More than 678,000 British expats currently live in the US, where many of them have moved to pursue more interesting career opportunities. Whether you’re considering relocating yourself, planning ahead or in the midst of it, follow our top tips below to make it OK across the pond. See you on the other side!
Unless you’re a proud minimalist, you won’t escape the true ordeal that is packing all your belongings inside 10 cardboard boxes. Books, clothes and kitchen utensils can all be packed easily into parcels and sent via courier from the UK to the US. Be sure to check online first in order to find the best deals and most reputable companies that will take care of your stuff.
Smaller electrical appliances can also be packed but be aware that US plugs are different from the UK ones. That wouldn’t have been too much of a problem with a nifty converter but voltage varies too and can cause some issues. It might be cheaper and you might be better off buying some new ones on the spot.
Living costs will be different. Ideally, you will be able to rely on a financial cushion in order to overcome any unplanned costs - and it’s guaranteed there will be some! It’s also worth checking out current double tax agreements and what savings, investments and retirement scheme options will be available to you once you set foot in the US.
To buy or not to buy
You might want to consider trying a hotel or a short-term accommodation before buying or renting for longer. It will be easier to find the house and neighbourhood that are good for you once you’re already on American soil and have seen more of the city you’re moving to. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the American property business is a bit different than the one we’re used to: in the US, real estate agents work independently, affiliated to a brand or company. They do a lot of the work for you, which can be very handy for expat who are not yet familiar with the system. As a consequence, fees are often a little higher -- up to 6% of the total sales price, as opposed to 3% on average in the UK.
Last year, Britain’s NHS was voted “world’s best health-care system” by the Washington-based Commonwealth Fund and sadly you’re about to leave it! American health care is mostly private, so you’re going to have to dig a little deeper in your pockets. With the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, yearly private insurance marketplace, Medicare and Medicaid, health insurance in the US can be extremely complex and the one issue that you should probably consider investigating a little further before moving. Good luck!