10 Things British Expats Should Leave in the U.K.

None of these will work in the States. (Photo via Keetsa)

None of these will work in the States. (Photo via Keetsa)

You don’t have to pack everything you own when you move to the U.S. Nor should you import your more negative attitudes. Consider ditching or storing the following before you set off.

Books you will never read
Only pay to import the tomes you’re sure you’ll open one day, or anything that has sentimental value. It’s time to find a new home for your Tolstoy collection and that 20-volume set of 1960s Encyclopedia Britannicas you display to look clever. Shipping heavy books is a huge no-no unless you have relocation funds to burn.

Spare sets of all your important documents and keys
Annoyingly, you may find yourself catching up with admin on return trips to the U.K. Or, you’ll have nominated someone U.K.-based to deal with this stuff on your behalf. Either way, stash a set of the relevant papers with someone responsible. The same goes for a spare set of keys to any property you keep in the U.K.

People phobias
Unhelpful states of mind for expats include anything, like social anxiety, which prevents you from making new friends and coming across as affable and open. If you know you have issues around socializing, try to get help before you leave the U.K., and ask yourself honestly whether you can cope with the move.

Your British model won’t work properly here because of the low voltage. So unless you like the idea of trying to evaporate water with something that pumps less hot air than a wheezy squirrel, buy yourself a new one when you land.

Your anti-American prejudice
Drop this while you’re still in the U.K. because, carried over, it’ll stop you making friends and having a nice time. Even if some of the stereotypes do turn out to be true, they won’t be true for everyone.

Cheap, heavy furniture
Think very carefully about what large items you want to pay to ship. How much do you really love that hulking Ikea chest of drawers and the dusty sofa you inherited from your dead great aunt? Storing them before you have a place to live could turn out to be a nightmare. Plus, you’ll have fun buying new stuff once you’re settled.

Your love of lamb and British-style bacon
These meat products probably won’t taste right in the U.S. even if you do find a vendor who sells them, so mourn them and move on. The few times I’ve managed to find supermarket lamb, or ordered it to takeaway, it’s been indelibly tough and gamey.

A forwarding address with your friends and family
Let everyone from your old life know where you’re setting up home so they can send you cards and parcels of British chocolate. These are much more comforting than an email someone’s bashed off in two minute.

Digital radios
America is dragging its heels in the audio-tech department. DAB radios don’t exist here so your British one won’t work. Sell it and buy an Internet radio.

Unhealthy relationships
Emigrating is a great excuse to slough off those friend you never liked that much anyway. Or ditch the significant other whose significance is waning.

What do you WISH you left in the U.K., expats?

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.
View all posts by Ruth Margolis.
  • Strongbow

    “Digital radios
    America is dragging its heels in the
    audio-tech department. DAB radios don’t exist here so your British one
    won’t work. Sell it and buy an Internet radio.”

    Apparently the author never heard of HD Radio here in the States…

  • expatmum

    I shipped a lot of stuff over that I swear, 20+ years later, is still in boxes. If you get wedding gifts or leaving gifts, or any gifts that you don’t like, don’t ship them. They won’t be any more attractive on this side of the Pond.

  • Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

    So how does British lamb differ from Ameticamn lamb? What makes British better? And who don’t you like Ametican bacon which comes in a near infinity of styles these days?

    • expatmum

      American bacon is very different from what most Brits know as bacon, although I love it when it’s really crisp. British bacon is thicker, has less fat and is more like what’s known as Canadian bacon here. Great in a sandwich with a fried egg.
      Lamb, well…… Most of the lamb I grew up with in GB was actually New Zealand lamb. Although lamb is definitely more of an acquired taste here, US lamb is fattier than what I was used to and just has a slightly different flavo(u)r. Don’t know whether that’s the meat itself or the way it’s prepared for sale.

      • Cheryl Krin

        British bacon is from the loin where as American bacon is from the belly, that’s the difference. Lamb here is mostly from New Zealand so I don’t know why it tastes different unless your local stores are selling Colorado lamb which is quite a bit different. It’s difficult to find despite being American and my Greek father-in-law always much preferred it to the ‘tasteless” New Zealand lamb. Most Americans just have never had lamb, I certainly had not until I traveled to the UK. I quite like it now but it is both difficult to find in any form and quite expensive.

        • Donna Perras

          Lamb that has not been frozen is wonderful here. Lamb that comes from New Zealand to the US has been frozen and once lamb is frozen it becomes strong and off tasting. If you broil fresh chops until just medium rare, they are amazing.

  • Salsify

    The most important thing about flying to America is to opt out of the scanners, which are not checked. Some have been found to give a radiation dose 200x an X-ray. You are told that flying gives you more radiation than a scan [ you can avoid this by flying at night protected by the earth’s mass ]. But the airport machine concentrates the radiation on and just under the skin. Quite damaging. Take the physical search. And remember that TSA workers have been found stealing phones, electronics, and valuables from the luggage. Keep important things with you. Some people find it worthwhile flying in or out through Canada.