I moved from the US to the UK. Here are the 8 things that surprised me the most.

Business Insider Lifestyle 1 month ago

When I moved to the United Kingdom almost three years ago, I felt like I knew what to expect.

After all, because my partner is British, I'd already gone on multiple short trips to England and felt I had a pretty good handle on the culture.

But I quickly learned that there's a big difference between visiting England for a couple of months and living here full-time.

Here are some of the biggest things that took me by surprise when I moved from the United States to the United Kingdom.

The drinking culture in the UK feels more pervasive than it does in the US.

The drinking culture in the UK feels more pervasive than it does in the US.
Whenever I tell someone in the UK that I don't drink, they're often a bit shocked.

There are plenty of bars and booze-filled parties in the United States, but the drinking culture in the UK is something else.

It's perhaps more obvious to me because I don't drink, but the fact that alcohol is central to a large part of the population's everyday life here was a bit of a shock for me.

Based on my experience in the UK so far, alcohol seems to be on the menu at every place that serves food and many people's idea of a night out always includes hitting the pub.

Since drinking culture is a pretty big deal in the UK, I've also found that when I tell someone I don't drink, I'm often met with blank stares or laughter because they assume I'm kidding.

This was not the typical reaction I received whenever I'd talk about not drinking in the US.

The food in the UK is even tastier than I expected.

The food in the UK is even tastier than I expected.
The stereotypes about British food being bland just aren't true.

Although it seems like a number of Americans believe the stereotype that British food is bland and uninspiring, I've found the opposite to be true.

The UK has so much to offer, including plenty of meat and potato-based dishes, a ton of vibrant curries, delicious produce, and some of the best artisanal baked goods I've ever tried.

Whether I'm craving something hearty and comforting, like steak and ale pie (a classic Scottish meal), or a dinner with a kick, like a gorgeous creamy chicken tikka masala ( England's national dish), there are plenty of delicious foods I can get here that are packed with loads of flavor.

I have also been pleasantly surprised to find that my groceries are a lot cheaper here than they were back in the US.

I have also been pleasantly surprised to find that my groceries are a lot cheaper here than they were back in the US.
For example, loaves of bread in England seem to be nearly half of the price of what I paid when I lived in the US.

Back in New York, my weekly trips to grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's added up quickly. But here, I find I'm able to get my organic farm delivery and make several top-up stops at the local grocery store while spending much less than I did before.

In my experience, I've found that many of my favorite high-quality products seem to be less expensive in England than they were in the US, or at least where I lived in New York City.

For instance, where I live in England, I can get a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread or a seeded pumpernickel round for £1.60, or roughly $2. The same breads would have cost me double back in the US.

Yes, I know much of this is circumstantial depending on where you live and where you shop in both countries, but this has been a pleasant surprise for me.

The size of England makes me feel more at home and I love that I can see so much of it.

The size of England makes me feel more at home and I love that I can see so much of it.
I never get sick of the cobblestone streets and seaside views.

The United States is much, much larger than England (and the United Kingdom as a whole), which can sometimes make it feel so lonely and overwhelming.

But I love that England is a smaller country and that I've already been able to travel to many different cities within it (and within the UK as a whole).

I've also found that many parts of the UK that I've seen so far, like the seaside village of Whitby and the peninsula county Cornwall, feel so cozy and homey.

I love that I've been able to explore so many picturesque cobblestone streets with loads of amusements and fish and chip shops overlooking the sea, plus city centers with small shops and local eateries.

And the fact that I can see so much and feel such a sense of familiarity in so many spots around the country is already so comforting to me, giving me a peaceful feeling I wasn't quite expecting.

I'm also pleasantly surprised at how much more space I can rent with my budget.

I'm also pleasantly surprised at how much more space I can rent with my budget.
To be fair, I'm comparing the rental cost of my home in England to the cost of a fairly tiny space in New York City.

Now that I live in the northern part of England, I can't believe how much space I can rent for a fairly low monthly cost.

Back in Brooklyn, New York, I was paying $1,900 in rent each month for a two-bedroom apartment.

Here in England, renting my two-bedroom house, complete with driveway and garden, comes to just under a quarter of that amount each month.

Again, I know much of this is based on not living in a major city, but it's been wonderful to have so much more space to live in at a lower cost.

I feel like I'm more aware of what's happening in the world than I was when I lived in the US.

I feel like I'm more aware of what's happening in the world than I was when I lived in the US.
Because of its broad news coverage, the UK feels so much more connected to the rest of the world than the US did.

In the US, I often felt that much of the news coverage I was regularly exposed to was simply focused on America.

Yes, current events happening in other countries may get a passing mention in the news, but generally speaking, it's always seemed very America-centric to me.

This is definitely not the case in the UK. The news here seems to cover more events happening in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

There's also plenty of airtime for the goings-on in Europe while also providing in-depth reporting on big news happening around the world.

I feel like I have so many more places to travel and explore since I'm so close to Europe.

I feel like I have so many more places to travel and explore since I'm so close to Europe.
I can get to European cities in much less time.

Although the UK as a whole is small compared to the US, it feels much bigger to me because of its proximity to Europe.

Whereas a trip to Paris was a seven-hour journey when I was back in the US, it's less than two hours away from where I live now.

I can also be in Amsterdam in an hour, Iceland in three, and Italy in the same amount of time. It's a pretty great feeling to have so many exciting destinations at my fingertips.

Frankly, in many ways, I'm just surprised how similar the UK really is to the US.

Frankly, in many ways, I'm just surprised how similar the UK really is to the US.
Yes, the trains in England can get crowded just like the ones in New York City.

For all the differences between the UK and the US, there are a lot more similarities than you'd think.

Like the US, I've found that the UK is a nation full of lots of different cultures and languages as well as hard-working people with their own joys, frustrations, and, yes, prejudices.

And as much as I miss home sometimes, it never feels too far away — and I feel privileged to have made England my new one.


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