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Expat mum - full time work?

(7 Posts)
TheExpatWife Tue 18-Oct-11 12:34:15

Could you please talk to me about working full time while living overseas?

My youngest has just started school, and we have an excellent live-in nanny/house keeper, whom the children love. They children are settled and happy here. My office would likely be 10-15 minutes from my home.

So in some ways - practicalities - this is the absolutely ideal time to pick up my career, FT, again.

Part-time work of the type I do is not an option here. But is working FT while trying to look after a family overseas taking on too much?

I've tried studying and volunteering, but it doesn't keep me quite busy enough. And I worry that if I work FT I will fall out of the social loop of expat women here, from which I get a lot of support and friendship.

Thanks smile

TheBrideofFrankenstein Tue 18-Oct-11 13:53:26

Main downsides-

- Can't go home for 6 weeks in the summer, which my parents really value as time with the GCs.
- Because of the helper situation (I see you're in Singapore, so assume you mean helper by nanny/housekeeper) employers tend to be less flexible re the kids being ill/ working late etc because "Why can't your helper do it". The very affordable childcare can therefore be a double edged sword.
- I know what you mean about the tai-tai grapevine, but you'll probably make new friends and keep in touch with the SAHMs you're most friendly with. I am currently a SAHM and have friends who don't work, who work PT and FT.

I am in a similar situation to you (in terms of FT or nothing) and for the moment have decided not to go back to work as would be 7-7 or 8-8, five days a week, but my kids are a lot younger than yours. If they were in school, I'd be in the same boat as you.

Merlion Wed 19-Oct-11 05:17:20

TEW I am also in Singapore and lucky to have a part time job (appreciate this is very rare particularly in my industry and I'm the only one who does it). I am just about to return after having my second dc. I understand where you are coming from as I will certainly miss the social aspect particularly as I work in the mornings only and that is when all the baby activities see to be scheduled. I do think though that here Mums working is becoming increasingly more common and a friend of mine who has just sent her son to school was telling me that at least half of the Mums from his class are working. So I think that as well as making sure you keep up with your sahm circle it would probably also be fairly easy to fit in with other working Mums too just to keep those networks going.

laptopwieldingharpy Wed 19-Oct-11 10:58:37

Am in hk, ex-sg.
For me the only downside is not being able to take all those beach breaks and that long summer holiday back to europe.

I have worked part time pretty much since we moved to asia as after 6 months, i was quite frankly sick of the mere idea of an afternoon at the club or a pedicure.

In your shoes, iwould certainly go for a ft if could not do pt.
Am sure i would become quite miserable if i had no purpose.
As a matter of fact i was working fullmtime for the last couple of years in Sg. The move to hk was really hard because i lost that.
Its very unsettling being in such an exciting environment and not being able to work.

At the end of the day, its a very personnal choice. Good luck.

TheBrideofFrankenstein Wed 19-Oct-11 11:22:20

a friend of mine who has just sent her son to school was telling me that at least half of the Mums from his class are working.

Interesting. I definitely see this trend in HK as well. I think it's because now there are far fewer gold plated expat packages on offer (rent, school fees, flights, club etc), and far more expats on local contracts, so you are seeing an increase in 2 wage families, especially the way rents have gone this last year.

Another factor (IMO) is that local contracts are usually open ended, so more wives work because it's not "only 2 years" then off to somewhere else, it's potentially a decade or more.

Of my friends with kids, it's about 50% work vs 50% SAHM, and of those that do work, it's probably 50/50 FT vs PT(lots are self-employed). Most of the SAHMs are either on secondments (ST postings) or did something in the Uk that is completely untransferable. Just thinking about it now, in my personal group, it seems that the more recently you arrived, the more likely you are to be working- probably ties into my first point about the big packages disappearing.

TheExpatWife Wed 19-Oct-11 14:15:51


Your replies have really hit the nail on the head - being in such a vibrant place, with so much happening in my field, but being on the sidelines, is unsettling. And the fact that this isn't a couple of years, it's mid-to-long term, and I don't feel ready to give up work. But if I don't work now, I'll be far off the pace if and when we return to the UK.

And I think you are right - I will keep up with friends. Without a long commute for everyone, it is a lot easier to meet in the evening or weekend.

Now to actually find someone willing to employ me....!

natation Wed 19-Oct-11 14:44:48

Well I'm only in Belgium, but I don't find working "abroad" any different to working in the UK, in fact for us it's better as here hubby does not do night shifts, although his 5am starts and 9pm finishes, a timetable which changes form week to week and obligatory weekend working does mean we don't have a regular family life! It's always been like this, so it makes no difference being "abroad". In any case, we couldn't afford for me NOT to work, we have no expat package, we are treated frankly like S..T by my husband's employers, but the upside is living in a safe place with a great life for our children. There is cheap child care here too, from 7.30am to 6.30pm if I need it at our children's school and I can leave them there without any reservation, it means if I'm called into work early or asked to work late, our children Mon-Fri have someone looking after them at school. They only go into this before/after school child care about 2 or 3 times a month, but it's simply fantastic that it exists, very liberating for women who are treated far more equally here than in the UK, I could never have worked full time in the UK until the youngest is old enough to look after herself (ie in another 4 or 5 more years).

More and more "expat" mothers work here in Brussels - I know because I help out anglophones to settle here and more and more of them say it's hard to keep in the "expat" stay-at-home mum network because they are out working.

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