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It would be quite difficult to find a person who hasn’t felt the calling of the alluring lights of the West Coast at least a couple of times in his or her life. If you find yourself among them and happen to be a Brit, moving to Los Angeles from the UK may prove to be a step in the right direction. Stay with us and learn Relocating to LA 101.
Before you make a final decision on relocating internationally, you’ll probably ask yourself What should I know before moving to LA? As the old Broadway musical stated, there’s no place like London. That may be true to some extent, but LA defies that assertion. It is a melting pot of cultures, and even though it’s smaller than the British capital with about half its population, it’s still home to people from all over the world. You may hear more than two hundred languages on the LA’s streets and in its joints.
A few years ago, renowned British journalist and filmmaker Louis Theroux made three special episodes for BBC in which he explored some of the darker aspects of the city. Don’t let that discourage you. Los Angeles is so much more and so much better than that. It is a place of excitement and invention, and not just in the famed Hollywood, but in every lane and behind every corner.
As a Brit, it may interest you that the weather is not like anything you’re used to. Climate is mild, and more than two-thirds of the year is sunny.
Unfortunately, not many British expats live there, but those who do often choose the incredible Santa Monica as their home.
Once you set your heart and mind on living overseas, you’ll have to gather all the necessary paperwork. Every list of documents needed to travel abroad begins with a valid passport. British citizens can enter the US without a visa and stay for 90 days. Would-be immigrants have to apply for one. The most common ways to obtain the right to live and work in the US are:
The US grants two categories of working visas – long-term “immigrant” and shorter-term “nonimmigrant” visas.
Immigrant visas are granted to the people who possess what is defined as “extraordinary abilities,” professionals with university degrees, and either experienced workers or those who’ll fill the shortage in the workforce. Their duration is usually two years, but they can be extended an unlimited number of times. The employer applies for them for you.
Short-term visas are granted to skilled workers, seasonal or temporary workers, and in the case of employee relocation, when a company transfers its worker to a US branch.
Since relocation from London to California can be considered as moving across the world, the costs of such a move aren’t insignificant. Take your time to create a good moving abroad checklist. Call as many removal companies as you can and get their quotes.
The price of international removal services will depend on many factors, such as eventual packing services, whether you pay for insurance, but also on the size of the shipment, and whether you get boxes and packing supplies from the removal company. Some of those expenses can’t be avoided, but some of them can and should be.
If you’re moving abroad alone, you’ll undoubtedly need much fewer things than if you move with a family. On the other hand, a plane ticket from Heathrow to LAX is an unavoidable expense. And be ready for a flight of some 11 to 12 hours.
When the question of what to pack when moving abroad arises, check out the lists of banned items of the US security agencies. Even some prescription drugs are on those lists, so pay attention.
Let’s assume that you’re moving internationally on your own, and you have to find a well-paid job. According to payscale.com, a site specialized in salaries, two best positions in that regard are a director of operations and software engineer, who can annually earn between 90,000 and 100,000 dollars. That would translate to between 72,500 and 80,600 pounds. Project managers, marketing managers, and engineers are also high on the list of salaries.
Among the most popular employers in the LA area are Walt Disney Company, UCLA, Northrop Grumman, and others.
If the company you’re working for is transferring you to the States, salary should be among the top relocation questions to ask the employer.
According to payscale.com, the average annual salary in LA is around 75,000 dollars. The good news is that wages tend to grow, albeit slowly.
On the other side of the spectrum sit taxes. California sports some of the highest taxes in the country. LA charges a 9% sales tax, and, commonly, the displayed price tag for a product doesn’t include the tax. The property tax rate depends on the size of your home and its location, while real estate transfer tax is charged when you buy a house or an apartment.
And a very important bit about currency conversion. The official exchange rate stands at 1.24 dollars for a pound. It is advisable not to use banks to convert your savings because of their exchange rates, which are quite terrible at the best of times and because of fees. It would be best to find service which will transfer your money at reasonable rates and for a minimal fee.
If everything goes according to plan, you’ll know about your employment status before the actual move. Then you can go house-hunting with full knowledge of the finances you can muster.
Each person has its own criteria for the preferred neighborhood, but safety, amenities, and low unemployment certainly top that list. Then usually come proximity to the workplace, good schools, and nearby green spaces. Have no doubt that LA has many such neighborhoods, which make it one of the best places to live abroad with family.
Among the best places to establish a new home are:
Most folks will cower when faced with data on the cost of living in LA. Those who come from the British capital, one of the best cities to live in Europe, would smile. London is way more expensive than the Californian metropolis, especially in terms of housing.
According to the data brought to us by website numbeo.com, the price of a square foot in London’s center almost doubles the one would-be homeowners in Los Angeles have to pay (730 dollars in LA compared to 1,270 dollars in London.) The average rent in LA is slightly higher, but the average salary also tops London’s for around 1,000 dollars.
No matter how much money you earn in the UK, or expect to earn in the US, you should do the calculation of expenses. Comparing the costs of housing, but also groceries, consumer goods, and other items that require regular payments will give you an idea of how much you should save before relocation. It doesn’t have to be some head-spinning sum, especially if you have a job lined up for you, but you certainly don’t want to find yourself in the expensive metropolis without a quid until the first paycheck.
People in Britain have the National Health Service, where those in need can receive healthcare for free or for a minimal fee. That alone can make the UK the best European country to live in. In the US, there’s no such thing. The only two categories of people who don’t have to pay for health insurance are impoverished Americans and retirees. Most of the others are insured by their employer, though it often ends up with those on full-time contracts.
As an expat, you don’t have to have a health insurance policy, not even under regulations enacted by the so-called Obamacare law. Still, it is highly recommended that you do. Healthcare costs in the US are no joke. The most straightforward examinations or procedures can amount to hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Many things undoubtedly go in favor of Brits’ adjusting to a new country in the US. Firstly, they don’t have to worry about breaking the language barrier. That alone makes the question of how to live in another country much easier. And Americans also use imperial measurements.
Unless you’re moving to another country for love and therefore can count on at least one person to talk to and spend time with, you’ll have to find new friends in other ways. Sports is one way. Going to the local bar is another. You’d be surprised, for example, how easy it is to start a conversation in the park if you have a dog with you (one more perk of moving with pets.) And so on. Opportunities in LA are literally endless.
Though some parts of it are quite walkable, LA is overall a driver’s city. There is public transportation, of course, but buses are somehow never there when you need them, and the subway and light rail don’t go to every corner.
Hence, shipping a car overseas is a smart option. When you have a car, you can go where and when you wish, even to the supermarket just around the bend. So no problem there, right? Not exactly. Since countless men and women reason like that, traffic jams are terrible. And they drive on the right side.
With a British driving license, you can drive for one year, after which you have to pass the test for a local one.
And so we get to the end of the article about Los Angeles without a single mention of Hollywood. We’ll count that as a good thing that proves that there’s more to the City of Angels than red carpets and excessive glamour. All you need is a reliable international removal company with overseas vehicle shipping services, and you can move on to the next, exciting stage of your life.