A really nosy question.

(91 Posts)
VerySmallSqueak Wed 16-Oct-13 20:15:08

I've wanted to ask this question for ages.
I'm always curious as to how people end up living overseas.
I'd love to hear people's stories - whether it's work or family or some other reason.
I'm being very nosy,but if anyone would care to share,I'm all ears!

exexpat Thu 17-Oct-13 00:38:48

I'm back in the UK now, but have spent a lot of time overseas (see my username...). Very much a conscious choice for me.

First couple of times were six months working in Germany during a gap year, then a year out from university to work/study in Taiwan (I was studying Asian languages but that wasn't part of my course - I took an extra year out in the middle).

Then later DH (who also studied Japanese) and I both wanted to live in Japan, and had chosen jobs/employers in London with that in mind, so it was a question of whose employer posted us there first - turned out to be his, but mine was happy for me to take unpaid leave/freelance until a job with them came up, which it eventually did. In between we also had a year in Australia, which was not planned - short notice company transfer - but we thoroughly enjoyed.

We were lucky that most of the time we had company relocation packages and rent allowances etc. Japan would be difficult to do without that.

riverboat Thu 17-Oct-13 08:41:24

What Salbertina said!

More specifically, I got to my mid twenties and started regretting never having taken a gap year or lived in a other country. Was on a career ladder that was well paid but boring. Single, no house, no ties. Decided to run off to Paris or a year. Ended up meeting French DP, whose French DS precludes us from living anywhere but here. So, I'm now stuck here! Go through love/hate phases but mostly its just all very normal now.

singaporeswing Thu 17-Oct-13 09:34:44

I did a year abroad with university, met Aussie DP while we were living in South of France. He puts me to shame, having lived in 10 different countries since he was 18!

He got a job in Singapore, I followed him and got a great job too. We're planning our next move next summer after 2 years in Singapore. I'm voting for Switzerland, he's keen on the UK.

Either way, I can see us doing this for a good few years. I'm 24 and have worked in 3 countries - I'm not going to get these opportunities again, so grabbing anything I can.

We get itchy feet, so can't see us settling in one place for longer than 3-4 years.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Thu 17-Oct-13 09:54:50

These are fascinating. I would think that most of you are "professionals" e.g. lawyers, accountants, academics?

LinzerTorte Thu 17-Oct-13 10:20:45

Met DH (Austrian) on my year in abroad in Germany when we were both Erasmus students; he then came over to the UK for three years after we'd both graduated.

After stints in Germany and the USA, we moved to Austria 10 years ago. Our moves were all due to DH's work; I work from home, so can be pretty flexible about where we live. No plans to move again in the foreeseeable future, though!

PortoFiendo Thu 17-Oct-13 10:28:33

DH and I were both in the pool for redundancy at the same company. We agreed we would go with whatever opportunity presented itself. He was then offered a intercompany transfer to Brussels with a promotion. So we had a relocation expert and the company paid for everything. We have been here 7 years. I am quite settled but do want to go back to UK at some point.

Salbertina Thu 17-Oct-13 11:54:31

Ok, to answer properly, I've lived in 6 different countries as an adult- US, ME, UK, SE Asia, France and S Africa. Variously been student/training placements, work contract in specific overseas locations and just going off on a wing and a prayer. All been at my instigation so no one to blame!
All but the last placement have been due to my own work/endeavours and for 3 of them I had to fund and sort the transfer entirely alone. For current placement am a "trailing spouse", following dh's "temporary" placement (2 years on, still here!).

DropYourSword Thu 17-Oct-13 11:57:19

Always knew I wasn't meant to stay in UK, but sorry of accidentally ended up in Australia!

Salbertina Thu 17-Oct-13 12:02:45

Are you conducting research, OP in which case pass me the biscuits and the money-off voucher or is it just out of curiosity?!

bushprincess Thu 17-Oct-13 13:17:24

hi all! interesting stories... I suppose I'm most simialar to Salbertina (waving to you down south from here in Harare)

West Indies, Uganda, Kenya under my own steam (vet school/MSc/work + PhD) then met DH in Kenya who was moved down to Zimbabwe (he's with the UN) and so now I'm here as a 'trailing spouse' as well! DC1 on the way and can't imagine that we'll leave the UN system anytime soon...

I've been keeping myself out of trouble by finishing my PhD, some sporadic consultancy work and voluntary work... Will probably keep up the consultancy work until we get kids to school age and then it will be my turn to dictate our moves! though I imagine it'll still be the expat life for us for a while yet! Though home does beckon 'one day'!

smallsqueak what's your story? are you planning a move or away at the moment?

SavoyCabbage Thu 17-Oct-13 13:28:49

My dh took a job in Australia without telling me. My dd was starting school the following week.

The new job gave him TWO WEEKS to start. He talked them up to three...

We had a house and cars and a normal life. We have been here five years.

TheScreamingNit Thu 17-Oct-13 13:34:10

I was a trailing child, wandering SEA with my pilot dad and ESL teacher mum. I loved it so much I would give anything to be able to continue my wanderings, but unfortunately DD's dad is very involved (good for her, me...eh, not so much) and thus she and I are unable to leave our current city until, well...until.
Luckily I had her young so once she's grown I will have lots of time left to wander smile

PennieLane Thu 17-Oct-13 13:34:55

both had itchy feet, I had opportunity to move to Latin America, DH Hong Kong, both work moves in ky case permanent. went with DH as two year contract and more money and I'm on mat leave. working abroad was always part if our life plan and we will return and hopefully do it all again!

Itchy feet. My original plan was to do a uni year in Australia, meet Silverchair and go surfing a lot, but I decided a year in Scotland was more practical instead. After that was up, I went home for a year, worked for a year, and then went back to Scotland for a Master's. Fresh Talent, Tier 1 General and my husband have kept me here.

DH has a young daughter that he co-raises with his ex, so we won't be moving anytime soon. But we talk extensively about heading to the US after she's grown. Whether that pans out someday will depend on a lot. Current USA cost of living is attractive, but the current US economic and corporate culture is not. I am also not sure if my gentle soul DH would actually cope well with American fly-off-the-handle approach, long term. Then again, he did marry me.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 17-Oct-13 14:47:54

Dh was in a promotional log jam at work. Got offered an opportunity in the Middle East to build a team. I was fed up of my job and wanted a good excuse to quit. We'd just got marred. Planned to wait a few years before kids so moved to the Middle east for 2 years. Actually only stayed one as the role didn't really work out so Dh asked for another transfer and was sent to HK. We're still here 4 years later (5 in total). Both our children were born here. Ironically, I ended up back at my old employer, but in a different role which I absolutely love, so all's well that ends well. I think we're here for the long haul now tbh.

Shanghaidiva Thu 17-Oct-13 15:12:01

Moved with DH's job to Germany for 2 years, that was 18 years ago. Spent nine years in Germany, 4 in Austria and have now been in China for 5 years and supposed to be here for another 3. Not desperate to go back to the UK and haven't been back to visit since Feb 2008.
Both dcs were born overseas and they have never lived in the UK.

ginslinger Thu 17-Oct-13 15:18:40

I met DH when i was at university - he was over from germany doing a year at an english hospital. We got together, pregnant with DS a little earlier than planned so he got extra tim at the hospital in enland and then we moved back to germany over 30 years ago.

My dad got a job at a German company and for 2 years he "commuted" to Germany from England (we lived in Kent). He'd leave Sunday evening and return Friday evening. After this time I guess my parents decided it wasn't working like that as we all moved over there. We were there for 7 years (between the ages of 7 and 14 for me) before my dad was eventually made redundant. Part of his redundancy package was help relocating back to England, so we moved back and that's that.

As for me, I loved Germany and the experience, but I'm over living abroad!

JustBecauseICan Thu 17-Oct-13 16:25:28

I did the best year of my life abroad when at university. Then became a very dull civil servant. 8 years on and I went to visit a friend one evening and ended up telling her the whole story of my wonderful year. I came home, got all the photos out, stayed up all night musing, went into the office the next day and told them I had to leave.

I intended going back to the place I was before, even had a job lined up, then applied for jobs also in Italy and was offered one.

It was World Cup 1994, Spain were playing Italy and I had a job offer in both places. I decided whoever won, that was where I'd go.

For two years. Nineteen years later, here I am. With my Italish daughter and still with a dream of living eventually in Spain. smile

VerySmallSqueak Thu 17-Oct-13 16:45:42

These are just so interesting and so varied!

Salbertina I am just being curious basically.No hidden agenda,no research,just plain old fashioned nosiness! I can't offer biscuits,but I'll share my hula hoops....

bushprincess yes,sorry,it's a little rude of me to ask so much yet not state my situation!
I have only ever once buggered off over the sea with a little money in my pocket and no plan - slept in the car until I found something - but it wasn't far,only the Channel Islands looking for seasonal work (which I got and stayed there about 6 months).

I'm not planning a move overseas but never say never and I can't help but think I've missed something,so I was just wondering what route people take when they do take the plunge.

I imagine a crucial part must be either being in work where there is a possibility of relocation,or having the ability to offer skills that'd find you work.

And having a bit of money.Which is always the part that's eluded me grin.

I have to say that I think you all sound really interesting from your experiences and that it's offered you something a little bit outside the box.And I can't help thinking too that you're all rather braver and more adaptable than most.

Liara Thu 17-Oct-13 21:33:19

I've changed jobs every time (so has dh), now working from home, so maybe will be taking this job along with us (but maybe not!).

Pretty drastic changes in direction most of the times.

As I say, I am easily bored...

VerySmallSqueak Thu 17-Oct-13 22:04:18

Some of these experiences sound so thrilling.

I can see though riverboat that as you settle in,it just seems normal.

The thought of Vietnam,and Latin America,West Indies,Uganda,China,Singapore.....And to hear that some of you have your children while overseas. It's a whole different world isn't it?

Really interesting stories!

I've moved around a fair bit. I did 3 work placements overseas for my French / Spanish degree and was offered a job in Paris when I graduated. I spent nearly 3 years translating there and met DH (who is Scottish). He traveled a lot for his work and was sent to Singapore in 1999 for 9 months. By this time I was a bit peeved at his traveling and it was crunch time. I got myself a freelance editing job, a sabbatical from work and a one way ticket to Singapore. Literally sold everything I couldn't fit into a suitcase.

From there we went to Azerbaijan in 1999, Dubai in 2000 (for a couple of months), back to Singapore in 2000, Spain in 2001, back to Paris in 2002 where we got married. Things slowed down a bit then and we got posted to Aberdeen in 2003, DD1 was born in 2004. In 2008 I was pregnant with DD2 who was born in Singapore, now 2013 we have just moved to Houston.

DH has changed companies once in this time but his industry (oil) requires lots of movement. I've worked in every country we have lived in (just waiting for my authorization to work in the US now) and have taught English, taught French, taught IT, worked at Unis, done LOADS of PA work, voluntary work and translation and retrained in Singapore as a swimming teacher.

We have a good life and now that DD1 is nearly 9, we will slow down. If we don't move again in the next 2-3 years, we'll probably be here til DD2 is off to uni or whatever she wants to do. We plan to retire in Paris though grin

Verysmall - we didn't wing anything really. Every move was with DH's company. Vietnam was prob hardest move and I hated a lot of it for almost two years. Phoned DH regularly telling him I wanted to leave 'this godforsaken hellhole'. He offered to pack my bags equally regularly!

It's not easy moving around, making new friends etc. each time. And the exotic ness is great but also alienating a lot of the time. But you can make great friends. And have amazing experiences.

Funnily enough this move back to uk is as hard as any other move and harder in some ways. I'm struggling to make friends. People have their own lives and families and friends here. As an expat you are all in th same boat. And people look out for each other. It's much more sociable. And friendships can become very intense very quickly.

Wouldn't have changed any of it though!

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