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After almost a decade.....

After almost a decade.....

Old Feb 11th 2012, 7:45 pm
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Default After almost a decade.....

Bit of brief background, I am a UK citizen who moved to the US to marry my American wife in January 2003. I have lived in 3 states since then, but have not returned to the UK to even visit, mainly for financial reasons. I have struggled to adapt over here, have made no lasting friendships and I have health issues that I cannot afford to take care of even with health insurance.

....before I go any further, I know that most British people who emigrate can't stand the UK and left for a reason. I'm not looking for advice from people who have a biased view per se, rather those who are in a similar situation to mine (struggling and didn't hate the UK nor particularly care to leave it in the first place).

So it's been 9 years + since I left and I kind of want to go back for the following reasons:

- I do not like the American corporate / work culture, lack of time off and long hellish commutes

- The American political system is very divided with just 2 main parties.

- I have not been able to make friends here and have found many people to be seemingly nicer on the surface, but more fake and rather uptight.

- I have 2 quite serious health issues that I cannot afford to have treated.

- My wife has inadvertently got us into debt mainly due to her student loans. Since I co-signed 2 of them, this means that I cannot go to university myself as 1) it's very expensive and 2) no one wil lend me the money.

- Because I don't have a degree, it's been hard for me to find work.

- I don't like the attitude towards the poor here.

- I have found the workplace environment to be too competitive, too much backstabbing and brown nosing (more than I'm used to).

- Food here is of poor quality, too much processed crap and fresh food, meat, fruits & veg are considerably more expensive than the UK.

- As silly as it sounds, I miss my football, the English countryside, being close to mainland Europe, being able to walk more, being able to visit Roman ruins, Norman castles and historic villages, towns and cities.

Unfortunately, I cannot move back for now as my wife is unwilling to leave her elderly mother. I just feel like because of the points above, I am at a complete and utter dead end here and despite trying, I have not been able to fit in to what is an extremely conformist and money-status oriented society. I've simply come to the conclusion that the US offers a great standard of living for those who are financially well off, but it's much harder to be on a lower income and have to forgoe medical treatment.

So my main questions are:

1) Has the UK changed much in the last decade?

2) Have any of you gone home, only to realise you made a mistake, or did it work out well?

3) Are many of the issues I described above just symptomatic of a changing global society rather than just the US? In other words, would I find the same problems (or worse) in the UK now?

4) Do you have any advice for me as to how I could try to be happy or at least content here in the US with not much money and no friends? I know I've been here for 9 years, but I'm open to suggestions.

5) Based on the above and the current state of the UK, should I consider moving back in the future or abandon the idea completely?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Ethelred_the_Unready; Feb 11th 2012 at 7:52 pm.
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Old Feb 11th 2012, 9:06 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Hi,

I know you said it was tough because of financial reasons, but I think it would be best if you at least went back to visit. You'd be able to get a better idea of the changes that have happened. And they have definitely happened.

I've been in the US for nearly 15 years and I can tell you that the last 10 years have been the hardest and I personally believe that has a lot to do with the economic situation. The country seems so divided politically that it's becoming a real headache to sit thru the news (and I LOVE watching the news!!) I was hoping to be out of here before the election but sadly I can't move until next year which means I have to deal with all the BS that comes with American campaigning.....why does it go on for so long?!?!?!?!?

I think the UK has many of the same problems as the US but I for one know I will be happier back home. Not only because of my family but I relate to the lifestyle there much more (long walks in the country, a nice pint at the pub, weekends spent at some random ruin figuring out who built it, who conquered it and why!!)

And I REALLY miss the food.....I know, I know...not exactly the most solid reason to move back but the thought of bringing up a child in this country on the food here just makes me shudder!!!!

I probably wasn't any help but I just wanted to throw my two cents in and say hi. Good luck with your decision. I know it will be tough because of your wife's ailing mother but everything will work out.
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Old Feb 11th 2012, 9:12 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

All fair points which I have also found (I don't work but it's beckstabbing at my husband's place and 2 places I've volunteered have been full of conflict).

My husband still does some collaborative work with his old workplace in the UK and from what he can tell he doesn't feel it has changed for the worse.

All I can say is good luck and hope you make it back.
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Old Feb 11th 2012, 10:48 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by britwhore View Post
Hi,

I know you said it was tough because of financial reasons, but I think it would be best if you at least went back to visit. You'd be able to get a better idea of the changes that have happened. And they have definitely happened.

I've been in the US for nearly 15 years and I can tell you that the last 10 years have been the hardest and I personally believe that has a lot to do with the economic situation. The country seems so divided politically that it's becoming a real headache to sit thru the news (and I LOVE watching the news!!) I was hoping to be out of here before the election but sadly I can't move until next year which means I have to deal with all the BS that comes with American campaigning.....why does it go on for so long?!?!?!?!?

I think the UK has many of the same problems as the US but I for one know I will be happier back home. Not only because of my family but I relate to the lifestyle there much more (long walks in the country, a nice pint at the pub, weekends spent at some random ruin figuring out who built it, who conquered it and why!!)

And I REALLY miss the food.....I know, I know...not exactly the most solid reason to move back but the thought of bringing up a child in this country on the food here just makes me shudder!!!!

I probably wasn't any help but I just wanted to throw my two cents in and say hi. Good luck with your decision. I know it will be tough because of your wife's ailing mother but everything will work out.
Hi BWh,

You miss the same things as I do I guess. It's easy to take those things for granted when they're right on your doorstep. I was always one for the simple things in life; a walk in the countryside, a random visit to a random town, walking around old castle ruins. I miss the pub culture, not necessarily because of the booze factor, but because pubs are good places to just talk with a friend about football, politics or anything else over a nice pint. I miss stuff being within walking distance and not having to constantly drive overly long distances.

Unfortunately I have no chance of visiting. Technically I don't have any family back home and seldom speak to my friends, so it's difficult to gauge how things are over there aside from the news (that's partly why I chose to post here). I am not sure how my American wife would like to live there, but she casually mentions it a lot, then gets angry when I take her seriously and say "ok, let's talk about it seriously then". She has never been particularly happy in the US and I honestly feel that she'd get along with British women much better as women here (like men) are very competitive.

A battle we constantly have and a wolf I'm trying to keep from the door is the dreaded baby issue. She wants a child, so do I, but I don't want to have a child and raise him or her in America when we are not financially well off and don't have family or friends to rely on. Maternity leave for women is a joke here and you have tens of thousands of dollars for a college fund and stellar health insurance. I just don't want to do it here and gamble with the life of another human being in a very foreign and alien country.
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Old Feb 11th 2012, 10:52 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by Sally Redux View Post
All fair points which I have also found (I don't work but it's beckstabbing at my husband's place and 2 places I've volunteered have been full of conflict).

My husband still does some collaborative work with his old workplace in the UK and from what he can tell he doesn't feel it has changed for the worse.

All I can say is good luck and hope you make it back.
It's not going to happen anytime soon. To an extent, perhaps I need to try to let go of the UK at least until the day comes that we are able to move over there, or at least have a serious discussion about it.

As for the work thing, I think it boils down to the corporate world here being more competitive. I don't like the whole cubicles thing either. There is no teamwork or helping out, just lots of backstabbing and covering of one's arse. I dread going to work every day. My colleagues and manager are very cruel people and other places I've worked at here have been the same.

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Old Feb 11th 2012, 10:57 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Until you can get her to talk seriously about it then you aren't going to make any decisions at all.
We will be moving back in the next 12 months or so. We didn't move here cause we hated the UK or anything about it.
I miss the things you say you miss, not the pub so much, but I did like an occasional visit to one and a pub lunch was always a nice treat.
Maybe you can move with a plan, if you both hate it after 3 years or 5 years, then move on back, so get your US citizenship before you go.
Originally Posted by Ethelred_the_Unready View Post
It's not going to happen anytime soon. To an extent, perhaps I need to try to let go of the UK at least until the day comes that we are able to move over there, or at least have a serious discussion about it.
I tried to just let go of the UK stopped visiting for many years. It didn't help any. We had kids, and then had to stay while they got older and take a chance they don't want to move, or even find ourselves here forever because of kids and grand kids. Mine are older now, the 23 year old moved to UK without us, the 18 year old will go this summer. So Dh and the youngest child will follow as soon as we sell up.

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Old Feb 11th 2012, 11:37 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by Mummy in the foothills View Post
Until you can get her to talk seriously about it then you aren't going to make any decisions at all.
We will be moving back in the next 12 months or so. We didn't move here cause we hated the UK or anything about it.
I miss the things you say you miss, not the pub so much, but I did like an occasional visit to one and a pub lunch was always a nice treat.
Maybe you can move with a plan, if you both hate it after 3 years or 5 years, then move on back, so get your US citizenship before you go.

I tried to just let go of the UK stopped visiting for many years. It didn't help any. We had kids, and then had to stay while they got older and take a chance they don't want to move, or even find ourselves here forever because of kids and grand kids. Mine are older now, the 23 year old moved to UK without us, the 18 year old will go this summer. So Dh and the youngest child will follow as soon as we sell up.
US citizenship; I made the decision a while ago that it would go against my principles to swear allegiance to a country that I will never belong to and will never be able to call home. I would be lying to myself and the United States if I took that oath.

How are your kids adjusting to UK life? Being born in the US, it would be essentially a foreign country at least to them? I'm glad you're able to do what's best for you and your family. I think that many Brits underestimate the culture shock of living in the US because of the common language.

I'm not going to get to go back anytime soon. My last memory of the UK was taking off from Heathrow on a cold, misty January morning and watching London and then the UK itself fade beneath the clouds.
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 2:12 am
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Oldest one lived there for a year and went to primary school and still has friends from way back then, yay for a small village school. He's back living in that same village at his Grandmas house. It's nice to have him there keeping an eye on her as she is in her 70's He has friends and a social life from work and the village, he is not a very social person so I was shocked he wanted to move.
Next one I'm sure will be loving life over there, he has always had a better social life than any of us, and has more friends than he can count. He seems to make friends very easily and is always up for a laugh and a pint when he's over in UK (He was 18 this week but looks older than the 23 year old) he's already got some social stuff lined up with some boys he met each time we went on our summer trips over and also from some family friends who want him on the Water polo team asap.
I'm still in contact with friends from when I was a kid and also from work and neighbors when we lived there. I really hope we can fall back into life without too much trouble, and especially find work easily. I'll stack shelves if I have to no problem, but if I can get back to being a UK nurse I'll be happy as a clam.
Whatever you do don't have kids till you and the misses have had the big talk, so many get locked into a country once kids come along, some even post on here, some move back after retirement after 20 or 30 years of homesickness.
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 8:12 am
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by Ethelred_the_Unready View Post
Hi BWh,

You miss the same things as I do I guess. It's easy to take those things for granted when they're right on your doorstep. I was always one for the simple things in life; a walk in the countryside, a random visit to a random town, walking around old castle ruins. I miss the pub culture, not necessarily because of the booze factor, but because pubs are good places to just talk with a friend about football, politics or anything else over a nice pint. I miss stuff being within walking distance and not having to constantly drive overly long distances.

Unfortunately I have no chance of visiting. Technically I don't have any family back home and seldom speak to my friends, so it's difficult to gauge how things are over there aside from the news (that's partly why I chose to post here). I am not sure how my American wife would like to live there, but she casually mentions it a lot, then gets angry when I take her seriously and say "ok, let's talk about it seriously then". She has never been particularly happy in the US and I honestly feel that she'd get along with British women much better as women here (like men) are very competitive.

A battle we constantly have and a wolf I'm trying to keep from the door is the dreaded baby issue. She wants a child, so do I, but I don't want to have a child and raise him or her in America when we are not financially well off and don't have family or friends to rely on. Maternity leave for women is a joke here and you have tens of thousands of dollars for a college fund and stellar health insurance. I just don't want to do it here and gamble with the life of another human being in a very foreign and alien country.
Hello Ethelred,

I have been away from UK for 10 years in ME. However I am lucky enough to be able to return every summer for 2 months. This has helped me to have an up to date picture of where the UK is and how it has changed.

Like you I am ready to go back, and hopefully will do in the near future. I miss the familiarity of it being home and all of the things that go with that. However it has to be acknowledged that despite the culture/history/people/pub lunches etc etc it isn't perfect and it does have many problems, particularly socially. There is a generation/section of UK community who unfortunately dominate british culture (IMO) in a very negative way. From this viewpoint I would be going back as much as possible with eyes fully open and not with rose tinted glasses.

Reading through all of your posts here I can only say it sounds like you may be looking at going from the frying pan into the fire. I know you said that you don't want people responding to your post who are just going to bad mouth the UK or the idea of going back there. However you have to be realistic.

One of your main points about the US you dislike is that you don't have friends or family, yet you also say you have no friends or family in UK. You have little money in the US. In UK it will not be much different, plus the cost of living in UK is probably a fair bit higher than the states.

Like another poster said, I think you need to do something to ensure you have a more precise, accurate and detailed picture of what your life will be like in UK, and of what society in UK is like.

Regular pub lunches and visits to old castles will only satisfy you to some point.

If you are aware of all the positives (of which there are many) and the negatives (of which there are many) of life in the UK and then still make the decision to move, you will be better able to prepare for and cope with it once you are there.

Good luc
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 9:22 am
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Ethelred, I know you said you cant take citizenship and why, I understand your thinking completely.

Some people overcome this decision because of the realities of having to deal with USCIS and the knowledge that if things change (life sometimes throws a curve ball) having citizenship will allow a relocation to the states. Especially important if you have family members still living there.

As I say I understand and had some really difficult moments dealing with this myself.

I found that were a number of people who felt as I did, and ended up going through the ceremony, because of the risk of losing the green card by moving to another country.

Best wishes, hope you find a way to be where you want to be.
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 9:45 am
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by GoldCoastMag View Post
Ethelred, I know you said you cant take citizenship and why, I understand your thinking completely.

Some people overcome this decision because of the realities of having to deal with USCIS and the knowledge that if things change (life sometimes throws a curve ball) having citizenship will allow a relocation to the states. Especially important if you have family members still living there.

As I say I understand and had some really difficult moments dealing with this myself.

I found that were a number of people who felt as I did, and ended up going through the ceremony, because of the risk of losing the green card by moving to another country.

Best wishes, hope you find a way to be where you want to be.
Got to agree with this. You wouldn't want to go to UK and find in XX years you want/need/have to go back to US. Regards your reasons not to (that you can't be dishonest and swear allegiance etc) I would put those principles to one side and bite the bullet.
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 1:04 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by Ethelred_the_Unready View Post
As for the work thing, I think it boils down to the corporate world here being more competitive. I don't like the whole cubicles thing either. There is no teamwork or helping out, just lots of backstabbing and covering of one's arse. I dread going to work every day. My colleagues and manager are very cruel people and other places I've worked at here have been the same.
Originally Posted by Ethelred_the_Unready View Post
How are your kids adjusting to UK life? Being born in the US, it would be essentially a foreign country at least to them? I'm glad you're able to do what's best for you and your family. I think that many Brits underestimate the culture shock of living in the US because of the common language.
Work - A lot of what's been said in this thread resonates with me, and I don't work in the corporate world, I work in a university library. I refuse to buy into the work culture here, the self-centred-ness, backstabbing & territoriality. I've been there 17 years, I'm quite senior, and retiring in about a year, so I have the luxury of doing and saying what the hell I like. America prides itself on free speech and other freedoms, but "speaking truth to power" and just generally saying what you feel seems to be frowned on here.

Children - If it is time for you & your wife to have children, you should consider doing so. Remember that you can move your child or children abroad quite easilly before school age, but it rapidly becomes more of an issue (education, friends, culture etc.) as they approach teenage years.

As for visiting the UK, it would be good if you and your wife could go there for a couple of weeks holiday. Unfortunately we seem to be in an era of high air fares, though..
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

I'm in Canada, but like Victor Meldrew, return to the UK for a couple of months (or more) each year.

You are right in thinking your health problems will be deatl with more easily in the UK. The NHS is still there and still free.

University education is more of a problem. The tuition fees are making it more difficult for mature students to go to university, so you might be out of the frying pan into the fire, if you return to the UK hoping it will be easier to get a degree. I suggest you research your options carefully. Like the USA, it is increasingly difficult to get a job without a degree.

It strikes me that your lack of friends may be because of living in 3 states in 10 years. Personally, it always takes me a while to put down roots. I don't really expect to have many friends until I've been in a place at least 3 years. We are all different, but you couldn't expect to make friends instantly in the UK either.

I'm struck by the sacrifices you are making for your wife -- her student loans stopping you attending college, her wish to be with her aging mother stopping you returning home.

How old is her mother? I"m 60 this year. My mother is 85, and could live to be 95. If I was trapped looking after her, I'd be in my seventies before I was free.

I think you need to have a long talk to your wife about your joint futures, and how you can both fulfill your needs and dreams.
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 4:30 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by Editha View Post
I'm struck by the sacrifices you are making for your wife -- her student loans stopping you attending college, her wish to be with her aging mother stopping you returning home.
This really caught my eye as well.

Originally Posted by Editha View Post
I think you need to have a long talk to your wife about your joint futures, and how you can both fulfill your needs and dreams.
Agreed. If sacrifice is constantly only being made by one person, that can eventually lead to resentment among other things. An honest, candid conversation without blame is what is needed here. Good luck and I hope everything works out.
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Old Feb 12th 2012, 8:57 pm
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Default Re: After almost a decade.....

Originally Posted by Editha View Post
I'm in Canada, but like Victor Meldrew, return to the UK for a couple of months (or more) each year.

You are right in thinking your health problems will be deatl with more easily in the UK. The NHS is still there and still free.

University education is more of a problem. The tuition fees are making it more difficult for mature students to go to university, so you might be out of the frying pan into the fire, if you return to the UK hoping it will be easier to get a degree. I suggest you research your options carefully. Like the USA, it is increasingly difficult to get a job without a degree.

It strikes me that your lack of friends may be because of living in 3 states in 10 years. Personally, it always takes me a while to put down roots. I don't really expect to have many friends until I've been in a place at least 3 years. We are all different, but you couldn't expect to make friends instantly in the UK either.

I'm struck by the sacrifices you are making for your wife -- her student loans stopping you attending college, her wish to be with her aging mother stopping you returning home.

How old is her mother? I"m 60 this year. My mother is 85, and could live to be 95. If I was trapped looking after her, I'd be in my seventies before I was free.

I think you need to have a long talk to your wife about your joint futures, and how you can both fulfill your needs and dreams.
Hi Editha,

60 is not old anyway. Her mother is 68, but has recently recovered from a life threatening illness. As my wife is Latin American, they are close and look out for their families. Her mother doesn't have anyone else, so I can't really put any more pressure on her to consider the UK as it just leads to arguments and her feeling bad for keeping me here.

Friends; I lived in Florida for almost 6 years of the 9 years I've been in the US. I simply have never been able to break the ice with Americans or find some common ground. The ignorant comments towards the UK have sort of worn me down over the years, along with having to defend my country against such ignorance. I find it difficult at work because people just don't really talk much, or if they do, it's about themselves or their kids.

I know (disappointingly) Britain put the tuition hike thing into law, but that wouldn't really affect me say studying accountancy at a regular college part time and would not leave me tens of thousands of dollars in debt and of course, the student loans I co-signed for my wife would not be a factor.

I've realised that the UK is no longer an open door, but it is a nice idea in theory and reminiscing keeps the more severe depression largely at bay. I know I have to let go of the notion at some point. If I win the lottery I'll buy a house in the Cotswolds for my wife and I and I'll bring her mother over too and buy her a pad of her own. At least then, everyone's happy!

I just don't like the American rat race or the superficial, money and greed driven society. Not for a Black Country, Wolverhampton Wanderers supporting, Labour voting bloke like me who doesn't give a rat's arsehole about money, cars, careers or being one of the herd.

Last edited by Ethelred_the_Unready; Feb 12th 2012 at 9:00 pm.
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