Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

It would make great television


An exaggerated life of an expat wife is filled with lunches with girlfriends, tennis, pedicures, and shopping. Typically expat women don't work because they don't have work visas. They have relocated due to their husbands' jobs.  

In some countries (but not the UK), 'hired help' is the norm - nannies, drivers, maids, cooks, gardeners. Sounds like a life of luxury.

Let's take a closer look...

The 'staff' that comes with the house is not always welcome. There can be personality differences or you just want to do some of those things yourself. But you may be 'obligated' to hire employees to support the local economy.

Your house contents may look exactly like all the other expats. Houses are usually rented, sometimes in guarded expat 'compounds' in some countries. Often the furniture is rented too, making houses look really similar with the same rental package. Nails might not be allowed, so walls go bare. Sentimental items such as Christmas decorations might be left at home because the company gave a small budget for shipping necessities only (i.e. clothing).

Finding a doctor and dentist (and hair stylist!) can be tricky. Can you trust their opinion? What if there is a true medical emergency? How do you get regular medication not offered in your host country?


Your kids enter a school that you know nothing about, whereas at home you had a good idea where to send your children since birth. And what if your child has special educational needs for dyslexia or autism? And what if your child doesn't transition well to his/her new environment?

You also are unsure about the new neighborhood you picked in just 3 hours of touring the area in a rush to find a house. You are confused by the rental documents and not sure if they are 'pulling a fast one' or if the requests are valid. New to the country, you have no one to consult. You just have to trust.

Language barriers, foreign currency, and a general lack of local common sense can make the adjustment harder. Getting the simplest task done can be exhausting.

And then there is the uncertainty of when you may leave. Most expat assignments are 3 years, but at the last minute you could be shipped home or to another country (sometimes not a desirable one). You and your children see expat friends come and go.
You miss important friend and family events at home such as birthdays, births, and even funerals.

The life of an expat is an amazing experience with a lot of rewards, but also a whirlwind of intense emotion at times.

So far, living in England has been nothing short of wonderful for me, with HUGE rewards - surrounded by beauty, history, lovely people, and amazing experiences. Great brain food. But there are trade offs too that many don't think of.

Expat Motto:  Grow Where You Are Planted

Do you think you would be up to the challenge?
Where would you choose to live?
Do you have anything to add?

I'm off to eat some bonbons :)