9 tips for moving to the UK (2023)

Your friends warned you the weather would be bad. The news told you the future would be uncertain after Brexit. But you’ve packed your bags and moved to the UK anyway!

Congrats! As you’ve probably noticed, the UK remains one of the most welcoming, cosmopolitan and vibrant countries in the world. It’s also full of opportunities, especially for someone as international and interesting as you.

While you settle down with a cup of tea, we need to quickly run you through a few things that should be on your to-do list during your first month. These will save you a lot of hassle (and money).

Get your national insurance number

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Everyone working in the UK needs a national insurance (NI) number. It helps the government keep track of how much you’re paying in tax and contributions.

The good news is that you might already have one. If you’ve been given a biometric residence permit then turn it over. Your NI number should be printed on the back.

If you don’t have one then you’ll need to phone up and apply. Here are the numbers to call.

However, if you’re already entitled to UK employment then you can start work without one and then give it to your employer once it arrives. Find out if that includes you here.

Find a home

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There’s lots of good reasons to move to the UK, but the cost of housing isn’t one of them.

London is actually the third most expensive city in the world to find a home, although prices are a bit more reasonable outside the capital.

The first thing you’ll want to consider is a house or flat share. This is very common (especially among Londoners) and a great way to both lower your costs and make new friends. Check out SpareRoom, Gumtree or pop along to a Speed Flatmating event. Yes, that’s really a thing.

Most Brits use estate agents when buying or renting, despite the fact that estate agents are about as popular as bankers there. Estate agents tend to have offices clustered together in each town or borough, but you can search online too. Rightmove and Zoopla are the most popular property portals.

Open a bank account

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Opening a bank account in the UK used to be a real pain. Fortunately, it’s much easier now.

The two documents you will need are your proof of identity and your proof of address in the UK. The first part is easy with your passport, but the second part is a bit trickier for new arrivals.

You’ll need an official letter sent to your new address, such as one from a utility provider, council or another bank. Here’s a good tip - update your bank in your home country with your new address straight away, before you leave if possible, then get them to send a statement to your new home in the UK.

Alternatively, if you're a student you can ask your college or university to provide you with a letter confirming your address.

If you need more advice, check out our complete guide on how to open a bank account in the UK.

Get healthcare

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The Brits are very proud of their National Health Service. It’s mostly free too, although you might pay a small amount for medication depending on your circumstances and which part of the UK you live in.

You can also pay for private health care, usually to get treated faster.

Free NHS healthcare is based on only one thing - your residency. Take your ID and an official letter as proof of address and register with a local doctor’s surgery as early as possible. Don’t wait until you are sick otherwise it will take longer to get the care you need.

If you need urgent treatment, go to your nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E). For anything minor, speak to a local pharmacist. There’s one on most high streets.

Also, there are two numbers you need to know. 999 is for the emergency services and 111 is for non-urgent healthcare advice.

Get connected

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You’ll want to set up wifi at home and switch to a British mobile phone contract as soon as possible. (They don’t say ‘cellphones’ like the Americans).

The best place to start is Uswitch. If you’re taking your phone from home then look for a ‘sim only’ deal in the UK. You might want a good roaming deal too if you plan to travel back often.

If you’re impatient for broadband (and live in London) then speak to Relish. They promise to get your WiFi up and running on the same day.

Get a job

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The UK has a vibrant job market for a wide range of skills. If you speak more than one language or can fill one of these key jobs then you’re seriously needed. Trained in classical ballet? Yes, that’s just one of the skills urgently in demand.

Upload your CV and start browsing jobs on sites like Indeed, Reed, TotalJobs, JobSite, Monster and GuardianJobs. That last one is great for graduate and professional jobs.

There’s also a jobs site run by the UK government, as well as a separate board for NHS Jobs.

You can also visit nearby recruitment agencies who can help connect you with an employer. Most specialise in a specific industry or type of job.

Finally, many companies list jobs on their own websites (like these Wise jobs). You can always make a speculative application too if you love a particular company and can convince them that you’d add value.

If you consider getting a job in the UK, use this handy take-home pay calculator to get your monthly or annual net salary after normal UK tax and National Insurance contributions.

And remember, there’s no change to employment rights for EU nationals while Brexit discussions are ongoing.

Start a business

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Not interested in working for someone else? The UK is a great place to start your own company. It has business-friendly regulations, a valuable domestic market and a lot of credibility abroad - even after Brexit.

There are three main types of British companies, which includes sole traders and partnerships.

Limited companies are the most common choice. There’s no minimum legal capital required for them here so you can set it up with less money too.

You’ll need to choose a company name that isn’t similar to any others in the UK so start by checking the register at Companies house. You can then follow the procedures set out here.

You'll probably want to get a Wise Business account setup if you plan on trading overseas or importing to the UK.

Find schools and nurseries

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If you’re bringing children to the UK then they are entitled to free education between the ages of 5 and 15.

First though, we need to clear up some confusion.

Private schools in the UK are misleadingly called ‘public schools’, although many now prefer the term ‘independent schools’. Most of the British public send their children to ‘state schools’, although some types of state schools have a lot of independence too.

For example, there are faith schools, free schools, academies and technology colleges, all with different focuses and admissions criteria. Still confused? You can read more here about them here.

Before applying to a state school on behalf of your children, you’ll first want to compare how good they are. Check local school performance reports here for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You’ll need to do your own research on public schools and contact them directly.

If your children aren’t old enough for primary school then British nurseries can provide them with day care. If you live in England or Wales, start by entering your postcode here. For Scotland, check out local childcare services here.

Send and receive money from abroad

Wise is the fast, fair new way to send money abroad

If you're making international payments you might be paying much more than you think - traditional brokers and banks rarely use the true exchange rate.

Download Wise for iOS or Android.


How easy is it for a US citizen to move to UK? ›

Get a UK Visa and Residence Permit

Contrary to popular belief, you need a visa to move to the UK if you are an American citizen. The only exception to this is that if you are visiting with no long-term plans, you can stay in the UK without a visa for six months – but you cannot work during your visa-free stay.

What to prepare before moving to the UK? ›

Moving to the UK: the ultimate checklist
  1. Do your research. Brexit and what it means for you.
  2. Arrange your visa.
  3. Transport your belongings.
  4. Manage your finances.
  5. Move your vehicle.
  6. Take care of your pet.
  7. Sort out your health insurance.
  8. Find a place to live.

What are the 3 main reasons that people might move to the UK? ›

Migrants' reasons for moving to the UK are usually classified into four main categories: work, study, family, and asylum or refugee resettlement.

Can a US citizen just move to the UK? ›

As an American citizen, moving from the US to the UK to travel, study, and live is permitted for up to six months at a time. However, you cannot work during this period. If you want to hold down a job, you'll have to have a suitable visa. There are UK work visas for just about every possible profession.

How long can a US citizen stay in UK? ›

You can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities. You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, for example to get medical treatment.

What is it like for an American to live in England? ›

American moving to England

Living in England allows you to live and work comfortably in a familiar English-speaking culture while being able to easily skip over to Europe. Along with that, England's many lively cities host some of the best career opportunities and cultural experiences in the world.

How do I prepare to move out of the US? ›

  1. Start saving for your move — and tack on an extra 10% while you're at it. ...
  2. Apply for or renew your passport ASAP. ...
  3. Apply for a visa. ...
  4. Think about health care. ...
  5. Register with STEP. ...
  6. Do plenty of research. ...
  7. Contact your bank and phone providers. ...
  8. Make copies of important documents.
Mar 3, 2022

What is the first thing to do when moving to the UK? ›

Settling in the UK: 10 things to do in your first week
  1. Find your new home in the UK.
  2. Register with the authorities.
  3. Arrange your health coverage.
  4. Open a UK bank account.
  5. Get a UK SIM card.
  6. Find a job.
  7. Sort out your transport.
  8. Get your new home connected.

Why do foreigners want to live in UK? ›

Economic and labour market factors are a major driver of international migration and work is currently the main reason for migration to the UK. Language, study opportunities, and established networks are all factors that encourage people to migrate to the UK.

Why living in the UK is better? ›

The UK offers everyone within its borders access to healthcare and education for free, to a certain extent. Living and working in the UK would mean that migrants also have access to top quality healthcare services during emergencies or paying minimal rates for routine checks, which the government offers subsidies for.

How hard is it to move to the UK? ›

How Hard Is It to Move to The UK? It's hard to move to the UK if you don't have a job, family members who live there, enough money, or distinguishable talents. This also depends on where you're from. For example, EU citizens can get a long-term visa easier than other nationalities.

Is UK better than USA for living? ›

The UK is often considered a cheaper place to live. The cost of living in both countries is not the same and can vary depending on where people choose to live. It's also important to note that the average salary for someone in the US is significantly higher than what it would be in the UK due to taxes.

Is UK friendly with USA? ›

The United States has no closer ally than the United Kingdom, and British foreign policy emphasizes close coordination with the United States. Bilateral cooperation reflects the common language, ideals, and democratic practices of the two nations.

Can I retire in the UK as a U.S. citizen? ›

Although the UK government recently closed its retirement visa program, it's still possible to retire in the UK through other visa types. Here's how to do so and how to weigh the financial implications of retiring outside the United States. A financial advisor can help you plan for retirement, wherever it may take you.

What is the easiest country to move to from the US? ›

Which are the easiest countries to immigrate to from the US? Portugal, Malta and Spain are some of the easiest countries to relocate to from the United States. American citizens can either gain permanent residency or apply for citizenships via each country's Citizenship by Invest programs.

What visa do U.S. citizens need to go to UK? ›

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for tourist or business travel to the United Kingdom for a stay up to 6 months. A valid U.S. Passport is required.

Can an American get a job in England? ›

Do I Need a Work Visa to Work in London as an American? (can Americans work in the UK?) Unless you've got UK ancestry or a current visa that allows you to work in the UK (for example, you can work 20 hours per week under a Tier 4 Student Visa) you'll need a work permit to work in the UK.

How much bank balance is required for UK visa? ›

You'll need either: £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London. £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London.

How many times can US citizen visit UK? ›

This means that the visa-holder can depart and re-enter the UK as many times as they want within the visa's validity period, up to a maximum of 6 months.

How many Americans live in the UK? ›

There were approximately 166 thousand American nationals residing in the United Kingdom in 2021, an increase from the 131 thousand American nationals residing in the United Kingdom in 2008.

How hard is it to relocate to the UK? ›

It's hard to move to the UK if you don't have a job, family members who live there, enough money, or distinguishable talents. This also depends on where you're from. For example, EU citizens can get a long-term visa easier than other nationalities.

How can a US citizen get UK? ›

You must have a valid passport to enter the UK. It should be valid for the whole of your stay.
If you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  1. a UK-issued biometric residence card.
  2. an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.
  3. an EU Settlement Scheme travel permit.

Can I retire in the UK as a US citizen? ›

Although the UK government recently closed its retirement visa program, it's still possible to retire in the UK through other visa types. Here's how to do so and how to weigh the financial implications of retiring outside the United States. A financial advisor can help you plan for retirement, wherever it may take you.

What country are most Americans moving to? ›

Mexico is the top destination for Americans moving abroad, followed by the U.K., Canada and Australia. So far in 2022, ~75% more Americans have moved to Mexico than Canada. Portugal has seen the biggest percentage increase in Americans moving in (+122% from 2019-2021)

Where are most Americans moving to? ›

Twenty-six states experienced an influx of people, with more people moving in than out, while twenty-five states lost movers. Florida (318,855), Texas (230,961), and the Carolinas – North Carolina (99,796) and South Carolina (84,030) – were the states with the most net domestic migration gains in 2022.

What is the safest country for Americans to live? ›

What Are the Safest Countries in the World to Live In?
  • Australia: Safe, Beautiful and Secure. ...
  • Japan: Safety in Cities and Beyond. ...
  • Portugal: Culture, Lower Cost of Living, and Safety. ...
  • Why Canada is So Safe. ...
  • Denmark: A Safe Country in Europe. ...
  • Singapore: Safety, With Restrictions. ...
  • New Zealand: Safety for All.

What are the disadvantages of moving to UK? ›

Cons of Living in the UK
  • Long Doctor Visit Waiting Lists. The UK has inexpensive, decent-quality health care. ...
  • Strict Visa Requirements. ...
  • Competitive Job Market. ...
  • The Brexit Politics Will Affect Travel. ...
  • Damp, Cold, and Gray Days. ...
  • Frequent Travel Delays. ...
  • Not Enough Work-Life Balance. ...
  • Propensity for Binge Drinking.

Can an American become a dual citizen of the UK? ›

Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.

What visa do US citizens need to go to UK? ›

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for tourist or business travel to the United Kingdom for a stay up to 6 months. A valid U.S. Passport is required.

How much money do you need to enter the UK? ›

You must declare cash of £10,000 or more to UK customs if you're carrying it between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and a country outside the UK. If you're travelling as a family or group with more than £10,000 in total (even if individuals are carrying less than that) you still need to make a declaration.

What is the retirement age in the UK? ›

State Pension age is currently 66 years old for both men and women but will start gradually increasing again from 6 May 2026.

Can I get my US pension if I live abroad? ›

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them.

What is the easiest country to retire to? ›

Portugal has ranked as the best country to retire to in the world for four years in a row, with this year scoring a staggering 87.43 out of 100 points. In addition, the following categories scored: Housing: 74. Healthcare: 92.


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