Being An Expat | When Do You Start To Feel At Home?


A couple of months ago I went back home to surprise my little sister. I always dread going home because I know eventually I have to leave all over again! As always, I found leaving far too difficult and it got me thinking, when does my new home start to feel like home?


I remember when I moved in to my own place in England for the first time, and although it was MY place with MY things I still continued to refer to my mums house as ‘home’. It just didn’t feel right, calling my new home ‘home’ but then I realised it was more the fact that I was in denial about my new situation. A part of me wasn’t ready to let go of my comfort zone, and I think this is relatable on a broader scale too, it just may take a little longer to call a whole new place ‘home’.

Being an expat has its challenges and I think the biggest one of all is coming to terms with what you have done. Deciding if giving up everything was the right choice or if you have made a huge mistake! … and lets be honest, no one wants that!

Aside from the huge life changing decision you made, you also have other barriers to overcome such as driving on a different side of the road (Driving on the right side will never be OK!) different cultures, language barriers and even where to buy that much needed Cadbury chocolate! All of this piled together can make the initial expat experience quite the emotional rollercoaster!

At the beginning it’s all exciting and new, but as they say, what goes up must come down! and when the realisation eventually hits it’s the absolute worst! When the smallest of things make you feel sad or upset, generally for no reason.

For me it was seeing a photo of my dog back home. I then decided to break down thinking about how much I miss her. I suppose I’d already come to terms with the fact I’d be leaving my family and friends behind but how was my dog ever going to update me on how her day has been?!

Seriously this upset me far more than it should have … but LOOK at her!

My advice now would be to stick it out. Your original home will always be there but you now have the added benefit of having a whole new home to explore and make your own! And eventually you come to realise that life isn’t all that different no matter where you are in the world. You still have to go to work, do the weekly food shop and go to the gym (Yes, I’ve put it off for a whole year but even I’m back at it now!)

You soon figure out all of the short cuts, make new friends and find the best places to eat and drink. So much so that you no longer need the sat nav and find yourself giving people in the office tips on where to go for nights out! Life just becomes ‘normal’.

‘It is what it is’ is a saying I have come to love and live by as an expat. You can’t change the way certain things are in a different country and who are you to walk in and make those changes anyway?! Just roll with it and you find life becomes much simpler.

And, if you really really don’t like it, you can always go back home! Personally I found this comforting knowing I could just go back, but also knowing that is what made me want to stay.

I can go home, and one day I will, so why not make the most of now?! It’s important to go home with memories, not regrets.

So, when will you start to call your new home ‘home’? Honestly, I’m not too sure. For me, home will always be the place I grew up, where my memories and family are. I don’t think you can ever compare a new place to that. What I will say is that, after a year living in Dubai I no longer feel like a stranger in a big city!

So for this chapter of my life, Dubai is my home, until the next one begins! 🙂 

Laura x

If you want to see my sisters reaction to me arriving home and surprising her on her birthday, you can, I filmed it!
You can check it out here.

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24 thoughts on “Being An Expat | When Do You Start To Feel At Home?

  1. fromdreamtoplan says:

    Great post! I can totally relate! I wrote a similar one some time ago but it’s always interesting to see how all the feelings related to being an expat in the end are quite similar to each of us who try the experience! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Lisa |

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Daniela says:

    Dear Laura,

    I loved reading your blog post. I´m totally with you. You will never be really home in your new city (Country/continent) until you accept the fact that it is now home.
    I moved away from home so many times and first it took me ages to get used to my new home by now I´m an expert in moving away from home and it takes me only a couple days/weeks to accept it.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. thetravelpockets says:

    So true that your original home will always be there for you! I know the feeling of being away for so long. It’s quite tough at times, but if you stick it out it definitely gets better. I remember I had to move around overseas when I was younger due to my father being in the military.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Theresa says:

    I experienced the same thing when I moved to Vienna – which is only 2 hours from my hometown. But even after 4 years I still don’t call it home even though I can imagine living here for the rest of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kaylene Chadwell says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I’ve recently been thinking about moving overseas. And I imagine how great it will be living somewhere new, but I also know that it will come with its challenges too. There’s certain things I’ll always love and miss about my hometown in Tennessee.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christie says:

    Good info! And good for you for doing it and keeping in mind that worst case scenario you can just go home if you want. It’s so true. I’m too much of a wuss to take the leap even knowing that so I applaud you for doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. wanderingwagarschristina says:

    I have never been an expat but I can empathize with what you are going through. Your dog is so cute too! It must be really hard. But good for you for sticking it out. I think once you created more memories wherever you are will start to feel like home.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laia says:

    Ahhh complex topic, and I can relate! I lived abroad for 10 years, and even after that time I’m not sure about the answer. For me, I felt at home (in the sense of “my apartment) quite fast, once I put my stuff and decorated as I liked. But… I never truly felt at home (in the sense of “country/ region/ place you work and live”). My home is where my roots are, my family, and a culture I know better than any other. That said, I loved living abroad and I’d do it again! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nerdventurists says:

    I relate to this on so many levels. Being an expat is a sharp learning curve, but it’s also a really rewarding lifestyle.

    Also, secret time, I’m surprising my mom for Christmas and I actually got the idea from your video! I remember watching it a few months ago and was like… I should do that this year. Cheers for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

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