Living the trailing spouse life can be a bit of an adjustment. Not only are you living in another country, but if you’re anything like me you went from having most of your hours taken up by work to suddenly having all the time in the world. This newfound freedom can be both exciting and scary.
I reached out to the trailing spouse community to find out their best tips, tricks and strategies for living the trailing spouse life. Here’s what they suggest you do to ensure you’re not just surviving, but thriving abroad:
From Tracey, a South African currently residing in Toronto, Canada, and the author of Journal of a City Girl:
Becoming a trailing spouse often means leaving behind all that you are familiar with, a job, a career, and in some ways it feels like your independence. Understand that these external titles don’t define you. Look at it as now you have the luxury to catch up on all those things you’ve never had time for; read, take up yoga, learn a foreign language, volunteer, get to know your new city inside out. Look at this deviation in your life’s path as an opportunity, not a setback.
From Mae-Gene, an Australian currently calling Boston, USA home and the author of The Wandering Suitcase:
My tip is about meeting new people in your new home:
It can be lonely at times as a “trailing spouse”. My partner moved for further study and hence has the opportunity to meet a lot of new people through his course. I have more spare time, so it has been really important for me to build a support network in my new home city. This means joining Meetup groups in my area (www.meetup.com) and using apps like Patook to make new friends (it’s like Tinder, but is purely platonic). I’ve also found scheduling regular skype calls with friends and family back home to be really helpful.
It’s important to remember that some of the friendships you may have from home may have taken years to build, so not to get frustrated if you don’t meet people that you click with automatically. There are other people out there who genuinely want to make connections too, so don’t get disheartened! Like finding a life partner, you have to kiss a couple of frogs to get your prince or princess… Or in this case, you’ve got to meet a couple of people before you make some friends!
Being in a different country gives trailing spouses the opportunity to meet people we wouldn’t normally meet and be exposed to cultures and people of differing backgrounds. As hard as it can be sometimes to build a new home, the experiences and friends we make along the way make the journey worth it!
From Amanda, an American currently calling England home, and the author of https://amandaafield.wordpress.com/.
The first would be to do as much research as possible before you go. Will you be eligible to work? Can you bring your pets? Where should you live and what will the costs of living be? These are all things you should look into before signing on.
The second would be that it can be difficult to meet people and make friends in a new place, especially when you’re a bit of an outsider. Volunteering or joining clubs or expat groups and taking classes can go a long way to discovering people who have similar interests. The expat life can be lonely, and sometimes you really have to get out of your comfort zone to meet people.
From Karen, an American currently living in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and the author of Wanderlusting K:
I recommend thinking very seriously about it as it can really have negative implications for your career. I did a post about questions to consider BEFORE becoming a love migrant here, but yeah it’s a really tough decision and I recommend doing a lot of research to determine your working status/how competitive you are on the job market before making the leap.
If you’ve moved to a new country where you can’t work, or you’ve decided that you don’t want to work, I would still recommend that anyone get out and look for volunteer opportunities. Not only is this a great way to get out and meet people, but it’s an excellent way to get more involved in your community and to be involved in something you’re passionate about. Additionally, if you are an expat who would like to work but can’t, or is looking for work, volunteering is a great way of developing new skill while sharpening existing ones.
No matter the distance, uprooting your life and moving is hard. Whether it’s to a new neighbourhood, city, state/province, or country, there will be an adjustment period. At first, things will feel difficult and you will feel a bit unsettled, but by following the tips provided above not only will your transition be smoother, but before you know it, you’ll feel right at home.
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