Yes, geographic distance makes a difference. You need to keep in mind that every pageload is pulling in multiple resources, and it's important to realize that a human will notice the difference between a 20ms latency and a 300ms latency.
I live in Europe, but am from the States. Many of my customers are in the US, and we usually host customer projects in the US. When I'm in the States with a 20ms latency to our hosting company, I see a noticeable difference in pageload speeds, compared to when I view the same sites while in Europe.
On the bright side, I can recommend an excellent hosting company that has servers in the US (Texas), Europe (Amsterdam) and has just this week opened up shop in Asia (Singapore). Their prices and service are excellent -we've been hosting with them for 2 years and have absolutely no complaints.
They're called WebFaction and are definitely worth a look if you'd like to be able to work with one (UK-based) company with servers around the world. It's completely transparent where your server is - you could set one up in the US, one in Europe, and one in Asia, and host projects closest to the customer, all working with one company.
I'd encourage you to give them a look.
Last edited by texinwien; 02-08-2012 at 09:46 AM..