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Struggling with being an expat

(121 Posts)
Notahappyexpat Tue 13-Mar-18 10:53:02

We have lived abroad for 10 years - I did enjoy it and it’s way better for the children & husband - they love it and I know our quality of life is better than it would be in the UK... however in the last year I have developed an almost physical dislike for expat life.

The women I meet are awful (bitchy, unsupportive, wildly competitive re children), it’s not English speaking so hard to get a job (and if I do get a job it will be full time due to my career and then have no help with children), I miss my old friends and have painted this rose coloured picture of what my life would be like if I was back in the UK.

Anyone else gone through this - will it get better? Am I just having a mid life crisis? What can I do to get out of this rut / depression - going back to UK used to make me realise how lucky we were with our life but now it’s not

TheHulksPurplePants Tue 13-Mar-18 11:02:29

I think its normal to feel like this sometimes. Sometimes it passes, other times it doesn't and then you have to make a decision. I know what you mean about rose colored glasses though. Not sure what to do about that

TeaAddict235 Tue 13-Mar-18 16:42:46

Hey OP,
I understand what you mean about the rose coloured glasses, I do that to myself especially when I'm having a rough day or week, I.e. every other week. Whereabouts are you? Could you visit home more often than you currently are doing to get that 'uk fill'? I try to go back every 5-6months as it keeps me sane and optimistic.

Notahappyexpat Tue 13-Mar-18 17:24:23

I have been going back more and having friends visit - I think with the mood I am in it’s making me worse. We are visiting the uk in a couple of weeks.

I know that I am the only one in the family feeling this way and am trying to get my head sorted out before I crack and demand we move.

AmandaClaire75 Wed 14-Mar-18 12:46:18

Hello, I am new to mumsnet. I live in Denmark and I am so very desperate to move back to the UK. I have no friends here and my work has become too much with lots of stress. I also have a 12 year old daughter whose school work is suffering. My work also now requires me to travel at least once a month which I can't do as I am a single parent. I can't help but cry everyday because I am so desperate to go home.

DeliveredByKiki Sat 17-Mar-18 06:07:25

I understand OP. I’m ok at the moment but I know there will come a time when I will be done and want to move home. DH has made it clear he never wants to go back, DC are happy and’s tough being the one who has the biggest pull back to the UK

discombobulatednibblesnarf Sat 17-Mar-18 08:19:18

Totally sympathise. Been here 8 years, dh settled, kids only know here as home. I hate that we are 'stuck' here. I too am in 'the expat' bubble due to school. It's not the 'normal' life as I would want it. I stopped visiting 'home' as it was too hard to come back sad

trigger2 Mon 26-Mar-18 18:47:59

I’d like to join in as I feel the same way. We moved to Spain 8 months ago with my husband’s job. I speak a moderate level of Spanish so am able to converse with people. Kids are fine but would rather be in uk. I have a part time job here which is ok. But I just have this pull back, which is crazy as I moved around growing up. My husband is settled here and he asks me to rationalise what I’m missing. But I guess I can’t, it’s small things, familiarity of language, streets, routine. I feel silly saying this to him as it seems so petty. Realistically if we moved back it will be to somewhere different again so I’ll still have to adapt and make new friends, but this doesn’t bother me, I guess it’s just Britain I miss. Am fed up and feeling really miserable, I’m aware that I shouldn’t look in uk with rose tinted specs. Help me make sense of how I feel :-/

RainyAfternoon Thu 29-Mar-18 22:44:01

How are you feeling Nothappyexpat? Have you come to any decisions?
I’m really struggling with this at the moment as well. I often feel a bit like we are on holiday here. Sounds good, it’s lovely and there is plenty to do at the weekends, but I don’t really have any friendships deeper than surface level. I really miss solid friendships. And it’s very hard to join in with the community here. In the UK I helped out a lot at preschool and the schools – I really enjoyed doing bits and pieces, but it’s just not the way it’s done here. I feel like a bit of a spectator. I also miss people witnessing my kids grow up.
But, my husband is very happy here. Much more happier than he was in the UK. And the kids are beginning to settle… I can’t see how I can make everyone move just to make me happy. And the UK at the moment can be quite miserable, all the funding cuts are really having an impact. But, at the end of the day, What is the point of leading a lovely quality of life if you are lonely and miserable?
My other issue is not being able to do meaningful work. That magnifies the slightly detached pointless feeling...
Sorry, this is a bit of a miserable post. I was meaning to empathise but I can see it has turned into a bit of a pity party! Good luck with your decision.

Yesiamhappy Tue 10-Apr-18 11:53:55

Hi Rainy

I know exactly what you are feeling. I think it would be good to get a part time job to escape from the guided cage but school system here is set up for mums being at home. No idea what to do - just plodding along feeling so down. If you find anything that helps let me know 😟. Better to moan on here I suppose than at the family (again). I used to be so positive....


Shmithecat Sun 15-Apr-18 08:00:37

I've been in and out of KSA for over 5 years now. The past year more out than in but I'm now once again fully installed back in KSA. I'm just getting on with it. My toddler dc is in preschool 3 mornings a week which gives me some free time. It's tolerable. Not much more than that really. We plan to repat by the beginning of 2020 though so having that goal in sight keeps me focussed. Do you have any plans to repat OP?

Yesiamhappy Sun 15-Apr-18 09:07:56

Unfortunately not - our children have started local high school (it’s excellent which is good for them) so I am trapped until they finish as it’s very different to the uk school system

notinwonderland Tue 17-Apr-18 23:00:29

I have similar feelings regarding my expat life to you OP, however I have never really liked where we have moved to. Husband loves it here and the kids are now thinking it's OK but prefer the UK.

I'm at the stage where I need to make some decisions regarding high school before it's too late. We're almost at the point where we are stuck here as the curriculum is way behind the UK pace and qualifications would be non-transferable.

I miss being able to understand random overheard conversations or even talk to somebody. I can't help at the schools due to the language barrier and also the hands-off culture here. My day is generally made up of cleaning and cooking and milling around aimlessly.

I want to go back home and my husband says he isn't sure that he'd come back with me if I did.

What would your children do if you returned to the UK OP? Would they stay where you are as that is where they have grown up?

americanlife Fri 04-May-18 20:14:36

I had a spell of this over the Christmas period and yet I know our quality of life is better where we are compared to London. Honestly I think you have to try and stay busy as I think these phases hit us when we are not occupied or having a hard time in our job or relationship.
My husband reminds me that if we had had a family back in the UK we would have been 200 plus miles from where my folks live so they would not have been involved as I dream they could have been. I have made amazing friends where we live and have a well paid rewarding job but I do get these moments of longing to be closer to my family- but my folks are in their 80's now so the time to be close to them has passed. It would be such an upheaval to move back to jobs that pay 30% less to lower pensions, to a smaller home, to schools that teach to the test. I have not been back for many years but now plan on going every summer to make the most of my folks before they leave this world.
Your feelings are not unusual I would say- part n parcel of being an ex pat.

Goosegettingfat Sun 06-May-18 02:18:26

There seem to be lots of people with settled husbands who don't understand their wives dissatisfaction! I'm not sure that most DHs know the tedium of spending so much time just schlepping around doing domestic stuff while being isolated from the surrounding culture! Plus the uk is very consumer led. For both better and worse- but it's much more convenient in lots of ways. I miss it maybe once an hour. And wonderland if my DH was really unprepared to listen to my feelings and my kids wanted to return and I was unhappy, you wouldn't see me for dust frankly thanks

Kursk Sun 06-May-18 02:43:38

We moved to the US, earlier this year I went back to the UK for the first time in 3 years I was prepared to hate it, just like when I lived there. However I was disappointed that I didn’t. It just seemed like the same old UK.

OP, is there another country you could move to?

HerRoyalNotness Sun 06-May-18 03:00:54

I understand. What these husbands don’t understand is what we give up to follow them for their jobs. It’s soul destroying, especially if you had your own career.

On paper we should be better off where we are but taxes and health care expenses see that we aren’t. I wouldn’t have such an issue if we could afford to travel a few times a year. If I had a job again we could, but then I wouldn’t have time off to do so. I hate it. DH loves it here, except he’s not actually been here for the last 2 years, and when pressed can’t tell my WHY he loves it. dC doing ok, but would be ok with moving, even though they’d miss their friends.

No idea what the answer is but I have to leave before the DC settle here. I don’t want to get stuck.

HerRoyalNotness Sun 06-May-18 03:01:53

Oh and I’ve just ditched my expat group as even though I’ve been practically on my own for 2 years and had a baby during the time, they don’t give one single fuck that I might need some company.

Goosegettingfat Sun 06-May-18 07:32:29

Heroyal that's awful. There is no expat group where I am now, but I was fortunate that in our previous location I had an amazing expat group and couldn't bloody move for company and support when I had my baby. I really miss them now sad

DonutWorryBeHappy Sun 06-May-18 07:42:40

I've lived abroad pre kids and I'd like to move out again in the next couple of years. I'm aware that with kids the dynamic is different and it'll be expat parents I'll know.

For you could it be an idea to find expats and locals through a club not associated with the school? Less chance of comparisons/competition that way. You could set your own group up if not.

Failing that, could you just not move to a different country where the snobs don't go? Where are you now? ME?

Shutupanddance1 Sun 06-May-18 09:33:18

I’m similar- been away for 5 years. Me and DH feel like we are done here and we are basically killing time til 2020 til his contract will be up and he gets his professional qualification.

Met lots of lovely people when we first came but now the vast majority have left and I’m so so tired of having to make new friends all the time. One of my very good mum friends is leaving at the end of the summer and it makes me so sad.

OlennasWimple Thu 10-May-18 01:12:28

Another one feeling a bit like this, though at least I have made a couple of good friends and not everyone is bitchy (though there are plenty who are, and because it's a tiny community I have grin and bear it)

user1466715461 Sun 27-May-18 12:50:23

I'm very done with expat life. Actually not so much living overseas, I could emigrate to a dream country, integrate properly, buy a home, start a business, I'm still adventurous but I'm done with expat life. I've really struggled to make friends recently even though I have children who should be ultimate ice breaker (although the local mums have been a lifeline). Firstly, everyone seems to spend an immense amount of time at the gym, perfect gym/yoga bodies they would not have the time to perfect back at home. Secondly, infidelity in expat land is everywhere and the fear is etched in people's expression. Thirdly, job insecurity and networking kills true friendship, other mums are more interested in where my other half works and if it's of any use to them than whether or not our children get on well. Even my children are aware of this dynamic, it's so hard to go to an international school where everyone is so interconnected professionally. Lastly a lot of expat kids are very unsettled and unhappy, long hours with nannies whilst parents network or work long hours or even travel out of country (I think in the UK you would have to leave them with a pretty well trusted individual like a granny or aunt to leave the country not a migrant worker on peanuts!), the maid culture allows a lot of parents to ditch their kids much more than they would get away with back home.

user1466715461 Sun 27-May-18 13:13:24

Sorry last of my rant. The international school scene is a mine field. Often expats have very little choice where to send their kids as they are not integrated into the local culture and they need their kids to follow the curriculum of home. That means international schools are not the equivalent of private schools back home, they are not necessarily selective and if you parent works for a major organisation in the country like and embassy or the UN then your child is the bread and butter of the school, sometimes that organisation even sponsors the school. This can lead to some really unhealthy dynamics, spoilt kids that will never get kicked out for bad behaviour, parents slipping special needs under the radar etc. Lastly all expats seem to be having an aaaaamaaaazing time, they have the beeeeest house, the beeeeest nanny, everything is wonnnnnnnnderfulllll, that thing that is messing up your day is only happening to YOU, I'm greeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaat but in fact most of them are alchoholics, hiding deep unhappiness, broke but dare be the expat who would like to speak honestly, you will be ostracised.

Goosegettingfat Sun 27-May-18 21:52:06

User sorry you are feeling well and truly cheesed off with it. I find your post interesting because in a way I'm in the opposite situation: we have been abroad for 3 months now. We are in an extremely non-expat area, and I am desperate for an expat community! Despite being able to speak the local language (a little!) we are not integrating at all well and I am trying to find some way for us to be able to move 1hr away, and somehow to get fees paid for my dc to attend an international school. I am not new to expat life, but your view of it is different and worth considering.

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