Thursday, 23 June 2011

Moving abroad: the tale of Expat partners

In our 2010 Expat Explorer survey, 17% of expats asked had relocated in order to be with their partner. Here we take a look at the problems that can arise for expats and their families who are asked to move abroad for work purposes

Source: Flikr

In a recent survey of global relocation trends 61 percent of the companies asked expected to transfer more employees abroad in 2011 than in any other year.

What the findings also revealed was a worrying trend, coined as the case of the ‘trailing’ partner, in which the husband or wife of the person moving abroad was left disadvantaged by the move and struggling to find work. In fact, only 15% of s that were employed before their partner’s relocation were able to find overseas assignments, a 5% drop on last year’s results.

As the findings from the 2010 survey show, job prospects are a main driver for relocation however, countries that often offer a great chance to work your way up career the ladder don’t always provide a similar level of quality of life. This can be a serious concern for expats with families and children who want to make sure they establish a social life and are happy in their new home. In fact, re-establishing a social life came top of the poll for expat concerns in our 2010 survey.

What we can take from these findings is the need for expats to fully understand what their host country can offer them at all levels be that a career or raising a family

Are you the partner of an expat or have you had to move you family abroad due to work commitment? Maybe you have found the perfect place that balances your work and family life? Please share your stories with us. Also why not take part in this year’s Expat Explorer survey and share your experiences of living and working abroad?


  1. I left my job as a secondary school Maths teacher to move with my boyfriend from London to Los Angeles - he was relocated with work. I'm enjoying so much of it, particularly the weekends when we can go off and explore together, but I am finding the abundance of "me time" a bit difficult. He has just returned from the UK, where he went to pick up his visa and was gone for a week, and during this time I was on my own here. It was fine but a bit on the lonely side, and I felt like I spent a lot of the time in the apartment (but when I go out I always feel guilty about spending his money - in fact I'm often feeling guilty about spending his money and having to ask him for more when I run out).

    I am used to being surrounded by lots of people and feeling like people need me, and it feels strange that all that has gone away so quickly. I feel like I am useless here. I put a lot of pressure on my partner I think - he's the only one here who cares about me at all so I need to know more than usual that he does care and loves me (he's not so good at expressing this stuff) - and he is getting a bit frustrated by this, thinking that he's doing everything he can.

    I also don't know what to do with all this time - I make endless lists for things I 'need' to do, and am a bit obsessed with 'not wasting my time', making the most of being somewhere as well-connected as LA and using the opportunity to try and build a music career. But I am finding I'm procrastinating a lot on this and making excuses, which again I feel guilty about. It's the same story with all the projects I wanted to do at home but never had the time, I've brought them here and spent money buying materials but am finding it hard to get started on anything, which makes me feel guilty. No-one can believe that I am beating myself up about having all this free time in such a beautiful place as LA! It's like I'm trying to recreate the feeling of constant stress I had at work, but I really resented always being so busy and wanted to use being here as an opportunity to relax - but that is much easier said than done, I realise.

    Visa issues are another worry - it's difficult here and we're not married so either I have to hurry and find a job that will sponsor me (which I have found quite difficult so far, teaching jobs are not really given out to non-Californians right now) or I apply to do a masters, and get a student visa, which I am really struggling with - not only procrastinating and being put off by the lengthy applications, but also worrying about the huge costs, which again my partner is funding.

    The final source of tension is the overall dependency on my partner, not just financially but also socially (every social engagement we go to is through his work, I have no friends of my own) and in terms of getting around. You are really limited in LA without a car, it's so huge and public transport is not great, you can walk for hours and not get far at all, and I don't drive. I took lessons when I got here but failed my test, which I took quite badly as it would've meant a small bit of independence for me, to be able to get around a bit more when my partner is at work.

    I think I've just hit a bit of a bad patch, I am finding that my emotions are very up and down since moving here! I've done so many new things and had so many fun experiences, and I know I'm lucky to have this chapter in my life of not working and being in a sunny, beautiful place - I just haven't learnt to appreciate it yet. I would love to hear from anyone who's been in a similar position, and if anyone has any advice I certainly need it!

    1. Hi there, sorry to hear you're not enjoying your expat life as much as you would like! I'm sure there are many people within this community, and who write other blogs, who feel and have felt exactly as you do and have some wise words of advice for you. Thanks for your comment and good luck!

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  3. One of the primary reasons why people relocate overseas is work. This can be an opportunity but also a challenge especially when raising a family. It pays to do research regarding the culture and lifestyle of the country where you are settling. Doing so will help you and your family to adjust for a new way of life.

  4. It's already been said I know but you're not alone in this. It's a massive upheaval for some whereas some just sail through it! You'll get through it!

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  5. Interesting story! I enjoyed reading your tale of expat partner. Having a expat partner is a good idea, you can put business and at the same time you can help the economy of your country.

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  11. My brother is going to move to another country because of his girlfriend. I think that they are the perfect couple and they will be very happy together. Thank you for the interesting post!


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