Living Abroad: The Downside Nobody Ever Talks About

I was a little bit stumped for an idea for today’s blog post. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very long list of things I want to share with you over the next few months, but for some reason none of them seemed right for today. I guess sometimes you just have to talk about what’s on your mind. So I decided to just sit down and write from the heart…

Living away from home has some major advantages, so many that this post would be far too long if I went into them now, so we’ll save those for another day. But the thing people don’t talk about so much is the cons. I write this, not so much feeling homesick, more so feeling a bit like I’m missing out? I don’t really know, it’s difficult to put into words, but there are always those things when you live away from home that get to you every once in a while. I suppose the same is true whether you live a few hours drive away, or several thousand miles on a plane as I do.


There have been two things this last few weeks which I suppose have got me thinking about the cons of living away from home. The first, my younger brother got married at the weekend, and we weren’t there for it. We don’t speak anymore, so even if I had been at home it wouldn’t have made any difference, but it still gets you thinking. Secondly, one of my closest friends back home had a baby. Thankfully she’s now home with her mummy and daddy where she should be, but there were complications for a while, and it got quite scary. I think that’s what hit me the hardest, the not being able to do anything to help. Which is silly because really I wouldn’t have been able to do anything different had I been 5 minutes away. But something about being so far away makes you feel more helpless, I guess because there really is nothing at all you can do to help.

We lost my grandad this last Christmas, and when I got the call I was immediately ready to jump on (several) planes and do my best to make it home to the UK in record time to be with him. Luckily my Dad talked me out of it, as with hindsight, even if I had made it onto the first plane out of Calgary, it would have been too late before I even left Canadian airspace. Imagine having to make that journey for over 12 hours, not knowing, and not able to contact anyone mid-air. And then finding out in the airport at the other end that you didn’t make it in time.

Me and my grandadME AND MY GRANDAD

When my Nan died around ten years ago now, I was living only an hours drive from my home town. I remember being at work in Manchester when my mum called to tell me it wasn’t looking good. Despite only being an hours drive away, and leaving work immediately, I didn’t make it in time. So really, when you think of it like that, it’s hard to blame living abroad for not being there, yet people do.

Me and NanaME AND NANA

For me, missing out on the big events like weddings and births, and even the sad occasions like deaths or funerals, are the hardest part of living abroad. Yes, you can travel home for a visit, but there’s only so many holidays you can take in a year. There are always going to be things that you miss out on, and difficult things to prioritize. Since moving to Canada last summer, we’ve already missed 3 close friends weddings, 2 in the UK, and one in Kiev. And that’s not even counting my brothers recent nuptials. We missed my mum’s 60th birthday. We missed the births of four of our closest friends babies. And that’s only the big stuff. Imagine all the smaller things in between that you miss out on too. Moving abroad has so many advantages, but it’s these things that you take for granted until they’re no longer there.

I suppose you’re probably reading this and thinking I’m feeling homesick. But what’s weird is that I’m not. I think I have only once felt homesick since I left the UK almost 6 years ago, and I still remember that feeling. This is not it. Maybe I’m not doing a very good job at explaining what I mean, but I suppose what I’m trying to get at, is that feeling of acceptance. It doesn’t feel good, and it’s never an easy decision to make, but you do accept it. Ultimately our lives have improved dramatically, almost beyond recognition since we first moved abroad. We’ve had so many opportunities and adventures which we never would have had if we had stayed in the UK. And I have never once regretted my decision, which is how I know it’s been the right one. I’ve never questioned it, or considered moving back, even for a second.

Interestingly an unexpected side effect came out of moving. Although I might not see my loved ones very often, when I do, the time we spend together is so much better. We have so much to catch up on, and we look forward to seeing each other. Wether that be in person, or just via Skype. It quickly became quality over quantity, and I ended up closer to alot of people as a result. Equally, there are those who I haven’t spoken to in months, who I thought would be close friends for life, but I also know they’ll be there if I need them.


I think what I’m trying to get at, in the hope of helping you if you’re considering a move abroad, or even just to a new city, is that yes it’s hard, but you accept it. You don’t make a conscious decision to, it just happens. You accept that there are downsides to your new life, and that you can’t always be there when you want to be. Of course you will always miss the people, but if the decision is right, you wont miss the place. If I could convince my friends and family to all move over here, I would probably never bother going back to the UK, or I certainly wouldn’t be in any rush. It really is only the people that I miss.

So if you’re thinking about a move, ask yourself, is it the people that you’ll miss, or the place?

Michelle x


  • Thanks Lynda, seems like alot of expats feel the same way. I guess after 43 years you’ve definitely learnt to ‘accept it’, even if not by choice!

  • Thanks for this Michelle, even after being away from the UK for almost 43 years these feelings never go away, you always feel you are missing out and still wonder, ``What if,’’

    Lynda Storey

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