How to adjust to life as a Brit Abroad

TransferWise content team
3 minute read

More and more Brits are taking the plunge and moving abroad, with 400,000 leaving each year.

With over 5.5 million Brits now abroad, how best adjust to life in their new countries?

We got together a bunch of our team members and customers to talk through their biggest surprises when they decided to leave the UK.

From queuing to finding to sourcing a decent roast, this is how to win as a Brit abroad:

Queuing - elbows at the ready


Brits have a queue for everything, and let's make no mistake - we're very talented at it.

Brits have a clear understanding that if they want something, they will form a queue and wait their turn. Step out of line (no pun intended!) and expect the tuts and murmurs of “how rude”.

When you make the move abroad, don't expect your new countrymen to abide by the British rules. Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to block those that try and queue jump.

Public Bathrooms

So first off, don’t ask anyone where the “loo” is, that doesn’t work.

You probably shouldn’t bother with “toilet” either. In fact, you should ask for the “bathroom,” even though there probably won't be a bath in there, or the “restroom” if you're in the US (although napping is frowned upon).

And why, oh why, are you expected to flush a urinal... ?

Finding British Cuisine


From Cumberland sausages to your mum’s home cooked roast dinner; it’s a challenge for many Brits.

While we may not be gastronomical leaders in world cuisine, some things just need aren't done the same abroad. Some common complaints we found:

  • Baked beans - good luck finding the Heinz.
  • Same goes for Ketchup.
  • Why is there always mustard in the mayo?!

Our favourite anecdote came from a Brit in the US who admitted to carrying 5kg of his favourite UK muesli in his suitcase to New York.

Drink Sizes

A US pint is smaller than a UK one. As is a European 'pint' - it's 500ml.

At first, you’re frustrated and disappointed, but once you realise that the beer you are drinking could be anything up to 8% alcohol, you soon get over it.

And spirits? Spirit to mixer ratio in most drinks is at least 2:1. Take it easy...

Learn the local language

speak english

Brits don't have great reputation here.

You'll be surprised how far you can get on a few core phrases while you're mastering a new language.

What's more - there are now some amazing apps for helping you learn almost any language.

No excuses.

Chatting about the weather


We love a natter.

Discussing how are they are going to get from A to B without getting wet and cold is a major discussion point when you're in the UK.

You'll probably find that your new compatriots aren't quite as interested in the weather.

Likely because they get 300 days of sunshine annually...

That pub feeling

irish bar

Pub culture could be construed as British culture.

After all, there's nothing quite like a British pub.

But other countries just don't do local watering holes in quite the same way. You might find a great bar, or more likely an Irish Bar that feels vaguely familiar. But you can be sure it won't feel quite like home.

Where are the fruit machines? And why don't they serve peanuts?

Make sure you get your fix when you visit home.

Don't get stung sending money to the UK

You've bagged a great new place to live, but you still have bills or a mortgage to pay at home.
TransferWise is the fast, fair new way - this is how it works:

Download the App for iOS & Android.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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