Downsides To Living Overseas – 17 Sad Times For Expats

I don’t mean to get all morose on you here but I’ve written lots about how much I enjoy living in Australia and have barely touched on the negative times you face when you move overseas. But I was sick (and consequently homesick) recently and had a lot of time alone to wallow in my misery. (And wish mum was here to nurse me – yep, some of us never grow out of that!) From Skype fails to visa nightmares, here are 17 of the saddest and loneliest moments I’ve experienced since moving overseas.

Feel free to add your sad times to the end of the list!

1. When you’re sick and realise you don’t have a doctor, don’t know how to get one and if only you’re mother were here she’d know how to fix it.

2. When you’re really sick and realise that if you popped your clogs on Friday no one would notice until you’re late for work on Monday – likewise if anything sinister happened on a night out. <Shivers>

3. When you get really good news but have to wait 8 hours for everyone back home to wake up.

4. When someone back home is having a shit time and you want to hug them but your arms don’t stretch 10,000 miles, unfortunately.

5. When you’re discussing something very important over Skype and it freezes (usually at the most important part of the story) so there is just your ugly face staring back at you.

6. When someone uploads a family or best friend’s photo and you’re not in it.

7. When you’re planning a wedding and sweating over the small stuff and there’s no one way to say ‘have a word/get a grip mate’.

8. When you experience any major life event and the people you imagined sharing it with aren’t there with you.

9. Christmas. ‘Nuff said.

10. When you’re applying for a visa and it’s the suckiest/most expensive/ overly complicated process ever and you spend days crying at the keyboard.

11. When you’re premenstrual and craving Minstrels/Foxes biscuits/ anything by Galaxy (just me?) and all there is in the supermarket is this sad foreign excuse for chocolate.

12. When you waste yet another long weekend as you forgot/didn’t know there was a public holiday. (Might be just a self-employed thing!)

13. When you can’t vote on important matters (marriage equality, for example) because you’re not a permanent resident despite being in the country 4 years.

14. When friends and family innocently ask when you plan to come home and you feel like the shittest person in the world for saying ‘I don’t know’.

15. When you’ve been home for a visit and leave with the words ‘see you later’ stuck in your throat as who knows when that will be.

16. When you’re having a homesick week and want to pop home but don’t have a spare $1k-$2k in your pocket.

17. When you realise that all of the sad times above are totally your fault as you chose to move overseas. #expatguilt


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About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

14 thoughts on “Downsides To Living Overseas – 17 Sad Times For Expats”

  1. The guilt when people ask me if/when I’m coming home is crushing! Like, I know it won’t be for years unless I run into visa/finance issues, but I feel so bad for telling them that. It’s not that I don’t love my friends and family back in England, but… ya know how it is. :L Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • I totally do! But while it is horrible having to say you don’t know I’m thinking that might be the better option than saying we’ll be home in a year and then constantly extending it….

  2. Absolutely! Can relate to most of these, especially “When someone back home is having a shit time and you want to hug them“. It’s very tough! It’s also hard seeing parents age each time you see them.

    • Oh gosh, yes I forgot how heart-breaking that is. The sadness of seeing little nieces and nephews get huge and parents get smaller should be on this list too.

  3. I can absolutely relate to so many of these. Especially #14, which I experience more than I’d like to admit. It’s nice that people want me to come home/visit, but I always feel so bad saying I have no plans or don’t know. Living abroad can be as tough as it is amazing.

    Kate |

  4. I could add another 50 to this list after living overseas for 20 years but the worst is when you get a call saying ‘get on a plane, Mum has a week to live’, you can’t get a flight out for another 36 hours and she dies as you’re crossing the Pacific Ocean. Yeah, can totally relate to the drawbacks of being an expat.

  5. Oh my thanks so much for this post….exactly the things I feel….all the things. Am reverse to you, a kiwi living in the UK (which we LOVE). Luckily I do have my hubby and sons with me so am super thankful for that but still…. Particularly laughed at last one ha!! So true!!

    • Ha it totally makes all this feeling sorry for yourself even worse when you realise you chose to do it (and will continue to do so lol)

  6. Much of this relates… I say most because what the hell is a minstrel?

    Expat guilt is a real thing. So very very real. So don’t mind me while I cry into my pillow. Did I mention my pillow is a bottle of gin? Yes I have the UK to thank for that.

  7. You forgot the one where you never know if your going to get family emergency bad news from your family back in your homecountry and then you might have to emergency fly there.

  8. ” When friends and family innocently ask when you plan to come home and you feel like the shittest person in the world for saying ‘I don’t know’” – it’s so true! And a lot more.
    It’s so hard when you actually have two homes – and both aren’t complete. Where you live, you’re still considered a stranger with no such strong connection to this place as the natives. Where you used to live, things change over time, and you don’t know about it and can’t keep track of it, and you’re also considered a stranger. This is so hard for me. I can’t often see my family, and in the city where I live now, I hardly know anyone, and I can’t even get my teeth fixed (without getting on credit). Also, the local community has its own traditions and local festivals and fairs, and everyone knows about it except me. After a few years, I am getting used to and learning about the local customs, but I still cannot boast that I have fully adapted. That’s why I am so familiar with almost everything you wrote in your article. It makes me a little sad, but if you think about it, the positive aspects of course are also present in life abroad. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it, right?


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