Relocating To The USA From The UK
Moving to the USA from the UK is a major life change. And although we share a common language, there are still plenty of differences between these great countries. Whether your move is personal or professional, there’s much to prepare before you head west and relocate to your new life, wherever that might be. This guide will show you how to move to the USA from the UK with all the information you need to help you quickly settle into life in the US. And, of course, UPakWeShip will help you get there hassle-free.
Preparing for your move
As far as life-changing experiences go, it’s hard to beat moving to the USA from the UK, but it can also be a daunting task. There are many things to consider when preparing for your move, from ensuring you have the correct documentation and travel documents to sorting your finances and finding a new home. Having a packing plan and preparing well before your departure date is also essential to avoid unnecessary stress or issues. Let’s look into some key things to consider as you prepare to move to the USA, so you can hit the ground running when you arrive.
Researching your destination
Researching your destination is a crucial first step in preparing for your move. Familiarising yourself with your new home’s way of life, especially your potential new neighbourhood, town or city, and state, can help you adjust quickly and feel more comfortable in your new surroundings.
Take some time to research the area you’ll be moving to, including the local housing market, schools, healthcare facilities, and local laws and customs. You should also look into the cost of living, job opportunities, and transportation options. By doing your research upfront, you’ll have a much better understanding of what to expect and start planning for a smooth transition to your new life wherever you go in the USA.
Finding a place to live
Finding a place to live is critical to preparing for your move. Whether you plan to rent or buy, it’s essential to research the housing market in your destination city or town. Start your search as soon as possible before leaving, so you have enough time to find the right place for you and your family.
Even though renting may be a temporary stopgap while you look to buy somewhere, think about factors such as location, size, and amenities. And with many rentals coming with a 6 or 12-month lease, you can give yourself the time you need.
But when you’re ready to buy, the process can differ from what you might be used to in the UK. Finding a real estate agent who can help you navigate the buying process is essential, and they can guide you through the process of getting a mortgage and help you find the right home for you.
Arrange your finances
Whether you’re arriving in the USA to work or not, arranging your finances beforehand is vital. First, open a US-based bank account to make things much easier when you arrive. While you can do this from the UK, some US banks will require a US residential address, so look into which major banks will help you do this before you leave.
If you can set this up, you can immediately transfer money into your new US account. Remember, doing this through a UK bank can be slow and expensive. So for a faster, cheaper alternative, use a specialist money transfer company, but compare their rates before you do anything. And don’t forget about paying taxes. Unless you can completely sever ties with the UK, you may still be liable for UK tax and National Insurance through property rental or inheritance tax, for example.
Getting your essential travel documents
First, ensure your passport is valid for at least six months before your departure date. You can’t leave home without it, so get a new one in good time if necessary. Second, moving to the USA requires the appropriate visa to stay long-term. These will fall into two categories:
A non-immigrant visa is needed for any temporary visit. So think holidays, business trips, or extended study or work situations. Most non-immigrant visas are valid for 90 days, and you need to head back to the UK when or before it expires.
You’ll need an immigrant visa for permanent residence anywhere in the USA. It’s much harder to gain than a non-immigrant visa, but once your application is approved, it will be valid for one year and allow you to get your green card, so you’ll have the same rights as any US citizen and a chance to get a US passport.
Make a packing plan
Packing can be the hardest part of starting a new life in another country. But organisation and planning are the best ways to deal with a potentially complicated and certainly time-consuming task. You should start looking into international moving companies, arranging storage (if necessary), and filling boxes well before your move date.
Start with underused rooms first, as these will generally have fewer items and ones that aren’t needed daily. Try not to do too much all in one go and ensure you have enough time to thoroughly review each room, deciding what you want to keep and what you can sell, recycle, or throw away along the way. And keep all your personal and home essentials to one side, so they don’t get packed by mistake!
Coping with a new way of life
Moving to the USA from the UK will be challenging, bringing a new way of life. But with planning, there are certainly ways to cope with it. To help ease you into your new life, we’ve gathered some suggestions on how to settle your nerves, avoid homesickness, and prepare ahead of your move and after you arrive.
Understanding the cultural differences
While we share a language, there are plenty of cultural differences between the USA and the UK. So, to help you ‘fit in’, here are a few things to remember:
- Public holidays are a big deal and often very patriotic, especially Thanksgiving, which is bigger than Christmas – and that can be limited to just a few days.
- In the UK, our retail prices include taxes (VAT), so what we see on the price tag is what we pay. In the States, taxes are always added at the point of purchase, so you’ll pay more than the advertised price.
- The legal age for buying and drinking alcohol in the UK is 18, but in the US, it’s 21. Plus, any penalties for getting caught can be hefty.
- If you’re a sports fan, then it might be time to let football, cricket, or rugby take a backseat. Americans are big into sports, but you might need to focus on American football, baseball, or basketball now.
- Although it’s becoming more popular in the UK, there’s no need to leave a tip when you eat out if you don’t want to. But in the US, it’s expected. You should always tip your server up to 20%, and it’s seen as a bit of an insult if you don’t.
- Be aware that guns are legal in the USA. This is one of the biggest culture shocks for many people from the UK – especially when you see them for sale in a supermarket! Almost every household will own at least one, and you may even see people carrying them around.
- In the UK, most workers can expect anything from 4-6 weeks of paid leave. But in the US, most workers get an average of just two weeks of paid vacation time. So if you plan to work there, prepare to have less paid holiday available.
Creating a support network
Finding new friends can be tricky at the best of times. But a good place to start is to connect with ex-pats from the UK who are already in the US and can become good friends and a source of support as you find your feet. Look online for apps and local resources to help find ex-pat groups with social events. But get to know local people in your neighbourhood, too – they may be able to support you in different ways as you settle in.
Keeping in touch with people back home
Though you’ll be busy living your new life, always keep in touch with friends and family in the UK using free Skype, Zoom, Teams, or Facetime apps. These vital connections will help you stay grounded, despite the distance, and you’ll get to catch up with life and events back home.
Finding your way around
While you’ll have researched your new town or city, you’ll need to get to know your local neighbourhood and find your bearings. So take some time to know where your nearest convenience stores are, and larger supermarkets, shopping malls, banks, doctors, and dentists.
And if you’re planning to drive anywhere, your UK driving licence won’t be valid in the US, so you’ll need to take a new test. And if you don’t intend to drive, it’s helpful to have up-to-date timetables for public transport to help you go further afield.
Settling into life in the USA
Once your move to the USA from the UK is complete and you’re slowly settling in and getting used to things, it’s time to get some of the more critical life essentials sorted out too. Here are some things you might need to understand sooner rather than later.
Enrolling in health insurance
Being from the UK, you’ll be used to ‘free at the point of care’ healthcare from the NHS. Unfortunately, such a thing doesn’t exist in the US. But health insurance does – and it can be expensive. All medical costs must be paid for, so health insurance is essential when moving to the US. If you’re going to work, your employer might offer an employer-sponsored healthcare plan. They’ll cover a percentage of the premiums, and you make up the rest. This option is probably the most affordable one.
Other healthcare options include individual healthcare plans, where you pay all the premiums, which can be the most expensive depending on the cover you require. Government-backed plans such as Medicare are also available, but generally, this is available for people with low incomes or disabilities. Always speak to a specialist healthcare advisor for help before signing up for any plan.
Finding employment in America
If you already have a job lined up, perhaps with your current employer in a US-based office, this will make your entry into the US and immigration process much easier. If you’re starting your job search from scratch, a great place to start is to seek out other UK companies with US offices.
However, employment prospects are high in the US right now, particularly if you’re qualified in telecoms, engineering, or finance. But even if you’re not fully qualified in a specific area, there’s demand for UK workers to take up construction, web design/development, or retail opportunities if you have good experience in these and other fields.
Understanding the tax system
Before you move, you should have an understanding of how taxes work in the US. It’s a very different – and probably even more confusing – system to the UK. As a US resident, you must confirm your global income (using a system of foreign tax credits) and file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
To register with the IRS when you arrive, you’ll need to fill out plenty of paperwork, including:
- Form SS-5 to apply for a social security number
- Form W-9 to inform any employer of your details for salary payments
- Form 1040 to complete your tax returns
- Form 1040-ES to estimate your tax liability and make quarterly payments to the IRS
- Form W-4 for your employer to work out the correct federal income tax from your pay
Needless to say, there’s a lot to cover, and you may even have more forms to complete depending on your situation, such as if you’re self-employed. Research beforehand to find out as much as possible, but seek advice from a financial adviser as soon as you can.
Registering for school education
If you have kids, registering for a school is a priority. The US education system has high standards, with children starting their education at pre-school and kindergarten, before moving to an elementary school, middle or junior high school, and finally, high school.
Children will likely go to different schools for each stage of their education, but they should be within your local catchment area. Teaching standards and the syllabus can differ from state to state, so it’s best to research and contact schools to see how well your child will adjust to their system before enrolling anywhere.
Let UPakWeShip help move you to the USA
There’s plenty to consider before and when you move to the USA from the UK. But, as your world heads west in readiness for your new life, UPakWeShip will make the journey as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
From moving pallets to the USA to a large container for a major family move, our team will help you find the best service that covers everything you need at guaranteed, affordable prices. Even our competitive shipping insurance will do its bit to make your life easier and less expensive. Contact us today at 020 3004 9700 or +31(0)6 21 61 76 19, email email@example.com to get your free quick quote, or book now to get started.