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Should we move back to the UK?

Should we move back to the UK?

Old May 17th 2020, 4:01 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by elizabeth78 View Post
I know this is often asked, but usually by people with quite different situations and feelings about it. We came to San Francisco for my husband's work seven years ago, and we love the city, the climate, the many options for travel nearby, the opportunities for work, and did I mention the climate?
But I've always felt a little lonely. I can't shake the belief that I just don't 'click' with Americans, and I crave the sense of belonging that I think I'd have back in the UK.
We also have a 3-year-old, and really want her grandparents to be a bigger part of her life. Especially now that travel across the pond is likely to become more difficult.
We can apply for citizenship in September, and will talk to a tax adviser about that side of things. Personally I'd love to have the freedom to come back to the Bay Area later, though my husband thinks this would be almost impossible in terms of finding work, plus concerns about health insurance etc.
I guess I don't know if I'm being sentimental about the UK, and wouldn't actually feel as cozily 'back home' as I imagine I would if we went back. And maybe there are some major considerations we're missing, whether related to Brexit, Covid, schools...
Would love to hear from anyone who feels emotionally torn between two places!
Hello

I can tell you, that at least for me, this feeling never really ends. My husband and I are dual citizens (both born in the US and then naturalised in the UK) and we moved to the US in 2016 from Scotland. We just had a long chat this morning about how unsettled we both feel and a desire to move either back to Scotland or somewhere in Europe. Our feeling has more to do with the prevailing individualistic culture in the US and polarisation of society (we accept that these issues are cropping up everywhere). We feel like we live in fear all the time...for many reasons - fear stoked by media, fear of an unhinged White House, fearful for those who have lost jobs and have no way to sustain themselves, etc. We did not ever feel this way in Scotland (albeit this was before Brexit). Similar to you, we moved back to the US to be closer to family (aging parents, etc.). Has that made a difference? Not really. The US is huge and both sets of parents live states apart. We can drive to each in one long day (12 hours for one, 8 hours for the other) and see them slightly more than when we did when living in Scotland (not the 12 -hour one though). When around them, it is indeed nice to see them - but essentially they are their own people as they were when we left the United States. We love them, but we don't have kids or a reason to see them other than on holidays. So, what we did get was much better weather and better career options. Those two things mean a lot. We both are of an age now where we've moved passed 'the grass is always greener'....we know it is just different grass. I actually don't know that we will move, or perhaps do what I'd like and buy a property 'over there' and live part of the year outside of the USA. I just wanted to chime in and let you know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It is the curse of the Expat...you don't quite feel 'at home' or settled anywhere. Some do better than others. I have good days and not great days. Right now with Covid, and so much time to think, it has not been as easy to forget about our other (past) life in Scotland. It seems like such a dream now.
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Old May 17th 2020, 4:14 pm
  #17  
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by elizabeth78 View Post
I know this is often asked, but usually by people with quite different situations and feelings about it. We came to San Francisco for my husband's work seven years ago, and we love the city, the climate, the many options for travel nearby, the opportunities for work, and did I mention the climate?
But I've always felt a little lonely. I can't shake the belief that I just don't 'click' with Americans, and I crave the sense of belonging that I think I'd have back in the UK.
We also have a 3-year-old, and really want her grandparents to be a bigger part of her life. Especially now that travel across the pond is likely to become more difficult.
We can apply for citizenship in September, and will talk to a tax adviser about that side of things. Personally I'd love to have the freedom to come back to the Bay Area later, though my husband thinks this would be almost impossible in terms of finding work, plus concerns about health insurance etc.
I guess I don't know if I'm being sentimental about the UK, and wouldn't actually feel as cozily 'back home' as I imagine I would if we went back. And maybe there are some major considerations we're missing, whether related to Brexit, Covid, schools...
Would love to hear from anyone who feels emotionally torn between two places!
Also, I meant to say that I don't really click with Americans either and I am an American. I've made one good friend that I've clicked with since moving back and she is from Serbia. Why is it hard for me to make friends? Partly I think it is b/c Americans don't ever say what they really think. They are afraid (again fear) to say what they really think for many reasons - so all of these fun debates about politics and world events I used to have over dinner and drinks in Scotland no longer take place. So in a sense, Americans can seem very open to friendship (smiley, happy, welcoming), but at the same time developing anything deeper seems challenging. People in Scotland were completely different - you knew where you stood (especially in Glasgow, ha ha). If they did not agree with something, you'd hear about it and they told you so unreservedly.

I also find friendships in America to be more transactional - as in 'my time is very precious so what can this friendship bring to me'.

Again, you are not alone in how you feel
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Old May 17th 2020, 5:41 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by jenninedinburgh View Post
Also, I meant to say that I don't really click with Americans either and I am an American. I've made one good friend that I've clicked with since moving back and she is from Serbia. Why is it hard for me to make friends? Partly I think it is b/c Americans don't ever say what they really think. They are afraid (again fear) to say what they really think for many reasons - so all of these fun debates about politics and world events I used to have over dinner and drinks in Scotland no longer take place. So in a sense, Americans can seem very open to friendship (smiley, happy, welcoming), but at the same time developing anything deeper seems challenging. People in Scotland were completely different - you knew where you stood (especially in Glasgow, ha ha). If they did not agree with something, you'd hear about it and they told you so unreservedly.

I also find friendships in America to be more transactional - as in 'my time is very precious so what can this friendship bring to me'.

Again, you are not alone in how you feel
We lived in California for 5 years after our first flirtation with living abroad.
I summed up what you've just said as "You can make friends after 5 minutes, but after 5 years, nothing has changed".
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Old May 17th 2020, 5:48 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by jenninedinburgh View Post
Hello

I can tell you, that at least for me, this feeling never really ends. My husband and I are dual citizens (both born in the US and then naturalised in the UK) and we moved to the US in 2016 from Scotland. We just had a long chat this morning about how unsettled we both feel and a desire to move either back to Scotland or somewhere in Europe. Our feeling has more to do with the prevailing individualistic culture in the US and polarisation of society (we accept that these issues are cropping up everywhere). We feel like we live in fear all the time...for many reasons - fear stoked by media, fear of an unhinged White House, fearful for those who have lost jobs and have no way to sustain themselves, etc. We did not ever feel this way in Scotland (albeit this was before Brexit). Similar to you, we moved back to the US to be closer to family (aging parents, etc.). Has that made a difference? Not really. The US is huge and both sets of parents live states apart. We can drive to each in one long day (12 hours for one, 8 hours for the other) and see them slightly more than when we did when living in Scotland (not the 12 -hour one though). When around them, it is indeed nice to see them - but essentially they are their own people as they were when we left the United States. We love them, but we don't have kids or a reason to see them other than on holidays. So, what we did get was much better weather and better career options. Those two things mean a lot. We both are of an age now where we've moved passed 'the grass is always greener'....we know it is just different grass. I actually don't know that we will move, or perhaps do what I'd like and buy a property 'over there' and live part of the year outside of the USA. I just wanted to chime in and let you know that you are not alone in feeling this way. It is the curse of the Expat...you don't quite feel 'at home' or settled anywhere. Some do better than others. I have good days and not great days. Right now with Covid, and so much time to think, it has not been as easy to forget about our other (past) life in Scotland. It seems like such a dream now.
Just different grass, I love that Thanks for your perspective. Pre-Covid, we were debating the feasibility of long, frequent trips to the UK, but it sounds like flying will become harder and more expensive so I feel like we have to jump one way or the other - and yeah, just accept that both choices are good and neither is perfect!
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Old May 17th 2020, 5:50 pm
  #20  
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by Novocastrian View Post
We lived in California for 5 years after our first flirtation with living abroad.
I summed up what you've just said as "You can make friends after 5 minutes, but after 5 years, nothing has changed".
Yes - that's a good way of describing it.
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Old May 17th 2020, 5:51 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by jenninedinburgh View Post
Also, I meant to say that I don't really click with Americans either and I am an American. I've made one good friend that I've clicked with since moving back and she is from Serbia. Why is it hard for me to make friends? Partly I think it is b/c Americans don't ever say what they really think. They are afraid (again fear) to say what they really think for many reasons - so all of these fun debates about politics and world events I used to have over dinner and drinks in Scotland no longer take place. So in a sense, Americans can seem very open to friendship (smiley, happy, welcoming), but at the same time developing anything deeper seems challenging. People in Scotland were completely different - you knew where you stood (especially in Glasgow, ha ha). If they did not agree with something, you'd hear about it and they told you so unreservedly.

I also find friendships in America to be more transactional - as in 'my time is very precious so what can this friendship bring to me'.

Again, you are not alone in how you feel
I've heard this from half a dozen people now! I find it hard to define what the issue is, and worry that I'm being prejudiced. But it really does feel impossible to get to know someone here on a 'real', fulfilling level - as you say, debates over dinner and drinks doesn't seem to happen here
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Old May 17th 2020, 5:54 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by Novocastrian View Post
We lived in California for 5 years after our first flirtation with living abroad.
I summed up what you've just said as "You can make friends after 5 minutes, but after 5 years, nothing has changed".
EXACTLY! I've spotted people I felt like I could maybe become friends with, and it just never goes anywhere. It's mystifying. Do Americans feel like they have fulfilling friendships? Because from what I can see, they don't. I want friends who know me well, warts and all; who I can call when I need to cry or complain about something; who can commit to spending time with me more than once every six months. And I just think I'm more likely to find this in the UK.
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Old May 17th 2020, 5:57 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by elizabeth78 View Post
Just different grass, I love that Thanks for your perspective. Pre-Covid, we were debating the feasibility of long, frequent trips to the UK, but it sounds like flying will become harder and more expensive so I feel like we have to jump one way or the other - and yeah, just accept that both choices are good and neither is perfect!
You're welcome It feels good to type it out.

Flying and travel, for sure, will not only be more challenging, but by all accounts even more expensive. I've heard some comparisons being drawn to flying in the 60s with lots of space, etc. Great for comfort, terrible for price point from a consumer perspective. I paid around $700 for two RT flights to Rome from JFK this past December on Delta. That was an insanely cheap price for two tickets. I don't think we'll ever see that again.

Good luck to you in whatever you decide
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Old May 17th 2020, 6:08 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by elizabeth78 View Post
I've heard this from half a dozen people now! I find it hard to define what the issue is, and worry that I'm being prejudiced. But it really does feel impossible to get to know someone here on a 'real', fulfilling level - as you say, debates over dinner and drinks doesn't seem to happen here
You definitely aren't being prejudiced. There are so many issues with the culture that facilitate this - e.g., conditioning not to discuss politics/religion, little time outside of work for personal interests, insular society with limited travel abroad (for most, the Caribbean or Mexico is as international as it gets - if at all) lower higher education rates/limited access to higher education, etc.
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Old May 17th 2020, 7:16 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by jenninedinburgh View Post
You definitely aren't being prejudiced. There are so many issues with the culture that facilitate this - e.g., conditioning not to discuss politics/religion, little time outside of work for personal interests, insular society with limited travel abroad (for most, the Caribbean or Mexico is as international as it gets - if at all) lower higher education rates/limited access to higher education, etc.
That makes sense. I'm in the Bay Area and mix with well educated people, but they don't discuss politics, or indeed much else beyond their commute, or what the best new restaurant is; and thinking about it, few seem to have travelled outside the US/Mexico...
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Old May 17th 2020, 9:22 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

I know how you feel: after 6 years here I have a handful of friends (none of them are Bay Area natives, all are Brits or east coasters with foreign or minority partners/parents etc).

I feel that many Americans are only interested in how you can help them achieve their goals and milestones rather than building meaningful relationships with you. I think the Bay Area specifically is pretty bad for making connections mainly because everyone is here for work, which absorbs their life. Most people have an exit plan and will leave after a couple of years because the cost of living is so high and quality of life, at the end of the day, ain't that great: they are here to make money or put a notch on their CVs with a big tech company.

I don't see why you husband thinks it would be hard to get a job here in a couple of years time if you leave and come back: if you get citizenship and no sponsorship is needed for a job, and assuming the tech giants don't implode, he'll have no problem finding work with Google on his CV.

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Old May 17th 2020, 9:46 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by sherbert View Post
I know how you feel: after 6 years here I have a handful of friends (none of them are Bay Area natives, all are Brits or east coasters with foreign or minority partners/parents etc).

I feel that many Americans are only interested in how you can help them achieve their goals and milestones rather than building meaningful relationships with you. I think the Bay Area specifically is pretty bad for making connections mainly because everyone is here for work, which absorbs their life. Most people have an exit plan and will leave after a couple of years because the cost of living is so high and quality of life, at the end of the day, ain't that great: they are here to make money or put a notch on their CVs with a big tech company.

I don't see why you husband thinks it would be hard to get a job here in a couple of years time if you leave and come back: if you get citizenship and no sponsorship is needed for a job, and assuming the tech giants don't implode, he'll have no problem finding work with Google on his CV.
Aha, my only American friend is an East coaster with foreign parents and partner! I've always wondered why she was an exception
My husband thinks he'll find it harder to get work in tech on our return because he'll be over 50, which could be a fair point. He doesn't want to feel tied to Google the whole time we're in the UK, just in case we want a transfer back. For myself, I have zero confidence and loathe job hunting
He also thinks inertia would stop us returning to the States, plus the difficulty of tearing away from family and friends a second time. I can see that argument, too; but I would really like to have the options that come from dual citizenship, just in case we really *hate* being in the UK!
Ugh. Now I'm thinking we should stay, and I should just put an ad somewhere for friends who are British or married to Europeans
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Old May 17th 2020, 10:15 pm
  #28  
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by elizabeth78 View Post
Aha, my only American friend is an East coaster with foreign parents and partner! I've always wondered why she was an exception
My husband thinks he'll find it harder to get work in tech on our return because he'll be over 50, which could be a fair point. He doesn't want to feel tied to Google the whole time we're in the UK, just in case we want a transfer back. For myself, I have zero confidence and loathe job hunting
He also thinks inertia would stop us returning to the States, plus the difficulty of tearing away from family and friends a second time. I can see that argument, too; but I would really like to have the options that come from dual citizenship, just in case we really *hate* being in the UK!
Ugh. Now I'm thinking we should stay, and I should just put an ad somewhere for friends who are British or married to Europeans
Hence the Brit meetup group

I would consider what downsides there could be with citizenship when moving back to the UK - do you file your taxes yourself (normal filing + FBAR/FATCA etc etc) - if you pay HRBlock or others to do the paperwork for you that will continue when you move to the UK - you'll still need to file whether you owe any tax or not if you're earning in the UK.

I would also consider the SS 40 credits (effectively 10 years) issue if you've been there seven years.
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Old May 17th 2020, 10:46 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by Cape Blue View Post
Hence the Brit meetup group

I would consider what downsides there could be with citizenship when moving back to the UK - do you file your taxes yourself (normal filing + FBAR/FATCA etc etc) - if you pay HRBlock or others to do the paperwork for you that will continue when you move to the UK - you'll still need to file whether you owe any tax or not if you're earning in the UK.

I would also consider the SS 40 credits (effectively 10 years) issue if you've been there seven years.
Yeah, we are looking into the tax thing. Our accountant specializes in Googlers, so we'd probably continue using him plus another expert in UK/US matters. Horrendously complicated. I had never heard of SS 40 credits. We need to find out about all that.
I will def join the meetup group, when one is allowed to meet up!
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Old May 17th 2020, 10:49 pm
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Default Re: Should we move back to the UK?

Originally Posted by Moses2013 View Post
Sure but you have to think different. Even if you aren't in Brighton, it's still easier than before. A 2 hour drive is nothing and you could take the less busier roads to enjoy countryside, still visit family for lunch and be back home for dinner. I usually take the car ferry anyway and drive to Spain. It might seem more expensive but we don't need a hire car and can stock up with food and drink. Yes it might take a while, though things will get back to normal again.
True. Living here has certainly acclimatised me to long drives!
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