The trouble is, no one is really interested in the good stuff in life, it doesn't make for good reading/viewing. It's rare to find the newspapers full of positive stories, it's rare for 'soaps' to focus on positive things, usually everything is tinted with doom and gloom and even if there is a success story or something good to report, there's always 2-3 negative stories to run in the background.
A few weeks ago I decided to write about the positives in my life. I've been stuck in rut for so long now, with ill health and surrounded by the death of so many family and friends in the past 8 months, that I decided I needed to shift the focus and even if I didn't attract many readers or comments, that wasn't the point. My blog is for me, it's for me to reflect on and to keep a record of our lives abroad as expats.
I don’t like living in Dubai, it’s too hot, it’s a city and I’m ready to come home. But I don’t dislike Dubai. I didn’t feel safe in South Africa but I was heartbroken to leave. Both countries have caused stress in the terms of relocation, but that was due to poor management of the move. I feel isolated and lonely so far away from my family and friends.
But there are some benefits to living abroad and they will vary from different countries.
We had housing, cost of living, car and medical allowances in both countries, I could work in Dubai, I did for a year, but due issues with my health and having our children not living here, I now choose not to and accept that I won't be resuming my career while I'm here. Of course salaries are tax free in Dubai, the cost of living has risen in the past 3 years since we've been here but we live more than comfortably here, but I do shop around for bargains, it's a good habit to have regardless of the bank balance.
In South Africa, we just about broke even when we left, financially it was a struggle with the poor exchange rate, we were paid in local currency, sending back money to the UK for school fees, paying the mortgage, evicting tenants from hell. But we had so much fun, so many opportunities and so many visitors. We had the 2 youngest kids living with us, we saw wildlife in it's natural environment, we camped in Kruger National Park and in the Drakensburg Mountains, we also camped in a township, we caught the Shosoloza Meyl from Joburg to Cape Town, we drove north of Durban, where we experienced a whale watching trip that was out of this world. We drove the entire coast line of SA, the Garden Route, saw penguins on the beach and visited Namaqualand.
In Dubai, life has been very different, there's not so many places to explore here, but we've managed to save some money, we're no longer paying school fees, our UK mortgage is almost finished and we've had good tenants for the past few years, we bought a flat in South Wales so we have a base to stay when we visit family (although the teen is currently living in it, but where else would he have gone) we have the financial freedom to travel back to the UK when we need or want to, hire cars to make it easier to get around and not rely on the same people over and over and to be able to pay for boarding for the cat and dog while we take our trips.
In general our lives have been enriched from living abroad, our two youngest children benefited from living abroad also, meeting new people, gaining new skills, travel opportunities. Our other children, family and friends have had the opportunity also to expand their travel experiences by visiting us and accompanying us on many trips. We're better financially prepared for our retirement and future, we've funded the two youngest children with private education, we're able to provide support and security for all our children should they need it, although they don't actually ask for it. We've gained a wealth of knowledge we can share with family and friends, if they want to share from our experiences.
Living abroad has given us the desire to try just about anything, despite having all the same fears about trying new things, we know there's always a solution and most things can be overcome with a bit of advance planning and a bit more money in the bank.
But remember when we started on this journey, experiences and finances were something we didn't have to learn from and fall back on.