How to Simplify Your Move from the US to the UK

Moving from the U.S. to the U.K. is a big life decision not everyone is willing to make. Some do it to work or study, others to immigrate. Regardless of your reason, there are many things you need to learn and prepare for to make your move hassle-free and straightforward.

Some people will jump the gun and worry about the big things like shipping their furniture and car. They will immediately make a list of potential movers or go online to read Easy Auto Ship reviews to see how much it will cost to bring along their beloved car.

To help you avoid falling into this trap, here are some tips you may follow to get you through the moving process in an efficient manner.

1. Prepare the Required Legal Documents

To enter the U.K., you need to have a valid passport and obtain a visa. The kind of visa you will need depends on the purpose of your move. The most common visas required are family visas, U.K. work visas, and U.K. student visas.

If none of these visas applies in your situation, you might find it challenging to move from the U.S. to the U.K. The type of work visa you will need depends on what job you will do. For instance, Tier 2 visas are for those who will do skilled work. 

You may have a chance to get an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also called the UK settlement visa, if you manage to maintain a work permit for five years. Retired persons of independent means may also get an ILR if they have stayed in the UK for five years continuously.

Meanwhile, students outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will need either a short-term study visa or a Tier 4 student visa for full-time studies. Short-term study visas are for those who want to take short courses in the UK.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Cost of Living

Make sure you understand how much you need to survive in the U.K. Knowing the cost of living will help you plan out other things like rent and transportation. You will be able to decide whether to take your favourite car with you on your move or take public transport until you’re able to afford to buy one here.

According to a June 2021 article from Investopedia, the cost of living in the U.K. is 0.49% lower than in the U.S., with food prices significantly lower in London compared to New York. On average, a single person needs approximately £2,020 monthly, while a family of four needs £3,564.

3. Look for a Place to Live in Advance

Although rent is around 22.55% lower in the UK than in the US, the country’s rental market is relatively small. Only about 10% of people here rent. But don’t worry because rental property exists, but most are located in urban areas.

Renting a one-bedroom house in London could set you back $1,781, while three-bedroom units in the city cost $3,187. Meanwhile, rent costs $674 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,063 for three-bedroom units in Belfast.

Cities known for their low rent include East Lothian and Midlothian in Scotland, Northumberland in England, and Glasgow City in Scotland. The areas that ranked the highest in the U.K. include London, Brighton and Hove, and Bristol.

4. Calculate the Cost of Shipping

Moving your belongings from the US to the UK would mean using a shipping company. It’s not as simple as moving from Birmingham to London, but the same idea. The shipping cost will vary depending on how much stuff you need to ship. It will also depend on the port of origin and destination.

Based on 2020 estimates from, a 20-foot container with furniture worth $53,620 travelling from New York to London will cost approximately $998. It will take about 10 days to arrive. If the container comes from Los Angeles, the cost is $3,313, and it will take 25 days to arrive.

5. Manage Your Money

Another thing you should concern yourself with is the transfer of your money from the U.S. to the U.K. It’s tempting to withdraw everything and exchange them for British pounds. However, it’s better in the long-term to set up a U.K. bank account if you’re planning for a permanent move.

6. Understand Healthcare Coverage for Expats

One of the worst things that could happen after your move is getting sick. Lucky for you, the U.K. has a world-renowned universal healthcare system called the National Health Service (NHS). As an immigrant, you only need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge included in your visa application. 

This payment alone gives you the ability to access the NHS. Except for prescriptions, dental procedures, and fertility treatments, this socialised healthcare system will allow you to see a doctor at very little to no cost. In the UK, you don’t have to get personal health insurance.

7. Prepare Emergency Contacts

Knowing the different emergency contact numbers is essential when moving to a new place, particularly a new country. You need to remember a few emergency contact numbers in the U.K. 

The number 999 is essentially the equivalent of the 911 emergency number in the US. It can be used to contact the police, fire department, and emergency medical responders. The number 112 may also be used as an alternative.

Final Thoughts

Using the tips above can help make your move less stressful and more efficient. Nothing beats preparation, especially with important activities like moving from one country to another.