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What is the cost of living in the UK vs the US?

If you have wondered which country is more or less expensive to live in, our helpful article will outline everything you need to know about the cost of living in both countries.

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Cost of living in the UK compared to the US

Although it might seem that the UK and US are very similar in many ways, there are some key differences.

The cost of living in both countries is relatively high when compared to some other countries. The US is currently ranked 27th and the UK ranked 28th on the cost of living global index.

This guide outlines the differences in cost of living between both countries, as well as what a person can expect when migrating to either the US or UK.

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How much does it cost to live in the UK vs the US?

According to cost-of-living comparisons, the cost of living in the UK compared to the US is broadly equal, with the UK being slightly less expensive by some measures.

Consumer prices (including rent) in the United Kingdom are almost 8% lower than in the United States.

Similarly, the cost of renting in the UK is 22% lower than renting in the US.

In terms of the price of groceries, you can expect to pay 18% less in the UK than in the US, although local purchasing power is 17% lower in the UK.

Comparative costs of living

It is very difficult to compare the costs of living in two countries for a number of reasons. The first reason is that prices for goods and services change regularly, meaning that comparisons can fluctuate.

The next reason is that the impact of Britain leaving the EU has not yet been calculated in terms of the cost of goods and groceries.

Third, cost of living comparisons depends on the location. Comparing the cost of living in London with New York will give one idea of the comparative costs.

However, comparing two rural areas will give widely different figures.

By some estimates, some figures have found that the United Kingdom is 0.49% less expensive than the United States, while others have found that the UK is 6.4% more expensive than the US.

Emigrating to the US from the UK – what to expect

The US is a highly desirable location to live and work, due to its rich history and social and economic landscape.

For British emigrants, the United States is the second most popular destination after Australia. The advantages of living in the US are obvious: there is no language barrier, there are fantastic job opportunities, and the opportunity to achieve a high quality of living.

Some of the key points you should be aware of when emigrating to the US from the UK include choosing the correct US visa, your working rights, and understanding your immigration status if you marry a US citizen.

Cost of living in the US

The cost of living in the US is relatively high. The median rent for an unfurnished apartment in the US is over $1,500 per month.

The average cost of household food expenditure is approximately $8,100. Meanwhile, the average wage for a person in the US is approximately $40,000 per year.

US visas

There are two forms of visas available if you intend to enter the US: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.

Non-immigrant visas include those for tourist, business, or temporary employment purposes. There are also study visas and investor visas.

Immigrant visas include family, fiancé, long-term employment, and ‘special immigrants’ visa categories. In most cases, you will need a sponsor in order to come to the United States as an immigrant.

Working in the US

If you are eligible, you may be able to come to the US for work purposes. You must ensure that you have the required immigration permissions and that your application has been accepted.

In general, you will need to have an employment-based immigrant visa, temporary employment visa, a green card (a permanent resident card) or a work permit (an authorised employment document).

When preparing your application to work in the US, you should be aware that US and UK qualifications adhere to different standards and it may be necessary for you to engage the services of an organisation to verify the equivalence of your qualifications.

Marrying in the US

If you intend to marry your partner in the US, you will need to follow the local laws in the location where you wish to marry.

The marriage will be automatically recognised in the United Kingdom if you enter into a legal marriage that is in accordance with US laws, and if the marriage would be recognised under British law.

You will not need to register the marriage in the UK. If you move back to the UK with your spouse, they may be eligible to apply for citizenship if they have lived in the UK for at least three years.

Emigrating to the UK from the US – what to expect

Similar to the US, the UK is also considered a desirable location to live and work. The primary ways that an American citizen can live permanently in the UK is by applying for a work or family visa.

Cost of living in the UK

Average rental prices in the United Kingdom are lower than in the US. The average monthly rent in the UK is approximately £747 (outside London). In London, the average monthly rent is over £1,500.

The average salary for an employee in the UK is just over £31,400.

UK visas

As in the US, there are a number of routes to enter the UK. These include tourist, business visitor, study, and investor visas. Under the UK’s new immigration system, some visas are now graded according to a points system.

This means that under the visa category you are applying for, you must obtain the relevant number of points and demonstrate how you meet the eligibility requirements.

If a US citizen intends to apply for settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain), they will likely need to have stayed in the UK for at least five years.

Working in the UK

There are a number of working visa categories open to eligible American citizens who wish to work in the United Kingdom.

In most cases, an applicant will need to provide evidence of having received an offer of employment from a UK employer. This employer must hold a valid sponsor licence.

There are also minimum earning requirements for the job you take and you may be required to show evidence of your personal savings to show that you can support yourself in the UK.

Marrying in the UK

If you are an American citizen who intends to come to the UK to marry your partner, there are a number of options depending on the nature of your relationship when you enter the country.

You should apply for the appropriate visa category based on your circumstances, whether that is the Marriage Visitor Visa, Fiancé Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa, or Spouse Visa.

You can apply for British citizenship if you have lived in the United Kingdom for three years and if you meet the eligibility requirements. Your American citizenship will not be affected as you can hold dual nationalities.

If you have any questions about emigrating to the US or to the UK, contact our expert immigration lawyers for a discussion about how we can help you. Phone 0121 667 6530 to speak to our legal experts today.