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Is living abroad all it is cracked up to be ?

(105 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.

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 intriguing...my 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.