If you’re considering a move to Britain from the US, you won’t be alone.
Our neighbors on the other side of the pond may offer sanctuary in these times of political chaos. The UK has their dissenters too; I’m sure you’ve heard of Brexit? But it’s strangely less worrisome than the fear of let’s say, inciting a nuclear showdown.
I recently decided to move to Britain part time from Colorado. Being closer to family in the UK drew me, but so did lifestyle. Feeling safer was a determining factor too. Quite frankly I’ve grown weary of the daily gun violence in the US news.
Although we share language and history, the US and Great Britain do possess cultural differences. You only have to try and understand what’s being said on a British TV show to understand what I mean! In other words not everyone speaks like the duchess on Downton Abbey.
You’ll find the English very warm and open once you start talking. We’ve often struck up a conversation when traveling by train or sitting in the local pub. As intrigued by our accents as we are by theirs, curious about our take on US politics and eager to share their views, you’ll find Brits much more knowledgeable about US politics than you’d expect.
Here’s 10 Reasons You Might Want to Move to Britain
- I chose to move to Britain to enjoy the lifestyle. Family or friend connections in Britain are another reason to move. Joining a loved one may be your reason to make the move. Having family to relate to can make it easier to feel at home but the English are friendly, welcoming and easy to talk to once you break the ice.
- Europe is on your doorstep. Hello! Cheap flights via Easyjet to Paris, Rome, Athens or Lisbon mean you can try a different country, culture and climate in under two hours. You’ll find it’s easy to plan a long weekend to explore new cultures, food and history.
- You don’t have to own a car unless you want to. Public transportation options are everywhere. Trains and buses run frequently between town centers making walking a viable, healthy option to get around (especially as you age). I love that I can walk to the grocery store, library or climb up on the Downs for fabulous views and fresh air.
- Superb fresh food. The EU opened the door to an infinite variety of fresh food and cuisine. Yes you can still get your fish and chips on the corner, but more than likely your local pub will provide locally sourced creative dishes. Vegetarians are catered for with inventive and delicious menus. Fresh vegetables, cheese, meat, fish and eggs just taste better because they’re grown locally. Organic and ethically sourced is the norm. It’s delightful to shop in grocery stores like Waitrose and M&S (Marks & Spencers). Single portions and meals “to go” are catered to; wine, beer and spirits are readily available.
- Shopping is a browser’s delight. There are “high street” chain retailers but the independent shop is celebrated as well as patronized here. Creativity is encouraged and it’s not unusual to find shops selling original handmade bespoke wares. Think Etsy on steroids.
- Being different is tolerated and accepted as the norm. It’s not unusual to see pink dreadlocks walking alongside country tweeds and wellies. Does it get a bit messy at times? Yes but it’s never boring. You can be yourself and no one blinks an eye.
- A lovely juxtaposition of old and new. Horse and rider cantering down a main street while cars give way. Steam trains sharing rail lines with high speed bullet trains. Pieces of roman walls preserved as well as ancient passageways or twittens. A horse drawn cart carrying beer barrels clopping down a side street on it’s delivery route to a modern theatre and pub.
- Green spaces and easy access to nature. Currently 13% of England is set aside as green belt (approximately 1,634,700 hectares) to protect from urban sprawl and allow permanent access to open land. Access to walking paths, green areas and beaches is unprecedented, it’s called “right to roam“.
- Information. The newspapers in Britain are packed daily with so much content and in depth information, you’ll find your head spinning. Not content with filling the editorial pages; lifestyle, entertainment and fashion supplements are also crammed into the middle of your paper. I’m partial to The Times, but you have The Telegraph, Observer, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Independent and the Daily Express to choose from; and that’s just the national papers.
- Safety. The UK has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world, 50-60 per year which translates to one per every million persons (56 million population as of 2014) By contrast the US has a gun homicide rate of 8,124 or 160 times as many as the UK.
I’ve just listed ten qualities to English life which makes a move to Britain desirable, but there’s many more!
Whatever your reasons for deciding to move to Britain, be sure to take your sense of humor! A willingness to laugh (at yourself if necessary) and embrace local culture and food will go a long way to endearing you to your new neighbors and ease your transition.
If you’re ready to relocate, my moving abroad checklist can help you get started.