American Expat Living in England - Interview with Megan

Published: 7 Jun at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Megan is a teacher, travel blogger and mother of three. Before moving to London, her family made 13 household moves around the world thanks to the U.S. Submarine Service. Their life of moving boxes and mayhem stayed with the family after military life ended and her husband traded Navy life for expat corporate life in London. Megan traded her classroom career for a new life exploring the world's classroom. She created A Passport Affair from her three favorite things…slow travel, slow food and the joy of discovering something new. Megan's expat blog is called A Passport Affair (see listing here)


Here's the interview with Megan...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from the US. I can't really claim that I'm from one area of the US since we've lived in so many places.

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

How long have you lived in England and how long are you planning to stay?
We've been here for almost 2 years and we'll stay until the UK gets tired of us out or something better/different comes along.

Having fun with the family w/ Small Car Big City, London
Having fun with the family w/ Small Car Big City, London
Why did you move to England and what do you do?
We moved because of my husband's job. I'm a teacher, which I thought would travel well, but doesn't due to licensing requirements. Even though I'm not in the classroom, I'm an educator at heart and try to work on volunteer projects related to education through UN online volunteers. I also write for and run a travel website.

Did you bring family with you?
When my husband and I announced we were moving to London, the three (almost) grown children announced they were coming as well. The youngest one now attends university in Scotland and the two older are in graduate programs in the UK.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We lived in the UK before when the children were little so I felt a bit more prepared this time. Even though the UK is an English-speaking country, there is still a cultural shift. The biggest transition was probably moving from suburbia to a huge city. I'm still adjusting to that, but I can't imagine being in a better city.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I haven’t really connected with many US expats. Most of my friends are "locals" or expats from around the world. I work at home now instead of in a traditional workplace, which means meeting people can be a challenge. I’m a crossfit enthusiast, which tends to be a very welcoming and diverse community, so I’ve met great people there. I've also met great people through the travel blogging community.

St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
London is a huge city with something for everyone. I think rather than suffering from a lack of things to do, residents suffer from FOMO (Fear of missing out) on the endless opportunities available in the city. So much to do, so little time.

What do you enjoy most about living in England?
I love the city itself. London is a very walkable city and I am happy to walk for miles and miles, sampling what the city has to offer. I find London's history particularly fascinating and can spend hours digging for interesting stories about the city. I also appreciate how easy it is to hop a plane/train/ferry to explore the rest of Europe.

How does the cost of living in England compare to home?
It is stunningly expensive. Someone told me not to do currency conversion when you buy something since it's really depressing. It was good advice. I just tell myself that my proximity to European travel is is a potential cost saver, but now I just travel more often.

Trooping of the Colour
Trooping of the Colour
What negatives, if any, are there to living in England?
The expense and the weather, although the memories of the long, wet winter will fade by summer (if it ever comes). The US tax situation is a nightmare, but it is no matter where you live in the world, sadly. Be prepared.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to England, what would it be?
I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared. No matter how organized you are or how much reading you’ve done, there are things you just can’t anticipate. Even if you’ve sorted out all the “big” things like housing and schools, the little things take a long time to sort out and can really impact your day to day life. Be patient and accept that it all takes time. Remind yourself why you decided to move abroad...repeat the list to yourself as necessaryl.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The transition from traditional workplace to work-from-home has been hard. I have to make more of a conscious effort to stay engaged and meet new people.
Dealing with poor level of UK customer service is enraging (I'm looking at you, BT).
I worry, along with every expat, about friends and family back home, elderly parents and emergencies.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I'm sure it will be ugly and involve a lot of moaning about what I miss. I'll probably start plotting another expat experience as soon as my feet hit US soil. Some of us are just born to roam :)

Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. It’s important to manage your expectations. It takes time to feel settled in a new place. Someone told me that it takes 2 to 3 years to truly feel “settled”, and in my experience, it’s true.
  2. I also think it’s important to manage the inevitable comparisons to the place you just left. It’s easy to idealize a place where you felt comfortable, had friends and a defined role in a community. You have to fill those initial months of doubt and longing with new London experiences to compensate for those expat blues.
  3. Also, don’t expect sympathy from friends. You are living the life everyone thinks they want. You have to find other expats for sympathy, empathy and venting sessions.
  4. London is ideally located for world travel. Use the opportunity and don't spend all of your vacation time back "home."
  5. Have a martini at Dukes. But just one. Two is one too many.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
A Passport Affair started out under another name as an expat blog and slowly shifted to full-on travel blog about slow travel, slow food and the occasional odd discovery.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?

About the author

Expat Blog ListingMegan is an American expat living in England. Blog description: The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of an Expat in London (by ExplatLondon)
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