What to Expect in the USA: Your Essential Guide

Whether you’re looking at moving overseas to the States for business, pleasure or simply a new adventure, there is much research to be done before you flit off.

Though it is always good to be spontaneous and live life to the fullest, it’s important to remember that although they might speak the same language, our American cousins live a very different life to what we know in the UK. So on that note, here’s our handy guide to help get you ready for your big move. For a more extensive guide, covering topics such as education, driving in the US, and moving with pets, take a look at our expats guide to moving to the USA.

Planning Your Visa

Possibly the most difficult aspect of planning your relocation to America will be getting the piece of paper that says you may do so. It’s vital that you plan ahead and leave yourself enough time to get everything together to apply for your visa.

During the application process, you’ll need to gather up many original documents, follow this step-by-step guide and book yourself in for an appointment at the US embassy in London. Once that’s sorted, it’s simply a matter of waiting for your documents and getting ready to jet off!

Health Care

One of the biggest differences between the US and the UK is the health care system. You may have taken the NHS for granted up until now – but you’ll certainly appreciate it once you’ve moved.

Though a government-subsidised health care system is under development in th US, there is still a long way to go. And unless you are moving to start a job that will already cover your health insurance, you’ll definitely want to organise either travel insurance or an individual healthcare plan until you have found employment. The cost of medical bills in the US may come as a shock – and you definitely do not want to get caught out.


Tipping might be widely expected throughout Europe – but nonetheless, you’ll still notice the difference when you arrive in the US. Many workers in the service industry are paid the minimum wage and rely heavily on your tips for their livelihood. For this reason, you’ll also notice an improvement in the service you receive in restaurants, bars etcetera.

You might have seen on older films and television that the general rule is a 10 per cent tip. However, the general rule has now been increased to between 15 and 20 per cent, depending on the area you’re in and the quality of the service. It’s also important to note that the tip is based on the pre-tax amount, not the final total.

Important Telephone Numbers

The emergency number 911 may come as second nature to you, thanks to the American film industry – but here are some other numbers that it’s also important to store in your phone.

411 – Local Directory Enquiries
0 – Local operator assistance
00 – International operator assistance

Make sure you are also aware of where the nearest UK embassy is to you. If you’re ever in trouble, this will be your first port of call to finding help.

Are you planning a move to the US? We offer a unique, palletised international removals service direct from the UK.