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The American’s guide to moving to London

American guide

The famous “special relationship” between the UK and US dates way back to 1785 when they established diplomatic relations with each other. Ever since, the two nations have become intertwined – politically, socially, economically and geographically. Throw in a shared language – with the odd difference in spelling and pronunciation of course – and it’s easy to see why so many American citizens relocate to London.

The opportunities on offer in this truly world-class city are numerous. However, 234 years of bonding aside, there are subtle differences to life in London compared to a US metropolis that take some getting used to – and these stretch beyond how you spell or pronounce aluminium/aluminum.

To ensure a smooth relocation process, here’s a quick heads up of those quirks that might catch out an American moving to London:

Renting

  • Furnished v unfurnished properties – Unlike the US, rental properties are usually furnished in the UK – particularly one and two bedroom properties. Great news if you’re after a short-term contract; if you’re after a long-term lease, however, you might prefer an unfurnished property. While these are available in the London rental market, be prepared to search a bit harder for your ideal home.
  • Additional charges:
    • Council Tax – a system of local taxation collected by local authorities each month on domestic property, based on its relative value. Homeowners and tenants must pay Council Tax, while students living in student accommodations may be exempt.
    • TV licence – this must be purchased to legally watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast; and download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand. The licence costs £154.50 for homes and businesses.
    • Utilities such as electricity, garbage collection and water are sometimes included in the rental price in the US. In the UK this is less common, with most additional charges typically excluded from the rent – you will be required to set these up in your name.

 

Language

Curb v sidewalk, football v soccer, rubbish v trash…the list of different words used on both sides of the pond for the same thing goes on. Just take the real estate sector for example. For a start, real estate is referred to as property in the UK. So, to avoid any further confusion, American’s making the move to London should also be aware that:

  • A realtor is called an estate agent
  • An apartment is called a flat
  • Renting may be referred to as letting
  • A duplex is called a maisonette
  • A yard is called a garden
  • An attic is called a loft
  • A closet is called a wardrobe

 

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