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Once an Expat Always an Expat (Victoria)

The one thing that is also universally true is that when you’re established abroad you discover that most of your fellow expats feel the same as you, and almost no one is in any rush to return to the UK. I would even go as far as to say that ‘once an expat, always an expat’ because there really is something addictive about living abroad. This is backed up by evidence from a recent survey undertaken by NatWest International Personal Banking Division which discovered that up to 91% of expats could not now imagine returning ‘home’ to live.

In the song New York New York there’s a line that goes “if you can make it there you can make it anywhere” and this is the mantra that successful expats live by. In other words, once you have gone through the massive challenge of establishing a complete and satisfying new life abroad, you know you can do it again if needs be. This puts fire in the expat belly and inspires them to move forward and never look back. Therefore, if you’re thinking about beginning a new chapter in your life by moving abroad, be warned, there will be no going back because you will discover that the grass really can be greener overseas!

I recently met a couple who had been comfortably living and working in the UK but who were very half-heartedly toying with the idea of moving abroad. An opportunity came along for them to sell their home at a very substantial price, right at the heart of boom time for property prices in the UK, and this forced their hand into making a firm commitment to start a new life abroad.

Because their planning process had been quite brief and certainly not as in depth as they would have liked, they found themselves living overseas in a caravan in winter with a six month old baby and a four year old child. Four years on and they are living in a beautifully renovated home, both children are fluent in the mother tongue of their new nation and are fully integrated, the mother is on the local council and the father has established a thriving and successful business locally.

Today their life is as close to perfect as you can get – but of course behind the success story there was a lot of hard work required, and when asked if the family would ever return to live in the UK I was told ‘unequivocally no!’ The reason being that the family had proven to themselves that they could make a new life, a better life and a very successful life in a foreign land and really against the odds – therefore if they ever decided to move it would be forward, onwards and upwards, because having done it once they knew they could replicate their success and do it again.

So you see, being an expatriate is addictive. The majority of expats I have met have been seasoned and serial travellers, those who have lived and loved in more than one nation…and whilst I do know a few people who have returned home, relocated back to the UK and repatriated their lives, they are not the happy ones. The happy ones are those who have made a success of their lives abroad, in challenging conditions – who have proven themselves to be tough and robust, determined and successful.

It takes a certain type of person who wants to live abroad and experience and establish a new life…if you fall into this category it’s highly likely that once you’ve tasted the reality of the new life you will fall in love with it and want more. So, just be warned and be careful, moving to live abroad can be addictive – and once you become an expatriate there is no going back!