Moving is always an exciting time, regardless of the reason for the move. Perhaps you are retiring and are looking for a change of pace. Maybe you have found a new job that requires a move, or maybe you just love a particular country and have always dreamed of moving there. Whatever the motivation, there are many things to consider when moving to the United Kingdom (UK)…
One of the first things that you should consider when moving to the UK is the difference between England, Britain and the UK. This is a very confusing fact for many people and yet one that is important so you will not offend people. England is one of four constituent states that are ruled by Her Majesty’s Government in Westminster, London. There is not a separate parliament or assembly in England, as it is simply a state within the United Kingdom. Great Britain is the name of the island where England, Scotland and Wales are located. The UK is an abbreviation for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Interestingly, “The UK” usually has the same meaning as “Britain.” Although you may not understand all of the differences, realizing that there are differences can help.
You need to find out if you are able to get a visa. The longer you plan to stay in a country, the more questions you must answer. A tourist visa allows someone to live in another country for six months without working. However, you may have to prove that you have the money to support yourself while you are there. Otherwise, they can send you home without any other questions being asked. They may also ask to see your return ticket, as proof of your plans to return.
Student visas are available, but they will need proof that you have enough funds to pay for your entire tuition, plus all of your living expenses. You should not go into the country with a student, work or tourist visa and then plan on getting a regular visa. Make sure you understand all of this before you make the move to avoid extra expense and embarrassment.
If you are a United States citizen and you would like to work in the UK, for a U.S. company, you do not need a work visa. However, if you plan to work in the UK for a UK company, you will need a work visa. Your employer must apply for the visa before you arrive at the UK. You (or your employer) may have to prove to the British government why you are more qualified for the position than a British subject, so be prepared to show your portfolio and have recommendations from your employer ready.
One thing that needs to be mentioned is that if you are moving with pets, they must have a period of six months of quarantine at home in the UK before they can go out amongst people and other animals. Shots must be up to date, as well as blood testing and micro-chipping. Your vet should be able to provide you with all of the information you need in order to get your pet passport. It’s something to check on ahead of time though, rather than waiting until right before you leave and realizing you will have to leave your beloved pet behind. Also, look into how you will transport your pet by airline, as all airlines have different rules for pets.
Be prepared for the weather in the UK. The farther north you plan to move, the darker and wetter it is. It does rain plenty in all of England, although it is not constant. During the winter, there will only be about five hours of sunlight, and sometimes this is partially behind clouds. Although it is not a life or death situation, many people truly need more sunlight to function well. Most importantly, it is best to be prepared for the change and know what to expect.
Knowing where to stay in the UK is important also. London is probably the most expensive place, but also the most exciting. Rent is usually paid by the week rather than by the month. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the further north you go, the more the cost of living will decrease. You will find that the northern people of the UK generally enjoy dressing up and enjoying life around the lakes. It’s a more moderately priced area with most people living a more average type lifestyle.
Of course, you must decide how your belongings are going to be shipped when you move. If you are shipping from USA to UK, you will want to compare pricing from an international shipping company. Your furniture and other belongings will take one to two months to arrive by boat in the UK. Also, if you plan to take your vehicle, you will need to look into international auto shipping so you will have your car in the UK when you get there.
There are so many things to consider when moving to the UK and these are just a few of many things to remember. When we are rushed or have reason to move in a hurry, we forget important things and regret it later. In the long run, it’s best to keep good records and start planning as early as possible for your exciting move to the UK.