My husband and I have been living in Dubai for nearly 7 years (me, a little bit less) and in this time we have found that there are 4 types of expats (especially South African expats) living in Dubai.
1. The Expats Running Away
2. The Expats Using Dubai as a Springboard
3. The 1 foot in and 1 foot out Expats
4. The Die Hard Expats
A quick descriptions on each of them as simply as I can explain it is, the ones running away are the expats who have no respect for the country they are leaving, have nothing good to say about it and are constantly complaining about but are still complaining about Dubai at the same time. The Spring boarders are using Dubai as a stepping stone to their next destination. The 1 foot in and 1 foot out expat knows he will always return to his birth country and often has an exit strategy in place and the Die Hard expat is the one who has been in Dubai for nearly 20 years and has no intention of leaving until such time that he has no choice.
My hubby and I are number 3s, we have always maintained that we would return to South Africa, back to our families and heritage. But what has come to light in the last few years, especially since the birth of our son, it is becoming harder and harder to maintain the balancing act of being happy where we are now and wanting to be back in South Africa. Don’t get me wrong, we love our life in Dubai and we are attracted to the simple choices that we have to make, although the current raising expenses is not making things simple. But our parents are getting a little older and, although they would never ask, they do want us to come home at some point. They are missing out on watching their grandson grown up, Skype, WhatsApp etc do make things a little easier than before.
Home for us is currently the Eastern Free State where my hubby grew up and I had previously mentioned that he is the fourth generation Liguori to grow up on Tripolitania, Daniel is the fifth and it was always my wish to have my son have a similar up bringing to what both my hubby and I had. I grew up on a farm in the Eastern Cape near to a small town called Stutterheim and even though I have very little ties there anymore it is a beautiful part of the world. But we have had to weigh up the options for giving Daniel and International upbringing or pack it in and head back to South Africa.
But we realized that we still have some unfinished business in Dubai and we know that the time to pack up and go home will come soon enough without us forcing the issue. We have also learned to enjoy life for the now and it makes our trips home even more special. Of course, we look forward to the day where we are not going to have to say goodbye and when that day comes I am going to be sad to leave Dubai because we have made so many wonderful friends here, our son was born here and this is where we started our married life.
So my advice to each expat type is to enjoy the moment, respect where you have come from, after all it made you who you are today and look forward to what is next to come – you never know you might find yourself enjoying life a little more than you realized.