America to England - Expat Interview With Laura

Published: 28 Jan at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Since 2010, Laura has authored the successful blog, Happy Homemaker UK (see listing here). She is an American mom who resides in England. While living in America, Laura created children's clothing which was 'one of the best jobs I ever had. Cutting fabric was my zen'. Still using her creativity, Laura says, 'Although blogging is more cerebral and less hands-on than sewing dresses, it does fulfill my need to create something. I plan to bind my blog for my children as a memento of our time together in England'. Through Laura's blog, you can palpate her enthusiasm and her curiosity about her host country. Laura has a knack for drawing out interesting tidbits from English history, photographing drooling locations, and making interesting comparisons between her two cultures. Laura joins us today for an interview about her expat experience.

Meet Laura - US expat in England
Meet Laura - US expat in England

Here's the interview with Laura...

Welcome to Expat Blog, Laura! Tell us a bit about you.
It is a pleasure to be here. I am from the US, and have lived in Surrey, England for almost three years. Although we will not live here indefinitely, we don't know when we will return to the US. 

Why did you move?
We moved here for my husband's work. We were craving an adventure, so we jumped at the opportunity. 

What do you do?
Since I don't have a work visa, I keep my days busy with blogging and volunteering. I take a few classes, and I try to do and see as much as I can, especially on a sunny day! When the kids come home from school in the afternoon, I am in full ‘mom mode’.

Antiquing On Portobello Road
Antiquing On Portobello Road
Tell us more about your family.
We have two children, and we got a cat once we moved here. We brought our dog from America, which was not without hassle and worry. It was worth it, as we felt more settled once he joined us.

Describe your move to England.
I quickly learned moving with a family is complicated. We were overwhelmed by school choices. We knew we had to be within a commutable distance for my husband, but we knew nothing about local communities. There were a lot of moving pieces that we were trying to fit together from the US with little knowledge. It was an overwhelming time; fortunately it all worked out for the best.

It was a move we had been looking forward to for a long time. We knew an international move would be more challenging than a local one, and we knew the transition period would be temporary.

Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
Yes. The English are very welcoming, but it takes a while to get on their radar to be invited to things, as they already have an established group of friends.
Expats are an easy group to break into, and many expat moms don't have work visas either. We have a lot in common, however, it is a transient group that is always changing.

List Of Things To Do In London
List Of Things To Do In London
What are the best places to visit in your area? Any specific recommendations for expats?
I’m convinced there is no country in the world as dense with things to do as England.
My personal interests are in gardens, literature, and vintage antiques. Prince Charles’s Highgrove Garden is one of the most memorable gardens; however, there are countless gardens to visit that peak at different times. As for literature, famous authors’ homes and inspired locations are dotted throughout the country. With a little research, vintage shopping can be found locally.
I'd recommend expats in England contact their local council to visit Parliament when in session and to tour the Clock Tower & Big Ben. These memorable activities are only available to UK residents, not tourists.
For expats living in London, I’d encourage them to get into the countryside and see what else England has to offer. I love photographing quaint English villages and the bucolic countryside – to me, few places are as calm and beautiful. Cornwall is amazing.

English Garden Visits
English Garden Visits
What do you enjoy most about living in England?
We have been fortunate to live here during the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee, and 2012 Summer Olympics. Each event has been incredible.
England is a gorgeous place to live - beautiful architecture, amazing landscapes. It is so rich in history, the arts, and traditions.
We love the great access to the outdoors all year. Although it rains a lot, people generally ignore it. The air may be chilly, but rarely cold. Walking paths crisscross the country, making it easy to go for a stroll. Parks, green space, and gardens are everywhere. England is on island, therefore, there are miles of seashore to explore.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
This is one of the biggest disadvantages of living here. The cost of living is really high – housing, utilities, gasoline, etc. Sales tax is 20%. I have stopped converting the currency so I don’t faint at the cash register each time I make a purchase :)

What piece of advice would you offer to someone moving to the UK?
I’d suggest opening a bank account as soon as possible. It takes months to accomplish, and a bank account is necessary when setting up utilities, rent, etc.

Travel In Great Britain
Travel In Great Britain
When you return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
When we move back, we not only will be repatriating, but possibly moving somewhere where we know nobody. The transition for our children will be our biggest concern.
However, I must admit I am excited to own a home again – I can’t wait to choose my own paint colors and curtains! Woo hoo!

What are your top five tips for anyone moving to England?
I guess this is for anyone living anywhere:
  1. Become more extroverted. Put yourself out there and meet people. You are an amazing person – share your sparkle with others! FAWCO lists expat groups throughout the country (and around the world). These clubs provide the opportunity to form a good friendship base while living abroad.
  2. Be a doer. Take up a new hobby or sport, sign up for a cooking class, learn French.
  3. Be an explorer. Visit a local castle, stroll through a National Trust property, take a country hike, eat at a new pub, or spend the night in a hotel a few hours away. Make this week different from the last one.
  4. Be curious. Read about a time period that interests you; identify birds you don’t recognize; learn the names of different types of clouds; categorize the types of fungi growing in the forest.
  5. Be thankful. There are day-to-day frustrations with living here. Distract yourself by counting your countless blessings.

Beautiful autumn colours in England
Beautiful autumn colours in England
Tell us about your blog.
When I was young, I wanted to be a photojournalist for National Geographic. In a way, I am doing just that. As an English major and hobby photographer, blogging is a good way to meld my interests.
I started Happy Homemaker UK in 2010 to stay connected with friends and family in the US and to have something written to give to our children. I get very excited to share experiences and locations with readers and to reveal dots I’ve connected about the culture.

Thank you for your time, Laura. How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to England?
Thank you for hosting me here :) I can be contacted via my blog (see below).

Laura blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Happy Homemaker UK has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Laura, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 4 comments

Linda wrote 11 years ago:

Hi Laura, I LOVED reading this - your top tips are inspiring - I'm not an ex-pat, but will still take note!! Linda x

Sue wrote 11 years ago:

Hi Laura! I am a Canadian living and working in Surrey! I have been here 23 years, but also lived 7 years in Oregon! I came across your blog on the internet and am interested to share some of the same things about back "home" that you do. Home is home. There are indeed beautiful places here in England to experience and I hope you go on enjoying your time here. All the best, Sue T.

Shelley Roth wrote 11 years ago:

What a fun interview, Laura!

Jane wrote 11 years ago:

Ooh Laura! Just fabulous, my friend. I relished discovering more about you. J x

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