The Pros and Cons of living abroad (in my opinion) 

Fun in Marbella


Pros

1. Weather– Unless you’ve moved somewhere where the climate isn’t so fortunate, everyone knows how a day of glorious sunshine can really lift your spirits. Though the weather here is very changeable at the moment we’ve had a few sunshiny afternoons recently. The second you step outside, no coat weighing you down, no extra layers needed for the kids, sunglasses on, you just feel lighter. The long, warm summers here mean we get to make good use of our pool (I know.. a pool!) as well as glorious beaches a short drive away and it guarantees that you can walk anywhere without getting wet. Saying that you might get a bit sweaty… 

I have to say I do miss the winter, like the proper winter where you get to wrap up warm in cosy knitwear and chunky scarves, but I can’t decide if that’s just because I get bored of my summer wardrobe!! 

2. Meeting new people and making new friendships– One of the things I really worried about, when I knew we were moving here, is feeling lonely. I’m a rubbish lonely person, I get lonely if I’m on my own for an afternoon, let alone starting afresh in a foreign country. Of course the beauty of moving to somewhere like Gib is that pretty much everyone speaks English! So the transition, for me, was fairly smooth. Once I knew we were definitely moving I did loads of research into toddler groups and things to do with kids. I only had Henry at the time and he was 18 months which really, looking back, was a perfect age for socialising. When we moved over my mum came for the first week and came with me to all the groups for moral support. Luckily I got in there before the summer holidays because it meant I met a few people before all the groups stopped. 

There’s a huge expat community here so loads of people in the same boat. I’ve made some truly lovely and lifelong (I hope, they may disagree!) friends. 

3.Life experience– Our move has had some massive ups and downs for me emotionally. They never seem to stop to be honest! I’m constantly torn by missing family and feeling at the end of my tether and relishing the opportunities we have here. One thing is for sure though, I do feel proud. Proud of myself and my little family for making a brave leap and trying something completely out of our comfort zone. I know that when we do eventually move back our time here will have had a fantastic impact on the way we look at things. It’s certainly made me braver, more outgoing and confident in my ability to cope on my own (when husband is at work of course!). I keep thinking how amazing it will be for the children to have had this experience under their belts before they’ve even really realised it. As well as that, what a great conversation starter, ‘I lived in a different country when I was younger.’ 

Cons

1. Missing family and friends- This is a big big con for me.. I do have a close relationship with my family, especially my sister who has children of a similar age. I so often feel really sad that our children aren’t ‘growing up together’ in a geographical sense though we talk and Skype all the time. The children also have 3 sets of brilliant grandparents that they truly miss, obviously Henry is more aware of this but I’m sure Flossie does too!

I also have some really close friends, god parents to my children, friends from school, friends from uni, people who truly know me and all my idiosyncrasies. I feel sad that they too, don’t get to spend time with the children, some of them never having met Flossie due to us being away 😦 

 I am lucky that I can go back when I want or need to and both children are *fairly* well behaved on a flight so I can do it by myself with both of them. But it’s more the times when you just want to ‘pop over’ or go for a day out together, that I really miss. I often find myself sat in our flat in the afternoon, because Flossie needs a nap and most things seem to happen in the morning here. It’s when I’m sat in the flat feeling, frankly quite bored and a bit lonely, I think if I was in the uk now I could just pop over to my mums or my sisters or take the kids to see Nana & Pops and I would have some adult company. 

Also I feel sad that the family is missing out on Flossie’s first year. They see all her ‘firsts’ on video or through photos and sometimes I wish I had the chance to show them off in the flesh. Having her here was much harder than I expected without my family around. It really hit me hard, but that’s another story..

 Thing is you know when you’ve had a horrendous night and you could do with someone to just take them off your hands so you can catch a little nap. The good thing about family is they actually really enjoy having them and you don’t feel as if you are imposing… sigh 

2. Feeling like you don’t really belong– It’s like when you start a new job. At first you feel really out of place there, you don’t know where anything is, you don’t know the ways, you don’t really know the people. Eventually, however, you learn all those things and you feel as though you have as much a right to be there as anyone else. Well, for me, I have learnt where things are, I know lots of lovely people, and in most I’ve learnt how the place functions, but that doesn’t completely take away that feeling that, really it’s not your country. You can make it your home, but you’ll never 100% belong there because you were born somewhere else. If that makes sense? That’s not to say people don’t make you feel welcome and it’s not a reflection of their opinions.. (though sometimes it’s pretty obvious that the feeling is mutual) It’s just a little niggle that stops me from really settling. 

3. (Unique to gibraltar) I miss the shops, internet shopping and good things to do with the kids– Ok I’m going to admit it, I really miss primark! We do have a primark in nearby Spain but it’s not the same… it doesn’t have the good stuff that they show in the magazines. I also miss buying crafty things from eBay and it turning up 2 days later… our poor visitors always end up with suitcases of stuff that I’ve bought and sent to them to bring out! As well, one of the things I find most frustrating about being here, is the lack of activities for the children. I find it really hard to fill my days with something that isn’t the park and doesn’t involve buying food or drink. I would like to be able to (easily) go to a soft play or a petting zoo or farm. Even just to a country park for a walk or one of these trampoline places I see cropping up everywhere! We do have some really great groups that we go to on a weekly basis but I just find the lack of variety frustrating. Especially when I realise how much we had at our disposal in the uk! 

Obviously these are all just my opinions and I’m sure some people will totally identify with them and others may completely disagree! Everyone’s experience is bound to be different 🙂 xx

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8 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of living abroad (in my opinion) 

  1. Denise Whitfield says:

    Well put,I agree about missing your family it’s hard, they want me to go back for good but I like my life here,also shops yes miss good shopping, but I go back to England a lot in the winter, I am off again on Monday for a month, can’t go between May and October as I work. I too have met some good friends here in Spain and Gibraltar.life here is good put yes sometimes I get lonely and want to see my family.

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  2. Natalie says:

    Love this Kate! Josh and I really want to move abroad but my main concern is my mums health and them missing out of we have children. Then I think life is too short and I don’t want to live with regrets. It’s such a tricky choice, we are always looking at houses in different countries, just got to be as brace as you!

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    • kategibson12 says:

      It’s a juggling act, that’s for sure! There’s so many pros but missing family is definitely hard.. you have a close relationship with your sister like me too. I think it was easier for us to take the plunge because it was sort of laid out for us so was just a question of just saying yes or no.. I can imagine it being tricky to just do it on your own initiative but I reckon it could be really amazing!! And it’s quite liberating to just start new somewhere! Xxx

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  3. Melissa Abrahams says:

    I like your blog Kate. I think many people can relate to that feeling of not quite belonging, whether they live in their country of birth or have moved abroad. Any dramatic change in life can leave you feeling like a stranger in what should be your own space. I think time (and I’m talking years, not months) is the only thing that will change this and who knows if you stay out there long term, maybe you will feel like a local.

    Cannot empathise with finding the beach samey and missing winter. It’s three degrees in cloudy Bristol today and would love to be out and about without being wrapped up like the Mitchellin Man! The grass is always greener and all that! Xxxx

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    • kategibson12 says:

      You’re right Mel, that sense of being out of place can be brought about by lots of situations and changes life brings not just in a geographical sense!
      Yeh to be fair when we came back for xmas I remembered what it was like to be cold!! Though we’ve had more cold weather here than last year! Well you know where we are, if you fancy getting away for a bit, you are all MORE than welcome xxxx

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  4. Laura K says:

    Love you, T and the kids Mrs G- your idosyncracies as you put it and all! Great to read all your blogs so far. Talk of idiosyncrasies I’ve read them exactly how I do a magazine, backwards- starting at blog 3 back to this one! Had glanced at them earlier but first chance I’ve had to really take in.

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