The first thing I thought about was whether or not to keep a UK bank account. For me, it would have to be one that I could use internationally. If you have ongoing financial responsibilities suc as a mortgage, loans, pension etc. then you do need to keep an account in your home country to continue to meet those responsibilties. This is what I will be doing.
I then looked into having a US bank account opened up before I arrive. This can be done if you go with a major US bank that operates internationally, and in your home country, giving you immediate access to your money.
I am in a slightly different situation as I do not have a property here that I will be selling so will not be needing an account as soon as possible to transfer or access money. My husband recently opened a bank account with international links that will allow me, once I arrive in the US, to be named on it as a joint account holder. This, for now, is sufficient for us but I will open another account for myself when I arrive as building credit is the next step.
When arriving in the US (or your new home country) you will probably find your credit history will be non-existent. This, much like it is in the UK, means that getting an apartment, credit card, phone, job etc. will be harder.
I escaped some of this difficulty as my husband will be the one shouldering these responsibilities at first, but I still need to build my own credit history for the future. This is possibly the hardest thing to get my head around as to get a good credit history up and running I need access to the very things having a zero rating denies me!
After much confusion and discussions with my husband, we found that although his bank (and others) will not give a credit card to someone with no credit history, there is a 'credit builder' card available. (These are sometimes called a 'secured' credit card.) This usually has a small credit limit available (usually based on what is in your account) and you can use it to pay house bills or food store bills.
This, over time, will slowly help to build a good pattern - as long as you meticulously pay things on time and with the adequate funds. This is a helpful step in getting your foot in the door with regards to getting a credit card. It will take time, but as long as you keep using your card and paying it off you will eventually establish a credit history.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure your credit activity is reported to the credit reporting agencies in your new country otherwise it will not count towards building your history.
There is also one other thing I have found that may be useful. Some stores offer 'retail credit cards' that you can use to buy things in that particular store. They operate in the same way in that you have to make sure you pay them off on time and with adequate funds. They can be fairly useful, but do be aware that they often have a higher interest rate.
If you keep your spending sensible and well maintained (provided they also report your activity to the credit reporting agencies) this can also provide a positive credit pattern that may encourage a lender to give you a credit card. It is a credit card that will ultimately provide a good credit history.
It is by no means a simple or quick process and is pretty much guaranteed to be incredibly frustrating, but if anything is worth doing, which it is, do it properly and research as much as possible and always ask for advice when needed.
I hope you found this useful and if you would like to read more about my future expat journey then visit my blog www.themovetoamerica.wordpress.com and leave a comment or question.
Read about the other preparations Molly has made in her articles,Successful Networking for The Move to America
...and look out for a new article, "Discovering and Understanding Differences for The Move to America", next month!