British expats reveal what they miss most about home in the pandemic

British expats reveal what they miss most about home in the pandemic

What would you miss about Britain? Three expats from around the world reveal what they miss about home

  • Three expats reveal what they miss about home and British properties
  • The individuals are living around the world, including Vietnam and the Alps
  • Sash windows and log fires feature in their list of things they miss about Britain

The cold weather, log fires and Sunday roasts around the dining table with the family are just some of the things that expats miss most about living away from home.

While many Britons are desperate to get their annual summer holiday overseas this year, the three expats we spoke to reminded us about about the good stuff right here on our doorstep. 

We asked them several questions about what they miss most about the British home that they last lived in and what they love most about typically British interiors.

The expats are based as far as the other side of the world in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. The other two are closer to home in the Alps and in the Netherlands. 

Georgian architecture and sash windows were named as some of the things our expats missed most

This terrace property in Bath, Somerset, (also pictured above) contrasts modern interiors with original features such as sash windows – and is for sale for £1.4million via agents Carter Jonas

The first expat we spoke to was Holly Seddon, a Briton who lives in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

What do you miss most about Britain? 

Missing home: Author Holly Seddon, lives in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, but is soon heading back to Britain

I really miss the hills, the seaside and the higgledy-piggledy countryside. 

The Netherlands is notoriously flat, and although it’s a small country it can feel quite sparse and empty outside of the cities. 

There are pretty little villages and stunning waterways but there’s nothing that scratches the itch of chocolate box cottages, winding roads and country pubs.

I’m an author and my books are all set in the UK, so I spend a lot of my time wistfully writing about the things I miss and letting my characters go to my favourite places. In my novel The Hit List, a lot of the action takes place in the Surrey countryside for this very reason.

I’m not going to lie though, most of what I miss is food-based and we’ve already got a long list of meals planned for when we first move back, starting with fish, chips and mushy peas.

What do you miss most about the last British property you lived in?

The last British property we lived in had a nice garden with bi-fold doors that were pretty much permanently open during the summer. Our apartment here is lovely and we’re lucky enough to have roof terraces but I do miss having a garden and being able to boot the kids and dogs outside.

It’s also not standard in the Netherlands to have hot water in the WC. We have it in the bathroom, of course, but it’s just cold water in the little toilet and when you come inside from the Dutch winter and want to wash your hands, that can be a bit punishing.

We absolutely love the Amsterdam interior style. It’s unique to the city, but I’d say it’s a mix of Scandinavian and Parisian, with floor to ceiling windows, open-plan living and beautiful oak floors. 

Black interior metal and glass doors are really popular here, as are marble features like worktops and mantelpieces. We’re moving back this summer and have bought a new-build that is something of a blank canvas for us to try to recreate our favourite element of the style.

One of the first things we did when we bought our house here was build a huge bookcase – my pride and joy – which we’ll definitely do again. I also have an instant boiling water and filter tap here which I’m obsessed with, so we’ll get another one of those.

How has living abroad made you change where you would like to live once you return to Britain?

Amsterdam offers a safe, ‘village’ version of city life and it’s been a brilliant place to raise our children. My eldest two love it so much that they’ve decided to stay on to university here.

Now we hanker for a pretty town in the countryside but still want to be able to reach London easily. We’ve been spoiled with museums, shops and restaurants so we don’t want to be too out in the sticks. 

We realised that the Kent town we’d lived in before we moved here actually offered everything we wanted. So after years of feeling like newcomers and navigating our way through a different culture, we’re looking forward to going home.

What do you like most about British interiors and is there a typically British feature you miss?  

I do miss the fireplaces and cosy living rooms. But as crazy as it sounds, I am really looking forward to having some gently sloping British stairs. 

The houses and apartment blocks here are very tall and the staircases can be quite hair raising. To get from our front door to our living room you climb a two-storey staircase with no bend, and then we have another two staircases in our apartment. 

It’s great for your legs and the stairs are quite a talking point when we have international guests, but it’ll be nice to take it a bit easier and not worry about tumbling down after a few glasses of wine.

This eight-bedroom Georgian country house is in the village of Wall in Staffordshire and is for sale for £4.25million via Aston Knowles estate agents

The house in Wall has retains several original features including this open fireplace with a brick hearth and an oak beam

Another expat we spoke to was Jo Sawyer, who lived in London before moving to Vietnam, where she is a primary school teacher at an International School.

Former Londoner Jo Sawyer is a teacher at an International School in Vietnam

What do you miss most about Britain and your last British home?

Apart from family and friends, I miss all the things I took for granted or complained about when I lived in England. 

I haven’t been cold at any point during the four years that I have lived here as it is only hot and dry, or hot and wet in Vietnam. 

I miss wrapping up against the chilly weather on a country walk, experiencing different seasons, quaint English villages and reading the Sunday newspapers. 

Thank goodness for MailOnline, as I can read it over here and it keeps me in touch with what is going on back home and around the world. 

There is only one thing I miss about my old property in East Dulwich and that is a bath. It is rare to have property with a bath here in Vietnam and I think longingly about my hours spent relaxing in one after a hard day at work.

What do you love most about your current home that you would like to  introduce back here?

Having a huge balcony filled with tropical plants is a joy to look at daily and I still get excited by seeing palm trees when I open my curtains every morning. I will miss living in an open-plan property, it’s very different to the small Victorian flat I lived in before and has a lot more natural light and wonderful views of daily life in Ho Chi Minh City. Having a pool is also a big plus of living in the tropics and I can’t imagine being so enthusiastic about outdoor swimming in Britain.

How has living abroad made you change where you would like to live once you return to Britain?

Living in a vibrant and busy city is wonderful, but I will definitely be looking to move to the countryside when my son and I return to the UK. Being in lockdown last year made me realise the benefits of access to open countryside or a coastline. Being able to walk to a beach is top on my list of priorities when we go home.

What do you like most about British interiors?

I do miss anything linked to being cold over here. Log fires are a distant dream and I am looking forward to eating a Sunday roast at home with my family, with a cosy log fire in the background.

The final expat we spoke to is Helen Watts, of the Alpine French School, which welcomes international students to the Alps to learn French in the villages of Morzine and Les Gets. 

Helen Watts, of the Alpine French School, lives in the French Alps 

What do you miss most about Britain and the last house you lived in here? 

I miss take-away food. And the variety of food in general but also international cuisine like Indian, Thai and Chinese, but then I do live in the French Alps where food choices are quite traditional and aren’t that varied. 

I miss the cosiness of curtains and carpets in bedrooms and living areas, especially during the winter months. In France, houses typically have tiled or wooden floors and although the house is warm, it doesn’t feel the same. In fact we’re building a new house at the moment and have decided to add carpets in the bedrooms as we miss them.

What do you love most about your current home that you would like to introduce in a house back in Britain?

I live in a beautiful wooden chalet with a lot of large windows and this is something I would replicate in a future house to ensure it was really light and bright. But in Britain, finding or building a house like that would be quite a challenge.

How has living abroad made you change your mind about where to live in Britain?

I grew up in Sutton Coldfield on the outskirts of Birmingham so I grew up as a city girl. If I moved back to Britain, I would definitely live in the countryside or by the coast and not in a city. The UK doesn’t have mountains like The Alps, but there are some really beautiful places all the same.

What do you like most about British interiors?

I love traditional Georgian houses and sash windows and you just don’t see the same style in France. There isn’t really anything that I miss in terms of household items as we actually imported a few bits and pieces from the UK that aren’t so commonplace in France like a boiling water tap and a slow cooker.  

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