Moving to America: Land of the not-quite-free

For almost any European citizen moving to the US, there’s a slight irony in its nickname as Land of the Free. I know, I know, the name refers to the act of freedom and liberty rather than material free things.

But still, I should be forgiven for laughing at the irony in the name, when I came from the home of the NHS.

However, the lifestyle, the land and the petrol prices make America worth the move for thousands of Europeans every year. It’s always worth remembering that moving to any country comes with a compromise and a culture shock. Yes, owning a car and having a license may be a necessity – but it’s a necessity because you live in a detached house in the suburbs that you could never afford in Europe.

If you are coming from the UK, it’s unfair to compare the health system in the US to the NHS, when almost no other country offers free healthcare. However, even compared to the rest of Europe and Australia, America does seem to be falling behind in the service it should be offering its citizens.

So what is free in America, which isn’t as common in Europe?

Well, for a start, the friendliness. Americans are so friendly, it can come across as unnerving to the unsuspecting European. On one five minute trip to Starbucks, I was complimented on my coat, my headband, and my name. Prior to America, I had only been complimented by a stranger on my outfit once before.

Within America – as with most countries – there is a north/south divide, in which one is more renowned for their welcoming nature than the other. Whilst in the UK that’s the north, in America, it’s the south who are known for their ‘southern hospitality’. However, for anyone not used to the American approach, you’ll experience a friendlier way of life wherever you are in the country.

And it’s not just the American demeanour which radiates warmth – the weather, so long as you’re in the South, is also much better than most of Europe. So, that’s free too, free weather, free manners – see, it is shaping up to the play on its name a little bit.

Something first-timers to the country may not expect, is the take-away service offered at literally every restaurant. America is renowned worldwide for its extravagant portion sizes, but I’ve come to realise you aren’t usually expected to finish your meal! Every restaurant offers to box your meal for you to take home and eat the next day, which is ground-breaking for Europeans. Plus, you get a free lunch! Hooray!

On the flip side, one of the most notable things I found when coming over to America, was their reliance on plastic. Whilst most of the Western world is stamping out single-use plastic, America still doesn’t even charge for plastic bags. So, yep, plastic bags are free.

Another demonstration of liberty from the US is the ‘freedom’ to own guns. A controversial topic, however one which continues to baffle almost every other country, except America itself.

When moving abroad, there’s a world of differences between your own culture and your new one. Some good, some bad, but the experience of living in a foreign country is priceless. America has an excellent economy for those in professions and is constantly expanding their housing. Their friendliness is unparalleled and material goods tend to be cheaper in the US, however, there’s also a unique sense of nationalism not found in many other countries. As with any country, it’s swings and roundabouts, but nearly all immigrants to the US have found they prefer this way of life.

From the snowy mountains found in the North to the bustling cities of New York and DC to the year-round warm climate of the southern states, there’s something on offer for everyone in the US, no matter where you come from.

Unfortunately, moving across the pond falls into the ‘not free’ category. However, UPakWeship’s self-packing service offers affordable moving and a shipload of free advice.

A family-run business with over 30 years of experience in the business, we offer a range of no-hidden-costs services, from personalised quotes for containers to up-front quotes found today on our website. If you’re looking for an affordable, reliable mover, UPakWeShip has it all.

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