International relocations involve a lot of moving parts—and that includes moves between London and the US. Even though the US was originally an English colony until 1776, even though the two countries share a common root language, and even though the US and the UK are close diplomatic allies—there are still some things you need to know before planning your move.

We’re talking cultural differences, local nuances, and logistical challenges, all of which can throw a wrench into even the most carefully orchestrated move.

Below, we’ll show you everything you need to know to avoid the common speedbumps around London–US moves and set yourself up for a simple, stress-free relocation.

#1: Don’t Take Cultural Differences for Granted

It would be a mistake to assume that the common origins and shared root language between London and the US means that there’s 100% commonality when it comes to culture.

To start to grasp those differences, check out the results below from a poll of 1,000 US and 1,000 UK workers. You’ll see some interesting insights as to how the groups perceive each other—and themselves. (You’ll also notice one few point where the two groups agree!)

Americans Describing Americans


British Describing Americans


British Describing British

Easy Going

Americans Describing British

Dry humor


The long and the short of it is this: Don’t take the cultural differences for granted. Be aware that Americans and the British perceive things differently—including themselves!

With this in mind, you’ll create the opportunity to bridge any gaps and eliminate any misunderstandings.

#2: You’ll Need to Qualify for Duty-Free Entry

Whether you’re moving from the US to London or from London to the US, there are procedures for duty-free import of your household goods. Eligibility will depend on details such as the length of your stay, your visa, etc. You’ll also need to complete some paperwork to qualify, all of which can save you a considerable amount on duties.

We’ll walk you through what you need to know.

Pointers for the Application for Transfer of Residence Relief (ToR1)

One of the first areas on the ToR1 form is a packing list of the things you want to bring to the UK. This can feel like a daunting task, especially if you haven’t even thought about packing yet. However, here’s where your moving company can help. If they’re doing an in-person survey, you can use the results of the survey as a running start for your ToR1 packing list. This can often shave off a significant amount of time from the application process.

Be aware of alternatives for proof of UK address – On the ToR1 form, you’ll also be asked to provide a proof of address in the UK. If you don’t know where you’ll be living yet, don’t worry. The application will allow you to list your temporary accommodations, such as a hotel or a corporate apartment. You can also supply a statement from a friend or family member you’ll be staying with.

Get ahead of any errors – Your ToR1 form can take a few weeks to process, so you’ll want to submit yours as soon as possible. After submission, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a phone number. If you don’t get a status update within two weeks, we suggest calling that number. That’s an easy way to check if there’s anything holding up your application—and correct any problems early.

#3: Driving Will Be a Bit of an Adjustment

One of the major differences you’ll encounter when moving between the UK and the US is the driving situation. In the US, the driver sits on the left side of the car and drives on the right side of the road. In contrast, the UK is one of the 76 countries that drives on the left, with the driver sitting on the right side of the car.

It’s certainly not impossible to switch between the two, but it will initially require some concentration, especially when navigating a complex intersection. Additionally, when sitting on the side they’re not used to, drivers can find it difficult to gauge how much “car” there is on the passenger side. In other words, it can be surprisingly easy to sideswipe another car, a wall, or a guard rail with the opposite side of the car.

In London, many people make use of the extensive Underground system to get around (also known as “the Tube”). Considering London was ranked the #8 most stressful city to drive in, it’s no wonder. Keep in mind, though, that New York City took the #5 spot, so driving in the US isn’t always a cake walk, either.

#4: Size Matters

99 square meters or 1,066 square feet. That’s the average floor space you’ll find in a house in England and Wales. In London, the average drops to a median of 47 square meters or 506 square feet. When you compare that to the US average, you’ll quickly realize that homes in the US are, on average, quite a bit larger than homes in the UK, London in particular.

0sq ft
Average floor space of a house in England/Wales
0sq ft
Average floor space in the City of London
0sq ft
Average floor space of a house in the US

Source: 1, 2

If you’re moving to London from the US, pay attention to how much room you’ll have in your new home. You may need to pare down your belongings or put a few in storage. Additionally, make sure to take a hard look at any large pieces of furniture you have. While huge, sectional couches have become increasingly common in the US, they might not fit into a London flat—or even up the stairs.

If you’re moving to the US from London, you may find that you have more room than furniture. Even so, there’s one item you might want to leave behind: your wardrobe. A majority of homes in the US come with built-in closets, so you may not need a wardrobe. Additionally, because wardrobes aren’t as common in the US, they may require a specialized team for assembly, which can add to the cost of your move.

No matter which way you’re moving, consider the issues of size and space carefully to avoid any surprises when your belongings arrive at your new home.

#5: Coffee? Tea? Get Ready to Embrace the Differences

If you needed any evidence that the British are serious about their tea, consider this statistic: In the UK, the average tea consumption is 4.281 pounds of tea per person, per year. Compare that to the US consumption—0.503—and one of the big cultural differences between the US and the UK quickly comes into focus.

Average Tea Consumption Per Person, Per Year

0 lbs
United Kingdom
0 lbs
United States

Coffee remains many Americans’ beverage of choice, with 491 million cups of coffee consumed daily in the country.

However, don’t think that the UK is fully immune to the charms of coffee. The country consumes around ~98 million cups of coffee per day, which is not shabby for a country of about 67 million people. That makes for about 1.46 cups of coffee daily per capita in the UK, which is quite comparable to the 1.48 cups per capita in the US.

Despite similar levels of coffee consumption, those in the US and the UK have different preferences when it comes to what type of coffee they order. In the US, the latte and the espresso top the list of favorites. In the UK, the flat white, followed by a black Americano are the most common orders. (And if you’re headed to London and you don’t know what a flat white is, it’s time to learn!)

In summary, your favorite hot beverage might be harder to find in your new home. However, if you can stay flexible, you may discover something new that you love.

#6: Packing Yourself Can Create Challenges

Given the expenses involved with an overseas move, it’s understandable that you might look for ways to trim your budget. This is especially true if your employer isn’t paying the cost, or if you’ve been given a tight budget.

One area you might consider cutting is packing services. Packing yourself might seem like an easy and practical way to save money. However, it can often create more challenges than it’s worth, and it may not save you any money.

We’ll explain why:

#7: Get Your Place Names Right

For ~250 years, British English and American English evolved separately on their own continents. So it probably comes as no surprise that there are differences in pronunciation between the two languages—and some place names that can trip up newcomers.

To help you sound like an expert—fast—we’ll get you started with our list of the trickiest place names in London and the US, along with their correct pronunciations.

Commonly Mispronounced Place Names: London Edition

  • Gloucester Road (GLOSS-ter)
  • Greenwich (GREN-itch or GREN-ij)
  • Grosvenor Square (GROVE-neh or GROVE-ner; Americans will tend to pronounce the final R, while the British will not)
  • Leicester Square (LESS-ter; same note as above where the R is concerned)
  • Marylebone (MAR-lee-bone)
  • Southwark (SUTH-ick)
  • Woolwich (WOOL-itch or WOOL-ij)

Commonly Mispronounced Place Names: US Edition

  • La Jolla, California (Lah HOY-ya)
  • Houston Street, New York (HOW-ston, not HEW-ston; however, the city of Houston, Texas is pronounced HEW-ston)
  • Greenwich, Connecticut (GREN-itch)
  • Mobile, Alabama (MOH-beel)
  • Nevada (Neh-VAH-duh; the middle syllable rhymes with “mad”)
  • Worchester, Massachusetts (WOOSS-ter)
  • Yosemite National Park (Yo-SEM-eh-tee)

#8: London Is No Place for Containers

When you do a large, overseas move, your household goods will travel via ocean freight in a metal shipping container. However, when it comes to the London end of your move, there’s almost nowhere in the city with enough room to pull up a container truck and load everything right into the container itself.

If you’re moving to London, your moving crew will use a shuttle to bring items to your new home. Practically, that means that your items will get unloaded from their container in a nearby warehouse and then loaded into a truck that can get close enough to your home to deliver your belongings. Your items may arrive in several waves throughout the day as items are ferried to you. So, whereas your container had been sealed in the US, that seal will be broken at the warehouse near London—but, don’t worry, your crew will keep a close eye on all of your items to ensure nothing goes missing.

If you’re moving from London, a crew will arrive at your house with a smaller truck, then pack your belongings into that truck, and ferry your belongings to the nearest warehouse. At the warehouse, your items will be loaded in their container, which will be sealed and sent to your destination in the US. As with moves to London, the crew will keep very close track of your items to make sure everything stays together.

Leveraging smaller trucks to shuttle belongings to a warehouse is a common practice in a number of global cities—Paris and New York included. However, we always like to let our customers know up front so there are no surprises on Moving Day.

#9: “Football” Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing

While “football” is the most popular sport in the US and the UK, that word refers to completely different sports on either side of the pond. What those in the US call “football” is commonly known in the UK as “American football.” What those in the UK call “football” is commonly known in the US as “soccer.”

While the sports are obviously quite different, there’s one thing that may familiar to you: the fervor of rooting for one’s favorite team. In both the US and the UK, you’ll find plenty of devoted fans whose moods live and die by the performances of their “football” teams.

So while you may not fully understand the nuances of your new home’s version of “football,” you may still be able to find some commonalities in the inevitable highs and lows that come with being a sports fan.

#10: Make Sure You Compare Apples to Apples

Depending on your situation, you might be responsible for gathering quotes for your US–London move. If that’s the case, make sure you’re comparing what we call “apples to apples” when you’re evaluating these estimates.

Some moving companies offer an all-in-one quote that includes all additional fees, such as terminal handling charges (THC). (A very common fee for an international move!) Other companies may add on additional fees like this later down the line. This practice can make their quotes appear cheaper initially, but it can also leave you with an extra bill you weren’t expecting.

When you’re gathering quotes, inquire about any additional fees that might impact the final cost of your move, such as terminal handling charges. This simple question can eliminate any surprises—and help you confidently identify the right company for your London–US move.

A Simple, Stress-Free London–US Move

Moving can be one of the most stressful situations you’ll encounter. When you add in the logistics of an international destination, things get even more complicated—and even overwhelming. To make your transition as smooth as possible, be ready for a little culture shock, and try to embrace the differences between your old home and your new one. Finally, choose a mover with plenty of international experience. That way, you’ll be able to cross one more worry off your list and begin to look forward to your relocation.

Planning a US–London move? We’ve handled tens of thousands of international relocations, and we know how to make yours safe, easy, and stress-free. Just reach out to start a complimentary quote with one of our international experts.

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