Moving to another state can be unsettling enough, so it is not surprising that American expats living in London often want to hook up with fellow countrymen (and women) to compare notes on the British weather, the cost of living in the capital and the central role of the pub in the lives of most Londoners.
So how do you go about tracking down other Americans?
Events and Groups for American Expats
There are plenty of American groups in London arranging regular events and meetings and several niche groups have sprung up around dating, sports, political parties and even individual politicians (for example, there is a sizeable group supporting the election of Hillary Clinton as President). There is a mixture of organizations, from general groups, open to all Americans, to groups that are specific to a specific demographic, for example professional women, spouses or students.
How can an American, new to London, find out where all these groups are meeting? Fortunately, the American version of online service Meetup is one of a few excellent resources for American expats. Simply select your area from the list, or click the generic ‘London’ link, and you will be able to view and connect with numerous different groups which, between them, account for thousands of American expats. Some of the groups have been going for over a decade and meet at a different venue each time to encourage expats to explore their new home. Some groups have formed around specific areas of London (e.g. South East London), while others are focused more on where you originated from (e.g. New Yorkers).
The American Society in London has been going for over a hundred years with its mission of strengthening ties between Britain and America, but there is a joining fee.
Social Media and Blogs
Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter can help you track down American contacts, although some groups are more protective of personal contact information than others. Nevertheless you can usually find some way of posting a message or finding a contact number or email address to make initial contact. As for Twitter, try searching #USexpat or similar hashtags to see what other Americans abroad are tweeting about.
There are plenty of blogs written by American expats in London, and again you may be able to elicit some help in meeting other Americans by leaving a comment or tracking down contact details. Some bloggers will be more than happy for you to get in touch by emailing them directly. You can find relevant blogs via the blog directory at Expatsblog.com. At the time of writing there were 60 blogs from London alone, with Americans very well represented among their number. Even if you don’t manage to meet up with another American via the blogging route, you will find lots of expat advice and read about how other travelers in your situation have adapted to life in the ‘Big Smoke’ (that’s London, not New York!)
Of course, as with social networking within the United States, you should never disclose your address or any other sensitive information publicly. If you do arrange to meet a fellow expat, make sure it is in a busy location and bring someone else with you if possible.
Go out into the City
If you really want to meet other Americans in London, it will be much easier if you are out and about enjoying all the capital has to offer, rather than sitting in your apartment watching TV all evening. We may be used to profiling potential friends online and joining groups of people who share a similar interest, but nothing beats the thrill of a random encounter with another American who you immediately hit it off with. Of course, there is no shortage of things to do in London: a wealth of museums and art galleries to marvel at, including the Natural History and Science Museums; castles and palaces to explore, like the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and, of course, Buckingham Palace; eateries to cater for all tastes, including the top-rated Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and the Hawksmoor, which serves up American-size steaks; established markets and festivals that last for months and a legendary selection of theatres, clubs and pubs offering plays, concerts, comedy and variety acts of all descriptions every night of the week. While there are few places in London where you can be guaranteed to bump into an American, Camden market is a popular haunt as is Notting Hill’s Portobello Road (and Notting Hill in general).
Live Where Americans Live
Of course, the likelihood of finding an American face among the crowds increases if you are living in the areas of London favored by US expats. These include:
Islington is an up and coming area to the north of London with superb tramsport links to the centre. There are plenty of pleasant green spaces to enjoy too.
Kensington and Chelsea seem to be particularly close to Americans’ hearts. This borough is among the most expensive places to live in London, boasting large, spacious and well-maintained properties. Part of Kensington’s appeal is its air of authentic London.
As mentioned above, Notting Hill (actually a part of Kensington) is attractive to Americans, partly due to its thriving arts scene and partly due to the Richard Curtis film. Notting Hill is known for its annual carnival and Portobello Market.
St John’s Wood
St John’s Wood is an affluent area of Westminster and houses the American School in London, hence its popularity with US expats.
Embrace the Culture
Finally, if you’re looking to meet up with fellow Americans because you’re feeling homesick, most US expats have been there at some point or another. Sometimes the best cure is to remind yourself why you came to London in the first place and immerse yourself in learning all about your new home.