Gransnet forums


Moving abroad

(20 Posts)
NanKate Tue 30-Sep-14 21:41:50

I think these views of mine are totally unreasonable but I still have them.confused

When some people move abroad when they come back to visit their homeland they expect those of us that stayed put to welcome them back with open arms and offer them accommodation till they move on.

Secondly although the idea of living in a sunny climate with their partner may sound lovely what happens when their partner dies and they are left in a foreign country on their own. I just wonder if they think of this scenario before committing to their new country.

I can fully understand why some folks buy a second home abroad but not sell up and move to a new country.

Please let me know if you have successfully made the move.

granjura Tue 30-Sep-14 22:03:48

It depends too on what age you make the move. I certainly hear what you are saying- I've known couples where one had died- and was the one who spoke the local language and dealt with all the admin, accounts, etc- in isolated places- and it can be a total disaster. Especially has they sold their home in the UK and then we able to buy a much better place in France for much less money- then the £ dropped- and selling became impossible in France or Spain- and even if they did, just didn't have sufficient funds to buy another home in the UK- especially if in the London/South area.

So plenty of thinking to be done- whatever people see on 'Move to the Sun' on tv. A lovely village in the Summer, with people drinking wine on the café terrasse- can look VERY bleak in November! I'd say, ALWAYS RENT FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR, THROUGH WINTER - before you buy- and LEARN THE LANGUAGE. I know people who've lived in France or Spain for 10, 20 or more years- and still can't say more than 'bonjour je voudrais un baguette'. (not talking perfect Grammar here- but the ability to communicate).

For me, it was very different. I moved to London for 6 months in 1970- became bilingual during that time, married a Brit and stayed 40 years. Now back together in my native mountains- so plenty of friends here, I know the culture and language, etc- and OH has made a huge effort to learn too, although he is not a linguist at heart. And although very happy here- both of us could move back to England if ever we felt it was best for either of us.

absentgrandma Tue 30-Sep-14 22:33:38

We made the move 12 years ago and when asked if he has any regrets OH always says 'Yes...... we ought to have done it years before'. It wasn't possible because our children were spaced out in age, so although the older one was nearly 30, the 'baby' was only 20, so big sister has always 'kept an eye on her' in our absence.

Now the 'baby' has a little boy only GC, and it is almost a year since we last saw him, but we talk (well I talk, he giggles a lot and pulls silly faces) on Skype.

OH is several years older than me so of course I think about being on my own.... we don't all rush to the sun like silly children, NanKate. I live in a French village with 'commerces' and I have good neighbours and a few young British friends with young famillies in the village and surrounding area so I wouldn't be a poor old biddie stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Why did we move?... well not for sun, sand and sangria that's for sure. The last Christmas we were in the Uk I witnessed the most appalling trolley rage in my local supermarket over a loaf of bread... and that did it for me. Bye,bye stressed out, consumer-driven, self-serving Britain!

Everytime I return to the Uk(and no I don't expect to be welcomed back with open arms... why should I be??) I enjoy seeing a few (a very few) friends and my small family circle, but I love getting on the plane that I know will take me back to my little house (no swimming pool, just a pretty little garden with a 'potager')l.Once home (for that's what it is now) I feel as if I can breathe again. You refer to a 'foreign' country , but England feels foreign to me now.

Today we drove 30 miles into Spain as we often do for a little trip out. We had lunch, the sun shone, it was pleasantly warm, the woods have never looked lovelier in their autumn glory, and the mountains never more majestic. If I needed a justification to live here, today was itsmile

Charleygirl Tue 30-Sep-14 22:47:43

My ex and his wife retired to Spain about 7 years ago, buying a 2nd floor flat half way up a hill in the middle of nowhere. He is multi lingual, has the larger pension, is dying and is confined to a wheelchair. She I believe cannot speak any Spanish and when he dies she will return to Scotland. I have no idea how she will live financially but this move was not thought through as they cut all ties with England. He was unfortunate to become ill almost the first week of their arrival in Spain.

Mamie Wed 01-Oct-14 05:56:21

It is funny really because what a lot of people say is that when they move abroad they are overwhelmed with people who turn up expecting a free holiday. Perhaps the people you know are just expecting some hospitality in return, NanKate?
Yes I would say we have successfully made the move. We live in a French village, have French friends and see very little of the ex-pat community. As Granjura says, it is essential to speak the language well and also to have enough money to live comfortably and cope with currency fluctuations. If we do return to the UK one day it will be under our own steam, without expecting anything from anybody, though I know it will be generously offered. Living here has enriched our lives enormously. You have to move abroad because you want to live there imo, not to escape something and certainly not for the sunshine or wine.

FlicketyB Wed 01-Oct-14 06:57:05

We bought a house in France 25 years ago and everybody kept saying to us 'Are you going to retire there?' and the answer always has been - and always will be 'No'.

We bought it as a getaway. We both had busy jobs and lived in a busy part of town in the UK and wanted to just go away for a short break every month out of reach of phones and people. Of course that bit only lasted 5 years because mobile phones and laptop computers came in and we all became always available.

We still love our monthly immersion in French life, the lack of noise, the quiet roads, our elderly, now only slightly older than us, neighbours and as long as we can manage to run 2 houses, monetarily and physically, we will commute between England and France. But move there permanently? No. DS and DGC live in Yorkshire, DD in Hertfordshire. We live in Oxfordshire and visiting them, which we can do relatively quickly and easily now, now would be difficult. Several of our leisure pursuits would not be available in the same way in France. We would miss the friends of many years who we would see less frequently than we do now.

We will stay as we are now; visiting France regularly, often accompanied by friends and family. Enjoy the different culture and quieter ambience, but return home to England, to our family, home and leisure pursuits rested and refreshed

absent Wed 01-Oct-14 08:50:39

I emigrated to New Zealand just over a year ago. Language is only a very slight issue and the culture has much that is British about it. So too does the countryside, except there is a lot more open space. I haven't yet made any close friends but hope to do so over time. Of course, the main attraction was - and is - absentdaughter and her family. I love being here and have no regrets about leaving the UK, although I do miss my friends.

However, Mr absent does not seem to have settled very well. He doesn't like my grandchildren, my daughter or me, for that matter. To be truthful, I don't think he likes anybody. Six weeks ago he also made a pretty damning criticism of where we are living - not sure whether that was just the reasonably pleasant house that we are temporarily renting or the whole kit and caboodle. As we haven't really spoken to each other since his mantrum (much shouting and finger wagging about the family as well as the place), I am not really certain what exactly has got up his nose.

Widowhood is particularly appealing at the moment. Failing that, perhaps he could be repatriated.

Gagagran Wed 01-Oct-14 09:06:53

Oh Absent that must be such a difficult situation. It does rather sound as if Mr A has not settled and is taking his unhappiness out on you. I wish you luck in getting to the bottom of it and finding a solution other than resorting to murder! grin

Jane10 Wed 01-Oct-14 09:29:41

Very interesting thread. I too have often wondered about the whole emigration thing and potential long term effects/outcomes. What an awful situation for absent but I can completely understand that proximity to GCs DD is so important. I really hope it doesn`t come down to a harrowing choice. Maybe your husband needs a bit of time and a real think about things. It possibly a bit of a delayed reaction or even like a bereavement reaction? He`s lost a lot- familiar UK environment, friends, familiar shops pubs etc even TV. I hate to mention the C word..........(counselling or even just talking to an impartial outsider about how he`s thinking -note thinking not necessarily feeling. He may be able to talk about that more easily than feelings?)
I have to say that if DS, DD and SiL and GCs decided to emigrate I`d have to go too. The UK would be so empty for me without them.

NanKate Wed 01-Oct-14 09:39:40

Those of you who have described the French countryside have made it sound very appealing and I can understand why you enjoy the peaceful life so much.

Mamie in an odd way you have knocked the nail on the head, but in reverse, the relatives come to us for a free holiday, we have never visited them in Canada or Italy. To be fair I do not like flying so would not visit them anyway.

I think I just feel put upon and often feel they look upon our home as a hotel in a nice part of the world not far from either major airports.

I was particularly hurt on the last visit from two of them when they said 'we just didn't have time to get you any flowers', but would treat me out to a coffee - and that's exactly what I got one cappuccino. hmm

Their visits have been annual for the last 20 years. I have restricted it to 5 or 6 days now as we just don't have the energy to do it for longer.

So to be honest this thread that I started is all about us feeling 'used' than the subject of people choosing to go abroad. Sorry I have had such a moan.

Absent I am so sad to hear about your difficult times. Any chance your OH could return to the UK on his own ?

Mamie Wed 01-Oct-14 09:44:46

We have our daughter and her family in the UK and our son with his in Spain. We have been in France for ten years now. When the grandchildren in England were small I did find it hard, especially when they were ill. DD works full time and I did sometimes do a dash across the channel (it can be done in six hours door to door if necessary). I always went for half-terms and weeks in the holidays; about six to eight weeks in all. Now they are older I don't need to do that but I still go over quite a lot. I have a very close relationship with the girls and our weeks together there and here are very precious. Distance does not diminish the relationship and now they text and Facetime us independently. We only ever get to see the grandchildren in Spain about once every year to eighteen months. We Skype them every week and have fun when we are together. The relationship is not the same, but they are very close to their Spanish grandmother and I am happy to see that. You have to make the best of what you have; they know that we love them and will be there for them when they need us.
Il faut faire avec.. as our neighbours say.

Mamie Wed 01-Oct-14 09:51:45

Ah I see, NanKate. That is hard. There used to be a lot of discussion about this on French forums and people agreed that you had to make ground rules clear, so "rules" about being taken out to eat, being refunded for petrol costs for airport pick-ups, contribution to food bills etc. There were lots of stories of people being eaten out of house and home, having to drive hundreds of kilometres to airports, exhausted by cooking and cleaning for guests who departed without much of a thank you and with a comment about how they must be enjoying the laid-back lifestyle. It never happened to us, but I know quite a few people who did have problems.

granjura Wed 01-Oct-14 11:27:21

We never expect to be hosted by friends and family when we return to uk- and they visit us often here. We've always joked about everyone welcome on a 1-2-3 basis- we cook for them when they get here, might go out for a meal, from simple mountain inn to nice restaurants here or over the border in France- depending on what they wan, and then they will cook the 3rd day, having bought the shopping in France, and repeat- more or less depending on plans, weather, etc. And they always offer to pay for petrol when we have to refill after taking them all over the place- and there's never been an argument. If we stay with any of them, then we do the same there, of course.

Where are your relatives in Italy NanKate? The train journey from London to Lausanne via Tunnel and TGV (fast French train) and onwards is just great- and if booked 90days in advance can be really reasonable- just no need to fly. You can make a stop over in Paris, and maybe one in Lausanne (near me in Switzerland)- a fabulous journey. I hope you'll really go and enjoy hospitality in reverse. Happy to help with the planning if needed.

Our grandchildren live in Surrey- Skype is wonderful- but also I can jump on the train and be there in one day, or get on EasyJet and be there in a few hours. They visit regularly, and as they get older, now 8 and 5, they will be able to come and stay for longer periods during the holidays. Daugher knows that in an emergency I'll be there in a few hours. Yes, I do wish we could see them weekly- but that would not happen even if we lived in England- we were in East Leics. I've started writing letters to our 8 year old grandson, and he replies- that is wonderful. Other daughter is in Leics and does not have children- and we see her regularly too.

Must say I would not want to be on the other side of the world, and not know I can jump on train, plane or even drive (8 hrs from here to Calais with 3 good stops, overnight in Calais then about 2hrs from there).

NanKate Wed 01-Oct-14 12:27:34

Thanks Granjura for the info about getting to Italy so easily without driving. It is a possibility now, but definitely not to stay with our relatives.

Because my relative's husband is an alcoholic and their home I am told is in ruins, it would be impossible to go.

My other relative who lives nearby in Italy says that if we visited she would give us details of a local B & B to stay at hmm. I also gave her the name of a B & B once when she wanted to come and it was an inconvenient time to stay with us, needless to say they didn't come.

These relatives live about 45 mins from Venice.

Finally I am not the best cook and so often rely on M & S meals when entertaining. My closest relative told me that everything is cooked from scratch in Italy and she thinks the British are lazy when it comes to food preparation. I took this as a personal insult as I had typed up a food schedule for her stay, prepared some food in advance, cooked her favourite rice pudding, taken her out each day and generally tried to make her happy. I have to be honest she has had a very miserable life and I feel sorry for her.

There was almost a nuclear explosion from me over the 4th time of her mentioning 'cooking from f****** scratch' comment (excuse the language).

Surprisingly when she dies, she is in a pretty bad state, I will miss her and be sad.

That's it, out of my system, rant over.

Cate Wed 01-Oct-14 12:54:58

Hello. A very interesting thread. I have lived in north and south of Spain and France over 13 years and loved them both and found nothing but kindness from everyone and felt very at home. But I particularly felt very safe even when walking my dog after midnight around the village. My son and family live in Spain and my daughter in UK but I now am probably moving back to UK and hope that I will find as much kindness there as I did abroad. The move will be to the Tewkesbury area and I would be grateful to know what other Gransnet members living in the area think about it. Thanks for your time. Cate

absentgrandma Wed 01-Oct-14 14:37:35

Flippin' eck NanKate... don't your visiting 'rellies' even treat you to a meal somewhere for your hospitality shock. Shame on them! Don't beat yourself up about your cooking skills... if I were you I'd lay it on the line - 'I'm not going to slave over a hot stove so we'll either eat out or send out for take-aways ( and split the bill!!).

I haven't been on the recieving end of hoards of free-loaders since we lived here...was it something I saidhmm but I know it can be a problem from the number of hilarious postings on expat forums...... friends lounging round the pool all morning after late, late breakfasts... wet towels left everywhere as if they were in a hotel .... drinking their hosts out of house and home and using their host's cars without even offering to put any petrol in the tank before they leave. So it seems to work both ways.

On a more serious note, the 'biggy' amongst the ex-pat community here is moving back when grandchildren start arriving (being born I mean, not rocking up at the front doorgrin). That's the one that seems to really get to us girls. I've known and heard of at least half a dozen Brit couples who have sold up and gone back to the Uk recently because the female half of the relationship desperately wants to move back to be near GC. New grandchildren don't seem to have the same effect on men.

I have an internet 'buddy who has just sold a gorgeous house in southern Spain ( on a hill, overlooking a lovely village with lemon trees in the garden and bougainvillia cascading down white-washed walls) and moved back to SWINDON (sorry anyone who lives in Swindonblush) She had several grandchildren but a newbie arrived, and that was a baby too far, so they sold up and are now happily esconced in Swindon , babysitting and shopping in Waitrose!( I can see the Waitrose bit... from my expereince Spanish supermarkets are somewhat unimaginative). It's obviously each to their own, and let's face it, the more us oldies up and leave for foriegn fields, the more space there is for those of you who want to stay put!

granjura Wed 01-Oct-14 16:03:27

BTW the only difficulty with travelling by train from England to Europe beyond Paris, is changing stations in Paris, from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. They are quite close, but too far to walk, especially with luggage. By tube/metro, it's easy enough- but we now always take a taxi- much easier and not expensive. Travelling by train is so wonderful- watching wonderful landscapes go by, reading, sleeping even- and you can move around, go to the restaurant car- not tiring at all.

ffinnochio Wed 01-Oct-14 16:30:32

We flirted with leaving France and returning to the UK about 18 months ago or so - but having gone through the whole process of what if's, but's and how's, decided to stay. No regrets so far.

Two grandchildren in the States, one in London. We visit America when we can, and I can get to London in approx. 6/7 hours by train. Our sons and daughters-in-laws lead busy and independent lives, and so do we. We all have lots to chat about and technological communication has never been easier. We are a close family, but are all adults doing our own thing.

As for guests, over the years visiting acquaintances have dropped off, but we enjoy seeing the good friends that visit regularly. When we return to the Uk to visit, we don't overstay our welcome either. We sometimes rent a little cottage for a week or so, and visit from there. I do miss England sometimes, but that's to be expected, and would rather be here on a day to day basis.

Haven't a clue what the future will bring, meanwhile a life needs to be lived, and we're doing just that.

My french is appalling! Never studied it at school and started from ground zero aged 53. I get by and my neighbours continue to compliment me on my improvement! It's a kindness I appreciate because I know just how badly I speak it. smile

petra Thu 02-Oct-14 08:33:23

We lived abroad for 5 years. We had a very simple system when people came to stay. We had a money pot. We all put money in and everything came out of the pot. Food, petrol, drink, eating out, etc. If more money was needed, more was put in, simple. Any money left over was divided up.
Everyone loved it as we all knew where we stood.

granjura Thu 02-Oct-14 09:02:14

Great idea. We prefer to be a bit more 'flexible' about that, as we have friends and family who are very much better off than us to stay, who like to take us to 'better' restaurants we wouldn't normally go ourselves, but also friends who are very much 'challenged' in the £ department- so we don't mind spending more to help, and they put more effort into preparing meals and helping with a few tasks around garden and house (they are quite a bit younger than us)- so we adapt the 1 -2 - 3 formula to fit.

On the other hand sil and bil who come regularly can be a bit annoying by wanting to account for every penny on a day to day basis and insist it is all shared fairly- when we would be quite happy to go for the 'we pick up the bill this time and you next' making sure it sort of balances out. But we are quite happy to go with it, as we enjoy their visits and going on hols together.

We still love going to the East Mids, and visiting family and friends all over the place, Surrey, Devon, Norfolk, etc- and although we really enjoy sharing our life between Switzerland, France (we live less than 1/2 mile from France, so spend quite a bit of time there) and England- but we might one day move back to England as we love 'our' small market town there and the area (Market Harborough, East Mids).