Moving to England can be exciting and exhausting. Here are a few tips to get you started:


Set up a bank account as soon as possible. You may be able to open an account in a US branch. This can take months to accomplish and will be necessary to start your 'services' such a phone, rent, etc.  


(To Rent or To Buy)
Check out these websites to get a feel for what is available in your area and budget (also iPhone app)


Many common prescription medications are not available here. If you require prescriptions regularly, talk with your private insurance company who may be able to ship them to you. Children's prescriptions are free through the NHS, so this may be a pleasant surprise if your child regularly needs them.

The water is not fluoridated in the UK. You may want to talk to your US dentist about this before you move.


In the UK, it is the person, not the car, that is insured. You and your spouse will want to be insured before you buy a car.

Make sure your insurance will cover you when you drive in other countries, including your home country. This is often extra or not available. 


Due to the exchange rate and very high sales tax (VAT), everything is expensive in the UK. Buy what you can in the US not only because of the cost, but each item may have its own store. It takes a long time to shop through the most simple list.

Items you may want to bring which are not available here: gallon Ziplock-type bags, your favorite laundry stain remover, Mr Clean Magic Eraser for those rental house walls, children's Motrin & Benadryl, medical thermometer (in Fahrenheit), plastic Easter eggs, Easter egg dye.

You will not find ink for your American printer here - so plan on buying a new printer in the UK or bring a lot of ink from home. The paper is a different size here, as are the envelopes. American business-sized envelopes are a hair too big for the standard size at the post office, so best to buy your computer paper and envelopes in the UK.

Don't bother bringing your light bulbs. If you want to use your American lamps, you will need to use UK light bulbs and adapters on plugs.

Electronics such as cameras, computers and iPods are much cheaper in the US. Smartphones should be purchased in the UK - do not count on having a US phone 'unlocked' as there have been mixed reviews about its stability afterwards. will be your new best friend. Online shopping eliminates endless hours of searching for one item in a foreign town and paying for parking (or carrying bags home if you are without a car). Amazon also stocks some American brands and foods that may be hard to find. In addition, it can be a helpful tool when researching the replacement value of items you will be shipping to the UK.

You will find B&Q is like Home Depot, and Currys can take care of your electronics needs. John Lewis is a good department store. Hobby Craft is similar to Hobby Lobby. Shop online at Baker Ross and Party Pieces for Oriental Trading equivalents. There are 23 Costco locations throughout the UK.

Grocery shopping online with home delivery is more common in the UK than in the US, and is particularly helpful if you don't have a car. Ocado specializes in this service brilliantly, and most grocery store chains provide this service too.

Which? is similar to Consumer Reports.


Transporting a pet requires paperwork, blood tests, an additional rabies shot, and an international microchip. If possible, find a vet at home who has had experience with the process of moving a pet overseas. Quarantine is no longer necessary, but you may have to wait to transport your pet once the blood tests have begun.

You will not be allowed to medicate your pet with a sedative before the flight, as it effects body temperature regulation.

I would suggest not flying on the same airplane as your pet, as s/he will go to a completely different terminal for customs and will take 3-4 hours to be 'cleared'. No pets are allowed in the passenger cabin. We were assigned a handling agent, who we paid to deliver our dog to our house. This was money well spent and a peace of mind. Although the whole process was stressful, we are glad we did it.

See DEFRA for most up-to-date information


You may consider setting up a Vonage phone account in your home country. Potentially you can keep your US home phone number. You pay a set monthly fee, but friends and family call you for free as it is a local call for them (if that area code would be free for them anyway). It works through the internet - amazing technology! 


The expat community is very friendly and welcoming. Check out FAWCO for an American Women's Club in your new town. Not only can they help you with day-to-day logistics, they often have used items for sale and many activities to get you 'plugged-in'. 

Congratulations on your new adventure ahead!!

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All photos by me