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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.

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!!