Things I miss about living in America

While there are many things about living in America that I don’t enjoy, there are also many pluses. As we prepare to return to the USA later this year, my list of things I’m looking forward to is starting to grow.

living in America


You knew I would start with this topic, right? Yes, I am looking forward to Red Vines, good bagels and cream cheese with salmon, but there are other things I love and miss about eating and drinking in the US.

In most places I’ve lived in the US, almost any manner of ethnic foods is available. I don’t have to go out of my way to find sushi, decent Thai, the American version of Chinese food, and dang tasty BBQ. And in a big enough city, they’ll most likely deliver it to my home.

I can find almost anything I’d want, and possibly some things I didn’t know I wanted, in a supermarket. If I can’t, most likely there’s a specialty market nearby that has it.

Free refills of drinks. With ice. It’s easy enough to get ice in your drinks in Mexico. Most of them are served that way, so no biggie. But it’s the exception in many foreign countries. Free refills are practically unheard of outside the US. I love going out to breakfast and being able to get enough coffee that I have to turn the server away. On a hot summer day it’s absolutely lovely to have bottomless iced tea.

While the food quality isn’t always so good, I also do love buffets. So often I’m in the mood for a variety of foods, and those are perfect times to hit a buffet where I can get a little of this, a little of that, and so on.

Even though I mentioned bagels above, I’m going to mention them again. There are places dedicated to making nothing but bagels, and heaven bless them. I’ve missed flavored cream cheese as well. Occasionally while on the road I can find maybe one flavor other than original, but having a plethora to match my mood is something I thoroughly enjoy in the States.

And good ice cream and frozen yogurt. Gelato has a time and a place, and sometimes I really enjoy it. However, to my taste buds nothing will beat the full richness and texture of a good ice cream. Froyo has been almost nonexistent everywhere we’ve been, and the couple of times I have found it . . . well, it hasn’t been a good experience. I look forward to a whole big frozen section full of really delicious ice cream.

I also look forward to microbreweries and craft beers. Prague was pretty much the only place that could satisfy my desire for a craft beer. In the US, I’ll have too many choices to make selection easy. I’m okay with that.

We’re both looking forward to good pizza, too. I’m not into bland cracker crusts and a wimpy amount of toppings.

living in America


I may not enjoy losing the strength of the US dollar while we’re in places like Romania, Czech, and Mexico, but it will be nice to not have to constantly do currency conversions every time I want to buy a soft drink or something.

I am also thoroughly looking forward to being able to use my debit card everywhere! I hate having to always have a good amount of cash when I go somewhere and worrying about whether or not I’ll have enough for our meal.  It’s so much easier when I can just swipe my card for practically everything.

Living in America

Random stuff

We love to swim year round. It will be nice to be able to go to a pool that doesn’t require a cap and Speedos. Or that you possess a medical form signed by a physician that includes a fecal and blood exam.

Not being accosted by touts trying to sell me crap. Definitely miss that from Europe. Here (Mexico) and in Asia we stand out, and people tend to see us as a walking dollar sign. That stuff gets really old.

I also won’t miss being asked 5000 times where we’re from. And I won’t have to rely purely on Skype to speak with my friends and loved ones. I’ll be able to actually call them and vice versa!

Grocery stores with self-checkout lanes are also highly enjoyable. While I’m a pretty social guy, I have moments where I’d really not just have meaningless conversations with people. Let me just scan my stuff, pay, and go.

One of the best parts of being back in America, though, is I don’t have to worry about visa restrictions!

When you travel, what do you miss about living in America?

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  1. I have so many things as well that I miss.. Usually for me it involves food too 😉

    Just and FYI there are numerous and I mean NUMEROUS flavors of Philadelphia Cream Cheese in the grocery store here in Germany but sadly they are lacking good bagels.

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  2. It’s been four years since I’ve been back to the States and guess that puts me in a minority, but I miss 100% cotton socks and underwear—the food can wait. Not sure who thought polyester was a good fabric for these garments, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to find a good pair in Thailand.

    Although Heather makes a good point above about delivery services. I’ve found myself missing Amazon a time or three.

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    • I definitely do miss those nice big, fluffy towels! And bath towels that aren’t the size of a handcloth.

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  3. I was back in the States for 6 weeks this summer and lox and bagels were consumed on the regular. Beer takes on a new meaning when you can get all the great microbrews, and don’t even get me started on the bourbon (of course I brought back a few bottles to Thailand as well)!

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    • I think buying bagels is one of the first things I plan on doing! I’m more of a Scotch guy when it comes to whisky, but I don’t mind some Southern Comfort or Jack Daniels either!

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  4. Cheeseburgers. That’s probably what I miss more than anything else (I think it was a telltale sign when I tried to get a cheeseburger and Cairo and was informed that McDonalds was the standard of excellence…). And a good American-style breakfast. I do love me some eggs and bacon/sausage for breakfast. It’s just not the same without it. And good pizza where sausage is more than a hot dog thrown on a pizza (I”m looking at you Southeast Asia!).

    As for those bagels and lox…you know you gotta come to NYC for some good bagels, right? 😛

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    • I LOVE American breakfasts. I had a friend from Germany who was living in the US for awhile. His two big loves were: Big American breakfasts and Big Gulps. As much as I love French food, their breakfast is just ridiculous.

      OMG! I stopped eating sausage on pizzas in SEA because of that. And their hotdogs are soft and mushy, too. Gross!

      I wouldn’t mind some NYC bagels! Still need to make my way out there.

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  5. I’ve been living in Korea for the past 3 1/2 years. I miss the grocery stores and being able to read labels! I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I go home and grocery shop. I miss being able to communicate with (almost) anyone I want to without language barriers. Most of all, I miss Tex Mex.

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    • Being able to read the labels is not overrated. LOL Tex-Mex is a hard one! SO difficult to find ANYWHERE outside the US and Mexico. I’m sure getting my fill while we’re here.

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  6. I have to agree on bagels. I spend as much as possible of my American travel time in a deli – Lox and bagels, corned beef, etc. And, I miss graham crackers. I recently had a New Zealand style s’more – on a cookie. I haven’t run into any of the pool hassles you have. Where did you need all those medical records?

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    • S’mores on a cookie? Now that’s just wrong!

      The pool issue is in Mexico. You can’t use the public pool here until you have your doctor’s clearance on file (which includes the fecal and blood tests). Obviously, the hotel pools don’t require that. Phew!

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  7. While paying for my weekly haul at Costco this morning, the man behind me – in line – says randomly, it’s so nice to see someone who eats real food. And then the conversation went from there, but it was so random. Sometimes I like that someone is friendly but other times, as you say, let me just pay and move on! Being at Costco is being at work for me. Of course for me, when shopping at Costco, by sheer volume I am a captured audience for the chatty. 🙂

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    • Especially with how big your trolley is! Costco is one of the other things I enjoy about life in the US, too. Although unlike for you, it isn’t work for me. 😉

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  8. I had a huge, long list when I finally got home.

    Chips and salsa, cheap good beer, bagels, sweet American coffee, wifi accessibility (in Austin), 24 hour places, my community, men holding doors for me (seriously), my car, TexMex tacos, efficiency of all kinds, air conditioning, and the list can go on but those are the main ones that come to mind. <3

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    • Efficiency is definitely one thing I’ll appreciate a lot. Not having to go to 5 different counters to complete a simple purchase will be decadent!

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  9. Although I’m not American, I’ve visited the country on 12 occasions and lived there for a year. Things I miss about the United States: the ice-cream… nobody in the world does decadent ice-cream like Americans can. I also miss the efficiency of the postal service and other delivery mechanisms (order online today… get your stuff tomorrow)… and the full access to Netflix and iTunes (limited access to iTunes in my country… and no Netflix). I also miss free drink refills. And fast internet in most places. And the Mexican food (both tex-mex and real deal stuff). Oh… and the museums. So many wonderful museums (and many of them free…. DC comes to mind).

    When I’m away from my home country (South Africa)… I miss the braaied meat, the weather and the laid-back… can-do type of atmosphere. I found there to be an inordinate amount of rules in the States (and, in general, I’m a bit of an anarchist and don’t like being told what to do… and especially if it’s by a teenager telling me to stand behind a line… or a parking attendant treating me like an infant ‘for my own safety’). I have a love/hate relationship with the laid-back, African-time SA lifestyle… but miss those options terribly when I don’t have them.

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    • I’m so glad you feel the same way about American ice cream. It’s really the best I’ve ever had, but I didn’t know if that was just because it’s what I grew up with. Nice to have a foreigner’s feedback.

      Great point about the online shipping. I had forgotten about that! When I lived in the US, I readily availed myself of that as often as possible, especially around the holidays. No crazy malls for me, thank you very much!

      I’m with you about the rules, too. That part drives me absolutely crazy. Like the signs at a playground warning you that your child could fall and hurt themselves. Really? Duh!

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  10. The food. OH my goodness the food. I think Mexican food is way better than Costa Rican food but damn it is impossible to get a good international dish around here. The town I live barely has any good restaurants and Costa Rican food is fine but it gets boring very fast. I miss having so many options and the food in the States is so good, authentic too. Here, never. I almost miss places being open late at night or 24 hours!

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    • Costa Rican food does seem a bit monotonous. I really feel the absence of ethnic food when I want good sushi or some Thai food. Or when we aren’t in Mexico and want some of that cuisine.

      Thanks for reminding me about stuff being open late and 24 hours! That was something I often had to struggle with in different parts of Europe. Grocery stores that close at 6 PM? What?! lol

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  11. “When you travel, what do you miss about living in America? ”

    You could probably change that to ‘what do you miss about living in your home country’

    I miss good breakfasts from New Zealand, coffee, being able to use my EFTPOS card for any transaction (I barely use any cards when traveling except to withdraw money) and friends and family. Outside of that, nothing else…!

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    • I could change the question to numerous things, but I asked the one that was most relevant to what I was writing about. 😉

      In some places we weren’t able to avail ourselves of EFTPOS since so many countries use chip technology, and the US hasn’t caught onto that trend yet. It’s changing finally, but man it would’ve really helped to have a chip card!

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