What I miss about the UK and what I would miss here

Homesickness is common and can be hard to get your head around at first. Alexis Goldberg, the France Buying Guide’s writer on the ground, offers us her take on what she misses most from the UK (as well as what she would miss if she moved back!)

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“We are often asked this question: what do you miss about living in the UK? The short answer is: very little indeed! Once you move away from the UK, life takes on a completely different perspective (- as indeed does the UK itself!). It seems so small over there now – which I suppose brings me on to what we would miss if we were to move back to the UK and the short answer to that is: a lot!

I think most expats would say that they miss family and friends the most – not “things”. It’s true that you will no longer be able to pop in on a relative or friend and there are definitely times when you wish they were all a little closer.

Having said that, in our case, three of our four children live abroad anyway and the times we DO spend with friends and family when they visit us here are special and are for longer periods than, say, an evening or a meet up for a quick coffee. It’s far more relaxing to catch up properly, and our friends know that they don’t have to drive home at the end of the evening! So missing friends and family is something one does not really dwell on a great deal. In addition, it’s worth noting that these days, living anywhere in Europe means only a short hop back to the UK. 

When we first came to live in France, I suppose it is true to say we missed shops being open all through the day. The general closing time between midday and 2pm does take a bit of getting used to, but you quickly adapts to this way of life and realises that a proper lunch break is good for us all.

It is also true to say that the wealth of convenience foods in the UK is something which I have occasionally missed, certainly at the beginning. However, now I relish mooching around the wonderful markets, picking out the freshest ingredients and creating my own meals. Whatever anyone says, they always taste better and one feels much more creative in the kitchen!

Most supermarkets here in the South of France have an English section (along with a Spanish, Mexican and Chinese section too…) where you can buy such staples as baked beans, chocolate digestives, marmite, good old PG Tips and so on. Yes, tea can be slightly on the dodgy side here (i.e. weak) so this is something we tend to stock up on when we return to the UK or get friends to bring over with them (although you can get it here, it is much more expensive).

English books? We have two or three bookshops which stock them and nowadays the French have clocked on to the fact that their neighbours, us Brits, love their country and they cater for us all around.

We have English TV here too, so my husband can still get his sports fix. He does sometimes say watching Formula 1 with French commentary is not quite the same. The French love their sports though – ok, they don’t quite “get” cricket – but if you are a rugby or football fan, you will find all the main games on major channels on French TV, albeit in French.

My son-in-law, who lives in Germany, would say that he misses cricket and cheddar cheese. My son, who lives in the US, would say he misses good old English pubs. These are things that do not spoil one’s life abroad, but instead become things to look forward to on visits back to the UK.

I think if we were to go back to the UK now we would, as I said at the start, miss a whole host of things here in the South of France: the space, the climate, the relaxed way of life, the wonderful fresh food (and wine…!), the Mediterranean Sea, the ability to get in your car and be in Spain in an hour, the sense of community…I could go on!

For most people there will always be a certain nostalgia for one’s home country, but this is really not something to lose any sleep over. Vive la France!

One final thought – if you are about to leave for your new home or are in the process of repatriating back to the UK, one of the most important things that you can do is consult a currency expert about how best to transfer your funds. You can save a small fortune by using a company like Smart Currency Exchange, who don’t charge fees on transfers and who offer exchange rates that are typically 2-4 % better than high street banks, for your international transfers. To read more about all of the ways they can help you save those valuable pennies, download their handy free report.”

If you haven't done so already, download your free copy of the France Buying Guide.


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