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Southeast Asia v. home - decision time(14 Posts)
Hi all, it's decision time and I could really use some guidance. Have been living and working in very challenging SE Asian country (clue in my MN name!) for almost four years, during which time have met DH and now expecting DC1. We will go back to Ireland for birth but then I can't decide whether we should permanently relocate back there - so many reasons: close to grandparents, clean, healthcare, general quality of life - or bring baby and come back here where we both have good jobs, albeit where I am very homesick. (Background: This is his home country. After baby comes, we will still both have good jobs here if we want them. No jobs in Ireland.) Have you had to make a similar choice? WWYD? Gentle suggestions and advice welcome, I really need them! Thanks.
I would always follow the work personally. Can you take 6 months after the birth in Ireland to look for work and then revert to plan B in Asia if nothing crops up? Would you be able to take time out of your jobs in Asia?
Thanks butterflies, I don't think we could take that much time. Three months is about my max if I want to keep same job, his probably only two at most... Also, finding a job in Ireland is not easy. You're right, I guess should follow the work.
I'd follow the work, but that's just me. We left Ireland for that reason. How long have you been away? I know things are supposed to be picking up, but I have friends and family (North and South) who say its still pretty grim.
Thanks Glasto, I've been away since uni, so almost ten years! Yikes.
I'd follow work too. It is a massive risk to go back to Ireland without jobs to go to. I would not return to the UK unless at least one of us had a job to go to there.
Well if you left around 2004 it's a completely different country now, really! While Im Irish I'd been living in London for a decade before moving back in 2003. We loved it, it was booming, we got great jobs, high salaries etc, and it was really nice to be near family again. But then the economy went tits up, my husband lost his job and couldn't get another, but we were solvent ( more than most). But it was so depressing! We could have got by financially but it no longer felt like a good place to bring up our son, so many new taxes, wages going down etc. we got the hell out of dodge to Australia and it was the best move we ever made, I feel the recession did me a good turn as I wouldn't have left otherwise.
Unless you have good guaranteed jobs I wouldn't dream of going back, and even then I would think twice. The government claims things are getting better, but all that seems to mean is house prices are going up again! Good luck whatever you decide, but please, do your research before moving back.
When you say "no jobs in Ireland" do you mean no jobs lined up or no prospect of either of you working in Ireland? If the latter, then it would seem to be a huge disincentive.
You say you feel homesick, but you are obviously very settled in Asia- if you move to Ireland won't your DH feel massively homesick as well as disoriented work wise and potentially with no social life? Sound like your homesickness would be much easier to overcome. I also live in Asia, but in Hong Kong - could you make regular trips to HK or Singapore (Jetstar flights between Sin and Yangon are very cheap) to get a bit of a western fix if too expensive to travel back to Ireland every now and again?
I find any homesickness for the UK is easily dissipated by a week or so there, then I am keen to get back to where I have made a life for myself. Remember too that if you left Ireland after university then you've never had an adult life there and your homesickness may be more yearning for happy childhood days than actual longing for an adult life there.
I personally would stay out in SE Asia. Having grown up there myself, I would say you would be giving your child an amazing start in life.
If your both on good salaries, then it is likely you'll be able to afford help at home, a nice house, and excellent schooling. Please don't underestimate the value of all these things which would soon mount up in Ireland.
Also the climate means outdoors activities would abound. The winter (as I'm sure you can recall) is a long slow, dreary time- which with a small child can be very hard. You may end up (as I did) filling it with the mundanity of soft play hell. At least in Burma you can swim outdoors most days.
Do you belong to any clubs out in Burma? Is there an expat group you can join to help with the homesickness? Perhaps even an expect antenatal group? Just an idea- it may help to be with other 'outsiders' to help you feel less sad about leaving home.
Good luck with whatever you decide. I feel that my upbringing in SE Asia made me confident and more accommodating of others, and certainly made me incredibly independent and happy to travel as an adult.
So many good points and massively sensible advice. God, I love MN. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Jessie: you're absolutely right, I frequently need to get out of the Pit of Despair (sorry, I mean Yangon during monsoon or hot season, ie: most of the year) and escape for weekends to BKK. It does cheer me up. At least they have bagels and Starbucks. As for work, neither of us would have anything lined up in Ireland but I don't think accurate that we'd have no prospects. I wouldn't be too worried about finding something for me eventually - prob not as well paid or stimulating as current work though. DH is a video journo for an int'l press association - but a transfer to Ireland with them is sadly not on the cards. He has fantastic experience but I'm realistic that he'd be lucky to get an assistant camera man position in Dublin. And I do worry he'd be bored/miss friends. I know I am/do in Yangon.
Winner: I have to say Yangon is not typical of SE Asia in terms of ease of living, quality of life, etc. It's more like Calcutta or Lagos. Most of the year it's not really great for outdoor activities (lashing rain or way too hot 45 degrees+). That's one of the big inducements of Ireland to be honest! I recently joked that you know Burmese summers are bad when you find yourself longing for Irish summers! It's also a very difficult city to get around - no motorbikes allowed, no public transport, brutal traffic. I can't even imagine trying to do it with a baby, the mind boggles. As for expat groups, it's a good idea in theory. TBH though, given all difficulties above, I often lack motivation to go out and kind of given up on the "scene" as it just seemed so transient and you end up having the same convos over and over again (what are you doing? Where living? How much is your rent? Yawn). A pregnant expat group would be great but think I might be the only one mental enough to have gone and intentionally gotten pregnant in Yangon! Will look into it though.
Footle: you're right, we are lucky. And you're also right about it not being easy here. I should also say that I make a very good int'l salary (DH's is good local salary) and we have help at home, nice 3-bed apt, etc. It just seems sometimes like the tiniest place in Ireland would be easier. Maybe that is massively rose-tinted though! Maybe we should just stick it out here for a few years and get back there before DC starts school. (School here in Yangon doesn't bear thinking about.)
I would stay with the work too. It is hard to go home after 10 years!
Can you return to Burma, and then give it a year or six months until after the baby is born, and then decide if you want to move back. You also might find that when you go home for the birth, that you are cured of any homesickness!
Do check out expat groups, although there might not be one - you might have to start one. Dh and I applied for work in Burma a few months ago and we weren't offered interviews as the school said it was very difficult to get visas for dependants.
Good luck with your decision.
Do you think you could relocate within the area? What is the potential for a similar job in a different city in SE Asia? I really do think Ireland would be a miserable experience for someone who has grown up in Yangon, so cold and grey for much of the year.
If you could move somewhere with a slightly more forgiving (?) climate and a more western feel like KL, or BKK would that be an option?