The Top 5 Items Most Missed By Expats

by Jose Marc Castro on August 2, 2011

Phone Home?

When looking to move overseas there are many different factors to take into account and overall it is matter of balancing out the positive aspects and the negative aspects to ensure that overall you see an improvement in your standard of living. However, no matter how perfect your new homeland seems there will be a number of factors which you miss from your former homeland. We have been looking at the top 5 items most missed by expats and hereby enclose a list for you to consider.

Friends and family

There is no doubt that friends and family, assuming they are not following you to your new homeland, are by far and away the most missed aspects of your former life. For many people it is only once they have actually moved overseas that they realise how much they depended upon their friends and family and how difficult life can be in the short to medium term adjusting to this. Quite why we only realise the importance of parties around us when we have parted company is a mystery to many of us but the truth is that friends and family are often a silent support in times of need.

However, thankfully over the last few years we have seen a massive increase in the number of airline routes around the world and indeed the cost of air travel has fallen in general terms. We have seen the introduction of budget airlines which will allow us to literally fly around the world in just a few hours which means that we are only a few hours away from our loved ones. As a consequence, the problem of missing your friends and family when looking to move overseas is one which can be overcome fairly easily even if they are not at your beck and call every minute of every day.

It is also worth noting that friends and family are able to come to your new homeland for a holiday and to spend “quality time” together. The introduction of the Internet, mobile phones with international calls, video conferencing and even Skype has also reduced the impact of losing loved ones when moving overseas. When you take everything into account it will never be a perfect situation regarding your loved ones and your friends and family but if the positive aspects of a move overseas outweigh the negative aspects of remaining in your former homeland then we can safely assume that you are “doing the right thing”.

In June this year I moved from Amsterdam to Cyprus, with my partner. We are both in a nice job and we are enjoying ourselves and the nice easy-going lifestyle of Limassol. What I miss though are friends to meet up with for a chat, a meal or drink.

Favourite foods

One subject which keeps coming to the fore time and time again is the different foods and beverages available in countries around the world. No matter how open-minded we consider ourselves to be, we all have our favourite foods and our favourite beverages and unfortunately many people automatically assume they will be available in their new homeland. The truth is that something which is popular say in the UK may not be popular in South America, and vice versa, therefore you may need to adapt your favourite food and favourite beverage list.

However, it is also worth noting that the ever increasing number of expats moving overseas has led to a number of “expat enclaves” which can in some cases make it cost-effective to import certain foods and certain beverages to overseas lands. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you will always be able to get your hands on your favourite foods and your favourite beverages but even if you are able to adjust your tastes just a little there is every chance that you will be able to find a “substitute”.

It is slightly surprising that so many people make a point of mentioning  the difficulties obtaining their favourite foods and their favourite beverages when moving overseas because in effect by moving overseas you are moving to a new culture and a new beginning. Is there really an awful lot of pointing moving overseas, aside from work opportunities, if you are unwilling or unable to embrace and adapt to your new culture and your new surroundings? In many ways our favourite foods and our favourite beverages are merely a reflection of our upbringing and our surroundings and perhaps when looking to move overseas it is time to extend our horizons and embrace new cultures and new cuisine?

It is worth mentioning that for example in the UK there are a wide variety of “overseas” foods available which are considered by many people in the UK to be part of their staple diet. Therefore, it is perhaps those moving from the UK to overseas countries that will have a more open mind with regards to local cuisine because in many ways we have already embraced different foods and different beverages to the more “traditional” associated with the UK.

The price of food varies widely depending on where you shop and whether you buy imported items. Logically, food imported from the Uk will be more expensive than local brands, but you can live cheaply if you buy local vegetables in season and use supermarket own brand products.

Social life

If there is one area of life in which the UK often seems to excel in it is socialising and in particular a trip down to the “local pub”. Even though the UK for example has a very wide influence in many countries around the world there are few countries which will accommodate and embrace the “local pub” culture which is very much associated with the UK population. Despite the fact that various government reports have highlighted issues regarding alcohol abuse in the UK, for many people a trip down to the local pub is merely a means of socialising with the local population and meeting friends. Is this really so bad?

A social life overseas may well be very different to that which you have been used to in your former homeland, whether this is indeed the UK or another country, and you will need to adapt your expectations. In the UK there seems to be a culture of meeting for drinks on Friday, Saturday and even Sunday and indeed a number of people tend to socialise immediately after work. As working hours may be very different in a foreign workplace, and indeed many workers will disappear home as soon as the day is over, it can be difficult to build up a social network along the lines of what you are perhaps used to.

In many ways building up a social network overseas can to a certain extent depend upon the number of expats already living in the region because they are likely to be used to the same socialising culture. However, when you consider that a move overseas is in fact an opportunity to begin a new stage in your life, do you really want to go down the route of socialising in the “local pub” as you did before? For many people the chance to move overseas offers the chance to change not only their lifestyle but also their dietary habits. However, it is also imperative that you feel “comfortable” in your new-found homeland and if this means socialising with expats to put your mind at rest and give you some support, then again, there is nothing wrong with this.

My partner and I are retiring to Cyprus and she is worried that there will be little for her to do – Can anyone advise on clubs or activities? I enjoy golf and we both like bowling albeit not to a very high standard. Having lived there before in the services I know that one cannot rely on the beach every day to keep one amused!!

Local news

Prior to the onset of the Internet, once you had moved overseas it could prove very difficult to get hold of local news from your former homeland. As a consequence, more and more expats felt “out of the loop” and indeed the lack of contact with their former homeland was for many people too distressing and “too much”. However, the Internet has literally changed the life and times of many expats around the world and given them the opportunity to move overseas to start a new life while also remaining well in touch with their former homeland and friends and family.

When you consider the massive array of different news channels now available both in the UK and overseas, not to mention the hundreds of thousands if not millions of news websites, then it is not difficult to remain “in touch” with local news from your former homeland. On top of this there are also many specialised sites highlighting activities and news in various areas of the country and these will probably give you a more down-to-earth and a more local approach to local news. The vast majority of these websites are also free of charge with many offering e-mail services to keep you in touch with what is happening.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter also allow you to remain very much in contact with your friends, family and local community and in many ways they are actually quicker than the more traditional news channels. So if your main problem with regards to a move overseas is the fact that you may well lose “touch” with your friends, family and local community you have left behind, then the Internet will literally be a godsend for you. In simple terms, keeping “in touch” with your friends, family and the local community you have left behind should not be an issue any more. By simply taking away various concerns and various worries this will allow you to concentrate on the major aspects of your new life and hopefully allow you to concentrate when adjusting to the local culture, local cuisine and local practices. The Internet really has been a godsend!

Hi guys Hope I am not hijacking a private post forum? Im new on here so hello to you all. Just downsized for cost reasons to a private aparment in benidorm (Evamar near outdoor market). Getting BBC1 ITV1 (uk northwest local news) and a bad CNN. TV seams to picj thes up on tunning UHF however many apartments are tourist run and these have access to al UK Tv channels but pay to viewthrough slot TV(1euro). The reception desk speak english but not willing to help. Any idea how I can tap into there community system to get access to other UK TV channels. Any help would be appreciated.


Since expats began to move overseas, especially those who were looking to retire to a foreign land, the issue of transporting your pets has been very much at the forefront for many people. Historically it has not always been easy to transport your pet to a new foreign land and indeed many people have taken the heartbreaking decision to leave their loved ones behind in the safe hands of friends and family. However, thankfully we have seen some major changes with regards to pet transportation over the last few years and the issue of taking your pet with you is one which many people are now beginning to address.

Aside from the red tape required to transport a pet from one country to another, with rabies and other such conditions very prevalent in the minds of the local authorities, there was also the issue of actually transporting your pet from country to country. However, thankfully there have been massive improvements in transportation techniques and various medical practices will effectively allow your pet to remain calm, and in some cases asleep, during the whole journey. Historically a number of older pets have found it very difficult when travelling great distances and unfortunately a number have found, and continue to find, the venture “too much”.

Those who do not own pets may well look at this particular situation and perhaps not understand the impact it can have on the life of a pet lover. It is easy to forget that when moving overseas, we all need to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and hopefully bring in as many familiar surroundings and people as possible. For many people, having their pet with them in their new homeland, assuming the climate is okay for your pet, can make a massive difference during the “settling down” period. We often don’t appreciate that many people will have literally spent in excess of 10 years with their pet by their side and suddenly moving to a new country without their beloved pet can be a wrench for both parties.

Hi, I thought the only paperwork I would need for moving my pets to France was the health certificate signed by the vet, which would also have a vaccine record for each animals.


The subject of what you miss when moving overseas will be very different from person to person but there are a number of general traits which seem to come through on various forums. The simple fact is that we need to make ourselves as comfortable and as familiar with all of our new surroundings as possible while also appreciating that there will be new cultures, new cuisines and new practices to take into account. Family and friends, food, our social life, local news and even your pets can make a big difference as to whether you actually settle into your new homeland.

The Internet has made a massive difference to the expat arena and given many new opportunities to remain very closely in contact with your friends and family. We’ve also seen great improvements in the transportation of pets and the introduction and acceptance of new “cuisines” in many countries around the world has made the issue of favourite foods and favourite beverages slightly less of a problem. In simple terms we need to retain a very close network of friends and family while also appreciating and opening our minds to the new life and new culture in our new homeland.

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