17 ways the UK is better than the USA

The American Dream with its frontier ranches and white picket fences doesn’t seem so far from our UK ideology that our home is our castle. However, you’d be shocked and stunned to silence to learn that our American cousins haven’t taken to double glazing! After all, nobody wants a draughty castle.

This shocking revelation got us thinking about what else our neighbours from across the pond are missing out on…let us know in the comments if you think we’ve missed anything!

1. Electric Kettles

tea kettlesYou’d have a hard time finding a home without a dishwasher or coffee maker, but the US still boil water the old fashion way; over the stove. In fact most Americans have never heard of an electric kettle. Then again, tea is not every American’s…well, cup of tea.

2. Annual leave

annual leave

Whilst Americans still have the benefit of annual leave, it’s actually surprisingly short. Average leave in the USA is just 12 days, compared to a full 25 in the UK.

3. Free cash machines

free cash withdrawalsSource: Flickr

In our world, the majority of cash machines give you money for free. In the USA, you have to pay the “ATM” to get access to your own cash if it’s not your bank. Something about that just doesn’t seem right.

4. Reserved seating in cinemas

reserved theater seats

Hollywood might cater for an American audience, but cinema owners still make them fight for the best seats. Reserved cinema seating might not be common in the US, but at least they can move away from noisy neighbours.

5. Sweet and salty popcorn

sweet n salty popcornSoure: Flickr

If the merits of reserved cinema seating are debatable, this certainly isn’t. The simple pleasures of sugared, salted or (if you’re feeling adventurous) mixed popcorn easily surpasses the luminous, sticky ‘butter’ US cinemas slather on their snacks.

6. Plug switches

plug switches

We know that simply unplugging an appliance does the same job as a plug switch, but we like to feel a little more in control of our energy.

7. Bacon (real bacon)

Bacon Bap

American bacon is limited to the fatty-fare we know as streaky bacon, which is cut from pork belly and totally lacking the meaty goodness of our beloved back bacon. We can’t imagine breakfast without it.

8. Swearing on TV / Radio


Even the cherished first amendment and its guarantee of free speech hasn’t been enough to protect the rights of profane TV personalities, with the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jimmy Kimmel being forcibly bleeped at every opportunity.

9. Real ale

british ale

Source: Flickr

A cold beer on a warm summer’s day is all well and good, but sometimes you just want something with flavour and substance. And in our mind, nothing’s finer than a fresh ale.

10. AGA ovens

aga oven

They’re big, heavy, constantly burning and they use a horrendous amount of energy, but these large iron lumps are a chunky reminder of our industrial history.

11. 1 pound shopping trolleys

shopping trolley

Sometimes there’s a fine line between order and chaos, and nowhere is this clearer than the humble supermarket. A simple £1 coin keeps canals clear of rusty mayhem, car parks free of rolling clutter and your trusty steed stored in neat rows by the entrance.

12. Tuck shops

tuck shopSource: Flickr

Some might say that a tuck shop is just a dressed up sweet shop or canteen – we beg to differ. The name alone conjures up sepia images of gleeful childhoods spent purchasing all manner or sugary treats.

13. Squash

squashSource: Flickr

Here in the UK, squash isn’t just a game you play with your boss once a month – it’s a childhood staple. Sugary concentrated juice you dilute yourself might not sound too appealing to the uninitiated, but it’s a quick and tasty way to rehydrate.

14. High Streets

british high streetSource: Flickr

Napoleon once dubbed the UK a ‘nation of shopkeepers’. He meant it as a slight, but we have a proud high street tradition. In the US, massive shiny shopping malls are much more the norm.

15. Sunday roasts


Source: Flickr

Americans have apple pie, we have the Sunday roast. A glorious platter of meat, veg, potatoes and tradition, accessorised with all manner of extras like Yorkshire pudding, stuffing and crackling.

16. Accurate pricing

sales tax

There’s nothing worse than sneaky pricing plans that carry hidden costs, so imagine our surprise when we discovered most US stores display prices without the tax added!

17. Double glazing

double glazing

For a nation that loves its air conditioning units, we were stunned to find that insulating homes with double glazed windows just doesn’t happen. And in the big cities, imagine the noise! This is probably because the annual energy bill in the US is £68 a month compared to £118 a month in the UK, but that’s no excuse. Then again, we are a little biased.

Is there anything you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke

A technical whizz-kid reporting on all on things digital. Also an 'agony-uncle' for household issues and dilemmas. My Google+ page Patrick Burke+
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There are 6 responses to this article

  1. Daniel says:

    Free health care.

  2. Mick says:

    Cheaper cellphones and Internet.

  3. Jayne Tschampel says:

    I am an American, I own both an electric kettle and an on the stove tea kettle, as do both my sister and my mother. So this may not be most common, but many people here are coffee drinkers only and my family favors both coffee and tea.
    Our bacon is as you described but your bacon is what we call Canadian bacon, probably because Canada remained English territory and so kept the same bacon. I do not know why we favor striped bacon, but many northerners in the US also prefer Canadian bacon.
    Vacations, or annual leave, is usually only 1 week for most Americans for up to 5 years, when it is increased to 2 weeks. Most stay at 2 weeks for a long time, but many employers give 3 weeks after 15 years of service. We can take our time in one lump sum or break it up depending on our employer rules.
    We now have sweet and salty popcorn, we call it kettle corn, but true enough, most people still prefer salt and buttered popcorn. There are no reserved seats in a movie theater, we are capitalists and it is first come, first served on things like movie theaters, shopping, and most parking. We do have reserved seating when it comes to our sporting events, usually these quite a pricey privilege, also theater seats for live events such as opera and theater are reserved. Also, being capitalistic, there is very little that is free. There is great competition, but everything costs something, so no free money service unless it is at YOUR bank. And like everything else, Americans shop around for the lowest cost, so be sure, each person knows which bank nearby is the lowest cost to use.
    Americans in general, are an unusual people, thinking that having a plot of land with a single standing home is a great goal, living away from the city, where they can feel like a lord of their own castle… In many respects this is a huge problem when buildings in a city are left abandoned, instead of being updated and housing continuing in these buildings. Instead, the suburbs developed and it is the suburbs that destroyed the small shops and allows malls to grown and thrive, since everyone drives to the mall, and it requires a huge parking lot, but Americans put up with it because it is convenient to go to multiple stores on the same outing, usually all close together in the same shopping mall or strip mall.
    I am a rarity, instead preferring to go to those small shops and avoiding malls most of the time. But you already knew I was different when I admitted owning an electric kettle. (Which is also great to have to make hot water for instant soups, cereals and sauces, by the way.)
    Thank you for reading my post, I enjoyed your article. And, oh yes, I shop at Aldies so I am familiar with the coin required and returned system for the shopping cart too! Happy Shopping! Jayne T.

  4. Melly says:

    Double glazed windows? You mean double paned? because we certainly do that in the USA. There are two sheets of glass so that the insulation is better, and most middle class and higher houses have them installed.
    We do have plug switches, but usually just for one plug in the room and the switch is on the wall. Probably not as nice as what you have there, but it gets the job done.
    The tax thing I agree with, it should be included in the price. However the shopping carts wouldn’t get put back just for a dollar, even two. People may take them back more often, I know I would, but there are plenty of people who will throw away the dollar amount to just leave the cart where they want. Also some people may just stop shopping at a store that required such a thing.
    oh, also I want to try your bacon, but I can’t believe there is a more delicious bacon than what I already eat…. does it crisp up at all?

  5. joshua crocker says:

    just wanted to say “cheers” to Jayne Tschampel for showing that just because we’re americans on the internet were not all illiterate vulgar children and some of us can converse in a rational discourse!

  6. Moriarty is dead says:

    In the U.S there is a small grocer that requires a 25 cent piece to unlock a grocery cart. Unfortunately that practice is not the norm.

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