Around 10 million Americans move abroad each year, and 8% of those people decided to live in the UK. Moving to the United Kingdom may seem easier than moving to some other, non-English speaking country. It still comes with a catch or two. There are some new rules and procedures you must follow before moving to the United Kingdom.
Moving internationally is never an easy step to take. Walking away from your friends, family, and everything that is familiar to you can be hard and overwhelming. Not to mention you will have to prepare documents for traveling abroad, find a place to live and get a job. But start with your preparations early and get yourself informed about everything that is awaiting. Then your adjustments to living overseas will be much easier. That’s why we will try to answer key questions when it comes to moving to the United Kingdom from the USA every expat should know.
The UK for Beginners – Let’s Cover Some Basics First
Relocating across the world can be hard and overwhelming. Because living abroad brings a lot of unknowns. But if you gather all the info on time you will reduce the relocation stress to minimal.
Start by booking a company for overseas shipping and decide whether you ship by air or not. Then figure out is it expensive there? Should you ship your car or sell it? These and many other questions will pop into your mind before the move. To avoid feeling lost and utterly confused by the unfamiliar environment, let’s go over some basics every expat should know:
- The UK’s official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- It consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
- The official language is English and the currency is the pound sterling symbol £.
- It is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.
Can An US Citizen Live In the UK?
When thinking about relocating overseas, the first question will probably be, “can I live there?” Also, when it comes to living in the UK, the answer will be yes, but, like with other countries in the world, it can only be done with certain documents, visas, and permits. To be more specific, US citizens can live in the UK with just a passport for up to six months. After that, if Americans want to stay longer, they must apply for a standard visitor visa.
Paperwork You Need to Have When Moving to the United Kingdom
Aside from your passport, you should put other documents on the relocation abroad checklist, like a visa and work permit. Also, if you are relocating with a dog or some other pet, you should get a pet passport and vaccination certificates. The UK government has a quick online test you can fill in and see if you require a permit and what kind. Here are some other things you may need when applying for documents:
- Proof of enough money to support yourself during your stay,
- A valid passport and travel history,
- You have to prove you have an appropriate salary,
- Criminal record certificate,
- Paying for an online application.
Types of Standard Visas You Can Apply For
Like international move to any country in the world, there are rules and procedures you have to follow in order to live and work in the UK. First, we have to emphasize that relocating to Wales, part of Great Britain is the same as relocating to Scotland and England, at least when it comes to getting the paperwork done.
That being said, there are two types of ways you can move to the UK as a Temporary Resident and as a Permanent resident. As a temporary resident, you apply for a Standard Visitor visa.
If you are a US citizen coming for work, getting married, or receiving medical treatment, you must apply for a specific permit. Everything you want to know about those particular permits can be read on the Government website in detail. However, here is a short preview of the ways you can move and stay in the UK:
- Work or investment,
- Family reunion,
- If you wish to study,
- Getting married in the UK.
How Do I Permanently Move to the UK?
To answer this question, we have to explain what Indefinite Leave to Remain means. This is what we would call Permanent residency (PR). With PR, you can work in the UK without restrictions. You can work and study for as long as you want. However, you will lose this status if you are not in the UK for more than two years or if you break the law. Furthermore, with PR, you can apply for British Citizenship, but you have to check one of these terms:
- You were born in England,
- Moved to England,
- Married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen,
- Have a British parent,
- You have indefinite leave to remain.
Can I Move to the UK Without a Job?
The simple answer is yes, you can. A more complicated one would add that it’s only possible if you have proof you can support yourself financially. Or that you are studying there, have a spouse, or have a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa.
What You Should Know Before Heading Off to England
You may think that there will be no need to break the language barrier when relocating to the UK. However, that will entirely depend on where you are relocating to. In some parts of the country, you will have to get used to strange accents, while in some, you will have to learn an entirely new language – Welsh. But yet again, it will not be as bad as relocating to South Korea or some other non-English speaking country.
However, before you start worrying about how to order your fries, pick a city and neighborhood you plan to relocate to, make a financial plan, and list questions to ask your employer if you are relocating for work.
How Much Money Do You Need to Move to the UK?
First things first, before the relocation, ask how you can use funds from your account. Do you have to open a bank account in the UK, or can you use your current credit card? Also, you may have to transfer money internationally, so ask about those options also.
When you are sure that money can be transferred from one account to another, it is time to start going over your budget. Before anything else, you should get to know the city you are settling in and how high the rent and other living costs are. Then you start saving. Preferably as soon as possible. Make a realistic expense budget by calculating how much money you’ll need for at least three months of living in the UK.
On top of that, if you want to save up, find a cheaper, more affordable neighborhood to settle in. Go on the website Numbeo to compare the living costs in every city, and you’ll see which location won’t leave you broke.
Can I Rent a Place in England?
The simple answer is yes, but it depends on other factors. If you plan to settle in the UK, you will have to have valid immigration status before renting. To do so, you have to show any kind of permit we talked about above. Any of them will be enough for signing a rental agreement. If you don’t have a visa, it would be wise to book an apartment before you come to the UK.
Settle in One of The Best Cities in the UK
When relocating across the world, the most important part is to find a city that suits your needs. For example, if you are looking for great education or places with huge liberties where you can read, Oxford should be your first choice. Or, if you are into calm small towns, consider some beautiful coastal locations like Swansea in Wales. If you can’t make up your mind, here is some info about the best cities in the UK:
- London – Capital and the largest city in the UK is a multicultural metropolis and one of the best cities for expats. Relocating to London will put you in the economic core of the UK, so finding a job in many sectors will not be difficult.
- Edinburg – Another major city in the UK is the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. It hosts festivals such as the International Festival and the Edinburgh fringe. When you relocate here, amazing architecture and rich history will be all around you.
- Glasgow – If you are looking for the perfect Scottish scenery and an urban vibe, then this most populous Scotland metropolis is for you. It has become one of the most popular places to settle in because of great job opportunities and breathtaking scenery. Relocating to Glasgow will bring you plenty of job and entertainment opportunities.
- Cardiff – Capital of the Vales has everything you would expect from big capital, but yet it is all compressed in a small area. It is very popular with tourists, and it has an amazing history and plenty of entertainment options.
Check this video for more tips on the best cities in the UK:
Healthcare is Free for Everyone
Yes, that is right British folks value the health of their residence. If you relocate to the UK and start to work here, you will get free health insurance, called National Health Service. With this service, you will get primary medical attention regardless of your immigration status. However, you will have to be registered as an NHS patient if you wish to get secondary care. Everything from a doctor’s appointment to emergency surgery is free, but health care doesn’t cover the eye and dental treatments.
Due to the fact that healthcare is free, it can happen that the hospitals are overcrowded. That is one of the reasons why many expats, as well as locals, purchase additional private healthcare.
A Bunch of Things Will Surprise You and Shock You
Whether you choose to move to London or some other city, cultural shock will be the same, and your process of learning how to live in another country will be the same. Although the London lifestyle is fast and urban, some things will still catch your eye, like in any metropolis.
The first thing you will have to get used to, as an American, is driving and parking. British people drive on the left side of the road. It is a known fact. Add the fact that almost 32.9 million people (nearly 70% of the adult population) have driving licenses, and you’ll figure out that owning a car here is important.
Another thing is food and drinks. The portions will be amazingly small compared to American ones. But on the other hand, you can stop calculating while shopping because here you actually pay the written price. Goodbye math!
Britain’s Calling – Embrace New Chapter of Your Life
Whether you are relocating to another country for love, work, or in search of the best place to retire in Europe, Great Britain is the perfect solution. It is an excellent place for an expat who has never lived in another country before. The culture and the language are the same, sans some minor differences.
For example, if you move here, you can stop wondering how to get a job in Europe because Britain offers work visas for talented people, people who wish to invest, start-ups, and other work-related opportunities. And not to mention that keeping in touch with friends and family will be manageable because of the fast internet connections and the fact that you are not relocating all the way across the globe.
After you learn so much about the UK, don’t hesitate to move. Figure out what to pack when relocating abroad. Contact your movers and ask them about what items are allowed for shipping overseas. You can also book your movers for packing service if you don’t have enough time to deal with customs regulations. And you are done! You are ready for the new adventure to begin. Say hello to the Queen for us!