The United States of America is the 3rd largest country in the world and the second most popular destination of expats when leaving the UK.
The brilliant thing about the USA? You don’t have to learn a new language (albeit there are definitely some quirks); the culture is similar enough to both be unique as well as a piece of home; and the food portions are out of control!
With thousands relocating every year, it’s important that where, why, how and what you are moving for is right for you. With a vast amount of land, a wide variety of cities, and a crazy amount of suburbs with each city, it can be challenging to choose where to relocate.
If you’re looking for some more advice on moving to the USA, here are 50 emigrating facts for expats moving to the USA from UK:
1. Before Setting Off
As with travelling anywhere, the first piece of advice is to check the current travel advice from the government.
Due to the size of the US, natural disasters, terror threats, and other dangerous events are not unlikely.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you keep up-to-date with the current situation in the areas of the US that you are planning on moving to.
2. Visas and Residency
To live permanently within the United States, you must acquire the correct type of visa. Unlike other countries, obtaining a visa for the US can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking up to and over a year!
- Working VISA
- The primary type of visa taken by those looking for work is the ‘working visa’. There is a specific set of requirements that must be met if you are to have a chance of obtaining this visa. Having a Masters’ or PhD will increase your chances of being awarded a working visa.
- If your skills area is within the skills shortage list for the US, then you will have a larger chance of getting entry also.
- Sponsored Employment VISA
- Many expats will have likely secured employment before looking to move to the US. If a US business offers you employment, then the likelihood you will be denied this visa is exceedingly low.
- Family VISA
- If you have family within the US, then your final method of moving here is to apply for a visa with the support of your relatives. These visas take the longest to get accepted and should, therefore, be applied for as soon as possible.
As with plenty of other countries, many look to retire in the US. However, this is currently very difficult. Moving to USA from UK for retirement purposes is not an option; you would have to apply for the green card lottery, as there is currently no access to live in the US without working.
3. Getting a Green Card
The above visas will allow you to work in the US for a specific period of time. After this, you will either have to reapply for a work visa or apply for a green card.
If you’re planning on moving to the US, then you have most definitely heard of the green card.
If you hold a green card, then you are not considered an immigrant, and this allows you permanent residency in the USA. Many treat the green card as a visa that does not expire; however, it can be taken away if the terms and conditions are broken in any way.
Many will move from having an immigrant visa of some sort into a green card. There are different routes of obtaining this, many of which are detailed on the USA government’s site.
4. Becoming a Citizen
In simplicity, there are seven steps to becoming a citizen:
- Apply for your permanent residency
- Obtain your green card
- Reside in the US for five years
- Apply for naturalisation
- Pass your English and Civics tests
- Attend a Citizenship ceremony and take an Oath of Allegiance to the US
- Apply for your US Passport.
Well, it may seem like each of these steps are simple, they each require a certain amount of research and preparation. In all, make sure you understand the entire process and use the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
5. Healthcare Insurance
Unlike members of the commonwealth such as Canada and Australia, the USA has no reciprocal healthcare agreements.
There is no publicly funded healthcare insurance in the US; everything is private. Therefore, you should sort out health insurance ASAP.
Most healthcare is paid for by the employer, as it is tied in with job packages. If you are given the option, then 100% accept this. If not, try and negotiate to have healthcare included in your package.
6. Working in the USA
A plethora of jobs, work experiences and internships exist in the US. It may be challenging to find one of these if you are a foreign worker without a green card, but it is still very much possible.
Some of the most popular industries include aerospace, consumer goods, electronics and motor vehicles.
The US is the hub of many major international companies; so if you’re moving to USA from UK in search of a job, then this is the place to go. If you already have a job secured, the growth opportunities are exponential here in the US.
If you’re looking for work, make sure to visit USAJobs and other sites like it.
7. Setting Up a Business
Setting up a business in the USA is an alternative method of obtaining a green card. Applying for a green card with your own business means you can file a petition for a green card yourself, whereas this usually has to be done by either a US citizen or your employer.
If you can prove your business in the nation’s best interest, you will likely be able to obtain the much-sought-after green card.
Tax in USA is a little more complicated than it is here. Instead of 3 tax brackets, there are seven tax brackets. The good news is that the tax rate never reaches 40% of your earnings.
Earning the equivalent of £50,000 would currently put you in the 22% tax bracket, for example.
The reason for this is that health insurance is only private in the US, and the broader economy and population means they can afford a lower tax rate.
If you’ve built up a state pension in the UK, it’s essential to inform the relevant authorities and you should be able to claim a UK pension if you have paid enough UK National Insurance to qualify.
In the US, pensions have multiple components, consisting of the pension paid by the state and the private pension (401K).
Both of these are non-tax-deductible. On top of this, the age to receive your pension is 67 years old in USA. TO receive these funds early, you have to be 62 years old and willing to lose 20/30% of your monthly pension payments.
10. Benefits & Social Security
If you receive benefits, then it is likely you will not be able to receive these after you move abroad. Income-related benefits, such as the Pension Credit and the Housing Benefit, will be void if you are out of the country for more than four weeks at a time.
Moving to USA from the UK means you will need to obtain a Social Security Number as soon as possible. You will need this to be able to work for an employer, open a bank etc. It is similar to the national insurance number in the UK.
11. Driving in the US
The dreaded right-hand-side drive.
When you first move to the US, you will notice a few different rules than the UK. For example, in some states, you can turn right while the lights are red.
It’s essential to know these rules; otherwise, you could be a danger to those around you and yourself.
The car horn is a favoured tool of stress-release in the US, so don’t get flustered if people start beeping at you unnecessarily.
12. Getting a Drivers License
A UK driving license permits vehicle rental in the states. You must be over 21 to rent a car, and the UK driving license is only valid for 12 months.
There is no such thing as a US driving license, but instead, each state will have their own version of a driving license. Each state has its own rules on driving and many states will insist that you obtain your driver’s license within 30-60 days of moving to USA from UK.
Sadly, you will not be able to convert your license. You will have to take a computer learning permit test and then take a road test in accordance with the state laws. You will need to pay a small fee, and once you’ve obtained your license you can drive anywhere in the US.
When you move overseas, you can still vote on some elections within the UK.
You will have to register as an overseas voter, and you can register for up to 15 years after leaving the UK.
Of course, you can still vote in the usual way at a polling station; it will just require a quick flight back to the UK.
You must have citizenship to vote in US elections, green card holders and permanent residents can not vote in the elections.
Registering a birth abroad requires that you register your child’s birth according to the regulations in the country where the child was born.
You will receive a local birth certificate here in the United States.
Currently, if you are born in the US and your parents are not citizens, you will still be granted citizenship.
It is unknown how long this will last, as presidents throughout time have tried to end this ruling.
Sadly, people pass away, and this can happen anywhere at any time.
In the unfortunate event that someone dies while abroad, you must register the death with the local authorities in the country.
You will also be able to register the death with UK authorities.
The best way to begin the process of dealing with a loved one is to use Tell Us Once; they will help and guide you through the process.
Moving to USA from UK, becoming a green card holder and eventually, a citizen is a complicated process in of itself.
Now introduce the idea of marriage.
If you are a permanent resident or US citizen, then this is a good way to sponsor your other half into getting a green card.
Although, hopefully, you will be marrying for many other reasons than just this.
The main religion found in the US is Christianity, by a long shot.
More than 75% of Americans class as Christian, with roughly 20% being catholic and the last 5% is a mixture of other religions.
Moving to USA from the UK, you may notice that people are a lot more religious, as the British tend to be somewhat reserved when it comes to this area of life; however, this is all dependant on where you move to in the US.
You’re from Britain, so you know what patriotism is.
Well, Americans are exceedingly patriotic and will relish the opportunity to talk about how great America is.
Brits won’t hang flags or state their political opinions to anyone and everyone, but here in the USA this is very standard. Don’t be offended, instead, embrace this new-found patriotism.
19. Taking Pets
Bringing animals into the US is an easy task if you follow the specific requirements for importing pets here.
These include making sure your pet has a microchip; receive a veterinary certificate from your vet stating your pet is healthy and fit to fly; proof of rabies vaccination; optional vaccines are a plus, and a few more which can be specific to the country you are travelling from.
20. Emergency Services
Here in America, the number for emergency services is 911.
With brilliant infrastructure throughout the states, emergency services are for anything you can throw at them.
Alongside this, the response time is quick, especially for a country where everything is spread out.
21. Quality of Life
The OECD quality of life survey considers many different factors when determining the quality of life. While the US may not score highly, it ranks top in the housing section.
Further to this, the US offers above-average income and wealth, subjective well-being, environmental quality, social connections and civic engagement.
22. Work/Life Balance
As with everything, context is key. Depending on whether you’re a surgeon or a teacher, your work-life balance will vary greatly.
This being said, Axios has shown that the US ranks poorly for work/life balance in developed countries, with 11% of the population working 50hr+ weeks.
23. Holidays & Vacation Time
The weird thing about USA is the sheer size of it.
It’s so large, in fact, that many Americans do not even possess a passport. The majority of Americans, 58%, do not own a passport according to the US State Department.
From this it is clear that most Americans will go travelling throughout the US, with the opportunity to visit thousands of different cities and millions of towns, why wouldn’t you?
The USA is home to many different climates, but overall it is considered to have a continental climate.
The air pollution levels on average are on the worse side, compared to other countries. The East is far more polluted than the West, however there Utah, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico seem to show signs of much less pollution.
In the past 100 years, the American population has more than tripled, from 100 million to 32.7million.
The East Coast of the US by far has the highest population density. This was the first area of land inhabited when the British Empire discovered America.
The thin strip that is the West Coast is also largely populated. Following the pollution trends, the least populated areas are those mentioned in the above fact.
With deserts, mountains, swampland and grassland; the USA has all kinds of environment for different species of plants.
In Texas, camouflaging itself, you’ll find a weird cactus if you look hard enough; this is the Living Rock Cactus.
In the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll see some amazing wildlife such as the Koki’o Flower, which grows on trees up to 5m high
27. Animals & Nature
The US is home to a diverse array of wildlife, with many unique species hiding around every corner.
One of the lesser heard of animals is the Hawaiian seal, unique to the Hawaiian Islands. Other animals include the black-footed ferret and the groundhog.
Overall, the US is home to over 400 species of mammal, more than 800 species of bird and over 10,000 species of insect.
28. Weather & Climate
If you’re looking for an average temperature across the WHOLE of the US…. You’re in the wrong place.
Alabama has lows of 2oC in January and highs of 33oC in July; and, Alaska has lows of -11.6oC in January and highs of 18.6oC in July.
It’s impossible to use an average to judge the climate of the US as it changes, so depending on where you are planning on moving to.
29. Schools & Universities
Moving to USA from the UK brings with it an abundance of educational opportunities. You’ll be leaving behind Oxford and Cambridge and trading them for MIT, Harvard and Stansted.
If you are looking for the best educational facilities, then Massachusetts is the place to go. This state has been recognised as the top state for education in the USA.
It is followed closely by New Jersey, Florida and Washington. There are plenty of brilliant educational institutes in all of these states, with distinguished Universities close by as well.
30. GBP to USD Exchange Rate
Since the decline in price in GBP to 1.20 in August 2019, the pound has slowly been on the rise again. It is now sitting nicely at 1.29, and it has stayed steady around this number for over a month now.
When transferring from GBP to USD, always check the current and previous exchange rates for the best time for you to change up your money.
31. Getting a Bank Account
Opening a bank in the US as a foreigner will be much easier if you have an address in the US. If you do not have an address, it will be much harder to open a bank account as many banks will see it as an unsafe option.
If you do not yet possess an address in the US, another option is going to an international bank’s branch based in the UK, such as HSBC.
Bureaucracy is rife in the US, and it is a complex system that can lead to a very competitive and power-hungry nature.
Alongside this, everything is done to the letter. Every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘I’ dotted. While many consider this to be red-tape, it ensures the entire system works with minimum flaws.
33. Cultural Differences
Good news! You don’t need to learn any languages when moving to USA from the UK.
The bad news? All your British idioms are likely to be lost on those in the Land of the Free.
The most significant difference when moving here is the paid leave. Most companies will only offer 10 days paid leave a year, and some say you have to work there 12 months before being able to claim this!
The hunt for good chocolate; talkative Americans everywhere you go and the healthcare system will be enough to keep you busy for your first few months in the USA.
34. A New Start
Where better for a fresh start than somewhere halfway across the world?
America has always been a brilliant destination for expats to relocate to, offering an abundance of land; a plethora of climates and picture-perfect landscapes wherever you go.
So if you’re looking for a new job, a new challenge or just a change of scenery, the USA is for you.
35. The American Dream
Sadly, the American Dream has changed from what it once was. However, even now, the American dream is much harder to obtain for some compared to others.
With the crackdown on immigration recently, the American dream is much less accessible for those in a specific list of countries.
Coming from the UK though, as long as you are able to secure a job and livelihood, the American dream is more than possible.
36. Friendly Culture
If you’ve ever seen an American TV show, then you know just how bubbly and talkative Americans can be.
Coming from Britain, this can be a bit of a culture shock. Many of us are quite reserved and won’t talk to strangers, whereas in the US this is the norm.
So be prepared for friendliness every you go.
37. Making Friends
According to BBC America, the best way to make friends in America is to learn how to bake and cook.
Americans love food, and love to share it even more. It’s a very cultural thing here, to prepare an abundance of food for guests; bring food over to other houses and BBQs.
Other than this? With many Americans starting up the conversations themselves, you won’t feel out of place at all here and you’ll be inundated with friend requests left, right and centre.
38. Property Market
If you’re looking at moving to USA from the UK, then you should already know this point.
The price of land in the US is far lower than in the UK, which means that much larger houses can be built in the USA for less money.
This does depend on where you move of course.
Right now, the property market is flourishing with increases of 3.2% on average house prices throughout the US.
39. Rental Market
The rental market is also flourishing within the USA; however, this is not necessarily a good thing for those looking to rent.
In 2009, the average national rent was $1100, whereas it is now $1469. This increase is due to the rise in demand for rental property.
40. Public Transport
The three most common forms of public transport in the US are conventional bus systems, bus rapid transit and intercity buses.
If you’re based in a city, then the subway and tram will also be widespread forms of transport.
This being said, people in business will opt for a taxi or train, as they offer the quickest method of transport getting from point A to B.
As previously mentioned, you won’t have to learn a new language when moving to the US.
This doesn’t mean that English is the only language spoken of course. The other two most popular languages are Spanish (with roughly 37 million speakers) and Chinese (approximately 3 million speakers).
Then there is also French, Tagalog (originated in the Philippines), Vietnamese, Korean and many many more.
42. Slang & Expressions
Moving to USA from the UK means no more brilliant British slang.
Here are a few common phrases and expressions you may hear that you aren’t used to:
- Buck = An American Dollar
- Going Dutch = Everyone pays for their own meal.
- Zonked = Exhausted
- John Hancock = Signature
- Ride Shotgun = Riding in passenger side of vehicle
43. Eating Out
Portion size is out of control!
This is most definitely not a bad thing. Well, it can be … but everything in moderation, right?
Fast food can be found everywhere; sandwiches are located on the corner of every street and hotdogs are abundant in New York.
Whatever you’re after, America will offer it up, not on a silver platter, but probably in a napkin or a takeaway box.
Ahh yes, the part everyone forgets about.
You’re just getting ready to pay for your meal; you’ve budgeted quite well and you know it’ll cost you maximum $100… but what’s this? An extra $20?!
That’s right. In the US, the pay is so low that employees rely on tips to get through the day, and these tips usually are always 20% of the meal price.
45. Tax on Items
Never take an item for face value in America.
The tag may say $20, but what it means is $20 + state tax + federal tax. The tax rates vary between states; otherwise the entire price would be printed on the labels.
Sadly, many have fallen prey to this, including the writer of this article. You’ll get used to it pretty quickly though, I’m sure.
46. Cost of Living
Cost of Living is not too dissimilar to the UK. Some grocery items like milk, bananas and potatoes will be cheaper; while others will not be (especially imported chocolate that is NOT Hersheys).
Rent is considered cheaper on the whole; a meal in the restaurant comes to the equivalent of £10; and, basic utilities like electricity and water are far less expensive than the UK, according to Numbeo
47. Nearby Destinations
Living in a new part of the world means new holiday destinations.
Stay in the US, travel to Canada, travel to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, the choice is yours!
Whatever you do, make sure either you’re British passport will not expire anytime soon, or obtain a US passport through citizenship.
48. Sports & Recreation
Football is tucked away in the corner here in the US.
The main sports here are the National Football League, National Basketball Association and Baseball. If you’re planning on being in a pub or bar while one of these sports is on, be ready to have your ears tested to their extremes.
Alternatively, if you prefer want to watch the Premier League football in the comfort of your own home, you can always sign up to one of the numerous vendors who supply Sky Go in USA and stay in touch with all things back in the UK.
49. Crime Rates & Safety
The US doesn’t have an excellent reputation when it comes to crime.
The availability of guns to everyone means that there are areas of the US that are far more dangerous than others.
With mass shootings happening almost every day here in America, it’s important to be vigilant of your surroundings and where you plan on living in the US.
While they may be common, the US is enormous and the likelihood of it happening where you are is very low.
50. Getting to the US
There is no better time to travel than now.
With flights going to and from America 24/7, it’s easy to get there. And, if you don’t like it, you can just fly back. Simple as.
Issues will always arise when travelling to and from countries, so it’s vital that you know this job, and the American lifestyle is for you.
Are you ready to get moving to the USA from the UK?
Moving abroad is stressful for all involved. That’s why White & Company are here to help your move to USA be smooth and stress-free.
Our experience is second to none. As members of BAR, FIDI and OMNI, White & Company have been relocating people to destinations worldwide for 145 years.
Our experienced teams located across the UK will pack and prepare your valuable, fragile and bulky furniture ready for export
To find out more about how we could get your dream move underway, don’t hesitate to give us a call today. Alternatively, fill out a quick quote form or chat with our Bot and we’ll get in touch with you straight away.