American Expat Living in England - Interview With Cheryl

Published: 29 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Cheryl is a 30-something American girl who moved from the bright lights of New York City to England 7 years ago to settle down with her English "bloke". They live together in the Suffolk countryside with two crazy dogs and a bouncing baby boy born in July 2012. She loves exploring the beauty of rural England, taking photographs, reading novels, and being silly. She writes about life raising a baby in the UK, the challenges she faces with starting a family in a foreign country and everything else in between in her blog. Cheryl's expat blog is called Birth of a Mum (see listing here)

Meet Cheryl - American expat in UK
Meet Cheryl - American expat in UK

Here's the interview with Cheryl...

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Ft Myers, FL a sleepy snowbird destination on the Gulf of Mexico in the USA.

In which country and city are you living now?
I now live in Suffolk, England with my husband and our new baby boy.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been in Suffolk for just over 7 years and feel pretty settled so have no plans to leave, though who knows what the future brings.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved to England to settle down with my husband, who is from here. We met while I was living in NYC and he literally swept me off my feet and landed me in the UK. It was a huge culture shock going from the Big Apple to the English countryside but I love it here! I work in non-profit finance for my day job, but am currently on maternity leave, so at the moment my job is looking after my son.

Cheryl with her husband and son
Cheryl with her husband and son
Did you bring family with you?
I came to England with my husband, but I didn't have any other family with me.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I found the transition fairly easy. I was lucky to have people around me at all times and it helps that the language is the same here as at home.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I found making friends challenging because people don't tend to be as outgoing here as they are in the USA. However, over time I have made friends at work, through local groups and around my neighborhood. I don't socialise with any other American expats (I haven't found any yet!) but I have friends who are expats from other countries, including Spain, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Orford Castle - one of the many historical castles in the area
Orford Castle - one of the many historical castles in the area
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Suffolk is a great area for exploring the countryside and the coast. My favourite things to do are to visit the seaside towns, especially Aldeburgh and Southwold, and to discover the hundreds of beautiful country walks and farm shops. There are also some great castles around here to explore, like Orford Castle and Framlingham Castle.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I enjoy the work-life balance in England and how easy it is to travel. Companies provide employees with lots of vacation days so there are many opportunities to take long weekends and travel all over Europe.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
England is much more expensive than where I'm from, especially London which can be ridiculously pricey. But I found that since moving here I have learned to live more economically so it doesn't feel like I am missing out.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Living so far away from my family and friends has to be the biggest negative to living as an expat, especially now that I have a son because he has grandparents, cousins and aunts across the Atlantic. I can't tell you how much Skype has made the separation more bearable. The weather in the UK also isn't great - but luckily Spain and France aren't too far away if sunshine is needed desperately.

Cheryl walking her dogs through the countryside
Cheryl walking her dogs through the countryside
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn to love tea! The British like to solve all their problems with a cup of tea. And the sooner you get in on the tea rounds in the office the sooner you will have an official excuse to take a 15 minute break every couple of hours to go make some tea.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Passing my British driving test! The test is hard, really hard! I had been driving for over 10 years before moving to the UK and then took 10 hours worth of driving lessons when I got here and still nearly failed the test.

Southwold beach huts on the Suffolk coast
Southwold beach huts on the Suffolk coast
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Get behind the wheel as soon as you can. Your US driving license allows you to drive in the UK for a year before needing to get a British license, so take advantage of that and start driving. The sooner you figure out how to handle a double-roundabout, the better!
  2. Find your local farm shops and frequent them often. Many of the farm shops here also have their own cafes and restaurants with fantastic food and locally sourced ingredients!
  3. Sign up to a class. Most local colleges run leisure learning courses which are reasonably priced and a good way to meet new people. I did a fantastic photography course when I first moved here which was lots of fun and got me doing things around my local community.
  4. Volunteer with a charity. Another way to meet people is to volunteer with a local charity. The website Do-it has volunteering opportunities across the UK. There is nothing better than meeting new people and doing something good for the community at the same time.
  5. Don't be afraid to explore...just get in your car or on the train and go! England has so many beautiful landscapes, historical sites and unspoiled coasts which are never that far away.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started my blog birth of a mum last year when I was pregnant with my son as a way to share my pregnancy journey with family and friends back home. Once my son was born the blog turned into an outlet for me to share photos and stories about raising a baby in the English countryside. I discuss different issues about parenting in the UK and the trials and tribulations of being a working mother.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted via my blog or on twitter @birthofamum. I'm always happy to hear from expats who want to know more information about the UK.

Cheryl blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Birth of a Mum has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Cheryl, please also drop her a quick comment below.

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Comments » There is 1 comment

Michelle McAnally wrote 9 years ago:

Great thoughts and as an American expat in Scotland, I totally agree with everything- especially the driving bit! Thanks for sharing.

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