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Planning an International Relocation from the U.S. to the U.K.? Here are some essentials you’ll want to know

INTRO/SUMMARY

The United Kingdom is made up of four constituent nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. “Great Britain” is the largest component part of the U.K. and is comprised of England, Scotland and Wales. The most notable cities include:

  • London – the capital of the UK
  • Belfast – the capital of Northern Ireland
  • Birmingham – the second largest city in the UK
  • Cardiff – the capital of Wales
  • Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland
  • Glasgow – the largest city in Scotland
  • Liverpool – famous for its contributions to sports and music
  • Manchester – known for arts and music

Uniquely among European capitals, London is considered as having two “downtowns.” The original City of London – with its medieval city walls, castle and cathedral – is the point from where the metropolis grew over the centuries. This area is still considered as the financial and commercial center of London. The seat of Government and the residence of the Royal family are 6.5 km (4 miles) to the West of here, in the borough of Westminster. This is considered as the other “center” of the British capital. The United Kingdom is made up of four constituent nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Meet the “Neighbors”

One of the many attributes about living in the UK, is the proximity to so many different countries, cultures, historical and potential vacation sites. While travel is a little more complicated than in the past, within a couple of hours drive, flight or train ride, you can visit:

Or vacation in:

Climate:

The UK has a temperate climate. In general, this means that Britain gets cool, wet winters and warm, wet summers. It rarely features the extremes of heat or cold, drought or wind that are common in other climates. The weather conditions are also very changeable.

Not all parts of the UK have the same climate. London, in the south-east of the UK, is a region characterized by a warm and dry climate in the summer and a cold and dry climate in the winter.

Public Transportation:

Plane

The UK’s relatively small size means that flying is often not the most convenient option. The exception is when a sea crossing would be involved. Photo ID is required when boarding a domestic flight in the UK. Most of the large airports are connected to the national rail network.

Train

The National Rail network operates over 21,000 miles through England, Scotland and Wales. Rail travel is popular in the UK. Northern Ireland Railways operates the rail system in Northern Ireland.

There are three types of tickets available:

  • Advance purchase – must be purchased in advance and allows for travel on a specific train on a specific day and time
  • Off-Peak – may be purchased at any time for off-peak travel after 9:30AM and at any time on weekends.
  • Anytime – may be purchased at any time for travel at any time.

A seat reservation may or may not be included with a ticket purchase. It is best to check the fine print on the ticket.

Research your destination

How to Move to the UK: the Complete Relocation Guide | InterNations GO!
The Complete Expat Guide to the United Kingdom | Expatica
Moving to the UK from the US | What Should I Know in 2020? | MoveHub
How to Move to the UK: Ultimate FAQ – The Portable Wife

Visa Immigration Guidelines

New immigration system: what you need to know – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Housing Options

Just like in the United States, the housing market internationally, for the most part has been upended by COVID-19. The U.K. real estate market and your Housing Options may not be the same one you were looking into over a year ago when you were first considering moving abroad.

Mainly, you want to do your research so that you aren’t surprised, and don’t find yourself unprepared late into the moving process. Get a good understanding of what an appropriate housing budget may be and set your expectations accordingly as you search for accommodations.

Estimated Housing Costs in the UK

Average house price in the U.K.: $280,835; Average apartment price in the U.K.: $244,747

Cheapest place to buy a house in the U.K.: Newcastle-under-Lyme (average price £62,519)

OUTLINE/STEPS

Gather essential documents i.e. “Get Your Docs in a Row” The most important first step is your international moving checklist. There are so many new elements to moving internationally that it’s important to keep track of every little detail – even more helpful if you put it onto a timeline for what you want to accomplish and when. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed trying to do everything at once.

In general, the documents you will want to gather include:

  • Birth certificates for each member of your family
  • Adoption papers
  • Marriage licenses/divorce papers
  • Home mortgage information and other financial records
  • Legal/tax/insurance documents
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Social Security cards
  • Medical records for each member of the family, including immunization records
  • School transcripts
  • Veterinary records for each pet
  • Passports for each family member
  • Visas and work permits
  • Employment contracts
  • Consulate and embassy contact information
  • COVID-19 vaccine card/certification

Be sure to make photocopies of everything and store in a safe, secure place. Once that is all started, apply for a residence permit or visa, and reach out to an experienced international moving company to assist you the rest of the way. At Suddath, we even assign you a single-point-of-contact Move Counselor to help ensure you have everything you need and have all of the information necessary to make your transition abroad go smoothly.

Planning for your household goods move

  • Pre-move survey
  • Cost comparisons – make sure you compare trustworthy companies
  • What can I take? Understand prohibited and restricted items
  • Customs clearance documentation for the U.K.
  • Discard & Donate options

Taking the family pet?

Pets are family too! So if you are planning to take your furry friend(s) with you, it is vital that you understand the requirements to bring or ship your pet and begin planning well in advance to ensure a safe arrival.

Know before you go & depart with confidence

For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and related travel restrictions, please check out the site below:

COVID-19 Information | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom (usembassy.gov)

And for country-specific information, please go to the below websites.

International Gateways to the UK

There are five airports local to London through which most visitors to the UK arrive. The two most convenience include:

  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is one of the busiest international airports in the world. It is fifteen miles west of London. Over 80 airlines provide service at Heathrow and it is the main hub for British Airways.
  • London Gatwick Airport (LGW) is thirty miles south of London and is the second largest airport in the UK. It is well served by international flights from cities in Europe and around the world.

Other major UK airports include:

Living in the UK – what to expect

  • Cultural Tidbitscommon words, phrases, greetings that are different than in the United States
  • Schooling – The U.K. educational system is made up of primary school, secondary school and university. Key considerations can be found here.
  • Healthcare – The UK has a government-sponsored universal healthcare system called the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS consists of a series of publicly funded healthcare systems in the UK called the Commonwealth Fund. Citizens are entitled to healthcare under this system but have the option to buy private health insurance as well.

Also look into how you want to handle your healthcare insurance. People living in the UK can benefit from the country’s universal healthcare system (National Health Service or NHS) and once you’ve paid your Immigration Health Surcharge, you can use the NHS.

This surcharge is included in your visa application, so it’s not something you need to pay beyond visa fees. At this point, you can take advantage of the free services offered to people in the UK. Note that prescriptions and dental care, for example, do cost some money.

Or you can choose to pay for private insurance. Some people decide to go that route, often because it can help to reduce wait times for care.

Slice of Life – Cultural Etiquette

The British pub is the centerpiece of the social life. There exists special etiquette which is practiced among locals. General “pub” behavior consists of buying drinks for others. While socializing with someone, it is polite to order a drink for the counterpart by asking, “And one for yourself?” Understanding the proper behavior is highly recommended. For example, while watching soccer matches, one should refer to this as “football” and use two fingers to form a “V” for victory.

Britain refers to the island on which England, Wales, and Scotland are located. However, Welsh and Scots do not prefer to be referred to as “Brits”. Since Northern Ireland shares the island of Eire with the Republic of Ireland, it is considered impolite and incorrect to refer to someone from Eire a “Brit.” Also, the English do not consider themselves “European.” 

In conversations at business and social settings, one should avoid discussing politics, religion, controversial issues, or personal matters unless a relationship has been established. One should also avoid making jokes about the Royal family. Acceptable topics would include travel, sports, music, sightseeing, theatre, and movies. One should also be aware of the culturally determined space between people. Unlike other countries in the West, wide physical space should always be maintained. The British are generally reserved. One should maintain a calm and reticent demeanor and avoid excessive movements. If one would like to reference something private or confidential, one should tap their nose.

Clothing in the UK conforms to the occasion. Business attire is neat and conservative for both men and women. Some occasions require formal dress. Casual clothing is suitable only at casual settings.

Source: World Trade Resource

FAQ’S

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What costs should I expect to pay to move to the UK? 
  • Homeowners: U.S. Home sale costs or property management for temporary move
  • Renters: Lease breakage
  • Contract cancellation or penalties for utilities, cable, internet, car lease
  • Costs associated with visa preparation for you and each family member
  • Proper export pack/wrap, load and shipping of your household goods and personal effects – also storage at destination, if needed
  • Travel costs for you and each family member (including Fido or Felix!)
  • Security deposit for apartment/flat or proper funds for home purchase
  • Start-up fees for utilities, TV, internet etc.
  1. What are your top tips for navigating an international move to the U.K.?

To start, work with a financially sound, well established FIDI FAIMPlus accredited mover like Suddath.

We can’t say this too many times: plan early and book early! The industry is still experiencing some container shortages and port congestion so some delays may be unavoidable. Remain as flexible as possible and be sure to book your move dates first BEFORE your departure flights.  

Since shipping costs are based on both the weight and the volume of your goods, and because houses and flats are typically smaller in square footage, consider using a “discard or donate” type service that allows you to declutter and avoid paying to ship items that you may never use or have room for in your new residence. See links below for a few options:

Be aware of all potential charges and fees. A good forwarder, like Suddath, will be transparent and advise detailed door-to-door costs in writing as well as what is (or is not) included.  

What do people like most about living in the U.K.?

To answer this, we asked our very own British born, Peter Bowsher (Director, Business Development & Client Services) what he liked most about being from and living in the U.K. He replied:

  • History and culture: Being an avid culture vulture and appreciating all things historical, I was blessed with history, culture and pomp and circumstances being on my doorstep daily, whilst working or at leisure. UK is so small compared to the US, wherever you go—you see, feel and touch the rich history of the U.K. whether on business in London, Cardiff or Edinburgh, there’s always something to see.
  • Vacation (PTO) times: Longer vacation times and it always felt like more public holidays when in the UK. We went away at least a couple of times a year to chase the sun. The wet bank holiday weekend down the pub was norm.
  • Access to Europe: Trains, planes and automobiles! Weekends in Paris, Antwerp & Bruges were always welcome with easy access by train or ferry.
  • NHS (National Health System): Still a jewel and knowing you would always be taken care of and not go bankrupt after treatment completion.
  • Modern airports and stations/great public transport: Over 20 years going back to London Heathrow always got better and bigger with more choices for shopping & eating. Flying out of Newark and or JFK…not so much.  
  • Pubs – why is that not surprising? Cheers! Growing up and even going home for visits, the pub was always the central meeting point for friends from near or far.

CONCLUSION

If you are looking for assistance for your  international move, reach out to Suddath for a quote and honest guidance on how to make your experience as smooth and secure as possible.