Some time ago, I wrote about those things I think I’d miss from the UK when moving to New York. It’s been what… almost a year now. I am ending my ninth month in the city. How time flies! 2019 did go in a finger snap. Considering January is already ending, I assume this year will not be any slower. Anyway, back to the point! Now is the time to see whether I actually did miss those things from the UK.
Well, I guess there are a few things from the UK I miss. Scones, no. I managed to find a recipe and make them myself. Safety on the street? I admit I have been catcalled more in those past few months in NYC than in all my years in the UK, but no. To be honest, I feel pretty safe. I don’t mind the US Netflix, especially because I decided to read instead of binge-watching. The list had ten items and you will some below as well as new ones!
1. Contactless Payment
Actually, I am just being mean here. Although… So, I started to think about this blog post a few months back but never got to write it. And sure, back then, contactless was not a thing. It still isn’t. It is becoming something but it is not as big as in the UK. In London you can pay the tube, the bus, your coffee, anything with contactless, pretty much everywhere. It’s the norm. In the US, it is the exception.
And yes, the subway is getting up to date. You can pay in the subway with apple pay using your phone. And more recently, with your contactless card… which banks just started to make available. I received mine the day I am writing this blog post. We are getting there. But for so long, it felt very weird to not be able to use contactless while I lived off it, back in London. The thing also is that, it does not matter whether your card does contactless if the places you go to do not offer this payment option. And as of right now, most places still don’t.
2. London & Edinburgh
I have lived in multiple cities in the UK: London, Edinburgh, Glasgow Manchester. I had a great flat and flatmate in Glasgow which made it all bearable but Manchester, I really did not like it. The city never felt like home. Edinburgh and London on the other hand. The Scottish capital is home, and so is London. My happiest memories happened in those two cities: meeting my then-boyfriend now-husband, doing my masters, meeting my best friend, getting married, becoming a blogger.
So, yes, I miss those two cities. And even though I missed them more back in the summer, when I was not working and even though I always managed to keep myself busy, there was always a point when it was just me and my thoughts. I enjoy New York more than before but in my heart, London and Edinburgh are still above.
3. Clean and quiet cities
I bet you are gonna say that London is neither clean nor quiet. But I can assure you, compared to New York, it is. London is peaceful, soothing and quiet. Drivers do not honk, people do not yell in the street, you do not have constant sirens and alarms everywhere. London has a city center and residential areas around. People converge to the city center in zone 1 but live in zone 2, 3, 4, etc. Manhattan, where I live, is a city center. The whole island. So you are in the middle of this constant noise.
You get use to it and it becomes a white noise. But you do appreciate being somewhere quiet. Like when I was in Boston for a few days this summer. The difference. Same when I was in Heidelberg or back in Edinburgh. So quiet. And clean. No trash everywhere, no stagnating water in any hole on the road, no bad smell.
4. More Affordable living
You do not know what an expensive city is until you’ve lived in New York. I do not even want to imagine San Francisco, which is both smaller and more expensive. I lived in London for some time, had to live on an average salary, share a flat and thought that it was expensive. But New York, OMG… Everything is more expensive: accommodation, the subway, vegetables, flying, etc; while the quality often is not greater.
I love the tube in London because it works so well… much better than the subway in NYC, and also cheaper, surprisingly. My salary in NYC is higher than my salary in London and yet… I can afford less… Prices are just higher. A return flight to another country is £80 in Europe. Flying to Miami from NYC costs $450. Like, come on…
5. Prices inclusive of VAT & Tips
And finally! I already talked about this one, I think, in the ups and downs of living in NYC. Prices are never incluse of VAT when you shop, wherever you shop, even on Amazon! It is so tricky. You think things are affordable, at a good price, but you realize at the till that the bill is much higher… Yes, because you forget to add the sale tax. Speaking of tax, people see the US like this tax heaven… but beware. Some states are tax heavens like Florida which does not have an income tax, but some other, like NYC, will tax you a lot on your salary: income tax, state tax, city tax, etc.
In the end, it amounts to almost 40%. Ironic when you know that in some industries, like hospitality, there is not minimum wage… meaning that waitering staff relies mostly on tips. Which, again, increases your bill by at least 20%! I would much rather have the prices already inclusive of both the tax and the waiter’s salary, recalculated, rather than have to see the already expensive food become even pricier. Also, how unfair for the waiters and waitresses! They should have a minimum guaranteed wage.
So, yes, you got it, I still do miss quite a bit about London or the UK in general. Even though, in the context of Brexit, better be far away. Despite all my ranting and whining, I do enjoy myself in New York. Actually, I am quite busy with work, the blog, Booktube, reading, the gym, German classes, meeting with friends, etc. I am doing NYC quite well I believe and it is an amazing experience.
So here you have the five things I miss from the UK. As contactless is becoming more coming in NYC, I assume that it should come off the list! As for the others… only time will tell!
Have you ever been to NYC? Or anywhere else in the US? Anything that the UK has and the US does not that you missed? Affordable healthcare does not count as it is a given! Planning on visiting the US soon?
Photos by Shotsbykevyn.
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