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Talk to me about quality of life. UK vs USA

(207 Posts)
ilovemydogandmrobama Sun 03-Jan-10 19:49:23

So, DD is 3 and DS is almost 2. I am American, living in the UK, but am thinking of moving back to California. Both DCs have dual citizenship, so no problem with visas etc.

What are the good points living in the USA? What do British people miss about the UK?

treedelivery Sun 03-Jan-10 21:53:07

Hello you.

Wow, you are thinking of heading back? Nothing to offer, although I was in Aus for a year and S.Korea too. But as a traveller type thing, not a mother. So am sure some knowing person will be along.

I think it must depend on where you go to? I missed the pavements and buildings, the hills, the old stuff. I hated the massive walks and drives to get anywhere.
Also missed proper chocolate and variety of food. I actually find we have a great variety here, which I was surprised at.

Love to the ds's.

swampster Sun 03-Jan-10 21:56:43

If you move back you won't be able to wake up and think, "today I might just jump on a train and go meet up with swampster and tree."

Doesn't matter that we haven't done it yet, it is still within the realms of the very extremely possible.

You will miss the weather. Not much to talk about in California, I should imagine. "Sunny. Again."

treedelivery Sun 03-Jan-10 22:01:06

Chocolate would melt in California.

bebemoohatessnot Sun 03-Jan-10 22:05:27

As an American in the UK I will bring up reasons why we have not gone back to live at home yet.(no certain order)

1) Healthcare costs higher
2) Better pay
3) Better education for secondary kids (tho we haven't actually got there yet -not even close)
4) Slower lifestyle
5) Less commercial
6) More opportunities to travel the rest of the world
7) Better public transport
8) More eco friendly living possible

on a side how did you get dual citizenship for your kids? I was told it was not possible??

ilovemydogandmrobama Sun 03-Jan-10 22:16:51

Dual citizenship? Not sure I understand the question... Bother have American and British passports. The US doesn't recognize dual citizenship on the basis that if one is American, then, well, that's the end of the matter. But the US does recognize that other countries recognize dual citizenship hmm.

grin at chocolate would melt in california.

ilovemydogandmrobama Sun 03-Jan-10 22:17:44

Both have...

mvemjsunp Sun 03-Jan-10 22:18:04

We have lived in both places and were happy in both places. However, the US never felt like home (family with US citizenship), or a place to retire in. We really do prefer the UK.

We found the US much more superficial in terms of friendships, and life to be more materialistic. We find that it is less materialistic in the UK and that friendships are more important.

There are loads of things that I loved (space, real weather, proximity to family, pool club) but also things I struggled with (food, school system, having to drive everywhere, feeling of isolation because the next nearest city was 100 miles away).

I would say, however, that now you have the bug to move back, you have to do it, or you will always think 'what if?' It is really hard (expensive) to do without the backing of an employer, though.

treedelivery Sun 03-Jan-10 22:20:29

Maybe a change of location within the UK? Apparently the accent changes every 2 miles so it can be very different in different locations.

ArthurPewty Sun 03-Jan-10 22:24:52

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bebemoohatessnot Sun 03-Jan-10 22:26:04

Did you just apply for the American Passport as well as the Uk one (dd has just a UK one currently)? When I called the US consulate they said one or the other...
(I don't mean to hi jack your thread -tho I guess it'll keep it bumped a bit)

The driving everywhere- family's in the mid-west and the driving places can be a killer. When we were home for Thanksgiving I found myself bored after 20min on the highway thinking 'are we there yet?' It of course depends on where you far into the city/town or suburb. I'd say things with younger kids wouldn't be quite as bad as when you've got teenagers and they also want to drive (themselves) to the movies, mall, school, etc.

ArthurPewty Sun 03-Jan-10 22:26:23

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mimsum Sun 03-Jan-10 22:32:50

I was in New York then suburban New Jersey for a while so not California, but what I missed about the UK/disliked about the US was in no particular order:

pavements - my maclaren buggy packed up after 2 weeks living in the NJ dormitory town we ended up in

having to drive everywhere cos there was nowhere within walking distance

proper tasting bread (US shop-bought bread tastes weirdly sweet) and chocolate (just weird!)

the intense parochialism - even in somewhere 30 mins away from NYC I'd have people asking me "outta state?" no mate, outta country grin

the size of portions in restaurants and cafes shock

the size of quite a lot of the customers (I felt absolutely tiny - not so much of a problem in California I suspect)

yes, taxes are lower but you're paying through the nose for all those privatised services - healthcare obviously, but also things like refuse collection which came as a surprise

the amount of bodging going on when it came to public money being spent - walking down 6th Avenue surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in the world and in order to comply with disability access requirements workmen had splodged a load of tarmac on the crossing to create a makeshift ramp

all the other mums at ds' nursery school having absolutely perfect teeth

what I liked: the space, being able to get into deep countryside in 10 minutes drive, there were bears in the hills! proper snow, proper summer, "film" rain, proper weather generally, none of the grey bleughness we have here so often, the local ice cream parlour, ds liked the flags/decorations which lots of our neighbours put up for the most spurious of reasons, Trader Joes, the colonial houses

you know, I haven't thought about most of this for ages - it's all coming flooding back

bebemoohatessnot Sun 03-Jan-10 22:42:49

What I miss:

Taco Bell
Ice Cream Parlour -summer outings with the family to the local parlour
Front Porches -sitting out on the summer evenings chatting with the neighbors

ArthurPewty Sun 03-Jan-10 22:47:09

Message withdrawn

mvemjsunp Sun 03-Jan-10 22:47:43

I enjoyed my front porch too.

My neighbors would offer iced tea or diet coke. I would offer wine. Good fusion of cultures.

bebemoohatessnot Sun 03-Jan-10 22:49:13

jennifersofia Sun 03-Jan-10 23:03:11

Another American in UK.
Things that prevent us moving back -
1) possibility of difficulty finding job in current climate
2) I don't like guns (I know, obv. not everyone has one, but many do)
3) cost of health care
4) cost of university education
5) difficult for dh's family to visit

Things I would miss if I did: (in no order)
1) ease of visiting europe
2) good food (cheese, choc) (was shocked at differential in cost between org / free range and standard eggs and meat when we visited US this past summer)
3) doorstop recycling
4) lots of cultures
5) easy access to alternative films
6) friends and family here

BrokenArm Sun 03-Jan-10 23:12:06

Just got back from a 4-wk-visit to my native SoCal.

I guess it depends what you want, OP. I wouldn't want to move back because (just some reasons):

I HATE the car-based/dependent lifestyle. This is a huge big deal to me. Other folk don't even notice, but I can't stand it.

Culture is SOOOO materlistic in SoCal.

Terrible road surfaces and drastic cutbacks in public services planned; city of San Diego is virtually bankrupt. State of CA is planning all sorts of radical spending cuts, too (hence why class sizes are soaring).

The wasteful attitude towards every resource (okay, you can tell I'm an eco-freak already).

Health insurance pressures: too much to say here, but suffice to say, NHS is better in my mind.

Drive-by shootings.

Helicopters hovering over your house at night looking for fleeing criminals -- normal in almost any neighbourhood.

Much more drug use out there by young people.

More creepy people and homeless weirdos about.

Major very violent drug wars going on over the border.

Much more violent society (all my relatives agree, even as they let their preteens hear bad language, play GTA4, etc.)

Maybe it was just being disoriented by holiday conditions, but I found it much harder to filter out the consumerist messages and pressure on kids to grow-up too soon. 10 yo DS ran toy trucks up and down the beach and spent entire afternoons digging sand barriers against the tide; some of my relatives thought it odd to see a 10yo doing such 'childish' things.


On the plus side in CA:

+ Mexican food.
+ I think friendliness is genuine and widespread.
+ Different languages and culture, very monoculture where we live in UK.
+ Much Smaller primary class sizes in CA, but that may well change.

SydneyScarborough Sun 03-Jan-10 23:14:39

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SydneyScarborough Sun 03-Jan-10 23:17:55

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BrokenArm Sun 03-Jan-10 23:18:33

Gosh, just realised what I wrote is so negative, when maybe OP wanted positives:

Compared to where we might live in my native CA, I think DC have a better chance to grow up in UK in a calm and supportive environment. One not as overfed by the constant desire to acquire new status symbol stuff, with many more chances to muck about in innocent kid-like ways.

And a lot less time wasted travelling places. .

mvemjsunp Sun 03-Jan-10 23:25:08

Our recylcing was easier in the USA - we could put all recyclables out for collection. Here, we can only recycle metals and glass on the doorstep, and have to take everything else to Sainsbury's. We do it, but some weeks we don't manage so it goes in the trash.

Other than that, life was less green - driving long distances for everyday things, heating/cooling, larger space to furnish/heat/cool.

jabberwocky Sun 03-Jan-10 23:28:32

You should visit the Living in the US thread. No one there ever talks about feeling negative - they all seem to love it. I'm American though so biased wink

It really, really is all about where in the US (and even where specifically in CA) as things can vary so much from place to place.

The things I have noticed from posting on MN for 5 years

Healthcare might be free but it's generally not as accessible to specialists etc.

Lots of people posting about random violence, bad neighbors, people parking in front of their house all day to catch the train, arguments/unpleasantness on the school run.


Not a good time on Halloween

BrokenArm Sun 03-Jan-10 23:30:45

Where ya' moving to Sydney?

In theory Obama's new health care bill will help address health care inequalities, but arguably nowhere near enough. It's not something you see first-hand so much as find about when ppl open up and tell you a little about their lives.

Living or shopping car-free is awkward in Southern California, and very difficult if you have children. I just flew out and back; I'm not going to claim any kind of Green Halo status with all my Airmiles. But being there the daily impact stuff grated on my nerves: constant wastes of water and energy, and the total horror most ppl express if you suggest that they might * gasp * line-dry clothes in sunny Southern California...
so much enthusiasm for buying new stuff even if you don't need it, such poor infrastructure planning or recognition of the value of moderate density communities. So hard to do many things without a car.

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