If you’re planning on moving to Birmingham, there are plenty of steps you need to be aware of to make it happen. You’ll need to be mindful of a few things to prepare for such a massive move because you’re going to find a completely different culture and people from what you’re used to being around.
Understand the Cost of Living
To not end up strapped for cash, you need to know the cost of living in Birmingham. In Birmingham, you can expect to pay approximately $1000 USD per month for a single person, not including rent. If you’re going with family, you can expect to pay closer to $3000 USD per month without rent.
You’ll need to think about where you want to live because apartments in the city center are more expensive than those that are a little further. You can get a three-bedroom apartment outside of the city for close to the same price as a one-bedroom apartment inside the city.
Typical expenses like groceries and entertainment are about on par with average costs in the US and are considerably less compared to a place like New York City.
If you’re like many Americans, you will still have a fond love of your car. One thing you might choose to do to lower your expenses when moving to Birmingham is to ship your car. It isn’t quite as expensive as you might think and you can easily get car shipping quotes online to help aide you in the process.
Need a Passport
First things first, you need a passport. No matter where you are coming from, you’ll need a valid passport to gain entry into the UK. As a US citizen, you’ll need to plan to have your passport ready with plenty of time, as it can take weeks to get it.
If you’re a first-time passport applicant, you’ll need to apply in person at a location where passport applications are accepted. Typically, this is a local post office, but there may be other options near you, so you’ll have to Google and see what is nearby.
Getting a passport is a big deal, and you have to provide proof of citizenship, a valid state or federally issued ID, along with copies of these documents. You will also need to have your fees available, ranging between $120-$180, depending on your circumstances. The entire process can also take up to 18 weeks, so apply well ahead of the time you’ll need it. Even the expedited process takes 12 weeks, so either way, you’re looking at a pretty long time before it comes back to you.
Student, Work, or Family Visas
Visitors are allowed six months in the UK without visas. If you intend to stay longer, you need to have a reason and apply for a visa. Keep in mind that your visa must be approved before traveling.
Available visa options include student, work, and family visas. Student visas apply when you plan on doing courses or studying in the UK as a full-time student. You’ll need proof of a local sponsor, proof you know the language, proof of income or financial support, and proof of intention to study in the UK.
Work visas are an option if you have been offered a job and have accepted the position. If that happens, your employer would be considered your sponsor and would give you a certificate proving as much. If the employer is not licensed as a sponsor, then it won’t work. You’ll also need to provide proof of salary, proof of funds upon arrival, a valid passport, a criminal record or lack thereof, and possibly your vaccination record.
Family visas are an option if you have family living in the UK. If you want a family visa, you’ll need to prove that you’re related to a resident via marriage or parent-child relationship. You may also provide proof that you’re caring for an older relative that needs you. There are a few other ways to qualify, but you’ll need to apply through the government.
Open a Bank Account and Find a Place to Live
Opening a banking account is also critical to your move. Since banking is not a convoluted process in the UK, it should be fairly straightforward to get one set up. To make that happen, you’ll need to exchange your dollars for pounds. Exchanging through a bank is easiest, but know the exchange rate before you do it to get the most return on your money. It also keeps the banks honest.
To open a bank account, you need to have an address. Temporary addresses are acceptable, as the bank needs to know where to find you if necessary. Look for a place to live ahead of time so you’ll have that information when you open up your account. Rentals can be challenging to find, but if you give yourself enough lead time, you’ll find one without too much of a problem.
The Bottom Line
Moving to Birmingham, or anywhere else in the UK, from the United States isn’t difficult if you are aware of the steps you need to take ahead of time. First, make sure you have your passport because nothing will happen without one. You’ll also need to see if you qualify for a visa by filling out an application that gets processed through the government. Give it plenty of time to come back, as it can take several weeks. Remember to compare the cost of living while you’re waiting for your visa and passport to come back so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Once you’ve found a place to live and have arrived in the UK, get a bank account open, and you’ll be ready to make yourself right at home.