Why being a Brit in Suburban USA isn't so bad

Today my blog is being taken over by a guest post from my sponsor, Gillian of Gladley. A veteran of LDR,  the English blogger now lives the expat life in America.  I have loved getting to know more about her this month and look forward to letting her tell you more about her ex-pat life with her post, 'Why Being a Brit in Suburban USA Isn't so Bad'.  

When I first told people that I moving to the US to be with my American husband, people first assumed I'd be living in a big city.  Sure, it's because I told them I was moving near Philadelphia, which is the USA's 5th biggest city (population 1.5million!). But Philadelphia isn't on the cultural radar of many Brits, so I had to explain my location in terms of somewhere Brits really knew: New York (I'm just a couple of hours away).

The truth is, I think I've only been to New York once in the year that I've lived here in America. You see, I actually live on that cusp between rural American and suburbia, between corn fields and super Walmarts. People in the city think we're nuts for living this far out, and for a long time so did I! But, even as a Brit accustomed to hedgerows, local pubs, and walks through the town center, I've learned that living in suburban USA isn't so bad. Here's why:

Farm Fresh Food
At first when I moved over I was dismayed that I could no longer pop out for a five minute walk to get a pint of milk and some biscuits for my tea. This kind of thing is the metric for acceptable living for Brits. But if I take a little drive, I can buy farm fresh milk from a small mom and pop farm, served in a giant glass jug. I can stop and buy corn from a kiosk by a country road, and maybe chat to Bob the farmer about this year's crops. I can take hay rides in Fall and pick my own pumpkins. I can buy fabulous ice cream from a dairy farm, and even visit the cows responsible! I don't think I've ever been closer to the food I eat.

Beautiful work commute
Driving through rural and suburban PA is a pretty good commute as things go. Even as you get closer to the city, there's still plenty of wide open spaces, and trees, until you get into Philadelphia proper. Sometimes when I'm traveling even further away from the city I'm the only one on a hidden country road, and I thank my lucky stars I'm not on a busy road caught in traffic.

It's the best of both worlds
I really miss living in the heart of a busy city, being able to arrange last-minute coffee catch-up with friends, or being able to stroll through neighborhoods filled with different cultures in the space of a few minutes. But we're still so close to Philadelphia that we can get that urban fix whenever I want. I love Philadelphia, it's an amazing city and would like to move a little closer to it, but life surrounded by trees and open roads without sidewalks - it's not so bad.

Recommended Posts by Gillian:

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*images in today's post from Gillian of Gladley


  1. Gillian love your guest post today! Your life in the US sounds so similar to where my husband grew up in Illinois by ways of of having nearby farms. Picking your own pumpkins in the Autumn is the best!

  2. Sounds like you live in a wonderful place; close enough to the city to enjoy city life at times and far away enough from it all to enjoy the benefits of 'country living' :)

  3. Gillian - I think we have traded places! Your home sounds a lot like where we lived in Tennessee! We were only a short drive from Nashville {our "big" city} but we lived among cattle farms and grassy open areas. It was beautiful!! Now that we're in London, I've got a bit of "city shock" but I love the close proximity to EVERYTHING!

    By the way, I noticed my hometown is missing from your lovely map. I think Nashville needs a cute little guitar over it since we're the country music capital! ;o)

  4. I have to admit, all the points you make sound very appealing! I love the outdoors, fresh local produce and just escaping the bustle of city life. But only for a short while. After a week or so away from London I'm always so so happy to get back to city life and I don't think I could ever give it up completely!

  5. oh wow! i loved reading this post, maybe because to live in USA is my dream come true! every day this love is growing faster and faster..and now it seems, that yeah! life down there must be perfect! :))
    thanks for sharing it - really great post!
    I'll keep those bits of yours! :)

  6. I love Gillian's blog and have followed since I started blogging - it was nice to find a Brit who had done the move I am about to make. I love description of the difference between the area rural and more built-up places. I can't wait to experience it for myself (20 days to go)!

  7. There is a similar Stigma attached to the USA here in Canada. It is nice to read about the gentler side of the states. That dog is adorable!!

  8. You're right. Although if I was REALLY living the dream I'd have one place in the city and one in the country, but that's just a little fantasy of mine ;)

  9. Oh my, I miss London so much.

    It's really lovely to see that people can relate to this side of America, and that it resonates with other regions. I often have to explain to Brits that there's so many sides to this big country, and that there's SO much more than just Times Square (ditto London and the rest of the UK too though).

    And you're right. It's all I know about Tennessee. That and Dollywood - sorry.

  10. I know exactly what you mean. I get the reverse feeling. Sometimes I just need to be surrounded by lights, noise and people for a time, and I know I'm due for a trip to the big city!

  11. Thanks Molly, and best wishes for your move (eeee!). It's always great to find people with shared experiences, I know the expat blogging community is great for that.

  12. Thank you :) I wouldn't say the US is perfect, but I wouldn't say the UK is either. I love them both dearly though, it's so sad to always be far away from one of them. Such is expat life!

  13. The other plus side I forgot to mention is that people looooove the fact that I'm British because it's less common than in more cosmopolitan places. Just the other day I was carded buying wine, handed over my green card, and the woman practically swooned.

    Our dog is adorable but she knows it, so we try not to tell her ;)

  14. The British interpretation of the States is actually pretty spot on. Sometimes I refer to it that way, too.

  15. Ha! No hard feelings - it's a big country. I don't even know everything about every state and I lived there for 25 years! ;o)


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Bonnie Rose

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