Whether you’re thinking about relocating to the US for your work, making retirement plans, planning a solo adventure or a new beginning with your family, there are some significant costs to be aware of. If you’re wondering: ‘How do I move from the UK to the USA?’ and ‘What’s the best way to make an international money transfer?’, you’re in safe hands.
Keep reading to discover Mover Focus’ helpful insights on what costs to expect when moving from the UK to the US. We’ll also give you the lowdown on your foreign currency specialist, Clear Currency, who will help you make speedy and secure international payments via their online payments platform. The business will also introduce you to various foreign exchange tools, helping you keep more of your money when you exchange from GBP to USD.
Considerations before moving to the USA from the UK
Ahead of your new life in America, we’ve broken down the key considerations and essential costs you’ll need to cover below.
Consideration 1 – Can you move to the USA from the UK?
So, you know: ‘I want to move to the USA from the UK’, but are now asking ‘can I move to the USA from the UK?
The answer is yes! Generally speaking, you can immigrate to the US with an immigrant visa, which you can obtain from the US Embassy in London. You’ll need to be sponsored by either a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, immediate relative(s), or prospective employer. The next steps are:
- Get a petition approved by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for an immigrant visa.
- Either complete your pre-processing with the National Visa Center (NVC), or Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) if you’ve been selected in the Diversity Visa lottery.
- Follow further instructions by the NVC or KCC.
Consideration 2 – Research the state you’d like to live and work in
With 50 diverse states to choose from, deciding where you’ll relocate to in the US is a significant undertaking. Here are our top recommendations:
- California and Florida – for sun-seekers and retirees craving an easy-breezy, laidback lifestyle. Coastal areas like Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach are ideal for relaxation, while Miami perfectly blends beach life with the buzz of a city.
- New Hampshire – for nature-lovers, keen hikers and lovers of outdoor pursuits. Check out the Appalachian trail and golden autumn foliage in the state just across the border from Boston.
- Boston – for those who love the Oxford and Cambridge ‘university culture’. It’s the home of Harvard, an Ivy League university and the USA’s oldest higher education institution. The city has a relatively low crime rate and a direct air route back to the UK too.
- New York – for singles or young couples craving the big city life. And when you need a breather from the concrete jungle, enjoy picturesque open spaces like Central Park.
Planning on incorporating a business in the USA? Each state has different benefits of business incorporation, so we’d suggest carefully assessing the market when you’re deciding which state you’d like to live in.
Consideration 3 – Get your documents legalized
Before moving to the USA, you’ll not only want to organize your various documentation, but also get everything legalized. Examples of important documents to legalize include:
- Copies of your passport or driving license
- Birth, marriage or death certificate
- Company certificate issued by Companies House
- Education and qualification certificates
- Signed government department letters, e.g. tax registration confirmation
- Power of attorney, contract or any other document certified by a UK ‘public official’, such as a UK notary or solicitor.
Simply submit your documents by post or online as PDF files to the UK’s Legislation Office. Once received, they’ll check to see if any of your documents’ signatures, stamps or seals match their own records. If they do match, the Legislation Office will legalize your documents by attaching an ‘apostille’ (stamped official certificate) to each one.
Consideration 4 – Medical insurance
As a UK resident, you’ll have benefitted from the National Health Service (NHS), which provides most healthcare and hospital treatment free of charge. You may already be aware that the US doesn’t offer the same service, so you’ll need to obtain comprehensive medical insurance. Without this, it’s likely your medical costs will be sky high.
Although health insurance isn’t a legal requirement in the US, it allows you to save on hefty hospital bills and access the best medical care for your needs. Doctors in America typically provide more tests and scans before treating a patient, while their medical facilities use more state-of-the-art equipment than in the UK.
Consideration 5 – Housing costs
According to Numbeo.com (as of November 2022), the cost of living in the UK is, on average, 15.81% lower than in the United States, with rent in the UK on average 35.68% lower than in the United States.
Estimated average cost of living in the UK
- Single person: £688.90 ($813.20) without rent
- Family of four: £2,379.60 ($2809.39) without rent
Estimated average cost of living in the USA
- Single person: $997.80 (£843.30) without rent
- Family of four: $3,557.50 (£3,006.50) without rent
Consideration 6 – Removals and storage
Do you find the prospect of moving to the USA from the UK daunting? With the right international removal company in tow, you can rest assured knowing they’ll look after your valued possessions as if they were their own.
We suggest Aussie Group, which is part of one of the UK’s biggest international removal companies, the Masters Removal Group. They cater for sea, air and road transportation, and will assign a Moving Coordinator to help make your moving process hassle-free.
Restore Harrow Green is another great option, with UK offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London and Manchester. As well as international storage and transportation services, they offer destination services including home searches, pet relocation, packing and insurance to protect your most treasured possessions.
Costs to expect after moving from the UK to the USA
Cost 1 – Driver’s license
To drive legally in the US, you’ll need to get a license from the state, territory or district you’ll live in. This is because residency requirements for driving licenses differ between jurisdictions. To find out more about your state’s specific requirements, you can contact your state’s department of motor vehicles.
In the UK, it costs £34 (online) and £44 (by post) for a provisional driver’s license, whereas the cost varies greatly by jurisdiction in the US. Prices range from $10 (£8.40) in Missouri to $89.00 (£74.89) in Washington. Some states have separate license renewal fees, and licenses can expire after a set number of years, which again is determined by the driver’s issuing state (worldpopulationreview.com).
Cost 2 – Transportation methods and gasoline
The US boasts an array of public transport methods, from buses, rail and subways to streetcars (trams), cable cars, and water taxis. You’ll find some of the best public transport links in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
You won’t notice much difference in the cost of a monthly travel pass, which averages £65.20 in the UK ($77.50) and $70.00 (£66.20) in the US. Likewise, a one-way ticket on local transport averages $2.98 (£2.50) in the UK, compared to the US cost of $2.50 (£2.10) (Numbeo.com).
Most Americans rely on their own private cars and you’ll find US vehicles are slightly more affordable; a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or equivalent new car) can be picked up for $24,000.00 (£20,122.56). Back in the UK, you’re looking at paying £21,273 ($25,362.80).
With UK gasoline prices at an all-time high, it’ll come as no surprise to see that US gasoline is cheaper. Taxes in the UK account for 46% of the retail price of gasoline (oilprice.com), which now sits at £1.60 ($1.90) per liter, compared to just $1.20 (£1.00) per liter in the US.
Cost 3 – Utility bills
You’ll be pleased to know that US utilities are more affordable than in the UK. For an 85m2 apartment with utilities per month (electricity, water, heating, cooling, garbage), you’ll pay $176 (£147.98) in the US and £181.89 ($216.46) in the UK.
However, the average broadband cost is higher in the US than in the UK. Internet (60 Mbps or More, unlimited data, cable/ADSL) currently stands at $68.50 (£57.60) in the US, compared to £30.20 ($35.90) in the UK.
Key summary – moving to the USA from the UK checklist
- Check your eligibility – before you put plans in place for your American dream, be sure to check ‘can I move to the USA from the UK?’
- Pick your location – ask yourself, your partner or your family what you want from your new life in the USA and choose the state that fits best with your vision.
- Legalize your key documents – get your passport and driving license sorted first, followed by any public registry documents, e.g. birth or marriage certificate, then your government department letters, professional qualifications and educational certificates.
- Arrange comprehensive medical insurance – obtain multiple medical insurance quotes and go through these in detail. If you have a job waiting for you in the USA, check whether you’ll have employer-sponsored health insurance, what premiums you’ll pay and what treatments your plan covers.
- Housing costs – look at how the cost of rent and housing varies within and between your preferred US states, in comparison to costs in the UK.
- Organize your removals and storage in advance – consider pet relocation and taking out additional insurance for your most valued items.
- Prepare for costs when you’ve moved to the USA – apply for your state driver’s license and get ready to spend much less on gasoline than in the UK.
Reasons to use Clear Currency to send money abroad
Now you know how to move to the USA and the various costs involved, you can arrange to transfer your money abroad. With Clear Currency, you can send money online via their fast, secure payment platform (as well as by email or by phone) and get favourable rates on international payments to and from the USA.
As well as cost-effective GBP/USD exchange rates, Clear Currency can provide clients information on the FX tools available to help mitigate currency risk, such as forward contracts, which let you lock in a favorable exchange rate for up to 12 months.
Make the next step towards your American dream today. Sign up for an account with Clear Currency.
Matt is a veteran of the moving industry, a recognized moving expert and is the founder of Mover Focus. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History. He also has completed the EiM (Essentials in International Moving) course from the FIDI Academy. His advice has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, Business News Daily and The SpareFoot Blog Go. Read more.