Sunday, December 16, 2012

When is it time to leave?

For this months article for Expat Focus I wrote about those expats who decide it is time to leave their adopted home and return back to their homeland. You can read the full article here.

Over the decade or so I have been in the Dominican Republic, I have seen many expats leave for a whole variety of reasons. Some because their work placement had finished, many as their relationships broke up - either with a Dominican, or having arrived as an expat couple, one discovered the carnal delights of one particular Dominican and their original partner returned home, the tropical dream coming to an abrupt end.

Many leave due to ill health, being able to receive better and significantly cheaper treatment in the home country, and amongst the older expats, many just miss their children and grandchildren too much and return home to be closer to them, or don't want their own children to be brought up and educated here.

Many leave the DR as they quite simply run out of money, as this country has a way of sucking up money better than any other place I know, and high paid jobs are almost impossible to find.

And many leave as they just get fed up of the reality of living here. Fed up with the lack of electricity, the corruption, the legal system, and general day to day life.

What is interesting, is if you talk to a group of expats, many wax lyrical about the benefits of their home countries and the downsides of living in the Dominican Republic. However, some of my expat friends have returned home to the UK for the Christmas holidays, and listening to them describe their daily lives back there during the holidays makes me realise that for all the downsides of living here - and there are many - there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be.

Having said that, when I see the pictures of my the village where my mum lives in the snow, quintessentially English, and where I would be for Christmas if I were not here, I feel a tremendous tugging at the heart strings and smile nostalgically  at the memories of all the times I was there for Christmas. I do miss my family, miss the countryside and miss the food. But I don't miss the cold.  Truly beautiful, but truly cold.

Imagine being cold. Really cold and damp. At the moment it gets down to 20 degrees Centigrade at night, 68 Fahrenheit and I find that cold. Those who left for Christmas are saying they had forgotten how cold it was in the UK.

Imagine having to get out of your car and fill it up with petrol yourself. Whereas here we sit there, and the petrol man does it with a smile on his face, just making sure you check the dial is set at zero before he starts. Of course the chances are you get short changed somewhere along the line, but at least you don't have to get out in the cold and the rain.

Imagine not having avocados delivered to your home everyday.

Imagine having to take your groceries to the car yourself after you have been to the supermarket. Here a nice young chap packs them all up properly for you, takes them to the car and stacks them neatly inside.

Imagine not seeing your neighbour's washing hanging on the outside of your gate as I saw yesterday.

Imagine not hearing things every day that make you howl with laughter. Yesterday I was chatting to a lady who has been with her common law husband for 40 years. I asked her if he had been unfaithful. She said of course he had and had two other children with different women. I then asked him why. He said that he loved his 'wife' so much he didn't want to put her through the pain of childbirth any more so had children with other women instead. I would miss stories like that.

So, I think I will stay here until they carry me out in a box, as, however tough is it at times, I couldn't imagine feeling happier anywhere else.


  1. Oh, I like the avocado part, I love avocados, so are so expensive here in Australia! And the story of the man who didn´t want to put his wife through childbirth again (twice), that is funny! They certainly have a sense of humour. I would hate to live in a very cold country too, I lived in Germany for almost 6 years when my husband had a project there, and I hated all that snow and super short summers...

    1. Avocados are around 10 pesos which is about 25 US cents so not bad at all. I can imagine Germany is even colder than the UK - horrid!

  2. So wonderful to hear all the reasons why you are happy in DR and remain there. My mom felt the same way about Jamaica and refused to live with the rest of us in the USA. And when we would try to get her to visit the states, she would tell us, 'you come and visit me!' And when she passed we knew she died in a happy place. Thanks again.

    1. Am so pleased your mum was happy in Jamaica. I have never been but would love to visit one day, as it always seems to have that special 'soul'. I am glad she died there where she was happy. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Remember what 'They' say, Lindsay: "you can't go home again"! I've found that to be true. Even if our present home changed to the point where we no longer found it attractive, we wouldn't go back to our native land. This Caribbean island is our fifth homeland since leaving Australia, and we wouldn't say no to a sixth.

    1. I think you are right Gordon, travelling gets into your blood. I wonder where you will go next as Cayman is looking a tad dodgy at the moment having read your blog. Take care.