US Expat Living in London, Interview with Katherine

Published: 19 Aug at 4 PM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Katherine is originally from Maine, USA. She moved to NYC in 1998 to further her education and spent semesters abroad in Grenoble, France and Bologna, Italy. Katherine boarded a one-way flight to London in 2003 and never looked back. Although Katherine will always be a country girl at heart, she's now truly a city girl. In 2009 Katherine took British citizenship and now considers herself more of a dual national rather than an expat. Her blog The Dual Life (see listing here) is about the finer things in European life - travel, culture, history, food, and natural beauty.

Meet Katherine - US expat in London
Meet Katherine - US expat in London

Here's the interview with Katherine...


Where are you originally from?
Maine, USA

In which country and city are you living now?
London, England

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been here 10 years and as much as I love to travel, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Why did you move to England and what do you do?
I moved with a job and stayed for love - love of a wonderful Italian man and love of London. I'm the Head of Human Resources at a food company and when I'm not working, travelling, or blogging, or eating, I study aromatherapy and write screenplays.

Married a wonderful Italian man on Lake Como June 2013.  Sadly George Clooney declined his invitation.
Married a wonderful Italian man on Lake Como June 2013. Sadly George Clooney declined his invitation.
Did you bring family with you?
I didn't bring any family with me when I came but now that I'm married you can say that my family is with me here!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I always wanted to work abroad (especially after studying in France and Italy) so I was always on the lookout for the opportunity. I was in the elevator at work one day with the right person at the right time and I mentioned this ambition to work abroad. Six weeks later I was flying JFK->LHR in Virgin Upper Class on a one-way ticket. Lesson = life is all about who you know and timing.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I was lucky in that my work environment was full of expats from all over the world so the transition felt easy. Even 10 years later my friends are mostly expats. It's so easy to make friends with other expats because you instantly have something in common - a shared interested in the local community.

What are the best things to do in London; anything to recommend to future expats?
Where to begin? London has an insane number of attractions, bars, and restaurants. My favourite thing to do honestly is just to walk around and take in all of the beautiful architecture. Also now that the Barclays cycle scheme is in place, cycling is a fun, safe and convenient to get around. Just watch out for the double decker buses!

What do you enjoy most about living in London?
The constant variety that London has to offer.

10 years ago you couldn't get a decent cocktail in London but now you can especially at upscale places like the Blue Bar in the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge
10 years ago you couldn't get a decent cocktail in London but now you can especially at upscale places like the Blue Bar in the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge
How does the cost of living in London compare to the US?
London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. However, I was living in New York City before I moved to London so I think that they're quite comparable. Dining out is more expensive in London compared to New York but you can find (slightly) better value accommodation to live in here. This has more to due with the fact that London is more spread out compared to how compact New York is. All those millions of people living on top of each other.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in London?
Occasionally the public transport can have problems but the London Underground is one of the oldest systems in the world so it's still doing pretty well considering.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be? Bring as few personal possessions as possible or plan to put things into storage. Rented accommodation almost always comes furnished in London and the space is teeny, tiny.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest aspect by far has been the emotional strain put on my family back in Maine for me living so far away. I was in London about 3 years when my mother finally asked me directly "You're not coming back are you?" Er, no. I thought that was always obvious but I guess she didn't want to face the fact. Plus I now have an Italian mother-in-law who worries how she'll communicate with my future hypothetical as yet non-existent children in English. I tell her that I expect her help in teaching them Italian.

My English colleagues made me this commemorative picture as a joke in April 2011 (because I'm obsessed with the royals!)
My English colleagues made me this commemorative picture as a joke in April 2011 (because I'm obsessed with the royals!)
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the local customs and be respectful but also be an unofficial ambassador from your country. Educate the locals on what your country has to offer. Throw a 4th of July or Chinese New Year party. People generally love to learn new things about other cultures and who doesn't love a party?!
  2. There will be times when things feel uncomfortable or foreign. That's part of the whole experience. Overtime these experiences will be fewer and far between. Have gratitude for the opportunity you've been given and remember how many people would kill to be in your shoes.
  3. One of the most frustrating things about moving to a new country can be just getting the basics set up - telephone, internet, bank account. This is to be expected, especially in Europe. But this too shall pass.
  4. Create support networks around you - both locally and find new ways to keep in touch with old friends. Technology makes this so much easier these days with Skype, Facetime and social media. Your relationships and how you communicate will evolve after you move but for those important to you you'll always stay in touch.
  5. Never start a sentence with "back home in [insert home country]" and end it with "[insert something you don't like about local country] would never happen."


Swearing allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II and all her successors in 2009
Swearing allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II and all her successors in 2009
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I love to tell stories which is why I've always sat front row in history class. I tell lots of stories on my blog The Dual Life about my travels, all the food I eat (which is a lot), and my search for the ultimate aromatherapy blend.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Leave me a comment on The Dual Life Facebook Page and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingKatherine is an American expat living in England. Blog description: American/British national blogs about travel, food, and natural beauty.
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