When starting to prepare for my move from the UK to the US, I did countless google searches trying to find a checklist of things to do when immigrating permanently. I did find a couple of helpful ones, but none that were specific enough for my situation, so I thought it would be helpful to make one for anyone else looking.
I didn’t have a home to sell/rent out which significantly reduced the amount of stress and items on my list. I’ve also been moving my stuff over in multiple suitcases every time I have went to New York to visit, so didn’t require any shipping services, but there were a lot of things involved in wrapping up my old life in order to start my new one. The list is in no particular order.
- Hand in notice to work – I had a 4 week notice period with my work, so I actually handed my notice in 2-3 days before my visa interview
- Work out what your final pay will be (excluding any unused/overused vacation allowance), it will be your last one for a couple of months if you’re entering the US on a K1 Visa like me
- Obtain a copy of your medical records – I actually did this at the very start of 2017 and I’m glad I did because there was a lot of back and forth with my GP over it.
- Ask for a couple of months supply for any repeat prescriptions – just so you have enough to do you in between leaving the UK and getting your medical care set up in the US
- Obtain a copy of your prescription from your opticians – if you wear contacts or glasses
- Cancel phone contract/car insurance – I had to do this all a month prior to my departure date, in order to make the final payment prior to moving
- Cancel any direct debits – Gym etc. (For Spotify, I just changed the registered country and gave my fiancé’s bank details so I didn’t lose all my playlists etc.)
- Close down any unnecessary bank accounts – I closed down all my accounts except my oldest debit card account so that I have a card to use when I come home for visits
- Transfer savings to the US – We used TransferWise
- Book any additional baggage with your airline – it’s cheaper to do this online than it is at the airport
- Notify the Student Loans Agency that you’re leaving the UK, or pay off – If you are in Scotland you can visit this link for more information about paying overseas
- Make a folder with all your most important documents – P45, US Social Security Number if you already have one (I do from a previous J1 work visa), National Insurance Number (won’t be needed in the US but you never know when you’ll need it for something in the UK), Degree and Transcripts, any additional qualifications certificates, your K1 Visa documents (medical form etc.)
- Provide your friends and family with your contact details in the US – Address etc., best contact number to get you on if you will be without a phone for the first couple of days
- Sell or trade your car back in – I was lucky that my mum was in need of a new car, so it was easy to organise getting rid of
- Pack up all your belongings to take with you – I used packing cubes and vacuum seal bags in order to maximise on space in my suitcases
- Make sure to take sentimental items – Photographs, cards and those kinds of things. Sometimes you try so hard to maximise on space that these are the first things to go, but I’ve heard that they really help when you get those moments of homesickness, so make room!
- Take the time to spend time with people and say goodbye – this one is really important. I actually gave myself 2 weeks in between finishing work and departing for the US, just so I had time to see everybody I want to and time to get organised – without feeling super rushed or stressed
- Pack your carry-on luggage in plenty of time so you don’t forget anything important – Remember your passport, big white envelope for immigration and customs in the US and chest x-ray CD from the embassy
- Have final checkups – Make an appointment with your doctor and your dentist before you go, healthcare is expensive in the US so get a final checkup before you leave the UK to make sure everything is OK until you get your own medical insurance organised in the states
- Get a haircut/colour – This is more for the girls! If you’re anything like me, I’m super particular about who does my hair, I’ve had the same hairdresser for years. So I had my hair done the week before I moved, just so it gave me a couple of months before I needed to start my search for a new salon in the US.
There are probably a lot of other things that you will think of as your moving date nears but these are the main ones on my list. I plan on doing another list for things to do once you get to the US.
I would say the main factor in preparing for your move, is just to give yourself time to actually process moving, it’s exciting and nerve racking at the same time and I can guarantee you will go through a rollercoaster of emotions in the weeks leading up to moving!