Frequently Asked Questions: Moving and Living Abroad
I get a lot of questions about my choice to move to the UK, and I figured it would be easiest to compile my answers all in one place. My goal is to be as open as possible - when I was moving abroad back in 2015, I was frustrated by the lack of resources and people to answer the (many!) questions I had about the process of moving and life in the UK. If I can help those who are looking to move now, that would make my day!
First things first... Why did you move abroad?
The short(ish) answer is that I've always loved travelling, and was inspired by stories my mother had of living abroad in Brazil and Portugal when she was younger. I chose my college largely due to their study abroad program in England, and whilst I was there I fell in love with the country and an English guy. We did two and a half years of long distance, and then decided that I should move to the UK on a fiance visa so that we could get married.
What visa are you on?
I've been on several visas! I started out on a student visa (arranged through my university), and then applied for and was granted a fiancé visa (which is the UK family visa route) whilst living in the USA. Once I moved to the UK and got married, I then switched to a Further Leave to Remain Marriage visa, also known as the FLR(m). I had to renew this twice, before I was allowed to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain visa, which is what I am now on.
Is moving abroad expensive?
It depends on how you want to do it! Obviously there are hard costs like the price of your flights and your visas, but you'll want to have some savings to set yourself up in your new country, depending on where you're planning to live, and if you've got a job lined up already. I would recommend coming with savings to cover a few months' rent, basic costs of setting up your new home, and always keeping enough money for an emergency flight home. Also - something to be aware of is the exchange rate! My American savings were a lot less once they'd been converted to GBP.
Do you pay taxes in both the US and UK?
As long as I don't spend more than 30 days in a calendar year in the USA, I don't have to pay taxes there (I still file, but as a bona fide resident of another country). The year I moved to the UK, though, I did have to pay taxes in both countries as I'd worked in both during that year.
How do you get a job in the UK?
There are a lot of websites that can help with your job search in the UK, depending on what you want to do. Reed and LinkedIn seem to be the most successful tools for office-based roles, in my experience, but there are many more resources.
If you're looking for a job to sponsor your visa to allow you to move abroad, check out the official register of corporate sponsors on the UK Government website.
You also need to get a registered NI number in the UK before you can get a job! For more information on what you need to gain employment in the UK, check out my blog post on 6 Things to Know About Getting a Job as a US Expat in the UK.
How do you make friends abroad?
This was definitely daunting! Nobody teaches you how to make friends as an adult, and it's worse when you're in a country on your own with very little or no support system. I've met people through friends of friends, through work, and honestly, through the internet. I would suggest joining groups that might connect you with people who are in a similar situation to you - like London New Girl on facebook, or joining Meetup. Find others who have similar interests, and put yourself out there! It can be difficult, but it's so worth it.
Do you think your accent has changed?
I think my terminology has changed more than my accent has - once you live among British people for long enough, you start calling the garbage can a "bin" or the trunk of a car a "boot", just based on not wanting to confuse people. I live in absolute fear of becoming Jennifer Coolidge's character on Friends with that phony British accent, but I do think my inflection has naturally changed a bit over the last few years.
Do you have plans to move back to the states?
Maybe someday! There are a lot of logistical barriers to moving to the US (jobs, house, dog, etc.) as I have a full life here in the UK, but never say never. It would be nice to be closer to my family, at some point, but equally, I love living in England and could see myself staying here forever.
What do you miss the most about the USA?
Good TexMex food. Celebrating Thanksgiving. Watching The Bachelor on the night it airs, rather than having to wait three days later when it comes onto the UK streaming services. My friends and family, obviously.
I hope that helped to answer any questions you may have about moving abroad to England! If you have any more, please don't hesitate to reach out to me, or follow along at @elise.abroad on Instagram!