i.can.make.it, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly was thinking of something similar, a lot of my european friends have deep seated dreams of living and working in america (mainly due to many people growing up on hollywood media) until they actually get to do both here then they're plotting for an escape back to London or wherever ASAP usually within 3 years, then they become even more deeply attached to europe and become even more european perhaps to show some sort of gratitude? I'm not sure. 

I do think that more europeans should move here so they can get it out of their system and stop telling me how lucky I am to live in NYC because they really loved Friends or How I met your Mother, while they holiday in Greece or Capri on the weekends and enjoy their 11th bank holiday of the year; and I can barely get New Years day off and have to say a small prayer anytime there is a disturbance on the Subway or in public when I'm commuting to my apartment in Manhattan, which I pay twice as much as them for, that didn't come fully furnished like theirs and isn't in a brand new highrise like theirs in Stratford or Canary Wharf while they LITERALLY earn half of what i earn 

Jun 3, 2022 - 5:29pm
nonu-r, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I mean you have to consider, American media abroad hypes up America like anything.

America is the promise land where everyone is wealthy, everyone can achieve their own dreams etc.

It's only in the past few years that America's relative dysfunction has really come to light.

Jun 3, 2022 - 9:40pm
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

life is what you make of it. a lot of people come and expect life to be great without doing anything. that's not how it works. you have to have a smart plan on how to become successful enough here or anywhere else and work hard to accomplish it - then life will be good. US has more opportunities than any other country for smart hard-working people. but if you're dumb and lazy, Europe is better. cause they'll give you social security checks and free healthcare for just existing.

Jun 3, 2022 - 9:53am
eloquence, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Don't see any help in getting a $200k (plus additional hundreds of thousands in missed salary) MBA to get right back into real estate - REPE or RE IB are easy moves from where you are now.

1. First option, would ask for a transfer for family reasons (not just, I want to live in the US, but my extended family is there, something more compelling) hopefully you've been there 1-2 years already. London to NYC is a pretty common move. Even at strict firms, they may allow it.

2. If the above answer is no - can you transfer to REPE or RE IB at a bank/firm friendlier to internal transfers, spend a year or two in London, and then ask for the move? BBs will let you transfer fairly easily (excl. GS; if Citi is an option, they will happily transfer you) or a REPE fund that would allow you the move.


  • 1
Jun 3, 2022 - 3:04pm
BridgeHampton, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi, thanks for your answer. Moving into a BB from my fund would be difficult I guess. In Europe, and especially after the associate level, it seems ambitious to make the move from a MF to a BB. Could have happened at the analyst level? Who knows… Still, I believe I can try to move into another fund that promotes internal mobility.

Jun 3, 2022 - 10:00am
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:


I have been dreaming about living in the US since I am a teenager due to my passion for its history, the various cultures, and (almost) everything that is going on over there.

Honestly curious, what you find so interesting about the history that it's worth living here? In my opinion, it's one of the down sides of being in the US. There is almost no sense of history in about 80% of the country, just McDonalds and Walmarts.

Also, curious on various cultures, what like white trash redecks, crazy left coast liberals, and hood culture? 

Jun 3, 2022 - 10:13am
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm not shitting on it. I'm truly curious what attracts him over here given interests in history and culture. Lot of reasons to come to the US, but history and culture seem to be different reasons than most people have.

Also, I've noticed that there is often a large divide between reality and what immigrants think America is like. Just wondering if he has the a good picture of what it's really like living over here.

Jun 3, 2022 - 10:08am
papertiger, what's your opinion? Comment below:


I have been dreaming about living in the US since I am a teenager due to my passion for its history, the various cultures, and (almost) everything that is going on over there.

Honestly curious, what you find so interesting about the history that it's worth living here? In my opinion, it's one of the down sides of being in the US. There is almost no sense of history in about 80% of the country, just McDonalds and Walmarts.

Also, curious on various cultures, what like white trash redecks, crazy left coast liberals, and hood culture? 

add twerking and ghetto ebonic language people bothering you at every turn in downtowns.

Jun 3, 2022 - 2:36pm
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Really? We don't have any rich history or cuisine

don't get me wrong, we're wealthy here. And have lots of water and natural resources. But the idea we have real culture or national unity is laughable 

you're better off staying in Europe. The America you dreamed of 15-20yrs ago (the one of my youth) no longer exists. We're left with an extremely divisive culture where everything is politicized 

Jun 3, 2022 - 9:45pm
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

in big US cities you can eat any cuisine of the world. way less diversity of food in any other city outside of US.

but agree on history.

Jun 3, 2022 - 2:48pm
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think what OP and many of my European friends mean is the American lifestyle that can resemble culture in some form:

- Large, wide roads; mentality around personal transportation and being able to drive and park anywhere you want
- Bigger cars, trucks, engines, parking lots/spaces, etc
- Larger retail experiences like wide aisles at Walmart
- Larger homes than in the EU (often detached and not a row home)
- A more free country and life with more diversity in nature inside one country
- Great weather in most parts of the US that may lead to a "larger/free life"
- The way US Americans do things is different, they are often less constrained by societal aspects and rules so to say
(so much more to add here)

US Americans don't necessarily know how freedom is defined until they spend more time in a more "prescriptive" country abroad. There are some nasty rule based societies in this world or where your own neighbors will "tell you what to do" often enough.

This, of course, doesn't mean that the US doesn't have limitations or downsides. We all know that things were easier a while ago in many areas of life.

Many Europeans born after 1980 grew up with Hollywood movies, MTV, and music videos that explained this "free lifestyle" which was unheard of in Europe or elsewhere and often didn't show the other side of the coin. If you had your coming-of-age in the 80s or 90s, your media consumption was an everlasting commercial for the wonderful, attainable American Dream.
That dream still lives on in many immigrant minds...

As an example, there were products in the USA back then which simply didn't exist in Europe, like;
Oreos, payment products like credit cards, Apple products like iPods or Macbooks, cheap and brand clothing like Tommy Hilfiger, availability of many fast food chains like Taco Bell or Chipotle, and good/reliable customer service. Customers are treated horribly in many other countries.

It is also important to note that younger people do not know MTV or Beverly Hills 90210, they have access to a variety of media channels (social media) and DO NOT lack the products and services today. Globalization brought the American lifestyle into the wider world and the gap has narrowed considerably.

Another note/edit regarding the cuisine argument:
The United States are one of the most diverse nations in the entire world. The diversity and beauty of the American cuisine is that all these immigrants brought their own cultures with them, including their national dishes and more. If you live in the US you really can go to a variety of restaurants and eateries where the chef is from the country the dishes are from. With every meal you eat there, you are sharing a part of another culture.
This is an incredible luxury you can't always expect in Europe because the demographics simply aren't that diverse.

Jun 3, 2022 - 3:16pm
BridgeHampton, what's your opinion? Comment below:

THIS. You exactly described what I didn't say in my first post.

Just a dumb example, but when I joined my first Mega Fund, they sent me a few months at the NYC office for training. It has been the best experience in my life ever.

Bigger and way nicer offices, bigger structures, the way people worked and think about deals etc, the culture was just great. It felt like a Hollywood movie about Wall Street. When I came back in the UK, it has been very difficult to adjust. The culture both at work and more generally are really different, and it hits hard.

Also, maybe I am really wrong here, but I felt like everything was possible. I felt like working at Blackstone or KKR in the US could make you a millionaire enjoying a comfortable lifestyle in NYC while buying a cosy house in the greatest NYC or DC area for the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I know that the cost of life in the US is particularly high, but compared to Europe I feel there are so much more opportunities…

I could continue expanding about what I love about the US outside of what I have been through while working a few months there, but there is so much to talk about!

Jun 3, 2022 - 3:30pm
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So what I didn't touch on is mentality, both in personal life and at the work place.

The American way is:
- Everyone is equal and with hard work the pursuit of happiness will eventually give you the American Dream.
- A novel business idea or risky investment is analyzed, discussed, and probably taken on; because it may lead to the level of success the company, management and team are looking for. US Americans truly believe in taking a chance at a business opportunity, a new industry or even just a single person. They are willing to give someone or something a chance.
Europe (mostly) is not like that. Europeans are more traditional, conservative and careful in what they work on, who they work with and how work is done.

Based on your response, I think you should really try migrating to the US. You would be a good immigrant who is young, educated, capable and willing to work hard to make things work.

Jun 3, 2022 - 3:31pm
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for explaining! Makes sense, but I would note that what you're talking about is NYC, not the rest of the United States. NYC is really it's own thing that has little to do with how the rest of the people in the country live. 

If you had said from the onset that you're attracted to the culture of NYC, I would have gotten what you're trying to say.

And as kodi noted, immigrants see exactly this in the movies (either California or NYC on the high end of the economic spectrum). They don't see Cleveland, Ohio or rural Alabama.

Jun 3, 2022 - 3:39pm
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is naive. NYC is the most expensive city in the country and probably the most expensive city in the west. Chances of you becoming a partner at a PE fund are tiny and even then, a nice house in NYC would be 4ml+. Work culture might be different but in America we live to work vs in Europe we work to live which is a big culture shock. My European friends also complain about how everything is right Vs left here politically, this is waaaaaaaaay bigger than you appreciate 

don't get me wrong, it's got a good amount of opportunity here (though nowhere near what it was pre GFS, particularly in finance but also in tech as the center of gravity is moving towards Asia). You are vastly discounting these factors and using a dreamy image of the US in your head. Do what you like of course, but don't say people didn't warn you 

Jun 3, 2022 - 9:33pm
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

we should really start a citizen exchange program trading people who dream about living in US with US citizens who think US is horrible.

I hear a lot of shit from Americans about how US is like the worst country on Earth. and then in like every other country people dream about living in US.

Jun 5, 2022 - 2:07am
kodi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

These exchanges exist for young people, most high schools and educational institutions participate in those.

The kids often dream of living and attending school in another location and they really enjoy their time abroad.

Jun 5, 2022 - 10:42pm
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jun 5, 2022 - 8:42am
2rigged2fail, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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