The UK Office of National Statistics estimates that up to 13% of England’s population is made up of foreigners. Of those, around 189,000 are American. While many of these American nationals are stationed at the various military bases, there is still a considerable amount of us living our lives on English soil. With that in mind- I thought it would be interesting to explore where Americans are re-locating exactly. London is obviously a front runner, but if you are considering moving over- where are the best places for American expats in England?
The Top Five Best Places for American Expats in England
1. Mildenhall, Suffolk
18% of Mildenhall’s population is American. With two of the largest American Air Force bases in the area, thousands of Americans are stationed here. Mildenhall is located in east England, and is a small market town with a long history. While the town itself doesn’t offer much more to Americans than familiar accents in the streets, if you are living on base there is an endless supply of American restaurants, schools and entertainment. There are a lot of support groups and clubs for American expats, including Mildenhall Enlisted and Spouses Club for those couples who have found themselves across the pond.
Pros: Large American Expat Community
Cons: Not worth much if you aren’t able to access base facilities.
2. Birmingham, West Midlands
Birmingham is the second most populated city in England, and with over a millions residents there is a fair amount of Americans who call the area home. The city has a plethora of American style restaurants, an airport that offers direct connections to the U.S, and even an American football team called the Birmingham Bulls. There is also an organization called the North American Connection that connects Americans (and Canadians) from all across the West Midlands. According to Expatisan, the cost of living in Birmingham is at least 30% cheaper than that in London- so if you are looking to live in a big city, this could be a great option.
Pros: Centrally located with a lower cost of living for a major city.
Cons: The city was once heavily industrialized. Although they have made great strides- there are still infrastructure and economic issues as well as a high crime rate.
3. Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales, and is the 9th most populated city in the UK. Although Wales, of course, is outside of England- Cardiff is still worth mentioning due to the surprisingly vibrant expat community and unique Welsh culture. There is plenty to do in Cardiff from castles to museums to the Dr. Who Experience- Cardiff is considered the home of Dr.Who! For the American crowd, there is an American meet-up group, several American-style eateries and an American football team called the South Wales Warriors.
Pros: Low cost of living, unique culture, a chance to learn Welsh!
Cons: A bit more removed from the London area, although only slightly more that 2 hours by train, and this could be a pro depending on the person.
4. St. Albans, Hertfordshire
While St. Albans is only 20 miles from London, the small town charm of this city and the surrounding Hertfordshire countryside, make it ideal for American expats looking to settle somewhere just a bit quieter. St. Albans was founded in AD 43, and there are a plethora of historical sites and museums in the area. While you aren’t likely to find a Hard Rock serving up your favorite American grub, St. Albans has a wonderful farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday that has been going on since 1553. Schools in the area are some of the best, in particular St. Albans School which was attended by Stephen Hawking. There is also an expatriate club called the American Club of Hertfordshire, who run events for Americans as well as social activities.
Pros: Small town charm, easy access to London, good quality of life.
Cons: Cost of living is high due to the close proximity to London.
London is an incredible global city, with more than 300 languages spoken within her borders. Americans are everywhere, and it seems you can’t go to an event or walk down the street without hearing that familiar accent. Although you are likely to find Americans in all of London’s neighbourhoods, the larger majority are in Chelsea, Kensington and Richmond. (Americans make up 7% and 6% of the total populations of the former two respectively.) On the downside, your average Joe or Jane couldn’t afford to live in these affluent neighborhoods, where homes cost, on average, 78 times more than the average UK home. There are more American schools, clubs, and restaurants than you could count, and with the Embassy being based here- London provides an international culture with all the comforts of home. If you are looking to move to London, you can book a hotel with Venere and check out London’s schools and neighborhoods to find the best place for your family.
Pros: Global city with unlimited networking opportunities, things to do, and easy access to the rest of Europe.
Cons: Extremely high cost of living.
Helpful Resources for Americans in England
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Support for Americans Living Abroad– Website: Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, AODVC Phone: toll-free international crisis line 866-USWOMEN
U.S. Embassy London– Website: Embassy of the United States Phone: Emergency Contact (0)20-7499-9000
Voting for Military and Overseas Citizens– Website: Federal Voting Assistance Program Phone: 1-800-438-VOTE (8683) (9-5 est)
Finding a doctor in England– Website: NHS
U.S. Department of State – Website: U.S. Passports & International Travel Phone: Overseas Emergencies +1-202-501-4444
Students Abroad– Website: Students Abroad Phone:+1-202-501-4444
Support for American Expats in the UK– Website: The American Hour