Interview with Gabrielle - an American living in London


Gabrielle Hase is a New Yorker who moved to England three and a half years ago, and currently lives in London. She is married to an Englishman and works as an ecommerce consultant.

Get more information on expat life in the city by reading the Expat Arrivals London city guide or read more about expat experiences in the United Kingdom.
 

About you


Q: Where are you originally from?
A:  Solebury, PA USA

Q: Where are you living now?
A:  Covent Garden area of London

Q: How long you have you been living in London?
A:  1 year. I moved to England 3.5 years ago, and lived in Cambridge, a beautiful (small) university town in East Anglia.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A:  Husband

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A:  met my husband in NYC (he’s English and was on a consulting project); I am an ecommerce consultant
 

About your city


Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city, how’s the quality of life?
A:  I love its history and architecture the most; 900 year old buildings are simply not something you get in America! The quality of life is fine, although it never ceases to amaze me how ill-equipped London is to deal with snow or even really heavy rains (the public transport completely quits, people stay home).

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A:  Preventive healthcare is impossible here. The NHS, although a favourite whipping boy, has a lot going for it from an emergency care perspective, but the lack of focus on preventive care is appalling. On a lighter note, I miss the food from home – hamburgers just don’t taste the same here. Or ice cream!

Q: Is the city safe?
A:  Yes – although there is a lot of knife crime. I feel safe in the heart of the city, but like NYC, you just have to be smart about where you go. I actually feel less safe in the suburbs, where roving gangs of bored youths kill people. 
 

About living in London as an American


Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A:  London is the most expat friendly, followed by the University towns of Cambridge and Oxford. There are a lot of Americans in England, and certain parts of London are chock full of them, and I like to avoid those parts because I’d rather try to soak up a bit of local culture!

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A:  It’s ok; although everything is so small, from the kitchen sinks to the washing machines and dryers. It’s an entirely different scale to America. 

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A:  It’s very expensive compared to home, from petrol to food, to mobile phones and council taxes.   Again, the scale is just completely different. Yes the pound is worth more than the dollar, but clothes are so much cheaper at home, I save up to go home twice a year and stock up on basics.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A:  I like mixing with locals although many of my friends are Australian (only a few are American). British people are very kind but not particularly ‘friendly’ in the way Americans and Australians are; there is a bit of the British reserve going on although they are hardly as stiff and proper as the stereotype would have it.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A:  Somewhat. My husband being English provided instant access to his group of friends, but it was more of an effort because my friends all lived in London and I in Cambridge. It’s much easier now that we are in London.
 

About working here


Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A:  No – I got my Permanent Leave to Remain visa through my married status.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A:  There isn’t ‘plenty’ of work, but it’s not too bad either.  I am lucky to be in a sector which is growing (ecommerce). I know people who have lost their jobs but they have also found others in a reasonable time.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A:  The work culture is a little more easygoing than it is in NYC, although if you are working at an investment bank I think it’s probably just as intense. The thing I still can’t get used to is here people have alcohol at lunch, which is very civilized, and in America we just don’t else we be seen to be less than serious or an alcoholic.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A:  No
 
 

Family and children


Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A:  N/A – my spouse is from England        

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A:  I don’t have any, but I did bring my cats!

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A:  great for emergencies – good quality care. But preventive medicine sucks – they prescribe VERY FEW drugs, and tests are done every 3 – 5 years where in America they are done every year (mammograms, pap smears, etc).
 
 

And finally…


Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A:Get out of town and see as much of the country as you can. It’s a beautiful (and compact) country, with so much history, and trains are easy to use.  

~ Interviewed January 2010
 
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