10 Tips to Survive As an American Expat in The UK


If you are an American that is looking to live in the UK, then you have made a great choice. The UK is home to some of the very best restaurants, museums, and historical sites in the world. It could be that you are planning on a move to England, or you could be looking at Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Regardless of your choice, what you will find is that the UK is welcoming as well as has some stunning scenery to take in.

There is no doubt that making the move to the UK is a big one. There is plenty to consider to ensure that all goes well and that you manage to settle in your new country. We’re going to take a look at 10 tips that can see it all going smoothly.

1) Legal requirements

First things first. Before you look at making the move to the UK, you need to be sure that you understand, and meet, all of the legal requirements. To be fair, the process of moving from America to the UK is a structured one and relatively easy to follow.

You will have to review the visa that you will need. Generally, you will be looking at a family visa or a work visa. If these visas don’t apply to your circumstances then you may find it more than a little tricky to make your move to the UK.

2) Open a bank account

In order to manage your money while you are living in the UK, you are going to need a bank account. The good news is that opening an account in the UK is a straightforward process. The fact that many of the banks here are international ones means that there are rarely any barriers to you getting an account opened up.

It may be that you fund your account with wages from the UK. It may also be that you have money sent to you from back home. If this is the case, you will find that there are fees involved for the currency to be converted from dollars to pounds.

3) Look at money transfer providers

We have just touched on having money sent to your bank account from home. It may also be the case that you want to send money back to America for friends or family members. If you do want to send money to the USA, it is important to understand all of the requirements for the transfer, as well as the best transfer options from a financial point of view.

You will usually find that money transfer providers offer better options than your bank. You will see that money transfers are made much more quickly and that the fees involved are also less. Finding a trusted provider makes it easy to send funds whenever you want to.

4) Looking at healthcare

One thing that you’ll see that is majorly different to back home is how healthcare works in the UK. In America, you will be used to having medical insurance and you will be used to healthcare being on the expensive side. Coming over to the UK can bring some great benefits here.

Here, there is access to the National Health Service. This sees access to medical care being free, or significantly cheaper than in America. When you know where you are going to be living, you will need to make contact and register yourself with a doctor’s surgery.

5) Look at the cost of living

Before you make the move to the UK, you need to be sure that you understand the cost of living. Moving without knowing about this could mean that living here becomes unaffordable and causes you serious financial issues. You can avoid this by carrying out some research beforehand.

You will find that the cost of living can differ depending on where you are in the UK. Generally, the further south that you are, the more expensive the cost of living will be.

6) Understand the taxes that you will pay

You may well be used to the tax system in America, but when you come across the UK, you will find that this is different. The main taxes that you will need to be aware of are our income tax and national insurance. These go towards funding healthcare as well as other public services.

There are other taxes that are worth having an overview of too. These include the likes of inheritance tax and capital gains tax.

7) Getting to know the language

Yes, in America you already speak English so you may need to be wondering why you need to learn the language before you arrive. You will possibly be aware that there are certain words that have a different meaning in the UK compared to the USA.

It is not just differences between the UK and America to consider. You will also find that there are regional differences and quirks that you will need to become accustomed to, depending upon exactly where you settle.

8) Stay connected

Making the move from one country to another is no small deal. It is too easy to find yourself somewhere new and begin to feel isolated. You can avoid this by making sure that you are staying in touch. Technology means that it is possible to stay connected with those at home and there are plenty of chances to make new friends in the UK too.

A Google search, or a look on Facebook, will reveal groups where US expat meets up and share experiences. This means that there is never any need to be alone.

9) Find yourself a job

Of course, while you’re living in the UK, you’re going to need a source of income. Providing that your visa is in order, there are plenty of employment opportunities to explore. You will find that the government website lists available jobs and that there are a host of job sites that you can explore too.

10) Know who to contact in an emergency

Emergency contact numbers will be different in the UK so it is important that you learn these. The main ones that you will need to know are:

999 – this will contact you to the police, fire, and ambulance

111 – NHS Direct for healthcare advice

020 7499 9000 – The US Embassy