The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Florida and Southeastern USA
Florida and Southeastern America is a highly desirable destination for those looking to relocate from the UK and begin a new life living ‘the American dream’.
The southeastern states, commonly referred to as ‘The South’, are a group of states, many of which border with the Atlantic Ocean. The southeastern states include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The most populous state, Florida (or ´The ‘Sunshine State’ as it is often referred to), boasts many beautiful beaches including Miami beach; resorts and shopping outlets; the largest and most famous theme parks in the world: Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando. Florida has built a thriving tourism industry since the 1920s and sees over 60 million visitors to the state each year, creating a melting pot of cultures. From Native Americans to Central and South Americans, Europeans and Asians, a huge variety of settlers, immigrants and indigenous people call Florida and the surrounding states their home.
Moving to Florida and Southeastern USA
Choosing a place to live
If you’re considering moving to Florida or one of the southeastern states of America there are a wide range of lifestyle options to choose from; from the bright lights of the city, to picket fenced suburbia. There are many beautiful coastside cities in south east USA which are perfect for beach lovers, but there are also a plethora of quieter, countryside towns which can provide a more relaxed alternative. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s important to make a list of your priorities for your new home, including any deal breakers, to ensure you select a location that suits everybody’s needs.
Moving your possessions
Your furniture and personal items can be sent either by air or by sea, depending on how urgently you need them to arrive. Container shipments usually take 9 – 14 weeks door-to-door, however if you need your possessions more quickly it is possible to have some, or all of them, flown over. Depending on the amount and size of items you need shipping, you can either have your own personal container, or add your belongings to a shared container.
Britannia Movers can safely ship your belongings door to door, taking care of everything and making your big move a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Britannia Movers International specialises in helping families and individuals move their belongings quickly and safely from the UK to destinations all over the world. We offer decades of experience in relocation services, combined with local knowledge to tailor the move to your personal requirements, ensuring you receive the most cost-effective and simple option for you.
The following items are prohibited from entering the USA:
- Cuban cigars or any Cuban merchandise
- drugs and drug paraphernalia
- meat products
- alcohol-filled candy
- lottery tickets
If you are considering bringing alcohol to the USA it’s worth noting that adults can bring up to one litre of beer, wine or liqueur each for personal use. Quantities above the one-litre limitation are subject to duty and internal revenue tax. Examples of the approximate duty include beer – $0.15 cents per litre, still wine – $0.34 cents per litre and 86 Proof Scotch – $3.06 per litre.
Because the UK is a ‘rabies-free’ area there is no quarantine for cats and dogs entering the USA from the United Kingdom. However your pet must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry into the United States. These requirements apply equally to service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs. Pets not accompanied by proof of rabies vaccination, including puppies and kittens that are too young to be vaccinated, may be admitted if the importer completes a confinement agreement and confines the animal until it is considered adequately vaccinated against rabies. That said, the rules vary from state to state so be sure to check the individual requirements of the state you are moving to in order to be sure you have all the documents needed for your beloved pet.
Airlines will often request a health certificate from a veterinarian to ensure your animal is in a fit state to travel. There is no specific format for this document so it is worth checking with your airline to be certain of what they require. In order for your pet to travel with you in the cabin they must be able to fit in a small sized box which can be placed under your seat. If your animal does not fit in the correct box they will need to go in the live animals section of the baggage hold.
Cars are duty free for immigrants and visitors. The cost to move your car from the UK to the USA is around $1,000 USD. It´s important to note that if your vehicle will be in the USA for more than one year it will be subject to restrictive U.S. safety standards, bumper standards, and air pollution control (emission) standards. Almost all cars bought in the UK must be modified in order to conform to these standards. If the car is going to be used in the USA for less than a year then these standards need not be met. It is important to remember that if you are bringing a car from the UK it will have the steering on the right-hand side of the car which can be dangerous when driving on American roads which are left-hand traffic.
If you’re looking to move on a permanent basis, it is important to clear up any financial matters before you leave. This might include clearing any loans, organising bank accounts and telling HM Revenue & Customs that you are leaving the UK. Additionally, if you plan to return to the UK at a later date, it is very important that you settle any outstanding debts before leaving as financial crimes can often result in imprisonment.
When moving to a new country, there can be great difficulty in opening a bank account as you have no credit history. Opening an account before you leave the UK can avoid this problem. A good option is to choose an international bank such as HSBC or RBS with offices in the area of your new home, ideally with a branch close to where you will live, and an office in the UK where you can set up your new account.
If you are bringing the equivalent of more than $10,000 USD dollars in to the USA you must file Form 4790 with the United States Customs Service.
Travelling to Florida from the UK
The largest airport in Florida and the surrounding states is Miami International Airport (MIA). Three airlines offer direct flights from London (various airports) to Miami including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and American Airlines. Alternatively choose a flight with a stopover which may substantially reduce the price of your ticket. Airlines that offer stopover flights from the UK to Miami include Delta, Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia, TAM and TAP amongst others. With ticket prices rising every day, shopping around and being flexible with your dates can really help you save money on your air tickets.
Most British passport-holding citizens are able to visit the USA for a period of up to 90 days without a visa through the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). The types of journey that are permissible under the VWP include tourism, certain types of business visit and transit to another country. All those travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme arriving by air or sea should provide details online at least 72 hours before travel. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA. If you don’t have an ESTA you’ll be refused travel to the USA.
To emigrate or spend any length of time over 90 days in Florida, you will need a visa. The easiest and most common route is if you have a job lined up, since your future employer will sort out all of these details for you.
Living in Florida and Southeastern USA
Florida is a hub for media, film, arts, entertainment and fashion, so those looking to work in these areas will find a number of entry-level opportunities to get started. Florida also boasts a huge variety of work opportunities in the tourism sector for hoteliers, restaurateurs, store managers and more. Real estate also offers some great opportunities.
The following table shows typical monthly salaries across a range of industry sectors.
Gardening / Farming / Fishing
Media / Broadcasting / Arts / Entertainment
Customer Service and Call Center
Administration / Reception / Secretarial
Courier / Delivery / Transport / Drivers
Electrical and Electronics Trades
Cleaning and Housekeeping
Advertising / Graphic Design / Event Management
Purchasing and Inventory
Quality Control and Compliance
Food /Hospitality / Tourism / Catering
Health and Medical
Airlines / Aviation / Aerospace / Defense
Law Enforcement / Security / Fire
Teaching / Education
Construction / Building / Installation
Publishing and Printing
Sales Retail and Wholesale
Accounting and Finance
Government and Defence
Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology
Executive and Management
Finding a job in Florida
There are a wide range of recruitment agencies and websites helping job seekers looking for work in Florida and the surrounding states, usually specialising in a specific industry or role. Newspapers also remain popular for advertising and finding jobs, and graduates find many opportunities at career fairs organised by universities or the professional societies for each industry sector. Speculative approaches are also very common in the USA, so don’t be afraid to apply directly to organisations that you would like to work for.
The local currency in the USA is the U.S. dollar (USD). It is also the most used currency in international transactions. U.S. dollars are available in banknote denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.
Cost of everyday items
Loaf of Bread (white)
Chicken Breasts (1kg)
Sports and Leisure
Monthly Gym Membership
Tennis Court Hire
Eating and drinking out
This can vary a great deal due the sheer variety and range of restaurants. For a meal at an inexpensive restaurant, you are likely to spend around $10.00 USD, although a three course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost around $50.00 USD. Portion sizes are notoriously large in the USA so you will find most meals are great value for money.
The most popular and convenient form of transport across Florida and southeastern USA is by car. Public transport is limited and will only be of real benefit if living in the city centre. A one way ride on the public transport will set you back just $1.62 USD and there are also buses that can take you between cities.
For those moving to the suburbs a car is essential. Car hire is cheaper than in the UK at just $20 USD per day. Petrol is significantly cheaper in the USA too.
Renting prices vary depending on the number of bedrooms and the location of the property. A one bedroom property outside the city centre will cost around $925.00 USD per month whereas a three bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost around $2,000 USD per month.
If you are considering selling your home in the UK and buying in Florida or the surrounding states it’s worth noting that due to the sheer amount of land available, you can buy a considerably larger home in Florida for the price of a smaller home in the UK. For example a large three bedroom detached home with a garden in the suburbs can cost as little as $200,000 USD.
Whilst English is the most widely spoken language in the southeastern states of the USA, there are a large number of Latin American immigrants living and working in the area whose first language is Spanish. In fact, almost 20% of the population speak primarily Spanish. For this reason a UK citizen living in Florida or the surrounding states will likely pick up some Spanish phrases in their day to day life.
USA National Holidays
There are 10 annual federal holidays in the USA. All public holidays fall on Monday and therefore the dates vary from year to year. Exceptions include New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas which fall on the same date each year. On national holidays civilians often relax at home or head to the beach which can become incredibly busy, especially during the summer months.
2014 Federal Holidays
- 1st January 2014 – New Year’s Day
- 20th January 2014 – Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday of January)
- 17th February 2014 – Washington’s Birthday (Third Monday of February)
- 25th May 2014 – Memorial Day (Final Monday of May)
- 4th July 2014 – Independence Day
- 1st September 2014 – Labour Day (First Monday of September)
- 13th October 2014 – Columbus Day (Second Monday of October)
- 11th November 2014 – Veterans Day
- 27th November 2014 – Thanksgiving (Fourth Thursday of November)
- 25th December – Christmas Day
Finally, there is also one quadrennial holiday, a holiday held every fourth year, on the 20th January (or the 21st if the 20th is a Sunday) to celebrate Inauguration Day. The next Inauguration Day will be held on 20th January 2017.
Other public non-national holidays exist but these vary from state to state so worth checking out once you have chosen your exact location.
Much like the UK, education in Florida and the surrounding states comprises a mixture of good quality, state-funded public schools and private schools. Florida is home to 11 public universities and in 2010, the annual tuition fee was $4,886 USD, the third lowest in the USA.
Walt Disney World and other theme parks
Since its opening in 1971, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has been the most visited attraction in the world to date, with over 50 million visitors every year. There are 24 themed resorts, four theme parks and two water parks within the 25,000 acre complex. Other hugely popular tourist attractions in Florida include the home of Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando – a theme park and marine-life based zoological park combined, offering spectacular live animal shows and up-close and personal animal encounters with sharks, dolphins and other aquatic life.
Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, is world-renowned for being the heart and soul of country music, and had a particular influence on the revival of country music in the 1950s. Among the city’s tourism hotspots include the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Grand Ole Opry. The city is simply brimming with tours, attractions, music events and cultural activities and has been named among the best places to visit in 2013 by Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, Yahoo! Travel, Business Insider, and Budget Travel.
The Florida Keys and Key West
The Florida Keys are a coral cay archipelago or cluster of islands south of Florida mainland. The Keys are perfect for scuba diving, dolphin-spotting and sailing amongst other island activities. They offer a quiet and blissful alternative to the busy beaches of Miami.
Miami Beach was built in 1870 as a man-made plot for harvesting and selling coconuts. It is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is the number one hotspot for Spring Break parties. The great boom in the 1920s saw the erection of huge and expensive mansions and hotels which now make up the world famous and hugely protected Art Deco District. Miami Beach offers world-renowned and diverse culture, art, music and gastronomical entertainment options which drive millions of tourists to the bustling metropolis all year round.
Kennedy Space Centre
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the United States’ launch site that has been used for every NASA human space flight since December 1968. The Space Centre is also home to a wide range of attractions and exhibitions for adults and children. The ticket price for general admission to the Space Center is $50.00 USD for adults and $40.00 USD for children and includes: Space Shuttle Atlantis℠ with Shuttle Launch Experience®, the Angry Birds™ Space Encounter, a general bus tour, a 3D film screening in the twin IMAX® theater, special viewing for rocket launches and an opportunity to meet an astronaut, amongst other seasonal exhibitions.
Popular destinations outside of the USA
The Bahamas are a popular destination for holiday-makers living in the southeastern states of USA. The beautiful islands of the Bahamas are a short 30-minute plane journey or three-hour ferry ride away from Florida and offer crisp white sandy beaches and a relaxed haven away from busy city life. Floridians also often enjoy taking cruises around the Caribbean. A 3-day all-inclusive cruise costs just $200 USD.
Florida and the surrounding states boast long hot summers and short cool winters making beaches a popular location year round. The climate is generally warm to hot, and often humid. The average temperature in the summer is 34 degrees and in the winter 15 degrees.
Severe weather is common in the area and coastside states are often hit by lightning storms, especially during the summer. Hurricanes can occur from June to November and can cause severe transport problems. During hurricanes, which can last between 30 minutes to 6 hours or more, it’s recommended that civilians stay at home and airports, schools, shopping malls and tourist attractions close. In some cases civilians lose power to their homes which can sometimes take a few days to recover. However, most homes have outside generators to provide essential power supply during this time.
Cuisine in Florida is inspired by the large number of Central and South American immigrants, cooking up delightful tropical and hispanic dishes from Cuba, Mexico, the Caribbean and beyond. A wide variety of seafood is fished from the Atlantic and lobster, mussels, scallops, crab, prawn and fresh fish can be enjoyed in restaurants and at home for a reasonable price. Oranges are the number one cash crop in Floridaand the state produces 40% of the world’s supply of orange juice. Other fruits also in great supply in the area include mangoes, watermelons, limes and grapefruit which can be purchased in the multitude of local farmers markets for a great price. Florida, like any other state, is of course infamous for its fast food restaurants. Eating out at your favourite fast food chain is a cheap and enjoyable option.
Floridians, much like the rest of America, enjoy mainstream US TV shows, including reality shows such as the X Factor, comedy sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother and TV series such as Weeds and Breaking Bad. There are also a number of Spanish speaking channels playing soap operas and films with characters speaking in Spanish.
Floridians enjoy spending their free time going to the cinema, theatre, opera and visiting tourist attractions such as the design district and the arts centre, all of which offer superb entertainment options at great value for money.
Sports play a huge part in American culture and Florida has some highly successful and internationally known teams in baseball, ice hockey and basketball such as Miami Heat and the Florida Panthers. Sports also play an important part in education. Unlike the UK, college sports played by university teams in America are hugely popular and incredibly lucrative, even more so than professional leagues. Floridians will spend a lot of their free time heading to a game for a ticket price of around $100 USD upwards, or watching it with friends at home on mainstream television.
More about Florida…
- Saint Augustine is the oldest European settlement in North America.
- Cape Canaveral is America’s launch pad for space flights.
- Pilot Tony Jannus made history on January 1, 1914 when he flew the world’s first scheduled passenger service airline flight from St. Petersburg’s downtown yacht basin to Tampa.
- Florida has more than 4500 islands that are more than 10 acres in size. Most are mangrove islands on Florida’s southwestern tip.
- There are more than 30,000 lakes and over 1000 golf courses located in Florida.
- Since 1982 the Florida Panther has been the state animal and is highly endangered in the area.
More on moving to Florida…
For more information on the practicalities of a move to the USA, visit our Moving to America page.
www.relocating2florida.com are relocation specialists, have a look at their site for info about visa’s, relocating to Florida and you can also find your dream Florida property!