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7 Things to know and do before moving from the U.S. to United Kingdom

The US and the UK have had a long relationship, including the same head of state and monarch (King Charles III), shared military history, and shared system of government. Despite the differences, people in the US have stated the UK as one of their favourite locations to move to. Although there are many differences and similarities, when it comes to specifications and regulations; there is a lot to consider before you make a move.

If you are looking to move from the US to the United Kingdom, this article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to the United Kingdom!

Moving from the US to the United Kingdom: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to the United Kingdom

Visa Requirements

One of the first steps to do before even moving to the UK should be processing your Visa. You should obtain your visa from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) who will direct you to a system known as Entry Clearance (EC). You will need to complete an application form and afterwards, book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre, to begin the process. 

You will definitely need your passport, especially when you are permanently moving there. A visa is also compulsory in case you want to work. Similar is the case for the family which also includes kids. Additional certification (including medical certificates of vaccination) may be required for pets. Try to bring all the relevant documentation and approved applications for immigration. Taking care of your visa requirements is a crucial step before making any move from the US to the United Kingdom. 

Finding a job

As of July 2023, the United Kingdom’s unemployment rate is 4.3% compared to the population of 67.33 million residents. 

The United Kingdom has a high demand in many sectors including developers, software engineers, cybersecurity specialists, english teachers, secondary school teachers, insurance consultant, accountant, financial analyst, to name a few. 

When finding a job in the United Kingdom, you can use employment vacancies and internet job postings like Indeed and LinkedIn

Indeed (Oct 2023) & Office for National Statistics – Government of UK (Sept 2023)

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to the United Kingdom from the US by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to the United Kingdom. You can book your flight to get there, for example through its major airport, London Heathrow International Airport. 

Be sure to arrive in the UK two or three days before your move in date so you have time to take care of last-minute tasks. 

International Moving Company

When we say the UK, it doesn’t mean Great Britain. Great Britain includes the mainland of Scotland, England, and Wales; whereas the United Kingdom includes all of the states including Northern Ireland. So when you are looking to fly abroad over such a distance, you are definitely going to look for movers; dependable and reliable movers at that.

We advise you consider the following parameters when looking for international moving companies:

  • Damage Insurance: Does the mover you have selected provide damage insurance in case things don’t go according to plan? Those movers, who are licensed, have a proper insurance policy that states the extent of damage covered in case of an accident or mishap. As these things are quite common in overseas transportation of luggage, you should have a close look at their insurance policy so you have all ends covered from your side.
  • Experience: It is advised to only opt for movers that have years of experience backing their claims of safely transporting your belongings overseas. Do a little background search and go over customer reviews on different review websites. If a company seems new but has good reviews backing their claims, chances are, they were already in the moving business and have expanded it to overseas moving; as it is no easy or overnight task.
  • Mode of transportation: Usually, the mode of transporting luggage overseas is by air, but sea is also a viable option used by many movers.

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to the United Kingdom. You will be more prepared for your new life if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  • Find an international moving company. You can find a number of international moving companies that can move your belongings from the US to the United Kingdom. 
  • If you have a car you would like to bring to the United Kingdom, make sure to do what is necessary for car shipping as well as auto insurance. It might be best to sell your American car and purchase a new one in the UK as it is best to travel light! 
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.
  • Be prepared to learn new words and phrases as people from all around the UK have a variety of accents and vocabulary! 

Car Shipping to the UK 

If you have decided you don’t want to sell your vehicle, then you probably have to look for it to be shipped to the UK. That itself is quite hectic. But just like with the luggage and furniture, you will have to look for reliable movers if you want your vehicle to be shipped across to the UK. Moving companies who have an expertise in oversea moves are used to managing car shipping across the ocean.

2. Upon your arrival in the United Kingdom

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • Roaming around the city for work or just simply checking on it, it would be great to purchase a daily transit pass to save money.

How much does local transportation cost 

Public transport in the UK is widely available. Listed below are the transit fares for an Adult with the Transport for London. 

Type of fare

Rate

Single ticket

£1.75

Daily-pass

£5.25

Weekly pass 

(Monday to Sunday)

£24.70 

Monthly Bus and Tram pass

£94.90

Transport for London (Oct 2023)

Healthcare

One of the first things you need to consider upon your arrival in the UK is to know your healthcare options. It is important to note, both countries have a single-payer system but the role of government varies. 

In the UK, healthcare is truly socialized, this means that the government not only finances care, but it also provides it through the NHS (National Health Service). It covers a broad range of services and with most of them being free for the citizens. The system is funded by taxes. If you wish to apply for healthcare services as a foreigner/immigrant, visit the UK Government website.

Setting up your cell phone

One of the most important requirements besides arranging for living and availing basic utilities, you will need a cell phone and internet connection. Some of the best cell service providers in the UK include: EE, Vodafone, O2, Three,Sky mobile, Tesco Mobile, BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile, to name a few.

You can use a prepaid SIM for starting instant use and get a suitable data package that suits your needs. Cell phones can be purchased from electronics and accessories stores. Keep in mind, you will not have the same American phone number as the area code in the United Kingdom is 44.

Getting a driver’s license

In the United Kingdom, to exchange a foreign driving licence,you must apply online through the official Government website where you will be asked to fill out an application form and answer any questions from the Government. 

You will require proof of identity, legal presence, Social Security Number, date of birth and two forms of proof of your residence in the United Kingdom. Please note, it might be required to pass a vision test and fees may apply for any of the driver license services. 

Setting up a bank account 

Immigrant financial access is important as you move to a new country. As an immigrant, you may rely on these financial services to send remittances cash checks and pay your bills. The first thing you must do is open a bank account with both a UK account as well as a CAD account. Some banks in the UK include Barclays, Nationwide Building Society, Halifax current account, to name a few. 

While the required documentation depends heavily on each bank, you generally need two things: An I.D. number, and proof of your identity and address—a government-issued photo ID will suffice. 

3. Best places to live in the United Kingdom

Best places to live in the UK

Moving to the United Kingdom means deciding where you want to live and considering your priorities. We’ve listed the best places to live in London!

Neighborhood

Characteristics 

Bexley

Low housing prices

Sutton

Perfect for nature lovers

Havering

Vibrant nightlife

Hillingdon

Best for excellent shopping facilities and green spaces

Bromley 

Ideal place for socializing and recreation 

Setting up home services 

To find out who your electricity supplier is, it is recommended to contact energy network operators for details. This can be done through the Energy Networks Association search tool. As for gas, the UK Government suggests talking to the Meter Point Administration Service for more details. 

As for water and sewage, these services are run by each individual city or area. You can enter your postcode to find out your water and wastewater provider here

For Internet, to save money on broadband and your cell phone plan, it’s a great idea to bundle your internet service with your cell phone provider. Here’s our pick of the 5 Cheapest Broadband Providers in the UK

Should you rent or buy?

As of April 2023, the median cost of buying a property in the United Kingdom is £289,824; as of October 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is £719.96.

Trusted websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

Office for National Statistics (Apr 2023) & Numbeo (Sept 2023)

How to Find an Apartment or Home in the UK?

If you are looking for a rental, then you have the advantage of the property owner being responsible for maintaining a variety of aspects of the property to keep it up to a standard. You will need to have the following documents if you wish to acquire a rental property:

  • ID
  • Work permit and VISA.
  • Reference letter from the previous landlord (if previously lived in a rental)
  • Proof of earning.
  • Proof of employment

Be sure to read the rental contract carefully and clear any misunderstanding or underlying rules that you may feel need to be elaborated. If a new contract needs to be drafted, make sure all the details and responsibilities are clearly expressed. If you are looking to buy a property instead of renting one, there are numerous steps you must look after in order to ensure you can successfully buy a property without leaving any blank spaces:

  • It is best to hire a property dealer or solicitor as they will make things easier and simpler.
  • Decide on the type of property you want, where you want it, and what is your budget.
  • Do you want to be a freeholder or leaseholder?
  • Documents such as passport, driving license, residency permit/alien residency card are compulsory.
  • You must have been living in the UK for at least 3 months.
  • Proof of residential stay.
  • Address or proof of address (utility bill, mortgage or credit card statement, bills. Any of these for a duration of last 3-6 months).
  • Additional costs you may have to bear can include stamp duty, mortgage deposit, legal fees, the registry fee for the property, cost of moving from abroad, etc.

4. Cost of living in the United Kingdom

Category

Monthly cost 

1 bed apt rent outside city center

£719.96

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list (£48.88 multiplied by 4)

£195.52

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

£212.46

Internet with 60 Mbps

£30.39

Transit pass

£68.26

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

£57.40

Gym membership 

£32.00

Total

£1,315.99

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in the United Kingdom

The UK is often associated with rain and bad weather, in general however, according to the British Council, the UK weather is unpredictable. In the summer, the average temperature is from 9°C to 18°C. 

Whereas, during the winter, the temperature ranges from 2°C to 7°C. Although, this is not to worry about as most buses, buildings, trains and houses have heating systems. You can expect the most rain during springtime in the months of March, April and May. 

 

6. What to do as a local in the United Kingdom

Residents of the United Kingdom take pleasure in spending their weekends either watching or playing soccer — or as the English call it, football. There are a total of 68 professional association football clubs in England alone, so be sure to catch a game to embrace the English culture. 

The UK is also known for its historical sites and pub culture. Don’t forget to take time for yourself over the weekend and relax with a beer or cold drink. Some of the most popular pubs in the UK are the Original Oak in Headingley. 

If you truly would like to become a local, be sure to explore local farmer’s markets and antique markets filled with unique products for your new home! 

Where to Get Basic Amenities in the UK

Basic amenities can easily be purchased from grocery stores, mall chains, and supermarkets such as Costco, Aldi, ASDA, and Tesco. As for alcohol, there are a variety of pubs located across the UK where the legal drinking age is 18. The sale of alcohol at stores is subject to local laws and timings whereas at some stores (such as Tesco) people can purchase alcohol 24/7. Since the purchase isn’t regulated on government level like in the UK, it is easily available and purchasable.

7. Fun facts about the United Kingdom

  • Fun Fact #1: The UK’s Parliament is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 13th century.
  • Fun Fact #2: The Beatles were originally called the “Quarrymen” and performed in Liverpool before becoming global superstars.
  • Fun Fact #3: The iconic red telephone boxes were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott!

Conclusion

Moving from the US to the United Kingdom is an exciting experience that promises a unique experience! It offers an appealing lifestyle, making it attractive to individuals, young professionals, and families alike. The United Kingdom has several family-friendly neighborhoods and communities to offer to its new residents.

Are you planning to move soon? Check the best Removal Companies in London to assist you.

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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