The Expat Life; Being an Expat wife

Let’s be real here, the expat wife has a bad reputation. They have mani/pedi’s every other day, own the most expensive handbags, travel all the time, lay by the pool the entire day (depending off course on the climate they’re in), have nannies take care of their kids and play some sort of sport {preferably tennis or golf} followed by an early lunch with a bottle of wine or two. Does that sound about right?

Expat Wife

For the past years I have never felt like an expat wife. I have always worked in all the places we’ve lived. In a hotel and country club in Singapore, or a serviced apartment complex in Ho Chi Minh City. Always providing for myself, but still living together with the love of my life. I think this would not have been different if we would have stayed in Holland.
In HCMC people were surprised when I told them I had a job. Most of the wives did not have a job. But what they often forgot was that most of those wives did have one or two kids at home. Even though, it always amazed them that I had a job, as I surely did not have to work when my husband was having a good job. So why did I bother? No for that reason I probably did not have to work, but what would I be doing the entire day if I would not go to work? I’m not a person who can sit still for too long. Besides that Ruben and I were not married, so I did not have the advantage of getting a visa from his company. I always had to find a job to get a visa and stay in the country we lived {this has given me many sleepless nights before we would venture out to a new place!}.

In 2012 we got married – it was a small ceremony and done as we were unable to get married at a Dutch embassy anymore and we wanted to get married abroad. For the record in my book we’re still not married, as we did not have a ceremony {but will have one in September this year!} and we’re both not wearing wedding rings. However I did start to feel the advantages of being married, as all of a sudden the company gave me benefits such as insurance and a visa whenever we would move to a new country.
And so we moved to Phuket last September, and until now I have not been successful in finding a job for myself. So I am feeling like a real expat wife right about now. I have long lunches in fancy hotels, play tennis almost every other day, have my manicure and pedicure (although less frequent then in HCMC), volunteer wherever I can and my significant other is working long days. I’m really getting to know the life of an expat wife. And I really think people should give them {or I  should say ‘us’} some more credit then they are getting right now.

Expat wives get everything sorted out at home, they find the friends to hang out with, the nice places to go for dinner and drinks, but also which hospital to visit {you don’t want to end up in a local hospital in Vietnam}, where to buy proper groceries, what the right areas are to live, and much more.
Another thing I have noticed while living abroad is that expat women are very sociable. They love to share their wisdom on their hometown, as they have gone through the exact same thing as you have; starting fresh in a new city. And the most amazing thing is, the women all have different backgrounds; coming from all over the world with different cultures and ages. But they all know how it is to settle down in a new place not being your home country and they all know you probably need someone to talk to.

I am very proud to always be able to find people to hang out with quickly. This might be as I am no good in spending time alone. But this is also what happens when you live abroad. You’ll try to find someone with a similar interest and start spending time with them. The freakiest thing about it is that you’ll make long life friendships very quickly. You spend so much time with these people that you’ll find yourself sharing intimate stories with a friend you’ve only known for a couple of months. Things you have only just shared with your best friend at home. You’ll need to do this, as they will be your family away from home. And that’s the reason that after only knowing each other for a short period of time, you can call them anytime of the day, as you know each much faster. For instance when the engineering guy in your building just punctured a water pipe and your house is under water and she’ll invite you to come to her place to calm down, even though her house is full of visitors. Or that you can ask them for a place to stay, as there was a burglary in your house the other day and your husband is going on a business trip the next and you are too afraid to be home alone. I’ll bet you that there will be several people offering a place to stay for the entire time you’re alone.
But you don’t only share the horrible stories. You’ll also be sharing funny and familiar stories of that time when you went to get a haircut and they had to straighten your hair first as they did not know how to cut curly hair, or when the taxi driver could not make a word of what you were saying and after a 30min drive he dropped you off right where you started, as he did not know where to bring you to {the next taxi dropped you off in less then 5 minutes, as you found someone who could pronounce the street name in the right way}, not being able to go to work because the streets are flooded with water and cars and motorbikes could not start…

Besides that an expat wife is very flexible. She will often walk in to a room full of strangers, and walk out with an appointment for lunch the next day and knowing where she can have a proper haircut, doctors appointment or just a place to have a proper cup of coffee {this really is important!}.
The funny part is that these persons would most probably not be the people she would hang out with when she would have stayed back home, but it will open doors to new friendships and loads of knowledge about her new home country.

And after she has gathered all the information, you will see her showing her husband around town. She’ll be explaining to him how the city really works and all the other things that she has learned in that short time they have lived in their new hometown.

So yes an expat wife does not always works a fulltime job, but she does do a whole lot of other things. And yes she is following him to a new country, but who is following her around their new town?

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