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Interview with Diane – an American expat living in the UK

Updated 19 Mar 2024

Born an athlete, Diane Huntington Loring decided to leave her business and athletic pursuits in the USA to pursue new academic adventures on the other side of the world. She’s currently pursuing her PhD studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. When she’s not busy working on her dissertation, Diane is practising Taekwondo and running a successful executive protection specialist business.

Check out Diane’s website to learn more about her travels and life journey. For more on expat life, see Moving to the United Kingdom.

About Diane

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: California, USA.

Q: What country and city did you move to?
A:  I have lived in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. 

Q: When did you move?
A: 2017.

Q: Is this your first expat experience?
A: Yes. 

Q: Did you move here alone, with a spouse/partner or family?
A: I moved alone.

Q: Reason for moving?
A: I needed to experience the world, and after the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 US elections, I wanted to try to make sense of the election.

Living in the UK

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in the UK in general?
A: I have loved every country and city I have lived in outside the United States. People first, and then in so many countries, the history and architecture.

Q: Have you had any low points? What do you miss most about home?
A: Yes, but not many; I miss living by the Pacific Ocean.

Q: What misconceptions about the UK, if any, have you learned were untrue?
A: It would be very difficult to live long-term without full-time employment (or a considerable amount of money in savings, as well as proving you have an ample monthly income) in the United Kingdom. The only way to qualify for dual citizenship is through a grandparent. While I have two great-grandparents from England and Wales, that does not create a possibility. 

Q: What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life in the UK? Did you experience culture shock at all?
A: All countries I have lived in have been easy for me to settle in

Q: What are your favourite things to do on the weekend? Are there any particular places or experiences you’d recommend to fellow expats?
A: Walk everywhere, see the sights, and exchange pleasantries with the locals.

Q: What’s the cost of living in the UK compared to home? Are there specific things that are especially expensive or cheap in the UK?
A: In the United Kingdom, it is about the same, with a major exception; as a student, my cost of healthcare is exponentially cheaper than in the United States. Also, I think rental costs here are lower.

Q: What’s public transport like in the UK?
A: The public transport here is excellent and should be used as a model for the world.

Q: What do you think of the healthcare available in the UK? What should expats expect from local doctors and hospitals?
A: The healthcare is also exceptional but with some issues.

Q: What’s the standard of housing like in the UK? What different options are available?
A: I live in a beautiful two-bedroom flat in a small city, which was rather easy to secure as well as being affordable.

Q: Are there any areas or suburbs you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: London is my favourite city in the world so far, but for most, it is very expensive to live in.

Meeting people and making friends in the UK

Q: Was meeting people and making friends easy? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: Walking about in the local community has been the way I’ve met people and made friends. 

Q: Have you made friends with locals, or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends with the locals?
A: I have made friends with locals through my educational aspirations, and again, just being out and about walking, riding on the train, etc.

Working in the UK

Q: How easy or difficult was getting a work permit and visa? Did you tackle the visa process yourself, or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: I have been an international student in the United Kingdom since 2019, which required applying to several universities and meeting the academic requirements. Once accepted, one needs to secure a student visa.

Q: What is the economic climate in the UK like?
A: Currently, I am in a small town with a diverse population. It seems most people are working and thriving.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: I don’t think it is much different, although things have definitely changed worldwide after COVID-19, with many people working remotely.

Family and children in the UK

Q: What are your favourite family attractions and activities in the city?
A: Watching the Thoroughbred racehorses is one of my favourite activities, and I would recommend this to all expats.

Final thoughts

Q: Any advice you’d like to offer to new arrivals in your current country of residence?
A: Be polite; for the most part, UK citizens have a favourable opinion of Americans.

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