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British Expat Overseas: Living and Working Abroad

Updated on September 16, 2014
Deep in the Australian Outback.  Mount Isa, Australia.
Deep in the Australian Outback. Mount Isa, Australia.

Are you an expat? If so, where do you live?

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Why are you an expat and how did you do it?

Nearly four years ago to the day I lost my backpacking virginity and set sail to live and work abroad. A most overwhelming and surreal, yet fulfilling lifestyle as a British expat has been discovered in the midst of a global recession that still lingers in the West today.

From partying in Vegas on 4th of July to hunting fruit bats with Aboriginals. From driving across the Australian outback to teaching English to classes of fifty in rural Thailand. Living and working abroad has afforded me a wealth of experiences that many might only dream of. Something strange occurred during these times and now I only feel at home when I'm not at home.

Written from the perspective of a juvenile backpacker turned expat and influenced by many temporary jobs, thousands of miles travelled in between and an equal amount of stories to tell the grandchildren. All the while being inspired by career teaching English.

Outlined here are some travel babblings and stories highlighting what you might expect and need in your armoury to live and work abroad, or, become an overseas expat.

Expat on tour!

My home for seven days crossing the Australian outback.
My home for seven days crossing the Australian outback.

So, what is an expat?

Expat is short for expatriate which is apparently not the same as an immigrant. An expat is someone who has a certain professional skill set and may have been temporarily relocated as a work commitment.

An immigrant on the other hand is someone who lives permanently in another country that may have taken a job which requires no specific skills, or a manual labour job. The terms are blurred when referring to expats/immigrants from varying countries and may depend on socio-demographic factors, prejudices and preference.

Whether I can class myself a fully-fledged British expat, I'm not so sure? Or even an immigrant for that matter. Maybe nomad, wanderer or migrant may be more suitable at this stage? Anyway, from my collective experiences working and living overseas I've decided to share a few things you may come to expect from living such a lifestyle.

Pictures from living abroad.

Yosemite National Park, California, USA.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA.
Koh Tao, Thailand.
Koh Tao, Thailand.
Bali, Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia

When living and working abroad be prepared...

  • to make friends for life, then lose them in a blink of an eye! This sounds horrible because it is! From my collective experiences I have met so many like-minded, adventure seeking traveller types. After living, working and socialising with these people on a daily basis in foreign lands, it’s fair to say you become friends for life. As is the nature of the travel beast, travellers do and will travel. Friendships are not lost or forgotten, but the last year you have spent with those amazing people is history. This is a particularly heart breaking element of working/living abroad and being an expat.

  • for many highs and lows. When things are good, they’re really good. Amazing people, cultural diversity, new food and constantly changing environments…WOW. On the other hand, when things aren’t going to plan, feelings can intensify greatly. Especially when you are on the other side of the world, travelling alone and with a tribe in a Southeast Asian rainforest! I’m sure everyone has their moments whilst on the road. My advice is; stay strong and suck it up, you are only ever a plane ticket away from home!

  • to get home sick. As an expat it can be a lonely place living and working abroad sometimes. When I do stumble across someone’s travel blog or website, then look out of the window and see palm trees and tropical rainforest, I tend to quickly wipe away the tears of homesickness! I forget about missing my nans cooked dinners and my mum reading me bedtime stories, then a warm sense of ‘YES’ comes over me, “I am doing the right thing.”

  • travel on your own. Initially a scary prospect, but you’ll discover more about yourself then you ever imagined. Plus, unless you are a loner, you’ll have to meet people. Cue random, unforgettable experiences! Maybe befriend a local, end up in a bar being the only foreigner around. Celebrity status awaits you!

  • to meet two types of traveller. The like-minded, awesome travel junkie and occasionally, the very strange shifty one that you’re not quite sure of. Just be aware, and vigilant. Not all people travelling for the same reasons. One fine example is highlighted by my maiden backpacking experience. Alone in a hostel, (San Diego, CA) I came across a guy shooting up drugs in the same 4 bed dorm as me. Cue him rolling around the floor for hours on end profusely sweating. This same guy, who introduced himself to me in the dorm an hour previously, proceeded to introduce himself again 5 minutes later in reception! Needless to say I didn’t sleep well that night for fear of a crazed junkie robbing me!

  • for cultural differences. I can speak from a perspective living and working in Australia, the U.S.A. and Thailand. As an expat it's a good idea to do as the locals do, learn their ways and talk their talk. This will help you to seamlessly blend into society and make friends quickly along the way.

Things you might need to become an expat, no wait, an immigrant...

  • A degree or equivalent for VISAs and work permits,
  • A map,
  • A job offer and/or professional work experience,
  • A lust for adventure and open mind,
  • Bags of confidence and friendly personality,
  • Adaptability, a positive attitude and cultural sensitivity,
  • No ties at home. Wife, kids, house, debt – sort it out before you leave!,
  • A desire and ability to (maybe) learn a new language,
  • Insurance (good insurance),
  • Medical check,
  • Clean criminal record (depending on the country).

If you need any advice, please feel free to ask. Failing that get in touch with the professionals - your local Embassy.

Australia mate
Australia mate

An expat forever?

Now it may sound as if I’m just avoiding the inevitable - a career, a mortgage, a car and a family. But can I ask, who designed these rules? I'm certainly not a traditionalist. I’ll be honest, at first I was trying to prolong my student lifestyle and follow my irresponsible dreams. However, since then I have found a job I love that allows me to live a travelling lifestyle. Luckily, I may have just discovered my perfect existence.

Sure the little devil on my left shoulder has encouraged me to blow a lot of money globetrotting. I probably should have been building my career and saving for the expected mortgage and future wife of mine?! On the opposite shoulder the little angel constantly reminds me of this. It's a constant battle of weighing up pros and cons. But isn't that just life anyway? What if I can make it living and working abroad? Only good things have come from it so far, so why stop now…?

Are you and expat living and working abroad? Where are you, what's your life like and what do you see as the pros and cons of such a lifestyle? It would be great too hear from people in similar positions and also people who want start a new life abroad.

Other Hubs

Thanks for dropping by. You may enjoy these hubs if your interested in travel and especially S.E. Asia.

Thai Culture and Customs

Information about South East Asia.

If you are interested in learning Thai, you my find this three part series of use.

Thai Language: Basic Thai Phrases, Thai Sayings and Thai Words.

If you would like to become a member of the Hubpages community, learn about your world and potentially make money whilst doing so, signup here.


Submit a Comment
  • livingabroad profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Wales, UK

    @criticalmessage you sound like you have great desire to do something different. I would recommend the live life for the moment option while you have no commitments! You won't look back. Thanks for the positives. Let me know if you embark upon an adventure!

  • Thundermama profile image

    Catherine Taylor 

    6 years ago from Canada

    Interesting hub. Loved the upbeat tone and make the most of your life mentality. Full of great tips too. Look forward to reading more hubs about your many experiences while living this lifestyle.

  • CriticalMessage profile image


    6 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

    At a point in my life, with no obligations, or responsibilities, with a ton of professional experience that leaves me feeling somewhat empty when working for 'The Man'?... I have been seriously considering exactly what your routine describes here so well... My concern?.. I learned my trade, which surely has value to being taught to others, through hands on experience... Having the degree, regardless of my vast professional accomplishments, seems to be the only roadblock that I am attempting to navigate through... And if, or when, I do?... I want to be just like you! ~smiles~

  • livingabroad profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Wales, UK

    @quizbomb. Thanks for the the thumbs up and following! It's sometimes tough living overseas away from everything that you grew up to know, but the benefits outweigh the lows I'm sure. Quite a role reversal compared to your own experience! Where did you grow up? Cheers for the positive comments, I look forward to reading your hubs.

  • quizbomb profile image


    6 years ago from Lancashire, United Kingdom

    Great read - that deserves a thumbs up and an awesome recommendation from me. I commend you on getting out there and walking the talk. I grew up abroad as my parents were expats so I have some experience but not like yourself.

    I enjoyed your insights and look forward to reading more - consider yourself followed :)

  • livingabroad profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Wales, UK

    @unknown spy. You've experienced the solo crying meal also have you?! I'm glad I'm not the only one! Thanks for dropping in :)

  • unknown spy profile image

    Not Found 

    6 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

    your 'be prepared' tips are very true. i couldn't agree more. i've felt and experienced all of it.. sometimes when i eat alone, i cry.

  • Suzie HQ profile image

    Suzanne Ridgeway 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    livingabroad - I had unreal experiences that nearly saw me on a plane home . .eg woke to find flatmate had died in sleep, police raid in another house i was sharing and another house i shared the owner under investigation from cops and i was advised to vacate a.s.a.p!! Having said that, would not have missed it all for the world, pros did outweigh the cons definitely!

  • livingabroad profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Wales, UK

    @SuzieHQ Hello again! I'm glad someone can relate to the things I have mentioned here. As you know it can be a lonely road sometimes but on the whole so worth the blips you may come across along the way.

    Every time I look back on something I did, or somewhere I travelled to the pros always seem to outweighed the cons, even if it was a struggle at the time. You ever get that feeling too?! Hopefully these experiences we can look back upon one day with a cheesy on our faces and warm sense of satisfaction all over us!

    Thanks for your kind words and share!

  • livingabroad profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Wales, UK

    @kiewkilw First things first, don't be sad! It's the change that excites me and i'm guessing all the other travellers out there. The scary thought of doing it alone is also the one which you get the most adrenalin from. After a while it becomes an addiction, just like hubpages!

    You are right and I agree, life is for living! Many people choose different paths and some maybe too nervous to try working and living abroad, I can't think of a better thing to do with your life! Yet what do I know?!

    Thanks for your insightful comment :)

  • Suzie HQ profile image

    Suzanne Ridgeway 

    6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    Excellent hub livingabroad! I relate SO MUCH to it as one who has been there done that and going back for more!! Travel is such an education, you never know what it will bring! I have travelled alone also and the friends, as you say, you make and feel are for life are mindblowing. Twenty years ago i lived in NZ and it was an incredible experience, as you say at times you will feel "what am i doing, i need to go home" but you quickly come to your senses and see life is good! Well written and thought out, voting up, useful, interesting and sharing

  • kiewkilw profile image


    6 years ago from Bangkok,Thailand

    I don't know why i feel a little bit sad during reading this, the way that someone has to leave family behind, living in unfamiliar place, learning a whole new things its maybe because of human afraid of change?! but i bet you have seen so many beautiful things in this planet which there are a lot of people have never seen them. In my opinion life supposed to be live not just survive.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences :)


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