Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The definitive guide to moving abroad and whether it's right for you


This is a preview to the chapter Culture from the book Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Paul Allen.
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“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” – Henry Miller, US author (1891-1980)

Culture ... no, I’m not talking about inexplicable daubs of paint on canvas or people that sing sounding like their arses are on fire. I mean the whole ambience, character and mode of living of a country and its people.

What is it you like about New York? The 24 hour-a-day bustle, the lights, the noise, the diversity, the energy?

Or Provence? Tree-shaded town squares lined by cafes, where the only sound is the clunk of petanque balls rolling in the gravel?

Perhaps it’s the surf at Bondi Beach that gets your pulse racing.

Each location has its own unique and exhilarating identity. Moving to another country is like trying snorkelling for the first time – you stick your face in the water and suddenly there’s a whole new beautiful and alien world to savour that you never knew existed.

That can be intoxicating. But bear in mind that after a while the thrill can wear off too. The underwater kingdom may be beautiful, yet that doesn’t mean we’re suited to living in it. Sometimes you may just find that you do, in fact, breathe easier on that piece of dry land from whence you came.

Some Joys

Naturally, these are too numerous, and vary too much from person-to-person, to be anything more than a taster. Doubtless you will find those gems of a country’s culture that appeal to your own particular predilections. But here are a few things that occurred to me ...

New York, New York

While living in Manhattan we used to have what we called our “New York moments.”
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What else is in the chapter 'Culture'?

La Dolce Vita

But while North America has every scene of natural beauty you could ever hope to witness (and I’m not even going to touch on the fantastic landscapes in Australia and ...


Nowhere are Spain’s local and regional variations more apparent than in its festivals. And there are hundreds of them. Some are nationwide, some regional, some town specific. Fish, olives, horses, ...


One of the features of Spanish culture that surprised me at first is the approach to drinking. Go into one of the many bars or cafés in any Spanish town ...

Some Bugbears

Understand though that you will not always be so enamoured by your new home. You can’t expect to love everything all the time. And you won’t. In particular, that initial ...

Time keeping

When it comes to punctuality, I found little to choose between the States and the prevailing attitudes in Britain. In Spain, however, it is a different matter. ...

Construction Quality

Now, I realise British builders are by no means perfect. I’ve got enough friends who are plasterers, carpenters, builders, plumbers and architects to have heard some of the horror stories ...


Singapore is, without doubt, the cleanest place I have ever seen. The streets are spotless, the parks manicured. There are strict laws against littering (first-time offenders face a fine of ...


Smoking in Spain used to be amazingly prevalent. When we moved over in 2003 bank employees could still smoke at their desks while serving customers. But in January 2006 a ...

International Cuisine

One legacy of Britain’s imperial past, and its multi-ethnic diversity, is the array of different foods on offer on the supermarket shelves, and from restaurants and takeaways. In New York ...


Hopefully you’re going to be so busy surfing, horseback riding, wine tasting, playing golf or just socialising with all your fabulous new friends in your paradise home that you won’t ...


While living in New York I got pretty into baseball. Some American friends took my wife and I to a few games, where they patiently explained the rules and some ...


Driving in the UK is a bit like the country’s TV programmes – you don’t realise how favourably it compares until you live elsewhere. ...

Working hours

Despite efforts in some European countries – notably France – to enforce limits on the length of the working week, it seems those late nights in the office and workplace ...


I know, I know. It’s supposed to be one of the most appealing, civilised parts of Mediterranean life. A long lunch at which family gather together to talk and eat, ...


1) Which aspects of your home country’s culture are inciting you to consider moving abroad? Is it the lack of friendliness of passers-by in the street, overcrowded shopping centres and ...


"Maybe I'm biased because Paul interviewed me for this book, but I think it's a great, thorough overview of the..."

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