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Topic: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?  (Read 3008 times)

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Brexit is about to change life in the United Kingdom dramatically for many Americans that went to the effort of leaving the States. One of those new realities is not having the right to freely live or retire or study in a European Union country. I know most went to the United Kingdom because of a job or a personal relationship, and I wonder how do most of you feel about life in the UK compared to what you gave up in the United States? And I'm talking about having fewer options to migrate in Europe and if living just in the UK is still more than enough compared to what you had back home. If you were not in a relationship with a Brit or working there, would the UK culture still be better than living back in America?

I ask that question not to just compare cultures in the home country versus the new home but instead to see just how much you think the new different culture is and if you think the experience is amazing. Have you had any problems being accepted in the UK or are you seen as a foreigner? 


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2019, 10:00:00 AM »
I'm 11.5 years here in and Scotland is home and it pretty much has been since day 1.  The EU wasn't really a factor in my decision. Scotland, that's where I wanted to be.

Ups and downs, but I actually can't imagine living in the US again. I'd feel out of place and with reverse culture shock. 

I moved on a work permit, rather than for a partner , so I guess I had 'free choice' compared to others.   That said, I am happily married to a British guy now, who doesn't want to live in the US either.   

I imagine you will see varied responses to your question, depending on life circumstances. 
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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2019, 10:02:25 AM »
Life is life no matter where you choose to live.  For some the grass is greener in one place or the other.  But for most of us, we work to pay our bills and have fun in our downtime.  Life is not sexier or more glamorous in either country.

While I'm not pro-Brexit, I don't care about not being able to move to another EU country once it is triggered.  That "choice" being taken away has absolutely zero impact on my life.  Which I suspect is the case for virtually all of us on this forum.


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2019, 10:09:26 AM »
Brexit is about to change life in the United Kingdom dramatically for many Americans that went to the effort of leaving the States.

Out of curiosity, how do you figure it's going to change the life of AMERICANS in the UK dramatically? Beyond potential anti-immigration sentiments (which some people already get and others don't - I personally find that people find Americans to be the "right kind" of immigrants), it's highly unlikely to change anything for Americans as it will impact the EU citizen's rights to free movement. People already here on a visa are also unlikely to be impacted. The ONLY thing I could imagine is that there might be a change to the visa process to incorporate EU citizens applying but the visa process already changes for us Americans so frequently anyways. The best we can hope for is that maybe it actually lowers the cost of a visa as more people will be applying (which is unlikely).

To clarify, by the way, I am NOT PRO-BREXIT, I just am not sure I understand your comment about how it will dramatically change the lives of Americans in the UK, especially of those who are already here...It doesn't make sense to me so hoping you can explain. The ability to retire or freely move in the EU under the UK's EU citizenship is not what I would consider a dramatic change to the immigration to the UK as that was all an added bonus that we will unfortunately be losing if all of this goes ahead.

I wonder how do most of you feel about life in the UK compared to what you gave up in the United States?

I am pretty sure you've asked these questions not too long ago and I've already given this answer to you, but I'll reiterate and say that, personally, love my life here and I know it's far better than what I gave up in the states or what I could have had there long term. But I say that as a person who doesn't have any health issues or dietary requirements and I wasn't working in a career in the US or had pressure on me to try to make a certain amount of money once I moved here. I was working retail in the US as a student in my young 20's and living at home when I met my husband and I honestly couldn't afford to move out and stay in the area I was living and going to school in. I never ended up finishing uni as I dropped out prior to moving here as I wanted to be out making money more than I wanted to be in a classroom. I moved here and into my husband's flat that he owned and could afford on his own salary, so I was pretty lucky to not have to make a certain salary to live and, because I was working retail, I really had very little in the way of salary expectations.
I was able to build a successful career for myself here in the last 6 years that I've been here and was lucky to secure a job within my first month of moving here and I'm confident that - without a degree - I would never have been able to reach the same career level or salary level that I am at right now. We've since bought a bigger home together 2 years ago and are waiting to exchange on our new home that's a detached. I would never be living in a nice neighbourhood, in a bigger, detached house in the US at under 30 years old (especially without a college degree) and I imagine my husband wouldn't be in the same position he is in now career-wise either as he would've had to take a massive step backwards.

Ultimately, what I gave up in the US really was just my family and friends...and technology as well as yearly visits can bridge that gap more or less (it's not perfect but it makes it a lot easier). I gave up some creature comforts like beers and restaurants that I can't find versions of over here, but I've gained new ones to take those places.

The experience for others who have built a career and therefore have salary expectations or specific types of jobs they are looking to find will be a lot different as will those of people who have had health issues/dietary requirements because those people have far more to adjust to than I did. I was young and easily adaptable so I am far luckier than many people but that "luck" is probably a large factor in why I do love the UK compared to the US. It suits me more and my family/friends back home have noticed and commented about how much happier and healthier I appear to be since moving to the UK. To answer your title question, I am definitely not being kept here. I just got my citizenship approved and might look to try working abroad somewhere for a year or two potentially because now I can, but my goal will always be to return to England (not the US).

The culture won't suit everybody though, so it's hard to really give you a blanket answer.

I ask that question not to just compare cultures in the home country versus the new home but instead to see just how much you think the new different culture is and if you think the experience is amazing. Have you had any problems being accepted in the UK or are you seen as a foreigner? 

If you read other threads here (particularly in the homesickness threads and the chit-chat threads and even on your own past threads) you'll find this answer to massively vary. Some people find the UK to be more of a hostile environment for immigrants and have had issues with acceptance and others have blended in seamlessly. I personally don't find the culture itself really to have changed much from when I first moved here, but perhaps I'm not living in an area that is heavily Brexit-leaning so I don't feel that pain as much as others. I don't think you're going to get any one answer or concensus saying "it's amazing" (even those that like living here wouldn't necessarily give it a blanket "it's amazing" as I personally wouldn't say that anywhere is amazing 100% of the time) or "it's awful" because it's not that black and white. As an example, where I came from to where I live now, it's very comparable culturally and I've had no issues. If I were to have moved further up north, i think I would've struggled far more.


Can I ask you a question? What do you hope to gain by asking similar questions over and over again periodically? I don't mean that in a rude way, it just seems that you pop up every so often to ask the same sets of questions and I'm not sure what the end-game here is and am really curious as to what your reasoning is.
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
* Moved to the UK on said visa October 2013
* FLR(M) applied for  May 2016. Biometrics requested June 2016. Approval given July 2016.
* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
* Citizenship applied for May  2019

**CITIZENSHIP APPROVED July 4, 2019! Formal ceremony on August 28, 2019!**

HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2019, 10:12:57 AM »
Life is life no matter where you choose to live.  For some the grass is greener in one place or the other.  But for most of us, we work to pay our bills and have fun in our downtime.  Life is not sexier or more glamorous in either country.

While I'm not pro-Brexit, I don't care about not being able to move to another EU country once it is triggered.  That "choice" being taken away has absolutely zero impact on my life.  Which I suspect is the case for virtually all of us on this forum.

Completely agree with all of this. It's not more glamorous here than it would've been in the US. I would've still had to work and pay bills (as you said), I just think I wouldn't have the same quality of life to have fun in my downtime as I don't think I'd be in the same good financial situation I am in now at this age.

RE not being able to move to another EU country, also agree that it has zero impact on me because I moved here to move HERE. I didn't move here as a gateway to live in another country. That was always just an added bonus of an additional option.If somebody wants to retire elsewhere badly enough, they will likely look for ways to qualify for visas to do that I think.
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
* Moved to the UK on said visa October 2013
* FLR(M) applied for  May 2016. Biometrics requested June 2016. Approval given July 2016.
* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
* Citizenship applied for May  2019

**CITIZENSHIP APPROVED July 4, 2019! Formal ceremony on August 28, 2019!**

HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2019, 10:36:32 AM »
I have been happy here. There have only been a very few instances where anything was said to me to make me feel unwelcome, in over two years. Generally people have been extremely welcoming. The Daughter has had a different set of experiences, but she's been out and about more than I have. Plus, I'm old and she's not.  ;)  I enjoy the quality of the food in the grocery store, the clean air, the general low-key-ness of life here. Not needing to have a car (they are such a pain and expense!). Being able to hop a bus or train to the country for the day. Meeting people from Eastern Europe and Africa, as well as the locals. Not worrying about being bankrupted if I become ill, or fell down a mountain while out walking and got billed an obscene amount of money for a rescue helicopter, as I would be in the USA.

I don't miss the culture of the USA at all, really. Except maybe around the Holidays. The Holidays are done differently here, and some that were important to us do not exist here. (Halloween, for one.)  I've noticed there seems to be some sort of preoccupation with "doing it properly" rather than enjoying the holidays the way we always have.  There are some things, such as that sort of mindset, that I don't like about the culture here, but it's not forced on me excessively so I can pretty much ignore those bits. There is a sort of generic incompetence/don't give a damn I find in a lot of lower-level workers (delivery people, shop clerks, repairmen, etc.) that is annoying - in the States they'd have been long fired. But that seems to be tolerated here. The general educational level of "the masses" seems to be really low, as well. The Scottish kids I've met seem to know almost nothing about Scottish history, for example, which is just mind-boggling. But I can't compare it to the USA really, as I didn't mix as much with people outside of my general sphere there (academia) very much. Given that the Kardashians (sp?) are media stars in the USA and the President that was elected by those masses, I'm not sure I can be throwing stones at the Scots on all that....

I miss a lot of the conveniences we had in the USA, especially shopping (Target!). I definitely miss the salary scale - here they expect waaaay too much for waaaay too little pay here. Thankfully I do not have to work, as I'd be really ticked off to have to take 1/4th to 1/3rd of my prior income to be doing a similar amount of work.  But as I'm basically retired, and my income is all in dollars,  Brexit hasn't hit my pocketbook too much - yet. RIght now the dollar is running just about the same to the pound as it was when we first moved over here a few years ago. When the dollar drops, my spending power drops (so my rent and bills effectively go up proportionally). That's the only downside to my financial situation - if the dollar tanks against the pound, my wallet will be hurting. But so far it looks like it would only be the opposite with Brexit, at least for the next several years. The lower the pound sinks, the more I have available to spend in the UK. Of course, if the cost of goods (which is already bizarrely high for durable goods) goes up, that advantage will vanish. But I'll be in a better place than someone whose income is in pounds. Unfortunately, the Daughter's income value, as she is on the local economy and paid in pounds, is shrinking when she looks at the price of goods in the USA v. the dollar/pound conversion rate.  And as the cost of "stuff" goes up here.

I am also an EU citizen, so I can still go anywhere in the EU if things go too far south here.  The Daughter is not, however, so her options are muddle through here or go back to the USA, at present. If she goes back, she can't get back into the UK on the same basis as she is here now. (It would have to be a work permit, which is unlikely in her field.) So if we leave before she gets full settled status (2022) it will be with the understanding that we probably cannot come back. 

Realistically, when looking at all things very conservatively in a very worst-case scenario, she's safer here as far as ever having to deal with medical issues or potential homelessness, than she would be in the USA.  Financially, in a best-case (healthy, well-employed) scenario she'd generally be very much better off in the USA in the long run, as things stand. Right now she is not able to work full-time as she is here as  the dependent adult child of an EU citizen. If she earns enough to be hypothetically self-supporting, she is no longer my dependent and her status is invalidated, leaving her open to sudden deportation. As long as EU law is in place, that is the mechanism that allows her to remain in the UK. Once Brexit hits, supposedly her pre-settled EU status would take over. We are still waiting to hear if her new pre-settled status, which is running concurrently with her EU status, would protect her if she gives up her EU status to work. That is, if she will be able to do meaningful work based on pre-settlement, or not.  If she is not, that pretty much steers our direction away from remaining in the UK for the long-term. If she can work professionally, that changes the landscape a lot.

I'd really rather stay here than go back to the USA, but as we each have no other family it's kind of a package deal for us. As I can go anywhere (well, not everywhere, but I can go here or EU or USA), if it's best for the Daughter to be elsewhere, that's where we'll go.  We can still both go to the EU, but would run into the same kind of work restrictions, I think. I could get her into an EU country as a dependent, but she'd then be one for another five years. That's too long - if she was 18 it wouldn't be such a big deal, but she isn't that young and really is at a point that she needs to get a retirement nest-egg building and a career online. IF Brexit were not happening and she had the option to move anywhere in the EU for work, that would change the mix as well. Her chances of professional employment in her field would be greatly enhanced if we were "settled" here which, under EU law would allow her to move/live/work anywhere in the EU. The EU is a larger playing field for her than just the UK. But Brexit kills that option - we can't (using any mechanism I'm aware of) get her settled here before Brexit hits and the UK is no longer part of the EU. If it were that we could do it before Brexit, we'd probably make the jump to the EU. But we can't, so best to not think about the lost opportunities there.

SO, I very much prefer living here. But unless we get good news in the next few months - at least by Christmas - I think we'll probably be taking steps to start the ball rolling to return to the USA. (Because the Daughter wants to leave.)  Brexit is a mixed bag for us. So far the only really negative thing it's done directly to us (aside from removing access to the EU for my daughter's future professional career) is raised the cost of shipping our stuff back to the USA by a substantial amount. That and I'm noticing a lot of the shops on our local high street are closing or have closed. That, I think, will only get worse in the near term.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 01:02:17 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2019, 10:42:39 AM »
I don't miss the culture of the USA at all, really. Except maybe around the Holidays. The Holidays are done differently here, and some that were important to us do not exist here. (Halloween, for one.)

I've noticed that Halloween seems to keep getting bigger every year (down here, at least) and I'm loving it as that was my favourite holiday and I missed really having it celebrated. it's still not celebrated to the same degree by any means yet, but it does give me hope as it becomes more and more of a thing every year.
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
* Moved to the UK on said visa October 2013
* FLR(M) applied for  May 2016. Biometrics requested June 2016. Approval given July 2016.
* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
* Citizenship applied for May  2019

**CITIZENSHIP APPROVED July 4, 2019! Formal ceremony on August 28, 2019!**

HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2019, 10:45:11 AM »
Is it? Oh, that's nice for you!  Halloween was our "big" holiday of the year. Seriously big. Major party event big.  ;D

Here there is nothing.  :(  The Daughter still gets the decorations we brought over out (more of them than Christmas stuff) and decorates the flat up, but it's just not the same.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 10:59:29 AM by Nan D. »


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 10:56:45 AM »
Is it? Oh, that's nice for you!  Halloween was our "big" holiday of the year. Seriously big. Major party event big.  ;D

Here there is nothing.  :(  The Daughter still gets the decorations we brought over out (more of them than Christmas stuff) and decorates the flat up, but it's just not the same.

It was never the same size big for me in the US (we definitely didn't have major parties or anything), but it was definitely my favourite in the US and I did get together with friends on halloween to either have small get-togethers or even just to watch b-grade horror movies while stuffing our faces with candy/drinks. I did go out with my sister to take my niece and nephew out every year around the neighbourhood and we'd carry beers around with us and it was just a really good time and that is definitely what I miss, but here I've seen more and more people decorate (small decorations, but it's a start) for Halloween and there are activities and stuff locally acknowledging it's Halloween which is nice.

I'm surprised that there's literally NOTHING up there as I thought I read somewhere that Halloween up in Glasgow/Edinburgh area was actually a thing (more so than down here). My mom sent me a lot of decorations in the post which was nice as it's nice to have SOMETHING. I make my husband carve a pumpkin every year with me lol
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
* Moved to the UK on said visa October 2013
* FLR(M) applied for  May 2016. Biometrics requested June 2016. Approval given July 2016.
* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
* Citizenship applied for May  2019

**CITIZENSHIP APPROVED July 4, 2019! Formal ceremony on August 28, 2019!**

HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2019, 11:19:27 AM »
I'm surprised that there's literally NOTHING up there as I thought I read somewhere that Halloween up in Glasgow/Edinburgh area was actually a thing (more so than down here).

Halloween is definitely a Scottish thing. Guising (aka trick or treating) as ghouls and ghosts and scary things, telling jokes before getting sweets, ,bobbing for apples, carving 'neeps for lanterns (now pumpkins), etc. But, it's definitely a kids thing and other than pumpkin lanterns, not many decorations. 
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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2019, 11:25:43 AM »
Halloween is definitely a Scottish thing. Guising (aka trick or treating) as ghouls and ghosts and scary things, telling jokes before getting sweets, ,bobbing for apples, carving 'neeps for lanterns (now pumpkins), etc. But, it's definitely a kids thing and other than pumpkin lanterns, not many decorations.

Ahh, right okay. I could've sworn I saw lots of Scottish events happening last year (from my friends who live up in Scotland near Glasgow), but those things might've been more family oriented stuff and I just didn't realise :)

That is the one major difference I find though between the US and the UK with Halloween trick or treating/dressing up - costumes here seem to HAVE to be scary while in the US it's ANY type of costume.
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
* Moved to the UK on said visa October 2013
* FLR(M) applied for  May 2016. Biometrics requested June 2016. Approval given July 2016.
* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
* Citizenship applied for May  2019

**CITIZENSHIP APPROVED July 4, 2019! Formal ceremony on August 28, 2019!**

HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2019, 11:59:48 AM »
If there is I haven't seen it. (No guising here in my neighborhood, no decorations. Some drunk college kids, tho.)  I hear they have a heck of a street party over in Belfast.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 12:07:35 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2019, 12:20:23 PM »
This question has actually been on my mind lately. I've quit my career and just had a baby. I am waiting for a new job/ career to start after my 'maternity leave'. I finished university (in the UK) in 2008. 2008 was a bad year to enter the job market... so I think that would have had as much impact here as there... I'm seemingly overqualified but underskilled, as my degree (undergraduate Masters) is not really relevant to anything I have interest in anymore and it was a long time ago and I've willingly and happily discarded my teaching career.

I've been fairly isolated since I quit my career a year and a half ago. I was undergoing fertility treatment (which is a total headfuck and very few people can relate), then had a difficult pregnancy that really reduced/ progressively restricted my mobility. I was effectively housebound for three months. My (mostly teacher) friends have been carrying on with their lives and I haven't been able to get out much (neither of these are judgements btw, just statements of fact).

So for the last year and a half, other than growing a human, I haven't been up to much. I went to one of the best high schools in America (literally, it was ranked number 1 my sophomore year) and one of the best universities in the world (actually, several of them, but graduated from one of the top 5 in the UK). And I don't feel like my potential has really been achieved, partly through choices I have made and partly through chance (choices: doing everything I could to stay in the UK, not moving to London/ SE).

In that same period of time (a year and a half), the place I came from has changed beyond recognition. A fire, which caused a mudslide, destroyed much of my hometown. My parents decided to get divorced (finally!) are trying to sell my childhood home. I have seen my sister really struggle to stay in our hometown as it is hugely unaffordable to normal people (which we are. Book smart, but normal). She finally bought a house in her late 30s, and it's a huge financial stretch for her and it's nowt spesh.

But here, I know how to pay bills, I understand the healthcare system and know how to navigate social norms and the weekly shop. My husband and his family are here and nearby (and I get on really well with my in-laws, not so much with my mother!). We both would find it very difficult to get jobs in the US, I reckon because of our skillsets and qualifications.

So it's all left me with far too much time to contemplate the wherefors and would-have-beens... but the UK is home (even if everyone here thinks I still sound fresh of the boat). Life has at times been a bit of a let-down, but I'm healthy and can afford to eat and keep a roof over our heads. And so for that, I can't complain too much!

But hey, I have my entry level civil service job to look forward to starting next January! I felt super proud to get it... my confidence was definitely rock bottom when I interviewed last August!

WRT the flexibility of being in the EU, we've always said, "wouldn't it be nice to move to Italy for a year or two." But we would face the same barriers there as we would moving to the US... so it was always really a non-starter.
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12/05/16: Citizenship ceremony!


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2019, 12:44:49 PM »
Having lots of free time to think is kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it. 8)  And knowing that some of the opportunities your kiddie would have had in the future are now gone. (Or, will be, shortly.)  I am glad I'm not the parent of a young child here, really. (It's tough enough being the parent of an adult child.)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 01:04:02 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Do you LOVE the UK compared to USA, or is life keeping you here?
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2019, 01:20:34 PM »
I'm 90% happy here. I like it enough here that even though I moved for a relationship, if we were to divorce or he died I could see myself staying here.  I joined clubs and made friends, I started my own business, and things are generally good.  I never adored my area of the States (Georgia) and wouldn't go back to live there. My old friends there have spread out so I don't have a base to return to in the same way. That plus lack of heath insurance & public transportation mean I think I'd be no better off in the US and I assume worse off: no employment for health insurance, lack of cohesive social support structure, slightly irrational fear of driving, and those *bleep*ing mosquitos!!

I've been in the UK for 13 years. It took me 5 to really settle, I suffered depression and struggled with making friends. I live in London and rarely drive.  I visit Europe about once every 3 years. I didn't move here because of access to Europe. I do not want to leave the EU and I think leaving would affect my business negatively.

I still feel like an outsider. I haven't lost my accent at all which means I'm constantly asked where I'm from, how long I've been here, etc. I do feel lonely and on the outside a bit, being self-employed really does not help with loneliness, but I'm not sure it'd be any less anywhere else. Plus, sometimes maybe it's a good thing, it gives people an opening to speak to me and from that comes friendships.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 01:35:23 PM by Larissa »


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