Hardest. Decision. Of. My. Life. Surely it shouldn’t be, I moved to be with my soul mate? It did nearly break us. In the ‘early’ days, we know someone would have to give up everything they’ve ever known and make the 4000 mile journey across the pond. We were at a stale mate. It came down to one thing, despite spending close to 56 hours a week in my work van, I don’t meet the UK requirement in terms of what I needed to earn to be able to sponsor a UK visa. It was all down to me.
Pros and Cons of Living in America
(Updated: Dec 2019)
It’s not quite like deciding to move to mainland Europe or to go travelling for a few years, this is potentially a permenent decision putting me an 8 hour flight away from the country I grew up in and a whole bunch of people I love.
- Obviously this was the swaying point in my situation, I moved for love. I’d be getting to set up a lovely little life, hopefully having lots of awesome experiences and adventures together!
- The summers are hot! I love being hot and would happily spend all year living in the heat. Iowa isn’t hot year round (boo) but the summer’s do get very warm indeed.
- As an obsessed travel addict, emigrating means having whole new world to explore right on my door step. Rather than going to all the regular places a UK tourist would: Vegas, LA, Florida, New York, Grand Canyon…I have the opportunity to visit off the beaten places that I don’t think I would ever see otherwise.
- There’s not too many culture shocks. Across the years, I’d spent close to 6 months working and travelling America before moving, so it’s somewhere I’m familiar with and will already have a support network in the form of my half other’s friends and family. A grew up with a lot of American TV, films and music.
- There’s no language barrier. Well not massively. Yes some words are different, as is spelling. But it’s not like moving to a country that has a completely different language. Even if I use the ‘wrong’ words, I can understand everyone else (unless there’s regional slang) and read signs, menus etc with ease (just don’t ask me to try and pronounce any weird place names!)
- Space!!! Lots and lots of space! Small town America = A house bigger than anything I would ever be able to afford in England. I technically lived in the country in England, yet my 7 mile journey to work took 30 minutes because the roads are so full. My 3 mile journey to work takes 6 minutes. The roads in Iowa are a pure joy compared to what I’m used to!
- Cheap petrol. Fuel is around a 3rd of the price that it is in the UK, whoop whoop. I love being able to fill up my tank of my V6 Chevy for just $30. (Again, this is an Iowa thing, places like California have fuel prices similar to the UK)
- The option to become a dual national. Some countries will make you give up your previous citizenship if you decide to become a citizen of your adopted country. You could become a US citizen and yet you can still keep your British passport, essentially you are then free to live in both countries without the hassle of needing visas again.
- Technically you are free to live anywhere in the whole country. Depending on the situation of course. Bored of the snow and coldness in the northern states? Move to Florida! Like skiing? Move to Colorado! The landscape is so different all over the country that if you are prepared to move you could have a completely different lifestyle without having to keep country hopping. (Failing that, the Caribbean is just a short flight away from Miami…)
- Being away from my family. My family are my best friends and it’s tough leaving them behind. I am fully aware that each time I step on the plane, it may be the last time I ever see some of my family, it’s horrible. It’s all well and good at the moment as my parents are young enough to travel and me and my sister both have spare cash kicking around to be able to travel, but what happens in the future when people get too old to make the journey? Or if me and my sister end up with families of our own and will have to find money for not just a plane ticket for ourselves but maybe our other halves and children too?
- We will miss important mile stones in each others lives and I refuse to be one of these people that leave and don’t see their family for years at a time. I try not to think about it. Technology will be a huge help though, thinking how far it’s come just since I was working in the US in 2008, it’s amazing how close you can feel to people now even though in reality there are miles between.
- Homesickness. It’s a very real thing and now I’ve been living in the USA a while it’s something that I do struggle dealing with. Not only is it being away from family and friends, I miss food, places, weather, British attitudes, accents, I see London on the TV and I wish I was there etc.
- PAPERWORK! As a UK passport holder, I could easily live in pretty much any EU country (well maybe not now with Brexit…), throw America into the mix and I now feel responsible for the destruction of approximately 1/4 of the Amazon Rainforest due to the amount of paper I have used printing off visa forms and evidence. On top of the visa there’s; medicals, police checks, new social security numbers, health insurance, new car insurance, new phone contracts, USA driving licenses, tax returns, bank accounts and more! It’s a lot to happen all in one go and it’s pretty overwhelming. Unless you go through the process of becoming a citizen, you don’t certain rights, like being able to vote…I can’t even use mobile passport at airports.
- Winters. England comes to a grinding halt if it snows more than 1cm. Iowa can get feet of snow just in one night. I didn’t even realise places that aren’t the North or South pole could get as cold as -50c, Iowa does. I learnt this fast, when I went to Iowa on one of my visits, I thought ooo lovely the sun’s out, I’ll sit on the bench outside the terminal and wait for my other half…I lasted all of 3 minutes before going to stand back inside in the warm!!
- The distances. In a 3 hour radius, I can drive to something stupid like 7 major UK airports that fly all over the world. I’m 20 minutes from London Stansted which is like a giant open door to weekend breaks in random European cities (I’m currently obsessed with city ‘old towns’). In Iowa, the closest airport is 20 minutes away…yay!…but it only flies to Chicago. The biggest international airport is, you guessed it, Chicago! Which involves nasty connection flights or a 3 hour drive to get there, hmm! There’s also zero public transport outside of the big cities. No trains, no buses…the only real way to get around is to drive everywhere.
- Healthcare is damn expensive. My goodness. Not only do you have to pay monthly health insurance premiums (mine is $500 a month), but whenever you visit the doctors or hospital, you still come out with a MASSIVE bill on top! I’m not sure how people that are sick cope. It’s a huge worry that even a small accident could bankrupt me.
- Guns. (Most) American’s love them. I can’t stand the obsession with them and the amount of mass shootings are just unreal. Don’t worry one day all the ‘thoughts and prayers’ will stop them…right?
- Paid time off/maternity leave etc think again. Paid maternity leave doesn’t really exist. Pregnant people work right up until they are pretty much giving birth and then go back to work just a couple of weeks later. Companies also don’t have to offer paid vacation time. If you’re lucky you get 2 weeks.
The American Dream?
You often hear of the American Dream but I honestly think that for most people it’s a bit of a false hope. Well no actually, I’ll try and explain. America is viewed as the land of opportunity. You can create a business and become huge. But at what sacrifice? The American Dream seems to be that anyone can get to the point of living with disposable income, can retire early, have a big house, be successful…but it means working your finger to the bone and having no sort of work life balance. You’re only going to reach it if you work and work and work and work and work and if you have time, sleep.
Time off is almost viewed as a weakness. You want to go on holiday/vacation? People don’t take their days off in the fear that while they’re gone, the company will realise that they don’t actually need them and will then get rid of them. People would rather just continue working day in day out and to me that’s not living. Is a big house and a fancy car really worth it? The reality is, most people will work and work and still only just be getting by.
Are there any pros and cons of living in America that you’d add to the list?