Welcome Back! A Bit About Me and Expatability
Starting season 2 of the Expatability Chat Podcast with an episode all about me!
Giving you a little insight into me, my life and what I do. Plus an explanation of what Expatability is, what that word actually means. Yes, I should have explained all that when I first started my expat podcast back in 2020 but I forgot!
I also explain why I use the word ‘expat’ when it still upsets a lot of people – it will make sense when you listen, I promise.
And I reveal a couple of case studies that give you an idea of why I do what I do – which is, of course, supporting expats with their move and life overseas.
I’m here to help you live the expat life you dream about and deserve, with practical and sensible advice and information. Along with some sugar-free tips, no BS tips and tricks to help you on your way.
If you’re planning a move abroad, or if you’re already living your expat life, or even if you’re planning a move back home, you’ve come to the right place! I offer you experienced insight, advice, and information so you and your kids can live your expat experience to the full.
There are so many layers to this expat life that you need to know about, but often you don’t know what you need to know! And that’s what I aim to help you with.
Knowledge is power!
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Welcome aboard the Expatability Chat Podcast, helping expat parents navigate moving and living overseas with their families. With Carole Hallett Mobbs, Expat Life Mentor and Consultant, and Founder of ExpatChild.com.
I'm Carole, your resident expat expert, and I'm here to help you live the expat life you dream about and deserve. If you're planning a move abroad, or if you're already living your expat life, or even if you're planning a move back home, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I'll offer you experienced, insight, sensible advice and practical information, along with some sugar-free, no bullshit tips and tricks to help you on your way so that you and your children can live your expat experience to the full. There are so many layers to this expat life that you need to know about, but often you don't know what you need to know. And that's what I aim to help you with, because knowledge is power and I want you to have the best expert experience you possibly can. So let's get straight into today's episode. Well, I'm back. Welcome to Season Two of the Expatability Chat podcast. Yes, I'm as surprised as you are, but there we go. Let me just explain a little bit. In today's episode, the first episode of this new season, I thought I'd keep it a bit more personal and also explain what expatability is all about.
When I jumped into this podcasting game in the middle of the COVID pandemic in 2020, I didn't really think it through, which is, to be honest, kind of normal for me. With everyone suddenly repatriating and struggling, I simply had an idea of a topic and I needed something new and different to get my teeth into. And so I just started recording a podcast. I launched straight in with episodes on practical advice and so on, the kind of stuff I've been writing about for ten years on my expat child site. But after how many episodes was it? 30. 30 episodes. Wow, no wonder I burned out. After 30 episodes, I found it harder to find the time and the energy to create more content. My mojo ran out. My get up and go got up and went, so I stopped. But there were other things happening at the same time and I'll explain about those in a moment. And I was really pleased. I had created 30 episodes of practical, sensible advice and information, which covered a substantial amount of content. And because that information is evergreen, it will support new expats forever, which is great.
And that is kind of what I wanted to do. I stopped recording episodes in April 2021 because it was all getting a bit much for me to cope with. Podcasting takes a hell of a lot of time. You wouldn't believe how much time it takes. But maybe that's just me. It takes me a lot of time. And podcasting wasn't the only expat support thing I did or do. Time is something that I have problems with, it disappears for me very quickly. So let me explain a little bit about what was going on, about my home set up and a brief background. If you don't know me, I'm living back in the UK after spending twelve years overseas as a trailing spouse to my husband. And yeah, I know we hate the phrase trailing spouse, but I'm not going to get into that argument right now. We have a daughter who, when we first moved abroad to Japan in 2006, had just turned five years old. We spent nearly five glorious years in Tokyo, unfortunately including one really awful big earthquake in 2011, and then we moved to Berlin in Germany. After a couple of years in Germany, my husband was unexpectedly offered an opportunity in South Africa, which we grabbed with both hands.
Germany wasn't really working out for us and for me the temptation of Africa's wildlife was really key and it kind of made up for what appeared to be a fairly dangerous country. I'd always wanted to live in Africa ever since I was a child, so this was a dream come true. After almost another five years in Pretoria, my husband's office realised that he hadn't been back to the UK between each assignment, which is unheard of, and so we ended up basically being recalled to the UK. We arrived back in England in February 2018. I think it was the coldest February on record, from the South African summer. That was a lovely surprise. For various reasons, our daughter was unable to start school here in the UK, so she was at home for pretty much our first year back. Husband was working in the UK only, and that was for the first time ever in his adult life. It was, shall we say, a difficult year or two. Anyway, cutting a long story short, our daughter finished her education, got her first job just before COVID hit, and because of the lack of public transport here and issues caused by the Pandemic, was learning to drive and so on, I've ended up being her permanent taxi service.
Her job back then was evening work until midnight and she worked right the way through all the lockdowns. So I had a lot of driving to do, a lot of waiting around in car parks, and then she got a second job during the day and also carried on an evening job. So a lot of driving around, a lot of stress. And this was all happening in March, April, May 2021. And that's one of the reasons I found it impossible to continue podcasting as well as everything else that I do for expat support. So where is my husband in all of this palaver then? Well, he ended up going to Afghanistan in 2021 for a tour there, but that was cut short in August, I think it was, when Kabul fell to the Taliban. He only just made it out in time and I mean, only just made it out in time. Stressful doesn't even cover it. He spent a few weeks recovering from that experience before taking a kind of a support job, which means that he spends a lot of time out of the UK, which is his dream job. It's what he's always done.
So he's now working on a kind of here and there set up, for want of a better phrase. Towards the end of 2021, he moved to Delhi and lived in Delhi for a few months, and he's now in Panama. And no, I didn't want to go with him. I'm done with moving as a trailing spouse, basically for a company that barely supports us, it makes life very difficult. And I'm done with it. So done with it. So I am staying at home. I'm supporting my daughter as a taxi service, of course, and everything else. And our pets. And as you may be aware, I have several pets. I have a Japanese dog called Keita, she's a Japanese Shiba Inu, and two South African cats called Sumi and the Gate. And then in November, my darling daughter brought home a kitten. We had an extra family member of Absolutely Cute Mayhem, and then she promptly left me to bring it up and look after it. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have spotted how photogenic this little ball of cute demon is. Life hasn't been the same since. Anyway, if you're still interested in finding out a bit more about me, take a look at my about pages on ExpatChild and expatability.
So, talking of which, what is Expatability all about? What does the word mean, even? What is its purpose? What is my purpose? So I have a bit of a history of word play. I like messing around with words. My first ever blog was called Japanory, in case you're very young or not, from the UK, there was a much loved kids programme back in the day, a TV programme, called Jackanory, and I was blogging about our life in Japan, so Japanory. Then I had a short-lived personal blog in Germany and I called that BerlinFusion. Again, messing around with words, infusion, alluding to a cup of tea. Terribly British. Anyway, it's my thing.
Moving on. Expatability.
Ability means the possession of the means or the skill to do something. It's a talent, a skill or proficiency in a particular area, being able to do something. Or simply being, such as saleability. It's the ability to be sold. Able to be sold. Adorability, being adored, able to be adored. Capability, the power or ability to do something of being capable. Quick tip. Spend too long looking up ability words and they end up looking really weird.
So, expat; an expat is a person who lives outside their native country.
And I just want to add another point in here about semantics. There is a hell of a lot of discussion and arguments these days about the word expat. So I just want to clear up my personal stance on it. To me, and for the point of my work, an expat is somebody who moves overseas on a temporary basis, usually for work. An expat, to me, is someone who expects to return to their home country within a few years or so, or maybe, perhaps move to another country in a peripatetic lifestyle of a few years at a time. If you move to a different country every few months, I guess I'd call you a global nomad. A digital nomad, a traveller. But for me, it's important to recognise those who have this tricky lifestyle of living in a different country for a few years at a time before moving again. And that is because that is the life I know. And they always say, write about what you know. If you move abroad permanently, you have emigrated, you are an immigrant. I don't know why people don't want to call themselves that, but, hey, I digress.
I'm good at that. I support you all, regardless of your plans, what your plan lifestyle is. You can call yourself an expat, you can call yourself a global nomad. You can call yourself an immigrant, you can call yourself a banana. I don't care. It's all about the lifestyle. Expatability, therefore, means someone who has the ability to be a successful expat. And successful is the key word here, even though it's unspoken. Because expat life isn't for everyone and a lack of proper preparation can mean that your dream expat life quickly turns into a nightmare. Over the years, I've heard some really dreadful expat life stories and particularly over the last few months. Perhaps that's why I'm resurrecting the Expatability Chat podcast. Again, I feel called to help people properly prepare for their new life. Try saying that quickly. Anyway, for example, somebody I heard from this year, moving abroad was a huge mistake. I wish I could say that this was an isolated comment from the expat sphere, but sadly, it's not. About 18 months ago, this family moved overseas to a country much loved by many English speakers. They moved to get a better life for their four children.
They moved for an adventure, for the chance to spend more time with their children, to travel more and to participate in this country’s specific activities. They moved away from what they classed and what they saw as a broken Britain. So with their eyes full of stars and their minds full of dreams, they packed everything up, sold their home, waved goodbye to their friends and family and jetted off across the world to start their new, exciting life. However, within a few short months, their dream had turned into a nightmare. Setting up a new home from scratch is extremely expensive, wherever you are in the world. And this particular country is an expensive one. All the money they thought they'd freed up from selling their home in the UK quickly disappeared. Utility bills are far higher than they expected. Food is far more expensive than they thought it would be. In fact, everything turned out to be more expensive than they assumed, even more expensive than the UK, and that's saying something. And there were many other expenses that they hadn't factored into their plans. And now they can't afford to take part in the activities that they moved to that country for, meaning that they can't keep the promises they made to their children when planning the move.
In order to make ends meet, they've had to increase and extend their working hours to earn more money. Which means that the quality family time they dreamt about is now actually less than they enjoyed in the UK. And now for the absolute kicker. They cannot afford to move back home to the UK. All their savings have gone, they're stuck, and sadly, family relations are now breaking down. Unfortunately, they based their entire move, their new life, on a fantasy, on assumptions, and, well, on nothing concrete. Their dream would have been achievable if they had done some realistic research before buying the airline tickets, before selling their UK home. It's really upsetting. And another slightly brief case study. Another family moved to what is generally considered a paradise island. They both had jobs sorted out before they went, but they didn't factor in certain aspects of life there, such as when their children would start school, which is a later age than in the UK. And that meant that the mum couldn't work, as she couldn't find or afford childcare. So now they're on one salary, finances are tight. It's a myth that expats earn a lot of money.
It's a huge, annoying myth. We don't. We really don't. Some do, but in our case, we were on a government salary, there's nothing. Anyway, again, I digress. And life is made harder as it's somewhere that they found is not easy to make friends. Normally, mums can make friends at the school gates, but because their kid isn't old enough to start school yet, the schoolgates haven't happened. They are isolated, they are sad, and their expat dream has turned into a nightmare too. As I say, I wish I could say that those are the only expat nightmares I've heard about, but sadly, they're not. Not by any means. And I'm not even going to get into the stuck parents, those whose relationship has ended overseas, but they cannot leave the country with their children because they weren't aware of the law. It makes me so sad that I couldn't help those families make their expat dream come true by talking to them before they left their home country. A simple, hour long conversation with me could have helped set everybody on the right track before they find themselves in these painful situations. I wouldn't have told them not to move, not at all.
I think I've only ever done that once and I was called a dream killer. But I'll take that. I'd rather kill somebody's dreams then send them off with stars in their eyes, and then they have to get in touch with a psychotherapist or a counsellor when it all goes wrong. I like prevention. I'm a prophylaxis. Anyway, as I say, I wouldn't have told them not to move because expat life is a really wonderful experience for the whole family as long as you know what to expect. You need to know what to expect when you're expanding, and that is what Expatability Chat is all about, helping you discover what you really need to know about before moving abroad. I want to make sure that you are genuinely and thoroughly prepared for moving overseas and for moving back home, for that matter. Remember, I've done it. I've been overseas and I've come back again. So I've seen expat life from both ends. Knowing what to expect should be the absolute basis for your research. Can you afford the cost of living in that country? What salary can you expect to receive? Can you even work there? What about visas?
Can you get a visa? Can your partner get a working visa too? And these are just a tiny sprinkling of the questions you should be asking, there are so many more. And on an individual basis, everyone is different. You've heard me say this so many times. Everyone is different. One family's experience will be wildly different from another, even if on the surface, everything looks exactly the same. And yes, you can read about pretty much everything to do with expat life online on my Expat Child site. Other sites are available, but your personal needs, your own family's needs, are as individual as you can get. So there is so much that you need to research before upping sticks completely. And even if you've done all this fabulous research, expat life doesn't always turn out to be the insta-perfect dream you hope for. If you've been basing your research on personal blogs and Instagram, you're not getting the full story, you're getting the highlights. I can promise you that. So if you're living already overseas and you're finding it tough, I'm here for you. Don't panic. I've got a load of information and resources at my fingertips and a tonne of advice in my brain just for you.
Just get in touch. My aim is to share my sugar-free expertise, my no bullshit attitude, so that you know what to expect when you're expatting and so that you and your family have the best expat life possible. By sharing my unique brand of common sense, insight, and expat expertise in personal one to one chats, I can provide clarity and reassurance to you while you're preparing to move overseas or back home so that you can move confidently into your next exciting life chapter. When you're right in the middle of decision making, overwhelmed or feeling confused or homesick or whatever, if you're not sure that you're making the right decision. If you just like some reassurance that this is the right thing to do. It's much easier to talk something over with somebody completely neutral and yet somebody who truly understands the ups and downs of expat life. And that person would be me. If you'd like to know more, have a look in the show notes, get in touch and I'll be happy to talk to you. Until next time, take care. As ever, thank you so much for being here with me today. I hope you found this episode useful and interesting.
If you found this podcast helpful, I'd be really grateful if you could subscribe, share and give me a review. It really does help other people who may need to know about this stuff to find it, and I really, really do appreciate it. In the show notes that accompany this episode, you'll find information about my website, about my downloads, I've got lists, I've got ebooks, I've got master classes, all sorts. And these will help you with every step of your expatting journey. You'll also find details about how you can work with me, one to one, if you wish, so that you can get personal advice tailored for your life and your move abroad. Because everybody is different. And of course, you can find me on your favourite social media. I've got a presence on most of them. Tag me, message me, tell your friends about me, and I look forward to learning more about you and your move overseas. Please do get in touch.
Please check out ExpatChild.com for more free information and resources. Don't forget me until next time for another episode.
Until then, good bye.