I cant stand those pesky expat types

(65 Posts)
poppydoppy Sun 30-Jun-13 20:07:33

I have a (now EX)friend who has just returned to the UK from the Middle East talk about transformation, She cant leave the house without the Maid in tow, lost all ability to clean, cook or look after her children. She looks down her snooty nose at all things British and slags the UK off at any given opportunity yet shes having an operation on the NHS (despite not living here for the last 5 years) and sending her eldest to Uni here (home status)
Mrs Bucket, springs to mind.

HotCrossPun Sun 30-Jun-13 20:10:22

What's the AIBU?

MsVestibule Sun 30-Jun-13 20:10:54

And you think you may be unreasonable because...?

Roshbegosh Sun 30-Jun-13 20:11:54

Is she going back to the idyllic Middle East? Good riddance. Other wise she has some serious adjustment to do.

aldiwhore Sun 30-Jun-13 20:12:11

Annoying, but I hate your thread title, I know a few Ex-pats, some are like that some aren't.

I know people who've moved around the country and look down their noses at wherever they were before, they're always better than where they left and it's pathetic, but meh, people are strange.

I guess that if you've been pampered in the sunshine long enough and had the finer things in life, it's hard to see your embittered pasty friends without feeling mildly superior? (I jest)

Ignore. Just match her gripes with how much you love where you are.

I get awful prickly heat, the tepid damp climate of the UL suits me just fine.

poppydoppy Sun 30-Jun-13 20:12:14

AIBU to think expats are a different breed?

aldiwhore Sun 30-Jun-13 20:12:20

UK sorry

elQuintoConyo Sun 30-Jun-13 20:17:37

I don't see expats the same way as emigrants. I'm an emigrant, I'll never be an expat.
I see expats as behaving superior to the people in the country they've moved to, not speaking the local language, bitching about the country, only having fellow ezpat friends, buying all the UK newspapers, still watching Sky.

Your 'friend' sounds insufferable and I feel sorry for the ME to have to have her back! (Is she going back?).

Oh, a thought: I've lived abroad 15 years, can I not send my DS to a university in the UK?

Roshbegosh Sun 30-Jun-13 20:21:17

You can send DS where you wish, the fee status ie home vs overseas makes a big difference. Having said that I only teach PG so may be wrong regarding UG courses now that UK students pay so much anyway.

LurkingBeagle Sun 30-Jun-13 20:24:46

YABU to think that expats are a different breed but YANBU to think your friend is an insufferable pain in the ass because she sounds like one!

Incidentally, your friend may be perfectly entitled to have her op on the NHS - many expats (including me) still keep paying NI to keep their contributions up in the event we ever return. HTH :-)

WhiteShakette Sun 30-Jun-13 20:25:33

I think people who identify as 'expats' (as distinct from people who live in a country that is not their native one) often have a certain set of behaviours I don't find terribly attractive, I must say. I say this as someone who lived in the Middle East and met a lot of them. The whole 'expat package' thing, plus the expectation in many cases that they will move on in a few years to another country, breeds a kind of bubble mentality and lack of real engagement with the country they live in. Not helped in many cases by the fact that the woman is on a spousal visa and can't work, and the (ethically highly dubious) availability of cheap labour means she doesn't have to do housework or much child care.

It used to depress me that they used to talk about how they would move on to 'another expat country', which seemed to mean somewhere else with cheap labour where they wouldn't have to learn the language or deal with living like or among the locals.

And yes, the British people I met there continually talked about how awful the UK was, and often how stupid people who didn't leave were.

Scarletbanner Sun 30-Jun-13 20:25:33

Someone has to have been living in the UK or EU for the last 3 years to get home fee status. Does your expat friend's ds not live with her in the ME?

WhiteShakette Sun 30-Jun-13 20:26:56

ElQunto, exactly. The difference between an emigrant and an expatriate is huge.

poppydoppy Sun 30-Jun-13 20:29:27

Her friends over there are just the same. I visited her for a week last year, whilst at dinner I knocked my wine over and started to mop it up one of the women said "oh leave that a Indian or Filipino will be along in a min to clean it up" then a whole conversation about Indians started up, how disgusting and smelly they are, how they cant stand their drivers because they smell, how they wont let their staff eat or cook in the house, how they hold their passports so they cant leave. It was so awful i left early.

ElQC, If you can prove you are in temporary employment abroad and mean to return to the UK you can get home status, and as the UAE only offers visa to expats they found a loophole.

poppydoppy Sun 30-Jun-13 20:32:48

Whiteshakette, you hit the nail on the head. Cant these women see how awful they are?

XiCi Sun 30-Jun-13 20:42:23

Yes YABU. So every single person who lives or works in a country other than the one they're born in is a complete arsehole? What crap

People don't completely change character after a couple of years in the UAE. She was probably unbearable before she went, maybe you should choose your friends more wisely.

JacqueslePeacock Sun 30-Jun-13 20:45:14

I'm not sure that degree of racist vileness has been acquired in just a few years abroad, tbh. They were probably pretty ghastly before they went.

May09Bump Sun 30-Jun-13 20:48:51

I'm an expat and I'm not like this, but know where you are coming from.

When I moved to NYC, I was in a playroom and started talking to another mum (not spoken to her before) about messy toddlers and cleaning. Then she said "oh you do have to get one of them" - I was sort of half listening and naively said one of what, expecting her to say a steam cleaner or something. She said a Mexican - it completely floored me, she was talking as if her cleaner was a second class citizen. I told her straight that her comments were completely disgusting and to have more respect for another person, then left.

She obviously thought as I was white, it was ok to talk to me this way - she didn't know that our family is half Spanish and we have a lot of contact with the Mexican community, naturally developed as we have a common language and my son is learning too.

It's ok to buy in services (creates much needed jobs) - but can't stand those who don't treat their employees as equals!

Well, your friend is a racist shit for brains. However, I know masses of expats, lived abroad during my childhood, had family members who did the same. Some are twunts, some aren't. FWIW, having 'servants' or 'maids' IMO is bad for people's attitudes regardless of expat status.

poppydoppy Sun 30-Jun-13 20:49:55

I think its specific to Middle Eastern expats. She was a lovely person before the move.

DuchessFanny Sun 30-Jun-13 20:51:37

Oi !! I'm an ex-pat, i don't have a huge house, cleaner, or nanny, always speak the local language when out and about shopping or when talking to the neighbours and the majority of my friends work, i believe that mostly we're making the best of having to move lock stock and barrel away from our entire support network. I am so proud of my home Country and am actually more patriotic than when I lived there ( instead of seeing it as an escape from blighty I get upset if I hear anyone slag off Britain or the Brits) and the majority of lovely men & women I've met here have had crushing homesickness at one point or another, even though our standard of life IS better here .. I'm sorry you've met the nobber ones who go on and on about how shit the UK is and how they wouldn't move back by choice -- they are about but they don't account for all of us - promise !!

Hello as an emigrant. Most aren't like that.

I know a good few Middle Eastern expats and all bit a tiny minority are great, many love Britain but also love their country of residence, understand the local language (for example, Arabic) and make an effort to fit in. In some cases, such as Dubai, they've moved to an expat 'community' where emigrants all move to and live in. If you've a job out there, it's not easy to avoid that because of your work/partner's work. But most are anything but snooty, will often talk about the good sides of Britain and what they miss (and what they like there of course) and cook, cleans and does housework.

I am an expat (from Sweden though). I moved country. That's a tiny part of me- it doesn't define me whatsoever. Emigrating doesnt change if a person is good or bad, friendly or not, nice or not.

gnittinggnome Sun 30-Jun-13 21:03:47

As an ex-expat, I would suggest you either speak to a few more people who have lived overseas, or not generalise from one unpleasant person. The expat lifestyle in the Middle East is quite different from the one I experienced in Asia (and probably both are very different from other parts of Asia, Africa, Australia etc), and whilst there were a few of those kind of people around, there were just as many obnoxious locals/tourists, over there and when I came home.

I'm sorry your friend has had a hard time adjusting to being back in the UK, uprooting yourself and your life can be difficult, but as you say you're no longer friends what's the problem?

KD0706 Sun 30-Jun-13 21:09:55

I think you're tarring all expats with the same brush and it's not accurate. I guess I'm an expat, but I'm none of the things you describe your friend as.

However I do agree that some expats. Particularly the ones who go to places like the middle east where they get Maud's, drivers etc can seem like another breed.

It's just another way of life and doesn't turn all of them into wankers

I would not regard this as typical of expats. My parents lived abroad for over a decade (no work in the UK of the 1980s) and never behaved like this. I suspect this woman was just some sort of proto-twat, awaiting the right conditions to flower into the massive twonk she is now.

XiCi Sun 30-Jun-13 21:24:57

The way you are over generalising about all ME expats is almost as bad as they way your friend is generalising about smelly drivers etc. Maybe you still have more in common than you think.

I have friends that live in the UAE that have not changed one bit since they left the UK 7 years ago. All of their friends that I have met are lovely as well. But according to you they must all be racist obnoxiuos twats just because your mate is. Have you any idea how ridiculous you sound?

Jinsei Sun 30-Jun-13 21:30:08

Yabu to think all ex-pats are like this. Yanbu to find this particular friend obnoxious.

MyThumbsHaveGoneWeird Sun 30-Jun-13 21:35:21

So the people at the dinner party were generalising about a large number of people based on only the small number they knew. You are right, that is horrible bigoted racist behaviour.

And your judgement of "expat types" is based on knowing how many exactly? One? And having met a few of her (like minded) friends?

Can you see what you've done here?

Orangebirdonatable Sun 30-Jun-13 21:41:03

Mythumbs, you just wrote what I was thinking.

exexpat Sun 30-Jun-13 21:43:57

YABU. Obnoxious people will find a way to be obnoxious no matter where or how they live. I have met one or two expats who sound similar to your (ex?) friend, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who are nothing like that.

I am a former expat (obviously - see username). I spent many years abroad, in countries where I did not expect to settle permanently, but always learnt the local language, and had at least as many local friends as other nationalities. YABVU to say all expats are the same as one deeply unpleasant-sounding woman.

Salbertina Sun 30-Jun-13 21:44:18

I am an expat, there are many variations. We have no package as such and don't feel i should never lift a finger lovely never to hoover or iron though! Your friend sounds awful anyway, nothing to do with her status, everything to do with her inherent superiority /racism.

Don't tar us all with the same brush, I've never had a nanny or even a regular babysitter as we can't afford it. She is just up herself and would have been a snobby beggar no matter if she'd moved abroad or not.
You can get home fees for Uni if you can prove you have been on temporary work contract abroad, they want to see contracts. My kids however will pay full wack international fees as we have no contract to show.

Mimishimi Mon 01-Jul-13 00:26:30

YABU, I've been an expat and generally people are quite nice and hardworking, the minority who are obnoxious, arrogant twats generally tend to be obnoxious, arrogant twats in their home countries too. The use of cheap foreign labour for domestic services did worry me a bit though - we didn't employ anyone because our flat was so tiny it didn't take much to keep it clean but we heard/read so many problems with maids stealing, taking out loans with loansharks then employers getting abusive phonecalls/threats, abusing children, trying to seduce partners, slipping off at night for a bit of work on the side, being forced to work 16 hour days etc. The good ones seemed to be few and far between but because the supply was so plentiful - people didn't care, they'd just keep hiring and firing until they found someone they were happy with. You can imagine the kind of desperation that those they weren't happy with found themselves in.

Agree with the points made about the servants.

DW is a South African. Her mess-making abilities are remarkable. She will make a sandwich without using a breadboard and leave crumbs everywhere. She will leave the lids off jars. She will leave dirty knives over the table and the worktops. She won't clean up because she doesn't like to. Right now, I glance round the living room and see various things she's got out and simply hasn't put away. She doesn't regard herself as at all untidy, and doesn't understand why I should make a fuss about having to come home from work and before getting the dinner on, clean a heap of dirty dishes.

Her family have the same traits in common. What they also have in common is employing a maid.

It drives me round the twist. Don't ever employ servants. They are bad for you.

In fairness, I should point out that she and her family aren't racists, and were snooped on and harassed by the SA secret services back in the 80s.

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Mon 01-Jul-13 06:31:50

Toad I'm as messy as your DW.I've never had a maid (or expected anyone else to clear up after me). Some people are just messy and not bothered about it

Morloth Mon 01-Jul-13 06:58:31

Well I have been an expat many times, in both first world and developing countries.

I have had cleaners and maids etc.

Still never behaved like you describe.

Your friend may be a twat, but it isn't because she is an expat. That has just given her twattishness a flavour.

Dixiefish Mon 01-Jul-13 07:14:00

YABU to assume all ex-pats are like this. There are quite a number of parents at DCs' school back from foreign postings and they are all pretty normal (apart from being loaded!) and most of them haven't even brought their Filippina back with them grin

Most of my friends are expats & none behaves like that.

As indeed am I. My DH and I are from 2 diff. countries & currently living in the UK.

Your friend sounds like a twat, but she'd be a twat even if she'd never left these pleasant pastures.

KarlaPilkington Mon 01-Jul-13 09:10:03

I think your friend is nouveaux riche. I've been an expat for 16 years and have never had a maid. I have a cleaner who comes over and helps me out with my ironing but that's it and I pay her 8 quid an hour. That may not be a lot in the UK, but it is quite a lot here. Most of the expats I know who brag, treat employees like crap and swan round guzzling champers in kaftans are those that have newly acquired wealth and little brains. Combine those two and the result is not very pretty.

CuChullain Mon 01-Jul-13 09:32:50

Your friend just sounds like an arse.

I am an engineer in the oil industry, I have had the privilege to live and work in a variety of countries and from my experience expats come in various guises and it is daft to pidgeon hole them all into one narrow stereotype. Yes, you do get the “I can be arsed to learn the local language watch Eastenders drink lager and only hang out in the English pub eating fish and chips’ types who I generally avoided like the plague. Most expats however, made an effort to learn at least a few words of the language, got stuck into the local cuisine, respected that’s countries customs, made new friends and generally grabbed the chance to experience life in another country as they knew they would only be there a few years and wanted to make the most of it.

I have employed a cleaner in the past, there is nothing morally dubious or exploitative about it, I did not treat them like shit, paid them well over the local wage and generally looked out for their family as a whole. My industry often operates in some pretty broken countries and while employing a cleaner in the UK may be frowned upon as being some kind of middle class Islington dwelling smug thing to do it is often a life changing opportunity for someone from Luanda/Gabon/Ghana/Lagos where well paid employment opportunities are exceptionally rare. I also found the cleaner to be more than just a ‘cleaner’, more often or not they helped teach me the local language, showed me where the best shops and markets were, introduced me to their music and culture and generally be a bloody good friend.

SunshineandShandy Mon 01-Jul-13 09:57:00

You can't generalise Middle East expats like that OP. Your friend is up herself, but that is her, not everyone else.

We have a Maid. She is here to help me. Simple as. She keeps the house clean and she helps me with the children. We have no family out here and it works for us. She is happy, we are happy.

I know no one who would would say 'an Indian or a Filipino will be along shortly to clean up'. It sounds to me like you read the Dubai bashings in the Daily Mail too much and surround yourself with the wrong people.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 01-Jul-13 10:02:39

Does she sound nice? No.
Are all ex-pats the same? Not in my experience.

louisea Mon 01-Jul-13 10:09:57

Your friend doesn't sound very nice but don't tar all expats with the same brush. It is hard enough moving away from family, friends and support networks without being judged for how we cope/d while away. The adjustment when moving back home can be just as hard, if not harder, than the initial move overseas.

poppydoppy Mon 01-Jul-13 10:13:56


I have just been reading this expat site. I dont think my friend is a one off according to this site. What a bunch of racists. There is also another thread where they're slagging off the NHS

KarlaPilkington Mon 01-Jul-13 10:41:18

Poopyd, sorry but I have been an expat for 16 years (as mentioned) and I know people who are CEO's of massive companies and some who are stinking rich. I have to say that I have very, very rarely come across women who talk like that. There is a bit of competitiveness with the kids at school but that's about it. If you hang out with people who talk like that, well you know the old saying, birds of a feather......

CuChullain Mon 01-Jul-13 10:44:01

@ poppydoppy

Seems like you are going out of your way to find evidence that supports the title of this thread.

Have not looked at that link but people are allowed to criticise the NHS you know, its not a sacred cow. Sadly you will find racists in all walks of life, not just ex pats.

Salbertina Mon 01-Jul-13 11:02:14

That is an expat site for those in the ME, specifically UAE, i believe. Are you saying ALL expats live there? And all go to McDonalds (and speak like that when they do)?! Quite ridiculous generalisation. It's like saying "all Welsh people" or "all those who drive a Volvo"

louisea Mon 01-Jul-13 11:28:39

You are also commenting on something that you know nothing about.

MyThumbsHaveGoneWeird Mon 01-Jul-13 11:50:30

Maybe poppydoppy is looking for material for a Daily Mail Dubai bashing piece?

Winterwood Mon 01-Jul-13 12:01:07

It is fairly typical of Middle East expats actually. It is easy to become used to the idea that you are somehow superior and many do, despite have few achievements to your name. I agree she can't have been as nice as you thought she was before she went. The more thoughtful and reflective types don't end up this way.

specialsubject Mon 01-Jul-13 12:16:57

currently she is not entitled to use the NHS, however much NI she pays. It is done on RESIDENCE. That said, if she has returned permanently to the UK she is entitled.

this will change if the latest proposals go through.

she just sounds like an arse. Lose her.

Shanghaidiva Mon 01-Jul-13 12:31:07

I have been an expat for 18 years -
I speak and try to read the local language (1000 characters and counting)
do my own cooking and look after my own children
have a driver and cleaner - both of whom I treat with respect and courtesy - as I would any other person.
I am sometimes critical of the UK, but can see advantages and disadvantages of all 5 of the countries I have lived in.
Some expats can be obnoxious, but not all.

Shanghaidiva Mon 01-Jul-13 12:34:10

So - YABU re all expats
YANBU re your friend who seems quite obnoxious.

Annakin31 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:26:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fluffymonster Mon 01-Jul-13 15:20:00

It may not be typical but I certainly recognise a 'type'.

Perhaps some people just forget what it was like before maids, cheap childcare, having someone cook/clean for them etc.

The trouble is they then have to work at keeping it all going, as they become so reliant that they sort of lose coping skills for 'normal' life - like being able to relate to their children, or deal with having an awful day, because it's just too easy to palm the kids off if they get a bit annoying. Or go out to a bar at the drop of a hat, and again, leave the childcare to the maid, whenever anything gets a bit stressy.

Sometimes I think if I had a maid I would too, but am glad I don't because it's too easy to lose perspective.

LondonMan Mon 01-Jul-13 15:28:38

DW is a South African. Her mess-making abilities are remarkable.

Based on people I know, none British, some who grew up with servants and some who didn't, I think it's more likely that this is just a personal characteristic of hers than that it's explained by her background.

borraxohastaelalmanacer Mon 01-Jul-13 20:37:45

I'm an expat in the Middle East (Dubai, to be specific)
We, like most of our friends, employ a maid and a driver. We treat them fairly and with respect, as we would with any employee or colleague anywhere on the world.
However, in my experience, the (very small) monitory of expats who act like spoilt, stuck up idiots are actually given very little time by the rest of the expat community.
Not all expats are dicks. Some of us are just people wanting to try something different for a multitude of reasons.

imademarion Mon 01-Jul-13 21:34:59

I've been an expat all my life and met the full spectrum from entitled arses to full-on gone native.

I think the UAE attracts a certain type though. It's almost impossible to meet UAE nationals, especially women, in the normal course of a day. It is very difficult to feel that you will ever fully integrate or really experience the local culture beyond the desert safari camel riding tourist sops.

The majority of residents are subcontinental, who brought their own kind of snobbery with the caste system. The British and other Europeans, in the main, stick very much to their own kind. Society there (5 + years ago) did not encourage mixing.

My DH and I both worked for local companies, so had colleagues from many nationalities and we all socialised together. Sadly, mainly at each other's houses as some people felt really uncomfortable being in certain bars or restaurants that were seen as exclusive for a certain nationality.

The breathtaking level of ignorance and mis- placed superiority you refer to certainly exists but I believe, thankfully, is on the way out.


The difference is that you know you're messy, and are content with that (which is fine, as long as those you live with don't mind). By contrast, DW and her family all regard themselves as tidy, and live in spotless houses cleaned by the maid.


DW and her family are unversed in the various ways of minimising mess that (in my experience) most people just know. I am sure it is because they have never needed to learn them.

Why spend time tidying when you can hire someone to do it (along with laundry, ironing, gardening, minor repairs etc) for less than 5 pounds a day?

mateysmum Tue 02-Jul-13 06:17:15

YABU to tar all ME expats with the same brush. Agree with all the comments above about expats who are obnoxious are probably obnoxious wherever they live. Having said that, Dubai does encourage these tendencies and there are a lot of people there who get inflated ideas of their own self-importance just because they can afford a bit of home help. These are also usually the same people who are the first to have to dump their cars at the airport and flee when financial disaster strikes.

My maid has schooled her son and built a house on her salary from me. She was respected and loved and paid an above average wage. I could not have managed without her.

Those who look down on their native country from abroad, tend to be the ones who are insecure and have to talk up their new life to make the move seem worthwhile both to themselves and their friends back home.

TheRealFellatio Tue 02-Jul-13 14:09:55

I have held off until now from commenting on this thread, and have typed but deleted several responses. I am please to see that there have been several very honest, measured and balanced opinions/responses from people who, like me, actually live as expats in the middle east, and understand first hand what is real (the good, bad and the ugly) and what is mere stereotype, fantasy and wild supposition.

I have often heard this phrase on MN and never thought I'd actually use it until now, but:

The plural of anecdote is not date. wink

TheRealFellatio Tue 02-Jul-13 14:10:36

data. Bloody autocorrect.

Winterwood Tue 02-Jul-13 14:45:21


This might make some of you smile.

LayMizzRarb Tue 02-Jul-13 16:52:53

Have you listened to yourself? You criticise your friend for sneering about 'Indians' yet you are generalising about 'expats'.

From what you say, your friend sounds like a narrow minded idiot. Move on. Don't bother researching expat threads or racking your brains for anecdotes that validate the picture you want to paint of her. Move on......

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