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What the British expat misses most

What the British expat misses most

Fish and chips - typical English fare

Fish and chips - typical English fare

Most of the time living abroad is fun and exciting and you don’t tend to miss much about home because there is so much new to explore.  However sometimes you sit down and think, ‘I could really do with some fish and chips‘!

Recently, Aviva – a UK insurance company, carried out it’s annual ‘semi-gration’ survey of the attitudes of Brits who were either living abroad or thinking about it.  Part of that survey was to found out what the expats missed from back in Blighty.   The results of the survey were unsurprising in a lot of respects, with the top five answers in the poll being:

  1. Friends and family
  2. UK TV
  3. English humour
  4. English Food
  5. NHS

Let’s look at these top 5 in detail.

Friends and family

For most people this is number 1 and without surprise.  It’s the one thing we can’t buy and we can’t import and we can’t take with us.  However, being abroad doesn’t mean we have to lose all contact.

For a lot of Europe you can also find many cheap flights on the budget carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair so going back to the UK or having your friends and family over to visit is not as prohibitive as before.  Obviously, living further afield is more complicated.

However, these days cheap VOIP software such as Skype mean that we can chat and videophone our friends and family for free whenever we want. Which means that those long distances tend to be melt away.  This is especially so if you find yourself in Portugal.  Being in the same timezone as the UK means that you just feel down the road when you call back home.


Most countries in Europe will be able to receive satellite from the UK.  If you contact your local supplier they should be able to set you up with a feed from the UK which means you can access the channels on Freeview.  You can’t always get all the channels, it depends on your set up but missing UK TV should no longer be problem.

Further afield it gets a little more difficult but the BBC and the other channels syndicate their programmes around the world so there will be something familiar for you to watch.  Other options include paying for downloads or buying DVDs of the programmes you miss the most.

English humour

If you can get UK TV then you will be able to get your daily dose of the famous English humour.  If not, a chat to other expats or a call back home means that you will be able to crack a few jokes and make some sarcastic remarks to someone!

English food

It’s no surprise that this is in the top 5, despite the traditional view of English food, WE all know it’s great and nothing can take the place of good mature cheddar or a piece of toast and Marmite!

Again, European expat have it a little easier.  If you are in popular expat locations such as Portugal’s Algarve you will be able to find all your favourites such as pork pies and bacon with ease, although the price might be a bit of a shock.  Elsewhere it is slightly trickier however there are various online stores that cater for the expat market and will happily ship out food to you for a price.


The NHS is an interesting one on the list.  We all love it and we all hate it but when we go abroad we all miss it!  The best thing about the NHS is it’s free and it’s good.  When you go abroad nothing seems to match up to it and everything is expensive.  The European Health Card (EHIC) gives us 6 month’s worth of free cover in participating countries but after that it’s local healthcare or go private.  And the standard and price of both varies considerably from country to country.  Always look into the options in detail before making the move and make sure you are happy with the level on care you will receive.

So that’s the top 5 and we’ll go into more detail about all of them further down the line.  In the meantime, what about you what do you miss the most from back home?

Image: savit keawtavee /


  1. Alison Kerr | Loving Nature's Garden

    Yes, family and food are at the top of my list of things I miss. I also miss the hills and lochs of Scotland, and sometimes even the rain. What I don’t miss, living in Kansas where there is so much space, is the city traffic and the crowds! I do miss the public transportation and the ability to walk to get places. These days I can see quite a lot of Brit TV, but there’s no substitute for fish and chips – I’ve tried it here and it’s just not the same as a fish supper eaten while walking along the front in a Scottish seaside town. Nothing beats that!

    • Sarah

      Thanks for the comment Alison.

      At first I didn’t really miss anything but after a year or two of living in Portugal I found I did miss some good English cheddar and yes, some fish and chips occasionally. There are some chippies on the south coast but nothing like back home! Then after a while I started watching UK TV again although at first I just had Portuguese TV. I guess that the honeymoon period had worn off!



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