10 Things A Brit Should Know Before Moving to Southern California 8


There are loads of posts I need to write, and want to write for that matter, but having been here for 4 weeks now I feel there are some important pieces of wisdom Team Lloyd should be sharing with other Brits who might make this rather large transatlantic move

1. American homes don’t have kettles

“What?’ I hear you scream, yeah it’s totally true. In our temporary corporate housing I wondered around the kitchen for a good 10 minutes opening cupboards and talking to myself until I had to concede it definitely wasn’t hiding from me. “But how do they boil water?” I hear you ask, I asked it myself, every single time I went to cook veg, pasta, make T Lloyd’s sterile water, tea, coffee, the list goes on. THEY BOIL WATER ON THE HOB is the answer. Seriously do you know how long that takes? I’m not living in the 1950’s. So we buy a kettle.

The box says: “Faster Than a Microwave! Safer Than the Stovetop!”

British translation: “It’s a kettle.”

2. Don’t waste precious air shipment space on your winter coats

We have a cupboard bursting with every single winter coat we own. The day we need to wear one of them I’ll dedicate a whole blog post to it! When locals say “It’s cold outside” they mean the temperature is 23 degrees centigrade. Madness.

3. American chocolate will not be a taste of “back home”

Hersey’s is not a substitute for Cadbury’s chocolate no matter what their advertising says.  In fact whilst we are on it, Milky Way masquerading as Mars Bars is just plain wrong. You eat a Milky Way whilst humming The Red Car and The Blue Car Had A Race – (don’t tell me you don’t) – and all of a sudden the chocolate treat that should be fluffy and light, is actually the hearty Mars that helps you work rest and errr play. Seriously how did advertisers get away with this stuff? Anyway I digress; American’s stop miss selling British chocolate!

4. Understand there will be a language barrier

How hard can it be right? It’s an English speaking country after all! You know all the obvious ones and every friend, relative or passer by in England can’t help but tell you the top 4 classics before you board that plane;
“It’s Tom-art-O remember”
“Elevator not lift”
“Restrooms not the ‘loo”
“Don’t forget it’s eraser not rubber” <snigger snigger>

Then you get here and you immerse yourself in the Southern California way of life and suddenly you realise it literally is a different language.

The road is a pavement…What the hell?
The ACTUAL pavement is the sidewalk – just call it a bloody pavement.
The pedestrian crossing is a crosswalk (is it angry with me?!)
Want to use your indicator? Nope. Sorry, its a turn signal. Want to turn left at that roundabout? What are you talking about? It’s a Traffic Circle.
You fancy that yummy sounding cookie on the menu, order it and its just a bloody biscuit,
Or you want chips with your ‘grilled’ sandwich and you are all excited and bloody crisps arrive.
You ask for some “tom-art-o sauce” with your damn fries and the look you get is just plain blank. You repeat in your best British Accent “I’m sorry, could I please have some TOM-A-R-T-O sauce please”. It’s ketchup.
Yeah. You suddenly realise the “Cute English Accent” isn’t so cool and its not so cute.

5. Banking is not in the 21st Century

(Sorry America, you need to update your banking system!) There is no such thing as a Direct Debt, that very useful, very easy banking method so well known, used and pretty much taken for granted in the UK. That ease of knowing all of your regular bills will be paid on time, without having to worry. I am still coming to terms with the fact it’s not used here. Instead there is something called AutoPay which charges $3 a month for the privilege of using it. $3 per bill so that will soon add up to large amounts.

Wanting to try and save money we have looked in alternative ways of paying our regular bills. And this is where it all goes a little crazy, the bank will send a paper cheque on our behalf to the company. A cheque. That takes 3/4 days to be raised and then a further how many days in the post to be received, and then banked. Tell me how this is an efficient use of time?!?

And whilst we are talking about cheques, since when does a bank charge you for ordering a cheque book for your current account? Apparently that’s standard here in the US, where they expect you to pay by cheque all the time. Mental.

America….invest in Direct Debt Please!

6. A Jam Sandwich is not just a Jam Sandwich.

B Lloyd loves a jam sandwich like most children, but we have been surprised to find that most restaurants and food stores that sell jam sandwiches have also added peanut butter. Jam and Peanut Butter Sandwiches seem quite a popular combination. Not so great if like B Lloyd you have a peanut allergy! Great news for T Lloyd though, but definitely something to be aware of if you are nut allergic.

7. Never Pass a School Bus When the Red Lights are On and Flashing.

School Buses are very common here. And the rules are strict. If the Red Stop sign is out with the flashing lights on, it is not a case of stopping like a normal stop sign and ensuring the road is clear of excited school children before continuing. No its Stop, and remained stopped until the sign has retracted and the lights have stopped flashing. (I still feel the signs are misleading – on the back of every bus it just says ‘Stop When Lights Are Flashing’ not Stop and Do Not Proceed While Lights Are Flashing).

Even if the bus is stopped on the other side of the road.

Who Knew?

I did, once the very nice Policeman told me. Apparently there is even a $600 fine if you are caught passing the bus at this time. Luckily the Policeman had seen me stop and check before proceeding so I was just told the rules. Definitely not one I am going to get wrong again!

8. Southern Californians think anything below 24 degrees centigrade is cold

You will be judged on the school run in the middle of November if you are wearing shorts and a t-shirt, even though it is 18 centigrade at 8am and the high for the day is 24 centigrade. November is Fall Autumn, so cue all the Ugg boots, jackets and scarfs and yes, even woolly hats. Not from us Brits of course, we are still acting like we are in the Mediterranean on holiday.

9. Americans can be stunned when they hear that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK

It’s not that we are not thankful in the UK, we are. We just don’t have a national holiday for two days to just sit around and eat Turkey. Oh wait.

But seriously, get used to the stunned faces when you explain its honestly not a holiday in the UK.

10. Moving stateside will give you a new found appreciation for the NHS 

I love the NHS (let’s just not get me started on what I think the current UK Government is doing to it, that’s a whole other kettle of fish) but in general the NHS is bloody marvellous. In its simplest of forms: if you get sick you see your GP, if you are really sick you go to A&E.

Here it’s a maze to just get through the questions of what healthcare package you should pay for, let alone work out what doctor you should see, whether they are in or out of your network, and whether it is a ‘sick’ visit or a ‘preventative’ visit which will affect your deductible.

Yes I did spend 20 minutes on the phone to a lovely American lady saying “I’m sorry I don’t understand why I am being charged $115 for the doctor to agree my daughter has eczema” closely followed up with “I don’t understand, my deductible what now?”

Although still not quite sure we understand, we are likening the deductible to a excess, we pay so much to be sick and the healthcare package pays the rest.

I repeat. I love the NHS.

So there you have it Brits, Team Lloyd’s top 10 things to know before you board that plane. It’s been a steep learning curve, but hey, its all part of the adventure!


About louise

One member of Team Lloyd, Sharing our expat tales and adventures, loves photography and capturing "that moment" Currently can be found in the sunshine, Southern California.


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8 thoughts on “10 Things A Brit Should Know Before Moving to Southern California

  • Boo Roo and Tigger Too

    What a list! The language would be my biggest thing as I’m not great with the Queen’s English so would certainly be asking for the loo instead of the restroom. I’m pleased to hear that the policeman didn’t give you a $600 fine, maybe we should have a few rules like that in England and we’d drive a little more considerate around schools etc.

  • Emma

    wow what a culture shock. You forget that just because it is technically the same language there will still be lots of differences. I dont understand the kettle issue though – just why??

  • Jennifer

    Some great tips, I never would have known that you can’t pass a school bus when it’s on the other side of the road! I can’t believe that the banking system sounds so old-fashioned, I thought that the US was generally ahead when it came to such things! Totally agree with you when it comes to the chocolate, it’s just not the same.

  • Emma

    I can’t believe you have been there a month already!! I read this post first thing this morning and it made me laugh! I hope you are settling in well! Enjoy your first Thanksgiving tomorrow! Emma xx

    • louise Post author

      Thank you Kelly, I think I finally might be ready to get my writing back on track, I’ve missed being a part of the blogging world 🙂 Hope you are all well -Miss you xxx