Dispatches from England: Tips for Preparing for a Dream Move to the UK

My family has only been living in England for just over a month now, but we spent nearly six months preparing for our move here. Here are a few tips that you can do in advance of a move to the UK, right from your very own home, to make life a little easier once you arrive.

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Scan and make copies of all your important documents

Passports, marriage certificates, birth certificates, even your U.S. driver’s license. You’ll be asked for these often for all sorts of reasons both in the visa application process and establishing yourselves as residents once you’ve arrived. So make several paper copies and scan in an electronic copy so you’ll always have them ready to go. Have children? Be sure to get their health records, including their immunizations.

Use co.uk web addresses

If you’re doing online research or shopping for UK products, use sites such as google.co.uk or amazon.co.uk. You’ll get much better results in your searches than when using their dot com counterparts. And if you’re using the Google Map feature, know that you can enter a postal code to view a specific location. Unlike in the U.S., a postal code here gets you within a few houses of any given address. This is helpful to know when house hunting online.

Plan ahead on email correspondence and be polite

I have found, on average, that written communication here (both email and print) to be much more formal and polite. So when I was emailing with potential schools, our realtor, etc., I adopted a similar approach. First impression is everything, afterall! Also, if you want a same-day or next-day response, be sure to email first thing in the morning. That will be midday here, so you stand a better chance of getting a quicker response.

Sign up for Groupon and/or Living Social deal sites. Even if you don’t plan to make any purchases through these sites (I didn’t until after we arrived), you’ll get a lot of ideas about things to do, places to eat, and even average prices for items around where you’ll be living.

Network! One of the advantages of moving to a country like the UK is that you may find that many friends, colleagues or acquaintances know someone who already lives here. I had many friends who sent me names and email addresses of people they knew, and I connected with each and every person suggested to me. You’ll find they each offer a different area of expertise (schools, for instance, or driving lessons). And you’ll have a much bigger pool of people to ask questions of as the move date draws nearer. I haven’t used every single piece of advice offered up to me, but I’m very grateful for the connections I made in advance of our move.

Have a question about moving to the UK? Feel free to email me at arrowssentforth at gmail dot com. I will either answer you directly or address it in a future post.


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