I guess the answer to that is when we move back to the UK. But why are we called expats?
We've been in South Africa now 19 months, the kids are in school, hubby has been with the company for nearly 27 years and is paid in local currency.
We have friends, belong to clubs, give strangers directions when stopped and asked. Holiday within South Africa. Know where to shop, eat out, the places to go, the safest routes to travel and we understand how things work here, but we are still expats.
I suppose it's similar to moving within your home country, unless you were born in that town you're never made to feel like a local. But we don't feel like outcasts here, don't feel as if we don't belong. There are still language barriers to overcome, but then we did live in the Forest of Dean and never really got to grips with the local dialect there.
In the UK when asked 'where are you from?' I'd reply 'born in Wales, lived all over England (Leicester, Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Nottingham, Worcestershire) and now live in Malvern'
When people here ask 'where are you from?' they mean 'where were you born?' when they ask 'where do you stay?' they mean where you physically live now.
I always reply 'I live in Centurion, orginally from the UK' I don't bother saying Wales as 1. not that many people here know where I mean and 2. I no longer have the accent, it just confuses things.
South Africa is home now. At least until the end of this year, fingers crossed we hear soon about the renewal of our visas till January 2016 and then we'll have to apply for residency. But who knows? we may move again by then, but for today and tomorrow this is home and that's why I don't feel like an expat....I consider myself a local.