I come from a relatively small town in New Zealand, called Christchurch. I decided to move abroad as I wanted to see a bit of the world. I have lived outside of New Zealand now for 24 years and spent ten years living in Hong Kong, one year in Belgium, Singapore and 11 in the UK. As my wife was English I would not personally count the time spent in the UK as expat years.
My Hong Kong days were very special. I was 24 and distinctly remember going out for dinner with work colleagues the night after I had landed and being really overwhelmed by the buildings, noise and just how different it was from the small town I came from.
Being an expat has broadened my view of the world considerably. It has exposed me to a huge variety of cultures, people and experiences that I would not have had. The work opportunities I have had have also been fantastic.
It has also allowed me to meet my wife and make a family, and we adopted our daughter overseas. I have had the chance to travel extensively and done far more than I ever would have if I had remained in Christchurch.
The hardest thing about living overseas for me has been separation from family. I come from a big family, and being away from them was hard. Initially it wasn’t that big of a deal but I do miss them. Particularly as mum and dad got older and they eventually passed away, that was very difficult.
I doubt I would ever move back to New Zealand. I work in hotel investment, so essentially I buy large hotels, which I simply couldn’t do if I lived in Christchurch. I’ve also been gone a long time and things have moved on. It is difficult moving back anywhere.
I currently live in the Middle East and will leave at some point to retire. Where to I honestly don’t know. Probably either England or Australia. I don’t miss food or places or experiences as such, and try to view the pluses and minuses as a package. On a balance I like where I am.
My advice to anyone planning on becoming an expat would be to go for it. It is enriching and rewarding on a whole load of levels. There are very few negatives under the age of 30.