Moving abroad is equal parts taxing and exciting, but moving to America in particular comes with its own broad range of emotions and challenges. After all, in the wise—and heavily paraphrased—words of Oscar Wilde (or George Bernard Shaw, depending which sources you believe) the US and the UK are “two nations divided by a common tongue”.
Basically, they’re the same but different; familiar but unusual; confusing but exciting. Throw moving between the two into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for stress! So, here’s our introductory stress-busting cheat sheet on moving to America that should help you get your thoughts, belongings and To Do lists in order before you hop on a plane across the Atlantic!
Get the right VISA
If you’re planning a move to America, arranging your visa applications should be at the top of your (infinitely long and cumbersome) list of things to do. This is because—surprise, surprise—bureaucracy is often a nightmare and even the most seemingly straightforward of applications can take weeks or even months to be processed.
Therefore, figure out your visa situation early. And, figure out exactly which visa you’ll need!
For British citizens there are a few options, like the Working Visa (this one gives you the right to work but has a list as long as your arm of requirements and may only be available to very skilled professionals in niche industries); then there’s the Sponsored Employment Visa (the company you’ll be working for arranges it for you, but you’re tied into working for them); finally, there’s a Family Visa (only available to those with family members in the US).
However, and we cannot overstate this enough, please thoroughly check and confirm the entry requirements before arranging a move to America!
As you’ll be aware, America is a vast and diverse country (the UK could fit into the square footage of the USA around 40 times over). That means you may need to tailor your wardrobe appropriately.
Are you moving to Brooklyn, New York? You need to be ready for sticky summers and freezing winters.
Or are you headed to Alaska? Maybe skip the swimwear (or go to Hawaii instead).
Basically, do a bit of digging into your chosen place and pack appropriately for the climate. Who doesn’t love an excuse to do a bit of ‘move abroad’ shopping, anyway?
Hire a removals company
Once you’ve finished packing your suitcase—a.k.a. you’re good to go when it comes to the items for immediate use, like clothes, toiletries and a hefty paperback or two—then you’ll probably want to think about packing the rest of your belongings.
If you’re a student who’s been living at home and is just moving abroad for Camp America, a good backpack will probably be enough.
However, for those of you who have children, animals or, you know, a longer lifetime’s worth of possessions, you’ll likely want to bring some of it with you. (Although maybe the toddler could stay with grandma…)
The best way to get your things safely transported over to the other nation with the common tongue is via a removals company. The murky waters of international removals can certainly be overwhelming though, which is why we recommend taking a look at Buzzmove’s international removals comparison site, where you can browse and choose the best, trusted option for your needs (and budget).
Take some cash
It seems obvious, but it’s one of those things people forget in the panic and organisational nightmare that is a move abroad. And it also happens to be one of the things with the potential to cause a ton of stress if you forget to do it. So, make sure you have enough dollars to last you for at least the first few days, until you can get a US bank account up and running.
If you don’t, you might find yourself in a pickle and needing to pay surcharges simply for withdrawing your own money abroad!
Consider your healthcare options
It’s no real secret that the healthcare system in the US is…problematic. Trust us, once you’ve seen how they operate (pun intended) over there, you’ll never trash talk the NHS again.
Why? Well, you have to pay, and that’s that.
So make damn sure you’ve sorted yourself some insurance before moving to America, just in case things take a turn for the worst while you’re abroad (or if you just need to fill a regular, run-of-the-mill prescription, like birth control).
While it may seem silly, the prices of US healthcare are no joke and sans insurance you might end up bankrupting yourself just paying for a quick trip to A&E.
Prepare for the culture shock
Finally, and apart from the pragmatic side of things—think visas, moving companies and packing lists—there are plenty of cultural aspects you need to consider when moving to America.
For a start, the language is the same but the attitudes might be different. Are you an overly polite Brit who loves their personal space? It could be that the place you’re moving to is known for having brusque people who don’t mind getting all up in your business. Prepare wisely for that possibility and consider whether you can deal with making constant small talk.
If not…well, we hope you haven’t bought your ticket yet!
No, in all seriousness, talk to some people who’ve made the same (or similar) move as you and see how they dealt with things. Maybe they can give you some more specific, tailored advice to help you cope with the culture shock of moving to America.
And ready yourself for advertising, advertising and more advertising. Oh, and prepare to tip, because that is very much not optional in America.