I once compared the process of relocating to the U.S. with that of starting school for the first time. For the initial few months, you’re a little reticent to talk to your new classmates, to learn a new set of rules, or to leave behind the familiar surroundings of home. However, and I’m going to extend the metaphor here, living in the U.S.—at least after some years—is actually more akin to starting university for the first time: a few drinks, a burgeoning social life, and several philosophical awakenings later, you suddenly wonder why you didn’t move away sooner. In layman’s terms, I’ve begun to realize that I might never move back to the U.K.
Now, don’t get me wrong—there is certainly a sizable list of things I will always miss about my homeland. There are also many things I would change about the U.S. But the longer I’ve lived here, the more I’ve come to find—unlikely as this may seem—that Americans take me to heart on a much greater level than do my compatriots. Granted, this is largely the result of the following two rather critical points: Americans love a British accent, and I have a British accent.
But don’t be fooled. There is more to the British-American friendship dynamic than the act of one salivating over the other’s pronunciation of “schedule.” For example, I love that Americans seek me out for an intricate rundown of the Royal Family lineage, or for a clear definition of the word “chin wag,” or for a sincere justification of beans on toast. In this sense, I’ve become something of an ambassador for my country, empowering Americans with a greater understanding of the United Kingdom and its many quirks. You could say I’m doing my national duty simply by living in the United States.
And speaking of empowerment, the U.S.—with its culture of exceptionalism and self-expression—continues to bring out the best in me. Prior to my move, I’d found it hard to articulate what exactly I wanted from life and harder still to achieve it. It wasn’t that success was completely unattainable in the U.K., but rather that the U.K. lacked—as a state—the shoot-for-the-stars mentality of the U.S. Not only has exposure to this outlook informed my ever-increasing confidence, but it has told me time and again that this confidence is not subject to someone else’s permission.
Nor, for that matter, is my choice of habitat. Sure, I could move back to the U.K., but why do that when there is a lifetime of exploration right here in the United States? To that end, the cities of New York, Boston, Portland, Seattle, and Chicago have slowly found their way onto my expanding list of places to live, replacing the likes of London, Liverpool, and Manchester. Of course, even if I wanted to relocate to a city in the U.K, there is the small matter of money. This brings me on to my next point.
The cost of airline tickets from Chicago to London is often in the region of $1,500 for a one-way trip. If this were the only expense, it might be worth a shot. However, in addition to taking on a higher cost of living, I’d also have to contend with my American wife’s visa costs, which include a healthcare surcharge on top of a potential £1,049 ($1,628) for the application. These figures are not, I suppose, insurmountable in the longterm; however, their existence is certainly enough to make the process of moving home even more daunting. This is especially true, in fact, because the low cost of living in Indianapolis—my current city—is another deciding factor in my decision to stay in the U.S.
And so, while I cannot completely rule out a permanent return to the U.K., the United States does seem more and more like home. This is a good thing, not least because I still have another seven years remaining on my own visa. But whereas America feels like familiar territory, my homeland grows ever more distant. Sure, I’ll pay old Blighty a visit every now and then—just as I once visited my parents in between university semesters. But as I continue my education at what is often referred to as the University of Life, America—for now at least—has all the marks of the perfect lecture hall.Read More