Today is a big day for me. I’m celebrating 11 years of living in London. It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by since I first moved to the UK and how much has happened since then. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and today I want to share some thoughts with you.

A Lady in London

11 Years of Living in London

Being an expat is a strange thing. When I first moved, London felt a bit odd culturally. But things changed around my seventh or eighth year. Going back to California was a bizarre experience, where everything seemed more foreign than familiar.

Now I know I’ll never feel completely British, but I don’t feel Californian anymore either. It’s bittersweet, but it makes me grateful to have a good group of expat friends in London who feel the same way.

Over the last few years I’ve come to realize they’re probably the people I’ll have the most in common with going forward. I’m glad I have a community that commiserates when I make my millionth cultural faux pas in Britain or get made fun of for my increasingly transatlantic accent in San Francisco.

A Lady in London

Speaking of which, I’ll be traveling back to California soon for the first time in two-and-a-half years. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away (my previous record was 9 months), and I’m both nervous and excited to go home.

I fear that San Francisco will have changed more than I want it to (and have been told by local friends to brace myself for it), but I’m looking forward to seeing familiar places, catching up with loved ones, and eating all the food I miss (not to mention drinking California wine).

Maybe it’s the long absence from the US that makes me feel estranged from the culture I grew up in (I’ve only spent a few days in the States since my last trip to California). Or maybe it’s that 11 years of living in London really has made a (partial) Brit of me. In any case, I’m grateful to have two cultures I can relate to even if I’m not fully at home in either.

A Lady in London

Living in London has been an incredible experience, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t quit my hedge fund job and thrown caution and career to the wind to move here.

I love this city and I still can’t quite believe how things have turned out—who’d have thought the blog I started as a hobby all that time ago would be both a job and an identity now?

But life has always turned out differently than I expect, and that’s what keeps me excited about the future. I have no idea what the next 11 years will bring, but I hope they’re full of more London and more adventures abroad. And maybe a few extra trips to California so I don’t entirely lose my accent. Or my ability to spell color without a “u”. Or my love of peanut butter…

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14 Comments on Lady Celebrates 11 Years of Living in London

  1. Just started reading recently and love it! I live in SF and can assure you that you’ll be shocked by the changes…..more tall buildings south of market, more homeless, much worse traffic because of the 6500 uber/lyft drivers circling around SF everyday. However, the views from the bridges or Treasure Island look as beautiful as ever.
    Welcome home!
    Christine (I lived in England for years too)

  2. First of all congratulations on the 11 years Julie! Gosh our online friendship goes back 5-6 years now and what a joy it’s been and blogging teaching experience you have brought to my life. For people who want to blog fulltime, and I’ve now met thousands and thousands of bloggers – your blog is still the #1 site I recommend that they set their bar at for success – honest truth. Of course our friendship also extends to how close we live/lived to each other here back home and the same grounds we explored in the western US. Looking forward to many more years to come! Your friend always, Mike

  3. it sounds to me like you’ve taken London by storm and are now about to retake San Francisco. Have a great time.

  4. Congratulations! You’re such an inspiration. I bought your e-book on how to blog. I’m going to go on a limb and guess that maybe you’re an Anglophile. As an American Anglophile myself I’ve really been wanting to move to London for some time now but of course, the #1 thing is to find someone to sponsor a work visa for me. Your guides have certainly come in handy on my trips to visit London. Thank you & congrats again!

  5. Reading your piece, I tried to remember when I started to feel like a Londoner. I moved to London from Boston, MA after growing up in New York City. I’ve been here now about three times longer than you but I still feel like a New Yorker…and yet,,,and yet, I’m a Londoner too. Funny isn’t it, how national labels kind of blend and mingle when you live abroad for a long time? Good luck with whatever comes next.

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