You Know You Are An Expat When …

Here is a little list about those moments/things that fondly remind me that I am a British expat in the US.

At first, these differences caused a bit of anxiety, but now, after six months, they occur with a fondness and lightness of heart that makes them more enjoyable.

Here is my list. What do you think – have you found the same where you moved to?

you know you are an expat

Going to a local grocery store is considered a trip out (you still love looking at all the different food, people etc).

You get overly excited when you find a brand of something from your home country and may or may not do a little happy dance (mine was for a Lion bar).

You spend far too long admiring the huge array of different flavours of food items and take far too long deciding which one you want.

You randomly and completely unintentionally insult someone because you use a word that has very different connotations in the country you are living in (I am not going to tell you what I said).

You get confused by everyday gadgets around the home and need a native to show you how it works (still shaking my fist and condemning the electric can opener).

Children say you sound weird.

You giggle and get people to repeat words that they pronounce in a way you find really cute, and then find the same thing happening to you.

You still try to get in on the wrong side of the car.

You get an overly inflated sense of pride when someone asks you for directions to somewhere, and you actually know where it is, and give a route to it that they can understand.


Do you have any others you could add? I would love to hear about any experiences or expat moments you have had.

Guest Post: Neighbourhood Watch – The Worst Places to Live in the US

I was approached by David, from Area Vibes, who wanted to write a guest post related to where to live (or not to) in America, based on the information collated on the Area Vibes website.

I have not used the site myself (nor received any endorsements or payments as this is currently an unsponsored blog), but from what I understand, the site uses various factors to ascribe a ‘livability score’ out of 100. This score, and the accompanying information, can then help anyone decide if a particular area would be suitable for them.

Below is the guest post where David shares some information about the worst places to live in the US – I would love to hear what you think of the areas mentioned. Do you agree? Have you, or are you, living in one of the places listed? Would you look for this information about an area before you moved – and would you find it useful? Let me know your thoughts in a comment!

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America. It’s the land of the free. The home of the brave. A golden gateway of opportunity. It’s one of the most powerful and economically rich countries in the world. Living there should be one of the best things you could ever do, right?

Well, like any other place, there are always a few bad apples. That is, there are some areas in the US that aren’t really conducive to experiencing the very best life has to offer.

Here are some of the worst places to live in America, and more importantly, why they are the worst places to live. Various ratings are taken into consideration, including:

• Infrastructure

• Transport

• Education

• Crime

• Housing

• Employment

• Taxes

Bridgeport, Connecticut
Whilst Bridgeport might be a nice place to live in terms of location and standard of living, you should also be aware that it’s probably best to have an extremely well paid job before moving here. Bridgeport is the most taxed location in the US. Consider somewhere like Cheyenne, Wyoming, where a family earning $75,000 will pay less than 4% tax on their income. In Bridgeport, this jumps to a staggering 22%.

Property taxes are also rather high. Earn over $100,000? Then you’ll be shelling out over $11,000 on property tax alone. Maybe this explains why Bridgeport has one of the highest unemployment rates at almost 12%.

Chicago, Illinois
The ‘Windy City’ hasn’t blown away all of the negative factors against living there sadly. It has a very high crime rate, coupled with similar unemployment levels. Private homes have suffered a spate of foreclosures, along with spending money on (and losing) the 2016 Summer Olympics bid.

Chicago maybe isn’t the best place to shop either. It has a sales tax rate of almost 10% – one of the highest in the country.

area vibes 1

Springfield, Massachusetts

Namesake of the famous Simpson’s family hometown, the real Springfield doesn’t have a lot going for it right now. It has a poor education system – 1 in 4 children do not make it to graduation. It also has a high violent crime rate which is over double the state average.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Whilst it’s a tourist’s paradise, the harsh reality is that Las Vegas is not a very good place to live or bring up a family. It is suffering from a difficult economic period right now. With a declining tax revenue and state aid fund, the education system has felt the effects. It has one of the worst pupil/teacher ratios and is one of the lowest areas for per-pupil spending.

area vibes 2

Camden, New Jersey

Recently voted across the board as one of the poorest cities in the US, Camden is not a good place to live for a multitude of reasons.

Take education. The budget is not adequate on a per-pupil basis. In 2012, the graduation level fell short of the state average of 86% to achieve a 49% rating. The national average is93% currently.  More shocking, only 3 out of 900 SAT takers were certified as being ready for college.

area vibes 3

It’s no picnic for adults either living in Camden. 40% of residents live below the poverty line, whilst crime rates are sky high. In 2012, there were over 2,500 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. This is 560% more than the national average! You actually have a 1 in 36 chance of being a victim to violent crime. Property related crime isn’t much better with a 1 in 11 chance.

Of course, every place will have its own benefits too. But it’s always handy to do a bit of research before moving to a new area. (Especially if that area is Camden!)

| Bio: David Hurley is a writer for Area Vibes, helping people find the best places to live in the US |

[Image source:,, & Wikipedia]

Join the Debate – How Immigrants Are Perceived

immigrants debate

I am often interested by the different perspectives of those who travel, or fellow expats who live and work abroad. By sharing their experiences and perspectives, it can sometimes challenge me to see something with fresh eyes, and more often than not, educate me on a particular issue.

With that in mind, I thought I would host a monthy debate focused around a quote, news story, blog post or event where people can offer their thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments, and get a real discussion going about it – so I hope you will join in.

If you do join, I would ask that you tweet about it/share on social media using #jointhedebate, so as many people can get involved as possible. Thanks!

Some questions to consider:

Do you think the media portrays immigrants in a negative or positive way?

Does the media give the impression that immigrants always receive benefits/financial assistance/housing?

Do you think what people understand about immigration mainly comes from the media?

Do you think immigration is misunderstood?

Do immigrants bring valuable skills, expertise and experiences with them?


Mid-Week Mentions Blog Series #3

Welcome to my bi-weekly blog series where I share my reading recommendations and anything I think is worth looking at from online. If you have anything you would like to suggest, please leave a comment.

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Currently Reading | Inherit the Dead by various authors (20 have contributed)

Finished Reading | Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

I would recommend Apple Tree Yard as it keeps you guessing what has happened between Yvonne, the well respected, professional geneticist and the mysterious man she has an affair with. It all starts during a court case, and unravels to reveal why she is there, and how the relationship with the mysterious gentleman began.

Follow my Pinterest board Books I’ve Read (2014) for more reading recommendations/reviews

Do you have an author or book you think I should read?

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Liked Online | I stumbled upon an online travel site called Suitcase Magazine which has a super range of articles to get your wanderlust flowing. There are photo diaries from around the world, food reviews and fabulous interviews. I have shared a few pieces on Twitter, as it is an enjoyable read, and worth sharing.

Jessica Lynn Writes is a blog I have been enjoying lately. She is a fellow LDR survivor, and has recently returned to the United States from living in Italy. She writes about her life as a military wife and mother, and a range of topics. If you have not had a look yet, be sure to pop along!

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Interesting News Online | A news story from Ecuador has provided some very spectacular images recently. A volcano has been very active and erupted, sending a huge plume of ash 6 miles high (10 km) into the sky, on 4th April. The photographs via the BBC News site have been amazing to see.

I often keep track of news stories from Cornwall, UK as I like to know what is going on back ‘home’. One story, that was 37 years in the making, captured my interest as it is about a ‘drift card’ (released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) on December 30, 1976 that has been found on Perranporth beach. It caught my attention because the card was released exactly two years before I was born … to read the story, and find out what the card was doing floating for 3000 miles across the Atlantic, click here.

Is there something online you would recommend?

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Watched Online | A friend shared a video from Honey Maid that responded to some very negative comments that were made about a gay couple featured (momentarily) in an advert they created about one of their products under a ‘This is wholesome’ ad campaign. The ad was showing different types of families, in all their diversity – it created some bad feelings among people who felt that showing a gay couple as parents was a step too far.

I thought I would share a video that shows what an act of kindness could potentially do. I think it is a good reminder that being respectful of others, and showing kindness is something we should all do more of.

 Subscribe to, and follow, my YouTube channel for more great videos, and instant access to my vlog updates!

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Sharing from The Move to America | My second author contribution for LDR Magazine, How To Have Dinner Dates At A Distance went online a couple of weeks ago. I have written about doing this before, but if you are currently in an LDR, and need a few ideas, do take a look at it.

Thanks for reading, and for any recommendations/suggestions you share in the comments below!


Things To Do In Toledo, Ohio {Part Two}

35 things to do in toledo

If you would like to read part one, which includes information about Toledo Zoo, Fossil Park, Imagination Station and Toledo Botanical Gardens, click What To Do In Toledo, Ohio {Part One}

Col. James M. Schoonmaker & Maritime Museum | This attraction is opening April 26th 2014 and includes many artefacts, landscaped park areas, a ship to walk through with interactive exhibits and many other fun historical things to see and do.

Admission for adults to the museum is $8 (or $12 for the museum and Schoonmaker), seniors and children $7 ($10 for both) and children 0-5 go free.

Exterior view of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Toledo Museum of Art - source

Toledo Museum of Art | A great museum with over 30,000 works of art from America, Europe, Asia, Africa, ancient civilisations, the medieval era – and much more. There is a good mix of contemporary, graphic and decorative art, plus sculptures and glass work.

Admission is free, but for special exhibitions or events, there may be a separate cost.

Toledo Mud Hens Baseball | A minor league baseball team with a great stadium that is used for games and special events/promotions including themed family friendly matches, picnics and parties. It has nearby places to eat and lots of things to keep you entertained.

Ticket costs can be found on the website, and depend on the event/game/promotion.

Mud Hens stadium - source

Mud Hens stadium - source

Oak Openings Preserve Metropark | A well maintained park with horse trails, indoor and outdoor picnic areas, fishing, playgrounds and more. A range of wildlife can be seen and many places to walk around and explore.

Admission is free.

Where would like to visit? Do you know of any other places in, and around, the Toledo, Ohio area?



Life According to Tiger: Plastic Bags & Me

intro tiger 2Hello. I’m Tiger, the new catributor on The Move to America blog. I am one of the ‘furry flatmates’ of the ginger lady who came to live with us.

I write about what I get up to and what I observe. If you want to read my last post, it can be found here – Life According to Tiger: A Taste for Tea

Observation № 2
My second observation of the ginger lady is that she really likes to keep things neat and tidy.
When she goes shopping, she collects the plastic bags that carry the food in to the apartment. Then she does something strange. She puts the plastic bags inside another, bigger bag. I like plastic. I think ginger lady does too, otherwise why would she store them? I decided to take a closer look … ginger lady was not too pleased.

Meow for now!

tiger plastic bags

tiger signiture