I lived in the UK for 4 years before moving back to the US. Here are 10 things I miss after returning to America.


Fish and chips on a plate; A woman holds a glass of red wine in a park
I miss the small portion sizes and more relaxed open-container laws of the UK.

  • After four years of living with marmite and sparse sunny days in Scotland, I returned to the US.
  • Though I missed my New England home, I find myself longing for violet-flavored candy and cozy pubs.
  • I wish I still had access to the more dog-friendly atmospheres and cheap flights I had in the UK.
I miss the milder UK winters.

Buachaille Etive Mor aerial view in winter. Grass is covered in a light dusting of snow.
I didn't see as much snowfall in Scotland as I did in New England.

I grew up in New England, where winter means freezing temperatures and getting up at 5 a.m. to dig your car out of the snow.

Though Scotland can certainly get chilly and many regions see significant snowfall, the city where we lived usually had only an inch or 2 of snow each winter. 

It was nice to live in a place where dashing out to the mailbox without a jacket didn't mean you were risking frostbite.

I always thought British television commercials were quieter.

Three remote controls on a coffee table in front of an entertainment center
I always thought British commercials were quieter.

After living in the UK for four years, I'm convinced British television commercials are quieter than American ads, which often feature loud music, explosions, dance numbers, revving engines, and yelling.

To me, British TV commercials were slightly less blaring and never seemed significantly louder than regular TV programs.

This difference might be in my imagination, but I find myself reaching for the volume button during commercials in the US far more than in the UK.

I wish I had accessible violet-flavored candy.

A package of Parma Violets on a white background
I enjoyed how accessible Parma Violets were in the UK.

When I came back to the US, I was happy to leave many British flavors, like prawn-flavored chips, on the other side of the Atlantic.

However, I find myself craving a purple candy known as Parma Violets. They look a bit like American Smarties and, in my opinion, taste like a cross between perfume and chalk.

Though Parma Violets can be delivered worldwide, I miss the easy access I had to them when I lived in Scotland. Parma Violets definitely aren't everyone's favorite treat, but I plan on filling a suitcase with them on our next visit to the UK.

I miss cozy British pubs.

Interior of a dimly lit pub in London
I can't find anything that replicates the feel of a British pub.

I think there's something about the coziness of a UK pub that can't be replicated. My favorite Scottish pubs had low ceilings, carpeted floors, ancient wooden bars, and plenty of small cubbies you could huddle in over a pint with friends.

Many American bars range from sleek and chic to rustic and rowdy but I've yet to find one that feels as comfortable as our old "local."

Surprisingly, I wish I had appreciated how limited the UK grocery stores' options were.

Produce section in UK grocery store
Grocery stores in the UK had fewer types of food.

When I lived in Scotland, I constantly bemoaned the more limited grocery options in UK supermarkets.

For example, some US supermarkets have miles of aisle space devoted to peanut butter in all its forms and flavors, but UK grocery stores might only offer two or three varieties. My local supermarket in the US sells 11 different types of apples but back in the UK, I'd be lucky to find half that number.

That being said, I actually miss the simplicity and ease of grocery shopping in the UK. For me, fewer options in UK grocery stores made shopping less exhausting and much faster.

I miss a more dog-friendly atmosphere in the UK.

Dog on leash next to picnic table while owner sits on bench in background
I saw dogs almost everywhere I went in the UK.

I thought the UK was more dog-friendly than many places in the US. According to a 2022 report from Revolent, Scotland even ranks as one of the best countries for pet owners due to the presence of animal-friendly offices and co-working spaces.

I often saw dogs hanging out beneath pub tables, in line with their owners at banks, or even quietly enjoying a movie at the cinema. We also found that hotels and Airbnbs in the UK were typically more accepting of dogs.

As someone who likes to pet other people's dogs, it was nice to have plenty of opportunities to do so.

I long for pharmacies that only sell health products.

Pharmacy shelves filled with medicine at Boots
The pharmacies I went to in the UK mainly sold medicine.

In US pharmacies, customers often need to go all the way to the back of the store to find pharmacists, medicine, and health products like sunscreen and vitamins. Other retail space is typically devoted to snacks, candy, cosmetics, gadgets, and gifts.

In contrast, the pharmacies I encountered in the UK were stocked almost exclusively with health items. I miss not having to wade through aisles of candy and hair gel to find cold medicine when I need it.

I miss smaller portion sizes.

Fish and chips on a plate at a pub
After coming back to the US, I think most portion sizes are huge.

I found that portion sizes at UK restaurants and fast-food chains were usually smaller than in the US.

Since moving back to the US, I'm constantly surprised at how large even "small" menu items are. From coffee to french fries, it seems like everything in the US is big enough to share.

As someone who can tolerate only a hint of caffeine, I appreciated the option to buy what I thought was a truly small cup of coffee.

I miss the more relaxed open-container laws.

Two women with glasses of red wine
I sometimes saw people drinking wine or other alcohol in the park.

In the US, drinking in public is mostly confined to bars, restaurants, and sports stadiums.

Though every Scottish council has its own rules regarding where people can drink in public spaces, it wasn't uncommon for me to see people having a few beers in the park or strolling along the street with cups of wine.

There was something convivial (and to my American sensibilities, a little thrilling) about being able to share a glass without pretending your rosé is fruit juice.

I wish we still had access to cheap flights to other countries.

Eurowings Plane
It wasn't hard to book a cheap flight back in the UK.

When I lived in the UK, I had access to cheap flights across Europe. We often found round-trip tickets to places like Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Sweden for less than $100.

Domestic flights in the US can be a few hundred dollars, and getting to Canada or Mexico may cost as much as a flight to Europe.

After the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and my move to the US, I realize how lucky we were to have had so many travel options.

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