Moving to the United Kingdom - I Love Moving

Moving to the United Kingdom – Different Kinds of Culture Shock in Different Areas

Posted Country Guides / July 11, 2022
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

People are relocating all the time. Some are even moving abroad – for a chance at a different life with family, for love, to study and grow. Some to grasp the world in their hand, and some to enrich their career. But if you think that moving to the United Kingdom will be just like staying in the US because of the language, think again.

It is estimated that there are around 200,000 US expats currently residing in the UK, and they have moved abroad for various reasons. Most Americans have relocated here to reunite with their partner or for work, and some came to study abroad. But none of this will prepare you for one realization – depending on the part of the UK you will be staying in, you’re in for different culture shocks. That’s why reading a guide before you move can prove to be quite useful.

Get To Know the Basics About UK – From Health Insurance Benefits to the Language

Some may call it simply Britain or the UK, but the full name of this European nation is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which borders the Republic of Ireland (a quite popular destination to move to for Americans, also). The UK is a constitutional monarchy with a unitary parliamentary democracy.

Is the UK a Good Place to Move To? Things to Know Before Moving to the United Kingdom From the US

The average American who plans on moving overseas to this nation will probably be wondering about the visas they might need, the health insurance, the average cost of living, and similar important information. But there are some basics that you should know before moving to the United Kingdom from the USA. Here are some commonly known facts about it, as well as those less known:

  • As you probably already know, you won’t need to learn a language abroad because the official lingo here is English.
  • UK has a specific tax system called PAYE. Pay as you earn (PAYE) is income tax withheld from your salary or pension before you are paid. This is how the majority of employees pay their income taxes.
  • The fact that it is a unitary parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy at the same time means that the nation has a ruling monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) and a Prime Minister.
  • Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland have their own devolved governments.
  • People who plan to move to London should know it’s the country’s capital. This global city with a metropolitan area is home to a population of over 14 million people. It’s also the country’s largest city.
  • The official currency in the UK is the pound sterling. Currently, the exchange rate compared to the USD is £0.82 for $1.
  • For those who plan to invest in overseas vehicle shipping, an important fact is that the UK drivers drive on the left side of the road. This means that the driver sits on the right side of the vehicle, which may take some time to get used to.
  • Public transportation works like a clock in all major cities. For the countryside, it may be wise to invest in that overseas shipping for your car.
  • The high amounts of rain aren’t guaranteed. In fact, the weather will depend on the region you plan on living overseas.
  • Many people want to live in another country such as the UK because of the economic growth and invaluable work opportunities, in addition to many social benefits. But one of the most appealing facts to many Americans is that the UK offers free health care insurance to all residents.
  • Once you find housing and open your bank account here, apply for a National Insurance Number. It’s used to track the taxes and insurance contributions.

These are just some of the facts that can be applied to any part of the UK. However, the culture, accent, and some other things will definitely vary based on the region you want to move across the world to.

Can I Just Move to the UK? The First Step Toward Moving to the United Kingdom Is to Obtain a Visa

According to the House of Commons Library, in 2021, there were around 9.6 million people in the UK born abroad. Although the popular belief is that US citizens don’t need visas for entering and staying in the UK, moving internationally to this nation will require you to obtain a certain visa. So, how long can Americans stay in the UK? You may, in fact, enter and stay up to six months without a visa, but only if you don’t intend to stay long-term.

But, how do I move to the UK permanently? You will need one of the visas and other documents needed to travel abroad in order to start your quest for permanent residency. The visas in question include those for skilled workers, intra-company transferees, health and care workers, international athletes, and one called Minister of Religion visa. Intra-company visas are reserved for workers with at least one year of experience in a multinational company in another country that want to be transferred to the UK branch.

How Hard Is It for an American to Move to England?

While the whole of the UK has many things in common, you’re perhaps better prepared to live abroad in this nation if you know what region you’ll be settling in. So, before you invest in international moving services to get you all prepared to move to England, let’s start with getting to know a bit more about this part of the UK.

Although one of the overlooked benefits of relocating to the UK is the fact that breaking the language barrier is unnecessary, there are quite a few differences between British and American English. For instance, you should be careful when complimenting someone on their choice of clothes. Saying “I really like your pants” will get them thinking that you are talking about their undergarments.

There Are a Few Things to Know When You’re Moving Internationally to England, Besides Getting a Visa

One of the things people forget to do when they relocate is to check how culturally different are the residents of the nation they want to settle in. And although the English may seem familiar, there are a few things that may come as a surprise to you. First of all, while living in Europe as an American, you will realize that people freely drink from the faucet or, as they call it – tap water. But when it comes to drinking, one fact is true, though – and it’s the love for tea.

You will also notice that the English people are very polite, often much more than an average American. But, on the other hand, they will avoid small talk. However, they are very passionate about something else besides tea – sports. Sport plays a major role in English society. The English love both team and individual sports, with an emphasis on football (soccer,) cricket, rugby, tennis, boxing, and horseracing. Cricket is considered the national summer sport.

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Pay Attention to London and Other Cities in England You May Consider the Best

Although London is probably the city in the UK which has the highest cost of living, if you settle somewhere else, there are many things worth visiting the capital for. It’s home to the Big Ben – the great bell of the striking clock in the Elizabeth Tower, part of the Palace of Westminster. If you’re relocating to another country for the love of history, you will enjoy it here. The British Museum, Westminster Abbey, and other British landmarks are all located in London. It’s also considered the global center of art, music, theater, literature, and culture, but it’s also home to wonderful shopping opportunities and a cosmopolitan vibe.

Manchester, on the other hand, is considered the first modern city, and today it’s home to some of the most exciting architecture, like the Bridgewater Hall, Urbis, and the Imperial War Museum. It’s long considered a cradle for pop and indie music, and artists like The Smiths, Oasis and Simply Red all come from this city.

And when talking about pop music, we shouldn’t forget Liverpool – the home of The Beatles. But besides the most famous pop band in the world, Liverpool has other things to offer. Albert Docks area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its role in the maritime history of Britain. The only International Slavery Museum in the world is also found in this city.

Scotland Is Spectacularly Beautiful

When you look at the natural wonders of Scotland, you will be left breathless and get an immediate urge to get packing services, find a new residence, and come to live here. Wherever you look, your eyes might glimpse magnificent mountain ranges or dramatic coastlines. It has no shortage of fantastically looking forests – you may even begin to believe there are elves hiding between the branches. It has some of the most picturesque lochs (Scottish for a lake,) and it all makes this land spectacular, making adjusting to a new country a piece of cake. As for the opportunities to live and work here, keep in mind that the capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, and its largest city is Glasgow.

It’s Best to Prepare Yourself for a Completely Different Accent and the Most Friendly People

As a native English speaker, you might be taken aback the first time you encounter a Scottish accent and even some Gaelic. However, don’t let the accent discourage you, because it’s something you will easily get used to, especially if you find work in a Scottish company, instead of an international one. The Scotts are a friendly bunch, and even if you can’t grasp what they are saying, they will always gladly repeat it. What we’re saying is that you won’t feel the need to find expat communities – you will fit right in, especially if you like going to pubs for a pint or two and enjoying some live music.

You Won’t Need to Search for Scottish Culture – It’s All Over the Place

Perhaps you believe that there’s no chance you will encounter a man in a kilt playing some bagpipes after you move to Scotland. But, you would be wrong! People in kilts playing bagpipes can easily be spotted around the center of Glasgow and Edinburgh or while you’re visiting one of the clubs. But the tradition won’t be seen only in menswear – if you happen to come by a band that plays traditional Gaelic folk music, you should try and learn to dance ceilidh. It’s a series of traditional dances that is usually accompanied by such music. It will take some of that relocation stress away for sure.

As for the spectacular scenery of Scotland, take a look at the following video – it will leave you breathless.

From the Language to Culture – Wales Is Uniquely Different

Before you move to Wales, you should know that besides hearing the English language, you will also be hearing (and reading on signs) the Welsh language. Luckily, most signs are written in both languages, so you won’t have any trouble finding your way around. While you’ll probably mostly be interested to work or study in Cardiff (the capital and largest city,) make sure you wander around this beautiful country and experience all the natural beauty it offers.

By Driving Down the Narrow Roads, You’ll Get To See Many Castles and Ruins

One of the most interesting facts for explorers is that it’s no surprise Wales is called the Land of Castles because there are 427 of them. The most well-known is the Cardiff castle, but for those that aren’t afraid to go on an adventure, there are so many standing or in ruins that you’ll have to explore for a long time. Keep in mind that when you move to another country with a car, you should learn a thing or two about the roads. A new thing for every American is that the backroads in Wales which you’ll be driving on are shockingly narrow. So, get a GPS and enjoy the roads through picturesque hills.

Prepare for the Friendliness of People in Northern Ireland

Living in Belfast for work or study will require some relocation tips as this region of the UK is somewhat different from the rest. While you may be expecting the attitude of average city dwellers, you will be surprised by the genuine friendliness of the Belfast residents. Bear in mind that the people here will often be heard speaking Irish Gaelic.

If you follow the waterfront trail, you will get to enjoy historic sites and see the St Joseph’s Church and Clarendon Buildings. The natural beauty of Northern Ireland has inspired C. S. Lewis’s Narnia, and the scenery can also be seen in the popular show Game of Thrones. Here, you’ll get to visit the site where the Titanic was built, or you can take a walk through time to a place from 2,000 years ago in the Iron Age dwelling of the Navan Centre and Fort.

Compare the Cost of Living in the Major Cities of the UK

Whatever your reasons to move are, and whether you plan on relocating abroad alone or with your family, some things are the same. To avoid making any relocation mistakes and pick the region of the UK solely based on what you like, you should also consider the costs in each region. The table below compares the costs and housing prices of the major cities in the UK.

City London Edinburgh Cardiff Belfast
Median home price $890,000 $390,000 $345,000 $205,000
Rent for a one-bedroom ap. $1,580 $900 $770 $660
Rent for a three-bedroom ap. $2,600 $1,350 $1,200 $990
Transportation (monthly pass) $200 $75 $65 $70
Basic utilities $300 $190 $250 $120
Child care $1,900 $1,050 $1,140 $980

How Much Money Do I Need to Move to the United Kingdom? Make Your Budget and Contact an International Moving Company

The UK is a top destination for people globally, and it’s no different when it comes to Americans who want to find a new place with their family or alone. This nation of economic growth and different opportunities for work will also offer various cultural experiences. However, keep in mind that relocating and shipping overseas isn’t a simple task. In order to move efficiently, you should employ an overseas shipping company and invest in relocation insurance. But before you find a reliable overseas moving company, make sure you are prepared and have learned a little about each region of the UK.

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