My Ex-Pat Life: Is it the Right Choice for You?

Linking up with Rachel & Chelsea 


Making the choice.   It was a joint decision with my husband to move out of the US. The decision followed a sudden death in the family which refocused our plans for the future.  While we experienced several bumps (that were more like mountains) in the three years that followed we eventually made it to our destination in England. It did not happen without concerns and judgements from the peanut gallery of family, friends, and acquaintances.  My husband was leaving behind a job in the military and there were options offered to him closer to his family.

The suggestions thrown my way were about me trying to possess some unhealthy association with my past. It was no secret that I had not been truly happy since moving to the US before my senior year of high school and the decade to follow. If I could not find happiness in the US, certainly I would still be just as unhappy anywhere in the world.  Perhaps if I had been a typical American girl raised on American soil this would be true.  I was raised abroad as a third culture kid caught between the American military culture, the three different cultures within the countries that I lived, and  those places we traveled to that impacted my life during my developmental years.  I was not meant to live a life of Olive Gardens, American football games and Walmarts. I was made to live a life abroad and a life of travel.

It was my first year as an expat and I was at an early morning meeting at the salon where I worked.  I had been one of the first to arrive, sitting with my tea and my notebook that I journaled in while enjoying the solitude before a busy workday. We had been waiting for two coworkers to arrive ten minutes past the starting time. A usual occurrence I was realizing with the individuals I was working with at the time. My boss who was obviously upset with current situation asked us life motivating questions. I cannot quite remember the exact question I was asked when it was my turn to speak. Although I do remember my answer.

I was here because I made the choice to be here. My husband and I could have stayed and lived a unfulfilling life in America but we wanted something different.  So we got rid of all our furniture, packed up our belongings, left our children with family and moved to England with out jobs, a place to live, or contacts.  We basically hit the ground running and started applying for jobs. Which is how I came to be working at the salon.  It was what helped us apply to get a place to live, to find a school for our boys to attend, and begin our life together as family in England.  It was a risk that was not encouraged by all those that knew us but it was something about which my husband and I felt strongly and carried through.

Taking the ex-pat life has shown me how truly some risks are worth taking .  You may not know the outcome or the journey you will have to take to get to a sense of normalcy.  It will be challenging, it will have hard times, and it can end up costing more than you had endeavored. I do however hold no regrets. I do not have to live a life of thinking ‘what if’ or be living my life planning for the right time.  There is never a right time when life is so short.  We got married young, started our family young and we followed suite with following our dreams young.  I may not have a savings account for my kids for college, but I have invested in their future as third culture kids and future world travelers. We have prepared their young lives for a broader world view and a chance to go where ever life calls them.

If I went back in time I would still make the same choice to live the ex-pat life.

Q: Is an ex-pat life a journey you chose? 
Would you become an ex-pat?

38 comments:

  1. My husband and I are currently working on seeking a route to take us overseas to live and work. The hard part, of course, is finding jobs for Americans. Much of what you wrote here sounds very familiar to me. Some of our family can't understand why we'd want to move on--but we know it's the best thing for us!

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  2. Bonnie, I love this post! I had a very similar experience. When I was in England, I was super depressed and unhappy with my life for various reasons from my childhood but in a nutshell, it had too many bad memories. I was always impulsively changing things about my life and my family really disapproved. They assumed leaving England to travel was the latest thing I would be doing impulsively and that I'd be home soon... also that it was a huge waste of the little savings I had.

    Almost 2 years later and they have finally accepted this as my lifestyle and are happy for me, but it still took over a year of disapproval and mockery over my lifestyle.

    I am so happy I made this choice and it sounds to me like you made the right choice for you too. Sometimes, you have to make decisions others don't agree with to prove them wrong as well as follow your heart. I encourage anyone who feels the urge to look into either traveling or becoming an expat, I think it's a great journey of discovery!

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  3. It's such a hard decission. We said "no" to 4 overseas jobs before taking the plunge and I am so glad that we did it!! It has been the best experience for my family! Loved reading your thoughts about being an expat!!

    Dena

    http://itsabouttakingthejourney.blogspot.de

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  4. Oh yes it can def be hard. I know my mum said she would like to move here, and England has made it much harder and way more expensive for people who want to come work and live in England. Even if you are married to a national. I will keep my fingers crossed for you guys that you find the perfect spot in the world to continue your journeny together!

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  5. Again Bonnie... another wonderful post! I get this question all.the.time. Mostly from South Africans. They always say 'but we're all trying to move there {the US}, why in the world would you come here?' The truth is, because I love the country and I love someone in it. But, even before SA I never really felt content in the states. Although I had a lot of friends I never felt like I truly belonged, if that makes sense. We may move to the states at some stage, or Oman, or Switzerland for than matter, but at the moment I'm quite content right where I am :) xxx

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  6. It is all about timing! So glad you guys chose something that was right for you and that you are loving the adventure now! Thanks for sharing your link too. x

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  7. Oh spot on, we share such similar paths even in different times of our life. Which truly is why I think we find happiness through life of an expat. I dont think expat life is for everyone but for those of us it truly is a like finding our place in the world. Which from reading your background def seems right. Its hard to go against the grain especially when those are family and friends, but sometimes thats the risk. Plus the best part is being able to encourage others. You go through all the hard stuff to be able to be there for others. :)

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  8. Thank you Jenna! Oh yes and in England when I tell people we moved here from Hawaii (warm weather, mai tais, beach) people just raise their eyebrows and go 'why??' I love that you are so content where you are right now (with the room to move in the future). That is how we are...and you know what I would totally jump at the opportunity to move to Switzerland. That is actually the one place on my radar for years down the road. x

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  9. I. Love. This. Thanks for letting me know about this post Bonnie!!! I completely agree with you. I think many people feel like living abroad is a dream, an alternate reality, and something not achievable. Heck, I thought that at one time. It literally takes packing your bags, selling everything else, and boarding the plane to realize: this is really happening! I absolutely love expat life. Derik and I are in NO WAY ready to go back home to the States, and don't really have a long-term plan. But we love it like that. :)


    You're awesome lady!

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  10. That's so brave but the risk definitely seems worth it, it's so cool how the rest of the world is so close once one opens ones eyes.

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  11. I definitely, definitely would.

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  12. I have chosen that life, but as I have yet to make the move, I am not fully qualified to answer the question with the experiences to back it up, however, I will say that I have made that choice based on where/how we will be most happy. It is not a given that it is the right choice, but I look forward to finding out. I do not really feel at home without my husband and had started to feel like a stranger in my own country - living a half-life and not really experiencing it like I should. This could be down to the fact my mind was always on missing my husband and so I could not enjoy as much what I once did.
    As always, found this post so helpful! Thank youuuuuu!

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  13. I completely agree, I think it really is about finding your place! Yep, as much as it was hard having my family being pretty unsupportive and unaccepting of what I was doing, now it's shown them and others how it can be done!

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  14. I would love to live abroad. Maybe not forever, but for at least 5 or so years. I have been thinking more and more about places like Nepal where I could get a job helping the victims of the Sex Trade. This seems to be calling me more and more. Hopefully one day, when I finish my degree, a spot will be open for me.

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  15. In a heartbeat, I would become an expat. England. Ireland. Either one. In a heartbeat.

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  16. I loved reading this - I didn't realize how great a risk it was for you to move overseas. I mean, it's scary for everyone to some extent, but to do it without the stability of a job secured beforehand makes you one brave girl! Hopefully all the naysayers are retracting their negative opinions now that they can see how wonderfully everything has worked out for your sweet family!

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  17. I've always loved traveling (and fully plan on continuing to do so) but when I spent time in Scotland, I found "home." A feeling I haven't experienced anywhere else I've been before or after. So now every decision I make in my life here in the States is somehow related to getting there. I can definitely empathize with the need to go as well as the family that thinks you're crazy (at least mine think I am). Thanks so much for such an insightful and encouraging post!

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  18. Aww, I love how much thought you and Amanda both put into these posts. I really think I should follow your example, but maybe some soul searching is needed before hand. Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my blog, and I'm sure I'm going to start reading yours more too. :) can't wait to see what else you have to tell us :)

    dianadreams.blogspot.com

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  19. It takes a lot of guts to do what you and your husband did and I admire you for it. You went after the life that you wanted instead of settling, it's truly inspiring :)

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  20. so beautifully written as always bonnie : ) i agree, it is not a decision that is lightly made and not a decision that can be influenced by any other than your immediate family. of course our friends and family didn't want Jeremy and i to leave but we knew it was the best decision for us ad we wouldn't have it any other way!

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  21. You make some strong, powerful statements in here that I loved reading. I love that you followed your heart despite the fact that others tried to talk you out of it. And that you listened to it. I think there are some people who are very happy with Walmarts and the football games and the things you mentioned -- and if they are reading, then I hope they'd understand that you are fine with those things, too -- for people who want that. But if you are one of the people who doesn't, that's more than okay, too. It's amazing, though, that it's such a challenging and difficult process. That not wanting a cookie-cutter life becomes an act of bravery, a hero's journey. ANYWAY, thank you for sharing your take on this! :)

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  22. We did something very similar when we decided to pack up what we could, sell the ret and move to Germany. We had my husband's family here which was obviously a huge help, but we have still encountered hardships we didn't expect. It was a choice envied by some and judged by others...but we knew this was the life we wanted for ourselves a d for our son. I haven't looked back and I'm confident in our decision. I have become a permanent expat, my husband has returned home and my son will reap the benefits of two cultures. Great post!

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  23. Aww, thank you Amanda! You are welcome. Yep...i either get the it is unachievable or that it is a fairytale and easy to do. It can be with the right circumstances but does not mean it is not doable. :) So glad you guys are enjoying your expat time! Who knows what the future will bring. x

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  24. Oh yes...it just starts with opening your eyes to the possibilities!

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  25. That is so interesting how you have the persepective of not feeling at home in your country because your husband is not there. That totally makes sense though..home is where the heart is so where ever you two go that will be home. x

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  26. Something short like five years would be awesome to because it would be a something you could always think back to and remember together.

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  27. Oh yes...and I still need to get to Ireland! Would love to go there too. x

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  28. Yeah and glad we did it when we did too. With all the changes in visa regulations I do no think we would be able to stay here due to the financial restrictions. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you guys soon! x

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  29. I love that you found your 'home' else where and trust me I totally understand what that means. Def know you can count on me if you need anyone to talk to about crazy families. ;) x

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  30. I love Amanda! So glad you were able to connect with this post today and I hope you like my future expat posts too! x

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  31. Thank you Sara, it was def for us and for our kids and I know one day my kids will be inspired to do something similar or at least be thank ful we moved here for them. I know thats how I view it from my parents choices.

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  32. Aw, thank you so much babette. Plus now that you and Jeremy are over there I bet they really are happy for you and your experiences, deep down. ;)

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  33. Thank you Erika! Def spot on. One persons life is good for them and for another they need something different. Which is why I stand behind never putting someone into a box and expecting a same outcome. x

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  34. We are kindred spirits! Yes..you have to do what is right for your family and I'm so glad you guys did. I know your son is going to be so thankful later in life too. I know for me I am thank ful my parents did the military route of taking overseas assignments because its why we are here now. x

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  35. for what it's worth, I've never been to Olive Garden or Walmart and don't think I've ever sat through an entire American football game from beginning to end.


    there are just as many Americas as there are countries to escape to :)

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I love to interact with my readers and I try my best to respond back to all comments.

Cheers,
Bonnie Rose

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