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From the United States to the United Kingdom

So you're thinking of taking a leap across the pond. You're likely to have more than a few questions - how difficult is the application process? Where should I move to? What is life in the UK like for US expats?

Well, look no further, as this week's Life in the UK blog is for you! We'll be answering some of the most frequently asked questions from across the web, posed by real Americans looking to begin their British adventure. And before you ask, no - not everyone talks like Hugh Grant.

Before we get started, let's begin with some quick stats:

What are the visa requirements for US citizens?

Typically, US citizens opt for family or work-based visas. There are a few different work visas depending on your profession, career goals and personal situation.

One of the most common visa routes is the General Work Visa. This is the route for those who have been offered a skilled job in the UK. Your future employer needs to be a licensed sponsor, and they need to provide you with a valid certificate of sponsorship. There are also a few other requirements for this visa:

  • You have to show that you are getting paid an appropriate salary for your role

  • If you're not a native speaker, you may need to prove your knowledge of English

  • You have to prove that you have funds to support yourself upon arrival in the UK with a bank, or building society, statement

  • You have to show a valid passport and your past 5 years of travel history

  • If you’ll be working with vulnerable people, you have to provide a criminal record certificate for the appropriate checks

There are other routes available to US citizens - if you want to find out a bit more about the available routes, check out our Visa Guide.

Where should I move to?

According to research carried out by HSBC, it was found that 58% of expats recommend moving to - or, at least, spending an extended holiday in - the city of Edinburgh. A further 35% of these expats stated that one of the best parts life in Edinburgh was its brilliant transport system. As the home of the famed Edinburgh and Edinburgh Fringe festivals, the Scottish capital is well-known as a dynamic hub of arts, culture and creativity.

The second most popular destination is London, the capital city of England. Be warned, though: as one of the most expensive places to live in the world, foggy London town isn't necessarily within everyone's budget.

scottish drummer edinburgh street
A traditional Scottish band plays in an Edinburgh parade

If you're torn between city life and the beautiful British countryside, Manchester is the best of both worlds. A stone's throw away from the scenic Peak District National Park, the city of Manchester is considered the capital city of the north, with a thriving arts scene, lucrative financial district and more than reasonable housing prices outside of the city centre. Plus, it was voted the food capital of the UK by HSBC's expat survey - what more could you want?

Does it really rain all the time?

No, but it may rain more than you're used to! Many parts of the UK have a wet climate, particularly across Wales, Scotland and the North of England. It's also important to note that the Summers - although they can be fairly warm - are much cooler, and winters much milder than many US states.

All UK temperatures are recorded in degrees Celsius - make sure to remember this when you check the weather! More rural areas of England, such as Yorkshire, the North East and parts of Scotland are also far more likely to have snow during the winter than southern or built-up areas like Cornwall or London. If you're still shaky with Celcius, this temperature conversion tool might come in handy.

What can I expect from British Culture?

As with any stereotypes, the UK isn't all tea and crumpets. Sure, we love a good cup of tea, and most of us are partial to a crumpet at breakfast, but there's far more to British culture than you think.

In terms of sport, football (soccer) reigns supreme in much of the United Kingdom - almost every town, city or county has their own local team, and it's common for Brits to watch a football game at sports bars and pubs when their team are on the field. There are other popular sports, though - rugby is particularly popular in Wales and some parts of Scotland, whilst cricket remains a thoroughly popular sport across the whole of the British Isles.

There's also a strong emphasis on nightlife culture across the UK. Traditionally, weekends will see pubs, bars and nightclubs heaving with revellers - and it's pretty likely that people in the UK will drink far more than the average American is used to!

The UK also has a world-class music scene. Apart from being the home of huge acts like the Beatles, Radiohead and Ed Sheeran, the UK is also major influence in a number of alternative contemporary genres, including Indie Rock, Grime and Art Pop.


So, hopefully this guide has given you a bit of insight into your future life in the UK. If you want to enquire about a British business venture, or just want advice on your immigration journey, send us an email or fill in our contact form to book your FREE consultation.

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