Cultural Integration

The 10 best things about being an expat wife

Few acts signal your undying support for your partner more than moving abroad as they chase a career goal. But it isn’t all about them, either; being an expat wife has plenty of perks.

Expat wife

By Carol Moore

Updated 29-2-2024

If you’re the trailing spouse following their other half across the world for a new job, it can seem a little daunting at first. You’ve unpacked the boxes and settled into your new home and are looking to fill your days and beat those homesick feelings. Fortunately, there is a multitude of positives in being an expat wife. Here’s a list of 10 things you can look forward to.

1. Feel comfortable with being alone

Being an expat can feel like embarking on a lonely journey; being an expat wife can feel even more so. You’re getting to grips with a new place to call home and may not yet speak the local language, but this is the perfect opportunity to put the focus back on you. Strengthen your relationship with yourself and ask what you want to achieve during your time living abroad. Once you’ve established your goals, you’ll feel much more at ease with getting the emotional support and encouragement in achieving them. In no time at all, you’ll gain a newfound confidence and independence that will make you feel stronger all around.

2. Try new things

Immersing yourself in another culture provides a passport to a way of life that’s often completely unlike anything you’ve ever imagined. You’re in a different environment, so feel free to pick and choose anything you like; whatever works for you is fine. Be selfish in your choices, think outside the box and take the opportunity to try a new hobby or sport, learn a new language, or join other expat wives in a social setting.

Women running in a park

Make the most of your free time to develop new skills and interests. This will help develop your personal skills, help you in a job search, and become a more well-rounded person.

3. Build and embrace your support network

When the only constant in your nomadic life is family, learn to draw strength and inspiration from others. It’s easy to keep running on autopilot and go about your daily tasks without a thought. Be open and reach out to others to help you in your journey; you’ll be surprised to learn that they’ll be going through similar experiences as you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your new expat network: a wealth of knowledge is out there for the taking! Join Facebook and meetup groups and be open and honest that you need a friend. There are tons of expat wives out there in a similar situation and you’ll inevitably be helping others and making new friends.

4. Learn a new language

Maybe the last thing on your mind when you move to another country as an expat wife is learning a new language, especially as an adult. But once you start, you’ll find that your life will become so much easier and your integration process will speed up. Learning a new language not only has benefits in helping you fit in with your new culture but also boosts your confidence and helps you make new friends.

Woman taking notes

Being able to express yourself in another language is a wonderful skill. With the many free online apps like Duolingo, it’s available to everyone. Research out there tells us that adults can learn another language to fluency almost as well as children – so no excuses!

5. Travel the world

You’ve upped sticks by following your partner across the world and gained a new sense of confidence. Start to view the world as your oyster and you’ll soon get into the habit of picking where the next fun weekend break will be. Take the lead on this and broaden your horizons on visiting new places and cultures. Being an expat wife is a golden opportunity for making your own unforgettable new memories and learning more about the world. You’ll learn about and grow more tolerant of new cultures, which in turn will help you settle into your new life abroad.

6. Become a new and improved you

There’s something about starting a new life that makes you want to become a new person. A better version of you. And why not? Moving to another country is a license to wipe the slate clean and begin afresh, without the weight of others’ preconceptions and expectations. The drive to reinvent lets you explore those aspects of yourself you never got around to developing before.

Woman flexing muscles

Every day is a geography lesson, history class, and language lab all rolled into one. You’ll find that getting out of your comfort zone and feeling displaced will propel you into going on new adventures. It’s exhilarating to know that although you may be making it up as you go along, you can freely make your own choices.

7. Further your studies as an expat wife

If you’re in the luxurious position of moving abroad to follow your spouse and financially don’t need to find a job, then it’s the perfect time to start or continue your studies abroad. Check if you get access to free, subsidized, or cheaper education in the country where you now live. Living in a different environment will also provide great inspiration and new ideas for where you want to develop yourself academically. Even if it’s difficult to work due to work permits, take advantage of your new surroundings and volunteer. You’ll gain valuable skills and qualities that will be highly beneficial in your next position.

8. Nourish your family

Being an expat wife abroad opens so many wonderful opportunities for change. If you’ve moved to a new country with children, then this also applies to them. Once you’ve done your homework carefully, you’ll see the many positives being an expat family will have on your children. Aside from you, they will also meet new friends and enjoy some amazing experiences living in another country.

Family in a park

Kids who travel, especially from an early age, develop a much wider perspective on the world and different cultures. Learning a new language is also highly beneficial for children and can help boost their career opportunities later in life.

9. Take a sabbatical

Taking a sabbatical usually involves having an agreed amount of time off then returning to your regular job. If you’re an expat wife, this can dramatically change. Why not break the rules a little and seize the opportunity of a lifetime and take an extended sabbatical? It’s something most people only dream of doing, but as an expat wife you can turn your dreams into reality. Whether it’s hiking in the Alps, touring Australia in a jeep, or simply spending more time with your loved ones, relish this golden moment. You’ll feel rejuvenated, confident, and it will add a wealth of positive characteristics and skills you can use when you decide on your next career move.

10. Save money

You don’t automatically associate being an expat wife with saving money – but it’s possible. In many situations, your other half has accepted a work contract that is beneficial for all the family.

This can include lucrative tax savings, free health insurance for expats, or your accommodation costs covered. Either way, this greatly benefits you building your nest egg. Overseas pensions and investments are also an option for making real savings and something you should investigate. Coupled with your new, more affordable life overseas, you also have the option to rent out your home in your own country making it a win-win for finances.