Not all that long ago one of the major negative aspects of moving to another country is that you’d inevitably be homesick for the one you left. It’s totally natural to long for what we grew up with and are familiar with, whether that’s a small farm community in Peru or the concrete jungle of lower Manhattan.
That all seems to be less of a problem in the past few years, which is discussed in a recent article about poll results of British expats living abroad. Generally speaking, levels of homesickness are down by a large margin in the past 4 years, are reports of Brit expats missing certain key aspects of their old home.
I’m quite sure that all nationalities are going on the same trend, and that many of us are benefiting from certain technologies that are shrinking the world for us.
I remember on my first long trip out of the US where I spent 7 weeks in and around Germany in the late 1990s. Calling friends and loved ones back home would have been incredibly expensive and sending postcards already felt way too slow, since beating them home was a common occurance.
Less than 15 years later we can all make free phone or even video calls on Skype and similar services, and we can do them from our mobile phones with little hassle if we want. If anything, we are all too connected these days, regardless of where we are in the world. With pretty much everyone you know being on Facebook, you can be living on the opposite side of the world from them and realize their daily lives are just as mundane as you remember, so you being in an exotic place feels even better.
As I discussed not long ago, digital entertainment piracy seems to be the rule rather than the exception among expats. Without getting into the morality of it here and now, this has actually created a situation where anyone with a decent internet connection can watch all their favorite TV shows and the latest movies within hours of them being available anywhere else in the world, and it’s all free.
Expats have many good reasons for behaving like this, which I discuss in the article linked above, but the bottom line is that we can participate in “water cooler” chats with our friends and others online, or other expats in our new homes, the day after something is broadcast. If you love watching “Survivor” or “American Idol” you’d be completely out of the loop only a few years ago if you lived abroad, but now you can be an active part of the community to whatever degree you choose.
Cheap flights home
This last one is unique to Brits and others (mostly Europeans or Asians) who have relocated to a country not far away. To me it seems quite clear that homesickness for Brits (at least those in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey etc) is down partly because it’s so cheap and easy to hop on a cheap flight back home these days.
It isn’t too obvious until you really think about it, but traveling is much cheaper for expats than it is for most people still in their own countries. Every single expat I know has plenty of friends and family back home where they can stay for free and often have use of a car when there. For this reason expats can scan the low-cost airlines for the cheapest flights in each direction, and pretty much come and go as they choose.
Many British friends here in Turkey report getting flights from Antalya or Dalaman Airports for well under £100 each way if they shop around. Since they can arrive at midnight and not have to worry about a hotel, they can pick the cheapest flight of the day. For this reason these nearby expats can afford to fly home every couple of months if they please, and some actually do it.
The world seems to be getting much smaller lately, for better and worse, but for expats it seems to take many of the negatives of living abroad away for good.