Firstly, welcome to one of the most open and user-friendly countries in the world, where bureaucracy is meant to be a system for getting things done fairly, rather than a nightmare to navigate. So, in our understated way, we offer some friendly, practical advice to help you and your family settle into your new home.
Language, translation and conversion
Someone once said that Britain and the US are countries separated by a common language. Well, wherever you come from, you may find we use different words for things here, and sometimes a familiar word means something different – don’t turn up to a party in the UK wearing “pants”. There are lots of fun websites to help you, such as US2UK but don’t forget that we spell some words differently too.
Speaking of translation, we use our own size systems for everything from shoes and clothes to drinks and beds - and we use the metric system when we feel like it.
You always feel you belong somewhere when you open a local bank account, but in this global age, you’ll probably find a branch of your own bank in the UK.
If you need to set up a new account though, there are plenty of High Street banks to choose from. Simply make an appointment with the bank of your choice, remember to bring proof of ID, such as a passport, proof of permanent residence, plus a utility bill addressed to your new home and a reference letter from your employer addressed to the bank. There can be some additional requirements depending on your bank choice, but we can help with the finer details.
Let’s clear up one potential source of confusion if you’re coming from the US. When we say public school, we mean a private or independent fee-paying school. Don’t ask why - it’s probably a throwback to a distant past. When you say public schools, we say state schools, though that can cover a range of options: academies, faith schools, technical colleges, all with different emphases on education. More information on schooling in the UK can be found in our previous blog.
To compare state schools in your area, look at Government performance tables online.
If you have children below school age (four), then you can search online for a nursery that suits your parenting style.
We love to complain about our National Health Service but it’s good to know that in an emergency, you will receive hospital treatment, no questions asked. You will also need to register with a local medical practice and a dentist when you arrive in the UK, you will need proof of identity and proof of permanent residence in the UK.
Don’t forget that if you need the emergency services, such as an ambulance, the number to ring is 999. For medical non-emergencies, a High Street pharmacist (also called a chemist) can help.
Vive la difference!
Don’t forget that we drive on the left in cars that are right hand drive vehicles, our electrical equipment works on 220 volts and we laugh at the strangest things. As a nation our favourite take-away food is apparently Indian, other take-away food such as Britain’s finest fish n’ chips and the weather is the topic of daily conversation.
The Brits take pride in their customs, history, heritage and traditions; as a place to relocate to, the UK has much to offer!