Moving from the US to London: What You Need to Know

Moving abroad is a daunting task requiring much preparation and knowledge.

If you have decided to move to the capital of the UK, then look into what the moving process is all about. Prepare as much as possible while still in the US and schedule the arrival of your belongings to align with the beginning of your new life.

Getting a visa and a permit

Contrary to popular belief, U.S. citizens must have a visa to immigrate to the United Kingdom. However, if you do not plan to stay in the country for an extended period of time, you may stay without a visa for six months.

Since there are several immigration options available in the UK, you should research and see which one best suits you. The following work visas offer a pathway to permanent residence or Indefinite Leave to Remain (IRL)

  • Skilled Worker Visa;
  • Medical and Nursing Worker Visa;
  • Intra-company visa;
  • Minister of Religion Visa (T2);
  • International Athlete Visa.

In addition, the visa application process is slightly different for U.S. citizens, so make sure you know exactly how to apply for a U.K. visa before submitting your application.

Preparing to move your belongings

Moving to London is a significant trip for you and everything you own. To ensure that your personal belongings arrive with you at your destination, take some extra steps when preparing.

You must properly pack, seal, and label everything you plan to take. Get yourself an essential bag to carry with you when you are moving.

Once everything is ready, it is time to decide how you want to move your stuff. The price is a big part of this decision, so the method should be based on your budget.

Ship items you can’t carry

There are two ways to ship your belongings to the UK when moving.

  • Airfreight. This method is faster but more expensive. If you are on a tight budget, there may be better solutions for you.
  • By ship. The cost of transporting household goods and personal effects by ship is nearly five times less than by air. However, it will take several months for your goods to arrive. If you want to take advantage of this option, consider moving your belongings well in advance.

Regardless of your option, know that you will be away from your belongings for quite some time, so ensure that you are prepared to live without them. Do not ship any essentials or items you will immediately require at your new place.

Consider hiring a house removals company

If you don’t want to deal with all the complex logistics and customs procedures, you may want to contact a local house removals company.

A professional business will coordinate the transportation, whether by sea or air and ensure compliance with costumes regulations. They will handle all the required paperwork and provide guidance on prohibited or restricted items.

Once customs are cleared, you will have professional help delivering your items to your new place, making the process much easier.

Another benefit is that you won’t have to look for a storage facility if needed. Most removals now offer storage for all your items if you need to keep them safe before or after your move.

Last but not least, all your belongings will be covered by insurance during transit, providing you with a much-needed piece of mind while you travel across the ocean.

Finding accommodation

Remember that to rent in the UK, you will need to prove your “right of residence”. Therefore, you must provide a current passport and proof that you are legally present in the UK, either temporarily or permanently.

In addition, you may also submit a BRP or a valid document issued by the Home Office proving that you are legally present in the UK.

Find a place for the first days

When moving to London, it is a great idea to find a place for a few days to stay, while you can organise all the paperwork and update your documents.

You can delay the arrival of your items or place them in storage while working on finding accommodation. Airbnb or a hotel is a great option for the first few days of your stay.

Where to look for accommodation

You can look for accommodation in a neighbourhood of your choice, online or in the local newspaper.

If you are moving through the “intra-company transfer route”, your company may already have a real estate agent affiliated with it. Even if you don’t take this route, consulting with an agency will increase your chances of finding what you are looking for.

Setting a bank account

To rent in the UK, you need a bank account, but to have one, you must have an address. This creates a serious obstacle for newcomers and is often quite confusing. 

You should find a UK bank with international account options to avoid such a situation. Some banks offer international accounts for non-residents that you can open from abroad. 

Popular banks for expatriates include:

  • Lloyds Bank;
  • Barclays;
  • HSBC.

Another option is to look for a bank in the US with a branch or partnership with a bank in the kingdom. They can assist you with opening an overseas account that will be active by the time you arrive in Europe.

Finding job opportunities

The most important thing for anyone looking for a London job is knowing the city’s specific culture and expectations. Networking also remains an important part of the job search process, so connect and interact with others in the area.

A variety of careers in London will help you develop diverse skills. Many companies have offices in the city so that you can find employment in any field.

Major industries include financial services, marketing, education, tourism, and retail. Whether you want to work for a large corporation or start a business, you can achieve your career goals.

The British government is one of London’s largest employers. Dozens of government departments offer numerous positions in various fields, including IT, marketing, security, legal advice, and healthcare. Successful applicants receive excellent salaries, training programs, and career development.

The average cost of living in the UK

London’s average cost of living is high, but you can save money with the know-how. For example, if you are trying to save money on food, avoid convenience stores whenever possible, as they are much more expensive than supermarkets.

Save your pennies by planning and cooking meals with staple foods that won’t damage your bank account balance too much. Getting into the library or taking advantage of free events and entertainment is also great.


Despite the many obstacles you may face when moving to London, this is a perfect opportunity to begin your new life.

Ensure that you open a foreign bank account in advance, so you can settle in easier and access your funds at all times.

Consider using house removals services to bring all your belongings to UK’s capital safe and sound.

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