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Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What tips do you have for someone moving to another country?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (27446points) July 15th, 2012

A similar question was asked back in 2007 and is worth asking again, based upon the answers posted.

I’m planning a move from the US to the UK. Much has been read on it, but the vast majority is based upon procedures. One blog provided more detail of the minor concerns that need to be overcome.

If you have been remotely involved in a process like this, what did you learn from it that wasn’t provided in advance and came as a surprise?

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18 Answers

janbb's avatar

You will have to get used to a whole range of cultural references and popular history that you have had no previous knowledge of. There are times when you will be in a group and will not get the “joke.” I know; I’ve been there and it can be quite disconcerting if you don’t realize it.

Also, recognize that there many different English regions, accents and cultural types (dare one say “classes”) and that standard British stereotypes do not apply.

marinelife's avatar

If you get homesick, don’t give up and go home. Check out a meet-up group of American expats to get your American fix.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@janbb and @marinelife Good tips. I should have mentioned that the move is to be with my fiancĂ© of several years. The cultural differences and language/accent is a minor challenge, and I love learning it. I just pity the people who have to accommodate my learning curve. Fortunately, it’s a small town, and so far, people have been patient while explaining the basics.

josie's avatar

Go anywhere in the Middle East first, then go to the UK. You won’t think you left home.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I have done it twice and am about to do it again. Make sure your stuff is packed carefully if you are shipping it. Be careful when driving through shopping mall carparks, they are the most easy places to get mixed up and space out and drive on the wrong side. Good luck you will have a great time! Get your banking set up ahead of time, too.

cazzie's avatar

The reason behind the move is a factor and what you are doing when you get there that will make a big difference. I have done it twice. The first time was very successful, the second time… not so much.

I moved from the States to New Zealand when I was 19. It didn’t take that long to get over the homesickness, perhaps a year. Once I got my work permit, work was pretty easy to come by. I sat my written drivers test after reading the book, passed it the second time and never found driving a problem, but would reiterate @trailsillustrated comment about being careful in carparks. The culture and people were great. The weather was fantastic, mostly. Earthquakes took some getting used to and the volcano eruptions were novel. Your ear will adjust to the accents quickly enough.

You can only get your banking set up if you have a tax number, I believe. Simple enough, though, if you get your permanent residency/work permit in your passport, I think the tax number is called your National Insurance Number in the UK, if I am not mistaken.

Here are some things to review if you haven’t yet.

How long are you allowed to live in the UK without being married?

Bellatrix's avatar

When you get there don’t keep telling people how you do things in the US (even if you really do think you are being helpful or interesting).

Don’t give away all your stuff. Take advice about how much it will cost to replace things when you get there. This is especially true if you aren’t sure of the climate. Take a range of clothes (I gave away some great coats and things because I was coming to the sub-tropics and regretted it when winter came).

I absolutely agree with @marinelife. Give it time before giving in to homesickness. If you do feel terribly, terribly homesick plan a holiday after say six months or so back to where you came from. You will probably find the things you are hankering after aren’t how you remembered them.

If you can organise work or at least some connections before you leave for the UK, do it.

rooeytoo's avatar

When I came to Australia I was not allowed to work. I had never not worked in my adult life so I was so bored. I read and read some more and cooked and cleaned until I came to my senses and started volunteering at the RSPCA. That kept me sane until I was granted permanent residency and allowed to work.

If it is like Australia, you can save yourself a fortune on obtaining residency status by donning a burka and coming in on an illegal boat. Then the government will put you up in a hotel, feed you, entertain you, educate you, etc. all at the courtesy of the taxpayers.

If that method doesn’t appeal to you, pay your bucks to an immigration agent to hasten and simplify the process of being legally accepted.

Unless you are ABSOLUTELY positive the relationship is going to work, do not mix your finances with his. Pay your share but keep your independence until you are sure you are not going to change your mind and want to go home or out on your own in the new country. I have known several people who did that, even without leaving their country of origin, and lived to rue the day.

Good Luck. For me moving here has been a wonderful adventure.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@trailsillustrated Most of the belongings have been given away, but there are a few things I plan to ship.

The SO doesn’t have a car, since one isn’t needed. How wonderful is that? Getting used to the cars driving on the opposite side is still a challenge, and it will probably be the cause of my death. :)

The banking bit is what really still has me stumped. I still need to figure out how to do that. From what I’ve read so far, opening an account in the UK isn’t as easy as it is here in the US.

@cazzie Thank you so much for the banking information and the link. It should be helpful. As for the weather, yeah, it rains a lot in Lancashire, but with a mac and a pair of wellies, no problem.

Once the move is made, we need to be married within six months.

@Bellatrix Great tips. No worries about the homesickness part. I’ve been over there enough already over the past couple of years to learn how to get about, and I adore his relatives. It’s a wonderful new adventure. Facebook and web-camming with my sister every week keeps me updated on friends and family.

You are absolutely right about the, “In the US, we do it…”. I can’t imagine that they would remotely care, and if so, they’ll ask. Enough people have to suffer through my really basic questions, like “What is creme fraishe?” and “What is a spanner?” The SO says that the American accent in a small English town gives me a free pass. Hopefully, I can get up-to-speed before it becomes irksome.

As for work, on a fiance visa, I won’t be allowed to for six months. Until then, I’d be interested in doing some volunteer work for the local council, if they would take me. I’ve already met one of the members. It would be a good way to learn more about how it works, which would help prepare me for applying for citizenship.

@rooeytoo LOL! Donning a burka and going over on an illegal boat. No thanks! We like to travel too much, and UK airport controls scrutinize my passport stamps enough as it is. Some of the questions they ask are shocking.

More good tips though. Yes, we are absolutely sure that this is what we both want. We have for several years now. As for finances, he wants us to keep my savings for retirement and live on what he earns. All financial management will be turned over to me. We are both frugal while living a comfortable life.

harple's avatar

Be patient. If someone points out the local way of doing something, take it on board without feeling got at. It may be that your way makes tons more sense to you, but you can just keep that inside with a certain happy smugness that you are indulging others, and fitting in as a result. If you take it as a slight when someone points out that in the UK we put our knife and fork together to show that we’ve finished the meal, otherwise the waiter won’t know whether to clear your plate or not, you will feel very got at very quickly! Don’t take it personally. Your way (of doing whatever it is) isn’t wrong, it’s just different from the norm here, and so might lead to misunderstandings that you’d prefer to avoid.

Go easy on yourself – you’ll be doing the best you can, and not everyone is going to be as understanding as you would like. Good that you’re up North though, they’re a friendly bunch :-)

The 6 months of not working is the biggest nuisance I think, though you will have plenty to do organising the wedding I’m sure. (I know a good harpist if you want one!) ;-) Once you get a job though, you’ll really start to feel like you’ve settled in.

And you could always jump on a train up to Cumbria to meet me for a coffee!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@harple With every encounter, I consider myself as an ambassador of the US. I would hate for someone to base their overall impression of the US on my behavior, especially if it was negative.

As for the wedding, it’s just a matter of nipping down to the civil service office after all of the paperwork is done. While it will be a first marriage for both of us, we are both fast approaching 50 and private people. His parents will be invited to join us, then head back to the house for an Indian takeaway and to spend the night.

As for the coffee invitation, yes please. Cumbria isn’t that far away, and there several sights to see in the county.

Downtide and I have tossed around the idea of arranging a Fluther function for the UK Jellies and any other members that wants to attend. I’ll let you know as soon as I am there.

janbb's avatar

Hey Guys – I may well be in Lancaster for a (ex)-family wedding in February. It would be great if we could have a UK meet-up then.

@Pied_Pfeffer My husband is from Lancashire (Merseyside, actually) so if you need any tips on how not to handle Northern men. :-)

Bellatrix's avatar

I guess the most important tip is… have fun! Maybe keep a journal so you can remember and reflect back upon how you felt at different times and your transition into your new life.

harple's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I’m always up for a coffee! And definitely up for a Fluther Function :-)

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@janbb Lancaster is just up the road from us, although the SO would say that it’s far, far away. :) If I’m there in Feb., I’ll be sure to let you know. How long will you be there? How funny would it be that we have to leave the US to finally meet in person?

As for the men, I’ll take any tips your husband wants to offer. Most of the interaction I’ve had with them is when hiring contractors to do work on the house/garden or at the markets. It may be time to learn a little about UK football if I want to make a connection. That seems to be the male British-speak.

@Bellatrix The journal is a great idea. The SO and I kept a blog going when we first met, but it’s been awhile since we posted on it. I’d love to keep track of the new words, places and foods.

@harple It’s a date then. I’ll let you know when I’ll be back in the UK, and we’ll see if we can work something out.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Don’t get brainwashed into thinking that just because some aspect of it’s government is good for it that it’s automatically good for the one you left.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 You sound like my mother. She’s 87. And a Republican.

Crashsequence2012's avatar


I’m quite significantly younger.

And not a Republican.

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