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I moved from the UK to the USA, AMA

45 replies

Movablefeast · 31/07/2018 18:12

I have been married to my American husband for 22 years and lived in the USA for most of that time. We returned to Europe for a few years but not to the UK. I am originally from London but as my father is from the NE spent lots of my childhood in the NE and Yorkshire. Ask me anything.

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Annabelle4 · 31/07/2018 18:52

Do you still have your English accent?

What do you miss most about the UK?

Your opinion on Trump?

Movablefeast · 31/07/2018 19:11

Annabelle4 Yes I do have my accent as I moved here at 27 and it always comes in useful. I have found that Americans in general have a prejudice that falls in our favour. They generally seem to think British accents are more “classy” and seem to equate that with greater intelligence. So by pure fluke of birth I have found that when I was in the business world for example, I would always get new clients calling me back, as they were intrigued by and often enjoyed hearing a Brit accent.

When I asked my American BIL why so many baddies in American movies have British accents (even Scar in the Lion King is Jeremy Irons) he believed it was because they sound more intelligent and therefore more of a challenging and crafty foe.

What I miss most about the UK is the general “banter” and ease of conversation and sense of humour. (I am trying to stick to British spelling but I have forgotton some and my auto-correct wants to Americanise them). I also miss simple pleasures like a pub lunches, sitting by a coal fire making crumpets, sitting on the top of a double decker bus looking out at the rain and the older buildings and physical evidence of history everywhere. Of course I also miss friends and family.

I am not an American citizen so cannot vote, but no I am not a fan of Trump, quite the opposite. My FIL who voted for Obama voted for Trump however.

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juneau · 31/07/2018 19:13

Why haven't you become a US citizen? You must have qualified years ago.

user1471530109 · 31/07/2018 19:16

My v good friend is American and married an Englishman. I met her when they lived over here for a decade. They have since gone back to the USA and I'd love to go too! Especially now I'm divorced. Would have to wait til DC are older etc and meet a handsome American to marry

They miss the UK and I think would be tempted to come back if it wasn't for the fact you get so much more for your money state side! Envy

How do you cope with the Trump love?

ScrumpyCrack · 31/07/2018 19:19

I’d love to move to the US one day, maybe not forever but it’d be a great experience. Unfortunately I think I’ve chosen one of the few careers that would rule me out.

Do you work? What are the holidays and working hours like in comparison to the UK?

Have you done much travelling around the country?

What’s your favourite place there and why?

Movablefeast · 31/07/2018 19:25

Juneau yes I have qualified but at the moment have no interest in being a citizen. It was an advantage as a Brit to be able to live anywhere in Europe but now I will have to see what the results are after Brexit happens. Also we have not decided where we are going to retire and may go back to Europe.

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Annabelle4 · 31/07/2018 19:26

Is it true that maternity leave is just 6 weeks long there?

Interesting post about the English accent! Smile

Movablefeast · 31/07/2018 19:32

ScrumpCrack I live in an area of the country that is very Democratic and did not vote in large enough numbers to elect any Republicans or Trump. My husband and teenagers recently protested as part of a huge crowd at a detention center in the city that was holding people who been separated from their families when they had entered the US via the Mexican border recently. Thousands of people turned up to demonstrate.

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Movablefeast · 31/07/2018 19:34

I will take a break and be back later but will attempt to answer all your questions so please keep asking! (Time difference can be tricky!).

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Elephant07 · 31/07/2018 22:14

Do you find the US more expensive to live?

Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 17:49

User my apologies, my comments on Trump were in answer to your question.

ScrumpyCrack at the moment I am not working outside the home but have spent years working in the US. On the whole “vacation time” known as holidays in the UK are much less generous. Especially starting out in a new job, you often only would receive one week and it can take a very long time (years) to build up vacation time. On the other hand there are lots of Federal (national) holidays which are equivalent to Bank Holidays in the UK. I feel that Americans make sure they get out and enjoy their weekends and free time.

It is hard for me to judge fairly on time off and hours as my husband is self-employed and sets his own schedule so sometimes he works lots of extra hours and at other times works a four day week. I have not worked in the UK for over 20 years so I think it is very difficult for me to make a direct comparison. I think work hours and quality of life can have so much to do with where you live. Just like in the UK there are plenty of cities where people can have a long commute, on the other hand in many smaller cities in the US you could get home quickly and with the good weather still have plenty of daylight hours after work. There are not many areas such as London where I remember leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark in the winter. Only in the most Northern states would be similar.

As the US is huge and equivalent in size to the whole of Europe I have been to many states but there are still plenty of areas I haven’t been or would like to go back to. I met my husband in Washington D.C. which is a great city and while I lived there I went to most of the surrounding states (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina) as well as Baltimore and New York. I haven’t been further North than Upstate New York (which is very beautiful) so would love to go to Boston and New England. I have been to Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana in the South and loved New Orleans, although that was a long time before Hurricane Katrina so the city saw a lot of change and population loss afterwards. We drove from Washington D.C. to California years ago and at that time saw a lot of the country and loved the Four Corners area, where four states meet (Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona) and drove through Monument Valley which was incredible. We also visited the Grand Canyon during that trip.

Since marriage and kids I have spent the majority of my time while in the US on the West Coast so Washington, Oregon and California. We also go to British Columbia in Canada and we would like to see more of Canada.

There are a great many truly wild and vast unspoiled areas in the US that coming from Europe is hard to get your head around so there is a lot of natural beauty to explore. Wyoming for example is bigger than the UK but only 55,000 people live there!

One of my favorite places are the San Juan Islands which are islands off the coast of Washington state and British Columbia which are very beautiful and unspolit. You can see a great deal of wildlife there such as Orca (Killer whales), other whales and porpoise, seals, turtles, bald eagles, deer etc.

On the other hand we are in a surburban area very close to a big city (20 mins) and I have seen a coyote walking across the road in front of me in daylight and black bears are often seen and filmed here in people’s back gardens wandering in from the woods.

I haven’t been to the Midwest except Ohio and still haven’t been to Montana so would love to go the National Parks there.

Annabelle4 yes it is true that the US has terrible maternity provision, in fact I don’t know if there is any mandated maternity leave. If you work for a large company you might be lucky to have generous benefits which would cover some months of maternity care but on the whole I think it is pretty much the worst in the Western world.

Elephant07 again I have lived here so long it is hard for me to do a direct comparison in terms of cost of living. We live in an expensive part of the country where housing has gone up dramatically in price. On the other hand in plenty of areas of the country housing is much more affordable and the cost of living is much better. I would say the big difference is that of course we do not have a health care system like the UK so health insurance can be very expensive. You must plan fully for retirement, education and all your social security needs because the safety net here is non-existent. It seems to me that the UK is moving more and more toward the US in that regard.

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ScrumpyCrack · 01/08/2018 18:24

Wow, OP, where you live sounds incredible and now I definitely want to visit the San Juan Islands! In fact, I want to visit everywhere you’ve mentioned. You’re very lucky!

I’m surprised about the holidays. I’ve heard it complained about many times but never realised how different it is to the UK. I’ve met a few Americans who’ve taken a few months off for their vacation and just assumed they could do that regularly but I guess they’ve had to work for a long time to get to that point.

Really interesting thread, thanks OP!

ThroughThickAndThin01 · 01/08/2018 18:37

What do your in laws think of their ds/dB etc marrying a Brit.

Do your children like their British heritage/the fact they are half British?

Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 19:01

ScrumpyCrack don’t forget I have been married for 20+ years so the travel has been spread out over that time! Now are kids are getting older it would be easier for us to travel and I hope we can do more together. I also forgot to say I have been to Hawaii.

To be fair I think they were very surprised and didn’t really know what to make of me! Neither of my ILs had travelled very much and they were very unaware of the UK except a few stereotypes. We did get married in London and about 12 members of DH’s family flew out. Our wedding was great and a lot of fun. Although half my family are from the NorthEast so the American rellies were really dumbfounded and could barely understand a word they said Grin. I still think my ILs and I have very different world views and I think I remain somewhat of a mystery to them to this day!

Our kids have American and British passports. We lived in mainland Europe for 6 years recently and they were able to visit the UK a number of times. They all really love it and enjoy feeling that they can claim a sense of belonging. They especially love London, but of course we are always just visiting and having fun all the time so it is hardly a snapshot of daily life!

Our middle child has been an Anglophile since birth, unlike her older sister she has always been very intrigued by my background and had lots of questions and loved to hear stories about the UK and my family. My other two were really not fussed until we visited more recently and they started to understand they could actually move to the UK and live there and work. Our middle child would love the opportunity to study in the UK when she goes to Uni.

A big advantage to having a British passport was also that they could have gone back and lived, studied and worked in the other European country we lived in but now after Brexit those opportunities could be scuppered. Which is a pity as outside the England and Wales most Uni education is free in mainland Europe and they would not have to be resident for three years to access it. Anyway, we’ll wait and see. I think they could still go to the European mainland as an international student at a very affordable rate.

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KickAssAngel · 01/08/2018 19:14


I'm also a Brit living in the US, although DH, DD & I are all British. We've been here nearly a decade and, like OP, we're not citizens. We live in the midwest, in a small town outside of a university city.

Someone asked about cost of living. We've found it much cheaper, but we were near Cambridge before here. It varies hugely, though. Big cities can be as expensive as London, rural areas cheaper than chips. Round here, loads of people have acres of land and it's quite normal. In fact, you can't have more than one house on an acre.

I've really discovered the joy of small town living that I didn't appreciate before moving here. I'd lived in towns, cities & villages in the UK, but none of them are quite the same. People really are go-out-of-their-way friendly. When we came to visit, before we moved, we were told that if we stood in the street in the nearby city, and looked at a map, someone would offer to help us find our way. So we decided to test the theory. Before we even pulled a map out to look at it, someone offered to help us!

I miss home, and do get homesick, but live near an airport and can make it back overnight if I need to. But in general, the pace/style/cost of life here are MUCH better than we'd have if we moved back, so we have no plans to return right now.

KickAssAngel · 01/08/2018 19:15

(OP - I hope you don't mind me jumping onto your thread!)

Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 19:16

Opps got my stats wrong about Wyoming! Instead of 50,000 it is actually 500,00 people that share a landmass as big as the Uk! So 1/16 of the population of London have the run of the place.

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TheCag · 01/08/2018 19:21

Are you worried/scared of the gun culture there? Fearful of your children going to school because of the easy access to guns?

ReggieKrayDoYouKnowMyName · 01/08/2018 19:22

What do you like most about America and Americans and what do you like least?

Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 19:23

KickAssAngel not at all! It’s great because of the diversity and size of the states people can have very different experiences so I think it’s very helpful to get different perspectives. I definitely agree on the kindness and friendliness here. I was at a local college campus last year and while wandering around I stopped a couple of times to look at maps of the campus to get my bearings. Every time a student stopped and asked if I needed help!

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ThroughThickAndThin01 · 01/08/2018 19:25

Thank you for your considered reply op. And it’s nice hearing another viewpoint KickAss

I love America. Seen a bit of it and think it should have been my home!! DH has two best friends from the past (one school, one uni) who live in New York and SAN Francisco, and have done for a couple of decades now, and we visit as much as we can. DH has a godson through one of them so that ensures visiting rights Grin

Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 19:33

TheCag this is definitely a serious concern. Statistically it is still extremely rare to have a gun incident at school and the gun culture is not as popular in my part of the nation. However, I am not suggesting it does not exist as there are gun shops and gun ranges dotted around but I do not personally have any friends for example that own guns.

OTOH my DH showed me some photos his dad sent recently. His dad and stepmom were sitting in their suburban garden on their patio furniture showing off their handguns. He is in his 70s and she used to be in the Marines. We were both very shocked/not shocked as I knew my FIL had guns in his house but to be honest I do think the Trump mentality has encouraged a kind of laissez faire pride in gun ownership for those so inclined. They are not in a Red State, they lived in suburban California. We make sure we do not socialize at their home when we meet up.

My FIL did have a gun pulled out on him in a road rage incident and my husband’s aunt’s best friend’s boyfriend killed her with a firearm. So it is not far removed.

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KickAssAngel · 01/08/2018 20:18

I'm a teacher and every few years we get training on how to deal with intruders. It's very sobering. There are a LOT more gun shootings than the media reports.Also more at schools than the media reports. It does deter me if I feel like I'd like to say something to someone (e.g. they parked badly) because there is the outside chance that they'll pull out a gun.

However, I grew up near London in the 70s, and have experienced bomb scares numerous times. DH is from Belfast and when I first went there to visit his family, there were armoured tanks with soldiers holding machine guns routinely patrolling the streets (like, you'd see 2 or 3 in a 30 minute drive). Americans are hugely shocked and horrified when I talk about these things, whereas Brits are shocked and horrified by guns.

There is NO awareness/fear of terrorism here, but I have it ingrained to watch for certain things (I still find it weird that there are rubbish bins at big stations, for example). At college one time I rounded a corner and saw a group of 'soldiers' in formation. I immediately stopped and backed up sharpish - that means bomb scare in my world. Then I realized it was students who are training as cadets (called ROTC here) while at college.

Ideally, of course, living somewhere with neither guns nor terrorism would be best!

Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 20:26

Reggie well I married one and gave birth to three to some of them are OK! Grin There are actually many things I like about America and Americans. For a start it is very important to appreciate that the America we view on British TV is quite selective, usually there is a lot of LA and New York and then sprinkles of outrage and extremes that make for good telly. The kind of life I have lived in the US has never been portrayed.

I find Americans very pragmatic and practical. The biggest difference with Brits is it is just not socially acceptable to sit around moaning and whinging and do nothing. Americans are very good at getting off the couch and doing something. They are generally very active in their local communities and good neighbours. About 15 years ago our young baby was diagnosed with a very serious illness. The outpouring we received from everyone around us was amazing. We were a new family at our older child’s preschool but they all starting cooking for us and offering tons of practical help. Our surrounding neighbors did a whip round and stuffed a huge envelope of cash in our mailbox and I remember when I had spent a few days at the hospital I came back to find my neighbors had planted all my empty planters on my front porch with flowers!!! I will never forget that, it was truly one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We were in a regular suburb of a regular city, just a few miles from where I live now.

Whatever your political opinion the last election has galvanized everyone politically. So many people are getting very active in local and state politics. Americans in general are straightforward, subtlety is lost on Americans but I have grown to really like not having to guess what people might mean from their vague hints that we are so good at in the UK! I also spent some time in Germany and they are very similar, upfront, to the point and practical, results oriented.

I like how you can totally reinvent yourself and noone bats an eyelid. As an older woman I appreciate that I get lots of encouragement and support to totally change my career, go back to get more education and just dramatically change my life if I so wish and there is no social criticism. In Germany you are still expected to pick a career path young and stick to it and they are full of doom filled pessimism at the idea of changing direction as you age. Of course there are hurdles to overcome but there is general optimism here that I really enjoy.

I generally have enjoyed working here and had no problems forming great relationships with coworkers. I live in an area that is becoming more and more diverse and as an immigrant myself I appreciate the openness and welcome to new people. Despite the Presidential rhetoric Americans are very aware they are a nation of immigrants and are on the whole very proud of that fact. Americans are very relaxed and laid back, particularly out here West, they are open and talk to each freely. There are social differences between people but they don’t have the class obsessions that we have in the UK. I have actually had a British person snub me and ignore me all the way out here thousands of miles from home!

They do also live by the mantra “Work hard, play hard” so you might be quite shocked to find out some laid back bloke that introduces himself as Brandon is actually running a multi-million dollar tech company because unlike in the UK and Germany he won’t nescessarily be giving out loads of social cues that he is a “big man”.

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Movablefeast · 01/08/2018 21:16

Sorry didn’t preview that last message so I see there are plenty of typos and mistakes.

I may have exaggerated my last point, as a self-made entrepreneur could well throw his (or her) weight around. I guess my point is that are less of the social class differences between people in the US and people are more likely to treat each other the same and not change their behavior because of the way someone speaks, or other class signifiers that are still very strong in the UK at least.

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