Currency exchange and more to help with your move to the US

by Alexander Beard, on Aug 11, 2015 10:19:12 AM

Philip TeagueWorking with a specialist currency exchange

According to research quoted in The Telegraph, the average UK family move abroad with £250,000 of assets, likely to be fairly liquid due to the sale of a house and/or a car.

If you were to take a fairly poor market exchange rate, with just $0.05 difference from a better rate then you could end up thousands of dollars worse off.

If the bank offer you $1.53 to the pound, for example, then your return would be $382,500. A specialist exchange service might offer you $1.58 to the pound, however, a return of $395,000, making you $12,500 better off. This difference, of somewhere around 3%, is not unusual to see, however margins may vary and are not guaranteed.

In partnership with TorFX, ABG offers highly competitive exchange rates on all major currencies. TorFX are a specialist currency exchange and will always try to beat high street rates. There are no charges, and we offer fast, free international transfers. Opening an account is quick, simple and completely free.

If you are preparing for your move abroad, talk to us first about your currency transfer requirements, so that you can make sure you’re not losing out to poor high street exchange rates.

Finding a property

The good news on the housing front is that the US systems are very similar to their UK counterparts. You can rent or buy with relative ease, and familiar property markets, such as RightMove, exist in the US as well as over here.

It’s worth bearing in mind the different terminology when entering the US property market, although a few days of exposure to it will see you up to speed. An apartment is our ‘flat’; a small area of allotted space within a bigger building, usually without an outside space. If that’s what you’re after then a condo or condominium might be what you’re after.

Typically this is a flat which you own, in a building jointly owned by the residents, where you can sometimes find an outside pool or garden, depending on the location. A single family home might be an unfamiliar one to UK residents: it simply means a detached property. A duplex sees two different living areas within one building. Often, in the US, one area can be taken up by the landlord and the second by the tenant.

As with the UK, you’ll need to be prepared to provide both evidence of income and references and a hefty amount of money upfront.

If you’re renting, then typically the US system mirrors many UK requirements. You will be prepared to pay a month up front and one month’s rent as deposit, meaning you’ll need two month’s worth of rent ready and available to go. Deposits in the US are again very similar to their UK counterparts: read the small print but, unless you cause any substantial damage, you should get the majority of your deposit returned to you. If you are purchasing, mortgages are again similar and most will require a percentage deposit to secure a viable interest rate.

Don’t forget that, as in the UK, renting or obtaining a mortgage will be dependant on elements such as income, your credit rating, employment history, references and past residences. As someone moving to the country for the first time, the check that these can entail can take longer, so make sure that you plan for those processes. You also need to plan for providing your letting agent or mortgage company with as much evidence as possible, so make sure you know where that paperwork is before you start packing the suitcase!

Health care

US health care has been high on not only the domestic agenda over the past few years but, thanks to the ‘Obama-care’ programme, on the international agenda too.

The fact remains that, currently, the only sensible way to plan for your health requirements in the US is to put in place some health insurance. State support systems tend not to be available to those immigrating to the country and, even if you qualify through this route, you are likely to be means tested, which may mean that you qualify out.

When organising health care, first check with your workplace (if you have one) whether they provide health care and how much it covers. Check the policy carefully: you may wish to supplement it with a private one of your own.

If you do wish to do this, or if your workplace does not provide a policy, then bear in mind that you will need to make sure you get an expatriate level of insurance, not simply travel insurance, which may be invalidated based on your permanent residence status. You may be able to begin to sort your insurance before you travel to the US, which will at least enable you to budget for the cost properly: unfortunately, US health care policies can be expensive.