After traveling all over the world, it’s always been a dream to retire in England. Considered the motherland for many of us, even if you don’t claim any British heritage, you’ve certainly heard about the Tower of London, Westminster Cathedral or Kensington Gardens. It’s all there. Around every corner you will find something you’ve always heard about but never seen.
Those who retire here seem to prefer the south coast area where locals enjoy the warm Atlantic weather coming up from Spain and Portugal. The Devon shore is where the English come on holiday!
Get this out of the way. Great Britain is composed of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Scots, Welsh and Irish do not consider themselves English! (Don’t even suggest it!) These are four little countries, they will tell you, connected by Government only. They each have their distinct culture, customs, climate, politics, food, festivals, and on and on. Supposedly they all speak the same language – but you can’t prove it by me! The people from Glasgow don’t sound anything like those from Liverpool or from Dublin – although they will all tell you they are speaking English! On my first trip, I thought I would be able to understand the language. Ha!
Another interesting thing to Americans – England is really old! If you are lucky enough to have your great-great grandmother’s end table from the Civil War era – it’s an antique. In England, the table is just old. Now if it was from the 1500’s it might be an antique!
The rest of England is not much like London. Although the big cities all have traffic and modern buildings, each one in England is quite distinctive in its own way. Once outside the city, the smaller towns and villages are charming and the country side is just beautiful. The people are very friendly and willing to help you find your way. You have to go to the Cotswolds! And Totnes! And York!
The English drive “on the wrong side of the road” and this takes a bit of getting used to. The freeway lanes are narrower than we are used to and the big city round-abouts, at breakneck speed, on the wrong side of the road should be avoided until you’ve had some driving practice! Another confusing thing is that the road signs only tell you the name of the next town or village. Get a good map. Or take the train. Unlike the US, the trains go to most every town center, are fast, on time, and less stressful than driving.
Before you sell the farm and pack your bags, a visit is in order. One of the things I enjoy is to go during the off-season – meaning not in summer. The crowds are minimal and reservations are much easier. Every town and village has an Information Center with a big blue “I” on the sign. Tell them you need a place for the night, they will bring out a notebook of all the B&Bs in town (with pictures!) and help you find something to suit your needs. They will call the owner and ask if they have a room for you. You might be the only guest, but you get a warm family welcome and your hosts are your best source of local information and directions. Its so much more fun than staying in a hotel! England isn’t cheap, so a permanent move may not be your cup of tea. But even if you don’t retire in England, its a fabulous place to visit!
Pros: Sort of the same language, friendly people, famous sights, the countryside
Cons: Driving on the wrong side of the road. England is expensive
Best Places to Visit: The Devon Coast, York, London, Dover
Favorite Inexpensive Events: Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Guy Fawkes Day
Did You Know: England is 74 times smaller than the U.S. French was the official language in England for about 3oo years! The first coffeehouse was opened in 1652 in London, six years before a tea shop appeared.
Seems like everyone's been to York! Anglo-Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Scots, monks, Kings, Lords of the Manor, craftsman and now the locals and tourists. They have all left their mark on York. The earliest mention of York is found on an old Roman tablet, circa 95-104...read more
On my first trip to the UK, I had to go to Stratford. For theatre people (directing, building, painting and even a little acting) Stratford is like a mecca for those who love the stage. After pulling into town, the information center made arrangements for my bed and...read more
Every time I fly to the UK, I leave wishing we had just a few more days. Even if you can't stay for the rest of your life, if you retire near London for just 3-6 months, you could pretty much see everything that interests you. Take Greenwich, a suburb just east...read more
We were in Ashford England for 4 days while hubby was attending a train convention. Thinking it would be fun and exotic to take the Chunnel Train under the English channel to Calais, France for lunch and return to Ashford, we head off to the train station. We found...read more