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to feel sad that I'll probably not return to the UK to live

(99 Posts)
Toadinthehole Thu 18-Apr-13 19:20:21

I left the UK for NZ a decade ago. DW is not from the UK and generally dislikes people who are (me excepted, most of the time). We have two children, born here, who go to a good school and are in zone for good secondaries. They are happy here. We have a house which, although bloody freezing in winter, is big enough for us, has a big garden and a small mortgage. I have a reasonably-paying and very secure job which doesn't require horrible hours and requires a very short commute.

..and yes I would love to leave all that and return to the UK for reasons of missing my family and simple homesickness, plus the usual things the UK offers such as history, culture etc, despite the recession and the manifold problems the UK is said to have.

I have this horrible feeling that I now have been given most of what life has to offer me, and I can see precisely where I will be in twenty years time: the children will have grown up, I will have redecorated the house, replaced the shed, I will still not quite got round to reading x,y,z books or fixed a,b or c, and will still be right here, older and a bit wrinklier - unless there is some disaster in which case things will be worse.

If we were to return to the UK: would my children go to as good a school as they have here? Probably not. Good house big garden? Probably not. Decent job? Late 30s in my profession, no better than possibly. Would DW get a job? Probably not. Would she like it back in the UK DEFINATELY NOT.

Please tell me IABU and why I should get a grip.

JustinBsMum Tue 23-Apr-13 16:45:11

The SE is very crowded. I don't know Birmingham or the Midlands but if you google cycling scotland or running Scotland there is loads of stuff.

Scottish Law is different to English Law and, no doubt, NZ law so don't know how that would affect things.
I live on a cycle route and there are always nutters cyclists out, rain hail or shine.

One thing which might solve your problem is for you to find something really rewarding to do where you are. The DCs won't always be little and you will eventually have more time to spare.

HermioneHatesHoovering Tue 23-Apr-13 11:07:35

I have felt some of what you are going thru Toad, I've been in NZ for almost 27 years, raised 3 kids to adulthood, single parent for the last 11 years.

For me the pull of home is strong but the reality is I have no close family ties "back there" and if I were to move back I'd be leaving my 3 kids here, they are kiwis thru and thru.

So damned if I do and damned if I don't, basically. No help to you I'm afraid but you are not alone in your feelings.

I watch Kirsty and Phil, look on Rightmove, etc. Never thought I could afford to go back (from S.E.), but with the exchange rate it would now be possible BUT I cannot live on the opposite side of the world to my kids, that would be unthinkable (and I don't think mine will be moving overseas of their own volition).

I am aware that I probably have my very strongly tinted rose coloured glasses on though confused

Unami Mon 22-Apr-13 15:08:39

I'm afraid I never managed the mental permission to stay myself...I had no family or romantic ties to the country and I arrived thinking it would be fun for as long as the fun lasted.

But I met lots of expats who had once struggled with all the same "stranger in a strange land" feelings I'd had..and they'd basically grown bored of maintaining a mental tug of war between wanting to feel at home in their new home and their old home, and had basically decided - you know what, I feel the way I feel, I don't entirely feel like I belong here, but this is where I'm staying anyway. Once they allowed themselves to relax about the fact that they didn't feel like they 100% belonged there then it stopped bothering them.

I think this is the kind of incredibly nuanced (neurotic) culture shock/adaptation that you really only experience when you move abroad somewhere with a remarkably similar language and's the 3% of daily life that's different that's hard to deal with it's...uncanny.

Toadinthehole Sun 21-Apr-13 20:10:20

University fees in NZ are typically less than 5,000 pounds per annum and students can take out loans from the government interest-free. However, NZ universities are clamouring for more funding to stop them slipping down the league tables and I wouldn't be surprised if the government allows them to raise their fees substantially in the next ten years.

DW only lived in SE England (she was in the UK for about 2 years). I think we would have to live outside that area were we to return - it's too expensive. I was thinking of Birmingham / Midlands, as it seems to be closer to cycling / hillwalking areas: she is very much an outdoors person.

There are lots of British (mostly English) expats here, and even more who have a British parent. I understand 10% of New Zealanders are British citizens. I don't think anyone here sees me as foreign: I am too 'normal' by NZ standards, and I expect the reason for this is because of people's ancestry / parentage. Things like Bonfire Night are celebrated here too. So, oddly enough, it isn't that easy to take time out do 'British' things, if you see what I mean.

Our children have certainly heard us talk about our respective countries, but I don't know what they think themselves. They have visited both places. DD1 enjoyed both, but DD2 was 3 when we went to England, so I don't know what she thinks.

Laquitar & Ladyharriet
I can live with DW's views on British people because she does in fact take people as she finds them. So she's not a bigot, although she can be a bit uninformed at times. I'm not aware that she finds Northerners and Scots very different from Southerners.

I'm very sorry to hear what you say. I hope things start to go better for you.

How did you give yourself mental permission to stay? Was it something you ... just woke up one day and found you could do?

Mummytime & Juneau
DW has actually no interest in returning to SA. It's not because of the crime or the politics - she and her family generally don't incline to the apocalyptic view of SA expats - but because she thinks it was "another life", which is now finished.

SA, like the UK is a more exciting place than NZ and would probably provide quite a few of the things I miss here, but I take your point.

By the way, I can get Radio 4 here!

Thanks everyone for the advice. I think I will plan a long holiday. It is financially feasable for us to return due to the weakness of the pound and the British economy, and while that won't last indefinately, I daresay it isn't going to change just yet.

juneau Sat 20-Apr-13 19:38:00

I also can't see how moving to SA would help with your homesickness for the UK.

mummytime Sat 20-Apr-13 19:20:39

Can you come to the UK for a "sabbatical"? Because that might just make you want to go back to NZ quickly. If you come to the SE there are a lot of SA people here. I would also beware of going to SA right now as I hear very mixed reports from people there.

lljkk Sat 20-Apr-13 18:59:48

I suspect what OP is wrestling with is the lack of Roots.
I know I have this problem after 22 yrs in UK.
The idea of finishing out my years here just seems wrong, even if by then DC are grown with own families surrounding me.
I still want my cousins & places that I have known all my life.

BBC Radio is something I would miss hugely, too.

juneau Sat 20-Apr-13 18:42:49

When I lived in the US I really missed Radio 4. It felt like a stupid thing to miss, but when we arrived back here I loved being able to listen to it again as I made breakfast. I HATED American radio - it was just awful, awful, awful! But it's the little things you miss - spring flowers, radio and decent documentaries, history programmes that aren't just about bloody WWII ... I could go on.

OP, I realise that your situation is actually rather different than I understood from your first post. The dissatisfaction with your job, etc, and arguments with your DW - it sounds like there is a lot of stuff involved here.

YADNBU to feel the way you do and since neither of you is from NZ I also understand your lack of ties to that country. With no family there to anchor you, no wonder you feel detached. I wouldn't move to SA though with young DC. I have a few SA friends in the UK and they've told me absolutely hair-raising stories about the crime there - car jackings, rapes, home invasions - that's why they moved here. I think I would make a long visit a priority if I was feeling as you do - a month at least - in order to see if there is anything to your homesickness. You never know - a decent visit might cure you of it - or condense in your mind what you want. In an international marriage you both need to compromise - and in this case perhaps your DW needs to do that.

JustinBsMum Sat 20-Apr-13 18:30:06

But, to be honest, I just didn't feel like it was, or would ever be, my culture. I kept reading the british press and following british politics, as that was what I felt most connected to. I didn't feel able to get involved in local organisations in the same way that I would have had at home, and that diminished my feeling of...usefulness. I know that it would have been up to me to change that over time - but everything just felt slighly unnatural and unreal to me - as if I had overstayed on a holiday. My life felt kind of...inauthentic. And yes, I really, really felt the lack of history. It seems like such a minute concern (and it is horribly eurocentric) but it bugged me. So I decided to go back home

Unami, so it's not just me - it seems daft to complain about the lack of decent news or radio progs as a reason to want to return to Britain but that is what I feel. Also the history - and all that you said.
There is also a feeling of superficiality, prob cos I am in the US and the news is so well, extreme. Something can't just happen it has to be dire, terrifying and everyone has to work together to solve it. confused

itshothere Sat 20-Apr-13 16:18:28

Thank you zadie78, it's nice to hear from someone who has been through it. I suppose it's a case of the grass being greener, maybe what I need is an extended trip home to appreciate what I have here again. X

zadie78 Sat 20-Apr-13 15:54:22

Itshothere - we moved back to the UK after 8 years abroad, and throughout the whole of those 8 years, I too thought like you regarding my 'real friends'. Now that we've been back here in the UK for just over 2 years, I've hardly seen those 'friends' and feel I have very little in common with them, bar one or two, who incidentally, were school friends. The people I have something in common with, and who feel more like my 'real friends' now are the other people who have moved back here from abroad, and those are the people I spend my evenings on the phone to, or the people we make arrangements to see at the weekends.

I have been disappointed by this, but what I want to tell you is that since you've been abroad for 10 years now, you might find, if you moved back to the UK, that like me, you've moved on and the UK itself has massively changed in 10 years and is definitely not the same place you left.

I was also guilty of looking at it through rose-tinted glasses when I was abroad.

Now all I want to do is get our dc through school in order to retire abroad again!! The thought of retiring here in the UK makes me shudder with horror.

itshothere Sat 20-Apr-13 15:19:13

OP I'm feeling really homesick too and have done for a while now. My situation is different to your's as in we have not emigrated, been here for 10 years though, and one day a return home to the uk will be on the cards. However 'one day' will probably be a long time coming...
We have a nice life, nice weather (most of the time), nice house, nice salary blah blah. But I feel pretty much all of this is material. I realize that the important things, to me any way, are my family and real friends and they are what are lacking from my life here. I sometimes feel like I'm living a surreal life, then I feel terribly guilty for having selfish thoughts of wanting to go home.
My dh doesn't want to go back to the uk any time soon and I've even considered going back without him. My dc's are in the uk at uni but love coming back here for term holidays. One of them has even suggested that she wants to work here when qualified, so I think it's only me having these thoughts?
It's ironic that your dw thinks that people from the uk are not up front because I think the total opposite,in fact I miss the directness and humorous sarcasm of british folk. One of the reasons I love mn grin . So I know I haven't been much help to you, I have no genius suggestions, but just wanted to say that you are not alone in your thoughts and yanbu smile .

MomsNetCurtains Sat 20-Apr-13 12:54:46

I just re-read that your DW is from SA. I actually missed that in the OP, apologies. She was Asian in my mind! confused It now makes more sense. As politely as I can say, and I DO know this, SA's are pushy, forward and in your face - very honest (!) and lovely! Brits are not. I have worked with 100's of SA's. It's a massive culture difference, so I understand her reluctance to live in the UK. She would hate it. There are LOADS of 'Saffas' here in Oz - literally loads. We have loads of Saffa friends - maybe worth a look? She would be right at home here and lots of SA's have other SA friends!

Robinredboobs Sat 20-Apr-13 12:47:12

Would DW get a visa? Probably not. You might want to look into the new financial requirements of sponsoring a non EU spouse (I'm assuming she's a new Zealander).

MomsNetCurtains Sat 20-Apr-13 12:34:53


I agree. If neither of you are from NZ, why remain there? Could you live where she is from or is it a language issue? It's a real issue, I know.

Maybe you are both in a rut and are not sure of the next move? Or acknowledging that there is another move?

DW doesn't like the UK's weather - too cold and wet - and she doesn't like the people - she says they tend not to front up and be honest.

There are 51M in England, 5M in Scotland, 1M in Wales and 1.8 in NI. It may be worth educating her on the cultures between the countries as she may find one that she likes? We do have our similarities, but also our vast differences - which makes us each wonderful and unique. Has she had a bad experience in the UK? Glasgow is pretty honest - haha! grin

Unami Sat 20-Apr-13 12:23:44

YANBU (Sorry this is long and rambly)

I lived abroad for a while - in an English speaking commonwealth country praised for its "quality of life" (that always makes me think of the Stewart Lee sketch about what quality of life means to people - massive prawns...).

Anyway, I had a happy life there - rent was cheaper, energy bills were laughably cheaper, eating out was cheaper. But, to be honest, I just didn't feel like it was, or would ever be, my culture. I kept reading the british press and following british politics, as that was what I felt most connected to. I didn't feel able to get involved in local organisations in the same way that I would have had at home, and that diminished my feeling of...usefulness. I know that it would have been up to me to change that over time - but everything just felt slighly unnatural and unreal to me - as if I had overstayed on a holiday. My life felt kind of...inauthentic. And yes, I really, really felt the lack of history. It seems like such a minute concern (and it is horribly eurocentric) but it bugged me. So I decided to go back home.

I don't really understand why people knock the UK. It has so much going for it - especially compared to other English speaking countries abroad. I don't regret coming back for a second. A few people questioned the decision, but I didn't care. I was happy to be home.

All that said and done, I was single at the time, so it was as easy as jumping on a plane. Uprooting a family across the world is an entirely different story, and it's not something I would consider unless I was really, deeply unhappy. A vague sense of malaise isn't really enough of an impetus to put all those changes in motion, I don't think. But what I'd say is that you're not unreasonable to feel it! Don't try to make yourself feel bad about feeling it, or punish yourself for not making the most of it. I felt that the UK - and my home city in particular - had a tangible history and culture that I felt cut adrift from abroad. If that's how you feel then there's no point in trying to deny it, but why not think about accepting that yes, you have lost something, yes, you are missing out on something - without feeling that the only solution is to move back home?

I'm trying to think back to how I felt just before I moved back to the UK, and try to think about how different it would have been if I had a partner and kids there. I suppose that I would have tried to work out exactly what I felt was missing from or inauthentic about my life there and work out how I could remedy that. In my case it was a feeling of detachment from domestic politics and an estrangement from the local media - and I suppose I would have tried to get more informed about them and over time, become involved. But I would have had to have given myself mental permission to stay first, and maybe that's what you're missing too. The mental permission to stay?

JustinBsMum Sat 20-Apr-13 12:21:22

I've moved round the uk and I could understand your DW being a bit off some Brits, there is a big difference living in the Scottish countryside or the home counties commuter belt. Mind you I don't think SAs would rate particularly high in Brits' favourite nationalities.
I often generalize about different national traits but when you actually get to know an individual the nationality is forgotten.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sat 20-Apr-13 11:37:28

I've just seen your wife isn't even from NZ. You are both living in a country that is not home? Well it's just me but I would be more robust about moving.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sat 20-Apr-13 11:26:42

I also agree with Laquitar re your wife's views on people from the UK. I can't conceive being married to someone who felt that way about people from my country- and It's not that I can't take criticism of the US. But it's quite a strange stance for an adult to take, to generalise about individuals from a country. I wouldn't want that transmitted to my kids.

(Suspects there's more to all this.)

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sat 20-Apr-13 11:16:34

Well people are always going on to me about how great America is, how could I possibly prefer England, why don't I want to go 'home'. I could give you a long list of the reasons I would never leave the UK but this won't make you feel better. I feel your pain though.

I think you need to come back to the uk for an extended period to see if it's general malaise, early mud life crisis or something more. I have a friend who is married to a guy from South America. After 15 yrs... She said she needed more time on the US. She just couldn't take if any more. They are doing six months there six months in the US. School aged children too... Wouldn't work for me but it does for them. So... I think that it's reasonable for your partner if SHE wants to support you to also consider alternative scenarios. It's not easy.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Sat 20-Apr-13 11:01:57

YANBU, and I say this as a Kiwi married to a (sort of) Brit. Well, an Irishman who's lived in London since the age of 15, lost his accent and only left to move to NZ with me...

We moved here in May 2011. My Dad had had a massive health scare and so it prompted the move. Our (London-born) children were 2.3 and 9 months at the time.

Nearly 2 years to the day since we moved, and we both really miss London. DH, obviously... But I have utterly surprised myself at how much I miss it, too.

DH left a huge circle of friends that he was basically the lynch-pin of. He misses them, and the social whirl, dreadfully.

I miss everything, really. I lived there for 13 years and basically grew up there. First proper job. In my time there, we got married, mortgaged up together, pregnant and had two children. We had a wonderful life. I worked from home, we had an au pair, two great salaries. Our set-up was amazing.

Here in NZ, I can't get a job, because what I was doing was so specialised and international-based that it just doesn't exist here. I'm pretty much looking at admin work at this point. Unbelievably fucking depressing. I used to go to New York every 3 months, and now I can't even get a shitty admin job.

All my old friends are totally dispersed. All over the country, all over the world. There's only a couple left where we are. We're trying to put ourselves out there, to make friends. Going along to stuff, toddler group hell, etc, always being the smile-plastered-on, faux bonhomie newbie... And then spending the weekends skyping all our old friends who desperately miss us and want us to move back.

The only reason we're here is for my Dad, to be honest. Some big decisions to be made in the next few months, especially if I can't get work.

I feel for you, I really do. A least DH and I are pretty much on the same page.

onemorebite Sat 20-Apr-13 10:28:17

plenty of jobs in the uk for lawyers in their late 30's (legal aid work excepted as that is being cut like buggery). Unless you want to be a partner in a City firm there are jobs about if you wanted to look. I think the market is quite different now than it was 10 years ago. Partly recession caused imo.

I would love to leave abroad for a bit but would feel totally the same about leaving for ever. I feel kind of the same about having left London! And I can hop on a train there (time, money and kids permitting) pretty much whenever I want.

ZZZenagain Sat 20-Apr-13 09:18:36

I think it would be best for you all 5o move to the UK, even for DW since whe struggles to get work there. IMO people can have arosy tinted view of a NZ childhood. Compared to life in a rough estate in a depressed part os the UK, most dc in NZ are better off. There is simply more space. However, as a lawyer presumably that is not the life you would be transplanting the fanily to.

Atm I would not consider living in SA, just too dangerous. I would worry about the dc - their safety and prospects. Also hard to predict how it would be for you when you are elderly.

I think life in the UK with holidays abroad, including SA if possible might work best.

Apply for jobs and when you have something concrete it is easier to make a decision.

Laquitar Sat 20-Apr-13 06:28:32

OP in my experience what makes me home sick (i live in UK but i am not British) is being with people who share the same memories, lived the same history. For example even here on mn i read some threads about school in the 70s, the food, the games, the tv programs, and i cannot relate. Even the talk about Thatcher's years for example. When i am with people from my country we share similar experiences, that feeling that you lived the same history you know even a joke or a tv program...(for us it is the language too). For this reason i like having a group of friends that are from my country and we sometimes meet up and have our 'Spanish Day'. Is this something you could do? Do you meet up with British expats?

Also,i agree with Sashh that if you go back to your country it is never the same country you have left.

I must say that if my dh said he doesn't like the people from my country this would make me uncomfortable. Does your wife knows millions of British people then?
Are the children aware of your dw's feelings towards Britain?

SavoyCabbage Sat 20-Apr-13 05:42:21

I think once you have emigrated, then you will always feel as if you might not have made the right decision. I know two people, no actually three, as I know one here in Australia too, who are in their sixties, emigrated in their twenties and despite all having a lovely life, have questioned it constantly.

I don't care that England is 'shit' and cold and I will have to live in a smaller house. That's where I am from and that's where I want to be and that's where I will be soon. My dh doesn't want to live in the UK, he's not English so has no ties to it at all. I find being an immigrant wearing.

I think my dd's will have a 'better life' in the UK, going to weddings and going to visit their Grandma at Easter. Today they have been to the park on their bikes in shorts, which is great but they are not at my niece's birthday party which they should be.

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