You can just imagine the mix of trepidation and excitement on a dreary winter's day in England, as you and your family set off for the airport, ready to make your move to the warm shores of Florida. Imagine how many months and years may have gone into informing your decision. All the visits to locations throughout the US, attendance at emigration shows, consolidated preparation for the final move, and a few last weeks of frantic activity. Despite the worries you may entertain privately, just imagine how wonderful it could feel to get on that plane.
People have many different reasons for undertaking such a dramatic move, including retirement, career opportunities, wanting investment, or simply wanting a second home. Some make a permanent move, others seek a few weeks escape for holidays, renting out the property when it is not in use. Whatever the reason, a low cost of living and a need for sun in a place where English is spoken are paramount considerations.
Picking the right place
The first consideration is location. This depends on many factors and is almost entirely subjective. Every buyer has different needs, concerned with business for some, educational institutions for others, as well as broader lifestyle issues. It is sensible to discuss your particular needs with an experienced relocation consultant who can advise you thoroughly of the key differences between UK and, US culture. The good news is that Florida has the ' resources to cater for all kinds of different lifestyles.
The next step is to take a holiday in your chosen area, in order to develop your knowledge so you can make an informed decision about where to buy. Whether you are going to be making regular trips out to the US or whether you hope to relocate permanently, it may be a good idea to think about ease of access. Tampa, Orlando and Miami airports all offer regular flights to the UK, while Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale are within an hour of international airports.
In many ways Florida is ideal for British people who find foreign languages a struggle but also do not want to live in an expat enclave. Although there are numerous expat communities in Florida, it is easy enough to avoid them if you wish to do so. Although generalisations can be misleading, it is fair to say that many Americans living in Florida are very friendly, tend to be conservative, patriotic and inward looking. The Christian faith is extremely important to many Floridians.
Using a Real Estate Agent
It is sensible to find an expert who will give you impartial advice on buying your new home in Florida. Use an agent who has worked with people relocating from the UK before, who can give you property advice from a British perspective. Finding a good agent who specialises in British relocation can be difficult, So we have selected Florida Estates, owned and operated by expat Lloyd Hart.
Working in Florida
unemployment rates in Florida are currently low. If seeking employment, please bear in mind that the US observers very different working practices to the UK. They tend to work much longer hours and take much shorter holidays. Tax rates and allowances such as mortgage tax relief are more advantageous in the US than in the UK.
Some Britons moving over to Florida will be relocating on a visa attached to a business they are buying. Buying a business requires caution, however, with lavish claims motivated by high commissions, it is unusual for the seller to pay 10 per cent to a broker. Receiving poor advice can be a problem, as can ignorance of certain specifics, such as not knowing that business insurance costs are based on the current American owner, leading to significantly higher premiums for a new British owner. Extensive research will prove very helpful.
There is no free health care in the US. Treatment is expensive and failure to take out medical insurance can lead to financial ruin. There are several expat policies although it's best to use a mainstream American provider if you can. Companies often provide their employees with health insurance.
Opening a bank account and obtaining credit cards is a challenging experience. Regardless of your standing in the UK, you will not have any official US credit rating. Don't forget the impact of currency exchange rates, and always take advice from the specialist currency trading companies.
You will need to get a Social Security number, as it is used for recording everything from healthcare to your mortgage, to your credit rating. It is relatively easy to obtain from the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov).
Removals and transport
The top tip for removals is to take as little with you to Florida as possible. Most household goods are cheaper in the US, so you would be wise to buy over there. Using an established removal company who is part of a reputable trade organisation will cost you more, but will reduce the stress of losing irreplaceable possessions.
Of course, once you get out there, you will almost certainly want to buy your own car. This is a priority to save on rentals and associated high insurance costs, but you will need to haggle with fast-talking car salesmen as well as take the Florida driving test. The real pain will come when you apply for car insurance, as US insurance companies will treat you as though you have no credit history.
Orlando Florida International Airport
Orlando Sanford International Airport
It is possible to take pets with you, though it might not be a great idea. Cats seem less popular in Florida, and are mainly kept indoors. The wider, busier Floridian roads are also cause for concern.