Over the past few months, particularly thanks to all the Brexit drama, Scott and I have seen lots of blogs about living in the UK or living in England that are highly negative. There are articles about people moving away from the UK and numerous forums about why England sucks.
We both love living in England. We’ve setup roots here, have great jobs that we enjoy and we’re growing our blogging business out of this great country. But we also know there are downsides to living here – just like with anywhere.
It’s for all these reasons why we wanted to write a totally barebones honest blog about the pros and cons of living in England.
The Pros and Cons of Living in England
This is not a guide to the pros and cons of living in the UK as we haven’t lived in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Although they’re all part of the UK and have some similarities with living in England, we’ve only visited those countries a handful of times.
So beautiful as they are, we purely want to concentrate on the pros and cons of living in England… based on our joint (almost) 30 years of living here.
Between us, we’ve lived in just over half a dozen different counties throughout England, so this blog is based on that experience. The experience of seeing how different villages, towns and cities compare throughout this beautiful little country we call home.
Pros of Living in England
The Great British Countryside
Patchwork fields, rolling hills, deep green forests and even bright blue seascapes. England easily has some of the most wonderful countryside to explore.
And often a favourite pastime of locals is to don some wellies or walking boots and go in search of fresh air – whether in woodlands and fields or up mountains and on beaches.
This one might come as a surprise to a lot of you but English weather has a lot of good qualities.
For one, we love that we get to see a variety of seasonal weather. Snow at Christmas, sunshine in the summer, thunderstorms, gales and wind throughout the year and crisp autumn days are all possible within England.
This ensures we’re rarely bored by the weather or our varied wardrobe!
Plus, the ever changing weather always gives us something to talk about when running low on conversation topics with acquaintances and work colleagues.
Chocolate Box Villages
Honey-coloured stone, thatched roofs, bright and colourful window boxes and bunting adorning village high streets everywhere; these are just some of the things to love about quintessential English villages.
Some of the prettiest villages in England can be found within the Cotswolds, but Devon, Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria all have villages to die for too. When visiting an English village, mooching in the independent shops and having afternoon tea are two top ways to spend your time.
While other countries have a better claim on artists than England does, no one can doubt what this little country has done for literary works of art.
Jane Austen, The Brontë Sisters, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R Tolkien… the list goes on!
And not only that, but these authors and many more have often set their stories and poetry within various towns, counties and villages across England.
TV and Film
Alongside famous works of literature, England’s TV and film industry is also thriving.
The BBC is the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation and has some of the most amazing dramas and original shows well worth a watch. In fact, shows like The White Queen, Downton Abbey, Killing Eve, The Office and Planet Earth have all done well across the globe.
Historic Buildings and Places To Visit
History reveals that England became inhabited more than 800,000 years ago, while many different groups of people have lived here over the years including the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings.
Basically, England has a rich and diverse history.
And this history can be seen throughout top places to visit in England such as London, Salisbury, Oxford, York, Bath, Cheltenham, Chester, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Tintagel and Warwick to name just a few.
Day Trips and Weekend Getaways
Although not the smallest country in Europe – Vatican City in Italy anyone? – the UK is still considered to be a fairly small country compared to the rest of Europe and definitely compared to the US.
- A two-hour drive can take you from London to the coastal city of Brighton
- Driving for 90 minutes gets you from Bristol to the stunning countryside of Devon or even the depths of Wales
- Kendal in the Lake District is just 2.5 hours from the gate of Scotland: Glasgow
- While a Eurostar from London to Paris or Brussels takes just 2 hours 15 minutes
Food and Drink
England is a highly multicultural country, which means you’ll find all kinds of cuisines here ranging from Italian, Indian and Chinese to Thai and Caribbean.
But traditional local food is also one of the top pros of living in England.
Cosy pubs, quaint tea shops, charming patisseries and bakeries, Michelin-starred restaurants, seaside fish ‘n’ chip shops; what’s not to love?`
Dog Friendly Places and Cities
Unlike some European countries, England is super dog friendly!
There are a huge number of attractions and places to visit throughout the country that are pet friendly alongside plenty of places to eat and drink with your pup by your side.
Plus, public transport is dog friendly too with buses and trains allowing dogs on board for free.
The National Health Service (NHS)
Although many locals have lots to complain about when it comes to our National Health Service (NHS), we must remember that we’re one of the luckiest countries in the world because of free healthcare.
Need we remind you about the shocking $109,000 bill a man received after suffering from a heart attack in the US?
We don’t have that worry here in England.
Community and Acceptance
Although the UK has had some bad press recently since Brexit has stirred up all kinds of arguments and troubles, we must remember that these experiences are in the minority.
On an average day-to-day basis, this beautiful little country is full of acceptance and a sense of community across all ethnicities, age groups, sexual orientations and genders.
As an example, Pride Month is huge in England with many cities putting on buzzing parades and carnivals, as well as free music festivals and positive demonstrations to support the LGBT community.
Cons of Living in England
I know, I know. We put weather in the living in England pros list but it’s safe to say that the English weather is a contentious subject.
Although there’s lots of variety when it comes to the weather throughout the year, the vast quantity of rain and overcast days can get tiresome after a while.
The Eurovision Song Contest
Didn’t expect this one did you? Well, need we remind you that the UK often comes last at the Eurovision Song Contest and certainly in the bottom dozen year after year.
Each year, you’ll often find us locals shouting at the TV about how the show has too much political bias against our poor little country.
Expensive. Unreliable. Too much engineering work. Sadly, England and the whole of the UK has a lot to learn when it comes to train travel.
I often hear myself saying: “Why oh why can’t we be more like Italy?”
Although it’s easy to get from A to B in the car, driving in England can be less than desirable due to congested narrow roads, frequent accidents, roadworks and tons of potholes everywhere.
Driving in England is certainly a challenge!
£400,000 for a tiny apartment?
£950,000 for a detached house?
£200 for a monthly travel card?
£50 for dinner for two?
£25 for a cinema date?
Yep, these are London prices – albeit average ones.
London is expensive to live in but it’s also quite expensive to visit. We usually only manage a long weekend in London before we remember that holidaying abroad is so much cheaper!
Small Houses and Close Neighbours
When travelling in the US, we’re often jealous of how big the houses are and how far they are from the nearest neighbour.
In England, you should expect relatively small houses, narrow roads and neighbours within a stone’s throw of your house – unless you have a big budget or don’t mind living in the countryside.
Sharing your boundary line is also quite common in England thanks to the vast amount of terraced and semi-detached houses found here.
Before we get into this one, you should remember that this is a stereotype and certainly not true of everyone living in England or the UK.
Brits are notorious the world over for having a binge drinking culture. Think men downing beers in pubs. Couples drinking bottles of wine between them every week. Students going on nightly benders.
You only have to type “Binge Britain” into Google to see what we mean about this type of culture.
But this label isn’t true of everyone and it’s something that is slowly falling by the wayside thanks to our thriving coffee and tea culture.
Sadly, we don’t have the cleanest country in the world. Far from it in fact.
Litter is something we’ve noticed more and more of since having a dog and it’s proving to be a real problem.
Crisp packets and drinks cans litter city streets. Plastic carrier bags and trolleys litter countryside brooks and rivers. Drivers throw stuff out of their windows during road trips. And children drop sweets, chocolates and other food items seemingly everywhere they go.
And London? Well… residential houses rarely have dustbins to put their rubbish in meaning bin bags are left on the streets until they’re collected by bin men – but not before foxes have ripped open the bags in search of scraps.
Brexit and Politics
Although we don’t want to get into a heavy political debate right now – we’ll save that for another blog post – we do want to mention Brexit in this living in England article as it’s definitely important.
At the time of writing (July 2019), it’s not totally clear what’s going to happen with Brexit. It was supposed to happen back in March then April and now October, but our government can’t seem to agree on what an exit from the EU should look like.
It has left the country divided, almost in two, and this uncertainty is both upsetting and scary to most of us.
Although we have to trust that our government will do right by the public, some of us (myself included!) are not so confident in those running our country. Over the past few years, we’ve seen politicians floundering, lying and resigning – this doesn’t exactly instil confidence does it?
We shall see what happens – whether good or bad – and we’ll be here to update this blog post accordingly! 😉
The Constant Feeling of Being Misunderstood
Just because British people are known for having a “stiff upper lip” about things doesn’t mean we’re cold, aloof, unwelcoming, rude or unfriendly as a society.
We’re just closed books – you have to read a few chapters before realising that we’re the best companions to have on the road and in a cafe with you.
However, it’s this constant feeling of being misunderstood by other cultures that has its drawbacks. The more other people think we’re aloof, the less likely we are to open up.
So travel and live in England with an open mind… and a sense of acceptance will be returned in kind.
We love living in England. As you’ll see from the pros listed above, there are lots of them. But as with living anywhere, it does come with its downsides. We hope this list of pros and cons of living in England will help you to be a bit more prepared ahead of potentially moving here.
Is there anything else you want to know about living in England? Let us know in the comments below or via an email and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you might have.
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