Expats or Natives????(16 Posts)
Is it easier to move to an expat enviroment or a ^ living with the natives^ enviroment ????
Anyone any experience of doing both? What were the advantages or disadvantages?
This is my 4rd big move and I have always lived with the natives and now wondering if moving to an expat community is better/worse, easier/harder than the native thing?
I would imagine that it depends on where you move to, but in my experience of having tried it both ways it is certainly easier to live as an expat, if less culturally rewarding.
As someone who is working their way through the expat-lite options (Dubai, tick, Hong Kong, tick, next stop Singapore??) I'd say expat is definitely easier because at least socially, it's easy, and if you have friends/ a support network, everything else then seems a lot easier, plus you dont have the language issue- and you have to be pretty fluent to have a successful social life in a second language IMO. DH and I both work with mainly locals, albeit in an English speaking environment, and we're both employed locally (not on expat packages, no fixed term). However, we have very little integration into the real HK Cantonese community. DS's class (international kindy) is probably 70% Chinese, but a lot of the parents are actually also expats (ABCs etc). DC will almost certainly go to the international school, which has a very diverse mix of nationalities, but v few local kids. Some expat parents do use the local schools for either cost or language acquisition reasons, but that takes a lot of commitment/ home support and the school culture is very very different- definitely wouldnt be a good choice for DS.
I agree expat life is definitely more fun. It's a transient one though and as long as you accept that, it's probably an easier way to live day to day unless you are a hermit by nature. I've done both and we are currently going native. It's a lovely life but deadly dull socially for DH and me. I don't work either here (can't) so it can be very frustrating.
prob depends where you are - we're in USA so have a bit of both, but in LA which is massively transient city no matter where in the world you come from
Christ no, living amongst the natives is the best for me. I've done it three times. There's nothing I hate more than being stuck with people banging on about the state of things compared to the UK, watching the Beeb, reading British press.
Mind you, I left the UK a single young woman, met future DH in one country, moved to his country, had DC.
My experience is different to moving abroad for two years on a work visa.
I think it depends on the length of the move and the country and language.
If I was the type of expat that we see here from the US pharma industry for example, then I can understand why they stay in the "bubble". They know that they will move on in 2 or 3 years so it's really about getting into a normal pattern of life as soon as possible for schooling, hobbies, friendships etc.
I'm on a permanent contract here so it felt right to go as native as possible. The only exception we made was bi-lingual school as we wanted DS to keep his English levels up incase it didn't work out here. (I work in a very flighty industry).
I have to say if I was in Saudi or Kuwait I'd probably find it hard to integrate outside the expat community in terms of language and some cultural expectations. My old manager has relocated to ME and has found it fairly segregated.
Expat is easier, of course it is. Because you're not really abroad in any sense other than geographically!
We have groups of American families here, who come for 3 years, have their accommodation found for them, socialise together, have their own little clubs and groups and then move on. It's a small town, so you see an American and think, ah, there's another Boeing family. (big aerospace HQ down the road)
Whether expat is nicer is a whole other argument.
I don't think the two are comparable really.
We live in a 'native' area with local neighbours either side and we live in a traditional house here rather than an ex pat development although there are a few expat developments in our village. We work and socialise with expats though but we do have some local clients and clients from other countries too like Russia and some scandanavians. It's a perfect balance for us.
I have done both "expat" and "going native", long term and in different countries, and I would never, ever want to do "expat" again.
We live in a local area, which we chose because it was close to dd's school. There is limited English in the shops and we can't get western products here, but the delivery service in fantastic, so we get everything delivered, including beer and wine - which is not sold in our community.
The area is quite wealthy, so most of the residents speak English, but we haven't developed much of a social circle. We go to our friends in the expat areas for that Our house is way nicer than the place we lived in the expat area (for 6 weeks) was - much bigger and has a garden.
We are moving to shanghai in the summer and are choosing another local area, but as we have lived in Chinese speaking areas before and can speak and read some Chinese, I think it will be much easier to integrate.
I think a lot of it depends on the country and the length of your contract - or is it a permanent move? Where are you moving to? And how long do you plan to stay?
Think it depends on country, your nationality and whether there's a common language, intended length of stay, whether you have DC and your hopes for their schooling, and also your own job (eg will you make local friends through that you can socialize with). Native has been much more enjoyable and fulfilling for me but is not the best thing for my DC at the moment for various reasons.
Why do you say that Bonsoir?
It's interesting because I've had a job offer in Shanghai and was discussing with a friend over lunch last week.
He was horrified that I would consider expat life in China and was very scathing of expats over there (based on his experiences).
Money grabbing, spoilt,self entitled,greedy children seemed to sum up the conversation.
I think he mixed in much wealthier circles than me though!
I don't like the unsettled and transient nature of expat lifestyles and the superficial relationships bore me to tears!
Thing is we don't all move in view of settling permanently or to live in our partner's country so foregoing the expat circles altogether can be a very isolating experience.
Really depends where you are. And expats are not a monolithic block of wealthy westerners on a Jolly in the colonies!
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