Celebrating Expat Independence

independence94505834wordpressAs an American I usually return to the States for the summer months so I can catch up with friends & family. But after a week of it I begin to question why I’m here. It soon becomes obvious the “Expat lifestyle” sets me apart from my friends, all of whom are mortgaged to the hilt, making car payments, meeting hefty health insurance premiums & basically living a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of life.

Summers back home reinforce my decision to live & teach overseas. So, although the United States is celebrating its independence this July 4th, I’m personally celebrating mine. How about you? What keeps YOU overseas? Are you celebrating like me?

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10 thoughts on “Celebrating Expat Independence

  1. I am reading all the comments and every one has value. Working overseas is a huge eye opener as to stress in Canada and the U.S. as far as taxes go. i worked in Mexico City, didn’t have much left over since it is very expensive. Panama was great except the humidity. Guatemala was awesome temperatures and school. Many teachers are living the high life overseas by travelling and doing lots of partying. I lead a quiet life and sent as much money home as possible. This year is a sabbatical year going back to university to upgrade. The politics in international schools can be exhausting, dealing with visas, admin, parents, etc. If a director is leaving in June, they basically quit doing their job in November. Teachers don’t have that luxury and now deal with admin completely disconnected to schedules, grades, exams, events, etc. Corporate and Embassy parents truly believe their little darlings should be getting A’s just because they are corporate and embassy people. Will I go out again? I am slated for an overseas position September 2017 and will take it. There are very few mainstream teaching positions in Canada. Getting in the door is impossible.


  2. Couldn’t agree more. I’m going to a 4th of July BBQ and while it will be nice to see one of my old friends for the second time this summer, I really can’t take going back to the US more than every couple of years. The culture of fear is what really does my head in – I just can’t relate. All the talk about mortgages and debt bore me to tears as well. Come back to the US to be a wage slave teaching to the test? I’ll pass.


  3. I have come home from the Gulf to see one child graduate university, another child celebrate her first year at uni and another manage his first year after graduation as a fully fledged photographer…all against the backdrop of a successful Brexit campaign and the political implosion of the UK’s two largest political parties. I’m reminded of my enormous good fortune that I can dip in and out of these lives and situations, whilst earning an adequate wage doing a job I love whilst discovering some fascinating places…coming home for good is a long way off for me, at 53, and when I hook up with ex-colleagues here, I’m reminded of the grinding awfulness of UK teaching. Come home for the summer, touch base, recharge, go away again for as long as a halfway decent international school will employ me – how lucky we are!


  4. While a wild twist of fate brought me back to the states for five months, I realized very quickly how different life is. As I was in mediation going through a divorce, our mediator was shocked and surprised by our lack of things and very few expenses that we have. She asked about a car, we said no we don’t have one. Well what about housing? That was easy, it is supplied by the school. After asking numerous questions about common expenses, she looked at us and said, what a wonderful life you have. My ex and I looked at each other and said yes, we do. After many years of teaching in the US we both retired and really haven’t looked back since. The freedom we have to go and do what we want is sometimes pretty intoxicating. I don’t relish the day when I have to move back. People in the US are unhappy, angry, frustrated and suffering from many other ills. Living overseas really is a gift! It opens your eyes up. I wish for my friends the ability to look beyond where they are and what they do and see that there is another way.


  5. Wow all your comments are eye openers thank you so much! I am definitely going back to the USA next year and hopefully it is not too late to get a job after being away for 5 years and being 51. I do value my experience abroad and while teaching abroad allowed me to pay off a good chunk of my mortgage, I am happy to have kept my home.


  6. i have just returned to the UK after twenty years teaching in internaional schools and it certainly is an eye opener. One is not considered ´professional´ for having taught at international schools for such a long time. In fact, it is taking a long time in getting ´vetted´ thoroughly as everyone doubts you as a ´real´ Teacher. I am looking for alternative work, as a couple of bad interview experiences here have left a bitter taste and I am seriously considering leaving teaching altogether, It´s nice to be back at home in the UK, just not in the capacity of a Teacher. My children are adjusting to their new culture as well, as they were brought up in their international environment. All very tricky at the moment!


  7. Coming home for the summer is always bitter sweet. Seeing my aging parents and good friends is wonderful. I’ve been out so long now that the thought of actually moving back is becoming a far distant memory. I love the money, no taxes, insurance and the freedom to teach the way I like overseas. Of course, while everyone back home is putting equity into a house etc., I’m simply socking away money. I would say I have more in the bank then they do in equity in their houses. Time will tell. In the meantime I’m having the time of my life and will continue to do so as long as I can.


  8. I’m returning home after a few years abroad. I enjoyed my time abroad and would not rule out doing another stint or stints at an international school. However, to be honest, I was getting quite tired of the political and visa problems in the middle-east and it was time to go home. I’m looking forward to no longer dealing with inept bureaucracy. However, to be honest, working internationally I was far better off economically. It’s a trade-off. Overseas = save more money and do some travelling but little job security and political problems. Back home in the west = more job security, no visa required but less savings.


  9. Enjoy it while you can! There may be a rude awakening when you become “unemployable” due to age. Commitment, health, experience, education, job satisfaction, and job offers mean nothing, thanks to unattainable visas . Then you may discover that no home equity means apartments or mobile home parks; huge insurance premiums [if you belatedly decide you need insurance]; and – yes – a disconnect from those who plugged away at home. In the US, job discrimination by age is illegal, but still very much in vogue. Make sure that YOU have an “exit plan.” ###


    1. True and well put, Jon. I have put enough away to buy a small house for cash while still having savings. I also have a New York teachers pension that I actually started collecting a year ago, so am currently double dipping. I also know A LOT of international teachers who have NOT saved for a rainy day and it will be they who crash at the end.
      I don’t know about other countries, but teaching internationally is NOT highly regarded in the US when you return and is more looked at as “flakey”. Teachers need to also consider what their expat experience will do for them professionally IF they want to work again at home.


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