In my 20+ years of living in the United Kingdom I have been asked ‘Why do you live here?’ many times. The emphasis in the question is on the word ‘here’: Why on earth, if you were going to choose to become an expat would you choose to move to Britain? My recollection is that these questions are usually asked on a rainy day and so the implication is why would you move to a rainy cold place like this?
Because there is more to Britain than rain and cold!
The number one reason is because my husband is English and is already well established in Britain. It would be difficult to find an equivalent of his career in the States and he has children living in the UK. We may consider a drier, warmer climate for retirement, but until then, I actually enjoy living in the UK.And here are 24 of the reasons why:
1. Green grass all through winter even if it hides under the very occasional snowfall.
2. You can say ‘I reckon’ without sounding like a redneck.
3. Boxing Day. Not one day for Christmas but two!
4. British adverts on the telly – redefines quirky.
5. British sketch shows: Monty Python, Little Britain, and The Fast Show to name three.
6. The Pubs or Public Houses in winter, with a roaring fire, local sausages and mash and real ale, or in summer at a table under a willow by a river with a cool drink.
7. All the roads are not fantastic but this is made up for by the public transport system.
8. An abundance of interesting things to see. In a square mile the same size as Minnesota there are more things to see, do, learn about or experience than in twenty Minnesotas put together.
9. Everyday sense of humour and the ability to make fun of themselves. Irony.
10. Spring. There are flowers everywhere and the green is so green you can smell it.
11. Traditions. Interesting and sort of reassuring once you learn them. They are totally baffling until that point, (but great for conversation).
12. The Dunkirk Spirit. The British have an amazing ability to pull together and pull through against all odds.
13. London. The most historically interesting and culturally diverse contemporary city in the world.
14. Cups of tea. I still don’t care for milk in my hot tea but the idea of coming in from a walk, or greeting visitors or returning from a long shopping trip or welcoming someone home from work with a ‘cup of tea’ (or any hot drink, coffee, hot chocolate…) is a mini ritual in itself. It is calming, restorative, and connecting – a meditation. It forces you to pause.
15. Pantomimes. No, I don’t mean the American version; I mean the way-out, crazy, lets-all-join-in, you-Americans-have-never-seen-anything-like-this British version.
16. Branston pickle with cheddar cheese. Delicious!
17. The highest concentration of literary locations anywhere in the world. You can see where Jemima Puddleduck waddled, the landscapes that inspired Middle Earth and the Shires, the spot where the real Macbeth died, the island inspiration for Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, or the hills of Dorset where Tess learned life’s hard lessons.
18. The NHS. I don’t care if paint is peeling from the walls, I don’t have medical bills and I receive excellent medical care. How about that?
19. Ordinance Survey Maps. Easy to read, very informative maps for the map geeks as well as the regular people.
20. Longer holidays for people who work. Not just two weeks.
21. Village greens. Where the small towns of the United States have a Main Street, British villages have the village green. I love village greens because they’re usually pretty, they hold fetes and cricket matches and they are a pleasant space to the middle of a cluster of houses, shops, a church and a pub. They are aesthetically pleasing.
22. School uniforms. No anxieties about the latest trends during
23. Small cars. So much easier and cheaper!
24. Cadburys chocolate is lovely.
Why do you enjoy living where you do?
Michelle Garrett is an American expat making a life in Britain for over 20 years. Yes, she's still homesick for the States and yes, she'd be homesick for Britain if she moved back there!
Michelle is a freelance writer and blogs at The American Resident.