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Cultural Differences Between the United Kingdom and the United States: Part 2

The United Kingdom and United States are set apart by many cultural differences that define the values and traditions of both countries. British visitors to the United States enjoy lower consumer prices and their pound stretches further, as the pound is strong against the dollar at the moment. American tourists on the other hand will be shocked at the high fuel prices and the cost of clothes and food.

Cultural differences between the United Kingdom and the United States #1 Food

Both countries are full of the familiar fast food restaurants, but there are not as many drive thrus in the UK. Both countries have trouble dealing with a rise in obesity and adult onset diseases seen in children. The UK has a very diverse population and just about every cuisine is catered for. For example, the staples in most villages, towns and cities are a fish and chips shop, a Chinese restaurant and an Indian restaurant. Kebabs are very popular and are usually eaten following a trip to the pub. America also has a very diverse choice when it comes to choosing where to eat and the availability of ethnic cuisine varies depending on where you live and it often reflects the local immigrant influence.

Cultural differences between the United Kingdom and the United States #2 VAT (Value Added Tax) and sales tax

The current VAT, or value added tax, across the UK is 17.5% which is applied to most consumer goods. This price is included in the total price that rings up at the check out, which can take the sting out of shopping. Tourists from the United States and many other countries are entitled to VAT exemption during their stay in the United Kingdom once they spend over a certain amount of money. But this VAT exemption does not apply to hotel accommodation, taxi fares and other travel expenses. As VAT is not intended to be an export tax, tourists are entitled to a refund. They will need to ask for a VAT refund form. When tourists are leaving the country, they will then need to have this form stamped as proof that the goods are being taken out of the country. In some areas, shops display “tax free for tourists” signs on their windows. In the United States, British tourists pay sales tax on goods they have bought, which varies from state to state. In some states, such as Montana, there is no sales tax.

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Cultural differences between the United Kingdom and the United States #3 Cost of living

The cost of living in the United Kingdom is higher than in the United States. Petrol (gas) prices are twice as much as they are in many parts of the United States and house prices are also much more expensive for smaller lots. The British minimum wage is the equivalent of almost $12 for workers over the age of 21, whereas in the United States it has just reached $7.25. However, the British people avoid many out of pocket expenses, such as medical costs, due to universal free coverage under the NHS (National Health Service).

In conclusion, there are cultural elements about both countries that are desirable but also difficult to accept for those who are so used to just one set of cultural values and who may have been brought up to believe that their way of living was the best.