Living in the UK: Quirks of Living in UK for US Expats
Wednesday, 21 Feb 2018
Living in the UK might be a bit different to what you are used to in the US. Although the UK is similar to the US in a number of ways, it is also vastly different in many respects. If you are planning a move to the UK from the US, take a look at some of the quirks of living in the UK so you are well prepared before you move.
The best preparation for living in the UK is making sure you have all your favorite possessions with you. It’s easy to get your stuff to the UK by sending it all with Send My Bag. Just pop everything in a box or suitcase and have it picked up in the US and delivered to you in the UK.
Living in the UK: Things to Expect
When Living in the UK Expect: RoundaboutsLiving in the UK means dealing with roundabouts pretty much every time you are on the road. Yes, roundabouts are being introduced to the US now, too, but not to the extent that you will find them in the UK. In recent years, roundabout mania seems to have taken over. There are numerous multi-roundabout constructions popping up in the outskirts of big cities, as well as huge roundabouts that are so congested that they require traffic lights, which rather defies the point of a roundabout in the first place.
When Living in the UK Expect: RainRain will inevitably preoccupy you to some extent while living in the UK, especially in the west of the country, where the most rainfall is endured. The UK is so prone to rain due to weather systems moving in from the Atlantic and dumping large amounts of rain on the country, with areas like Snowdonia in Wales getting an average of 3000 mm of rain a year. Even if it’s not raining, if often feels like it might start raining at any time due to the prevalence of cloud in the UK.
When Living in the UK Expect: Conversation About the WeatherAs there is very often a chance of rain, and because a cloudless sky provokes surprise and delight, the Brits always have something to say about the weather. The weather forms the basis of small talk between strangers, and is often used as a conversation starter even between the closest of friends.
When Living in the UK Expect: Less Convenient Opening HoursBig cities in the US are known for convenient opening hours, with residents able to grab groceries in the early hours of the morning, or pick up their dry cleaning on a Sunday. In the UK opening hours are bit more conservative, with a lot of businesses closing altogether on a Sunday and others only opening for a few hours. And, apart from some out-of-town supermarkets, you will rarely find 24 hour opening while living in the UK.
When Living in the UK Expect: Low Rates of Gun OwnershipIn certain areas of the US, it is the norm for a family to keep a gun in the house. In the UK this is almost unheard of, with no average Joes possessing a firearm. Most Brits wouldn’t even dream of owning one.
When Living in the UK Expect: Harmless WildlifeHead into the British countryside and the most dangerous creature you will probably come across is a cow nursing its young. In the UK there are no wolves, bears or alligators, nor deadly scorpions or spiders. The UK does have one venous snake, the adder, but it is not known to attack unprovoked. Head to Northern Ireland and the risk of a snake encounter diminishes even further, as the island of Ireland has no wild snakes whatsoever.
When Living in the UK Expect: UK-Specific VocabularyOnce living in the UK, it will take you a while to relearn certain items of vocabulary. For starters, it’s jam not jelly, jelly not jell-o, rubbish not trash, bin not trash can, crisps not chips and chips not French fries.
When Living in the UK Expect: Alternative PronunciationNot only does living in the UK mean new items of vocabulary, but you may also need to alter your pronunciation of certain words if you want to make yourself understood. For example, advertisement is pronounced ‘ahd-VER-tise-ment’ in the UK, either is ‘eye-thur’, vase is ‘vahs’ and tomato is 'tuh-MAH-toh'.
When Living in the UK Expect: A Lower Legal Drinking AgeIf you are coming to the UK with young adult children, they may delight in letting you know that they are now allowed to drink alcohol, as the legal drinking age in the UK is 18, rather than 21.
When Living in the UK Expect: Strict Queuing EtiquetteBrits wait their turn by forming an orderly queue. Anyone who has the audacity to ‘bunk a queue’ (cut in) will be chastised by stares, the rolling of eyes and disgruntled whispers.