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TRAILING SPOUSE* - LOOK AT YOUR HOME TOWN THOUGH THE EYES OF AN EXPAT!
*the person who trails the primary income earner to a new career destination

As a veteran of a number of expat moves I think that people who don't move regularly can actually learn something important from expats - they can learn to love their own town.

As serial expats we are in a place for a given period of time - two years, three years. Whatever the posting length we know that we are there for a finite period of time and then we will move on to the next place. In many places and postings you cannot extend that posting even if you want to - tax issues, residency restrictions and visa issues ensure that you have to leave by a specific date.

Right now we have two more years to go in this posting and then we will move on to our next place. And this means that we look at this posting in a different way. For all I know, we will be living in Asia or Europe or Australia. I have no idea, so, while we are living close to Europe we are taking as much advantage of the opportunities that are here as we can. Every chance we get we explore, taste or do different things.

We have travelled to France, Italy, Spain and the UK. We have gone to Portsmouth, Poole, Weymouth and Cornwall. We have sailed by fast ferry, overnight ferry and slow boat. We have explored Guernsey, Jersey and Sark. We have travelled to Bristol and Bath and we have driven from the top of France to the bottom of Spain. Twice. London and Manchester have had numerous visits as has Cornwall and Coventry (I had to go there - it sounded so cool to say I was being sent to Coventry!)

Last weekend I kayaked through the granite caves of the Channel Islands and now we are planning our first trip to Dublin. All this in the last twelve months!

I think that when you live in a place for all of your life you get complacent about what that country offers you. You don't take advantage of it or the opportunities that it offers you because you have all the time in the world; expats don't. We are on a limited time period. We have to see and do as much as we can before the next posting.

So next time you meet an expat, ask them what they are up to and then think about whether you might like to join them.

You may learn something about your own home town!


Dr Amanda O has been a trailing spouse for the last eight years.

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Posted 15Oct05