If you’ve ever had the misfortune of talking to an American college student back from their study abroad program sporting a new English accent, or maybe you’ve watched several old interview clips recently featuring Hilaria Baldwin, then you know that sometimes people like to pretend they are from places they most definitely are not from.
Sometimes it’s innocent, like the bright-eyed NYU freshman who fancies themselves a New Yorker after eating exactly (1) Veselka pierogi. On other occasions it might be more suspicious, like Taylor Swift moving to Nashville and faking a country accent in her music despite having grown up in Pennsylvania. But there’s a line between having lived in a place long enough that you can really say you lived there, that you’re even from there, and being a tourist on a long vacation. How long do you have to have lived somewhere to land in the former category?
According to the Jezebel staff, the exact number of years varies wildly. Some said two years, others said four. “Four years is the sweet spot to figure out if you want to live somewhere,” staff writer Megan Reynolds said. “And if you don’t leave you get stuck somewhere.” Living somewhere for eight or 11 months just doesn’t cut it.
A few were in agreement that college does not count. “College is the exception because you’re usually not living “in” a town but rather on/surrounded by/focused on a campus,” features editor Stassa Edwards said. Study abroad absolutely does not count, though staff writer Ashley Reese said “four months” counts for study abroad only for “cheap clout.” However, after the question of whether or not two non-consecutive years of study abroad in England would give someone a pass to pretend to be British was raised, staff writer Emily Alford said, “I feel like anyone can pretend to be British even if they’ve never been there. That’s the one country you get a pass for.” Good to know.
But there were also some clarifications regarding specific locations. New Yorkers, for example, are extremely aggressive as to what constitutes living there long enough to say you’re a “New Yorker.” I’ve heard it takes seven years to be able to say that, sometimes ten, but lately I think you basically have to be here until your death.
As you can see, there is no exact science, but two to four years seems to be the standard requirement. Now if you need me, I’ll be booking a ticket to my hometown of Los Angeles, where I once lived for a week.