Living in England

Moving to England is daunting, overwhelming and scary. But it’s also one of the most rewarding and exciting things you can do. Before you move to the UK, it’s important to understand what exactly you need to do, both before you move and once you arrive.

Here’s some general lists of what you’ll need to do before you move to England and what you’ll need to do once you land in England.

Of course everyone’s experience is different, but this will give you a good idea of what to expect.

Before moving to England:

Before moving to England
  • Find a UK visa that you can apply for. This is absolutely vital! There is no reason to begin to plan moving abroad unless you are eligible for a working visa. If you can’t apply for a working visa, you can’t move.
  • Make sure you have enough money for both the visa, healthcare surcharge, flights and any other fees. Most types of visas require a certain amount of savings as well (which you’ll have to prove that you have). This may mean putting off the application for awhile until you have enough money.

    Saving money can be tough – I know. Make sure to check out my article: How to Save Money For Travel |7 Easy Tips to learn the best ways to save money – both for travelling and moving abroad!
  • Apply and be approved for a work visa. This could be a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa, or even a Student visa, among others. Make sure you understand the conditions for your particular visa (ex. How many hours you can work, what jobs you can have, etc).
  • Once your visa application is approved, book a flight to the UK. It’s recommended that you wait until you’re approved in case your application is rejected.
  • Check to make sure what items you can bring to the UK. If you’re bringing a dog to the UK, you’ll need additional documentation. Make sure to also pack all visa documents that you’ll need.
  • Pack your luggage. Make sure you check with your airline on how much luggage you can bring and how heavy it can be. You may need to pay extra if you need to bring more.
  • Fly to the UK. You’re almost there! Flying into Gatwick Airport? Make sure to read my article: Visiting Gatwick Airport before you arrive!
  • Enter the UK on your new working visa. The first time you enter, you will not have your official Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP). Instead, you’ll have to show your temporary visa in your passport and all other required documents. All future entries into the UK will require you to have your passport and BRP.

Once you’re in England:

How to move to England
  • Pick up your BRP within the first week of arriving. Guard this card with your life! You will need it to do everything: jobs, flats, bank accounts and every time you enter the UK. This card is proof that you are legally allowed to live (and potentially work, depending on the visa) in the UK.
  • Get a mobile. A “mobile” is a cellphone for most of North America, so make sure you get one!
  • Apply for a National Insurance Number. This is required to work in the UK so keep your number safe once it arrives. You’ll need to apply for this over the phone as well, so make sure you have access to one.
  • If you’ve come to England on a working visa, now it’s time to find a job! However if you’ve applied on a Tier 2 General Working visa, your employer would have sponsored you to come to the country already. This means you’re coming to the UK to work a specific job you’ve already been hired for.
  • Open a bank account. Most banks require proof of address so you may need to wait until you have a utility bill with your name and address on it before you can get an account.
  • Register with a doctor (or GP). It’s best to do this once you’ve found accomodation so you can get a doctor nearby. As part of your healthcare surcharge fee in your visa application, you’ll be able to use the National Health Service (NHS) like a British citizen.
  • Start a budget to cover the cost of living. Certain places in the UK are incredibly expensive, so it’s important to start a budget right away. Plus you’ll need to properly budget if you want to balance work and travel.
  • Get a credit card. When you have enough credit built up in England, you may be able to apply for a credit card. But this will take some time! However, having a credit card can always come in handy if you’re able to get one.

How hard is it for an American to move to England?

The main issue with living in the UK is finding the right visa. If you aren’t eligible for a UK visa, then you can’t move. It’s as simple as that. If you can be approved for a UK visa, then everything else is a piece of cake.

Luckily, the culture shock between England and the United States isn’t huge and both countries speak English, so it’s a lot easier to settle in. Of course there are British cultural quirks that take some time getting used to.

What is it like to move to England from the United States?

Moving abroad is both terrifying and wonderful. There are pros and cons to living in England, but overall it’s an incredible experience for millions of expats every year.

Thankfully there isn’t a huge difference between England and the United States, compared to moving to a farther away place like Japan or India. But there’s enough of a difference to make it worthwhile!

Moving to England

What about EU citizens moving to England?

Currently, we don’t know how Brexit will impact EU citizens looking to move to England. If the United Kingdom leaves the EU, new rules and regulations will need to be put in place. However at this time, no one knows what that will look like.

Should I move to England?

If you keep asking yourself if you should move to England, the answer is probably: yes! If moving abroad is something you’ve thought about for a long time, it’s certainly something you should seriously think about pursuing.

Moving abroad, or moving to England, isn’t for everyone. Even if you do decide to make the move and find out that it’s not right for you, that’s OK! At least you’ll know that you tried and it wasn’t “your cup of tea.”

I’ve found that the first few months of living abroad are the hardest. If you can get through those, you can get through anything.