American Expats in the UK: Tips, Testimony and Guidance

About 200,000 Americans are living all over the United Kingdom – most in the capital city of London, England.  With both countries having such close ties to each other, it makes sense that thousands choose the UK as home.

I personally lived in South London for about three years with my dual-citizen husband, and we had an incredible experience. While hard to be away from ‘home’, London offered so much for American to connect with their origins. I was lucky enough to find two other expats from Philadelphia who made amazing cheesesteaks! Other Americans have opened great southern BBQ places, California-style fish taco stands and even bakeries featuring fresh American goodies.

pexels-photoAs said, the greatest thing about being an expat in London as an American is the community. I was fortunate enough to meet some great people to have a pint with and talk about home. Being able to do this once in a while made the transition even better.

Here’s a few more of my pals below offering their sage advice. Some have been in London less than a year, others more than a decade!

Mollie, a personal trainer/blogger at PTMollie and American Expat in London

“Living in London isn’t too different than the USA. Most of the same shopping brands and food chains are available (although I am still on the hunt for good bagels!).

I moved because my husband is British. We met at Michigan State University. He was doing a post-doc and I was doing my masters. I was putting together an intramural soccer team and thought if he was British, he was probably good!

Initially, it was hard to adjust to the weather in London, which is cold and rainy and I was often on foot, as opposed to Michigan with four proper seasons and a car.

The two things that really struck me when I moved to the UK in 2011 was the lack of customer service and shops shutting at 5-6PM. These have marginally improved or I am just used to it now. In fact, when I go shopping in the US, I don’t like the shop workers asking me if I need help!

It is fun going to the NFL events. There are games 3x/year with promotional events on Oxford Street leading up the the games. I saw the Buffalo Bills play the Jaguars a few years back and even got Jim Kelly’s autograph! The MLB is coming in 2019 with the Red Sox and Yankees. I can’t wait! Most of the recreational softball teams here are American players and at a high level, so I haven’t signed up yet (my husband did when we first arrived and subsequently lost his mitt).

Tips I would give Americans moving to the UK would be open minded. Things are going to be different, even the language (believe it or not). Moving to a new place is always tough but it is a chance to explore another part of the world.”

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Mel, a organizational psychologist and coach and an American Expat in London

“My experience as an expat has been awesome. I absolutely love living abroad so I’m of course biased. I feel I’m living most authentically when I’m living out of my home country and getting to live abroad again for a 3rd time was such a gift – especially in a country where everything is so central to get to flying-wise. We moved to London for my husband’s job and have been here for about 1.5 years so far. Living in London is awesome, but the logistics of getting set up in the U.K. are a pain-in-the-butt. There are a lot of hurdles in place that are really hard to navigate around getting a flat, bank account, utilities set up, and such.

My advice is research, research, RESEARCH and join American expat groups on Facebook. There are so many resources out there to help guide you through the process of getting set up in the U.K. On the bright side, London is a charming place to live, you’re spoilt for choice with food and entertainment, and dogs are allowed absolutely everywhere. Best of all – everyone calls you darling and sweetheart as a term of endearment and sweetness which is so heartwarming.”

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Kelly, a blogger at Mongan Moments and an American Expat in London

“I met my British husband while studying abroad in London and absolutely loved the city, so we decided to make it our home together.

The move from the USA to London isn’t too bad since so many things are similar, but there are definitely things that I miss from home. When I’m craving American snacks, I head to Partridge’s and buy pretty much everything in their American section. Or, we go to Passyunk Avenue for the best Philly cheesesteaks that London has to offer. And, of course, we host a Friendsgiving every year so I don’t have to miss out on my favorite holiday!

Aside from all the food recommendations, my number one tip for expats is to start getting out and making friends right away – whether you go online somewhere like BumbleBFF, attend meetup groups, or get to know your co-workers outside of work, it’s so important to build a close circle of friends in the UK, and it makes those homesick moments much easier to get through.”

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Other resources for American Expats in the UK:

What do you find easy and hard about being an expat? Do you find other people from your home country to connect with or forge out on your own?

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