Monday 9 May 2016

A positive post about being an expat

Think expat, think sunshine, pools, coffee mornings, nails, spas, lunches and large bank balances.

Think expat and think excitement.

For many this is exactly what an expat does, not the one's who have relocated with their employment, but their spouses. It is evident on my face book page that this goes on, so I can see why the assumption is made it's what we all do.

If you read my blog, you'll see this isn't the case for me, especially since I started working. There is endless sunshine in Dubai, there was a pool in South Africa, there were coffee mornings before working, yes, nails get painted, I've never been to a spa, we've been to one brunch and the bank balance is ok, thank you for asking but we're certainly not on any kind of rich list.

There was excitement in the early days, who wouldn't be excited when your husband comes home from work and asks 'would you like to live in South Africa?' the anticipation, the glamour, excitement, a new adventure, but it is short lived because within a few weeks the work to move there actually starts, the stress mounts, the goodbyes and the tears start, the plane is boarded and then the honeymoon period starts.

The luxury of living in a hotel, exploring a new country, doing all the tourist things, an extended holiday. But then the house hunting starts, opening bank accounts, buying a car, settling children into school. You don't need to be an expat to do all of that to know how stressful it all is, let alone do it all in a foreign country where EVERYTHING works differently from EVERYTHING you know.

There's a danger of this becoming yet another negative post from Suzanne, moaning about her life in the sun, so here goes with the positives:

  • Your children learn so many more skills than you could ever imagine, making solo flights half way round the world, alone. Growing in maturity and confidence to take on new challenges.
  • Your son can travel home from the UK to Dubai and make arrangements to meet up with a school friend from South Africa to go Kayaking around the Palm.
  • You can be in one country, your son in another, you can meet up in an airport lounge in a different country to travel on together.
  • Family and friends start sending you things, they listen to your woes, about the things you miss and can't get and go to great lengths and cost to send these items to you. Your friendships and relationships change, some drop off the radar all together but their loss, not yours and new/old friends step up in the role.
  • Spending quality time with family and friends when they come to visit you, friends go out of their way and expense to arrange stop overs in Dubai so they can see you before flying home from their holidays.
  • Friends who don't take up the offer of a free holiday, will put you up for a night or two when you return to the homeland.
  • Experiences are numerous, living in a holiday destination means you can dip in and out of real life (work, food shopping, housework) and into a world of fantasy, visit the beach or stand on your front door step with a view of an iconic building or wake up one morning and say 'let's go on safari' at minimum cost and planning, just get in your car and drive no more than 60 miles down the road, or see Rhino's quite literally on your doorstep.
  • Spending quality time together as a family, we spent more time doing family things with the last two kids before they left home than we did with the others before leaving the UK, maybe it was because we only had 2 children instead of 5 living at home, but a lot of it was due to the isolation and safety and security in South Africa, we watched far less TV, spent even less time on the internet, due to poor and slow connection and went for walks together, ate out as a family, spent weekends camping and we were even known to spend more than a few nights per week, playing board games.
  • Our relationship as husband and wife is much stronger than ever, mainly because we only have one another these days, outside of work on a daily basis.
  • We welcome and search for new challenges, experiences, we no longer have a comfort zone to worry about leaving.
  • We bounce back from knock backs much quicker, it doesn't hurt any less, but we move on and learn from our mistakes, especially financial ones with greater speed.
  • You meet some amazing people even if it is fleetingly, you make friends in other countries who remain friends for life.
  • Planning a trip/holiday/packing/getting on a plane is second nature, wherever you go in the world, it is no longer stressful. You explore new places, jump in rental cars and drive on either side of the road with ease. 
  • Your view of the world alters and widens as you learn first hand and immerse yourself in local cultures.


  1. There really are a lot of positives. It sounds wonderful!

  2. As a fellow expat (US to UK), I have to agree that expat life can be pretty great! I'm pretty settled now that we've been here for about 10 years, but in the early days I really took advantage of living abroad and did a lot of exploring. Even though I was working full time, I kind of felt like I was on holiday too because everything was so new.i wouldn't trade the experience for hanging. #PoCoLo

    1. i feel like I'm on a permanent holiday just go to work during the day

  3. Hi Suzanne, I never really think of being an ex-pat, I'm just me living in a different country to the one I was raised in. I've never missed not living in England, although I do miss my sister and her family.

    It does make me laugh when people think we live like tourists on a non stop holiday. Yes we do live spitting distance from some beautiful beaches and the weather is unarguably better than in the UK, but we still have bills to pay, household chores to do and work to hold down (in the case of my husband, who works long hours in the summer). We are probably a lot worse off than we would be living and working in the UK, but that's as we have the sun!

    Experiencing different cultures first hand is one of the plus sides of being an ex-pat for sure.


    1. oh no, we're all rich and life the life of riley

  4. I agree that one of the things that being an expat (in my case a migrant) is that you and your family will learn so much. Learn how to meet and connect even when you are miles apart =) #pocolo

    1. it's certainly helped the children's education

  5. Glad there are positives too, I can see how it would widen your mind and outlook. Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo x