I see the expat papers have been trundling out their usual rubbish about Expat Dreams becoming nightmares etc etc.
I don’t think I have even come across an Expat who claims to have ‘dreamt’ about an Expat Lifestyle. For the majority (those that have retired abroad) I suspect that there dreams when they were younger were based on paying of mortgages, getting the kids through school, looking after the family, finding a hobby for when the retired, maybe owning a caravan. All the usual mundane and totally relevant, things that generations have dealt with. Let’s face it for anyone in their 50’s and above the concept (and opportunities) to live abroad when you had retired just didn’t exist when we were dreaming.
For the remaining expats I suspect they broadly fall into two categories: those that have move abroad because of their job/careers, and those that have moved abroad because they haven’t got a job/career. Again I doubt that they have spent much time dreaming about living in the sun!
The problem is, as I see it, that the majority of UK papers that write about expat lifestyles are written by UK based journalists trying to appeal to an expat audience, but who themselves have next to no experience of living an expat lifestyle.
Unfortunately, as many an expat has found out, the reality is far from the idyllic scenario these papers like to present.
So, with a heavy dose of reality, here are 5 myths I think you will find about the expat lifestyle:
1. The Weather Will Be Better
In general yes (on the basis that most people chose an expat lifestyle in the sunshine), but if you are not used to living in a sunny climate you are in for a shock! In the winter months life needs to be lived between 10am and 5pm, in the summer months between 8am and 10am and then 6pm to 10pm, otherwise it will be ‘too hot’ or ‘too cold’. Remember, hot climates are not geared up for when it is cold (tiles floors and no curtains for example) so when it isn’t hot, it can get very cold.
2. Explore A New Culture
Really? So having never had any time (or interest) in culture in the UK ‘just’ because you move abroad (and have more time) you are going to become interested in culture?
It never ceases to amaze me how little of the UK most expats have visited and explored, and as for their new country: a few tripe out in the early months and after that ‘it all looks the same’.
An all time favourite this one: we are going to go on long walks, take up golf, buy some bikes, eat healthily (drink less), enjoy long walks on the beach etc etc.
AKA: going to sit in bars all day and eat lots of fried tapas!
Will be a great opportunity to really get to know like minded people.
Err sorry, but the reality is that friendships are only really made during formative years and experiences: school. college, bringing up kids etc.
If you didn’t establish solid relationships in all the years you were in the UK what makes you think a few months in a new country will make you any?
5. A Fresh Start
Lovely in theory, but the probability is that you will end up doing the same old stuff, just in a sunnier climate, with less options, and surrounded by people who had exactly the same thoughts as you did ….. as you will hear day and day, week after week, month after month, year after year …..