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How americans can stay in the UK for an extended trip?

I'm interested in spending more than just a few days or weeks visiting the UK. But it's hard for yanks to do that there. We don't have the working holiday visa for the UK. And it's nearly impossible to get a standard work visa, and studying there for 1+ years is too expensive.

I searched online and haven't found anything. Does anyone know of any way a yank can stay in the UK for at least a few to several months for cheap and get immersed into the culture? I was thinking of volunteer programs but most of them charge a fee (several hundred dollars) even though you're working for free. I was also thinking of doing a shorter course (maybe just 3-4 months) but I'd still have to pay my living costs with no job there. Most of the scholarships are really hard to get also such as Fulbright.

Any ideas are appreciated. Waay too hard and unreasonable for americans to live in UK and Europe.

Posted by
4579 posts

"....Waay too hard and unreasonable for americans to live in UK and Europe...."

Just as it is for Europeans to do the same in the US, that's just how it is.

Unfortunately I think you're going to struggle especially if you don't have the funds to support yourself without employment.

Posted by
13 posts

I have money to support myself without working. But unless you're rich, after about a year or so depending on how much you take with you, you are going to need to replenish your funds.

Posted by
4631 posts

You are allowed 6 months as a general visitor. This is twice as long as the USA allows British Citizens.

The USA doesn't have any holiday working visas for UK citizens either.

Your best option might actually be Ireland.

Posted by
13 posts

I can't do Ireland either. I'm over 30. Ireland working holiday visa is for 18-30

Posted by
4631 posts

Working holiday visas are generally a reciprocal thing for young people. Over 30 is a bit late for that in general as far as authorities are concerned.

Posted by
1867 posts

Just about the cheapest accommodation could could get is in Youth Hostels - which people of all ages use.However, these vary from rough bunkhouses to some being more like motels. So, you could book your own room for as little as £15 per night. They usually have some sort of common room where you would meet Brit’s and travellers from all over the world.http://www.yha.org.uk

The cheapest way to travel about is with www.megabus.com

Long term rentals of apartments are possible but you might find yourself ‘isolated’ in some block with no contact with the people around you.

Posted by
8293 posts

Blaze, over the past number of months you have asked for advice about going to live in Canada, going on an extended stay in New Zealand, and an extended stay in Eastern Europe. Now it is the UK. What exactly are your plans?

Posted by
117 posts

"I was also thinking of doing a shorter course (maybe just 3-4 months) but I'd still have to pay my living costs with no job there."

You later stated that you could support yourself without working. So, what's the problem?

Just do that.

Do you have the educational background (a recent degree) or, are you currently a student at an accredited US university? I would think that foreign upper division schools would require some recent or active education association before admitting non-resident students. Have you contacted any UK or European universities about course availability & requirements needed for foreign students?

Our son is entering college this fall. After his freshmen year, he will be able to spend a January term, a semester or a full year abroad at different universities and receive credits toward his degree (double major of English & Secondary Education) for doing so.

We wanted to do temp volunteer work on our UK vacations. But, we learned such opportunites were not available to non-residents. Oh, well.

Posted by
4579 posts

Based on the reply to my comment regarding finances and the comment from Norma about similar posts by the OP concerning Canada, New Zealand etc I suspect the OP is either trolling or has some other motive.

Posted by
117 posts

"Does anyone know of any way a yank can stay in the UK for at least a few to several months for cheap and get immersed into the culture?"

One other idea...lots of "Yanks" did that in WWII. You are eligible to enlist in the US Armed Forces until age 42 (depending on the branch). Of course, you might end up somewhere other than a UK base. Do you speak Pasto or Dari?

Posted by
737 posts

I've removed a number of comments here. If you can't be polite or constructive with regard to the question at hand, please don't post. Thanks everyone.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you Webmaster.

JC, I'm definitely not trolling although maybe you are but you and Norma don't need to worry about my plans. I don't have to explain myself to anyone.

And btw, both New Zealand and Canada's Working Holiday visas are up to 35.

I've stayed in hostels before. Not really my cup of tea anymore.

Posted by
503 posts

Blaze, there are many travel blogs by people who have spent years traveling and actually making a living doing it. One that I'm aware of is "the professional hobo". The blogger also has an entire section dedicated to educating people about how to do what she does. It might help you and give you ideas to visit some of these sights.

Posted by
3336 posts

You can stay for up to 6 months in the UK just entering with your passport - that's a fairly decent amount of time!
We travel for extended periods of time for very little money because we home exchange. We swap both cars and houses with people all over the world. Once the airfare is paid for then your only expenses are the ones you choose to incur! We live in a very similar way that we do at home...our only added expenses are tickets to museums/exhibits/etc., and gas, which is more expensive in Europe. The longest trade we have made is 9 weeks (France) but there are people who want to do longer exchanges, some for many months. If you can't find one family you can do multiple, back-to-back exchanges with more than one person...we've done this before as well. We've done 13 different exchanges, 7 of them in Europe.
Here's a link to the home exchange website we use...there are over 60,000 listings all over the world. There's bound to be someone in the UK who wants to come to wherever you live!
Let me know if you want more information or want to ask questions - this might be the answer to your wanting to stay without a lot of expense!

Posted by
4579 posts

"...JC, I'm definitely not trolling although maybe you are but you and Norma don't need to worry about my plans. I don't have to explain myself to anyone...."

Then why post on a forum asking for advice? Surely explaining your plans enables others to give the appropriate advice.

Your original post appeared to suggest that money would be an issue as you wouldn't be able to find work or that the volunteer schemes required a fee of several hundred dollars but then you go on to state that you have sufficient funds. If so why are you concerned about finding a job? Surely if you have sufficient funds to finance a six month stay without working then that's ideal isn't it? You have the time to explore and visit places and truly immerse yourself in the culture rather than slogging it out 9 to 5 and only managing to get away and explore at the weekends.

Posted by
4637 posts

Ok, I already got my first post deleted and I'm sure the webmaster will delete this one too, but as an individual who has worked with refugees for nearly 25 years, I still have something to say here. I work with refugees who are literally dying for a chance to live in Europe or the UK. I work with refugees who are dying because they can now not enter the US. When the OP whines about how hard it is for Americans to live in the UK and Europe, this individual clearly has no idea about immigration and how the world works. No one has the right to just go and live in another country - not Americans, not refugees from Eritrea, not anyone. There are laws - good or bad - which regulate these types of movements. Just because you're American does not give you some kind of golden pass to live anywhere you choose. Why would Americans have any more of a right to live in the UK or Europe that those fleeing war and violence? Why would people in the UK or Europe want Americans to come and take a job away from a local? Do you have any idea how hard it is for visitors to currently enter the US? Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. My intentions are good.

Posted by
8293 posts

Yes, Emily, your intentions are good. You don't need or want my admiration but you have it anyway. Thank you for posting again on this thread.

Posted by
638 posts

The OP ended his initial post with:

Waay too hard and unreasonable for americans to live in UK and
Europe.

I applaud Emily's well-stated, well-informed, and very reasonable response to the OP's statement.

Posted by
10938 posts

Find a way to make money online. That's what most people who travel full time do who still need to earn money.

I think there is something called a "Retired Person With Inependent Means" visa. That would give you the right to live in the UK but not work there. You would have to prove you have enough money to support yourself without actually having to get a job.

Another way is to get a job with U.S. company that will transfer you to one of their overseas offices. You have to have the job before you show up in the other country.

Posted by
8889 posts

Well stated Emily. At the risk of incuring the webmaster's wrath:
Waay too hard and unreasonable for Europeans and Mexicans to live in the USA.

That's the way it is. The alternative is for the USA and the EU or UK to conclude a mutual abolition of work and residence visas. Somehow I don't think that is likely to happen soon.
If you want to try for a UK work visa, you need to find a job first, and your prospective employer has to apply for a visa for you, claiming they can't find a UK/EU citizen for the job.

Posted by
4631 posts

The "Retired persons of independent means" UK visa category was closed on 27 November 2008 and there is little prospect of it reopening soon.

Give it a couple of years and there may be a fruit-pickers visa though ...

Posted by
1063 posts

"Just because you're American does not give you some kind of golden pass to live anywhere you choose."

Well said, I used to regularly visit Yahoo Answers but don't any more as every day there seemed to be an American saying that he was moving to the UK and where's the best place to find a job. When confronted with the realities of immigration into the UK they usually threw a wobbly and were offended as "anyone can come and work/live in the US and it should be the same for the UK"..........If only they knew.

Posted by
6447 posts

I agree with Emily and the others who have posted in response to the OP's statement "Waay too hard and unreasonable for Americans to live in UK and Europe". Based on this comment by the OP it's important to be honest about how things work in the world now. Yes, Americans have some freedom of movement, few or no restrictions on where we can travel, whether for work or leisure, which is much better than citizens of a lot of other countries. But being free to travel to other countries is not the same as being allowed to work or settle for extended periods of time in those countries, and the OP needs to be made aware of this. I don't know which posts have been removed by the webmaster, but these recent posts are respectful and are not insulting to the OP in any way. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by
3336 posts

"Retired Person of Independent Means" no longer exists. The only way to "live" in the UK is get a job sponsored by a company, have a web-based business (but you still can't stay past 6 months), be a student, marry a UK citizen (even this can be an issue), purchase a UK business worth a certain amount, or purchase property worth a certain amount. None of these offer permanent residence or necessarily lead to citizenship - the business/property visas only give you 5 years with an option to possibly extend under narrow circumstances. The others also only offer limited stays. Even the previous owner of Harrod's Department Store finally gave up trying to be granted permanent residency! If you are looking to settle permanently in another country then the UK is probably the least likely place to make this happen.

Posted by
8293 posts

There is such a thing as the "right of abode" in the U.K. I applied for it years ago when Quebec was on the verge of separating from Canada and my British husband and I decided if that happened we would go to England. I applied to the British High Commissioner in Ottawa, with proof that my mother had been born in the U.K., one of the criteria. A very colourful stamp was put on a page of my passport, which has to be renewed by the BHC in Ottawa every time I get a new passport. Google "right of abode UK" for all the details.

Posted by
12759 posts

The easiest way to live in a foreign country is to marry a national of that country. Two Americans I know married Germans (it was a real romance). The spouses of these two Americans chose to live in Germany and Austria. Obviously, the American spouse went along, one was already fluent in German, wanted to leave Calif anyway, and could care less what his friends said to the contrary. The other did not know German at all and was taking a leap in the dark. . Are these two couples still married to their German and Austrian spouses. Of course, they have have been married 15 years or more.

Look into the Erasmus study program, see if any of its program meet with your approval.

Posted by
8193 posts

Very well said Emily. Thank you for your good work for refugees ❤️

Posted by
970 posts

Blaze, while it sounds exciting and romantic to "immerse" yourself in another country for a long time, the options to do this in a foreign country are essentially: Tourism or work.

As long as you can pay for the tourism, it's easy.

Finding the kind of employment that allows you to actually take up residence in the UK is going to require finding the rare position a UK employer can legally fill with an American employee. If you have don't have the kind of very unusual and in-demand skill set that cannot be found within the UK, and you can't leverage that with an employer willing to sponsor a relocation, it's probably not going to happen.

I've lived and worked in the UK, and visited often. The routine of working is much the same everywhere.

There are many less-traveled nations where tourism for an extended period is less expensive than the UK. You may also find some places will allow extended residence if you meet their financial qualifications. You may find some locations where legal local employment (that actually pays enough) is easier to find. Many NGO's also exist that could be prospective employers who then assign you to another country. (Hard work, not glamorous, perhaps uncomfortable/risky.)

Getting serious about this also requires getting serious about health care, taxes, etc.

Bottom line: No place is obligated to let you in. Very few do not want tourist cash. Very few do not try to keep foreigners from taking jobs from locals.