27 March 2011

The fake expat

I am a fake expat. That means I get to live as an expat in my own country. If you ask me, I’m probably the luckiest expat on this planet.

“Huh? “I hear you say. “What’s that melodramatic woman going on about now?”

Ok (deep breath). Here’s the deal…here’s my story.

I’m an Australian. I was quite happily minding my own business in sunny Sydney when a man, now known as Busy-And-Important-Husband (BAIH), tapped me on the shoulder.

When I turned around I knew I was being tempted into an irresistibly fun but uncertain situation. For those who don’t know, BAIH is Irish and when we met he was travelling on a Visa with an expiry date. Never one to be sensible about things I ran full speed into his arms.

God we had some fun times in those early days. Extravagant dinners we couldn’t really afford, late nights, lazy mornings. Whenever the, ‘what about the future?’ question popped up, we pushed it aside to be dealt with another day.

That day arrived earlier than expected with a phone call from Ireland to tell us BAIH’s father was gravely ill after a stroke. Naturally, he had to go home. When he asked me to come, I baulked – a baulk that cost us 12 months apart.

Those 12 months were miserable, but with that misery came the courage to take another leap of faith. After a reunion in Italy ‘just to see’, (who were we kidding, it was Italy for crying out loud) I returned home briefly to break the news to my family, quit my job, pack my bags and head to Dublin.

Life in Dublin was good. I landed a great job, met wonderful friends and said yes to a proposal on a Parisian bridge. I had my beautiful son and fell pregnant with my daughter. Things were nearly perfect, apart from one thing - it wasn’t Australia. It wasn’t close enough to the family I love and the friends I adore.

Here comes the bit in the story where I pinch myself.

BAIH, who had been kicking some seriously big goals at work arrived home one evening and declared, “They want to send me to Australia. What do you think?”

“Just give me five minutes to have this baby and then I’ll pack our bags,” I answered as I ran upstairs to find my passport.

Little Fairy arrived and eight weeks later we were sitting on a plane heading back to Australia. On the ground, an unusually cheerful immigration officer chirped, “Welcome home – looks like you’ve come back with more than you left with,” as he glanced at my babies while stamping my passport. Cue tears of happiness.

So now we’ve come full circle and I am enjoying living an expat life in my own country. But before you roll your eyes, do have some pity on me…there is one storm cloud on our horizon.

When I was pregnant the first time, we bought a house in Dublin during the peak of the property boom (a decision influenced heavily by my raging hormones). I remember when I first heard about the concept of ‘negative equity’ I thought it would never happen to me. But now it is, and it’s scary.

But, like that Visa expiry date, we’re choosing to push that dark cloud aside for now. I think I’m living proof that in life you never know what might pop up.


  1. Wow - what a fabulous story. You're such an interesting lady ms melodramummy. (Love and Irish accent :)

  2. Great post. I can certainly identify. My story happened a bit differently though as I am a Canadian who met an Aussie while he was working in Vancouver. After 5 years of Canada, he came home and tells people he brought his "Canadian souvenir" with him!

  3. I dream of being a fake expat, I have another Australian friend who is a fake expat in Perth (her husband is American) and they have traveled all over and are now on a "posting" to Perth. Enjoy it, sounds like you deserve it.


  4. I was enthralled through that whole story. Although I must admit, you had me at "Irish". I am a sucker for a man with an Irish accent ;-)
    Also, how gutsy are you, moving to a "new" country with an 8 week old!! You are my new hero xx

  5. Wow! You really never do know what life will bring.

  6. Hi Melodramummy!

    I hope you don't mind me getting in touch. I found your details on your blog and I hope you might be able to help me with my strange request…

    I am a Producer working on a television show called House Hunters International which follows English speaking expats in their quest to purchase a house abroad. I wonder if you and BAIH or any of your expat contacts might be interested in getting involved?! Please find a little blurb about the show below:

    House Hunters International is a half-hour program currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) in America.
    The series is designed to de-mystify the international home-buying process by going behind the scenes of a house hunt where buyers and their real estate agents tour 3 homes.

    At its core, House Hunters International is a travel show concentrating on the idiosyncrasies of the locales and what makes them special and different.

    You can watch some examples of the show here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh0Q6DYe3QM - London from South Africa (1600 series) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLmhKEzm5kg - Dubai from Illinois (2000 series)

    Please get in touch if you have any more questions about the show. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Best wishes and many thanks,


    Michelle James
    1-3 St Peter's Street, London N1 8JD - +44 20 7704 3300