Friday 14 January 2022

Reinventing myself after life as an expat.

In January 2011 we moved to South Africa, leaving 3 adult children in the UK and taking 2 with us.

I've moved a lot as a child and as an adult pre kids, and 8 years prior to our move abroad we'd moved to a new area with all the children, all still in school.

It's hard moving, not just the physical side but integrating often into a new school, neighbourhood, work place and knowing how things work and where things are. Sorting out new football clubs for the kids to join, finding out about swimming lessons and arranging play dates to help the move go smoothly are all time consuming and can be frustrating. 

Moving abroad is a whole different issue.

There were so many things I found out on arrival in South Africa, no amount of research or even a visit can prepare you for the reality of actually living in another country. Forget everything you know about how to do things and learn from scratch, financially, physically and mentally.

I went from Mother to 5, with a career and an OU course on the go, to a mother of 2, unable to study and prevented from working. It wasn't helped by lack of promised support from the company, the cultural differences, the safety aspect and my inability to work. Also the internet was slow, limited and endless power cuts. 

It took 9 months to settle in fully, then the following year the youngest child left home to continue their education in the UK, the following year, the last child left home and then suddenly with only 3 months notice we were unable to renew our visas, so we moved to Dubai.

On arrival in Dubai we had to relearn how to do everything, I didn't have time to deal with empty nest syndrome, I got a job at last, then left as my father died, I didn't have time to grieve, was too occupied with helping my mum move and dealing with a move of our own. 

I never settled into Dubai, it had taken so long to achieve in South Africa then it abruptly ended, I never thought it would be almost 7 years in Dubai, I made little effort settling as I thought it would end much sooner. Then the authorities blocked all voice over internet and I became cut off completely.

Then in 2021 we moved back to the UK full time, Peter retired. We were supposed to have another 18 months, but covid isolated us in different countries, so we moved our plans forward. 

We're back in our old home, but it's not familiar, no longer filled with 5 children, we're not using the community in the same way. Everything we knew is now different. Everything is done differently in the UK, not just only compared to Dubai, but compared to 11 years ago.

I'm still a wife, I'm still a mum, I'm also a grandmother twice over. But I'm struggling to work out just who I am all over again.

Peter and I have reconnected with friends, spending more time with family. We enjoy dog walks, outdoor life, seasons, gardening, coffee shops, the scenery, but I still need to find something for me. 

I'm hoping to enter the word of work again, not a career, I'm done trying to prove myself to others, there is no need for that, there never was, but I had to wait until I was 50 before realising this.


  1. So many challenges layered on challenges! I am working through the adjustment to empty nesting, but my geography has remain stable. Pretty uncomplicated by comparison!

    1. I'm hoping life is much more simple from now on

    2. I think the empty nest wasn't as hard because we had to deal with a move as well

  2. Life must be so different for you now compared to life in South Africa and Dubai. Good luck with finding work. x

  3. It sounds tough and wish you all the best with getting some work x #pocolo

  4. expat life sounds exciting and DUBAI is high on my list of places to see, perhaps next year, lucky lady you are! Thx for hosting the link up!


    1. I'm looking forward to the days now when I travel to have a holiday

  5. You have certainly had a varied life in terms of where you've lived. I lived in France for two years but they were not consecutive and they were also before I married and had kids so not really comparable. Hope you are able to find what you want in the workplace. #pocolo

  6. I admire your resiliency- having only lived in London (and being totally ok with that) it sounds like your life has had many adventures, but as you say everything's done differently wherever you are. I'm certain you'll find your thing, and looking forward to hearing your progress #PoCoLo

  7. I think once we've done a full year, we'll soon settle