Taking off and living abroad sounds like a dream come true for most. Since it’s an English-speaking country with customs that are fairly close to Americans, the UK is a good choice but, what’s it really like to relocate?
Just like any expat will tell you, it’s worth the move and the experience but, you will not be without challenges. Below, we’ll share some highlights and challenges for Americans living in the UK.
The Highlights: Life as an Expat in the UK
An Opportunity to Travel
One of the major advantages of living on the other side of the Atlantic is the opportunity to travel more. There are many adventure places in UK, many Historical Places & have the best ski spot in the UK. From the UK, the rest of Europe is on your doorstep, and you find affordable flights to every other city in Europe, and beyond, to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Coming from the States, this is a huge plus, getting to explore whole new countries with their different languages and cultures with just a short plane ride.
Good Cost of Living
When you compare much of the UK to some of the hottest spots to make a living in the US, you’ll find that the cost of living is much more economical.
Apart from London, you can find great areas with good public services and great housing options for affordable prices. Plus, let’s not forget about the more affordable healthcare options most other countries offer.
Better Quality of Life
Compared to the US, the UK gets much more time for holidays compared to the American way, which generally only covers two weeks the whole year.
The emphasis on public holidays, vacation time, and an overall sense of the good things in life is much better in the UK, something that most Americans will enjoy and appreciate.
The Challenges: Stuff you’ll have to Deal with
It Rains Quite a Bit
You won’t get sheets of pouring rain every day but, you will still get a lot more rain than you’re probably used to. The weather is constantly changing in the UK, but over the year it’s typically cool, damp, and windy.
London is Expensive
Everything in London is more expensive than pretty much everywhere in the States, from transport to housing, to eating out.
Filing Both US and UK Tax Returns
As a resident in the UK, you will have to file taxes in the UK and also file US ex-pat taxes. This is because the U.S. taxes all U.S. citizens worldwide, including expats living in the UK, while the UK taxes UK residents.
When you file your US return, you’ll have to file additional forms to avoid double taxation (despite the U.S./UK tax treaty), so it’s always good to consult an ex-pat tax specialist if you’re in any doubt, to ensure you meet all the rules and pay minimum necessary tax.
If you’re dreaming of living abroad, do it! But, don’t take off without considering some of the challenges you’ll face. Be sure to think of the good, the bad, and the ugly before you take off, ensuring you don’t run into any surprises along the way.