Five Finance Tips For Americans in The UK


Moving to the UK? Catherine Treyz, writer and American abroad, breaks down 5 important tips that will help set you up for financial success.

With the United Kingdom’s world renowned universities, bustling cities, vibrant popular culture, and a shared language, it’s not difficult to imagine why many Americans decide to move there. In fact, US News and World Report recently ranked the UK as the fifth best country to live in.

And the decision to move “across the pond” doesn’t have to be financially burdensome. Here are 5 financial tips for Americans who have moved to the UK.

1 - Research housing options

Chris, a finance manager in London, recommends looking into getting a roommate, I mean, ‘flatmate’, to cut down on housing costs.

While he doesn’t have one, he tells Wise, “Everyone does.”

Trev, a PhD student at Cambridge University, recommends diving into your network to find housing.

“Tap into your network. Chances are you might find accommodation through friends or friends of friends.”

And if you don’t have those connections yet, there are a number of websites or platforms to assist you in your flatmate search, such as Spareroom.

If you’re a student, Trev acknowledges that while it depends on each university and city, it might be more affordable to look into student housing.

2 - Eating out is pricey.

Channel your inner Emeril Lagasse and learn to cook. Eating out in the UK, especially in London, is very expensive.

Hardens, the restaurant review magazine, noted a 6% increase in dining out for dinner over the past year, and lists the average price for a dinner for ONE in the capital city is £59.28. Naturally, there are cheaper options, but you get a sense of how expensive it is to dine out.

Trev recommends assessing the various grocery stores for good deals. He says you’re going to be more likely to find better deals at a place like Tesco as opposed to Waitrose, but it all depends on your budget. If you ultimately shop at one store more than others, it could be worthwhile to look into loyalty cards. Chris, on the other hand, recommends ordering your groceries online, like from Ocado.

But if dining out is your thing, consider doing it at lunch instead of dinner. Lunch deals will often be more affordable in the cities.

3 - Become familiar with the pound

Since the Brexit vote almost three years ago, the value of the British pound (£) has seen some fluctuations.

Following the valuation of the pound will help you assess when to transfer money from your American account to your British one -- or vice versa. For that, Wise can help.

With just a few clicks, Wise provides an affordable and quick alternative to traditional bank transfers. It eliminates hidden fees that are notoriously associated with traditional bank or wire transfers.

Additionally, Wise now provides borderless accounts that allow account holders to receive and convert currencies in one place, which may be helpful if, for example, you’re a freelancer and invoice international clients. You can even get a debit card to spend in multiple currencies without the exchange rate costs of traditional currency conversion providers. You can also create and send your invoices by using our downloadable free invoice template in Excel, Word or PDF.

4 - Don’t ignore FATCA

It is highly recommended that you speak with a tax adviser. It's woth getting acquainted with FATCA regulations and the US-UK joint tax treaty, the latter of which seeks to limit double taxation for American expats.

FATCA stands for the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Essentially, it requires American citizens and Green Card holders to report their foreign earned income and other holdings in foreign accounts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Depending on your income and a few other factors, FATCA could make things complicated. In other words, it could get expensive tax-wise if not understood properly, but then again, so could the penalties if you don't report your earnings.

Everyone's tax situation requires individual advice, and it's well worth investigating how your own international finances will affect your taxes with a professional.

5 - Use public transportation

Being scared of driving on the other side of the road may actually be good for your wallet.

The average monthly cost of owning a car is approximately £388 per month, according to Motoring Research. Public transportation in the UK is much cheaper than owning or leasing a car, especially in big cities like London, where you’ll also have to take into account more expensive parking.

The same goes for taxis and ride sharing apps. Though it may take longer, public transportation will likely be the most cost effective option.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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