| Aug 25, 2014
Many Americans dream of living abroad, of soaking in another culture and experiencing a new way of life—but the logistics of international relocation can be difficult. The United Kingdom often appeals to U.S. citizens because of our shared language (which makes a transition seem easier), but it’s still very much a foreign country with different policies and practices.
If you’re getting ready to pack up and start a new life across the Atlantic Ocean, here are a few things you should know first. > Space is limited.
In the United States, we’re used to being able to spread our arms and expand our personal space. This isn’t always true in the UK and Europe. Homes are smaller, closets are sometimes nonexistent, roads are more tightly packed, and real estate costs are higher. You can almost always expect to downsize your belongings and wardrobe before you come.
> Electricity and appliances are wired differently.
The outlets are different in the United Kingdom, and your American appliances may not have the right voltage to work with the local infrastructure. Expect to purchase all new electronics when you arrive. (The same holds true for cars. If you’ll be driving yourself, it’s best to buy a UK car with the driver’s wheel on the right.)
> Life is more expensive.
Groceries cost more. Homes cost more. Taxes are higher. The exchange rate favors the UK. If you’ll be living in the UK as an expat, you’ll need to figure in the higher cost of living. If you’ll be getting a new job and emigrating as a citizen, expect to adjust your way of life to make way for a smaller amount of disposable income.
> Private education means more.
Moving overseas with a family means you’ll want to check out the local schools. While it’s possible to get a good education in the public system, private schools tend to carry much more weight when it comes time to enter university and land a job.
> Over-the-counter medication may be more difficult to get.
Because the healthcare system isn’t privatized in the UK, there are longer wait times for regular doctor visits and prescription medication. If you rely on any kind of medicine, it’s important to start working with a caregiver before you move to ensure a seamless transition.
> Leave the firearms at home.
When you move to the UK, you’ll need to report your belongings at customs (and maybe even pay a tax to import them). Most weapons aren’t allowed, and you’ll have to fill out special forms if you want to move a pet or specialty animal items.
Moving abroad can be overwhelming, but remember that thousands of Americans relocate to the UK every year. This means that moving companies, expat specialists, and customs officials are used to providing assistance every step of the way. If you have any questions about moving to the United Kingdom and what steps you’ll need to take to start packing, we encourage you to contact North American Van Lines today.