British culture and customs

If you’re considering moving to the UK, it can be extremely intimidating. Of course the working visas and logistics of moving can be tough, but even the idea of fitting into British culture can be equally scary.

Here are some tips to fitting into British culture and better understanding British customs so you can seamlessly adapt to their way of live once you move here. No one said being an expat in England is easy!

British Banter

Banter (noun) An back and forth exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks

One of the things that British people do every well is banter. If you’re from a country that doesn’t naturally participate in banter, it can be really surprising at first. It may even feel like the British don’t like you, don’t accept you and don’t want you around.

But it’s actually quite the opposite!

Banter is extremely common with Brits and is usually done to show friendship. So while it may feel like they are making fun of you, they probably consider you a friend.

Banter can be things like teasing you about your outfit, or something that you said. Banter might be joking about what you did on the weekend, or playfully mocking you. On the outside it can feel very demeaning, upsetting or hurtful if you’re not used to it, but it’s actually a friendly way British people communicate.

British People Love to Queue

Queue (noun) A file or line, especially of people waiting their turn for something (ex. Post office)

British people take queues very seriously, and newcomers to the UK should be careful to never upset a queue. For others, this is usually considered a line, or lining up for something, such as at the bank or post office. If you move to the UK, or are simply travelling around, it would be wise to respect all queues. If you were to “cut” a queue, you’ll probably hear the famous British “tutting” of disdain for your actions, or you may even be confronted by a fellow-queuer that you shouldn’t have jump the queue.

No matter what you do, never disrespect a British queue.

Fitting in with British culture

British Pubs

One of my favourite things about British life is visiting the local pub. Even if you live in a small village, the chances of you having a pub (or two) are almost guaranteed. Having a pint at the pub is one of my top “Living in England Pros.”

Some pubs are quiet, some are trendy. Some pubs are loud and rowdy, some are posh and upscale. Whatever you prefer, you’ll be able to find a pub like that in Britain.

Pubs in most of the country are fairly responsibly priced. Once you get closer to the big cities (London and Edinburgh, especially) prices for a pint will jump upwards.

One of the best things you can do on a nice Saturday afternoon is find a nice pub, have lunch (if they serve food) and enjoy the atmosphere.

Here are some lesser known things about England and its culture!

Polite and Quiet

For the most part, British people are incredibly polite and quiet. They usually like to be left alone and won’t appreciate their person space getting invaded.

If you move to the UK, make sure to respect the British culture of being polite and quiet. There are a few do’s and don’t that you can follow to make life easier as you adapt to British culture:

  • Don’t talk too closely to anyone
  • If there are empty seats on the train or bus, don’t choose to sit next to a stranger
  • Don’t talk too loudly or shout when it’s unnecessary
  • Do make sure you buy a round of drinks at the pub if you’re out with friends
  • Do ask a Brit “You alright?” but don’t ever give a real answer when asked yourself
  • Don’t share too much information when talking with an acquaintance
  • Do talk about the weather, British people love to

Sunday Roast

A huge part of British culture is having a Sunday roast, nearly every Sunday. This is a long standing tradition that takes place all over the UK. A Sunday roast could be had at home, or the pub and even most restaurants serve a roast dinner on Sundays. These tend to be massive meals with a variety of food, such as roast beef, chicken, ham, Yorkshire pudding, boiled vegetables, gravy, roast potatoes, and perhaps even pigs in blankets (small sausages rolled in bacon).

Whatever you choose to have on Sunday roast, make sure it’s with friends or family and enjoy one of the best parts of British culture.

British Tea

A big part of British life is tea! While coffee has been gaining popularity in recent years, tea will always be loved in the UK. Want to learn more about how to navigate British tea etiquette? Make sure to check out: The Brits and their tea | British culture and the best British tea