Being roughly the same size as Europe, and comprising of 50 diverse states, including several amazing cities like New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas, it’s no wonder that many British expats dream of some day moving to the United States.
Of course, relocating to any new country is daunting and many of us struggle to settle in right away. However, by equipping yourself with essential knowledge of visas, healthcare, finance and cultural differences, you’ll be fully prepared for your big move. We discuss several important points expats should know before they move from the UK to America.
Tips for moving to USA
Perhaps the most difficult and overwhelming part of the process of moving to the US is obtaining a visa, which concludes that you are allowed to be there.
Although UK citizens can enter visa-free for up to 90 days (with an ESTA), anything long-term requires a visa, and the category required will depend upon the purpose of your visit, how long you are staying, a various other factors. There are several visa and immigration experts, such as First Migration, who can help you determine the type of visa you need to be applying for, as well as guiding you through the whole process.
Since US visas are notoriously difficult to obtain, especially for those who are intending to stay in the country for a long time, it is beneficial to plan your application well in advance. Moreover, it is important to point out that this is often a long-winded process and it can take years to obtain a permanent right to live in America (known as the “Green Card”).
For detailed up-to-date information on visas, you can visit the US Embassy in the UK website.
One of the most obvious differences between the UK and the US is the fact that our American cousins do not have a free healthcare system. As such, ensuring you have the right health insurance is essential.
In many cases, your US employer should be able to make the necessary provisions for you, but it is extremely important to guarantee you are covered for all types of care in case you need to take out any supplementary insurance cover.
Whatever your situation, or however long you intend to stay in the country, it is vital that you are covered, otherwise you could end up paying an eye-watering sum if the worst were to happen.
Banking and finances
The cost of living may prove to be a lot cheaper, particularly outside of the big cities, however, this of course varies depending on state and city.
Setting up a US bank account is relatively straightforward once you have your social security number. That being said, a good starting point is to see if your current, UK bank has an overseas branch, as this makes the process much easier. Even if it doesn’t have a US presence, your bank may still have connections with American banks, so be sure to query this before moving. In many cases, you might be able to open your US bank before you arrive.
Additionally, ensuring you have an understanding of how the US Tax System works (it is different to the UK system) will certainly put you in a much better position once you have arrived.
America is very reliant on cars because the distances between areas are vast and much more noticeable than in the UK. Public transport outside of major cities can prove tricky, which is why many people rely on driving in order to get around. However, petrol prices, insurance and owning a car in general are more affordable there.
The US also has a prominent tipping culture, in which it is generally customary to leave a 15-20% tip for all customer service facing roles, such as wait staff, taxi drivers, tour guides and bartenders. Although we do tip restaurant staff here in the UK, the culture is so embedded in the US that if you fail to tip, you may be perceived as rude. This is because service industry workers are paid relatively poor wages in America and thus heavily rely on tips to make a living. As such, you will notice that the level of service is normally to a high standard, so be sure to bear the tipping culture in mind when living there.
Religion and national pride play a big role in the lives of many Americans, and you’ll notice how prevalent the US flag is once you arrive. It is therefore wise, as a newcomer in the country, to be respectful of both patriotism and faith.
Removals to the USA
To make the process as hassle-free as possible, it is important to choose a company which specialises in removals to USA and, more specifically, has shipped to the country from the UK on hundreds of different occasions before. This way, you will have peace of mind that the international removals expert is skilled, proficient and will handle your belongings with care.
Whether you are moving from Newcastle to New York, or from London to LA, shipping your belongings overseas has never been easier.