Dealing with red tape as an expat moving to the USA
They say that one of the most stressful events one can experience in life is moving house. If that is the case, what can it be like to not only pack up your home but also your lives to make the bold jump overseas? If you are reading this, it is likely that you too are considering joining the expat ranks and may be contemplating the myriad tasks you need to perform to make this life-changing event happen with as little stress as is humanly possible.
Of course, there are numerous practical duties, common to any house move, to take care of (or entrust to others) such as ensuring your valuables make the trip to their new home in impeccable condition. However, depending on your host country of choice, there may be a whole new culture of bureaucratic hoops to jump (or stumble!) your way through – after all, you are setting up a whole new life in a country with systems and procedures very different to your own, and encountering a certain amount of red tape is only to be expected.
But as a British expat, you might not expect this to be a problem if you are thinking of moving to the USA from London. We share a language and a similar culture – surely the process of settling in can’t be too much of a headache? Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. Should it stop you from considering a move? Of course not.
But forewarned is forearmed – a move to the States needs careful preparation and plenty of patience. It is essential to do your homework on all key parts of the process – visa information, healthcare, education, accommodation and taxes – and be aware that you may encounter many more hurdles than you might initially have expected.
Where might the issues lie?
One initial problem is that without a US credit score, it can prove exceedingly difficult to rent a property, which is likely in turn to create additional obstacles to navigate. Without a credit score and permanent address, it might feel like you’re operating outside the system, which can, for example, make for difficulties when finding a doctor and navigating the complex healthcare system, already a contentious issue for many in the US.
The US, unlike many other developed countries, does not require expats to take out health insurance. However, should you wish to avoid the risk of running up thousands of pounds’ worth of debt if an unfortunate incident were to occur, it is highly recommended you take out the most suitable policy you can find and ensure it is in place before you make the move.
The another bugbear reported by British expats moving to the States are the complicated tax laws. Income is subject to both state and federal tax and each state differs in their sales and property tax regulations. Be sure to check out the details applicable to your chosen location to familiarise yourself with the process, and as always with matters legal or financial, you’re recommended to take professional advice.
In order to keep yourself from getting too entangled in all this red tape, it’s a good idea to consider joining one of the many expat online networks where you can talk to others who have come through the other side unscathed. In particular, international expat network Internations can be invaluable – there are groups across the world hosting local events for expats, and a friendly face can make all the difference. Exploring local expat communities can also be a godsend for advice and tips – after all, nothing beats experience.
If you are considering moving to the USA, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you.
Information correct at time of publication.