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Moving to London from the USA

Published by Chris Townsend

Moving to London from the USA

Moving To London From US: A Comprehensive Guide

Moving to London is an exciting opportunity, not just because you get to see Big Ben every day and finally develop your own tea routine. The city itself is one of the most beautiful places in Europe and provides many job opportunities.

If you’re moving to London from the USA, then you’ll need a good team of professional movers by your side, and we at Three Movers are that team!

With over 20 years of experience, we can help make your relocation to London a walk in the park! Contact us now for more information about how we can help and a free fast moving quote.

UK Visas For Moving to London From the US

A US citizen visiting London does not require a tourist visa to visit the UK, however, Americans moving to London from US need specific types of UK visas to achieve their goal, depending on the purpose of relocation.

Tier 2 Visa (Work)

This visa applies to when a company in London is ready to sponsor you. One of the most difficult routes. No countries want to give home jobs to foreigners when their own can fill the same position. Therefore, you must be an exceptional talent in a field or subject area before a company can sponsor your visa. Your network with British friends in London and expertise in a special area can earn you this type of visa.

However, if you are being transferred by an American company with office in London or a UK-based company with office in the US, they can arrange a Tier 2 visa for you as well.

Tier 4 Visa (Students)

Student visa - Americans studying in London

Getting a student visa can be a way to get to achieve your dream of moving to London from the US. You can apply to study at a Tier 4 licensed University in London or apply to study abroad from your American school.

The good news is international students that commenced their studies from autumn 2020 upwards can now stay in the UK for up to 2 years for job hunting so they can transition to an employment visa when you get a job offer. You can also apply for another Tier 4 visa if you wish to continue your education in London.

Tier 5 Visa (Temporary workers)

This is basically through internship programs for a skilled job, which you can source through internship companies, or organizations like BUNAC.

Partner/Marriage Visa

Moving to London with your partner

This is perhaps, the easiest and most straightforward type of visa that can take you to live permanently in London. However, you should be in a committed and verifiable relationship with a UK citizen for at least two years, or have at least been married to one, and the person is able to find you a job or sustain you with their own income, at least making 18600 GBP per year.

Cost of Living in London

One of the issues of consideration for Americans moving to the UK is the differences in living costs between the two countries, especially as regards London, the capital city and one of UK's major cities. For starters, London is the sixth most expensive city in the world. If you are moving from New York to London, you may not need to compare prices that much as you are already above London in living costs.

However, if moving from other cities in the US, prepare for extra cost in London. According to Statista, the average annual salary for full time employees in London is 31,461GBP (43,611 USD). Which is pretty lower than that of the US.

Here are some key areas of interest when it comes to considerations on living costs in the UK:


National Health Service (NHS)

One of the things that will excite you when moving to London from the US is the National Health Service (NHS). By the provisions of the National Health Insurance, healthcare is relatively free to all residents of UK irrespective of employment status. What is not included are things like prescriptions and dental procedures. Many people living in London get additional private health insurance to cover such things and that also help them get faster appointments, access to a wide range of specialist, and coverage whenever in the US.

The NHS is supported with tax payers funds. Therefore, once living and working in London, you will be required to fund the NHS through your taxes. Before moving from the US to UK, you will also be required to pay an immigration health surcharge during their visa application process, depending on the visa type and the length of stay.

The UK government charges fees that range from 470 GBP per year for student visa to 624 GBP per year for all other visa and immigration applications. The average exchange rate from GBP to USD is 1.3862 USD, so you can do the calculation.

UK Taxes

US citizens are required to file taxes in the US no matter where they live. You are also under obligation to report your UK bank accounts and other foreign accounts under FBAR. There is a tax treaty between the US and the UK that provides for the deduction of your UK taxes from what you'd owe in the US, and remit the remaining. Things can get complicated as you will have to deal with a lot of paper work, therefore, you might require consulting with a tax expert to know how much you are expected to file in taxes.

One of the special taxes to look out for in London is the council taxes. These are taxes charged for local services such as rubbish collection, local police authorities, libraries, public transport, parks, and others. The property band (value of the property) where you stay will determining how much your council taxes would be.

When renting a place to live in London, be sure to ask what the property band is and if the council tax is included in the monthly rent. It's notable that council taxes in the UK are generally cheaper than property taxes in the US but you will still have to prepare for the additional expense in London.

Tax Types

UK taxes are administered and collected by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The taxes you will encounter in the UK include:

  • Income tax
  • National insurance (tax on earnings)
  • Consumption tax (VAT) - 17.5%
  • Excise duties on alcohol and tobacco
  • Corporation tax
  • Stamp duty (collected on buying of house and shares)
Income tax
  • If you earn within 12500 GBP (16,100 USD), you are tax free for the financial year.
  • If you earn between 12501 - 50,000 GBP (16,100 - 64,440 USD), you will pay a basic tax rate of 20%
  • If you earn between 50,001 - 150,000 GBP (64,445 - 193,330 USD), you will pay a higher tax rate of 40%
  • If your income is over 150,000 GBP (193,330 USD), you will pay additional tax rate of 45%
National Insurance

Your national insurance tax is deducted each time you receive pay. On your arrival to the UK, you will apply for NINO, your unique National Insurance number. The number will be used by your employer and HMRC to determine how much will be deducted from your income for national insurance. The deduction is made per each pay period. Once you start earning above 166 GBP (215 USD) per week, you will start paying into national insurance. If you earn between 166 GBP (215 USD) and 962 GBP (1246 USD) weekly, you will be charged 12% and 2% if your weekly earnings is above 962 (1246 USD).

Self-employment and Taxes in the UK

If planning to be self-employed in the UK, you are required to register for a self-assessment tax return. The HMRC will send you a reminder in April or May to send a tax return by latest October 31st if filing on paper and January 31st if filing online.

the tax band on income tax is the same as income tax to employed people. However, there are some allowable expenses that you are permitted to claim.

You are also required to pay National Insurance as self employed people. You are required to pay

As a self-employed person, you are also required to pay two types of National Insurance:

Class 2 which is 3 GBP (3.90 USD) per week, if your profits are 6,365 GBP (8,200 USD) or more each year

Class 4 which is 9% on profits, if your profits are between 8,632 GBP and 50,000 GBP (11,127 and 64,450 USD).

Monthly Expenses in the UK

Rent, taxes, and utilities are the principal items that draw on your monthly income in the UK. In terms of rent, the London property market is expensive. Long term monthly rent in London for 3 to 5 bedrooms can cost between 1500 GBP to 9000 GBP monthly.

When planning to move to the UK, it is better to get started in London with a short term rent which is much cheaper. This allows you to find your footing and to make better decisions regarding where to live.

Generally, What counts on your monthly expenses in London are:

  • The neighborhood where you live.
  • Family size and the associated utilities
    Your personal lifestyle.
  • How much of heating your home will require.
  • Owning a vehicle or using public transportation - If you own a vehicle, expect expenses on parking permits, parking space rental, etc.

Using Los Angeles to London as reference for cost of living in London, you will need +5.99 percent more of the amount you will spend in Los Angeles to maintain the same lifestyle in London. You can use Numbeo to compare cost of living between your specific city and London, and you will find a much detailed comparison.

Setting Up A UK Bank Account

You can open an account immediately you enter the UK of before leaving the US. When choosing a bank, choose one with an international outlook, strong capital base, easily accessible and offers good customer service. You also want to ensure it's a bank that can easily help you handle financial transactions between accounts in your home and in your new country.

You can open a UK bank account before leaving the US if your bank in the US has a relationship with a British bank. That makes it easy to send money from US before leaving and receive money in your bank in London to make your new life pick up fast.

Some of the documents you will need as a non-resident of UK are passport, government issued ID, Utility bill or Tenancy agreement for proof of address. You can secure a temporary accommodation before your move to the UK.

Generally you will find UK banks and international banks among which are Bank of America and American express. Some banks charge bank fees and have certain threshold as minimum deposits. There are also online banks that make sending and receiving money in different currencies easy.

Once in the UK, you can have designated UK bank accounts for different purposes as you deem fit.

Finding Housing in London

Finding housing in London

When looking for an apartment in London, you will have to go through housing agents which you can find online. You will find several properties listed on sites like RightMove and Zoopla. However, one common challenge is the apartment you found online might have been sold or rented out. It might take several attempts to finally secure a house because the agents can be unscrupulous sometimes.

Children Education in the UK

Most children in the UK attend public schools which are free for children of ages 5 - 16. But you have to meet up with the January deadline for enrolment for the school year which starts in early September. There are structural differences between the system of education of the UK and US, however the American school in London offers the American system of education. American expats in London prefer to enroll their children in the American school to help their children mitigate the challenge of change of environment.

What It's Like Living In London

London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. London attracts all kinds of people looking to make their lives better. You can't feel out of place as an expat in London, a third of everyone you will meet in London are born abroad.

In terms of climate, if you live around the Pacific Northwest, especially the coastal area between Seattle and Portland, you might experienced a climate that is close to the London climate. The East Coast of the US in much colder than London while the Southern US is much hotter in summer as well as year-round in some instance. Midwest US is hotter in summer and colder in winter compared to London.

In terms of transportation, London boasts of one of the largest urban public transport networks in the world. You have many options for public transport in London including buses, taxis, London underground (the Tube), river bus services, local trains, London trams, docklands light railway and the London cycle hire scheme, and even cable cars for some exciting city views.

Public cycle hire scheme

You can take a walk in several places in London or rent a bike at any time of the day or night from one of the over 700 docking stations of the public cycle hire scheme. The scheme first started in central London in 2010 to reduce congestion, it is now available in all areas of the capital city.

Buckingham Palace

With multiple ways to be move around in London, you can always visit favorite places for leisure such as River Thames, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery, Hyde Park, buckingham palace, and others.

When it comes to choosing where to live in London, the closer you are to the city center, facilities or institutions such as schools, the more the rent. If you move further outside the city, you will find cheaper houses. If you are an American moving to London without a family and on budget, you can consider sharing a flat to reduce your rent.

What It Takes to Move to London

As an American, you’ll find the perfect balance of new and familiar while living in London. The city is big and exciting, but before you get there you’ll need to address a few logistical aspects.

We have discussed visa requirements earlier. You can’t move to London without acquiring a Visa, and if you want to work you’ll need to apply for a work Visa that can allow you to hold employment while in the UK.

Moving to London - international movers

Apart from this, there are other things to consider as well. We recommend making a checklist of all the to-dos of moving to London and tackling them at least a month before you need to get there, maybe even sooner.

Here are some things that your checklist definitely needs:

  • Looking for a team of movers - even if you just opt for the transportation services, you still need some time to research a moving team that fits your standards and budgets. There are many companies out there claiming to offer identical services, even identical rates, so to ensure you make a good decision you’ll want to give yourself enough time for research;
  • Handling the paperwork: From getting your Visa to canceling any major subscriptions, redirecting your mail, and getting your medical records, there’s a lot of paperwork needed for relocating to London;
  • Actually getting there: you’ll be going to London through flight unless you want to spend around a week and travel by boat. Flights are usually a lot more expensive right before the departure date, so you’ll want to look for affordable ones in advance.

The Three Movers team can help you ease into the moving process, and provide hassle-free transportation of your belongings! Call our office now to find out more.

Why You Should Work with Us for your london move

Three Movers started more than 20 years ago, and over the years we’ve added many more employees and trucks to our company. The name has been kept the same for sentimental reasons.

Thanks to our experience and strict work ethic, we have the right combination of know-how and dedication to ensure a successful London move for all our clients, no matter if they are relocating locally, nationally, or like in your case, overseas.

With us by your side, you will get:

  • High-quality services - all our employees are fully trained, bonded, and insured, and only use the best in terms of equipment and materials. Your belongings are safe with us;
  • Peace of mind: your cargo will be fully insured, so you can just sit back and relax. Though we’ll do everything in our power to ensure safe transport, if something does go wrong, you are still protected by insurance;
  • Affordable rates - moving services aren’t cheap, but they don’t have to cost a fortune either. At Three Movers, we always look for the most affordable options to ensure our clients don’t have to strain their finances just to move your belongings;
  • Support, when you need it - do you have any questions about what it takes to move to London? Our customer service team is at your disposal, and will happily provide clarifications.

Three Movers is the best team of movers you can find to help your move to London from the USA. Get in touch with us for a free price estimate!

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Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving. Chris has a keen eye for detail and brings intelligence and passion to every project he’s involved with.

While getting his degree in communications from Santa Clara University, Chris started out with the company working in the field as part of our team of professional moving associates. Following graduation, he was promoted to our main office, where he has thrived in a role that involves increasing responsibility and requires him to wear many different hats. Some days, you may find him answering the phone and providing moving estimates, others he may be writing for our moving blog, and another day he may be coordinating a large corporate moving job or helping us with our marketing efforts. Chris has authored many of our in-depth moving guides, as well as provided our clients with information and advice to handle the complexities of their upcoming moving plans. Simply put, there’s nothing he can’t do and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

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