Expat: the big decision


I had fully intended to start this blog when we first moved to the States, but as with most things, life got in the way. As we hurtle towards six months here, I’m going to rewind about 18 months…

When my husband and I first started talking about moving to the States I was dead against it. I had my career, my friends, our older son was just about to start school (with his friends from nursery), my mum lived up the road and we were trying for baby number three. We had chosen to move back to my hometown from London just before we got married because that was where we wanted to raise our family. Why on earth would we want to move away?

Then things really started to take off for my husband at work. His company head office is in the States. He began to spend one week every 4-6 weeks over here. The move became inevitable. They wanted him to move permanently. But I still resisted.

I can however clearly remember the moment that I changed my mind.

I work(ed) in construction, I had a senior position in a Project Management consultancy and I was always very busy. I loved my job. If I’m honest, I defined myself by my job and my position. I had always been completely focussed on my career, our older two children were in nursery from six months to allow me to go back to work.

My last project involved a lot of travel. Most days I was away from home. I spent a lot of time on trains or in the car. I had a lot of time to think.

Then I found out I was pregnant with our daughter. I was horribly ill for the first 16 weeks, not much fun when travelling! I was tired and I was very stressed. And one day, on a train, I found myself thinking – actually, right now, at this point in my life – I don’t love my job. I realised that, about to have a third child, I didn’t see the two we already had nearly as much as I would have liked.

Now, I’m not saying that I suddenly wanted to jack it all in and spend 24 hours a day with the kids, that would be no good for any of us (as evidenced by how much the boys hated the long summer holiday and became different children as soon as they started school again!). But, I wanted to be there more, not just physically, but mentally – to not always be thinking about the next meeting, the next deadline, the next bid, the next crisis. I was planning to take a years maternity leave anyway, so I felt that I could take time out – to have a ‘career break’ and just enjoy my family. Breathing space to decide what to do next. No stress to cloud my view. No pressure (from myself or others) to go back to anything too quickly. Time to make the right decisions and choices. Time for me. Time for my husband. And most importantly, time for my kids.

So, I went home that night and told my husband that he could say yes. And so it all began!

[Update 17 July 2014: I’m linking this post up with the lovely Chantelle from Seychelles Mama, for the first week of her Expat Family linky. I wrote this post at the end of December 2012, when we had been in the US for six months. On Friday, we will have been here for two years and have recently made the decision to stay for longer. But, this is how it all began!]

Seychelles Mama


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14 thoughts on “Expat: the big decision”

  1. So lovely to read about how you made that decision, and what a good reason too!!! Its amazing how a moment like sitting on the train can define the rest of your life!!!
    We have also been ‘expats’ for two years now and have extended for longer! Thank you so much for sharing this post with ‘my expat family’ I really really enjoyed it!!! xxx

    1. Thanks Chantelle, great idea for a linky, and it’s made me look back over what I have written so far about the process. Good to remember the reasons and to now know that it was a good decision x Thanks for hosting x

  2. My story is somewhat similar to yours, Sara! Except we didn’t have children, but I was stressed at work and wanted to take a break. We moved to Dubai for my husband’s new job and our son was born here. #myexpatfamily

    1. Oh, I didn’t realise that you’d moved for your husbands job too. It’s been a good decision for us x

  3. Sara, I think it’s so brave to make that decision to make a change – whatever that change may be. For me, it was the decision to start up my own business so I could have a more flexible work schedule and be my own boss so I could do the school plays and sports days and school pick ups and be with my children after school. The flip side is that I work really hard odd hours of the day/night and sometimes I long for that 9 to 5 job when, at the end of the day, I can leave it all behind until the next morning! But reality is that we are all better off with running my own company instead of working for a company and those decisions can have a huge impact on our family lives. As it has done for you. Running my own company in a foreign country has also helped me to integrate with British culture as well so that has been a bonus. I do sometimes wish MY husband would get a job in the States so we can experience American life for a bit :-) #myexpatfamily

    1. I think you sometimes just reach a point where those decision almost become inevitable. Something has to change, and suddenly a big change like this doesn’t seem so scary anymore, standing still seems more so x

  4. I loved reading about your thought process. We moved to Italy 3.5 years ago, initially for 3 years but we’re into an extension. We face the prospect of moving again when my husband’s contract expires next summer. A very similar situation to the one you were in, actually: he wants to move elsewhere for his career, and I think I want to stay here. I’m spending many a minute on figuring out what would be best for all of us and what I could gain from leaving! It’s great that you got to the stage where you knew what the move would give you. Hope to get there soon too x #myexpatfamily

    1. It is difficult, isn’t it. I spent a lot of time thinking about this one, and it was definitely the right decision for us. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss home and sometimes wonder what we’d be doing now if we had stayed x

  5. A great post about your decision – I find it really interesting to hear about how people decide what to do and when to do it. It can be such a huge thing and there are so many factors to it. Mine reason was fairly simple, to be with my husband, so the decision was kind of made for me so took some of the second guessing out of it all. Really enjoyed reading this!

    1. Thank you Molly, it’s interesting to look back on too, although the final decision was made quite quickly, it took a long time to get there!

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