Love-expat: How far would you go for love? (Part A)
Today we honour those expats who have moved, or are ready to move, for love. We also highlight some important things to consider when deciding whether or not to become a love expatriate…
A significant majority of the expat population is the ‘love-expats’ – those who became expats because they chose to follow their partners. It is common to use terms like ‘expat partner’, ‘trailing spouse’, or ‘accompanying partner’ for those who have followed their hearts to another country. I prefer, however, to use the term ‘love-expats’, as this highlights the power of their choice…
Love-expats consciously made a decision to follow their partner to another country (either with children or not). This choice – to truly trust in your life with another person and follow him/her away from your home country – takes great courage. I have a deep admiration for people who move for love and set their priorities based on this great value called love…
Things to consider before moving for love:
- You first: Put yourself and your needs first. A choice that is solely for you, made in line with your values, rather than based on fears or somebody else’s demands, carries less risk of regret later on, regardless of the outcome. Of course, if you have children, “you first” instead becomes a careful balancing act between your needs and that of your children (we will get back to this in a future article).
- Your partner: How does your partner feel about the change? Is he/she ready to take on this responsibility? Are you ready to be proactive so that you are not totally dependent on your partner (e.g. for your social life).
- Location: Will you move to your partner’s country or to a neutral ‘third’ country in which you are both expats? I have heard various experiences: some say it is easier to be in a neutral country because you are both facing the same challenges; others say that moving to the partner’s country is easier as there is often support from extended family. Yet others speak of feeling excluded as the partner is always in ‘his/her’ country. Different contexts work better for different couples.
- Money: There’s a good chance that your financial situation may change when you move. Even if your partner has a well-paid job, you may end up feeling dependent on him/her (at least initially). I know that putting the money issue on the table doesn’t feel romantic when you’re discussing your future together, but see this as an opportunity to empower yourself and give you both peace of mind. What happens if the relationship doesn’t work out? And if it does work, do you have enough money to visit home when you want or need to?
- Career: Often a move involves a career transition – this may be exciting and a chance to reinvent yourself, or it may feel like a setback. Will your education and work experience be transferable? Will you need further education? Will you have permission to work? How much are you willing to sacrifice with regard to your career?
- Family and friends: How will your move affect your relationships with the family and friends you leave behind? Are you prepared to no longer be part of their day-to-day lives and you, theirs? Can you deal with missing out on your nieces and nephews growing up without you? Or with not being around as your parents age?
- Language: Will you need to learn a new language? Are you ready for this? Not being able to speak the local language feels a lot like being illiterate. This can feel very uncomfortable and stressful after a lifetime of being able to express yourself effortlessly. Are there ways in which you could support your language learning before you leave for the country?
It’s important to acknowledge that moving for love is one of today’s classic dilemmas – and one that most career-focused (or internationally minded) adults will face at some point in their lives.
It’s also time to recognize that the person moving is not weaker or less-than. After all, every couple makes compromises and trade-offs in order to stay together – a shift of physical location just happens to be the most visible and concrete. Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk for love takes remarkable strength.
Are you considering moving for love, or have you done so already? Which of the factors above feels most challenging – or inspiring – to you? Please leave your comment below.
Feel free to share this article with a friend considering a move for love. And do subscribe to our Top Expat Tips if you haven’t already!
P.S. In our next article we cover some steps love-expats can take to make the best of life in their new country.
FEEL FREE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR BLOG OR NEWSLETTER. We ask only that you attribute Expat Nest and include the following: Expat Nest (www.expatnest.com) is a professional online counselling service for expats.
Photo: Ali Yahya / Unsplash
12 commentsWrite a comment
Excellent article Vivian. My ex moved to me in Greece from Morocco and shortly afterwards we moved to The Netherlands (my home country) due to a reorganisation of my employer at the time. Greece was easy on her: same climate and mentality/mind-set of the people. The Netherlands however was tough on her. Neither climate nor the people were really her cup of tea even though she tried hard to make it work.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us Louis. You are raising an interesting point here.
thank you for your service in offering a blog for love pats. I am an Australian in Indiana and have come across many Australian love pats here – those who have married Americans. I am shocked and very concerned by the high number of divorces in the Australian and New Zealand love pat community just here in Indianapolis. I would dearly love to see some hard quantitative research done in this area. If you have any influence in the FIGT research community, particularly with those at the PhD level this is an area of research just waiting to be pursued. Certainly among the Australian and New Zealand community in the US there are many divorced love pats, and I’m sure among other nationalities there are many more. I feel there are many opinion pieces about why this is happening, but no one is actually looking at the extent of the problem and the cost in emotional and fiscal terms to the individuals and their families, especially where children are involved.
Thanks again for your blog. We have two Australian/New Zealand FaceBook sites in Indiana and we’ll be sharing your blog on both of them.
Thank you so much for your comment and I am glad you found these articles valuable.
Indeed there is a need for further research into this topic. I will happily pass on your suggestion to FIGT and hopefully something will come out of it.
Stay tuned as in the coming months, there will be an article on expat divorces. Being a divorced lovepat can be daunting (especially where children are involved), but it can also be an opportunity to rediscover yourself and start a new life in which you can feel again happy!
This why we offer online services with the vision to inspire love and joy, so we can help people who need emotional support wherever they are in the world. I understand it is hard to be a divorced love pat and those who are may feel helpless but really it doesn’t have to be this way (or at least not for a long time).
Thank you for sharing the info about Expat Nest on your Australian/New Zealand Facebook sites. This is highly appreciated.
Last but not least, another article which may be valuable to your community is the following: “Dealing with losing love as an expat’ (http://www.expatnest.com/dealing-losing-love-expat/)
Hope we keep in touch.
Excellent article Vivian. My ex-moved to me in Greece from Morocco and shortly afterward we moved to The Netherlands (my home country) due to a reorganization of my employer at the time. Greece was easy on her: same climate and mentality/mindset of the people. The Netherlands, however, was tough on her. Neither climate nor the people were really her cups of tea even though she tried hard to make it work.thanks
Thank you so much for reading our article and for taking the time to comment. We enjoyed hearing your story.
Excellent article Vivian. My ex-moved to me in Greece from Morocco and shortly afterward we moved to The Netherlands (my home country) due to a reorganization of my employer at the time.
So then you both know all about being a love-pat! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your story here.