25 Signs You’re a Long-Term Expat

This year I will have been an expat for 7 years, 8 if you count a previous year spent in Japan. I left the UK on July 27th, 2007, and moved to Vietnam. Since then I have also lived in Tenerife and Sweden. Later this year, I will move to India, which will become my 5th host country. 

  1. Instead of friends’ surnames in your contacts list, their name is followed by which country that number is for.
  2. A whole page of your parents’ address book is taken up entirely by your details from at least 3 different countries.
  3. You know the airport code for more than 10 airports, as well as which ones have the best shops and most comfortable lounges.
  4. You can speak basic ‘taxi-talk’ in more than 3 languages, but can’t sustain a conversation in any of them.
  5. The weather app on your phone has at least 5 different cities stored that you’ve lived in. And you frequently check to see what kind of weather your friends back there are getting.

    Checking up on my friends...
    Checking up on my friends…
  6. You realise that you have missed out on an entire season for a number of years. Wait, what’s winter again?
  7. You recognise the National Day of at least 5 different countries.
  8. Getting a package from home with your favourite chocolate is the best thing EVER

    Joy! Somebody brought me Cadbury's.
    Joy! Somebody brought me Cadbury’s.
  9. Unless you find a store in your host country that sells your favourite chocolate from back home and you are willing to pay an extortionate price for it.
  10. It is perfectly normal to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner both days of the weekend. (This is most likely only when you are an expat in Asia – I would never do this in Stockholm!)
  11. You spend weekends doing exciting things and wonder how you spent your time before you left home.

    Relaxing on the Roof of the Boat
    This is a normal way to spend a weekend (in November), right?
  12. You have bank accounts, and residency cards, for 3 or more countries.
  13. You pick up strange mannerisms from places you have lived, that you just can’t quite shake off.
  14. When somebody asks you for your phone number or address, you have to look it up. And you hope that you don’t live on a road that is too hard to pronounce for the taxi driver.
  15. You often wear outfits where each item was purchased in a different country.
  16. You have to work out the time difference before calling friends and family, just to make sure that you’re not going to wake them up in the middle of the night. You get annoyed when they forget to check before calling you.
  17. You wonder why you ever thought that a plane journey was something to look forward to.

    Airports are not much fun either.
    Airports are not much fun either.
  18. You’re always meeting friends-of-friends because they’ve all moved around as much as you have.
  19. You remember important dates and events based on where you were living at the time.
  20. At some point you have compiled a list of all the great things about each country you’ve lived in to create the perfect place to retire to.
  21. You take an empty case with you when you go home, and bring it back full of new underwear, shampoo, and confectionary items.
  22. You spend the whole time comparing items in your home country to what they would cost in other places you have lived. You feel miffed when your friends/family couldn’t care less.
  23. Your electronics all have different plugs, so you carry two or three adaptors with you whenever you travel.
  24. You start to feel ridiculously patriotic and emotional whenever you see your home country’s flag, even though you never cared before you left.

    Yay! It's the Union Jack!
    Yay! It’s the Union Jack!
  25. You have experienced most of the things on this list and have at least 3 more points to add.

Have you lived in different countries? What would you add to the list?

Post Author
Runaway Brit

Comments

10 Comments
  1. posted by
    Linda
    Mar 15, 2014 Reply

    Hi Elaine. I can identify with lots of these, as you can imagine, after 27 years now!!!!! I might add: some days you wake up wondering where you are! That’s a result of multiple countries, or at least multiple addresses!

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Mar 16, 2014 Reply

      Yes, I’ve had that a few times too. It gets confusing once you start to move around so much, doesn’t it?

      What are your plans now? Are you planning to stay in Fuerteventura?

  2. posted by
    Heather
    Mar 16, 2014 Reply

    Haha, this is spot on! I can relate to so many of these and I’ve only lived in one other country for two years. I can only imagine how I’ll feel with a few more expat experiences under my belt!

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Mar 17, 2014 Reply

      It doesn’t take long until you start to feel like you’ve been an expat all your life, does it?! Do you have any other countries on your list?

  3. posted by
    Amanda
    Mar 17, 2014 Reply

    I agree with Linda, that I would add, not knowing where you are when you wake up after a long rest…especially if you had a few drinks in your new host country the night before!

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Mar 17, 2014 Reply

      Ha ha! Yes, adding alcohol into the equation always causes more confusion 🙂

  4. posted by
    Simon
    Mar 18, 2014 Reply

    Haha, great idea for a post! I think I tick at least 18 of these boxes. It’s not just the weather app on my phone that has lots of countries, all my electronic devices seem to be on different time zones because I never get round to changing them all every time I go somewhere new

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Mar 18, 2014 Reply

      Yes, I have that too! I should have added that 🙂

  5. posted by
    Catherine
    Mar 22, 2014 Reply

    Great list! Got to love Dairy Milk 🙂

    • posted by
      Runaway Brit
      Mar 24, 2014 Reply

      Agreed! Best chocolate ever.

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