Moving to the UK from USA

Moving to the UK from USA

Guide to Moving Abroad to the UK From the US

Many Americans choose to live in the United Kingdom due to its strong historical, political, and cultural connections with the US. The UK also provides excellent work, travel, and study options for Americans. Currently, around 200,000 Americans reside in the UK, and more people move there each year. Moving to the UK from the USA is relatively easy for expats.

Although transportation links are typically easy and there are usually no language barriers, becoming an American expat still poses challenges. To ensure a smooth transition, it is recommended to plan and organize logistics well in advance for a big move.

2 types of legal resident status for American citizens who want to live in England

There are two common types of legal resident status for American citizens who wish to live in England:

Tier 2 General UK Visa

This visa category is designed for skilled workers who have a job offer from a UK employer. To qualify, individuals must meet specific criteria, including having a valid job offer, a certificate of sponsorship from their employer, and sufficient knowledge of the English language. The employer sponsoring the visa must also meet certain requirements, such as being a licensed sponsor.

Tier 4 Student Visa:

Student visa is for American citizens who wish to study in the UK. It is applicable to individuals enrolled in a recognized educational institution in England. To obtain a Tier 4 visa, applicants must have an offer of a place from a licensed UK educational institution, provide evidence of financial support, and demonstrate proficiency in the English language.

It’s important to note that immigration rules and visa requirements can change over time. It is advisable to consult the official UK government websites or seek professional legal advice for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding legal resident status options for American citizens in England.

Understanding Visa Requirements

American citizens have the opportunity to travel, study, and live in the UK for a maximum period of six months without the ability to work. However, if you intend to secure employment, you will need to obtain an appropriate visa.

There are various UK work visas available, catering to a wide range of professions, including entertainers, athletes, and religious leaders. However, the most commonly utilized option among Americans is the Skilled Workers Visa, previously known as the Tier 2 General work visa.

To be eligible for a Skilled Workers visa, you must receive a confirmed job offer from a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office.

Your employer is required to provide a certificate of sponsorship containing specific details about the offered position, which must be listed as an eligible occupation. You must receive a salary that meets the minimum level set for your particular field.

Housing in the UK


Homes and apartments in the UK tend to be smaller compared to those in the United States. While this might not pose a significant issue for individuals moving from New York City to London, where studio apartment living is common, many Americans relocating to the UK may find it challenging to adjust to smaller house styles. Downsizing becomes a tough decision that needs to be made.

Beyond the styles and sizes of homes, there are practical considerations for Americans searching for a place to live in the UK. One crucial aspect is proving that you have the legal right to reside in the United Kingdom. If you are on a six-month visa, it will be extremely difficult to secure a one-year lease agreement.

Besides proof of right of abode, additional documents can greatly assist in your housing search. Having letters of reference from previous landlords and a copy of your credit report can demonstrate why you would make a desirable tenant.

Cost of Living in the UK

Housing costs in the UK are high. The average resident spends about 40% of their income on housing, compared to the 28% that EU citizens must allocate. London, in particular, is among the most expensive cities in the world.

However, if you’re relocating from New York or San Francisco, you might notice that it’s marginally cheaper than what you’re used to. However, London is just one city. visa application

There are many small cities, towns, and villages across the United Kingdom that are positively affordable, no matter how you look at it. If you’re self-employed or location-independent, it’s worth looking at the average price outside the major cities.

When calculating your housing costs, remember that Council Tax is often an additional cost on top of your rent. Similar to a property tax, a Council Tax covers the cost of local services like maintaining parks and emergency services. It can easily cost the equivalent of an extra $100 to $500 a month.

The price of groceries, transportation, and entertainment will vary widely depending on where you live and the kind of lifestyle you want.

As a rough guide, you can expect that staples like rice, oranges, tomatoes, onions, and bananas will cost less than 2 GBP a kilogram. Single-use transportation tickets generally come in at 2 to 4 GBP a ride. Cinema tickets average out at 10 GBP but can range from 5 to 15 GBP depending on the style of theatre and its location.

Expat healthcare

When relocating to the UK, it is important to familiarize yourself with local culture and customs as well as the healthcare system. The United Kingdom has a national health service (NHS), which provides free healthcare for British citizens. However, US citizens who do not have permanent resident status or the right to work in the UK may be charged an Immigration Health Surcharge.

It is also important to consider how you will finance your move to UK. Make sure that you understand tax laws for expats, as well as any regulations related to immigration, UK visas, and work permits.

Healthcare in the UK

Healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service. All citizens, permanent residents, and international students have automatic access to free healthcare services at point of use. Additionally, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) must be paid in advance for those Indians coming to study or work in the UK on visas that last longer than six months. The IHS is £624 a year per person (£470 for students) and allows access to the NHS services.

In conclusion, there are many considerations for those Americans moving to the UK in 2023. It is important to research legal resident status options, plan housing before arrival, budget for shipping costs and living expenses, and understand healthcare coverage in the UK. With the right preparation, a successful move to the UK is possible.

Figuring Out the Visa Requirements

The visa requirements in the UK are constantly changing, so it is important to stay up-to-date on what is required to move there. Generally speaking, US citizens need a valid passport and must apply for either a “standard visit visa” or an “ancilliary purpose visa” (for longer stays). Those looking to work in the UK must apply for a “work permit” or a “Tier 2 visa.”

It is also important to note that those who have lived in the UK for five consecutive years are eligible to apply for permanent residency status (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain, or ILR). After 12 months of ILR status, you can apply for British citizenship.

In addition to immigration requirements, US citizens must also familiarize themselves with the UK’s employment laws before relocating. Understanding labor rights and regulations will help ensure a successful transition into your new home abroad

With some research and preparation, those interested in moving to the UK from the US will be able to make an informed decision. Knowing what is required to move abroad and how it may impact your life is essential for a successful transition.

Can you use the state healthcare services?

US citizens are eligible to use the state healthcare services in the UK. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides free health care for those who are “ordinarily resident” in the UK. To qualify as an ordinary resident, one must have been living in the UK for at least three months and have a permanent address in the UK. This means that US citizens who have recently moved to the UK may be able to access this service by registering with a local doctor, dentist, or hospital and paying any applicable fees.

It is important to note that those on a visit visa are not eligible for NHS services as they must pay upfront for any medical services received. This includes paying for prescriptions and medical bills, which can be expensive. Therefore, it is advisable to invest in a travel insurance policy before relocating to the UK from the US in order to cover any medical costs incurred during your stay abroad.

Best Health Insurance for US Expats Living in the UK

For US expats living in the UK, it is important to make sure that you have adequate and appropriate health insurance coverage. While the NHS provides free medical care for residents, there are still expenses associated with it such as prescription fees or dental costs. Additionally, even when eligible for NHS services, waiting times can be lengthy due to a shortage of doctors and other healthcare professionals in the UK.

One option for US expats living in the UK is to purchase private health insurance, which often provides quicker access to medical services as well as coverage for additional expenses not covered by NHS. Additionally, you may be able to find international health insurance plans tailored specifically for US citizens abroad. These plans typically provide coverage for medical expenses incurred outside of the UK, which can be especially helpful if you plan on traveling regularly.

It is important to note that the cost of health insurance in the UK differs greatly from that in the US and can be more expensive due to higher premiums associated with expats. As such, it is important to research and compare various health insurance plans to find one that best suits your needs and budget. Additionally, you should always make sure that the insurer you choose is licensed in the UK to ensure the quality of coverage.

Overall, when moving from the US to the UK, it is important to research and understands all aspects of healthcare before your move so that you can make an informed decision about the best health insurance option for you. With a suitable health insurance plan in place, you will have peace of mind that your medical needs are taken care of while living abroad.

Banking in the UK

Your American credit card can be used in most UK stores, but it’s important to make sure it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Credit card payments in the UK use chips and pins for security, making it easy to quickly pay for low-cost items. However, if your credit card charges these fees, any convenience gained by using it will be lost due to the added expense.

In order to create a real bank account, you must provide two types of documents. The first must verify your identity, and a passport, driver’s license, or EU identification card will be sufficient. The second must prove your address. For this purpose, you could use a mortgage statement, a utility bill, a bank or credit card statement, or a council tax bill.

Moving to the UK from the US can be difficult if you don’t have a UK address to receive mail. To avoid this issue, some expats change their credit card statement mailing address before their move so that they can receive mail immediately upon arrival in the UK. However, it’s essential to have a trusted address to use for this plan, ideally a family member or close friend in the UK where you will be staying with. You can always change the mailing address later on.

Frequently Ask Questions:

Q: What health insurance plans are available to US expats living in the UK?

A: US citizen living in the UK can purchase private health insurance, which often provides quicker access to medical services as well as coverage for additional expenses not covered by NHS. Additionally, you may be able to find international health insurance plans tailored specifically for US citizens abroad.

Q: What documents do I need to open a bank account in the UK?

A: You must provide two types of documents in order to create a real bank account: one document that verifies your identity (e.g. passport, driver’s license, or EU identification card) and one document that proves your address (e.g. mortgage statement, utility bill, bank or credit card statement, or council tax bill).

Q: How can I receive mail in the UK if I don’t have an address?

A: To avoid this issue, some expats change their credit card statement mailing address before their move so that they can receive mail immediately upon arrival in the UK. However, it is essential to have a trusted address to use for this plan, ideally a family member or close friend in the UK where you will be staying with. You can always change the mailing address later on.

Q: What visa do I need to move to the UK from USA?

A: Depending on your specific situation and purpose for relocating, there are a variety of visas available for US citizens moving to the UK. These include student visas, retirement visas, and work visas. It is important to research each option carefully before submitting an application so that you can choose the most appropriate visa for your needs.

Q: Are there any special requirements for Commonwealth citizens?

A: Yes, Commonwealth citizens may be eligible to live and work in the UK without the need for a visa. However, they are still required to prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and can show that they meet the other eligibility criteria. In general, this means having enough money to cover accommodation and living expenses for at least 6 months.

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