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So, you want to move to California from the UK? Here is an expert’s guide to moving to make your international move easier.
The information below will help get you started and lead you through the process. Written by international move experts and expats, it is packed with practical advice.
Moving from the UK to the California (CA) is the dream of many Britons. It’s easy to see why. The USA’s largest and wealthiest state is home to numerous global brands, Silicon Valley, a buzzing, innovative business culture, and fantastic weather.
UK citizens moving to California will find that the capital, Los Angeles (population: 4 million), makes an excellent place to call home. Firstly, and most obviously, the Californian capital offers plenty of career possibilities thanks to its role as a vital economic hub and entertainment centre.
Other pluses include lots of options for properties to rent or buy and a wide choice of schools. You are also spoiled for choice in terms of activities within easy reach of Los Angeles. California is famous for amazing places to visit such as Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
As with the rest of the USA, if you’re moving to California from the UK, you’ll need to have a job lined up beforehand. But given the huge range of companies in the state, it’s an ideal location if you’re making a career change.
Los Angeles is considered an “Alpha City” or global city, LA is a jewel in the US economy; the entertainment industry, centred on Hollywood, is a major player.
As a key financial centre, LA is home to numerous Fortune 500 firms, as well as the headquarters or regional offices of the big names of corporate America. The entertainment sector is heavily represented, by Hulu, Legendary Entertainment, Mattel, MGM, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros Music and Warner Music Group. In other sectors, leading companies include R&D organisation Aerospace Corporation, real estate services company CBRE, and equipment manufacturer Delta Scientific.
The USA is well-known for its strong pro-business culture and corresponding low levels of bureaucracy, which will help make your transition that bit easier. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities for networking, and numerous business associations exist. Concerning personal income tax, bear in mind that there are federal and state deductions, plus contributions to social security. In California, local income tax rates are progressive, but low. A double taxation treaty applies between the USA and UK, so you won’t pay tax twice on the same income.
Once you have secured work in California, you can start organising your visa. Bear in mind that normally you’ll also need to apply for a work permit. There are many different visa types for moving to America, and the application process can be detailed. The EB-5 visa is a popular choice for the majority of British citizens moving to California, but it will depend on your employment status, your area of expertise, how long you want to stay and lots of other factors, so it’s advisable to talk to an immigration specialist or solicitor. Sterling Lexicon visa and immigration specialists can help! Contact a visa consultant at Sterling Lexicon and get the first 30 minutes free. They’ll help you understand or reconfirm what you need. Alternatively, check out our moving to America checklist which provides further details regarding visas and work permits.
Major hospitals in the LA region include the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, LAC&USC Medical Center and UCLA Medical Centre. For waiting times for hospitals see https://www.hospitalstats.org
California has modern and exceptional healthcare facilities and resources, but it doesn’t come free. As a UK citizen moving to the USA don’t expect an NHS equivalent. If you get sick while living in California, you’ll have to pay medical expenses. Even a prescription can be enormously expensive! If you’re an expat, it’s highly recommended that you take out healthcare insurance to cover you and your family members. Bear in mind that you’ll need to budget for the expense.
Private health insurance is one of the most important things you’ll need to organise for you and your family before you move and you should include it in the negotiations for any job you are applying for.
It’s advisable to do some research and get a quote, and several major companies offer healthcare insurance.
Housing in LA is expensive and has unique style to the region. Please bear in mind your housing budget in comparison to what you are used to in the UK. For general information about housing, including prices, see the US Census Bureau; property websites such as Realtor, Property Shark, and Zillow are valuable information sources too.
Finding a home in sprawling Los Angeles may seem daunting, but there are plenty of family-friendly locations to be found with many having easy access to the coastline. Affluent Culver City is famed as a film location, with apartments and detached homes. Diverse and with a high proportion of university-educated residents, Eagle Rock housing includes apartments of various sizes and detached family homes. A large proportion of the properties in sought after Burbank and Pasadena are family homes. Other areas worth considering include Glendale and Los Feliz.
In the USA, children begin at preschool (up to age 5), go on to elementary/middle school (roughly ages 6-13) and finish at high school (ages 14-17). The education system can be divided into public schools (i.e. publicly funded; operated by Los Angeles Unified School District and the surrounding local authorities) and private schools. The former come under the category of either “traditional” or “charter”; the regulations governing the latter are less stringent. Magnet schools offer a specialized curriculum. Private schools are often faith-based and operated by Christian denominations.
The International School of Los Angeles and Raymond and Esther Kabbaz High School (Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles, offering a French/English bilingual curriculum) are private and prepare students for the International Baccalaureate. Notable public schools include the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, Oxford Academy, and Whitney High School. The adjoining suburbs are also worth considering and school districts (local authorities) in Irvine, South Pasadena.
If you’ve children of school or college age, your choice of neighbourhood will often be defined by your school choice.
When search for a home in LA, the support of a really good real estate agent (realtor) will make a big difference. You can also talk to an international relocation company. They can provide you with guidance on searching for a home and a school in LA, or any of the cities across the state of California. For example, Sterling Lexicon has home finding and school finding services via its California office.
Once you have found a home, you will need to start the house moving process by finding an international removal company. When you move to California from the UK, you may require either a sea shipment for the majority of your belongings and/or an airfreight shipment for your most essential personal belongings.
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It is best to get a quote for your international move to California. This will help you budget and plan effectively. Get a move quote here.
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You will need to have a place to stay and address in California for when you arrive and for the weeks between all your possessions being packed and their arrival at destination. Temporary accommodation is a good option. There are different types, that can be arranged in California, or even in the UK before you depart.
If you would like help sourcing the best value temporary accommodation in the State of California and in the UK, check with your moving company if they offer this. The Sterling Lexicon team would be happy to provide a competitive temporary accommodation quote.
It’s important to ensure your documentation and customs forms are all completed correctly. This will save a lot of time and cost later down the line. Several items can either be prohibited or restricted and are subject to customs duties. It’s best to have an understanding of these. Check out this overview of the US Customs requirements here. Speak to your Move Consultant if you have any doubts.
If you wish to get cover for your personal items, you’ll need to complete a transit protection form detailing an inventory of the items you wish to protect and their insured values.
Check with your international mover that they are using professional packing teams to pack your household goods. Ask about the training they receive, the quality of the materials the mover uses and how eco-friendly and recyclable they are!
Allow 4-6 weeks in total for transportation by sea and customs clearance.
When your household goods have cleared customs, your international mover will normally be in contact with you to arrange a date and time for delivery to your new place. If you choose Sterling Lexicon, they have professional crews in the US will unpack and place some essential items in your house or apartment, allowing you to enjoy your first meal in your new home.
Welcome to your new home! You will need to have sorted out the practical things like setting up your utilities, local medical registrations, broadband, WiFi, etc. It is also a really exciting time as you can get out and start to explore your local area. Find local expat clubs and get stuck in to local life. Whatever you do, make sure you are safety aware.
There are also companies who can help you with getting set up and settled-in. As an example, Sterling Lexicon can offer a maid service or handyman to get everything into place and connected via their California office. They can also help with utilities, settling-in and introductory tours to acquaint you with your local area. Speak to a move specialist today for more details.
Now it’s time to start living like a local and enjoy your new home! If you’d like to talk through your upcoming move, contact the Sterling Lexicon moving team.
Each year we help many returning residents, diplomats and professionals moving for work and families to move to California. Sterling Lexicon help with their visas, finding homes, schools, moving and support at destination. Everything needed to start a new chapter of in California. Check out the Sterling Lexicon locations here.