Sunday, April 9, 2017

Readying to RePat - This is Not Gonna be Easy

I think I've gone the longest ever without posting on Expat Mum. And with good reason. I'm stressed to the hilt and rushed off my feet at the same time.

See, we have decided to move to the UK in July of this year. Yes. Like I said, with good reason. I will have lived in the USA for 27 years by the time I move back and trust me, this is not going "home". Things have changed so much that I look like well, a foreigner in my own country! It took me a few years to pluck up the courage to try to release a supermarket trolley (cart) with a pound coin. It's a bit embarrassing having to ask a fellow Brit where the coin goes and how you get it back - with an English accent. Most of the time I have to repeat myself as people just can't believe that I don't know the simplest of things. A few of them, I know, assume I'm a bit on the slow side.

Last week we were in the south of England trying to find somewhere to live and we popped into the nearest supermarket for a few staples. (Not the stationery kind, btw). Half way across the car park we realised we didn't have a pound coin, so back to the car where I knew I had one in my coat pocket. Nervously laughing and joking about how we'd never be able to liberate a trolley, we approached them, only to find that this particular supermarket obviously didn't experience much trolley theft and had abandoned the pound coin deposit system.

Once we'd done our tiny bit of shopping, and had directed the 13 year old to put back the multiple packets of biscuits he'd sneaked into the trolley, we paid with a card - that had a chip but no pin. It usually throws people into a tizz but I think they must have quite a few Yanks in that particular branch of Waitrose as the cashier gave the tiniest of eyerolls and then executed the payment procure remarkably smoothly. (I think the eyeroll was of the "When will these Americans get with the chip and pin programme?" variety.)

The next hurdle was the green plastic disc that was handed to me along with my receipt. No explanation, nothing. "What's that?" asked the Ball & Chain. "I don't know, just keep walking" I replied, hoping not to set any alarms off as we fled to the safety of the car park. (I then texted my cousin who explained that it was to nominate a charity. Votes (ie. discs) are tallied and the local charity with the most discs wins a donation.)



Oh yes, I have a feeling there's much blog fodder to be had in the coming months! 

31 comments:

  1. Oy! What about meeting me and our lovely lunch??????

    I had no idea about the Waitrose green disc thing for months. Had quite tge stash to deposit once I found out what they were for

    Hugs
    X

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    1. Actually, I do have something to write about that! Look out for the next post!

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    2. Oh goodie :) remember I'm shy x

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  2. I'm fairly new to reading your blog and I look forward to your adventures as you come back to England. Do you know where you want to live? -Jenn

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    1. Welcome Coffee! We will be living in Surrey, near Windsor. Gorgeous area and near some family members.

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  3. I know how you feel - I left the UK 14 years ago and now no longer feel qualified to enlighten my American friends on British culture - I find myself often saying "well, that's how I did it when I lived in England, but who knows how they do it now!".

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    1. It's definitely a different England for me.

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  4. Hello, I am thinking about moving back. Miss my mum. How hard was paperwork? I am married a have a 7 year old son. How does healthcare work? I also head that SS transfers over??

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    1. It depends whether you're trying to take a non EU spouse with you. If your son has a British passport that should be OK; if he doesn't, then get one first! The requirements are quite stiff financially. Healthcare is also a pain because you're not automatically entitled to NHS access, although it depends on where you would be living. I haven't looked into transferring SS since this is not necessarily closing the door on the USA for us.

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  6. I can only imagine the amount of stress you are under with a move of this magnitude! Good luck and I can't wait to read all about it.

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  7. Wow, that's big! What made you decide to move back to the U.K.?

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    1. We've talked about it for years and this is about the only window we've ever had. We're just looking at it as a four year adventure and then we'll probably spend time in both countries.

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    2. Here's wishing you as smooth a transition as possible! And — just an observation here — "four years"... Happens to coincide with the current presidential administration's tenure ... Totally random coincidence, no doubt ... (I envy your having an option) ...

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  8. I had a vaguely similar experience when I lived in the States for almost two months a couple of years ago. Only there the reverse culture shock was less about green chips at supermarkets and more about 'is that an ACTUAL GUN that man has on his hip in a supermarket?!' Lol-not lol. Looking forward to the twist in this expat/repat blog! X

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    1. Oh yes. Always love to see that. I walked straight out of a Walmart in Colorado because of that. And I made sure the manager at the door knew my reason for leaving.

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  9. This is funny - I think I'm going to enjoy your 'back in the UK' posts. Chuckling at 'just keep walking!' :-)

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    1. It was a bit ridiculous. We had already made a fool of ourselves standing gawping at the trollies that didn't need the coin, so the last thing I needed was to make another spectacle of us. I did expect the alarms to go off when we left the shop though. (We also walked past the giant display with the three bins for the green discs. Sigh.)

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    2. There's a grocery chain in the western U.S., Lucky's, which gives you wooden tokens if you use reusable grocery bags. It's the same principle: there are three boxes in the vestibule to put your token(s) in (you get one token for each reusable sack). Sometimes I give the tokens to a nearby child because they enjoy popping them through the slots so much.

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  10. Wow! This is a surprise and should make interesting blogging.
    Maggie x

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  11. Oh wow, great news (I think), I look forward to reading your 'foreigner in my own country' blog posts! Good luck, Jean x

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  12. Will be interesting to hear tales of you re-patting (if that's the word) in a post-Brexit England. They do have the coin based trolleys here in US at Aldi now too. And yes I too had to ask how to do it even though I remember doing it in Germany not too long ago.

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  13. As we have often said since November, "It's a good time to be out of the US" but there's no point in going into all of that, is there? I run into the problem with my US card all the time (we have a UK one, but all our airplane miles are on the US one, so we use that one primarily) - although I should point out that, before we moved from Korea to the UK, we specifically requested a chip and pin card from our bank, which involved all sorts of machinations (New Technology! Eeek!), completely different cards (not just updated ones, but cards with brand new numbers) and the accompanying headaches involved with updating all the automatic payments linked to them. So....off we moved to England, where we discovered that our US chip and pin cards, so laboriously acquired - didn't work in the UK anyway! Two plus years in, and we're still signing and apologising...sigh. But welcome back - I am SO looking forward to your observations as you do this! x

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    1. I'm assuming I won't be able to keep my US cards if I'm not resident there? Need to do some homework.

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    2. You can keep US cards if you have a US bank account - I still do, and use it when I go to the US (and Europe - as dollars are better than pounds at the moment.)

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  14. Lovely part of England in which to live, easy to reach central London from Windsor (and Elton Riverside) to Waterloo.
    Beware the traffic jam that is the M25 though!

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    1. Yes, we sat in the traffic last week between Junctions 11 and 13 for what seemed like hours. Nightmare.

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  15. Best of luck with this reverse move. As much as I miss England, I'm not sure I would be brave enough to move back there so I have every admiration for you. I would be scared to death of negotiating the minefield of things like the NHS, National Insurance contributions and US Taxes! Really looking forward to hearing about the move!

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    1. Ah well see...although my husband gets access to the NHS because he has to pay a health surcharge with his visa application, I don't. It's based on residency, so I will have to have insurance for a while. Ridiculous isn't it? The husband is also a CPA so I'm leaving all the numbers stuff to him!

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  16. I can't wait to hear how you get on. It will be lovely to see you again - and shout if you need any advice on repatriation!

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