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Is living abroad all it is cracked up to be ?

(104 Posts)
NanKate Sun 11-Aug-19 14:54:15

My sister went to live in Italy in her late 20s she loved it at first but now would do anything to come back but can’t afford it.

Friends moved to southern Spain about 11 years ago and seem very happy but what happens when one of them dies I wonder ? They visit their family in the U.K. regularly. Does being with an ex-pat community lose it’s attraction when on your own?

I would never consider living abroad as I am a real home bird.

lemongrove Sun 11-Aug-19 15:26:53

I have no first hand knowledge NanK but know two people who did come back, when their DH’s died and one person who returned (after ten years) when his wife left him.They were all in lovely places in Spain.

lemongrove Sun 11-Aug-19 15:28:26

I wouldn’t consider leaving now, but we did seriously consider NZ about 27 years ago.

paddyann Sun 11-Aug-19 15:35:18

I think it depends how long been there and if they've settled and made friends.I have friends who went to Spain 30 years ago and although the wife died after 10 or so years the rest of the family decided to stay.Both children and dad have all married Spaniards and love living there

Bellasnana Sun 11-Aug-19 15:36:17

I’ve lived in Malta longer than I lived in the UK having moved here nearly 40yrs ago when I married my Maltese DH.

He passed away four years ago but nothing would make me want to return to the UK.

It is always good to visit, but Malta is home and I feel the England I left behind does not exist any longer.

RosieLeah Sun 11-Aug-19 15:38:57

One of my sons lives in Holland. When he left university, he had no choice as he couldn't get work in England. He has bought a house and is well-settled there. However, he has stopped short of giving up his British passport. His wife is Dutch and loves England. She would much prefer for them to move here.

Something I find parents and younger siblings emigrated to Australia many years ago. When my brothers were old enough to decide for themselves, they chose to move back to England.

Day6 Sun 11-Aug-19 15:39:23

We intended to buy a place in France but wanted to wait until the children had finished school.

If money was no object we'd do it, ensuring we had a place to come back to in the UK just in case the move lost it's charms. We holiday in carious parts of France most years.

We have friends who returned from France to be nearer their GC when they became grandparents. They firmly believed in integration in France, learned to speak French and have French friends/neighbours. One couple own the local B&B in the large village they left, so they go back to France regularly. They miss the more relaxed way of life.

Friends of ours bought a house in Spain off-plan when the complex was being built and we have had lots of lovely holidays there with them. However, they are thinking of selling up, but they'd lose out, price-wise. So many properties in their walled, gated urbanisation are empty or for sale though, which is very sad. Fortunately they still have a flat in the UK.

dragonfly46 Sun 11-Aug-19 15:41:52

I lived in Holland for 18 years and would go back in a heartbeat. We brought the children up there, made friends and integrated with the Dutch. They were the happiest years of my life.
Coming back to the UK has made me realise how the Dutch have got it so right.

It is a classless society, no private medicine, no private schooling. There is an excellent standard of education and health care.
We knew people who decided not to run a car but had a boat at the local marina. They went there by bike. Each family sits down at 6 to a family meal then they go to some activity, sports club or walking in the dunes etc as a family.

Unfortunately we were brought back here with my husband's job but we still have very good friends there. I would like to feel I could go back although Brexit might make that impossible.

Avor2 Sun 11-Aug-19 15:54:59

My DS has lived in Portugal for the past 20 years, has wife and daughter and his wife's family who are all very close and sadly for me he loves it there, and I must say it is the best thing he could have done, workwise and lifestyle is just right for him. My stepson and family are thinking of moving to Australia, they are going to check it out in November, but I think they will go, Do you think it was something my DH and I said??? smile We are thinking of getting a small place in Portugal so we can spend more time with DS but will keep a place in England because it is my home. Wherever you feel happiest is where you should live.

jura2 Sun 11-Aug-19 16:03:51

I came to live in the UK at 19, for 6 months, and stayed for 40 years, in several locations. And just loved it.

Now returned place of birth, with British OH born in Cape Town SA - and he has no regrets. We truly have 2 homes, we go home to the UK, and then we come back home here. Great friends and family in both places. Wherever we would live (and we may well be forced to move on because of Brexit) ... we would never ever choose to live in an 'expat community'- but integrate fully, learn the language, immerse ourselves. Cannot imagine anything worse that living in an 'expat community'.

We have promised our adult children, still in the UK - that should one of us meet our demise- the other would return to UK- unless they have moved here themselves (again due to Brexit- they have dual nationality and so have our GCs).

M0nica Sun 11-Aug-19 16:03:54

I think there is a big difference between 1) marrying someone from another country and going and living in the spouse's country and integrating into society there. 2) Moving there for career reasons, spending most of your working life there and making it your permanent home and 3) Retiring to another country, often for financial reasons, and living in what is often an expat community.

My experience from friends and family is those marrying a foreign national, almost invariably make it their permanent home. With those who work there it seems to depend on whether their children put down roots in the country and the third group are more likely to return home as they reach extreme old age and want to be closer to family members and the NHS.

Carillion01 Sun 11-Aug-19 16:04:37

NanKate, we moved to Brittany five years ago on a whim really. Had lived in Scotland, the North West and born in Sandsend. We wanted seriously to live in either Whitby or The Isle of Skye but my DH couldn't face anymore of being snowed in for two to three weeks each year so Skye was out and Whitby was expensive.

I took early retirement when DH retired because we wanted to spend as much time together as we could.

Brittany is smashing, climate like Devon and Cornwall, easy transport back to the UK and in fact have had more quality time with DS's and families since the move.

Not feared of Brexit, we'll take what comes and act accordingly. Very good points here is that we've had repeated evidence of what it's like to live in a republic and what that delivers.

However, we don't rely on an ex-pat community. We came with the plan of integrating with all our neighbours equally and it has been really very good.

We'd make the same choice. Health system is efficient. If I was being moany... All things ceasing for two hours at lunch everyday took some adjustment but even that has its positives.

glammanana Sun 11-Aug-19 16:12:09

I do wish we had never returned to UK and stayed in Spain,we moved there after our youngest left home and stayed nearly 10yrs coming back to UK when my DD had the youngest DGCs now they have left school and gone their own ways and don't need me around as much though I would miss my GGCs.
We had originally looked at moving abroad when our DCs where at school but never examined the Spainish Education system properly if we had we would have found it much better than UK that also went for their Health Service far better than here.I do think you can be lonely wherever you live be it abroad or in UK obviously speaking the language makes matters better a thing more ex-pats should be encouraged to do.I would pack up and go back tomorrow,watch this space this time next year one never says never.

Lessismore Sun 11-Aug-19 16:17:22

Can I ask please, those of you who live abroad, do you speak the language of your host country?

Maggiemaybe Sun 11-Aug-19 16:20:33

DH and I lived and worked in Hamburg for two years many years ago. We were fluent in German and if there even was an expat community we never found it (or searched it out). We loved it at first, saw only the positives, made good friends, fully expected to stay. But about 18 months in we were both itching to get back to the things here that we’d taken for granted. We were offered promotions at our German company and other incentives to stay, but we never regretted moving back. This is home. smile

glammanana Sun 11-Aug-19 16:26:41

Lessismore A lot of my immediate neighbours where Spanish and I soon took up the language and after 2yrs was more or less fluent,I spent a lot of time when at the market sitting and listening to the locals converse and picked it up so quickly,they where always willing to help if you had a problem they where pleased to see you trying,lovely people.

Witzend Sun 11-Aug-19 16:28:30

I'm sure it works well for some, but having lived/worked abroad for many years anyway, I'm happy with good old Blighty.

I know two couples who left 'for ever' - for Spain and Cyprus - but eventually came back because of health problems. Neither had kept any bolthole in the UK and prices had risen dramatically while they were away.

One of the couples took ages to sell their 'forever' home, and in the end were glad to get what they'd paid for it around 12 years previously. But it was still nothing like enough to buy a home in the area they'd left - and which they wanted to return to.

Someone else I know of had retired to rural France. She didn't drive and spoke no French, so after her husband died rather suddenly when she was in her early 80s, she was left well and truly in the merde.

OTOH I know another couple who've retired to their holiday home in very rural France, but have very sensibly kept a reasonable bolt hole here - in case.

jura2 Sun 11-Aug-19 16:30:51

yes lessimore- imho living in a country without making a massive effort to learn the language, is extremely rude and arrogant. Not perfect command of sophisticated grammar- but good communication. I make the effort to learn a bit of the local language wherever I go on holiday too - just basic words like please and thank you, good day and good night and a few expressions. People are always so so happy when you do.

I never attended any course of lessons in English from the day I arrived - and was bilingual in about 3 months. Took OH a bit longer as we came here when he was 63, and he had not studied French since he almost failed O'Level - he still has a lovely British accent and makes mistakes - but everyone here love and admire him for his effort. No expat community here, lol, and very few people speak any English- so no choice anyway.

Luckygirl Sun 11-Aug-19 16:33:38

We came within a hair's breadth of moving to Brittany - had a house lined up and everything. We had researched choirs and other ways of pursuing our hobbies. I had A-level French and OH came from a family of linguists, so integration would have been our aim. We pulled out at the last minute because a grandchild was on the way and we felt we wanted to be near family - well, I did - I was in some serious trouble with OH!!!

Thank goodness we did not go because shortly after OH started with PD and the presence of family around us has been very precious.

But in some ways I regret not going - I was ready for a new challenge and the chance has passed us by.

Other factors that were on the "cons" side were my awareness that there were some Brittany dwellers who had mixed feelings about the invasion of Brits - I had enough French to understand the asides and muttered comments!

We also had friends in the Dordogne who virtually lived in an English enclave - not for me!

Carillion01 Sun 11-Aug-19 16:43:29

Glammanana, I always say 'you never know'!

Lessismore my DH speaks French and mine was 'O' level but I've tried hard to learn from our neighbours rather than classes and feel much more comfortable now.

I realise however, that you think speaking the host language makes a big difference to your existence and I'm sure you are right.
It is true, the French appreciate you making an effort with the language. The only people I have found don't want to make a reciprocal effort are the staff in the local hospital in one particular department ...not sure why as everyone else we've conversed with has been very kind and accommodating.

GagaJo Sun 11-Aug-19 16:43:59

I've lived in the US, China and Spain.

I found the US a racist, violent place, although New Mexico where I lived for a year is beautiful. I will never go back although I'm still in touch with my ex in-laws.

Spain I disliked because the Spanish are sick of Brits and treat us the way racist Brits treat immigrants here. I had no desire to live as an ex pat, so gave up on Spain despite loving my job in a perfect, utopian, little school.

China I both loved and found hard. I made lifelong friends there, and want to go back because they've become part of my family. But the pollution was hard and the sheer sense of distance from home freaked me out. As a teacher, the enormous respect for education and teachers was like a warm bath after education (not the students, the system) in the UK.

Out of all of them, China was head and shoulders above the rest because of the people. I loved them.

Mamie Sun 11-Aug-19 16:55:36

We have lived in France for fourteen years, speak the language, most of our friends are French and we are very much part of our wider local community. I think after about five years, coming back to France became "coming home" and the UK started to feel a bit alien in some ways. We go back to see family about four or five times a year and enjoy our visits, but are always glad to get home. We will downsize soon and move further into our local town, but have no intention of returning to the UK.

Lessismore Sun 11-Aug-19 16:57:08

I am very interested in the way people have learnt languages. Unfortunately DH loves and believes those " Place in the Sun"type programmes.

Any time we have been to France, which he obsesses about, I have to rummage around in my memory for 50 year old failed O level French.

jura2 Sun 11-Aug-19 17:07:41

so would he like to move to France then, and you have 'stopped' it from happening?

Personally I just do not believe in the 'OH I am not good at languages' mantra. Perhaps you were not good at it at school, because of the way it was taught then, all writing and fancy grammar- but anyone can learn 'communicative' French (or whatever). Keep away from Brits and British TV- go for full immersion.

kittylester Sun 11-Aug-19 17:12:11

DH worked for the nhs and we seriously feared that it was on its uppers in the late 70s so we went to Australia. We missed so much about the UK- friends, family, being British and even the failing nhs - that we came home pretty quickly.

We have friends who bought and lived in Cyprus, hated it and came back much poorer and our son in law's parents are dying to do the same.

On the other hand, dh's brother lives in South Africa and, despite the many difficulties they encounter, is happy to call it home.

Another of his brothers lives in Thailand- he's having a ball.

GrannyGravy13 Sun 11-Aug-19 17:19:01

Parents and sister lived in Spain (she finished her education there) I spent 6 months every year with them, working. One of our C started Spanish Nursery and on return to UK spoke Spanish at their English Nursery.

4 out of 5 AC can get by in French, Spanish, 1 is fluent in German and Danish as well.

We are considering buying abroad at the moment, just cannot agree on a Country!!!

Nonnie Sun 11-Aug-19 17:26:54

I have friends in 3 different EU countries and they are all happy and have no intention of every coming back to the UK to live, Mixture of speaking the language fluently, very little and everything in between. Also have a friend in Australia who has been there about 20 years and no intention of coming back.

I also have friends from other countries who live here and won't go back.

I suspect a lot depends upon your attitude, if you look forward you will adjust but if you look back it will be harder

Mamie Sun 11-Aug-19 17:36:58

I had done A level French at school and we had spent all our holidays in France for forty years. In the UK we had a French TV channel, read books in French and I had taught French in middle schools. DH had only done O level but he worked for a French company and spent a lot of time working here.
I still wouldn't claim to be totally fluent, but I can cope with any situation and teach English for the local U3A. I served on the local council and had to learn a lot of new vocabulary about drains, roads and building repairs, which a native speaker would already have had. 😀
I still feel frustrated that I don't speak with the same breadth of vocabulary that I have in English.

Lessismore Sun 11-Aug-19 17:43:57

jura, yes. I don't fancy it, especially a little hamlet in the middle of nowhere with himself and his 2 words.

We'll see!

Mamie Sun 11-Aug-19 18:31:12

What we have found is that a lot of people have gone back to the UK but those that remain are the ones who are pretty well integrated into their local communities.
Pretty much everyone who tried to make a living in rural France has gone, also anyone who moved "to make a new start" or "live the dream". Basically I think you have to want to move to a country not just escape the one you have.
I am still an English person, but France has become my country, is the best description of how I feel. I still follow events in the UK closely because they affect my children and grandchildren and also my financial state. (😨)

Callistemon Sun 11-Aug-19 18:44:14

M0nica I think you have pointed out the differences well.

What is an ex-pat?

I don't think someone who has emigrated to eg Australia, New Zealand or Canada would be termed an ex-pat - although in Australia they could be asked 'You a bloody Pom?' in the friendliest way of course. grin

It seems to be a term used more for people from the UK residing in Europe and doesn't seem to imply a sense of permanence.

Mamie Sun 11-Aug-19 18:48:25

An ex-pat is someone who goes abroad to live on a temporary basis while working for a company based in their own country. OH worked with a lot of ex-pat Americans who were based in Holland / Switzerland / France for a year or two.
We are migrants. Drives me bonkers when people describe me as an ex-pat.

Callistemon Sun 11-Aug-19 18:53:29

I would add to that the Middle East where there are ex-pat communities.

It seems to be that language is the key to integration.

Minniemoo Sun 11-Aug-19 19:04:18

My daughter-in-laws grandparents retired to Spain. They never integrated and lived in a mainly British enclave half way up a mountain. Things were quite good until the husband got ill and they had to have numerous hospital visits and it all went wrong for them.

Health care costs weren't the issue, just that as they aged and became more vulnerable the appeal of living abroad seemed to disappear. They just wanted to be back at home. And of course they'd never taken the time to learn the language and felt quite isolated.

They moved back to the UK some 20 years after they'd started their new lives in Spain

Fennel Sun 11-Aug-19 19:12:55

Language is very important, but I think there have to be more links than that to make people want to stay forever.
We lived in rural France for 16 years, and loved the peaceful life. We were warmly accepted in the commune and helped out etc when we could.
But both of us still felt more English than French. And realised the importance of family nearby in old age.
Rural french people are very family-centred.
I have a close English friend there, they've been there since 1990, and she and her husband want to stay. Even though their language skills aren't so great.
You can't predict, unless there's intermarriage, and children.

Lessismore Sun 11-Aug-19 19:33:01

An ex pat is a white person.....well sometimes a bit orange.

harrigran Mon 12-Aug-19 08:56:04

My sister moved to Germany 51 years ago, she is fully integrated and had A level German but also took courses to improve her conversational skills. She bought a home in my town so that she can visit but I am not sure she would return permanently if her DH died. I believe the care system is far superior there.

DD moved to Belgium at the beginning of 2010 and initially rented a flat but quickly settled and moved into a large house. She speaks several languages but is fluent in French and German, she is fully integrated into the community.
Neither my sister or DD have children so they are not pulled in different directions.
I recently asked DD if she would take another job in this country and she was quite adamant that she would not, all the job offers and head hunting had come from other countries.
Sad really but we live with her decision.

M0nica Mon 12-Aug-19 08:57:09

As a child with a globe trotting father. Ex-pats were specifically people who had been sent abroad by their employer or were on time limited contracts with a company and who would return to the UK at the end of that contract or with their next in-company job move. Some did go from overseas contract to overseas contract, but to be an Ex-pat, your existing contract had to be time limited.

People who had chosen to live abroad, or had settled in a spouse country didn't really ave any specific title, mainly I think, then, because so few people were in that position.

jura2 Mon 12-Aug-19 09:08:35

Thanks lessimore- really hard when you have different wishes and hopes for the future, for sure. A compromise might be to move to a small town - rather than out in the sticks. One piece of advice I'd give to anyone - is RENT first, and not just for the Summer- but right through the seasons. A small town in the sun might be wonderful- everyone sat in the square chatting with a glass of wine, good food, barbecues- but turn into a total nightmare come end October- cold, winds, dark and not a soul in sight. TRY before you buy.

Framilode Mon 12-Aug-19 09:20:53

We lived in Spain for 15 years and, after a period of adjustment, I loved it there and would have stayed for the rest of my life. We lived in a small Spanish village not on the coast but with a mix of northern european ex pats. We got on well with the Spanish and integrated into village life.

My husband suddenly got it into his head that he didn't want to die in Spain and put pressure on me to move back. As soon as we had done this he regretted leaving Spain.

I wouldn't go back because I don't think you can retrace your steps but we are now buying a small holiday home so we can spend some time there.

I think we had a fantastic life in Spain, beautiful home and great friends but what's gone is gone. Since we've come back to this climate we have both started with aches and pains that we never had there.

Craicon Mon 12-Aug-19 11:36:20

I’m an immigrant to this country not an ex-pat. I hate that expression as it harks back to when the Brits thought themselves superior to the natives, although god knows why?

My DC is learning Irish at school but I’ve no intention of learning it as English is the main spoken language, and Irish is really only spoken in the Gaeltacht region.

I’m glad we moved when we did and if Brexit does happen, we’ll apply for Irish citizenship. We have no other family living over here, they’re all still in the UK but we occasionally visit them.

Academically, UK Universities will quickly slide down the World University rankings without the ability to collaborate on research projects with partners in the EU so I will support DC if they want to study in other parts of Europe or the US/Asia.

quizqueen Mon 12-Aug-19 11:48:52

I've lived on mainland Europe and in the USA. Hated both, but used them as an extended holiday and did as much sight seeing as I could.

Nanny41 Mon 12-Aug-19 11:50:37

I married a Swede many moons ago,and have lived in Sweden ever since, I am well integrated thanks to my job, and speak Swedish fluently, BUT feel more at home in the UK we have a house in the UK, and when we are there I really feel at home.If my OH should pass away I would seriously think about returning to the UK, my children are all adults as are my Grandchildren soon,it is so easy to get to the UK from here or vice versa, so I could easily come here or they could as easily visit me in the UK.Having said that, when people ask me where I am at home, I reply"home is wherever I am" Diplomacy is my middle name.

evianers Mon 12-Aug-19 11:57:34

Ironic this question of today. We are at present surrounded by packing boxes, rolls of sticky tape, things to give away, those to keep, and mountains of rubbish to give to the charity organisation. Why? Because after 44 years of living in Switzerland, SA, Oz, Belgium, and France we are moving back to Blighty early September. Many friends think we are nothing short of crazy, but they probably have not been in hospital [both of us for different reasons] struggling to cope with medical French. Now, don't get me wrong, we are both fluent and able to conduct our daily lives in French, German, Dutch and with some Italian but when one is left on their own, feeling probably rather bereft, and possibly struggling with medical terminology which is difficult enough in one's own language, then it is time to return to one's roots. Dunno whether we are doing the right thing - time will tell but we are positive and looking forward to beautiful Dorset and to seeing family on a more frequent basis than previously.

Tigertooth Mon 12-Aug-19 12:04:12

Gosh I’m fretting about moving from London to Hertfordshire!
I think
It’s common for migrants if all nationalities to go back to the place they were raised when they grow older.
I know quite a lot of people whose parents have returned to the Caribbean in old age and I work with many Eastern European’s for whom that is the retirement plan.
I don’t think it is a sign of failure to return home from a long spell living abroad, it’s just another chapter and seems natural to many.

Tigertooth Mon 12-Aug-19 12:07:57

Something I find parents and younger siblings emigrated to Australia many years ago. When my brothers were old enough to decide for themselves, they chose to move back to England

I was surprised at this - all the English/aux couples I’ve met prefer Australia. And although the Aussies are great travellers, they almost always return to Auz, you very very rarely meet an elderly Australian living in the UK although other nationalities are well represented - the Australians always go home.
I haven’t been yet, despite having two good friends married to auz men and settled there. But it sounds wonderful, I’ll get there one day!

Mindy5 Mon 12-Aug-19 12:43:10

My DH and I had a small holiday home in the Canary Islands which we moved to permanently. Sadly 6 months later he died. I soon found out that no longer being a couple was a recipe for loneliness. When people went back to their own lives, as they do, I found myself alone with no social interaction at all. There was no support available and I just had to cope as best I could. I returned to the UK. I do feel that 'living the dream' is fine as long you are both alive and well, but when one of you departs it can become 'living the nightmare'.

GreenGran78 Mon 12-Aug-19 12:44:56

Two of my adult children live in Perth, Australia. One has been there for 20 years, and one for 11. They are both happily married, settled in good jobs, love the lifestyle, and wouldn't dream of coming back.
The third one emigrated with his wife in their mid-forties to Sydney, about 6 years ago. Things have not gone well, employment-wise, and they are struggling financially. There is no way that they could afford to come back to the UK and grow new roots. I worry about their futures.
Moving abroad is always a gamble, especially if you don't have the means to return.

sarahellenwhitney Mon 12-Aug-19 12:47:26

Nankate Whether you stay put when a loved one dies is I believe based on the life you had with that person during that move and why you moved in the first place.Myself and late DH moved thirty years ago from the familiar to our present home. I still see this present home as' ours' although he passed away ten years ago and have no desire
to return as life can never commence from where you leave off.Same house ?same area? same people does not happen and I would most likely be very disappointed in fact down right miserable.

Theoddbird Mon 12-Aug-19 12:57:55

Half of those that go and live 'down under' return home. I should think the same applies to those that go to Europe.

GabriellaG54 Mon 12-Aug-19 13:02:06

When I was married we spent a fair bit of time living abroad due to exes work. Months, not years on end but I'd never swap the UK for anywhere else.
Ok for hols but that's all.

It's like dating.
All about getting dressed nicely and excitement when you meet and being taken to lovely places and meeting his circle of family and friends....
20/30 years down the line the caul has well and truly been removed from your eyes and the irritations and stark reality take over.
You have only to read GN and MN to know that.

Witzend Mon 12-Aug-19 13:07:11

A sister has lived in the US since her early 20s - she's now mid 60s. Despite having been there so long, married (and widowed) with a daughter, she says she still feels more properly at home in the UK, and is now planning on spending around half the year here - the winter, since it's so much longer and colder where she lives.

Annaram1 Mon 12-Aug-19 14:26:11

You can learn a lot of languages free or at minimal cost on line. You can replay them as many times as you like and you get real native speakers teaching you so you get to hear the accent.
I learnt a lot of Spanish from Marcos Santamaria, at a cost of about £60. Udemy is quite cheap and I think other programs teach very basic phrases. Have a look.

Miep1 Mon 12-Aug-19 14:31:46

I lived in France for 12 years and reluctantly returned for children's education. I wish to God I hadn't; they'd left me within 5 years, told everybody I was dead. I adored France and learned fluent French because I lived in a small village with no other 'foreigners'. I did occasionally hear of some and made a point of going deaf. I can't return now, but would give my right arm to go back (I visit as often as I can) and often burst into tears at the thought of spending the rest of my life here. My heart and soul are still in France

Shalene777 Mon 12-Aug-19 14:42:41

I lived in NZ for 3 years, it was OK. Scenery breathtaking but we have that here too.
I was so desperate to come home that I would have left my Kiwi husband behind but luckily he was happy to come back with me and he never wants to go back. We have been back for funerals and weddings etc but we have never regretted coming back to the UK.
I also, really strangely, started panicking that if I died in NZ my body would stay there forever and I wanted to be in England when I popped my clogs.

sodapop Mon 12-Aug-19 14:59:47

My story is much the same as Carillion retired early, moved to France on a whim and have not regretted it. We also plan to stay. The only way I would go back was if my husband died first. Like many of us here our house is old and requires a lot of maintenance which I would not be able to do. I don't altogether agree with comments about ex pats, I think a friend is a friend regardless of nationality. We have French and English friends and enjoy the company of both.

Callistemon Mon 12-Aug-19 15:19:17


I think the pull back to the UK for many people who go to live in Australia is family and friends left behind in the UK.

I was surprised to read that someone's siblings came back and the parents stayed (sorry, can't find the post to see who it was).

Barmeyoldbat Mon 12-Aug-19 15:57:18

We winter in SE Asia and have learnt some of the language used in Cambodia and Laos. When I first went to Laos I made a point of learning it as not much english was spoken. My favourite and much used sentence was, coffee made with hot water please.

Daddima Mon 12-Aug-19 16:10:37

Channel 5 had a programme called ‘ Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun’ ( it’s available online) following loads of olderBrits who moved to Spain. You could probably count on one hand the ones who had learned the language, and they mostly lived on caravan sites.

CassieJ Mon 12-Aug-19 16:10:45

My brother has lived in Norway since 1985, speaks fluent Norwegian . He would never come back to the UK.
My elder son has lived in Canada for 16 years, and again he would never come back to the UK. He has a very good life style in Canada with a very well paid job, so has no reason to ever come back.

Hebdenali Mon 12-Aug-19 16:46:02

My (same sex) partner is in the process of buying an apartment in the Canaries. She would love to spend most of the year there but I’m not so sure. She speaks fluent Spanish and I speak not a word and have no aptitude for languages at all. It is a culture I’m not very familiar with preferring SE Asia. We still have a house in West Yorkshire which I am concerned about leaving for moths at a time. It would be great for my children and grandchildren to come out to visit and use when we are not there. But I have decided to give it a go and make the best of it and see what happens.

Oldandverygrey Mon 12-Aug-19 16:52:58

My uncle and auntie moved to Spain some years ago, enjoyed their lifestyle until one fell ill. Then they beat a hasty retreat back to the UK where the good ole NHS stepped up to the mark to care for patient. Once recovered they moved back to Spain.

jura2 Mon 12-Aug-19 16:59:35

Must admit I could not go to NZ or other side of the world- GCs are just a drive, train journey or emergency flight away.
Very different for me too, as we have come to live where I was born and bred and where we have so many good friends, and of course language no issue. Both dual citizens now- OH naturalised 3 years after we arrived here.

Jani Mon 12-Aug-19 17:17:10

I think this is a difficult one - as some if works and some if doesn't. We live in England and also Portugal - we split the time - however would not want to live in Portugal all the time - even though I do love it. My MIL lived in France until recently when husband died and can’t cope by herself so we have her living with us - . It’s a real struggle as she wants the house sold but as probably you all know these things take so much longer to sell. I tread to think where she would have ended up if we didn’t have the room. So as much as I think it works living abroad - when you get older and if you haven’t a support network of helpers I think it is so much more difficult.

4allweknow Mon 12-Aug-19 17:55:25

When working I came across a lot of people who lived abroad for most of their adult life, raising a family etc. Once illness set in with either or long term care needed they came back to the UK. One couple had lived in South Africa for 50 years but did need care (dementia). Family arranged a rented flat brought parents over and then applied for care. Still had British passports therefore entitled. Admitted to care, family back to S.A. For some living abroad is great until huge costs are involved then there is no place like home!

glammagran Mon 12-Aug-19 19:21:58

Dragonfly my son and his family have lived in Den Haag for 2 years. They were going to the U.S. this year but don’t fancy Trump’s America so are staying though drawback is that son spends a lot of time in the States. Kids go to the International School which isn’t free and I think there is some private health care provision. Dutch is a very hard language to learn I understand. DGD could speak some Cantonese as she went to a mainly Chinese nursery when they were in Hong Kong but now sadly forgotten. Den Haag is a lovely city and they live in an area with only Dutch families. No wish to return to UK.

Destin Mon 12-Aug-19 19:34:16

Yes - we’ve done it twice and never regretted it. When the kids were very young my husband had a job offer in Canada, so after much persuading on his part we upped sticks and moved to Ontario, but didn’t sell our UK house, just in case!

Once we both agreed that we liked the life Canada offered us, we sold our UK home. Then in early 90’s when both grown up children were in university, again my husband had a job offer, but this time in Bermuda - so we moved there for 3 years but actually stayed for 16 years - never with the thought of making it permanent - we still viewed Canada as our “forever home”. Our plan we that as soon as we had our first grandchild we would leave Bermuda and return home - but because we were enjoying ourselves we didn’t actually come back to live permanently in Canada until our 5th grandchild was on the way. We were well past ‘official retirement age’ and both still working, but somehow we knew it was time to move back.

Now we are in our late 70’s it’s great to look back on the interesting twists and turns that have taken us away from our British birthplace. But I have to admit, at this stage in our lives nothing beats living close by to our bunch of grandchildren, watching and supporting them and knowing that just being around them makes our lives so much richer.

Callistemon Mon 12-Aug-19 19:48:26

People who have lived in the UK , probably worked and paid taxes and NI all their working lives, find it very difficult if not impossible to obtain funding for dementia care. I'm therefore very surprised that a couple who have lived in South Africa for 50 years are entitled to places at a funded nursing home.
And did I read that right? The family rented a place in the UK, dumped their parents with dementia in a home funded by UK taxpayers then went back to SA?

Perhaps I've misunderstood.

Glammy57 Mon 12-Aug-19 19:55:46

We have lived in The West Indies, Hawaii, Iceland and the west coast of U.S.A. I enjoyed each of the countries with Iceland being my favourite. For me, the U.K is home and we relocated, here, in 2000. We have no regrets - life is good, our daughter and GD live 60 miles away, our home is large and spacious, the climate suits us, and our pension allows us to have a great lifestyle.

I have friends who emigrated to Perth, Sydney and U.S.A and they seem to be reasonably happy. All of them moved for job opportunities, bigger homes and better salaries. Perhaps, it all depends on one’s values!

Barmeyoldbat Mon 12-Aug-19 20:02:36

Callestermon, yes I read that and thought it a blinking cheek. Though thinking about it maybe they are funding the care, which is ok while they have the money, as the care system is not as good in S Africa. Don't know but seem strange.

Callistemon Mon 12-Aug-19 20:27:57

still had British passports so entitled confused
Entitled to what?
Perhaps entitled to live here in a self-funded nursing home, Barmyoldbat, which is fair enough.

jura2 Mon 12-Aug-19 20:32:32

4allweknow- I am pretty sure that was fraudulent- and makes me so angry sad

GagaJo Mon 12-Aug-19 20:40:00

Having lived abroad until June last year, I can attest that if you weren't resident in the uk/Europe for the previous 12 months, you are NOT entitled to uk healthcare.

BusterTank Mon 12-Aug-19 20:56:49

I can tell you it's all its cracked up to be and more . I lived in spain for 15'years and it was the worst thing I ever did moving back to the UK . Living abroad is not for everyone but it depends what you want out of life . If you loose a love one abroad it is just the same as if you loose a love one in England . I'm praying i win lottery so I can go back , wish me luck .

Grannycool52 Mon 12-Aug-19 21:24:09

Like Craicon above, I was a British person who moved from England to the Republic of Ireland & love it. I came for university, returned to UK for postgrad & work. I met British husband &, after some years persuaded him to move to Ireland, which he had previously only visited on holiday. We found this a great, safe, happy, fun place to bring up our children, who have themselves settled here as adults. The education they got is much better than we got in the UK and they enjoyed it more too. We do have private health insurance, but we also have public medical cards and can see our gp, free, the same day - we just have to drop in.
We are going to stay here & have even bought a grave in our local churchyard!!

Evie64 Mon 12-Aug-19 22:48:36

We lived on the Greek island of Naxos for about half the year for about 6 years. Used to go there in March and return in July, go back in September and stay until November. It was perfect and our little lock up and leave 200 year old house in a small mountain village was perfect. We learnt as much of the language as we could and got by with communication quite well. We then decided that we would like to live there full time. Sold the little house and bought a much bigger one on the coast. Biggest mistake of our lives sad. Come the winter the place was like a ghost town with all the shops, bars and tavernas' closed. The Greek property taxes also became ridiculous and we eventually sold up, at a huge loss, and returned home to our house in the UK which we had only rented out thank God. Due to the current Capital Controls in Greece we are still, after 4 years, unable to transfer the proceeds of the sale here to the UK except for "dribs and drabs". Such a shame, but hey, it was great while it lasted and we have some very good memories. If I knew then what I know now, I think I would have rented and not bought, far far safer and far far cheaper.

BradfordLass72 Tue 13-Aug-19 03:04:20

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Maori and NZ Sign Language.

I am fluent in one and have a good working knowledge of the other two. Unfortunately due to sight problems, I can't communicate in signing as well I was used to.

Cannot imagine anything worse that living in an 'expat community
I agree Jura.

When I first came here there was a Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (WISE) Society and I was invited to join but didn't want to be surrounded by people whose minds were still back at home.

At the same time, I loved taking part in any of the festivals, particularly as there was, and still is, a strong Scottish presence in the South Island where I was first based.

And St Patrick's Day is also a big thing here - only the Welsh are quiet but I don't know why.

WISE no longer exists.

I have never regretted coming here, even though it wasn't my choice.
I fell deeply and unexpectedly in love with New Zealand and it is, quite definitely, where I want to end my days.

As I stated in another thread some time ago, that by no means compromises my pride in being English, or my roots in Yorkshire.

In a recent and scandalously expensive referendum the right wing government sought to change our flag.

I'm happy it was defeated.
The Union flag is still in the corner, proclaiming the origins of British settlers. The Southern Cross guided many others to Aotearoa.

Grannyjay Tue 13-Aug-19 06:34:05

I used to read a popular magazine for the over fifties regularly and on the back page they did a spread of British seniors who decided to sell up and move abroad to spend their retirement wealth that they acclimated in the UK. When asked if they would ever return to the UK about 98% said they would if they or their partners became ill and needed nhs care. So they can take their wealth abroad for them to benefit but when they want nursing care they would come back and have the nhs pay. It just doesn’t sit right to praise living abroad and some talked about hating the UK but it’s alright when they want something. I do know some who chose to live abroad and never wanted to come back and good luck to them.

Framilode Tue 13-Aug-19 06:51:19

Grannyjay We paid into the system all our working lives. Apart from pensions we received no benefits from Britain during the time we lived abroad but continued to pay British income tax as well as Spanish. Why shouldn't we be entitled to the NHS. That was part of being in the EU.

Saggi Tue 13-Aug-19 07:13:03

No NanKate.... I dont think living abroad is all it’s cracked up to be. Strangely my brother and his wife went to live in southern Spain after retirement, despite the fact that the sun didn’t agree with her! I know... go figure eh! Then she got seriously ill and they couldn’t get back to ‘old blighty’ soon enough. Lost shed loads of money because of the downfall of Spanish economy at the time , when they tried to sell their house over there. All in all, lost about £ 200.000 and consequences were they had no home in England to come back to and he had to return to work to pay for a rented place. She then had to go into a residential home which cost him a £1000 per week. She died after about six months home... and he broke what was left of his health...... on another point NanKate.... why is it do you think that Bits abroad call themselves ex-pats....and When people from abroad come to live here we call them immigrants ( usually with nasty connotations)... shouldn’t we call ourselves emigrants when living abroad... or do we really consider ourselves as better than the rest of the world!?!? Also there is NOTHING patriotic about leaving your country and living abroad, is there?

sodapop Tue 13-Aug-19 07:23:16

For goodness sake, the world is our lobster now. Times have changed and people can live in other parts of the world from where they were born.
Framilode is right, we emigrants paid our dues for all our working lives and continue to pay income tax in the UK as well as our country of residence. I don't recall anyone on this thread saying they hated UK.

Urmstongran Tue 13-Aug-19 08:17:38

I love living in Malaga but only because we share our time between here and Manchester. A small place in each country.

The sun, warmth, time for just ourselves out here to do what we want - the beach, swim in our garden pools, tapas, get a bus to Mijas for the day etc and then back home for family - certainly not for the weather!

The best of both worlds really.
😎🇬🇧 🇪🇸

Grannyjay Tue 13-Aug-19 08:30:55

If every retiree returned purely through ill health after spending their pensioned earned in the UK we would not have a health service! I know nursing staff who say their services are stretched to the limit through care needed as we age. A good economy helps pay for things like jobs due to those having money to spend. Our pensions far outweigh what contributions you paid during your working years. It’s all part of a package. My comment is bound to upset some but to say I paid my taxes in which you get paid your pension and think that when we are old there is loads of money in the nhs to spend on us because we don’t want to pay for it abroad is selfish.

Willow500 Tue 13-Aug-19 10:43:47

My 44 year old son and his NZ wife emigrated out there 6 years ago. She had lived in the UK since she was 18 and wanted to go home when she got pregnant. Although he has built up a good business and she gets regular filming work I don't think either of them are truly settled especially my son who is very homesick. Their young children born out there have a great life though and I don't think they will move back and disrupt that plus her mum has dementia so she won't want to leave her. They are coming back to the UK for Christmas and are talking about buying a small place over here to rent out - we're not so sure but time will tell.

My husband lived in Switzerland for 2 years due to work but didn't speak a word of the language when he went - he had to learn pretty fast as he couldn't even buy a loaf of bread. He was very homesick and glad to come home in the end even though it was a beautiful country.

Mamie Tue 13-Aug-19 11:49:41

Goodness, there is a bit of confusion about health cover, isn't there? People of retirement age who receive the UK state pension and live in Europe, (currently) have their health cover paid by the UK under the S1 scheme. They are also fully entitled to return to the UK for treatment.
In France we also pay a top-up insurance, as do the French. The health system here is excellent and I personally don't know anyone who goes back to the UK for treatment.
It is possible that the S1 scheme will end after Brexit in which case residents would pay an additional tax for health cover here, over a certain income platform.

EllanVannin Tue 13-Aug-19 13:41:59

I would advise any youngster to spend a gap year or a 2 year work visa in Australia. They can then make up their minds for their futures. It's a wonderful continent and has far more to offer for the future than the UK.
I'll tell my GGC to work hard and get themselves out there.

If my family hadn't been greater here I'd have made the effort to have emigrated. I still have days of being " unsettled " here because of so much that I miss in Oz. I couldn't think of a nicer place to retire to. It felt like a second home.

Witzend Tue 13-Aug-19 14:51:02

Well, EllanVannin both my graduate dds did a long working stint in Oz - elder was,there for 2 years working all over - and they enjoyed it, but showed no great desire to stay or return. Both now happily settled here.

General consensus was, too far away from too many places, esp. the relatively cheap and accessible sheer diversity of Europe.

We've been twice on holiday there and much as I've enjoyed it, there was serious drought both times, and raging wildfires. I do find severe drought scary - what can you do when it just doesn't rain? We lived in Middle Eastern deserts for many years - you expect drought there, but it's a different matter in the likes of Melbourne.

MissAdventure Tue 13-Aug-19 15:24:48

I don't think anything is all it's cracked up to be, usually.

Floradora9 Tue 13-Aug-19 15:25:04

My BIL and wife moved to Australia 40 odd years ago tried coming back to the UK but hated it so returned to Oz. Because their children are settled there they have no hope of coming back here to live though BIL would like to spend his last years here. Family will keep them abroad for good now and they no longer come here for a long visit because of the jhourney and the trouble renting a car at their age. We will never see them again .

EllanVannin Tue 13-Aug-19 16:07:03

My eldest D and SiL and 3 GC live in the Northern beaches area of Sydney which is beautiful. GC are Australian as are their parents when they attended the citizenship ceremony in the 80's.
Just D and SiL were here for a visit in June and did a lot of travelling while they were here. When they went back at the beginning of July I've felt unsettled on and off since. I just fear that it's the last time I'll see them.

NanKate Tue 13-Aug-19 16:31:05

Some really inserting comments on here to my original question.

Saggi my sister always used the word ex-pats and I have simply followed suit. I don’t even know what the ‘pat’ bit means. Maybe some else will enlighten me.

sodapop Tue 13-Aug-19 17:01:42

Patriot NanKate at least that's what I always assumed.

Mamie Tue 13-Aug-19 17:08:41

I think ex patria - outside one's native land in Latin.

Witzend Tue 13-Aug-19 17:09:18

Speaking as one who was one for many years, it's expatriate, no hyphen.
Different meaning from patriot, which means someone who's patriotic. A much misused word IMO since all the B-word balls-up.

Mamie Tue 13-Aug-19 17:36:57

I don't understand how people can think it is unpatriotic (whatever that means) to be an expatriate. Were the founders of Empire unpatriotic?

Fennel Tue 13-Aug-19 17:46:46

ex -pat or immigrant, we were always les Anglais to the locals.
Same for les Belges, les Allemands, les Hollandais etc

Nandalot Tue 13-Aug-19 17:49:16

I think Mamie is right and it s from the Latin, ex patria.

Magrithea Tue 13-Aug-19 18:45:39

We moved to live in Hong Kong when we were just married and lived there for 20 years. It was a great place and we raised our family there. Having lived back here for 18 years I'm just as happy here. It depends on you, where you're living and your attitude. I know people who've hated living overseas and others who have stayed on after retirement.

I missed 'home' i.e. UK and was happy to return but others can't imagine being here and are very down about the UK. Everywhere has its faults and failings and the grass is often greener until you jump the fence!!

blossom14 Tue 13-Aug-19 19:05:32

Miss Adventure I do agree with you. You do make me chuckle.

Deedaa Tue 13-Aug-19 22:17:38

One of our friends has lived in the South of France for 30odd years now. He's had a great time working as a builder and part time journalist. He's had two knee replacements and had a badly smashed ankle fixed and is happy with everything.