My plan to live in the UK was never meant to last 5 years. In January '99, Craig proposed. We lived in Pennsylvania, and when we started doing the research about what it meant for an American to marry a Brit, we learned very quickly that it was easier, faster, and cheaper to get married in England. So the plan was, I'd live in England for a year, experience it, maybe get to travel a bit.
Plans never work that way.
We were married in May '99. By the end of June, I was pregnant. I couldn't drive, Craig was working a lot, and I was 100% reliant on my mother-in-law for everything. I didn't gain any measure of independence until August '00, which was hugely hard on me because I'd been on my own since I was 18. I tried working in London part-time for a few months at that point, but I had a difficult time letting go control on Alicia's day-to-day stuff and stopped in December '00. Which is just as well because in March I got pregnant again.
I lived in England for 5 years total, almost all of it fairly isolated. I was ready to move back to the US, and frankly, so was Craig. He hadn't really wanted to stay that long. He preferred living in the states. But when I went back at Christmas this past year, I realized what the difference for me really was.
England is *cozy*. There's a sense of community and family there that I just don't have here in the US. Part of that is because I'm in California and I don't have family nearby. I'm a loner by nature and if the family isn't right in my face, then I have a tendency to just go merrily along on my own. In England, we never had that option. There is a strong sense of family with Craig's. The kids saw Nanny and Grandad at least once a week, cousins at least once every couple of weeks. In a lot of ways, it felt safer.
Coming back to the US...there's more choices here. Which is a good and a bad thing. Life in England is simpler, but that's because of necessity more than anything else. Oh, and my Diet Mountain Dew addiction is always in trouble when I'm over there because you can't get it. You can't get regular Mountain Dew, either, unless you want to pay $4 a can. I took two 24 packs of cans with me when we went at Christmas, and rationed myself 1 a day, lol.
But the biggest thing in coming back? I feel independent again. I *never* got that in the UK. Maybe I could now, I don't know. But that makes it all worth it to me.