Imagine your first day of your international studies in the USA. You’ve done all the hard work of getting accepted to a great university, you have arranged a place to live, and you have managed to get it all paid for. But how are you going to get where you want to go, once you are there? It’s time to consider transportation for international students in the USA.

The first thing to know about transportation as an international student is not to worry. American universities, large and small, are built to be whole communities. Many students live either on campus, or within easy walking distance. You will be able to eat, see a doctor, and have fun, all within walking or bike riding distance of your classrooms.

Reasons why international students need to know about transportation

Although you can survive just by walking around campus, there are several reasons why you will want to get out and use transportation. You will want to get out and see more of the United States than just your university campus. Getting out and about in the USA is an education in itself. You also might live too far from campus to walk there.

Some older US cities like San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Boston have excellent public transportation systems. In these cities, many residents choose *not* to have cars, because they are unnecessary and expensive to park. Luckily for international students, there are lots of excellent universities in these big, old cities.


Do international students need a car?

But in many places in the USA, small towns or new cities like Dallas and Los Angeles, public transportation is more difficult to use. Someplace that is a 30-minute drive away by car can be hours away on the bus. Having access to a car in one of these places can make a tremendous difference to your quality of life as an international student.


Ridesharing for international students

If you don’t have an American friend yet who has a car, the easiest way to get around is via a ridesharing service. The two main ridesharing companies in the US are Uber and Lyft, which cost about $2 per mile.

Having your own car as an international student

Having your own car as an international student is much more complicated than using a ridesharing service. You will need a valid driver’s license, insurance, and the other paperwork involved with owning or renting a vehicle. Whether or not this is worth the trouble depends on how long you will be staying.

If you plan to be in the US for a year or longer, it could be worth it to you to do it on your own. You could save a lot money by buying a used car through a site like Craigslist, and selling it to someone else when you leave. Or there are services such as International Auto Source which will handle all of the paperwork for you if you want to purchase or rent a vehicle long-term.

Should I organize everything before I leave for the USA?

While organizing transport may be something you can plan for before you leave, it may also be worth waiting to arrive and experiencing life at university before making your decision. This is because you might have a housemate or college dorm mate who already has a car, which means you might not need one at all to do your food shopping and other important functions.

So there you have it. These are some of the questions answered if you’re concerned about transportation for international students in the USA.