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Life in America can sometimes get a bad rap, especially in the era of negative-politics. And looking back over some of my past posts, I’ve realised that I skew towards the negative. So in a drop-in-the-ocean type attempt to redress the balance, I’ve compiled a list of the best things about life in America. No matter where you live, there will be things that you love and things you wish you were without. But at the end of the day, it’s all about whether the good outweighs the bad for you and your family. So strap yourselves in for a list of things I think America does well.

1. America has great internet

best things about life in America include the internet

If you’re looking for a fast connection that doesn’t cost the earth, America is your country.

    The internet is flipping fast here and you can use it for pretty much everything from emailing questions to your doctor, making an appointment for a haircut or waxing, booking your car for a service, or ordering a pizza. I can hear you all going “but I can order a pizza online in Australia!” and to that I say pffft. I tried that at Crust once. They didn’t see my order come in apparently. If I’m honest, I don’t enjoy picking up the phone and talking to people. If you call me, I’m going to let it go to voicemail. So this whole way of interacting with people without actually speaking to them is marvelous for me. Plus, I hear Al Gore invented the internet, and he’s American.

Apart from that it’s not prohibitively expensive and it brings the world a whole lot closer to  you. Do you even know how much easier it is to shop online, as opposed to running to different shopping centres or stores to find that one thing you need? No parking, no traffic, no spent patience. Suffice to say that my life in America has definitely taken a turn for the better since I discovered internet shopping here along with free shipping and the other perks that go along with it. Now keep in mind that internet shopping doesn’t have to mean buying from the behemouth that is Amazon (and others) exclusively. I do my best to buy from smaller retailers as well.

2. American motorways are massive

Isn’t it just beautiful?

    As much as I complain about driving here, I do love the motorways. They’re four or five lanes at their narrowest, which is to deal with the insane amount of traffic that drives on roads here each day. The overpass exits are these magnificent swirling feats of concrete mixed with the sweat of engineers that give you a feeling of awe. Although American motorways are highly confusing to someone who is used to driving on a three-lane road, you have to admit, they are magnificent-looking. Despite the fact that no one (in Califorina) has ever used a blinker in their entire existance on the planet and it will totally drive you nuts if you pay too much attention, so don’t. Your life in America will be so much better for it.


Related: A guide to renting a car and driving in the US


3. America has beautiful hiking trails

Now that’s what I call a path.

  There’s a possibility that this is one of those things confined to the west coast, or even just some parts of the US. Hiking routes are fairly well-maintained here, they cater for a range of experience and fitness levels and are very well sign posted. I’m coming off a low base though. The majority of my time spent hiking was in NSW’s Blue Mountains, where I expended more time quizzically staring at guidebooks to work out whether I should be taking the right or left fork in the “path”, and getting lost. And the US has some amazing through-hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

Since moving to California, I’ve done lots of hikes including in Yosemite National Park, Muir Woods, and all over the Bay Area. We’ve gone camping quite a few times and been able to enjoy the organised nature of booking a campsite, and knowing that when we arrive, there will be somewhere for us to sleep that night. It makes things a little less stressful and so much easier to disconnect from technology and just enjoy the great outdoors.


Related: 5 Great San Francisco Hikes


4. The beaches are truly gorgeous

There is no way that you know a better beach than Maui’s. Give up now.

Technically, Maui is part of the US, hence I’m calling out the beaches. I used to say the beaches in Nice, France were my favourites. But then Maui came along, snatched the trophy, put a little grass skirt on it and used it as a prop to distract you while it pretended to dance the hula. My usual aversion to beaches comes down to these factors: the water is full of jellyfish and other nasty things, pollution floating everywhere and sand gets in your everything. Maui blasts two out of three of those: the water is crystal clear, it’s warm, it’s calm, AND you get to swim with fish and turtles! And the sand makes for some good castles, so I can forgive it.


Related: Top 55 things to do in Maui


5. Food comes in trucks and it’s delish

Do yourself a favour, PhnomNom is delicious.
There are a multitude of food trucks and they usually sell yummy food. Yesterday the food truck at work was called Stick Dogs. But my all-time favourite would have to be PhnomNom, which does Cambodian street food, and is fan-freaking-tastic. Food trucks are everywhere from festivals, to work places, to the side of the street wherever you happen to be. They’re a cheap alternative to fast food, and there’s one to satisfy any taste.

   6. America offers drive-through ATMs.

      I’m not sure that my bank offers these but I’ve seen plenty of them around and they look so convenient. They appeal to my laziness. If being able to drive up to the ATM and take some money out doesn’t seem like something that would make your life easier, I don’t know what to tell you.

 

My thought process:
Left brain: “I really should get some cash out for tipping purposes.”
Right brain: “But then I’d have to find a parking spot, get out of the car and walk to the ATM. Don’t you realise how much energy that would entail? Efk that!”
Left brain: “Shut up, idiot.”
Enough said.

7. 24-hour groceries & medicine

If I ever find myself craving pasta or ice cream at 3am, there is a 24-hour supermarket within walking distance of my apartment. And a 24-hour chemist (sorry, pharmacy) down the road. Keep in mind that I’ve never actually needed these things, but if I ever find myself in a predicament them, they’re right there! All the time! This may contribute to a marked increase in the number of midnight snacks I consume, and thus, the amount of weight I gain. However, I think it’s worth it for the convenience.


Related: An expat’s guide to US stores


8. Sephen Colbert and Jon Oliver

Picture courtesy of Comedy Central.

Sure there’s a metric tonne of crazy happening in this country. From federal elections, to adult illiteracy, to crumbling infrastructure, and not forgetting staggering health-related problems (Did you know that more than 190,000 people died from painkiller overdoses in the US since 1999?), when stuff goes downhill it plummets. But then there are people like Colbert and Oliver (and Jon Stewart before them) who not only explain to people why they’re being duped, but they do it in an entertaining way.  Knowledge is power and all that…

9. Mail on Saturdays

Mail box visits every day!
This should really be number one. I truly love getting mail – a letter, a package, a bill, junk mail, send me whatever you’ve got! It’s a little surprise every day when you get home. Here mail gets delivered six days a week. So it’s very convenient and it means I get an extra trip to the letter box a week. Plus it means that those items you ordered on the internet the other day have an extra day to arrive. And to be honest, it’s really more like seven day a week mail where I live, but I’m not sure that’s countrywide. In any case, the more chance I have of receiving mail from my niece and nephews, the happier I am.

10. Americans have a sense of humour

Americans in general (and this is very general) can laugh at themselves. Make fun of them for anything and they’ll start by defending themselves for a bit but then more often than not they’ll make fun of themselves too. I was ready to be greeted with defensiveness and thought I’d accidentally offend some people, but they’re pretty laid back. At least here in California. Sure, they’re not quite as up to speed on self-deprecating humour as Australians are, but each to their own. As long as I can crack a joke now and then, I’m a happy camper.
All the best things about life in America, for those thinking of moving here.